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    November 26, 2017

    Thanksgiving Weekend Dive and Debrief

    I arrived promptly at 8 am to check the conditions; Reverend Al and other divers were already present.

    For the most part, the Cove was pretty calm with some waves rolling onto shore.

    The Point was a little different because some big swells were rolling into the rocks between lulls; I would have called it, but the consensus was “It is doable, if you are patient.”

    We geared up and headed back down.

    Someone remarked, “If all seven of us make it out unscathed, it will be a miracle.”

    That is not what I wanted to hear, but Reverend Al assured us that all will be fine.

    We made an entry off of the Point!

    We took our time; I waited for a swell to come in.

    As a swell came in, I jumped in and rode the wave out, kicking as another swell tried to push me back into the rocks.

    We all made it in!
    We all made it!

    We noticed that there was one hell of a current pushing us West; we submerged.

    Logged SCUBA Dive #507

    SoCal Buddy Diving With Reverend Al, Nice Rob, Rob, BlueSteel, Joe R. and David

    The Point off of Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

    In With: 3000 psi
    Out With: 800 psi
    Max depth: 64 feet
    Waves: Calm with occassional chop towards shore.
    Visibility: 10-15 feet but silty, better shallower
    Water Temperature: 62 degrees
    Air Temperature: 76 degrees
    Total Bottom Time: 40 minutes

    Visibility looked pretty good on the surface, but cut down to 10-15 feet with lots of silt.

    It took me a while to get down because of problems equalizing; by the time I reached the bottom, everyone was gone.

    I knew swimming against the current was going to suck, so I just headed to the Cove on my own.

    Kelp.  Vis sort of sucked.

    Conditions were not good for photography.

    Fish and kelp.

    I surface by the Point.
    I surfaced after getting lost; I was still at the Point.

    I did a surface swim to the drainage pipe and submerged.

    I finally find another diver!
    I finally found another diver!

    All seven of us surfaced at roughly the same time.

    We make an easy exit.
    We all made an easy exit!

    Debriefing ensued!
    Let the debriefing begin!

    Barbecued Ribs!

    We had a Korean themed debrief with pork ribs, rice, kimchi, dried mushrooms and Ginseng wine from North Korea.

    Ginseng wine from North Korea!

    Made in North Korea
    Ginseng wine from North Korea!

    My video of “Tasting Ginseng Wine From North Korea (DPRK)” can be found here:

    Tasting Ginseng Wine From North Korea (DPRK)

    Now, the mushrooms that I brought back from North Korea had been soaking in water for two weeks, they were still as hard as rocks.

    Barbecued mushrooms - horrible!
    The mushrooms looked like dried dog turds on the barbecue.

    After taking a taste, I decided not to torture my fellow divers with them; they tasted like dried cork.

    Kimchi and rice!
    Kimchi and rice!

    A group photo!
    Me, Nice Bob, Joe R., Reverend Al and BlueSteel.

    Matty joins us for a beer.
    Matty, Cal Poly Pomona student, joins us for a beer after she was waved at.

    Right around this time, Joe disappeared mysteriously like Clark Kent.

    One of the topics of conversation was how different the diving community is now, as compared to 15 years ago.

    Divevets is gone, so are the Sandeaters, The Dive N Surf group has fractured, people have died, gotten sick, stopped diving and moved away; even this blog (so I have heard) is on the decline.

    Even Reverend Al said, “I keep wondering how long I’m going to do this.”

    Until they can perfect underwater WIFI, SCUBA diving may not be as popular with the new generations.

    Until next time!

    September 4, 2017

    Day Three In The D.P.R.K. (a.k.a. North Korea) – August 16, 2017

    Due to the hurricane and southern California fires, my NBC World News episode did not make it to air.

    They said, “It could be recycled if Dateline wanted to pick it up.”

    So, yeah, no 15 seconds of fame, but that is the way life goes sometimes.

    However, I was quoted in a CNN news article: Postcards from the Hermit Kingdom: What Americans will miss in North Korea

    Now, on to the near conclusion of my trip to the D.P.R.K (a.k.a. North Korea, Best Korea):

    August 16, 2017

    We had to get on the bus early, as we were driving south to the DMZ.

    I should have brought my backpack down to breakfast with me because almost everyone on the bus was waiting for me – it takes forever to get an elevator in that hotel sometimes.

    Simon had to figure out who was missing and go get her – too much partying from last night.

    We managed to leave only a few minutes late, but our experienced driver made up for it.

    Propaganda mural in Pyongyang.
    The DPRK loves their leaders – there are murals and paintings everywhere of them.

    What I had noticed is that no matter which tour company you go with, when you get to North Korea, you end up with Korea International Tour Company, going on their buses and using their tour guides and going to the same places.

    I kept running across the “other tour company” with the person who threw me off the SCUBA diving trip.

    I saw her at the half way stop to the DMZ and she was standing alone.

    I went up and introduced myself.

    Whether she recognized my name, or ever remembered who I was or that she and the tour company committed egregious acts of national discrimination by throwing me off their SCUBA diving trip is unclear.

    However, I think she remembered my name.

    I said, “Well, too bad the SCUBA diving trip didn’t work out for Americans, but at least I made it here.”

    “Well, this is my last trip here, too,” she said.

    Yep, she is an American, and thanks to the US State Department and their travel ban to the DPRK, she can no longer do guided tours here.

    I thought Trump was suppose to be a job creator?

    It was at this rest stop that I handed the driver four packs of Camel filter cigarettes and Mr. Li six packs, as a tip.

    The drive to the DMZ took two and a half hours along the “Reunification Highway” – a pothole filled road of various widths that can give a bumpy ride if you’re sitting in the back of the bus.

    I saw some pretty skinny people along the way, but there was a mix of wealth.

    It sort of reminds me of Albania, you can see a car passing an ox drawn cart; however, none of them are Mercedes.

    When we finally reached the DMZ, we were let off the bus and lead in to a gift store to wait our turn to go on the tour.

    The DMZ.

    Our tour guides and Mr. Li had to leave their IDs with the military to proceed further.

    There were some North Korea soldiers walking around and laughing; they were saying in English, “Where are the Americans? Who’s American here?”

    Unfortunately, by the time I could respond, they already left.

    We were given a brief synopsis of the DMZ and how for the first time in the history of the United States we were defeated by a nation, by the Korean People under the wise leadership of Kim Il Sung.

    Monument at the DMZ.

    We got to see the signing room, where the Americans begged the DPRK for a ceasefire.

    Dear Leader Kim Jung Un spies on South Korea.
    Dear Leader Kim Jung Un spies on South Korea.

    North Korean Army leads the way.
    We were told, “Since this is the most intense place on the Korean peninsula, an Army man will accompany us for our safety.”

    The DMZ from the North Korean side.
    There it is – The DMZ from the North Korean side.

    Going to the blue DMZ buildings.
    We were lucky enough to go to the blue negotiation building, the only place where you can freely cross from North to South Korea.

    Border of North and South Korea at the DMZ.
    Border of North and South Korea at the DMZ.

    Inside the blue building at the DMZ.
    Inside the blue building at the DMZ.

    I was able to cross over to South Korea for a few minutes.

    The DMZ

    I was expecting the North and South Koreans to mad-dog each other at the border, but nobody was seen on the South Korean side.

    I asked why and was told, “The South Koreans are afraid of us, they are all hiding.”

    Apparently, the North and South agreed to share the DMZ by alternating turns.

    The North gets the DMZ in the morning and the South gets it in the afternoon – at noon, the North Koreans were to retreat and hide.

    Me with a North Korean army guy.
    Me with a North Korean army guy.

    The tour company made a quite interesting video of our DMZ tour, set to classic DPRK propaganda music and verbage…

    Youtube Video

    DMZ Video from the Tour Company, August 16, 2017

    We then went to Kaesong to visit a former Buddhist monastery, now museum.

    Officially, it is called the “Kaesong Koryo Museum” which displays artifacts from the Koryo Dynasty – the dynasty that united the Korean people until the US Imperialists split the country.

    Buddhist monastery in Kaesong

    Buddhist monastery in Kaesong

    The price of various slaves compared to the price of an ox.
    The price of various slaves compared to the price of an ox; young female slaves were worth more because they could produce more slaves.

    Diorama of an old Korean village.
    Diorama of an old Korean village.

    Me with a hot North Korean chick.
    Me with a hot North Korean chick.

    The gift shop.
    The gift shop where I scored a bottle of Ginseng wine, made in the DPRK.

    The University of Light Industry.
    The University of Light Industry.

    13 brass bowl meals with dog meat soup.
    Restaurant in Keasong – 13 brass bowl meals with dog meat soup.

    Yes, I paid $6 extra to eat dog – it tasted sort of like venison but a little sweeter; they put so much spice in the dog meat soup, it was hard to tell what dog tasted like.

    Here’s a video of the lunch.

    We then left to visit King Kongmin’s tomb that was raided by the Japanese Imperialists, I think during the 1930’s.

    Driving from Kaesong to King Kongmin's tomb.
    Driving from Kaesong to King Kongmin’s tomb.

    The tomb of King Kongmin.

    The Tomb Of King Kongmin.

    The tomb of King Kongmin.

    On the way back to Pyongyang, we stopped at the Reunification Monument.

    Reunification monument.
    The Reunification monument.

    Ryugyong Hotel
    The Ryugyong Hotel from a distance.

    Stopping for beer in Pyongyang.
    Stopping for beer in Pyongyang – “Cheers to friendship towards the DPRK.”

    The last meal.
    The last meal in Pyongyang for half of the group.

    The previous lunch was boiling in my colon, and there were no western toilets – just squat toilets.

    I grabbed a napkin and did the best to take care of business.

    I didn’t hit my pants – that was the key thing.

    I didn’t hit my pants!

    The last meal in the DPRK.
    The last meal in the DPRK.

    We partied at the hotel when we got back – DPRK Trip – The last Night – Part 30

    My journey home and thoughts on the trip will be coming soon!

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