Counterfeit Tourniquet Are More Dangerous Than Improvised // I Confiscated Another One

I “confiscated” another counterfeit tourniquet. It upset me so badly that I put off writing about it for months. Strangely, I seem to have a nose for sniffing them out and identifying them for certain. However, the infuriating part is that I realized that people don’t understand how counterfeit tourniquets are actually more dangerous than improvised versions. So, I’m going to tell you a few more times.

Increased Cycling Speed and Distance Goals // Kicking It Up a Gear During the Pandemic // Necessary Tools

As the Covid Pandemic descended, my cycling partner and I halted all road cycling. Our thinking was that our need for exercise was less crucial than the need to keep health workers safe. If we became injured; we would put a burden on the system as well as potentially expose ourselves. However, I wanted to work on increased cycling speed and distance goals. For three months, we eschewed cycling. I think part of the avoidance was simply depression. We didn’t run, cycle, or do much involving power tools. Anything potentially dangerous, we avoided. Well, we reconsidered, weighed concerns, and we are back on the road now with increased cycling speed and distance goals.

Visiting Cuba // The Island of Doors // Beyond the Tourists

Just the word almost gives me chills – an island, the one island where I could not go. I have flown over it, sailed past it, cruised near it but never set foot on it. I was never free to openly visit. It seemed that door was closed, legally to me, until 2016. Actually, there were other doorways that could have led me to that door; flying through the Bahamas or Panama, but I chose to wait until it was legal. When I finally arrived, I sobbed.

The Summer I Got Poisoned by Chemical Sunscreen // Captain Kim Walther // Toxic Ingredients

I got poisoned by sunscreen; I know, it’s just bizarre, right? The very potion designed to protect me poisoned me brutally. Rudely. Summer before last, I was teaching sailing class. I was on the last day of a seven-day stint teaching in small open boats, and it had been hot, humid, and very bright. There is no shade on our keelboats. So, I wear a hat or visor, and sometimes, a long sleeved shirt.

Stream2Sea Love Letter & Haul // Physical Barrier for Ecoconscious Sun Protection // Neck Gaiters // Dive Buffs

Last week I was cruising one of my favorite websites, the Stream2Sea website just in case… just in case they had anything new in production. Well! Shocker! Neck gaiters, also called dive buffs, pocket sprayer of hand sanitizer, and gel hand sanitizer had snuck into the product line without my knowledge. I love that Stream2Sea promotes not only reef-safe sunscreen, but also some alternatives for supplementing sun exposure coverage and prevention.

Back 40 Urban Cafe // Great Food With a Social Consciousness // St. Augustine Florida

Our eternal quest for “off the chain” restaurants led us to Back 40 Urban Cafe in St. Augustine, Florida. Everyone we spoke to gave them glowing reviews – “the tacos!” – “the sandwiches!” – so we were eager to sample the menu, a mixture of Caribbean, vegetarian, and Tex-Mex. The results? We keep going back to Back 40 Urban Cafe every time we’re in St. Augustine!

Diving Blue Grotto // PADI Nitrox Class // Williston Florida

For a weekend PADI Nitrox class, we headed over to Willliston, Florida to dive at Blue Grotto where we could practice everything from gear checks to navigation to dive tables. With depths down to 100 feet, and a steady 72° degrees Fahrenheit all year long, it’s a popular spot. Divers need an Open Water certification to dive there, and dive instructors are invited to use the platforms at various depths for dive training exercises. Blue Grotto’s website says they are the largest clear water cavern located in the heart of freshwater spring country in Williston, Florida.

Americans Ready to Travel Domestically // 1966 Serro Scotty Sportsman Hilander // Retro Vintage Camping

June is National Camping month, and Americans really are desperate to travel. Camping in the backyard the last 12 weeks has been a fun diversion but now, I’m hearing more and more about people purchasing travel trailers and campers in order to travel domestically. Even formerly international YouTube travelers are joining the trend to keep their audiences satisfied with new content. Families have run through the “staycation” trend and are ready to hit the road this summer to salvage some type of family vacation in 2020. Quite by chance, I had the great fortune to have the opportunity to meet the cutest camper I have ever seen. It was a Serro Scotty Sportsman. According to the previous owner, the travel trailer is a 1966 Scotty Hilander, and her name is Rainbow. I predict vintage, retro campers will enjoy a resurge in popularity as travelers want a recreational vehicle as unique as they are. The allure of recycle / repurpose / renew / reinvent feels like it will allay our guilt over all the non-recyclables we’ve consumed these past three months. Now, let’s meet Rainbow and inspire your own recreational renovation!

Building a Dock Across a Cypress Swamp // Expanded Living Space // Sanity During Quarantine

Hurricanes Matthew and Irma were the final blows to our dock. We gathered information, priced out supplies, and decided to have professionals build for us. Our savings by doing it “DIY” would be offset greatly by the time it would take us to build it, our aching backs, and lack of specialized equipment. We didn’t even realize the dock would save our sanity during quarantine.

St. Augustine Lighthouse // Sunset Moonrise Celestial Event // Champagne Toast and Hors’d’Oeuvres

Once a month – just once – a very special evening event takes place at the St. Augustine, Florida Lighthouse. It’s a 360° event at 165 feet in the air, with horizon-to-horizon views. The spectacle occurs when the sun sets to the West over the Intracoastal Waterway, then the moon rises in the East over the Atlantic Ocean. This natural experience is like no other, and the views from the historic landmark make the monthly event extra celestial.

Our NOLS Wilderness Medicine First Aid Class Experience Thru REI Co-op

With all of our diving, cycling, sailing, and being far from medical assistance, it seems prudent to take a NOLS Wilderness Medicine First Aid class. So, we did! The class was unbelievably useful. Unbelievably. I cannot tell you how comprehensive it is, how in depth it is. I feel confident that I can walk up to a patient, assist them, and administer far more than first aid on the spot.

Scuba Diving With Stuart Cove’s // Second Time Around // Lessons Learned // Dive Operator Review

A NAS Jax Skin and Scuba Dive Club member friend of ours says he won’t dive with Stuart Cove’s anymore. He said boat dive trip experiences are like eating at a restaurant. We might go to the same restaurant, we might even get the same waiter. The waiter might spill water on me, but not you. And so, he says dives with the same operator may be a completely different experience. Well, we’ve dove with Stuart Cove’s twice, and both times had the same experience times four with empty tanks, half-filled tanks, and O-ring failures. A lot of the dive experience centers around those simple items.

Demolition Project: Two 1920’s Wood Houses // 100 Years of History Flattened

We found a shotgun, a busted up safe, and plenty of 1920’s bottles while performing a demolition on two 1920 wood houses in downtown Palatka, Florida. I’ve heard two different histories of these two 1920’s houses. One is they were built to house school teachers, the other for mill workers. All the interior walls are bead board, the floors wood, and the joists and stringers heart pine. They were simple, with a few charming architectural details here and there.

Schedule for Scuba Diving for Eight Days in Cuba

If you’ve wondered what the itinerary for a Scuba Diving trip to Cuba would include, here’s a sample schedule. Our trip this year is postponed, however, last year’s trip was an incredible experience of a lifetime. We can’t wait to go back and see all our new lifelong friends. Into each 18-hour day, we packed at least five miles of walking, 1,000 photos, at least three glorious meals, a brilliant sunrise, a colorful sunset, and best of all; such positive interactions with Cubans everywhere we went. Oh – yeah – and some of the best scuba diving on Earth. Pristine water, fully-developed reefs, tons of tropical fish. This is a quick day-by-day guide.

Week-Long Dive Trip in Key West // Scuba Itinerary

After six weeks home, I’m finally ready to start some planning for future dive trips. We cancelled our Spring Break week to Key West. Until now, I hadn’t wanted to even think about what we missed. It just seemed too selfish to even contemplate pining for a trip that didn’t happen. We’re pretty good about being realistic. When we made the decision to cancel the afternoon we were supposed to leave, and we never looked back. No regrets, no self-pity. It was a far better choice to not jeopardize the lives of health care workers by traveling. Instead, we concentrated on bettering ourselves; reading more, working out more, and taking online Scuba safety classes. Now I’m ready to think about planning a week-long trip for Scuba diving in the Florida Keys! Here’s our plan!

CYPRESS SWAMP TREE REMOVAL // CLIMBING TREE CHAINSAW DROP // Deep Water Happy

Tony Vestal, owner of Timber Falls Tree Service shimmied up a dead tree in our cypress swamp. We’d seen him remove trees from our house with a crane after a hurricane, but never while carrying a running chainsaw and climbing the tree.

We caught on to the rhythm of the system; he used climbers with spikes and was harnessed to the tree. He carried two lines; one for himself and one to lower offcuts so that they swung and fell at the base of the tree instead of on our home.

Big Cat Rescue // Tampa Florida // Exotic Animal Sanctuary

For years, I’ve wanted to visit the non-profit Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I must have made a donation years ago, because I’ve received their newsletter for about a decade. It’s full of success stories of exotic cats rescued from abusive situations, as well as news of medical care given to the big cats and the passing of long-term rescue resident cats. When I visited recently, I had no idea there would be a television show about BCR. Hopefully the Netflix show will make more people aware of the abuses of exotic animals including inappropriate cub petting practices. Currently, they are closed to the public due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

BEST DIVE TOWEL // LIGHT, COMPACT, FAST-DRYING PACK TOWL // Deep Water Happy

On a trip last weekend to the Bahamas, we realized we really needed compact, efficient towels.

We thought of the courtesy towels by Shark that we used in Cozumel with Blue XtSea Diving, could not find those offered on Amazon, so Bill found what Kara and Nate recommended.

Pack Towl is the brand, and we ordered the beach towel size. They come in four sizes; face, hand, bath and beach. We wanted to be able to use these in a variety of situations, so we ordered the largest; beach.

They come in a variety of sizes and patterns; different colors are different prices! https://amzn.to/2WiBmiX

EXERCISE DURING COVID-19 // HEALTHY DISTANCING CONSIDERATIONS // Deep Water Happy

After three weeks of successful self-quarantine, we’ve been itching to get some miles under our tires. Should we exercise outdoors during Covid-19? We weighed the calculated risks.

While we want to stay strong and healthy, we also don’t want to suffer an injury that would put us in a hospital and take doctors away from serious virus cases. Also, we have been so careful, that we don’t want to chance any exposures ourselves. We decided to go, and were so glad we did. But, we’re waiting before going again.

Biodegradable Spray Hand Sanitizer // No Microplastics // Green Hygiene for Covid 19

Until I ordered some Stream2Sea Spray Hand Sanitizer, I did not know that the reason many hand sanitizers are thick and viscous is because they contain microplastics. Plastics! I decided to do some research on unsafe ingredients found in our newest must-have item for protecting ourselves from sickness and viruses; hand sanitizers, aka antiseptic rubs.

BIG CAT RESCUE // EXOTIC ANIMAL RESCUE & RETIREMENT SANCTUARY // Deep Water Happy

I’ve been to wildlife rescue facilities from Florida to South Africa. I’ve wanted to visit Big Cat Rescue for years, and finally did. Big Cat Rescue sends a magazine regularly; I think I’ve been receiving it for over a decade. Over the years, I’ve followed the successful care of abused, abandoned, orphaned, retired, and surrendered big cats by this non-profit accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Sometimes I even receive emails asking me to help with petitioning lawmakers to end the private possession and trade of exotic cats. Always, I do my part and write and call.

ECOCONSCIOUS BIODEGRADABLE HAND SANITIZER // STREAM2SEA // EUCALYPTUS AND CAMPHOR // DeepWaterHappy

Our favorite reef safe sunscreen company saves the day and their employees by introducing hand sanitizer to their product line. Stream2Sea is a small Florida-based, woman-owned company. When orders for reef safe shampoo and conditioners for the cruise ship industry plummeted, the owner, Autumn Blum, realized she could ensure her employee’s jobs while meeting a dire need for hand sanitizer. The result is a hand sanitizer of completely safe, biodegradable ingredients; no synthetic fragrances or preservatives.

Abandoned Houseboat on the St. Johns River // Derelict Vessel Woes // It Sunk at Our Dock

A houseboat has dragged anchor and landed next to our dock. It’s sunk, abandoned, and we can’t get rid of it. Formerly, it was someone’s home; their whole life encapsulated on the water. Romanticism aside, if we get another hurricane, it will damage our dock. Or, if it caught on fire, it could spread to our neighborhood. We’ve spent two years trying to get it removed.

DERELICT HOUSEBOAT STORY // SEEEMS WE’RE STUCK WITH IT // Deep Water Happy

A houseboat has landed next to our dock. It’s sunk, abandoned, and we can’t get rid of it. Over the last two years, we have contacted the county commissioners dozens of times, attended county commission meetings, and sought to have this derelict vessel removed from our property. While it looks kind of cute, it’s actually in pretty bad shape. It’s been ransacked, and it is full of plastic waste and rotten wood. Tarps have been disintegrating and falling in the St. Johns River, along with other plastic debris. It was moored out on an anchor that dragged more than once. Previously, it had broken loose of its mooring and damaged a neighbor’s dock.

Why You Should Join a Dive Club // Dive Club Benefits // Safety in Numbers

Why people would want to join a dive club came up in conversation over dinner with our NAS JAX Skin and Scuba Dive Club president this weekend. Our dive club welcomes new members enthusiastically, and we need their fresh perspective, enthusiasm for diving, and . We think the dive club is great, so I decided to examine just all the ways a dive club is beneficial to its members. We pondered if Gen X, Y, and Z don’t join service or even social clubs, and why an in-person, live event is more valuable than an online social group.

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