Adventure Journal

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Wainfleet Quarry Dive

Wednesday, July 16 - 2008
13:45 – 15:00
Dive Number 133
Start: 13:30
Roads: Dry / clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +30C
Water Temp: +18C
Area: Wainfleet Quarry
Vehicle: Black Sunfire
Weather: Partial Clouds
Visibility: 2m
Divers: Wolf & Chuck
Maximum Depth: 5m
Plan: Exploration

DISCLAIMERAlthough this journal will seem humorous – it was written that way. It is intended to show the lighter side of scuba diving. All parties involved are highly skilled and trained divers with hundreds of dives under their belt, most of them unlogged. These journals are just like fun stunts you see on television, done after much practice. This is a journal of two adventurers who go out to have fun on a sunny day. If you read anything other than that into this blog, you are sadly mistaken. Read, Laugh, Enjoy, and please comment!

We arrived at the dive site around 13:30, parking on the street just beyond the "no parking" sign and started to kit up. There were many other people here, mostly young girls in bikinis enjoying the quarry. We met up with an elderly man who introduced himself as a good Christian man and a diver from many years ago who used to deal with a local dive shop in St. Catharines until he lost his certification card, and the dive shop would not assist him to get a duplicate copy. He offered to help us with our gear, but we politely declined.

Entering the quarry it seemed rather clear today, and we have been waiting for the area to clear up as the first time I dove here was Sunday, September 08 – 2002. The water was murky and cloudy and we really couldn't see much at that time. I had about 200 bar in my large 14L steel tank.

We did our gear check and slipped into the water – Chuck used a crowd-pleasing giant stride, and I did a graceful belly-flop entry into the water (an advanced technique!) and checked our gear one last time before slipping beneath the surface of the water into the unknown world below.

The water was beautifully clear here, until we hit the 3m thermocline and the visibility went to pea-soup. We ascended a little bit to keep over some of the thermocline and ended up swimming through massive forests of freshwater kelp and weeds which blanketed the floor of the quarry.

With visibility so poor, Chuck held onto my tank with one hand, and the dive float with the other which ended up with him collecting large amounts of weeds, (affectionately known as "salad" by divers) caught in his arms. I wondered why I was kicking and kicking and not making any headway in the water, but quickly realised it was Chucks might hand-grip on my tank, coupled with massive amounts of drag created by our new underwater swamp-thing attire. Chuck also was practising his "Pirate Diver" technique as one side of his masked had fogged up and he could see out of one eye only.

As we trudged our way along the bottom we found all the usual discarded refuse of civilisation including lots of old pop tins, beer bottles, and other rubbish. We did find an arrow which was kind of an unusual find. We also found an upside down bicycle which was only days old. We could still operate the pedals and make the read tyre spin! (However this kicked up much silt and did not assist the already poor visibility in any way)

I noticed at one point Chuck was floundering slightly in the water, and upon closer inspection, he had managed to get his weight belt up under his arms. What a spectacle to see! After a few moments of floundering and shaking about under the water, he managed to right the position of the belt to be able to safely continue the dive.

Moving along through the underwater forest, collecting many specimens on our tanks, faces, and equipment, we eventually came along to a great discovery – a sunken automobile! A very old blue automobile which was very large, and had two big tail fins on the back to show its age. All the doors, boot, and bonnet were open, it was providing shelter for some of the many bass, carp, and rock bass in the quarry.

A few more metres along we came to another pile of sunken, discarded automobiles. We identified one as a 1980's era Mustang hatchback with a broken windscreen. The rear windscreen was intact and Chuck wanted to see how stable it was after all these years. He removed his dive knife and with all his might, stabbed the rear windscreen. Although this was intended to be a powerful force from his point of view, from mine it was a grimaced, slow motion swing with a gentle "tick" sound when the knife touched the glass. Needless to say the rear windscreen remained intact after several attempts to check it's aged stability with the tip of a dive knife.

We continued on along to the west side of the quarry wall when I realised my Suunto dive computer was advising me that I had less than 50 bar in my tank, it was time to ascend and head back to our entry point in the quarry.

As we fought through the heavy kelp beds which reached the surface of the quarry, we slowly reached the entry point which was filled with on-lookers.

Reaching the entry point, now with both of us looking like the swamp thing, covered in all the weeds we had collected on our equipment, towing a large yellow inflatable buoy with the words "DIVER BELOW – KEEP AWAY" an onlooker called out to us. He asked "Hey, were you guys just scuba diving?"

I started to grin wildly, and Chuck turned away so the bloke couldn't see him. Both of us trying our hardest not to laugh out loud at an honest, serious question. The onlooker must have seen our reaction and said "Oh, I guess you are" in a lowered voice. Getting asked that question never gets old. It always makes us laugh. We always wonder how two grown men, covered in weeds, with large metal tanks on our back, towing a buoy that states in big letters "Diver Below" could be asked such an odd question.

All in all it was an excellent dive at this location. If the visibility were greater this would be a superb dive spot! It is well worth the trip, even though it was poor visibility.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Paddle from Charles Daley Park

Tuesday, July 15 – 2008
11:00 – 14:45
Start: 08:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +29C
Area: Charles Daley Park
Vehicle: Blue GMC Suburban
Weather: A Few Clouds
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hikers: Wolf, Tori, Lupis, Merlin, Morgana
Plan: Paddle to some of the islands in 16 Mike Creek
GPS: 43 09.98N by 79 19.88W

08:00 Woke up early and backed the backpack with all our gear placed inside garbage bags to keep them relativly waterproof in the event of a tip-over with all the dogs in the old aluminum sportsman canoe we have. I hitched the truck up to the trailer and attached the canoe with two red tie-down ratchet straps. I packed our life jackets and paddles. Tori got up, dressed and made herself ready wearing only a black string bikini. I had a black shirt and black nylon pants.

08:30 We packed Lupis and the little ones into the truck and headed out on the highway.

08:50 We arrived at a nearly empty Charles Daley Park, put the canoe in the water and headed out on the large pong. We made our way under a narrow, rocky area under the Queen Elizabeth Highway and saw a large Blue Heron perched on some of the rocks. The paddle went smoothly as the water was smooth as glass. The edges around the pond were full of algae and floating green much, but as the water got deeper and we moved away from shore, it dissipated. The water in this waterway was thick and green, with zero visibility beneath the surface.

09:50 A small island came into view and we headed starboard around the island to the windward side.

10:00 We ran the canoe aground on the beach and got everyone off. The paddle went well and although this was Merlin and Morganas first time in a canoe, they stayed still. We climbed up the hill and the dogs were lucky enough to be off-leash as they couldn't go anywhere on this small island. The desolation of this area caused Tori to question whether or not she even required her small black bikini.

We spent some time with Morgana throwing the ball off the small island into the water for her to recover several times which she really loved. We came across two large Canada Goose eggs on the island and were careful not to disturb them. The eggs were very dirty and covered in ants, possibly abandoned.

12:15 We had some freeze-dried Chicken Polynesian food and some Rice crackers. We had some food for the dogs to enjoy while we ate.

13:09 A mother and her three children arrived in a red fiberglass canoe to check on the egg nest while we were here. We decided to pack-up and head back to the truck.

13:20 We stowed up our gear and Paddling into the wind for the return trip, we headed back to our launch point at Charles Daley park.

14:00 We arrived back at the park to find dozens of people there enjoying the nice weather, including some attractive, heavily tanned bikini bodies!

14:10 We stowed our bags in the truck and put the canoe on the trailer and headed for home after a great day in the 16-mile creek.

14:45 Arrived home safe and sound to put away the trailer and canoe.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Paddling in the 16 Mile Creek 200807-12

Saturday, July 12 – 2008
11:00 – 14:45
Start: 10:00
Roads: Dry / Clear
Visibility: 24km
Temp: +30C
Area: Charles Dailey Park
Vehicle: Blue Pontiac Grand Prix
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hikers: Wolf, Chris
Plan: Find an island in the 16 mile creek
GPS: 43 09.98N by 79 19.88W

08:00 Wake up early to get all packed and rady for the day. Packed a lunch and gear for our trip

10:00 Drop Tori off at her new job and head to Dereks mothers house to pick up our aluminium Sportsman canoe and head to Charles Dailey Park.

11:00 After unhitching the canoe, we set-sail southbound under the Queen Elizabeth Highway towards the Island I read about in Paddling Niagara, a book I bought at a local outdoors shop in St. Catharines. I checked out the area on google maps before the trip. The paddle went well except in the beginning we had a few hard rocks which were barely submurged in the murky, green waters of the massive creek. We had to paddle into the wind heading Southbound.

12:00 We arrived at the small island and beached the canoe on the windward side and hiked up the island to get set-up for lunch. I turned on the GPS unit to get a reading of 43 09.98N by 79 19.88W. After some fighting with the new portable coleman single-burner stove we had some freeze-dried Chicken Polyneisian and relaxed in the unusual quietness of this area, which is right in the middle of the Niagara Region. After lunch we took a few photos and headed out of the quiet solitude of the area. Sadly the stove needed some adjustment but for some reason I only had my Smith and Wesson S&R knife and not my swiss army knife. The single-burner stove did cook, but very slowly as we could not properly adjust the burner. Chris said we should have a flag made with our family crest on it and plant it on the highest point in the island and claim it as ours. I assured her that this is not the 1500's and that would be frowned upon in the 21st centure.

13:00 We headed out towards the car this time with the wind at our backs. The island was very nice and desolate. Heading back under the Queen Elizabeth Highway was easier this time as we kept to the right to avoid the rocks we had hit badly on our way out earlier.

14:08 We arrived back ar shore at 14:08 and packed up. I wore my ESS v12 goggles, adventure hat, beige shirt and MEC green pants I got for my birthday.

14:45 We arrived home safely with the canoe on the roof of Chris's car held down with three red tie-down ratchet straps.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Brain region for adventurousness reported found

"Long before it's in the papers"
July 01, 2008

Brain region for adventurousness reported found

June 25, 2008
Courtesy Wellcome Trust
and World Science staff

Sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied a brain re­gion that they say en­cour­ages us to seek ad­ven­ture.

Lo­cat­ed in a prim­i­tive part of the brain, it's ac­ti­vat­ed when we choose un­fa­mil­iar op­tions, the re­search­ers said. This sug­gests try­ing out the un­known of­fered ad­van­tages to our ev­o­lu­tion­ary an­ces­tors, they added.

It may al­so ex­plain, they went on, why re-branding of fa­mil­iar prod­ucts en­cour­ages to pick them off the su­per­mar­ket shelves.

Re­search­ers showed vol­un­teers a se­lec­tion of cards, each with an im­age the vol­un­teers had al­ready seen. Each im­age was as­so­ci­at­ed with a spe­cif­ic chance of a re­ward.

Par­ti­ci­pants were al­lowed to choose some im­ages over oth­ers in hopes of the prizes. As the game went on, the play­ers could al­so fig­ure out which choice would pro­vide the high­est re­wards.

But when un­fa­mil­iar im­ages were in­tro­duced, the re­search­ers found vol­un­teers were more likely to take a chance and pick one of these than go on with fa­mil­iar—and ar­guably safer—op­tions.

Bian­ca Witt­mann of Uni­ver­s­ity Col­lege Lon­don and col­leagues used brain scan­ners that mea­s­ure blood flow in the brain to high­light which brain ar­eas were most ac­tive dur­ing the game. They found that when the sub­jects chose a new op­tion, an ar­ea of the brain known as the ven­tral stria­tum lit up.

The prim­i­ti­vity of this brain re­gion sug­gests ad­ven­ture-seek­ing is com­mon to creat­ures rang­ing from hu­mans to sim­pler an­i­mals, Witt­man ar­gued.

"Seek­ing new and un­fa­mil­iar ex­pe­ri­ences is a fun­da­men­tal be­hav­iour­al ten­den­cy," she said. "It makes sense to try new op­tions as they may prove ad­van­ta­geous in the long run. For ex­am­ple, a mon­key who chooses to de­vi­ate from its di­et of ba­na­nas, even if this in­volves mov­ing to an un­fa­mil­iar part of the for­est and eat­ing a new type of food, may find its di­et en­riched."

When we do some­thing that turns out to be ben­e­fi­cial, we're re­warded with a flow of spe­cial neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, or sig­nal­ing chem­i­cals, in the brain that cre­ate a good feel­ing. A key neu­ro­trans­mit­ter as­so­ci­at­ed with re­ward is known as dopamine. The feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion en­cour­ages us to re­peat the ad­van­ta­geous be­hav­ior.

The ven­tral stria­tum is one of the key ar­eas in­volved in pro­cess­ing such re­wards, Witt­man and col­leagues said. Al­though the re­search­ers couldn't tell from the scans how nov­el­ty seek­ing was be­ing re­warded, Witt­mann said it's probably through do­pa­mine.

Our taste for ad­ven­ture may al­so make us vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ploita­t­ion, Witt­man warned. "I might have my own fa­vour­ite choice of choc­o­late ba­r, but if I see a dif­fer­ent ba­r re­pack­aged, ad­ver­tis­ing its 'new, im­proved fla­vour,' my search for nov­el ex­pe­ri­ences may en­cour­age me to move away from my usu­al choice," said Witt­mann. This "old wine" in a new bot­tle syn­drome, she added, "is some­thing that mar­ket­ing de­part­ments take ad­van­tage of."

Re­ward­ing the brain for nov­el choices could have a grim­mer side ef­fect, ar­gues Na­than­iel Daw, now of New York Uni­ver­s­ity, who al­so worked on the stu­dy. "In hu­mans, in­creased nov­el­ty-seek­ing may play a role in gam­bling and drug ad­dic­tion, both of which are me­di­at­ed by mal­func­tions in do­pa­mine re­lease."

The re­search uti­lized the brain-scan­ning tech­nique known as func­tion­al mag­net­ic res­o­nance im­ag­ing, at the uni­ver­s­ity's Well­come Trust Cen­tre for Neu­ro­im­ag­ing. The find­ings ap­pear in the June 25 is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Neu­ron.