Tarpon Springs, home of the Sponge Divers

Located on the Gulf Coast in Pinellas County, Tarpon Springs has a population of only about 25,000. While the region was first settled in 1876, it was named Tarpon Springs in 1882 because of the plentitude of jumping tarpons in the bay that were spotted by the settlers. With the arrival of the railroad in 1888 it became a spot for snowbirds to come and frequent in the winter to escape the northern cold. It has the highest population of Greek Americans of any city in the US and this is based on some interesting history surrounding sponge diving. Continue reading Tarpon Springs, home of the Sponge Divers

Visiting Florida’s Natural Springs in Crystal River, Homosassa, and Rainbow Springs

This post should be called swimming with the manatees, but it turned out that an unseasonably warm February made for conditions that sent the manatees on their way back to the Gulf by the time we arrived. We still got to see a few manatees in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (where they have some rescued ones they are rehabilitating) but the usual population that migrates to the springs to escape the cold waters of the Gulf in a typical season (mid-Nov. to Mar.) had already left. Continue reading Visiting Florida’s Natural Springs in Crystal River, Homosassa, and Rainbow Springs

Diving the Ancient Mariner off Deerfield Beach

We finally got our chance to dive the Ancient Mariner wreck off Deerfield Beach. It was the perfect February day with lots of sunshine and flat seas. We love Florida winters, and even the 75-degree seas aren’t so bad with a 3mm suit and a hoodie 🙂

With 30-40 feet visibility and only a small current getting down the mooring line was easy enough. The wreck sits at a depth of 70 feet (to the sand) and is pretty big at 165 feet in length and 25 feet across. Continue reading Diving the Ancient Mariner off Deerfield Beach

Visiting Beijing, China

China was my first culture shock trip—nothing was like anything I had ever seen before. This was probably the first time I really felt like I was surrounded by strange language, different customs, and perhaps truly traveling. Twenty years ago locals got around by bicycle and bike lanes made up two thirds of the major roads. Also, this was before Continue reading Visiting Beijing, China

Volunteering for travel vouchers, is it worth it?

We were recently in Montreal visiting our families and heading back to Miami when the ticket counter started calling out for volunteers since the flight was overbooked.

Over the intercom we heard: “We need five volunteers because the flight is oversold! $500 is being offered.” A few minutes later it was $700 and as the departure time approached it turned into $1,000. This was starting to sound interesting. That’s a trip to Hawaii we thought… Continue reading Volunteering for travel vouchers, is it worth it?

Snorkeling the Kittiwake

Yes, you read that right, snorkeling. We can hardly believe it ourselves. Being avid divers, and getting to Grand Cayman—through a series of unfortunate events we ended up on the Kittiwake without a scuba tank. Ok, not that snorkeling was bad; it was just so frustrating to see through that 100+ foot visibility all the divers below exploring the wreck, which was down at 40-60 feet. Continue reading Snorkeling the Kittiwake