Monday, March 29, 2010

Engagement Dive

Here's the video from our dive trip in Jamaica. As you can imagine, I had some pretty un-ordinary requirements when I was trying to book the dive. I contacted 3 dive companies with my idea, and Everett from Resort Divers was the only one who said "No Problem, Mon." This turned out to be good fortune, because he and his staff were amazing. Friendly, patient, professional, and completely committed to making the dive awesome. I truly can't recommend them highly enough. I wanted a video of the dive, so Everett hooked us up with Steve from Video Vacations, who was also totally into making my plan work.

Everett and the dive instructor were already informed about what I wanted to happen, so while Kim was in the pool doing the Discover Scuba training, I had about an hour to fill the videographer in on the plan. This was key, because the videographer was the one who had the treasure chest and would have to hide it for us on the dive.

As you can see from the video, everything went great. I really could not have done it without the ideas, enthusiasm, and help of the dive crew. Also, I have to note that the quality of the actual video from Steve is great. I had to shorten it and shrink it significantly to make it YouTube-able. That's why the image quality is now low and the editing gets choppy in parts.

Big thanks to Everett, Steve, and everyone who helped with the dive. If you're in Jamaica, go with them!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Engagement Story

I'm so proud and happy to say that Kim and I are engaged! As many who know us can attest, this engagement was a long time coming. That’s why I figured that I had to at least try to make the engagement worth the wait. So, here's what I came up with:

The Short Story: I kidnapped Kim and held her underwater until she said “yes.”

The Long Story:

Thursday, March 18th, 6am: Kim wakes up and I tell her that she'll have to cancel her hair appointment for Friday. She asks why, and I say that it's because I'm stealing her away for her birthday. She says that she has to ask for time off, and I say that I cleared it with her bosses weeks ago. She asks where we're going, I say Jamaica. Her birthday's 10 days away, but I just said that was supposed to add to the surprise factor.

Throughout the day I have assured Kim that I will NOT be proposing to her on the trip, and to just enjoy it for the birthday present that it is. I'm pretty sure she finally bought it. I start feeding her info about stuff to do and the resort we’re staying at in the hopes that it will be all she can think about… That night, we both pack quickly and try to get to bed early.

Friday, March 19th, 4:45am: My nephew, Neil, picks us up at our house. He'll take us to the airport, then watch the house and the cat while we're away. Big thanks to him - we really appreciate it.

I had the ring, the fake ring (to be explained below), and about 1 pound of lead pellets (again, see below) in a hidden compartment in my carry-on and was certain I’d have my bag searched. Fearing that Kim would hear or see something during the search, I knew I had to do something to prevent that. So, I called Jason, my oldest friend. Jason happens to be a big shot at the TSA and oversees security at MSP. I told him my plan, and he agreed to meet us at the security checkpoint at 5am so that he could distract Kim while I went through. Ironically her bag got searched, and not mine, but it was great to see J anyway. After that, we caught our 7am flight and headed to Jamaica!

We arrive at our hotel around 4pm. The hotel is huge and gorgeous. The weather is 86 degrees and sunny. Our room is a junior sweet with a jacuzzi and balcony right on the beach. Kim doesn’t get any time to enjoy the room, however, because I scheduled a massage for her at 4:30. This served two purposes: First, to give her a nice, relaxing start to the trip. Second, it got her away from the room so I could call our dive operator and go over the plans for the actual proposal.

That night we have dinner at the hotel, hang out by the pool, and walk by the beach. The next day is also relaxing, with some snorkeling, swimming, and sampling great Jerk cooking.

Sunday, March 21st, 9am: I had told Kim in advance that I was setting up a Scuba trip for us. The owner of the company, Everett, picked us up at our hotel and we drove a couple miles to where the boat was kept. Kim’s not certified yet, so she had to do a Discover Scuba course before we went for our dive. As luck would have it, we were the only two people going out that day, and there just happened to be a videographer waiting for us, too! I explained to Kim that photographers and videographers often go on dive trips, then try to sell you their footage afterward. She was a bit nervous about the dive, so she bought my story without too much thought.

While the dive instructor took her over to the pool for the class portion of her day, I started unpacking and explaining my plan to the videographer. I gave the videographer a small treasure chest that had been filled with a mixture of small lead pellets and epoxy. In the middle of the chest was a fake engagement ring standing up and clearly visible. To make sure the box would sink and stay put, I put just over a pound of lead in it. The videographer put this in the pocket of his vest, out of sight.

After Kim and the instructor came back, we all headed out to the boat like a normal dive. We reached the dive site after just a few minutes, and I was the first in. After me was the videographer, the instructor, then Kim. Once we were all in, we dropped down about 25’ to a bed of sea fans, corals, sponges, and fish.

Towards the end of the dive, I saw the videographer reaching into his pocket. At that point, I made sure Kim was not watching him, then watched where he put the box. Having worked all of this out in advance, the instructor then led Kim away from me and towards that spot. I dropped back and pulled a dive slate out of my own pocket, then snuck up to the Kim right as she was getting to the spot.

As she came up on a big, bright Barrel Sponge (looks like a neon barrel sitting upright on the reef), the instructor indicated that she should look inside. She did, and just happened to see a little treasure chest! She pulled it out and, with a bit of help, unlatched and opened it. She saw the ring and looked up at me. I held up the dive slate, which said “Will You Marry Me? “ Her eyes went wide, then she nodded “Yes!” and we were on our way to the surface.

When we got to the surface, Kim’s first words were “How did you do that?” Eventually I got an actual “yes,” too. We rode back to shore, where I did the proper one-knee proposal with the real ring and, thankfully, she still said “yes.”

We have the whole thing on video, but it’s currently too long for Youtube. When I find a way to rip and edit it, I’ll post. It’s pretty cool.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Polar Plunge 2010

From Polar Plunge '10

I'm a little late getting this up, but definitely wanted to put it out there as a Thank You to all the people that donated to my pledge drive, and to our team's other pledge drives. Together we raised almost $1500.00 for Special Olympics!
From Polar Plunge '10

We had a beautiful day, with temps in 40's and warm sunshine. Unfortunately, that only made the water feel all that much colder! There's nothing that will take your breath away like going all-under in freezing water.

From Polar Plunge '10

From Polar Plunge '10

It was a great day, we all had fun, and the Special Olympics got some much-needed support. Thanks again to all who donated!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Verm Video!

Well, it took me awhile, and Windows Movie Maker has butchered it, but here's the video from the first Verm run of the year. The first few seconds are supposed to be choppy and fast-forward. After that, all of the weirdness is the Movie Maker program. Sorry.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Season Opener on the Verm!

Wow, what a day! In two weeks we went from cold and snow to sunny and 64 degrees! The ice finally cracked off the Verm, and Caleb, Dennis, Graeme, and I headed down to check out the first run of the year. The river gauge was still frozen, so we didn't know the cfs, but the gauge height was about 5.5 feet. Whatever the cfs, it was running high. Triple had some huge pyramid waves, railroad was steep, narrow, and kicking straight into the river left wall, and the rock in railroad pool stuck out of the water by 5" or so.

The upper portion of S-bend had two surfable waves, and the lower (normal) wave/hole looked like lots of fun. The only problem was it kicked directly up onto the rock shelves on River Left, so if you flipped while surfing you'd get quite a thumpin'.

None of us had ever seen Donut the way it was yesterday, which is impressive since between the 4 us we'd run it many hundreds of times at levels ranging from 35 cfs to over 800. It was a tall, narrow mound that was mostly green, but then there was a little side curler perched on top of it. It was like two features were stacked one on top of the other. Very strange, but fun to blast over.

Fisherman's had a couple large waves leading up to it, but the river-wide hole portion of it wasn't very sticky and was even greened out in parts. We ran hard left and walked right through it.

So, the run was high-speed, big waves, and lots of splashing. The ice shelves were mostly gone, but we still encountered logs and icebergs coming down. If you go, be careful. I had my helmet cam on, so look for that video in the next day or two for a 1st-person view of things. Also, thanks to Dennis who took the pics for us. Great job! Stay tuned...