Part 2: Hiking up a Volcano in Indonesia

indonesia-volcanoNow this isn’t strictly related to diving but during my recent trip to Indonesia I also got up to a few other pretty cool things, including hiking up a Volcano!

As a little kid, I used to love mixing up the “secret ingredients” for a volcano in a bottle and then watching as it bubbled up and exploded all over the place.

There was just something about that chemical reaction that made me fall head over heels in love with volcanoes, a love and passion that continues still today.

Obviously, I never thought that I’d get the chance to get up close and personal to a volcano – not because I’m absolutely terrified of being buried in hot lava (a remnant memory or nightmare from a childhood game, I’m sure), but because of the opportunity never really presented itself.

That was until I traveled to Indonesia.

Indonesia – Home to 17,000 islands, many of them created by volcanoes

Like most people that take a bit of a vacation to Indonesia, I was more interested in the sun, sand, and beaches than the composition of the actual islands themselves. On top of that, it never really crossed my mind why Indonesia would be called the “Indonesian Ring of Fire” until our hotel guide and concierge let us in on a bit of a “secret”.

It seems that this archipelago is situated on multiple tectonic plates that all smashed together – with more than 129 active volcanoes still in existence today! That means that 13% of the world’s volcanoes are situated right here, right in Indonesia, and I knew that I’d finally get the chance to check one out.

Prepping the gear and the camera

I’m not really quite sure of how I assumed we were going to get to the top of a volcano (or anywhere close to the top, for that matter), but I never really predicted or anticipated that we’d be hiking up.

I guess I just kind of assumed that some helicopter would shuttle us to the top of some mountain somewhere, and we’d slowly creep up to a crater sized hole in the earth spewing smoke and fire – and I’d finally get to see my volcanoes!

Boy was I wrong.

I’m not overweight but this hike really took it’s toll on me, I go to the gym back home and mostly use the rowing machines but I’m certainly not super fit.

We were instructed to purchase the some hiking boots (since we hadn’t packed any), and after a short trip to an outdoor outfitter we were loaded up with the most comfortable, durable, and stable boots I have ever snuggled onto my feet.

Seriously, it might be a bit of the “volcano fever” hangover talking, but I don’t know if I’ll ever take those boots off of my feet except to base and maybe (but just maybe) sleep excavation point

They were just that comfortable!

Anyways, after we were completely outfitted with brand-new hiking boots and instructed to meet up with a guide that would bring us to the top of the mountain, we stopped often purchased a brand-new camera to capture all of the action.

I went with a GoPro camera that I could strap to my chest so that I could videotape the entire experience in high definition, and I think I made the right decision. The movie (though it’s only 20 or so minutes long) is a treasure that I’ll always have, and one that I show to just about everyone and anyone that comes over.

We missed out on the spewing lava and it wasn’t quite as smokey as I thought it was, but my love of volcanoes has definitely been rekindled!

 

My Fantastic Diving Trip to Indonesia

Beautiful Gili Islands, Indonesia
Beautiful Gili Islands, Indonesia

For me, diving is about the freedom that it brings. I don’t dive because I get paid, I dive because I love being able to swim amongst the fish and crawl along the sea-bed. I love diving the way some people love running or horse-riding; it allows me to be free. When I feel down, I tell my problems to the sea instead of a therapist. After all, the sea doesn’t talk back. But, this isn’t just about my love of diving, this is about a very special diving trip to Indonesia, which will stay with me forever.

Start as I Mean To Go On

Before I get started on the dives, let me tell you about the party I went to whilst I was there. So, I met a guy there and he was pretty cool and so, he told me that a really cool party was going on that evening. Well, I did the only logical thing; I went to the party and boy did it start my trip off with a bang.

He gave me the directions and, when I got there, my heart sunk. It was packed. I thought that we would never be able to get in. Obviously, I did get in and, when I was on my way to locate a beer, I spotted the DJ. Now, most of you will say, huh, what’s the deal with the DJ? Well, you see he was a top DJ and, oh wow, he was amazing. You can really tell the difference between a good DJ and a not-so-good one, can’t you? Anyway, the rest of the party passed in a blur of beer, fireworks, and music. If you’ve ever been to an amazing party, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Best Hangover Cure

After I’d slept off the hangover from the party, I located my beloved diving kit and headed for the boats. The dude driving the boat took me out to this secluded cove and, I have to admit, when I saw this, admittedly beautiful, spot, my heart sunk. I had no idea that such a secluded spot could hide such wonders below the surface. Anyone who has ever dived in Indonesia will know how amazing it is below the surface. The fish just don’t seem to care that above the surface people face horrendous challenges; they just swim. Now, the spot might have looked peaceful above the surface but underwater, it was a different story; the entire ocean was a ricochet of colors. Everywhere I looked, there were beautifully colored fish, corals and other sea plants. Trust me when I say this, it was pretty dang special. I spent a while down there, just forgetting my worries, and, when I reached the surface, I felt like the most carefree guy in the world.

To Be a Fish

Anyway, if the first spot was special and the second one was even better. Whilst the first spot was chaotic and hectic (like a city street) the second spot was peaceful, tranquil and dignified. The water was crystal clear and the sand was so, well, white. The fish just seemed to glide through the water, rather than dart. And me? Well, I just sat there and watched them, wishing I could be like them.

Why everybody should travel the world at least once

laosTravel is something which has become more and more accessible over time due to cheaper flights and cheap accommodation. This means there is no excuse not to get out there and see the world!

Whether you are going backpacking for six months or just getting away for a couple of weeks, the world is your oyster and you owe it to yourself to go and see what is out there.

Most people have a list of places in the world they want to visit, and have dreams about making it happen however most people also don’t make their dreams come true. This is a tragedy and if you are reading this post then please don’t be that person!

There is no better experience than travelling, it is eye-opening and builds character. As somebody that has traveled to over 20 different countries, I can tell you the best times of my life have been spent overseas, seeking out new culture and great beaches.

Anyone that has travelled will tell you that it is all about the experiences, you will have so many great ones. In fact it is likely you will have more experiences in a week of travelling the world than a whole year of staying at home. Travelling is intense, it makes you feel alive and you won’t want to come back home to a mundane life.

Nearly everybody catches the travel bug and for me, I want to travel many more times in my life. There are so many more places I wish to visit, and it is my ambition to make that happen.

Travel can also look good when applying for jobs, it shows initiative and independence. So don’t let the idea of leaving a good job behind scare you, chances are when you come back it won’t take long to find another one and if you are lucky you may be able to re-join the place you left.

Even if you don’t have anybody to travel with, don’t let that hold you back. Many people travel alone, and this means you will make many new friends along the way. I have in fact travelled both with friends and alone, and sometimes it is actually better to be alone as it forces you to meet new people and step out of your comfort zone.

If you want to read more about travel, and different destinations then check out this website here where you find more stories to inspire you.

My New Favourite Toy – An Electric Smoker

My New Favourite Toy - An Electric SmokerThis father’s day I was expecting to get the same old boring tie or the classic socks and underwear gift. I know that the day is about so much more than gifts, but something different would be nice for a change. Well, this year I was surprised with the greatest gift and something I have been wanting for a long time. An electric smoker. It is by far the best fathers day present I have gotten and I use it all the time. The only problem is the kids are now back to ties because they know they can’t top the electric smoker from last year. They are right as the electric smoker is my favorite cooking machine.

The electric smoker does a great job at producing tender cuts of meat that are mouthwatering. It is also unbelievably easy to use which surprised me because I used to have to take the meat to a professional to smoke it. Now I can do it myself and it tastes that much better knowing it was my own smoking. I have found that almost anything can be smoked. My wife likes when I cook vegetables in the smoker and I love trying different kinds of meat.

I love fishing and more than that I love eating what I catch, smoked smallmouth bass is one of my favorites in the smoker. My wife likes to put corn or asparagus in with the meats that I am cooking. The process is quite simple as all I have to do is load it up and use the digital display to select the way I want it done. The smoker lets me know when it is done. Then comes the best part, eating all of the great food that comes out of the electric smoker.

If you are looking for a great gift idea for your father or anyone else for that matter consider an electric smoker. Research on the best electric smokers on the market and just go for it! They will be thrilled they didn’t get yet another tie this year. With any luck, they will invite you over for dinner to taste the goodness that comes out of the electric smoker. You can never go wrong with an electric smoker.

Interested in electronic gadgets? Read my experience with a hoverboard!

Why I Followed the Trend and Got One of Those Hoverboards

Why I Followed the Trend and Got One of Those HoverboardsI’ve always prided myself on being something of an early adopter, so how could I say ‘no’ to a hoverboard? This is one of those technologies that people were talking about in my youth that actually happened, and there’s something powerfully symbolic about being able to buy one after all of these years.

I grew up watching Back to the Future movies and dreaming about living in 2015 and being able to get one of those cool flatscreens and riding on a hoverboard for the first time. Naturally, like most members of my generation, I grew up cynical about the future and figuring that the cool stuff that was supposed to arrive on time was going to never get there. Maybe the Baby Boomers would somehow manage to sequester that too, just like they did with most of the job opportunities. When flatscreens and hoverboards did happen, I had to make sure that I had both.

Yes, there are a lot of hoverboards to choose from and some more expensive than others. I’m opening myself up to criticism by purchasing one because of the price. I suppose that this automatically identifies me as one of the rich people. I accept that. I don’t make purchases like these all that often, so I hope that this counts for something. This was something that required me to dig into my savings. However, I think that it’s worth each and every penny – much like when I shelled out a good chunk of my savings so I could go on a diving trip to Indonesia. Also, I didn’t just purchase the first board that I saw. I really put my back in doing my research, visiting websites like ChooseWheels.com for recommendations, and asking friends what they thought.

People who say that hoverboards are only for the rich are being shortsighted. They are at the moment, but the technology is going to come down in price as the technology gets more profitable and easier to implement. The people who adopt the technology early are helping that process happen for everyone. When you think about it, we’re really just playing out part in making sure that everyone has access to a hoverboard at the end of the day.

I completely support hoverboard skating parks. I really hope that these ones will actually have hoverboards for rent, so people don’t have to buy their own all the time. I also support them because these skating parts are going to give me more options. I really think hoverboards in general are part of a major trend, and the increased existence of these hoverboard skating parks will help signify the development of that trend.

I also think that we all benefit from the development of hoverboards, even the people who don’t have them or who don’t want them in the first place. The fact that they’re coming out with hoverboards really makes you wonder what they’re going to come out with next. I get future shock from looking at tablets after watching people use tablets that were similar on Star Trek all those years ago. Now, people are using hoverboards. It feels like all of this is part of a greater new trend towards twenty-first century technology that is going to blow the twentieth century right out of the water. That’s a great trend to join today.

Scuba Diving and Caffeine – Is it a good idea?

scuba-diving-caffeineMany scuba diving purists agree that you should not consume caffeine at least 12 hours before a dive. Why? The hypothesis is based on the fact that caffeine is a diuretic which dehydrates you. If you dive when you are dehydrated, it increases your chances of succumbing to decompression sickness. When diving, experts suggest diving only when you are hydrated and to bring a bottle of water along. Air in the diving tank is in dehumidified form, which makes every breath you take hard on your body.

Although the caffeine hypothesis makes sense, many divers give anecdotal evidence that indulging in a cup or two of coffee before a dive does not drastically increase your chances of getting decompression sickness. In fact, many point out that the caffeine hypothesis has never been studied and no research exists that has established a high correlation between consuming caffeine and an increased likelihood of suffering from decompression sickness. Most likely, you will have to consume an exorbitant amount of coffee in order for it to make you more vulnerable to decompression sickness. So you can use your trusty coffee maker but just don’t go crazy, some of the best coffee makers like those at AllGreatCoffee.com aren’t going to cause you any issues.

Decompression Sickness

Decompression sickness, also known as the bends or caisson disease, occurs when you decompress too quickly from exposure to increased pressure. When you dive, the amount of nitrogen absorbed by your body’s tissues from the breathing gas is based on the pressure surrounding your body. When the surrounding pressure is reduced too quickly (ie: surfacing too quickly), the nitrogen forms bubbles in your body’s tissues and bloodstream and causes a host of problems including numbness, paralysis, and other cerebral issues. If the bubbles enter your venous bloodstream, you may suffer congestive symptoms in your lungs and circulatory shock.

Symptoms that you might be suffering from decompression sickness include, unusual fatigue, itchy skin, pain in joints, pain in extremities and torso, dizziness, vertigo, ringing in your ears, numbness, tingling sensations, paralysis, and shortness of breath.

Signs of decompression sickness include blotchy rash, paralysis, muscle weakness, difficulty urinating, confusion, personality changes, bizarre behavior, amnesia, tremors, staggering, coughing blood, frothy sputum, collapse, and unconsciousness.

Symptoms and signs appear between 15 minutes to 12 hours after surfacing. Immediate recognition of symptoms and treatment will give you a greater chance for a full recovery.

Important Reminders And Tips For A Fun Scuba Diving Experience

scuba-diving-fitnessDo you want to go on an adventure with your family or friends? These days, there are a lot of places and activities that you can go to and do which will surely provide you with fun, entertainment and good memories. However, have you ever tried out scuba diving? After all, scuba diving is not just a fun activity, but it also provides opportunities for travel together with your friends or family. In addition to that, you will also have the opportunity to interact with the underwater environment closely.

More and more people are starting to tune into scuba diving as a recreational activity. Divers of all ages, diving experiences and athletic abilities try it out. There are a lot of first timers too. However, as much fun as it could be, you should also seriously consider the risks and health and fitness requirements for scuba diving first. Even though the fairly weightless underwater environment makes scuba diving look effortless, scuba diving really does require a lot of stamina and strength. So why is overall fitness important before you scuba dive? Here are some reasons why.

Is fitness really important when going scuba diving?

The answer to this question would be yes. If you are seriously considering scuba diving, you should keep in mind that diving conditions can vary. For instance, remember that weather and water conditions change from day to day, from dive to dive and sometimes, it can even abruptly change from when you first started to dive until the end. When this sudden change occurs, you would be required to swim and move through strong currents in order to reach your dive site again. You might even have to execute a long surface swim near the end of your dive.

Swimming through strong currents and executing a long surface swim requires strength and stamina. In fact, divers should really be prepared to perform different unforeseen vigorous physical tasks. In addition to being physically fit, you should not take any medications and you must not have a health condition that can cause you problems and difficulties as you dive. Also, if you are still a student currently learning to dive, you have to completely fill-out a medical history form first before you can get into the water. A complete medical check-up conducted by a physician is not always required, but this depends on the scuba diving company you are using.

Honesty is the best policy. If you have any medical problems but are unsure whether it is relevant to diving or not, you still have to report it to the appropriate authorities. Scuba diving authorities/experts/guides will most likely advise you to get consent from your physician first. If your physician gives you the okay, then ask for a certificate and present it to your scuba diving guide. If you have been prohibited from going, do not be hard-headed. Remember, your doctor knows best.

What are medical conditions that can prevent scuba diving?

If you have the flu or a cold, you might think that it is just a minor illness and will not hinder you from scuba diving. However, you are very wrong. The fact of the matter is the flu or a cold really restrict your scuba diving activities. This is because when you have a cold or flu, there will be a blockage or swelling in your Eustachian tubes or in your sinuses. With the water pressure underwater, this blockage or swelling can prevent the suitable equalization of your air spaces.

In addition to that, if you have any injuries in your muscles or joints, or experience any medical conditions in those areas (arthritis, sprains, dislocations, etc.) your ability to dive and maneuver through the water will be reduced. Also, you will be more exposed to decompression illness. For that reason, it would be best if you cancelled any scuba diving plans until your muscles or joints are fully healed.

Enjoy your scuba diving!

Scuba diving is definitely a fun recreational activity. Anyone and everyone who is physically fit and is in good health can enjoy it for as long as they want.  In order to maximize the fun you get when scuba diving, make sure to practice injury and disease prevention. Also, make sure to involve yourself in a program for health maintenance. Here are some healthcare tips you should keep in mind before scuba diving:

  • Exercise regularly. You can exercise by simply walking around, jogging, or you can even do Zumba every once in a while.
  • Make sure that you are well-nourished and well-rested before scuba diving.
  • Make sure to regularly see your physician for checkups.
  • Make sure that you are using the appropriate protection gear and equipment.
  • Plan your scuba diving activity weeks, or even months ahead. This will prevent you from getting stressed about it and gives you enough time to become fit enough for the dive.