GUE Conference 2009

30 11 2009

Friday, November 13th, 2009 ~

It was finally time for the conference, and being ejected from our hotel room, due to a BMX event going on this weekend, Steve and I had made arrangements to stay with some friends. We had all of our gear and luggage stowed in the SUV, and headed over to Gainesville.

We had to get there early, as I had been elected to be in the “Poster Sessions” for DIR Ontario. It was a last minute thing, so Kady had helped me put together a poster to use. Thanks Kady!

I also had the GUE calendar up, showing my ice diving shot in January, a laptop showing the “We Go Down” videos, my netbook, showing a slideshow of pictures, and some DIR Ontario caps and shirts. I spoke to a few people, then the conference was to begin. Jarrod gave us an intro and “Welcome to the conference” hello, followed by Todd Kincaid, talking about Project Baseline.

We then heard talks on Conservation Efforts, the Smithsonian Scientific Diving program, then a meet and greet with WKPP members, and a closing with Jarrod.

From there, we headed downtown Gainesville, for Blues Night in the park, then dinner in a nearby restaurant. We actually all fit in the same room! We ended up sitting with some really fun people, and had a great night!

Dancing in the park…

Saturday, November 14th, 2009 ~

Being a bit late the previous night, Steve and I actually missed part of the conference on Saturday morning. We wanted to be there, but also needed a little bit of sleep, so we arrived for the very delicious buffet lunch.

We then watched Brett do a presentation on the KISS RB, then Phil Short, on the Sentinel. I have to say that I was absolutely mesmerized by Phil’s knowledge and experience. I really enjoyed listening to him, and wanted to know more more more… lol…

Then there was the Jutland project which was equally fascinating. Some incredible footage, and some great wrecks.

After a break, we listened to Practical Data Collection, and one of the most amazing things was 3-D Imagery in Scientific Inquiry. All anyone could say was, “Wow!” Amazing technology.

After Jarrod’s closing, we headed over to the Rhea’s house for Mardi Gras! There was fun, food, and Tina fed me S’mores!! There was even a pinata, filled with goodies for everyone. We had an amazing time.

Free for all!

Thanks to the Rheas and Sonya!!

Sunday, November 15th, 2009 ~

We arrived bright and early for the prearranged breakfast, down the road from EE/GUE. Then, Phil Short had the conch again, and was discussing CCR Safety Procedures, which I found even more fascinating than the previous day’s RB information sessions.

We then heard about some of the GUE curriculum changes, followed by a Q & A. While we listened, we were approached by some fellow, telling us that we had to go diving. We didn’t argue… When Dan MacKay tells you you’re doing something, you usually do it! 🙂

Steve, myself, Guy, and Dan headed over to Madison for a couple of dives! Dan and Guy went in first, and Steve and I followed. It was nice to do this system again, and have a nice, relaxing day of diving goodness.

When we surfaced, we were smiling and laughing, as usual, and there were a couple of people making their way down the stairs, who were really happy to meet other happy people. They said that they didn’t always see people laughing around there, and that it was great to meet us. Very nice couple!

Steve, Dan, and Guy…

Me, pointing at the new, superstar cave diver…

Guy, myself, and Steve…

This would, sadly, be our last day of diving in North Florida paradise. We tore our gear down, and brought it back to the hotel to dry. We were attending the last conference function, which was a really nice dinner, to close off the festivities. Awards were given out, speeches were made, and of course, jokes all around.

This was the first conference that we had attended, and I felt that it was an absolutely amazing experience, and loved the family atmosphere here. Steve and I didn’t want to leave!

Monday, November 16th, 2009 ~

We headed over to EE to return tanks and pay up whatever bills we had left, then to GUE, to bid our farewells and wish we were stayings. We had decided to drive to Orlando, and spend the night there, then fly out in the morning. We figured we’d take advantage of being there, and went to Universal Studios. Well.. we tried… we didn’t arrive there until 3pm, and it didn’t really make much sense to spend that kind of money for three hours of park time. So.. we did get dinner and a movie there. We had a meal at the Hard Rock, then went to the Universal Studios theater to see Paranormal on the IMAX screen.

We found a really nice little hotel for the night, and spent our last night in Florida. We had such an excellent time, and I know we’ll be back soon!

Thanks so much to all of our friends, that helped to make this trip such an awesome one!!