Typically I like to start at the beginning. But this time, I'm going to start at the end. A few days ago I got an email from Nick's mom Diane:
"So now it's back to reality after our vacation in paradise. Everyone is going to want to come visit after they see our pics and listen to our stories. It was a trip of a lifetime for us and it was all because of you two. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!"
Indeed, it was an absolutely fabulous Christmas! Diane and Nick's stepdad Russ came out to Guam for two solid weeks that we jam-packed with swimming, snorkeling, golfing, cooking, eating, working out, hiking, and exploring Guam. And thanks to a little advanced preparation, there was plenty of diving for Nick and Russ as well.
For years Russ had talked about getting SCUBA certified. He said he'd always wanted to, but year after year, it remained on the wish list. When flights to Guam were booked back in September, he sprang into action to start the certification process. Diane gets credit for springing too, but Russ was able to push through to the end, even doing his four open water cert dives in a muddy lake in cold October Houston! Ew! Anything would be an upgrade from that, and yet once in Guam, he got quite a show. On his very first dive, an easy one at GabGab primarily designed to figure out his weights and gear, Russ and Nick saw this glorious site:
Russ became quite the fish under water.
Feeding the Giant Trevally Jacks at GabGab II. Look out Russ!
Each dive got more interesting. Russ dove all of our favorites, including the Blue Hole, Tokai & Cormoran, Pete's Reef, and the distinctly recognizable American Tanker (left). All in all Russ and Nick did 10 dives in the 14 days they were here. We're pretty sure Russ has found a new hobby!
When Nick and Russ weren't diving, we used the boat to take our guests out to our favorite snorkeling spots, one of which is Spanish Steps. With its plunging cliffs, crystal clear water, and plethora of underwater wildlife, Orote Point never disappoints. This ended up being Diane's favorite snorkeling day of the 4 or 5 we had. We went back one more time later in the trip. Anyone can hike here, but the boat makes for an even easier approach.
|Diane showing off the blue sea star she found.|
|Like when Jenny was here, we found another amazing octopus hiding in a crevice in the rocks.|
|Diane was a great sport as a cart rider. She hit a few good ones too!|
Diane at the Cetti Bay overloook
We stopped at the ocean pools in Inarajan, where a local Chamorro man offered us all grilled ham and cheese sandwiches from his family get together. Nick, who is always up for food said, "Man, I was just about to say we should all go get a snack!" The locals here don't always impress us, but for the most part they are all extremely nice, especially down south where they're more like country folk, and especially when it comes to sharing food.
Diane loved the gorgeous pools, so later on in the week we came back for a swim. The view out to the ocean from here is pretty awesome.
Props to Diane for being adventurous and going for a swim sans swimsuit (fully clothed, people!).
That same day we also hiked Waterfall Valley, a series of four beautiful waterfalls all varying in height and all quite close together.
Next up was Talofofo Caves. This short hike is well rewarded by the series of five different caves of various sizes that have chiseled their way into the rocks overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the east side of the island. This picture is in front of the deepest of all the caves. You throw a rock in and it takes quite a few seconds until it hits anything. One of these days we will have to rappel down it and see what's in there. But we had a hunch R & D wouldn't be up for that this trip :)
Between the initial jet lag and all the days' activities, Diane and Russ also did some good relaxing. I think we tuckered them out once or twice!
Merry Christmas from the Fam-a-a-leeee!
While Russ and Diane were enjoying the vacation aspects of our island, the huge bonus of the visit for Nick and me was that it fell over Christmas break. Being so far away from home, we felt so fortunate to spend the holiday with family. We found some Shiner Bock (well worth the $12 six-pack!), put on some Robert Earl Keen, plated some Three-Pepper Blast, and it was amazing how much it felt just like Christmas in Houston.
As with any wonderful Christmas, there were some fantastic surprises. Nick surprised me with a golf bag push cart! Now I can push MomMom's clubs while Nick walks. We just have to make the gamble as to whether or not it's going to rain on us :)
Russ also got a Christmas surprise when Nick pulled this little guy ("Bob") out of his BC pocket down at 100 feet under. Merry Christmas from Russ & Bob!
All in all, it was a Christmas none of us will ever forget. The weather was heavenly, the water was crystal clear, and Guam's underwater wildlife was showing off left and right. We are so grateful Diane and Russ were willing to come all this way. And now, after two rounds of visitors, we have to wonder who out there will be next :) Only time will tell!
Russ and Diane are now back in Houston showing off the DVD Nick made of the 300+ pictures and videos we took while they were here. The day after they left, Nick said it felt like Sunday at the Naval Academy, when all the fun was over and all the work was about to come. And just like you're never too old to learn to dive, you're also never too old, too fast or too strong to miss your family. Love you guys. Thanks for coming. Now send us our next victims!