Just DID It! (A follow up to “Just Do It”)
In one of my earlier posts I wrote about facing fears head on and being a “do-er” and not a “don’t er”. This last month I was lucky enough to refresh and renew the resolve within myself to be a “do-er”.
A friend of mine had invited me to go to Hawaii (the big island) with their family for ages. They kept aksing me until I reluctantly accepted. Now to be clear, my reluctance had nothing to do with going to Hawaii (it’s on my bucket list so yeah I REALLY did want to go) or hanging out with a friend and their family. My reluctance came out of the trip being offered to me pretty much free of any costs. I am not one to mooch off people and I wasn’t sure what the friend’s expectations or their family’s would be….
But suffice to say I went and it was spectacular. The Big island seemed “normal”. Not filled with tourists running up and down every street. I mean there were the obvious few who just took pictures of everything including random shit like the grass, but oh well. “Normality” is something I value in all my trips. Authenticity. I don’t want the run of the mill tourist experience. I was to get my hands dirty, be part of the process, have a say in where I go and what I do and definitely go out of my way to see things most people don’t waste time on. In short, take the road less traveled (thanks Robert Frost). That’s just always how I’ve been and this trip was great for that.
Prior to leaving for the trip, work was hectic. I didn’t honestly spend a whole hell of a lot of time researching anything about the island. Hawaii (all of the islands) is a snorkeling/diving paradise and everyone knows that so that was already on the list. I hadn’t had a good surf session in longer than I cared to think about so I knew I would have to find a board and some decent breaks before trip’s end or I could never forgive myself. The three things I did ACTUALLY look into were- 1. Zip Lining 2. Cliff Diving/Jumping and 3. Swimming with Manta Rays
Having previously zip lined in Jamaica, I knew there was a good chance that some form would be offered somewhere on the island and I was right. A few miles and 9 lines later. I had loads of fun and great GoPro footage. Having gone to both Puerto Rico and Jamaica, I also assumed cliff jumping or diving would be possible (instagram didn’t really do a whole lot to discourage this notion) so I did my research and found an amazing spot. And Jumped. Not once, but twice. Again… heights aren’t really my thing. And last, I knew I would be going snorkeling. That was kind of a given. I was hoping to see turtles and dolphins and all sorts of awesome stuff and Hawaii did not disappoint. However I also knew there were special dives/snorkel sessions and browsing through googles I came upon the manta rays. I was sold so I booked a spot on a charter, braved the cool night water made colder by the trade winds and hung out with some 17 ft wide fish. I still get goose bumps thinking about how effing awesome it was.
In something that may shock many, I have never been snorkeling before. Living off the Gulf Coast, the only water color I see is brown so snorkeling here is a bit of a joke. So I was a bit nervous. I pretended like I knew what the hell I was doing (ok mask goes on face, mouth piece goes in mouth, try not to breathe in water…simple enough). After a few salty gulps and adjustments I got the hang of it. I could even do the whole dive down bit with the mask. (I’m totally a pro now). Sure I could have asked for better instruction but I did watch a youtube video or two on the matter so clearly I was fine. 10 “Do-er” points to me!
Cliff jumping at South Point. There are so many things to say about South Point, first being is that it is actually the southern most point of the NON contiguous United states and its a 40-50ft plunge into the ocean from an old wooden platform with a ladder reaching into the water made of rebar. If I had died, I would say they probably should have given me a darwin award posthumously. I knew the risk I was taking. I still took it and looking back, I would do it a million times over (despite the giant bruise on my ass from the impact into the water). 100 “Do-er” points.
Now being a kid of the 90’s I in some ways grew up with the crazy Aussie Steve Erwin trying to wrestle crocodiles and other deadly animals on tv. I ALWAYS thought he was nuts. And then he died by being barbed by a sting ray. What a way to go out….A common misconception with the uninformed is that sting rays and manta rays are the same. That they are both deadly like a sting ray. Well my friends, you are very wrong. While Manta Rays are freaking huge (Th biggest one at this particular location, “Big Bertha”, was 17 ft wide. 8ft shy of the width of the boat I was on…. and this big ole’ lady did not hesitate to get close. But Manta rays have no barbed tales. What protects them from other predators is their insane ability to maneuver and decent speed. Manta rays are vegetarians and eat plankton so as they swim by you’ll see their HUGE GAPING mouths open trying to catch as much plankton in one go as possible. Now that, see that their mouth is about as big as I am, is a bit daunting. But once you feel their underbelly brush yours in one of their famous barrel rolls to capture optimal amounts of plankton, you aren’t so scared anymore. But then again going in, knowing they can’t barb you and don’t want to eat you really do help. 20 “Do-er” Points to me.
Obviously the points don’t matter. It’s not like anyone else is keeping score. The point of all this is that I set out on an adventure with specific goals TO DO and regardless of fears, I did them all. My DOING streak continues.