What was I thinking??!!: Jon’s run #34
OK, so I realize that my running logs may be a bit boring so I’ll give those people still reading a thought to ponder: what kind of person wakes up at 4:15am to run 14 or 15km? Apparently that would be; as Heidi said, “You are insane.” Of course, I had to ask her to repeat this statement three times because she seemed to be saying this only to her pillow. I thought it a bit odd that she was calling her pillow insane. A little while later I realized she was talking to me and not the pillow!
There are a few nice things about running this early in the morning in a tropical environment: 1. the sun is not yet up, so the direct sunlight doesn’t have a chance to increase the effect of the heat and humidity; 2.the heat is still bearable enough for a comfortable long run; 3. it is very peaceful to get to watch the sun rise and use it’s progress as a measure of how long you’ve been running.
That said, by the 9am I was convinced that I must have been crazy and ended up taking a nap!
And the run? I ran the the northern end of the esplanade then ran along the shoreline park heading south, running the entire length of the park. Past the marina with all of the dive boats and seaplanes, past the convention center, past the commercial port with all of its oil tanks, and eventually what looked like out of Cairns. Then I turned around and did it all in reverse!
I’d also like to point out that I saw more than a few people heading home after a long night out last night. Some of them heading for an early breakfast and even a couple smoking something that smelled kind of funny, but hey, it’s Australia isn’t it?
The Great Barrier Reef – FINALLY!
Today, we FINALLY went diving!
Our “Instructor Training” program allows us to go stand-by on one of the boats for a ridiculously low amount of money. And since we finally have our paperwork in order, we decided to spend the day on the Great Barrier Reef.
So we rang up the dive shop at 6:30 to see if they had availability on either of the boats. They have a 24-hour booking service, so they never know until 6:30AM that day what the schedule looks like. They told us that we could go on “Reef Quest”, which is the larger of the two boats and is not the one we’ll be working on when we start on Dec 25. (We’ll be working on “Sea Quest”).
We went to The Pier to check in an pay our $35/per person for a day of diving. What a bargain! (That’s $17.50/pp in US Dollars). Reef Quest is a HUGE boat that can fit as many as 120 people, but Deep Sea Divers cuts off at 80. The boat wasn’t even 1/2 full. But it’s a lovely boat, with great air-conditioned lounges, cushy seats, and some televisions. And it’s a catamaran, so it FLEW to the reef in just under two hours. Here’s our dive log:
Dive #1: Norman Reef
Depth: 17 meters
Bottom Time: 33 minutes
Visibility: 20 meters
Despite the strict regulations surrounding diving in Australia, they let us go out without a guide. In fact, if we wanted a guide, we had to pay extra for it. This is the first time I’ve ever been on a paid dive where a guide wasn’t compulsory. Interesting.
But Dave – the dive supervisor – gave us a nice a briefing before we went in. He showed us a huge aerial picture of the reef, including our boat position. So we knew where we were and where he suggested we go. We dove north around the wall and then up through the shallows. The reef, while it’s beautiful, isn’t nearly as gorgeous as the Red Sea. But the sheer size and magnitude of the Great Barrier makes it a sight to see.
There wasn’t anything extraordinary about this particular dive, aside from the insane trigger fish. They’re particularly ornery around Christmas Time. I’m sure it’s because of the stress of holiday shopping, but it could also be because this is their breeding season and they’re trying to protect their eggs. Either way, trigger fish and I have a Love/Hate relationship that goes back to a few close encounters in Thailand (See November 7). We weren’t charged by any trigger fish on this dive, but it seemed that there was another trigger hovering around every corner. So most of the dive was spent backing away from the reef with our fins out to protect us.
I’d forgotten to de-fog my new mask, so I couldn’t see for most of the dive. Also, my second stage was taking on water whenever my head tipped to the right. No big deal, but it was still annoying. After a few minutes of fighting with it, I decided to switch to my alternate air source rather than be troubled with purging the water every few minutes.
Dive #2: Norman Reef
Depth: 14 meters
Bottom Time: 30 minutes
Visibility: 20 meters
The second dive was great. It was in the same part of the reef as Dive #1, so we stuck to the shallows instead of the wall. And that was the place to be. All the gorgeous fish hang out in the shallows within a few meters of the surface. We saw some huge fish with wonderful colors. And – toward the end of the dive – we were hanging out in about 3 meters of water when a white tipped reef shark swam by. It was only about one meter long, but it was incredibly close to the surface and was very graceful. Absolutely stunning!
Lunch was after Dive #2 and was sandwiches, pasta salads, potato salad, and fruit.
Dive #3: Norman Reef
Depth: 12 meters
Bottom Time: 50 minutes
Visibility: 20 meters
This dive was at a different corner of Norman Reef. We did a shallow wall dive and then explored the shallows. While we were swimming along the wall, we saw a white-tipped reef shark swimming in the blue. It was further away than the shark in the previous dive, but still nice to see.
Again, the shallows are the place to be. We saw a blue spotted ray swimming along the sand. Jon and I spent some time exploring the little nooks and crannies of the reef – and there were a lot of them! In one of the “nooks”, we saw some HUGE beautiful fish that were white and yellow with brown spots. I have no idea what they were, but there were about 7 of them hanging out just looking at us. So we stayed there for a while and watched before we moved on.
The third dive was done about 2:00PM, and we all climbed back aboard the Reef Quest and headed back to Cairns. Jon and I sat in the sun and talked to a cool girl named Lisa who is from Washington, DC. It was a lovely day, but the sun was incredibly strong. So we spent much of the time in the shade.
We got back to the dock around 4:00 and drove back home. There, we made Chicken Madras with potatoes and onions. Then we hung out for the rest of the night. Not very exciting, I know. But we were pretty tired after three dives.