I've had quite a few people ask me why I just abruptly stopped blogging once I started my dive business full time. It's a bit complicated, and yes, I have been extremely busy, but I guess a big part of it had to do with all the negative blogging controversy with some Saipan bloggers a couple years ago, and a few less than pleasant situations with some fellow dive instructors. But as far as I can tell, most of them are either gone now, or have just silenced themselves after accomplishing all the destruction they could manage. I do realize that many people followed by blog and lived vicariously through my dives and my pictures. So with this in mind, I'm going to make a concerted effort to try posting things on a regular basis again.
It's been a very busy year, I've certified over 150 divers in my first year and a half, and taken many divers out who were visiting Saipan. I've had people come to dive with me from Belgium, Germany, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Israel, London, Switzerland and the list goes on and on. I've taken out students from BYU in Honolulu to collect marine animals for their labs and classes, I've taken out dive professionals who came here to see Saipan, and I've taken hundreds of divers who just wanted to experience the Grotto. Yes, I'm still very glad I made the career switch and decided to make a business out of my passion. It's also been a year of monumental milestones. Kelli and I traveled to Florida in March to meet our first grandson - Adam. We spent a couple weeks visiting with Josh, Regis and Adam and it was amazing getting to hold my grandson. It was a feeling I doubt I will ever be able to adequately describe. I can't wait until I get to teach "the little pirate" to dive and join me on my underwater adventures. While we were in Florida, we took a one day trip down to the Florida Keys to meet with a dive resort owner and look into the possibility of moving there to be closer to our new grandson. We discovered that the economy there was even worse than it is in Saipan, and they pay their dive instructors very poorly there, so it really wasn't much of a temptation. I was also very disappointed in what the Keys have become. They have always been one of my favorite places, but no longer. They aren't what they once were, and if you're thinking of going on a dive vacation there, I'd think again and head somewhere with better visibility and diving.
On June 7th, Kelli and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, quite a milestone these days. We had already spent enough on our trip to Florida, so we decided to stay on Saipan and just celebrate it quietly together. Our daughter Sarah and her husband Chris arranged for us to have a private dinner for 2 in the gazebo at the Hyatt. It was truly a magical setting and a great way to celebrate a lifetime together.
We also found out around the same time that Sarah is expecting our 2nd grandchild in January. It's amazing how our family has been growing lately and all the changes as a result. I still don't really feel old enough to be a grandfather yet, well unless I've done 4 Grotto dives in one day, and then I feel my age. I guess you never really expect to be the person that your own grandfather was, you somehow always see yourself as much younger. I am looking forward to being able to spoil my grandchildren though, and to try to instill my love of the ocean in them as well.
Kelli also finished her Divemaster course and is now an official Divemaster. Hard to believe that she has really come that far. And just in case you're thinking that I just gave it to her, that wasn't the case, she had to earn it the same as anyone else would. It took her over a year to get it all done, but she has become an amazing diver and Divemaster in that time. I'm proud to have her along on my dives with customers, and she can definitely pull her own weight.
Then in October, Kelli and I both turn 50, fortunately though, Kelli turns 50 first. Yup, quite the year and we're still going strong. I would rather just let the day quietly pass, but I think Kelli is determined to make a big deal about it, so we'll see.
If you're following my blog and want to see more dive pics and stories of the dives, let me know and I'll make an effort to tell you some of the stories and show you a bit of my life.