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Thursday, October 03, 2013

SEPTEMBER 2013 LETTER



Thursday, October 3rd, 2013


Greetings from the North Sea off the coast of Scotland on the 410 foot MSV Island Enforcer!   This will be my last hitch…forever.  On November 1st we begin our journey to the east coast of Brazil and should arrive around November 25th.  I expect to get off the boat around November 28th and I hopefully will be “home” to watch the most important college football game of the year…my MIGHTY FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY SEMINOLES will feast on Gaytor Tater Tots - the University of Florida.  I am confident my NOLES will win this year and I am willing to bet MONEY to prove my point.

On Tuesday, September 10th my wife Harriet Lee Nelson and I flew to San Francisco from Charleston, West Virginia.  We spent two great weeks as guests of my sister Mary and her family’s home in Los Gatos, California.  I had the pleasure for Harriet’s first visit to the San Francisco Bay area to take her to Napa and Sonoma, California and visit four wineries including a great tour of the family owned Benziger Winery and the Imagery Estate.  We spent two nights in hotels in that area and we both agreed we liked Sonoma the best.  We stopped and walked across the Golden Gate bridge.  I took her across the Oakland Bay bridge and…yes…the traffic was horrible.  We spent a day with my sister in downtown Los Gatos shopping (Harriet) and eating a great lunch at the Hindquarter Bar and Grille restaurant.  On Sunday, September 15th we crossed over the Santa Cruz Mountains on the treacherous Highway 17 and spent the day in Santa Cruz.  We had a great lunch at Aldo’s at the City Marina and walked out to the lighthouse.  Then the six of us including my sister Mary, my niece Lauren and two of her best friends went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and bought a bunch of tickets.  I took Harriet on her first rollercoaster ride and she loved it.  The “look” of death on her face was classic!

On Monday, September 16th I took Harriet, my nephew Daniel(16) and my niece Lauren(12) to their FIRST Major League Baseball Game as we watched the Oakland Athletics play the Los Angeles Angels.  Unfortunately, Oakland lost that game 12 - 1.  (10 days later Oakland won the West Division of the American League).

On Tuesday, September 17th Harriet and I drove to Monterey, California where I visited the Back Scatter Underwater Photo/Video store and bought my housing (Nauticam) for my Sony NEX 5R mirror less camera.  I am getting back into underwater photography.  We spent the night at the Centrella Inn Bed & Breakfast in Pacific Grove and the next day we visited the Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row.  Next we drove on the famous 17 mile road around the Monterey peninsula and stopped at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course clubhouse. Whew….expensive!!!

We had lunch in Carmel then we drove south on the spectacular California Highway 1 to the Big Sur area.   Fantastic.  We spent the night at the Big Sur Inn in a rustic cabin.  No telephone or Internet…a wonderful concept in life.

On Thursday, September 19th we drove back to Carmel and toured the entire town of Carmel By The Sea and spent the night at the Quality Inn.  We had a great dinner at the PortaBella Restaurant.

On Friday, September 20th we drove back to Soquel, California and met my old cave diving friends Ron Winiker, Lalo Fiorelli and Evy Cambridge.  We had a great meal at a Mexican Restaurant - Tortilla Flats.  Excellent Food!  That late afternoon we drove to Los Gatos and “partied” (too hard) with my sister Mary at her home Friday night.

Saturday was the only “bad” day of weather during our two weeks, but we did watch my niece Lauren play on her soccer team as they won 5 - 1.  Lauren scored one of their goals.

On Sunday, September 22nd, Harriet and I left early and drove up to the City of San Francisco.  We visited the famous Lombard Street, the Coit Tower (remember the 1971 Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood movie), the famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.  The GREAT moment was I took Harriet on a Boat Tour where we observed the Golden Gate Bridge from underneath and around the famous Alcatraz prison.   At the same time the America’s Cup Sailboat race was taking place.  As we were near the end of our tour the boat captain announced that he was asked to not enter the dockage area as the second race of the day was being completed.  We had first row seats as the ORACLE crossed the finish line 23 seconds ahead of the New Zealand boat to win.  The ORACLE went on to WIN the America’s Cup three days later 9 wins to 8 losses after being down 8 - 1.  This race is now considered one of greatest comebacks in American Sports history.  We have a bunch of photos to prove it!

After the boat trip we had a late lunch at the famous Souma’s Seafood Restaurant and then we jumped on a trolley and rode to the downtown business district.  Man…what a day!   We got back to Los Gatos by 8:00 P.M. and had a great dinner at my sister’s best friend Joani’s home. 

On Monday we slept late, said our good byes to Mary, Daniel and Lauren and drove up to the San Francisco Airport where we spent the night at the Dylan Hotel at Millbrae, California. We were up early Tuesday morning as we had our flight departing San Francisco at 9:00 A.M.  arriving in Charleston at 7:45 P.M., Tuesday night from Charlotte, North Carolina.

It was an OUTSTANDING two weeks with no glitches (except for finding Mary’s home at night our first night).

On Sunday, December 8th I fly to Cancun, Mexico and begin two weeks of teaching and guiding cave diving at Puerto Aventuras, Mexico. I return to Charleston on December 23rd for Christmas and then both Harriet and I return to Puerto Aventuras on December 30th and to celebrate the 2014 Happy New Year!

For the next thee months I am booked solid with cave diving training courses, DPV Cave diving courses and guiding and Side Mount cave diving training.  Whew!   I am tired already!   Not bad for a “young” 60 year old guy.

Well…I hope you enjoyed reading about this adventure.  Please let me know if you did.

Be Safe!   Be Happy!

STEVE



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