Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dry Tortugas - December Camping Trip

Do you remember last year?
Let me refresh your memory...
2007 - "Clothes. Stay. On..."

This year was going to be different...
More people, better food, more fun, less hair cutting.

The trip originally was planned for 15 people...
I had about 17 people tell me they wanted to go, but I knew it would be less than that. We had cancellations and no-shows right up to the day before we departed.

After all the planning, pleading and plotting we had a Gang of Eight.
Zack - From The Wrong Way, IDS Tech and 2007 participant.
Frau - IDS contractor and 2007 victim.
Glyn - IDS Tech and token Aussie.
Erich - IDS Event Staff and part of our 2008 Beijing Crew (See "Cowgirl" post)
Brad - Former classmate (1977? 78?) of mine. Geotechnical engineer in Jax Beach.
Amanda - IDS Developer, code name iHot. (Don't ask, you'll only piss her off.)
Jeff - IDS LPGA Staffer and root beer drinker.
(and, of course, Yours Truly)

The trip was split into two parts,
The early crew (5 of us) would go down and get the site ready on Thursday, and everyone else would come down on Friday morning. We'd all depart on Sunday afternoon.

Things started to get interesting as I watched the weather forecasts and the Pulaski Shoals data buoy readings:
Windy and cool... and a cold front was on it's way.
It would be hitting the Tortugas on Thursday around noon.

Lovely.

We set out from Jax around 6:30 on Wednesday night, had dinner on the way down and made our way to Key West arriving in plenty of time to load the boat at 6:30.

The Captain tried to scare us off...
"It's gonna bad out there. The front is coming and it is going to hit us either before or just as we hit Rebecca Channel. We're talking 8-10 foot seas."
None of our group of 5, nor any of the other 20 or so additional visitors bailed...

True to his word, just as we hit the end of the Quicksands beyond the Marquesas, the sky turned black, the rain started and the seas were a mess...
The crew passed out seasick bags and quite a few were used for the appropriate purpose.

We weathered the storm and arrived at the Dry Wet Tortugas about 10 minutes behind schedule. Sunny Days didn't make the trip at all.

There was a steady rain falling as we stared of offload our equipment.
We delayed putting up our tents until after 1pm when the weather started to break.


Rough waters off the south swim beach

It took us a while, but we finally got camp set up and by the end of the day everything was starting to come together.

It was a cool and windy night, and the next day (Friday) there was a sustained wind from the north-north-west.

Friday morning the other three of our crew arrived on the Yankee Freedom II...
We sent all the first-timers off to enjoy the Fort tour and a couple of us took care of stowing new gear and getting things squared away.
Things were fixing to get interesting...

Constant Readers have no doubt been following the Out of Context quotes from down at the Park... Lots of one-liners, insults, snaps, and digs at each other...
At one point I did dust off a classic old joke...
Yours Truly: "Dude, you look awful."
Anonymous Participant: "I feel fine, though..."
YT: "Hmmm. I better check my MedDiags program on my Crackberry..."
(YT digs out his Crackberry and starts Application.)
YT: "'Looks Bad - Feels Bad' - That's not it."
YT: "'Looks Good - Feels Bad' - That's not it either."
Concerned looks from other Campers
YT: "Loogs Good - Feels Good... Nope."
YT: "Ah! Here it is... Looks Bad - Feels Good.... You're a vagina."

There is a story that needs to be told here that I will let someone else detail:
The Tale of the Cooler Nazi...
Check back for information on how Yours Truly was thwarted in every way possible in my efforts to keep drinks and ice available for the duration of the trip...

A few pictures are in order...

Friday the 12 was a full moon...

Full moon over the Harbor.

And of course, the full moon brings out some odd behavior in people...

Amanda and Glyn, thankfully oblivious to the Just-say-no-to-Crack Zack-style Full Moon. Ewwww.

Sunrise over the Shrimpboats

The Shrimpers were lined up down the eastern edge of the Park border, taking advantage of the lee created by the Park's shallow waters.

The sun did come out for a bit, and the swim beach was sheltered from the wind...

Erich, Jeff, Zack, Glyn and Frau...

And no trip report from DRTO is complete without the obligatory Sunset Photo...



Watching the sunset...Note Frau's use of the sleeping bag to ward off frostbite.

One last one...

Glyn's run-in with the Physalia physalia...


He got the black eye the the previous evening... I'll let someone closer to the incident tell that story...

There was lots of drinking, lots of good food...

Clothes. Stayed. On... Thankfully- for several reasons...
The wind chill had the temps down in the low 60's, maybe even the upper 50's.
We had a steady 30kt wind through the night on Friday and Saturday...
No one really wanted to risk frostbite in order to re-enact the 2007 Naked Moat Marathon. Besides, with Jeremy and Kim gone, any streaker would be in greater danger... Ranger Sarah is a "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" kinda girl.
And no one wants to get their genitalia Tazed...



So... We're thinking a trip in May.... Warm water, warmer air...

Anyone interested?

TBG- ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE

4 comments:

Travis Smith said...

Thankfully you had a female present. I was begining to wonder - especially after the naked moonlit 5K comment.

The Big Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie in SC said...

Thanks for the lovely memories of 20 some-odd "intrepid souls" (the TBG group excluded, of course) thinking the captain was just blowin' smoke when he said 8-10 and then finding out what the little white bags are really for. Reminds me of the one day we came back with 11 people in 12-14s and everything on the galley counters ended up on the deck -- twice. The third time, I said *screw it* and left it there because no one was making the trip to the galley anyway. They were all too busy crying that they were going to die. It's true, I swear. ... good times ... :)

The Big Guy said...

So, you going to joining us on the next trip?
You can bring Brandi...

The Dingo is pushing for a post-Masters trip.
Like straight from Augusta to Key West...

You in?
(Sorry, DRTO is a 'no hunting' zone.)

TBG