After Angela and the boys received their PADI Open Water certifications in 2013, we decided to create a new tradition in our house. Zack and Ben were both quickly becoming young men who would rather spend free time and school vacations with friends than with their parents, and understandably so. That pulling away is both natural and important to develop their independence, and we encourage it.
Also understandable is our need to continue spending quality vacation time with the boys. So we began balancing their need for independence against the irresistible pull of epic travel. Plus, their friends don’t dive.
It was decided that once a year, Zack, Ben, and I would find a dive location relatively close and spend a week catching up. Yes, we would dive. But we would also camp, grill meats, tell wildly-embellished stories, and sample good Irish whiskey. Man stuff.
The boys were enthusiastically on board, and so was Angela, wholeheartedly insisting that she enjoyed her quiet time while we were away. She always manages to accomplish some major home project while we’re gone, too, which is undoubtedly easier in an empty house.
And so the tradition began. In 2014 we hauled the travel trailer to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. While the camping, jet skiing, skateboarding, and wind surfing were fantastic, the diving was a bit of a bust.
The next year we revisited a previous dive location, going to High Springs, Florida, where the diving is always great and the pictures are surreal.
The summer of 2016 would be the last time all three of us would be on a dive trip for a while. Zack had joined the Army and was heading to basic training in less than a month, and a trip was exactly what the brothers needed to help them say goodbye for now. The boys were up for some wreck diving, so we journeyed to Pensacola, Florida, famously for the largest artificial reef in the world: the USS Oriskany, an 800-foot-long aircraft carrier sitting upright in deep water. With Zack’s military career fast approaching, we figured he needed a big military sendoff.
As Angela and I continue to work our way back through past travels, I will share each of these dive trips in detail.
For now, however, I quickly turn my attention to the trip from 2017 that Ben and I took without Zack. In fact, as I am writing this, we are journeying back to Chattanooga from the Bahamas, tired yet thrilled from some of the most unexpectedly wonderful diving I’ve ever encountered.
While Ben and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly on this adventure, it has been bittersweet. Angela is always missed on these trips. This time we had to miss Zack as well.