Grand Cayman… and where I am now

Last winter I went to Grand Cayman for a week of incredible diving and sunsets. I’ve only just gone through the photos… You see, that was a problem I always had as a self-employed photographer. I’d work my tail off for my … Continue reading

Tune into my DTour!

If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to follow my new travel site, A Lady Away. The past week has been very exciting and the next two promise to bring even more adventure! I’m currently enjoying my European DTour compliments of DoubleTree Hotels. So far I’ve visited Costa Brava in Spain, Cappadocia and Istanbul! Up next is Amsterdam, Dublin, Chester and London – whew! A busy 3 weeks for sure, but never a dull moment!

Enjoying Cappadocia, Turkey!

Enjoying Cappadocia, Turkey!

I’ve also been posting regularly to A Lady Away’s Facebook page and my Instagram – please take a look!

Send me on my way

I have recently entered the Biggest Baddest Bucket List contest with a pretty amazing grand prize: a 6 months all-expenses paid trip around the world and a $50,000 cash prize upon return. The winner will be reporting for My Destination, … Continue reading

I’m What They Call… Certified.

17. Get My Scuba Certification in a cool, exotic place. 1/28/12

When I was in Egypt in 2007 I spent about a week in Dahab on the Red Sea.  A couple of my new travel “mates” had arranged to get their PADI Scuba Certification and they encouraged me to join them.  I was coming off of six months of volunteering in Kenya and, at the time, the idea of spending my vacation in a classroom wasn’t as appealing as lounging by the pool and reading my book.  But, of course, I became bored with all of the relaxation after just a few days and wished that I had gone ahead with Cory and Mark to Scuba class.  We’d all meet up for dinner in town and they’d share stories of life in the Red Sea, far deeper more exciting that the rim of the Blue Hole where I’d snorkeled.  To say I was jealous would be an enormous understatement.  Countless times since then I’ve wished I had my certification.

After snorkeling in the Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt

For Christmas, the Winter family got a family vacation to Mexico.  It was a rare occasion that all 9 of us (including Chloe, who has an insanely busy schedule) were able to skip town for the same week and it was already setting itself up to be an amazing vacation.  Remembering my desire to get my PADI certification, I started to do a little research on the best way to do it.  I ended up starting my course at Underwater Safaris in Chicago, completing the confined water and classroom portion over two weeks.  I learned a lot.

Important information conveyed in the PADI reading material.

I first got in touch with Pro Dive Mexico in Puerto Aventuras before I left, to make sure that they could take me on as a student and to take advantage of the 10% pre-booking discount that they offer.  I appreciated their efficiency and quick response over email but was extremely impressed with the facility, convenience and, most of all, the amazing staff.  They were friendly and almost as excited for me to get my certification as I was!  Once I introduced my sister, Beanie (Caroline), to the dive crew it didn’t take long to convince her to join me on this adventure.  While all I needed were my four open water dives to complete my certification, Beans was starting at the beginning and worked hard to complete her certification in time for the two of us to enjoy an extra dive as PADI divers!  While Beanie worked with more members of the staff, I worked primarily with Louis and Wil as well as Markus, the extremely friendly, professional and spirited Base Leader.  Everyone from the crew from the men who helped to organize our equipment to the captains on the dive boat helped me to understand why being a diver is so cool.  In all of my travels I don’t think I’ve ever met a friendlier group of people.  The 90’s-themed PADI training video claims “FACT: Divers have more fun than normal people” and I’d have to agree.

The Scuba Sisters!

The experience itself was amazing.  Both Beanie and I are very comfortable in water, having grown up on the swim team and boating in Lake Michigan.  I’ve done a fair share of snorkeling but this was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  It was so quiet and peaceful and, according to Wil and Louis, I was a good luck charm, attracting some of the harder to spot sea life including several turtles, a handful of sting rays, an enormous barracuda, an even bigger grouper, lion fish, lobster, angel fish, trumpet fish and even a red octopus!  Between Underwater Safaris and Pro Dive Mexico, I felt very prepared to dive and didn’t once feel that I was out of my element.  I came up from each dive wanting nothing more than to go back under the surface.

Holding a Pro Dive Mexico flag, though the underwater camera was a disappointment

This was one of the bigger items on The List and I’m so excited to be able to cross it off because, in truth, it’s the start of a whole new adventure!  Beans and I are already brainstorming locations for our next set of dives and looking for good deals on wetsuits!