January 20, 2009
January 8, 2009
After spending a fun and delicious thanksgiving with the Bozanics, I began preparations to leave Southern California. The holiday season isn’t the easiest time to go diving, let alone be a guest in someone else’s home, but I spent most of December further up the coast in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey. My first stop was San Francisco, where I stayed with Sara Shoemaker-Lind. Since being the North American scholar from 1997, Sara has been working above and below sea level as a highly successful photographer. Although we didn’t make it underwater this time around, we had a terrific time exploring San Francisco through photography. Photography has always been intriguing to me, but up till this year, I had never really seized upon an opportunity to explore it. Sara and I really lucked out on the weather and made trips to the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, the brand new and fantastic California Academy of Sciences and her show, A Mermaid’s View at the San Mateo Public Library. Sara and her husband Kevin also took me to several Christmas parties, including one being held by the Northern California chapter of The Explorer’s Club. I had a great time learning all about photography and managing media from Sara, and it was a lot of fun hanging out with her, Kevin and Remy!
Although I was leaving the Shoemaker-Linds in San Francisco, my next stop was with the Shoemakers in Aptos, CA! Sara’s parents, Wells and Sandie had graciously invited me to stay in the guesthouse of their home and winery, Salamandre Wine Cellars, while I was visiting Monterey and Santa Cruz. Venturing a little further south from Aptos I was lucky enough to spend two days with Gil, Justin and George at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I had never been to Monterey before, but I had heard from a number of different people how great it was. Gil Falcone, the diving safety officer, and Justin and George, two other divers from the aquarium were more than happy to show me around the aquarium and take me diving in the kelp forest tank. Although the aquarium doesn’t currently have a white shark in its huge outer bay tank, there are still hammerhead and Galapagos sharks so the divers working in that tank have to wear chain mail and work in coordinated teams. Maybe next time I’ll have a chance to dive in that tank.
By this time I had booked tickets to head back to DC on the 17th, so I didn’t have too much time left in California, but before I left I wanted to visit last year’s North American scholar, Brenna Mahoney. Brenna is currently working towards her PhD at UC Santa Cruz and was nice enough to take a day to show me around Long Marine Station in Santa Cruz. It was nice to see some of the work going on there, and interesting to see what Brenna’s been up to since finishing up her term last April.
I spent my last few days in California with Sara, Kevin and Remy. December might not have been the warmest or most exciting time to visit Northern California, but I still met a lot of really interesting people and had a fantastic time. It was a really nice way to wrap up the 2008 portion of my scholarship.