St Thomas Day 8

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Going deep...

I woke up right after the sunrise had taken place. Darnit, I missed it. Everyone was still asleep. I went out on the deck and still managed to catch a pretty picture after the sun had came up.

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Everyone woke up to the smell of syrup and pancakes this morning. Of course I would forget to take a picture of it...just as I had done every other morning before but once. 

I checked and double checked all of my batteries and they were all fully charged along with the GoPro. We were set for the day despite being down 1 camera, I was still going to make the most of this very special day.

We waited around as we counted down the time...tick, tock, tick, tock

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Kiera's burn was feeling much better today she said. She was still really red, but she was not in the pain she was in last night. So, that was a good thing...especially with what was happening today. 

So, what is happening today you might ask? We are going diving!!! We are diving with Coki Dive Center at...Coki of course!

 

Just some quick back history: Coki was the very first place we EVER dove with back in 2016. Sakari had taken up scuba diving lessons back home and I figured why not give it a shot myself. She made it look so easy. That time around would be Sakari, Brayden, Kolin, Courtney, Kendra, the hubby and myself. It was quite the experience. We all loved it so much...except the hubby. He struggled with the current and I think got a charley horse and had to be pulled back by one of the instructors. So, he didn't get to enjoy it as much. But, that started our love for Discover Scuba Diving and we have been doing it ever since. 

Last time we were here, we had decided to try a different spot and ended up booking with a dive shop at Secret Harbor and had a really crappy time. We went out, we came back in, dive over. Wait what?!? I kid you not...15 min and we were done. Unheard of! Never again. I would not be going back to that place ever again. So, this time around I booked with Coki again since I knew the reef was good and so were they. 

Kiera had been super excited for today to arrive. She had talked about it since we first arrived saying she couldn't wait to go. She has watched Sakari dive on every vacation for the last, almost, 3 years and said she was so jealous of all of the pictures.  Well...the day has come and she was going to get her first experience. I did explain to her  "You know you have to wear this jacket and tank on your back right? How is this going to be on your sunburn?" She said "I think it will be ok" in this cute little high pitched squealy voice she does when she's excited. Ok then...it's 8:45am and it's time to go!

I wanted to get to Coki a little early...once again for a parking spot. When we arrived, I went up to tell them we were here. Our dive wasn't until 11:30am and I figured we would just hang out at Coki for the morning. The guy at the desk said his name was Ryan and he was going to be our instructor for the day. Cool. He asked if we would be interested in going now? He said he didn't have anyone else and if we were ready, so was he. I consulted with the family and they all said "YES!" So yes it was. I didn't even have a chance to get nervous. 

They gave us our wrist bands and I was sent over to Coral World to show them so I could obtain a parking pass. I guess they give you a 3 hour parking pass to put in the dash of your car if you are there for diving (even though when we went to Coral World the other day, they had told us "don't worry about it").

Now I went to go take a picture and for some reason my battery was already flashing that it was about to die. What the heck??? I was in panic mode. I knew from before that Coki used the same camera's for their dive pictures and I asked Ryan if they had a way to charge my battery. All of my batteries were saying the same thing despite me checking them before I left the house. I have no idea what is going on. He said he'd take my battery up to the office and charge it for me. Whew!!!

Ryan handed us our books to fill out and we all joked about Kiera being the newbie of the bunch. As we sat down and filled out our books, we are so used to doing this and I believe this would be our...maybe 14th...Discover Scuba Dive that we filled out all the multiple pages and pages of stuff in there and also filled out the test they give you. Of course except for Kiera who had no idea what any of it was. I guess it has just become such a habit for us and we know all the answers that we just kept going. Oops. 

After we were done, everyone got up and I yelled "Wait! I didn't get any pictures of us doing our books! Come back!" Sakari was laughing at me but kept walking. They had already made it back up to the front desk with Ryan and handing him their books. 

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Now it was time to take our short walk over to behind Coral World where they give you their class. This was the same place as before. Ryan started his class and as always, they make it a lot of fun.

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During class we hear this big THUMP. On the table was a lizard who had just fell from the wall after being chased by another lizard. 

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We let Kiera try to answer most of the questions Ryan ask...we wanted to make sure she understood....NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH....she had heard it so many times already...finger up in the air as she shouted those famous words once more...."Never hold your breath...got it!"

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Once class was over, Ryan asked Kiera all the questions on the test and she got them all right. Then it was time to head down to the beach to meet him to put the gear on. I had previously asked the owner if it was ok for someone to carry my equipment to the water for me to put on and he started shushing me and saying "I don't want to hear about any injuries, please don't tell me any of this, I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that, please ask the instructor". Um, ok. I told him it didn't prevent me from diving. I mean you are lighter in the water and therapy companies use pools for therapy on injuries. It makes it better. I wasn't sure what his problem was. I've never had a problem asking this of any other dive company I've been with. But, he was acting like if I told him about it, he wouldn't be able to let me dive. What the heck! I also brought it up to Ryan and he had the same reaction. Do they realize there are dive companies out there that cater to people with missing limbs and disabilities as well? I mean I have a release form from my doctor saying it was fine to dive.  It was just weird. 

Ryan came back with my battery and said it was charged. Whew! I could breathe a sigh of relief. Everyone geared up but me and Ryan did carry my equipment to the water and then it was time to do our skills in the water. I handed the GoPro to the hubby and told Sakari I was letting her take the pictures since she always does the macro pictures and gets up close to everything and this was the camera she always used for that. Her photography is always great. She asked if I was sure and I double checked the doors to the camera and handed it off to her.

Skills time...

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So far, Kiera was doing great. I did have concerns on how she would feel about removing her regulator from her mouth and "continuing to breathe" and still  be able to put it back in. Would she shoot up out of the water? Would she panic? NOPE! She is a pro! I tell you what, no matter what this kid does, she does it great the first time. As I mentioned before, Sakari has taken up skating with her dad. He goes to the skate parks and there are some pretty big drop ramps and it has taken Sakari quite some time to get up enough courage to be able to drop from them. They take Kiera for the first time and she just goes right down it like she had been doing it all her life. This is just one example of MANY! She's just awesome.

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Ok, it was time to start our adventure and Kiera was feeling good about it by the looks of things. 

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We stopped to take some pictures as we had done the last time we dove with them. Now last time they did have a photographer with them that took tons of pictures. We didn't have anyone this time around. I did ask if they had someone coming along and he told me no, unless I wanted someone, then he'd fine one. Eh, nah...since we have our own camera and GoPro, we would be ok. BIG MISTAKE! Ryan took my camera and snapped some pictures of us.

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Ryan adjusted my weights a bit and then we were off..

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As we are going along, we found a lizard fish.

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Sakari managed to get a good close up of him and then he swam off. 

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Sakari was going along and doing her close up and macro pictures. I had hoped that she remembered how to switch back and forth between the two...but when I got home to look at all of her pictures, I would discover that there were many that she would have in macro mode and look up and take a picture of something going by, therefore getting a completely blurry picture.

Brain Coral:

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Blue Bell Tunicates:

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Scattered Pore Rope Sponge:

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Black Sea Rod Coral:

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This was possibly green cup coral since they looked green inside. They usually don't come out unless it's nighttime and dark but I have got to see some on our snorkeling and diving trips in the past (except they were the orange cup coral). They would have been so pretty if they would have been "blooming". 

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Black Sea Rod Coral macro shot

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Blue Vase Sponge:

One of my favorites! They are just so pretty...and blue!

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Some interesting facts about sponges:

*Did you know that sponges are actually animals and not plants?

*There are over 5,000 sponge species around the world

*They have been around for over 500 million years. That means they've been here since the Chitons.

*Although they are animals, they do not have heads, eyes, brains, arms, legs, ears, muscles, nerves or organs!

*They do not move

*They use pores to filter water for food and oxygen and pores to push out the waste

*They have very few predators other than sea turtles and fish with toxins

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A four eyed butterfly swam by. She actually remembered to change settings to capture this shot.

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More Blue Bell Tunicates:

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Some interesting facts about Blue Bell Tunicates:

*They are also called "Sea Squirts"

*They are the only animal in the world that can produce cellulose.

*The blood of the animal is green instead of red. Oxygen is carried by the plasm and there is a "U" shaped heart to pump blood into the veins. The blood is very acidic.

*They are filter feeders and draw water into the body and siphon tiny plankton inside. They have such a fine net to filter the food that even bacteria cannot pass through it.

*They grow on dead coral or other hard substances like stones.

Branching Tube Sponge:

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Sea Plumes

Blue Sponge

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Trumpet Fish:

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Some interesting facts about Trumpet Fish:

*There are only 3 species of Trumpet Fish

*They have a snout with a teeth located in their lower jaw

*They have a row of spines on their backs that can be raised to ward off predators

*They can grow up to around 39 inches

*They can change colors to blend in with their surroundings and during mating

*They eat small fish and crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp, krill)

*They can float vertical with their head down to blend in with coral and fans

*Just like seahorses, after mating the female transfers the eggs to the males pouch to care for until they hatch

The hubby was busy with the GoPro and at some point I decided to take it from him. He does always get good video but I noticed he wasn't as far down as we were and I was concerned with what he may be getting. I wanted closer up pictures and since I didn't have a camera this time around, I had no control over any of the video or pictures that I relied on my family to get. This was getting the best of me. I'm so used to having a camera in my hand and capturing everything we see (because truth be known, even though he gets a lot of things, he doesn't always see what I do). 

I took the GoPro and started filming myself. Then it happened....WE FOUND KEVIN!!!

He was hiding but we spotted him and I was soooooo excited. Man he was big! They sure grow them big down here in St Thomas!

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I was just so fascinated with him. Sakari got the pictures and moved on after awhile (she did get there before me). Then I noticed the rest of the family had moved on as well. Ok, bye Kevin. It was great seeing you...oh how I loved him. 

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We continued on and I noticed that Sakari was swimming a lot higher than she normally does. Hmmm, I wonder what was up with that. She waved at me which told me that SHE was ok but I noticed that she no longer had the camera in her hand. It was now just dangling from her wrist. I would find that the battery had died. Ugh! Devastation came over me again. What the heck was going on??? I tried turning it on several times because I know that if you leave it off for awhile and turn it back on then it would start working again. But it didn't. It was done!

This would be the last picture that she took before it died. 

A Yellow Tailed Snapper:

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We were motioned over to a rock. Ryan has his stick and he is pointing. It was a chain moray eel. 

Aaaannnndddd...my GoPro stops working. You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH!!!!!!!!!!! I'm beyond frustrated now...I'm pissed. How can this be happening to me? Seriously? I frantically turned it off and back on and off and back on. No pictures of the eel. No video of the eel. Nothing...Nada...Nope! Well it ended up saying that the sd card was full. Wow, it sure didn't hold much if that's the case. I can't believe it. We have never filled it up before. On any vacation. I know we don't take a lot of video with it and we were probably using it a lot more this time around because of the camera issues...but still. 

Well, we no longer had any proof of what we had seen. All I can do at this point is enjoy the dive and pray that we got some good footage.

Then we came across Kevin's brother...we will name him Melvin. He was huge as well. Geesh! Once again, no pictures or video. I'm just devastated. And now that you see the pictures Sakari got, even more devastated because there were not a lot of them. :(

We continued the dive and the reef is just AMAZING there. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to do it again. I need my camera and equipment to work!

So here's the video the hubby and I took of our day diving. I hope you enjoy it. 

We dove for 50 minutes and went 40 feet according to our instructor. It was an awesome dive. It would have been better if I had my camera's working. I felt lost without mine. 

Kiera did awesome for her first dive. However, she was CONSTANTLY checking her air supply. Like non-stop watching that dial. After the dive we told her it wasn't necessary for her to do that constantly and the instructor watches it and ask for it every so often as needed. They know the territory and how far you can go on a dive and you would not run out of air. I think she'll do better on that part on the next dive she ever does. 

I removed my battery from the camera and put it back in and whaddayaknow...it worked again. UGH!

I headed over to Coral World to get us drinks and spotted this guy. 

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We decided to head home and get our showers and dry clothes on and I was determined to just go buy a new camera. I was done with this craziness. 

When we got home we would find that once again the water wasn't working. I'm not sure if they turn it off at a certain time or what but this was probably about the third time we didn't have any water. 

So we just dried off and got dressed. I started looking online to see where I could get me another camera and remembered they had an Office Depot there. So out we went. 

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Well Office Depot didn't have much of anything and the only camera they had was a regular camera. We ended up going over to K-Mart at the mall to see if anything was there. Office Depot had recommended trying this phone/repair shop in the mall.

The phone repair shop did not have anything (I mean why would they? They are a phone store) and they told us to try Royal Caribbean. 

The girls did a little shopping at the mall and bought some clothes. One store we were in (and they bought a bunch of clothes in) didn't have a dressing room. So, Sakari put a dress she was interested in on over top of her clothes and in front of a mirror. A guy rushed over to tell her that she was not allowed to try clothes on and he was very rude about it. There was also a sign up saying no returns. How convenient for him to be able to sell anything in the store, without being tried on, and never having to worry about it being returned. 

I started posting on the St Thomas facebook group for help. Most people recommended going to Royal Caribbean. So, that was downtown and that's where we headed. The only issue was the hubby turned the wrong direction and we ended up on the scenic route, in the mountains, and went way out of our way to get back to the other side of where we should have been. #facepalmplant  Hey, at least we were on vacation time.

The streets there were cute (over from the main road along the water) and reminded me of places like Aruba and San Juan). 

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The traffic was terrible and there was absolutely no place to park anywhere. I was losing hope and then we pulled into this small parking lot and wedged our way into a spot between the sidewalk and a dumpster. We ask the lady that was at a little tourist trinket/clothing stand if it was ok to park there and she said it should be ok for a little while.

We got out and started walking the streets to find the Royal Caribbean store. 

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Then I spotted the store...

Well they had absolutely nothing. They said they were out. UGH! They suggested that I try Boolchands for camera's. He said they always have them. 

The side streets were so cute!

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We wandered along the street and little stores. Kiera was on a mission to find her dad a turtle. She said it was his favorite animal and she had to bring him something home that was a turtle. 

Sakari has had a habit of going up to mannequins since she was very little and she would pose by them and stand completely still. To this day, she still does it. She manages to get one of the employees to do it as well. We were all laughing so much that they couldn't keep a straight face. 

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The kids said they were hungry so we looked for a place to eat. The hubby spotted a Mexican restaurant but the girls shot down that idea and wanted KFC. The service was extremely slow and the staff was rude. What is it with these fast food restaurants? Our food would cost us $52

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I noticed a ship coming in. It looked like NCL. It looked familiar. 

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Yep we could tell by the painting on the front that it was the Escape. We had been on that one too. Kiera was blown away at how big these ships are. She said she never imagined they were THIS big. We will have to get her on one some day.

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A little more shopping and we found some cute things including this frog made out of wood and it had these ridged points on its back. You took a stick out that went through it and rubbed it on the back and it made this sound like a toad croaking. It sounded so real. Both Kiara and I bought one. 

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Well it was time to head back to the truck and go to this Boolchands to see if they had a camera for me. 

On the way there, I gave them a call and NOPE, I struck out again. No Olympus Tough camera's. I was super frustrated at this point and was out of options. Like this is a tourist destination and I didn't understand why they wouldn't have camera's. I've never heard of such a thing! I'm thinking I should open up a camera shop here. 

On our way home I thought it was very interesting that a semi ran a red light and was determined to get in line to head the direction we were going. He ran right up on the sidewalk trying to get out of the intersection and school was letting out and kids were walking on that sidewalk. Like what the heck???

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I usually take a bunch of pictures when we are driving but this time I was so depressed about not finding anyone on this island that has a camera for sale that I only took one on the way back. 

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We got back home and I checked all the post from the St Thomas facebook group. They were suggesting everything they could think of. I had people saying they knew someone that could overnight one from the US mainland and then someone that lived in St John that would be willing to sell her used one to me and bring it over the following day. 

They also started suggesting to try places for a mini/macro sd card for me now that mine was full. I needed to find one of those too if I was at least going to continue to make videos of the trip. They suggested Ocean Surfari, Walgreens, CostULess, American Yacht Harbor and someone even suggested a professional photographer they knew. I was calling each and every suggestion they gave me. Nothing was working. 

Then, a person on there suggested a place called Sami's in Red Hook and said it was a weird little convenience store that carried all kinds of odds and ends and they were able to purchase one in the past and he kept them behind the counter. Ok, worth a shot. I called and YEP! He had them!!!! Woo Hoo! Ok, I needed to go there and I needed to go now! I told the hubby to get ready because he was taking me there. 

We headed out and Red Hook was even crazier at night than during the day. It was so crowded! We found Sami's in a strip mall along the main road and just down from Ocean Surfari. The hubby pulled up and I jumped out and went in while he went out the exit and circled around on the street and pulled back in. By the time he pulled right back in I was equipped with a new mini sd card in hand. I was so excited. I would find out that the mini sd card I had in my GoPro was only a 4gb card. No wonder if filled up so quickly. I'm now equipped with a 64gb card. No chances of that running out!

However, it didn't solve my issue with my camera not charging. I plug it in, the light comes on and the bar going across saying it's charging starts and then it would turn off in less than a minute. So this entire time that I thought I was charging all of my batteries, it really wasn't.  The hubby worked on it for awhile and discovered that the cord I brought with me to charge it was not the cord that went to it at all. It just happened to fit in it and I grabbed it and thought that it went to it. Oops. I have always used my other camera to charge the batteries and then put them in this camera. So that would explain why I've had issues with charging this particular camera. 

We used a different cord we had and all of a sudden it was charging again! Woo Hoo! I'm back in business. Hopefully tomorrow would be a better day for us. 

I decided to check on the dogs back home and obviously one of them was taking full advantage of us being gone and thought it was appropriate to lay on the couch. They know they're not allowed up there but obviously the dog sitter was not enforcing the rule. I'm still trying to break them from doing it after returning home. 

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UP NEXT...riding scooters

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