Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sand Hollow

Another awesome thing that I have been craving for several years is scuba diving.  BYU offers a class through Dive Utah that enables you to become open water scuba certified within six weeks.  The best part is that it was $270 that I didn’t have to pay.  I received three scholarships and a government Pell grant this final semester at BYU.  So I had all my tuition paid for, all of my text books paid for including extracurricular classes with $2000 dollars back into my pocket.  What a huge blessing!
The class consisted of textbook course work, which really was just reading about scuba safety, equipment and practices.  Then we had four weekly sessions of getting in the local public pool at the Provo Rec Center and practiced using the equipment on top of and under the water.  Then we had two final sessions called open water dives at The Crater in Midway Utah.  It is an underground hot spring inside a small hill of earth with a whole at the peak.  Imagine a mini volcano in the middle of Utah with hot water instead of hot lava.  That is basically what it was.  It was such a relief to swim in warm water!  At the rec center we practiced in the competition pool which is always a little too cold for comfort!
At Prov Rec Center
The crater wasn't super exciting though.  They had put in some under water lights and a few platforms to stand on under water and look around.  The walls were all made of rock that wasn't too exciting, but we got to dive down to just over 30 feet deep and be able to experience the pressurization effects going down and up.  It was actually pretty difficult for me to figure out the buoyancy and becoming the same as the water around me so that I wouldn't float to the top or continue sinking to the bottom.  But I got scuba certified!
About two weeks later, my roommate and a girl from my scuba class and I went down to Hurricane,Utah just outside of St. George and scubadived at a reservoir called Sand Hollow.  It was gorgeous!  The red rock formations surrounding the water and jutting out of it here and there, the sparkling water and beautiful blue sky.  It was a perfect day for diving.  Dive Utah has had several donors place things in the water for the divers to seek out and find on an orienteering course. 

Me under water with my Gear
Under water shot of the sun
My Roomate Taylor and myself
Taylor, Carol Lee, Me

We set out and ended up finding the airplane about twenty or so feet below the surface and, a toilet, and a Volkswagon bus in other places.  Pretty interesting to see an airplane down there.  It reminded me of the book Hachet by Gary Paulsen, where the bush plane pilot was trapped in the airplane in the lake.  I was relieved to find the cockpit empty though. It’s too bad that there weren’t very many fish in the reservoir.  It would have been fun to interact with them.  Anyway, pretty fun stuff.  One of my bucket list items is to scuba in a temperate place and visit a reef.  That would be awesome. 

Airplane Nose
Cesna Double Prop
The Volkswagon Bus
On The Beach after our dive
Muscle Men!

My goal is now to scuba dive in a tropical reef!  that would be soo fantastic!  It would also be very cool to scuba dive in an under water cave, with a guide of course!  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Golden Birthday

I had my 25th and golden birthday!  I turned 25 on the 25th of October 2013!  Man I am getting old!  But not old in spirit!  My mother has started a little catch phrase that she insists refers to me… “Logan Loves to Live.”  On my golden birthday this year I had already schemed for several months to go skydiving, one of my bucket list items.  My mother had wanted to visit my younger brother Brandon and I sometime this past semester and it ended up that she came to celebrate my birthday with me this year!  We had fun swimming at her hotel and playing cards and going out to dinner.  Then on Saturday morning we got up early and drove the three hours down to Moab Utah so that I could go skydiving! 
I chose Moab because it is in southern Utah where all of the beautiful red rock and incredible arches and towers are situated.  Arches national park was only a few miles away from the airport that I started at.  We got there and had trouble unlocking the gate to get in!  You had to enter the code and push immediately afterwards to open the gate.  But every time we tried the gate wouldn’t open.  But after a few attempts we figured out that we needed to push immediately and it was fine.  Inside the gate there were several hangers but only two of which were open.  Skydive Moab was the first, and the other was another skydiving company. 
Once there they handed me what seemed like a bundle of paper work.  They sat me down in front of a TV and played a short video about skydiving and the risks involved.  Then I basically had to sign my life away that I would not sue the company if something went wrong.   My mom didn’t like all of that but I didn’t really care.  Ever since getting sick, I feel like I have this attitude that even if something did go wrong nothing is as bad as what I’ve been through, so it doesn’t bother me at all to sign all of the paperwork, because I truly believe that nothing bad will happen. 
Then I suited up in this heavy duty blue jump suit.  Remember that this is late October in Utah.  Air temperatures were continually dropping in preparation for winter.  Though I think that the air temperature that day was about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Not cold but not warm either, at least for skydiving.  I honestly was a little disappointed with the tandem jumper I was assigned to.  I went up with another girl who was jumping and her tandem partner was even weirder.  They both seemed a little off, just strange, and made lots of weird comments and stuff.  Plus in the video I had them make of the jump they all made weird hand signs and faces too.  But I guess that is what you get in a remote area. 
So we got into the tiny single prop airplane and basically sat in the lap of our tandem jumper.  Once in the air the tandem guy hooked my harness to his so that we would jump together.  It is a pretty small airplane and climbing to 14,000 feet (10,000 feet above the ground) was no small feat for the little plane.  It probably took us fifteen to twenty minutes to get to the right altitude.  Then I was told to open the side door!  It was actually pretty hard to get it open with all of the wind pressure.  But I got it open and stepped awkwardly onto the step under the wind attached to the side of the plane.  I was still attached to my tandem jumper.  The wind was pretty strong!  Then my jumper counted to three and we fell out of the plane!
We did two or three flips and then leveled out, but I told him I wanted more so we started spinning around and around horizontal to the earth!  The view was fabulous!  Red stone for as far as the eye could see!  The distant Colorado Rockies standing tall and impenetrable miles and miles away, with the Colorado River underneath me winding and weaving through the low country of south eastern corner of Utah.  It was fabulous!  And I was moving so fast!  They say we were moving about 120 mph!  We free falled for about thirty seconds and then he opened the chute.  Then I got to float for another two and a half minutes or so.  He let me steer the parachute and I spun us around so that we were almost horizontal we were spinning so fast! 
It was great! When we landed I had to pull my legs up so that we could land on our bottoms into the dirt.  I felt like it was too fast!  I needed more time!  We should have gone up higher!  Think about how cool it would be to skydive with a squirrel suit!  But I went up and landed without problems! 
After my little adventure mom, Brandon, Christine and I all drove down the road and went to arches national park.  It is literally just up the road. We didn’t have tons of time cause we had a three hour drive back to Provo and I needed to be there to host a birthday party for myself.  But we drove through the park in wonder and awe for the incredible rock structures all around us.  They are huge!  And the craziest part is how they tower over you in an arch that really looks like it was meant to be there!  We went on a few hikes and stuff, and it was incredible! But pictures speak better than words!  It was a fabulous birthday!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Dominican Republic

In accordance with my craving for Spanish immersion and language experience I looked into a program offered by my Civil Engineering Department called "Latin America Study Abroad in Water Resources."  It is a semester long class worth four credits that also counts as my senior design project that is required for graduation.  I love killing two or more birds with one stone!  So the scope of the class was to corroborate with Hydrologic Engineers from the Dominican Republic government entity call INDRHI, visit the desired site for construction and then spend the rest of the semester designing a dam with the desired characteristics to be built at the desired location.
Much of the infrastructure of the Dominican Republic is about fifty years behind that of the United States, and thus our limited skills were still very suitable for the task.  Our class was split up into four groups each with different dam sites scattered throughout the country.  My team was assigned El Rio Guayabal, located on the south eastern border of the country and near the border of Haiti.
The desired characteristics of our dam included producing 3 MW of electricity, and using the flows for irrigation and drinking.  While we were in the DR we were able to collect precipitation data, and river flow data, and then begin to normalize the data.  Each day while we were there in the DR we went to the office of INDRHI and collected our data and began compiling it and then creating preliminary assessments.   Below is a picture of the desired site location of the dam. with an existing, "sudo" dam already in place for irrigation.
Working and touring in the DR was an awesome experience!  The Spanish was much easier for me to understand due to its more Latino base, though many of the people born and raised out of the cities tended to slur and jumble most of their conversation and that took  a lot of getting used to.  The traffic in the cities was unbelievable!  No one uses lanes! Cars cris cross and drive within inches of each other and follow the path of least resistance basically! Many of the cars and trucks had twice as many people as seat belts!
At the Airport
Me, Chelsea Kimble
My Dam Professor, Dr. Nelson 
This guy was out side our building.  Look close becasue he is holding a shotgun! Many hotels and banks had many people like this outside.
During the evening times I ended up playing a lot of card games with classmates and walking around to see the city.  The LDS temple there in Santiago was very beautiful.  The members of the church were very friendly and curious of our visit.  There seemed to be some very beautiful parks and the beach was all along the city.  It was mostly rocky but still very pretty.  I went for a few runs throughout the city with classmates for early morning exercise.  Let me tell you that if running wasn't great before I ran along the beach it sure became incredible afterwards!  Seeing the sun rise thousands of miles away on the edge of the ocean was amazing!  I wish that I had taken my camera on all of my runs.
LDS Temple in the DR
City life
While in the city we met with the director of all water resources for the country, which may not sound important in the United States, but in the DR this guy had butler like servants, wore a very expensive suit and walked elegantly kind of like royalty.  It was a pretty interesting experience.  On top of that, it was so strange to me how grateful every one we talked to was for our service to them.  I kept feeling like what we were doing was simple and insignificant, but it was a huge deal to these people.
My Class and The INDRHI Engineers
Everyday we got to eat authentic and incredible Dominican food for lunch.  In the middle of the week we each traveled to our actual dam sites and took pictures and assessed the area to get a feel for the area which we were studying.  It was funny to me, but the Dominicans thought that it was a good opportunity to show off there country and stopped many times to buy us fresh fruit, or chilled coconuts, or show us landmarks.  we ended up going out on El Lago Enriquillo, a salt water lake that is a left over of an ocean pass that had since been cut off by the raising mountains.  There we saw native iguanas, herrings, crab, cactus, and lots of other unique wildlife for the island.  We took a boat ride across the lake to the island in the middle of the lake where there was a weather station.  
Fresh chilled Coconut! (Chelsea, David)
Native Iguanas with Three horns like a triceratops!

At the end of our stay in Santiago we presented all of our findings to the board of water resources for the country in a really big conference room.  I was the only one that spoke Spanish in my immediate group and had to translate and basically give all of the presentation in Spanish.  It is intimidating to give a semi-technical presentation in a second language in front of a large group of native, older professionals.  But practice makes perfect right!?  I love Spanish and cherish the time I had in the DR to continue to immerse myself in yet another Spanish speaking culture.  

After giving our presentations, the same night we went to an authentic and loved restaurant by the native with music and dancers.  It was very cool to see the native dances and music.  We were at dinnner with the director again and supposedly it was a really big deal again.  They gave each of us a gift for our services and it was a nice get together.  At one point they got all of us "Americans" to go and dance with the dancers.  The link to that video is below.  

The next day we headed out on a bus to tour a bit of the country.  We stopped at a place called 27 Charcos, which is an indigenous word for waterfalls.  We put on helmets and life vests and hiked up to the first water fall and began by jumping off a rock into a water fall and the pool beneath it!  We proceeded to jump and slide down many more water falls along the river until we had done all 27! An incredibly invigorating experience!  One of my class mates Jaren had a Go Flex camera going the whole time and edited it down to a pretty cool video.  The link for the video is below.

We stayed in a really nice resort right on the beach in Puerto Plata.  Lots of incredible food, fruit smoothies all day, warm beautiful beaches.  It was great! One morning I ran on the beach with my professor and classmate to catch the sunrise.  We did and it was incredible! My background photo on facebook is one of the many amazing photos I took of the sunrise across the water and island.  
The resort
Leading to the beach
Reflection in The Morning
Overall it was incredible and life changing experience for me, and I can't wait to visit more Spanish speaking places to further my understanding and abilities.