Gatorfest 2010 and 2011 DVD’s are available! Each video featuring up to an hour of heart-thumping close calls with the living dinosaurs we call alligators! Only $25 gets the DVD shipped to your door and you can enjoy following the one-of-a-kind event and listening to amazing local rock artists! Check out the trailers below and visit www.SwaggerjackProductions.com for purchasing info!!
No trip to Northern California is complete without a good hike through a redwood forest. These trees are stunning, breathtaking, and invigorating for a love of nature. Fortunately for us, there are several redwood choices near Santa Cruz; our traditional favorite has become the Big Basin Redwood Forest State Park. They offer camping, miles of hiking, and gorgeous redwoods hundreds of years in the making.
After paying the small entry fee, we ventured out to explore the trails. There is a main loop that covers many of the forest’s largest trees that is only about half a mile long. This loop features an “animal tree” with growths at the bottom of the trunk resembling animals, many “fairy rings,” where groups of redwoods grow together in a circular shape, and “chimneys,” trees that have survived forest fires but are left with hollowed, chimney-like centers.
There is also a “Mother” and “Father” of the forest, the two trees thought to be the largest. They each have a massive circumference and impressive height. Unfortunately, years ago there was a storm that knocked off a portion of the “Mother’s” top, but she is still large enough to escape the frame of our camera!
After walking through these trails and adoring the picturesque redwoods, I had to get close to one. Below is a size-reference picture to help us remember just how massive these giants are. These trees have survived hundreds of years and are a beautiful piece of American history that deserve to be protected and cared for.
Following one of the most intense weeks of diving a young man can imagine, the students of EXTREME SEAL EXPERIENCE deserved a reward, just not before competing in a tropical style monster mash. They had to run laps around the hotel resort’s parking lot while carrying fresh coconuts and between laps, they had to swim laps in each of the hotel’s pools. The contest ended with a coconut-throwing competition trying to aim towards a small target in the lot, both very amusing and frustrating for the competitors. Symbolizing the end of a hard week, the students (and Swaggerjack Productions crew) were treated to a day trip aboard a catamaran to eat, drink, snorkel and be merry. The best way to share the day is through pictures, so please enjoy!
Once we got back on board, the wonderful crew had laid out a delicious spread of lunch meats, cheeses, fruits, and pasta.
After lunch, we traveled to another area better suited for some beautiful snorkeling. Along the way, we passed the famous island where Corona shoots its commercials and the final scene from the most recent Pirates of the Carribbean was filmed.
After dropping anchor in our new location, the fun began!
The peacful boat journey back to the marina was a time for relaxation, reflection, and contemplation. What a perfect way to end such a fun day and grueling week!
Swaggerjack would like to thank EXTREME SEAL EXPERIENCE for allowing us to tag along for their very first SCUBA course in beautiful Puerto Rico!
For Thursday, we ventured to the other side of the island to experience some different dive spots and a whole new perspective of Puerto Rico. The Sea Ventures crew had driven the boat to the different marina and had the gear ready to go. While the crew boarded the boat, the grey skies above released some refreshingly cool rain, a big change from the weather we had been experiencing. The students reached for their long-sleeve shirts and sweaters, ready to go out into the Atlantic for some more amazing SCUBA. Since they had completed all the necessary skills for their certifications, these two dives were considered “fun dives.” Students enjoyed some new scenery as well as some more lionfish hunting.
Today, not only did the students get to catch many lionfish, but a spiny lobster was also brought aboard. This was an excellent treat and was later cooked up by Mama Shipley and served poolside by candlelight.
Several students also got to swim through a school of beautiful moon jellyfish. While they are almost hypnotic to look at, they do pack a punch with their stinging tentacles. Nothing a little urine can’t help with though, and the boys were more than happy to offer their assistance to anyone stung.
The waters on this side of the island were much more blue than the other side and the students enjoyed having a free-dive where they weren’t concerned with practicing any skills and could simply enjoy the dive.
These were the last two dives of the trip, so even our cameraman pushed himself to the extremes to film every minute he could.
A huge thanks to the crew from Sea Ventures for facilitating quite possibly the best week of diving possible in Puerto Rico! The boys got a nice afternoon to relax and reflect before their intense PT in the morning. No week of SEAL camp in complete without a monster mash! Plus, after the intense PT, they have a very relaxing reward in store, stay tuned!
The morning started again at 0600 with an intense PT led by Fuch. After a quick 0700 breakfast, they were loaded into the van to drive to the marina for another day on the water. The dive staff already had all of the equipment laid out and ready to go; thanks, Luis and Joel!
The dive crew did en excellent job preparing the students for the dive sites they were about to encounter and ensuring that all safety practices were acknowledged and followed. A couple of the students even got to practice a safe buddy-assent in the open ocean! They were careful not to disturb the coral and got to explore many sites unique to the Caribbean while still getting the most out of their dives.
After getting in two dives, it was time to head back to the hotel, gear up, and load up in the van towards the Puerto Rican rainforest! We drove through windy roads surrounded by lush, green vegetation up the mountain before reaching the trail head to the beautiful waterfall/ swimming hole. The trail was mostly concrete though the forest, with plenty of step and slips along the way. Once we reached the falls, several of the students got to enjoy a dip in, refreshing water before heading back up to the parking area.
Following the journey to the rainforest, we were treated to a delicious dinner back at the hotel served poolside by Mama Shipley and the girls. It was a delicious spread of treats and meat, just what the students needed after a morning in the water and an afternoon in the rainforest. They relaxed poolside into the evening, exchanging stories and sharing complex discussions before heading to their rooms to get some sleep before another 0600 PT session.
Swaggerjack Productions would like to thank the wonderfully talented Kristin for her dedication to underwater videography and amazing photography skills!
The morning came quick with an 06:00 PT in the hotel resort’s gym, led by Chief Fuch. The students challenged themselves to run just a little further, bench just a little more, and work just a little harder than they had the day before. His goal seems to be encouraging each student to reach their fullest potential and push themselves that extra bit to surpass their best from the previous workout. The students were having fun in the gym and genuinely enjoying the challenge, proud of what they had accomplished.
PT ended with a trip poolside to enjoy another delicious spread of breakfast foods before departing the resort for the the marina, where the students would get on the dive boat and get to put the skills learned previously in the pool to use in the wild, untamed ocean. The divemasters had all of their gear ready to go and the students got their first tastes of saltwater while exploring the beautiful reefs under the Caribbean sea.
While diving, the students got a short lesson in Lionfish hunting from the divemaster. Lionfish are native to to Pacific ocean, not the Atlantic, so they have no natural predators here. They are considered an invasive species because of this and the fact that they eat the native fish.
The Swaggerjack crew had an amazingly blissful flight to beautiful Puerto Rico thanks to JetBlue airlines and landed in a wonderfully warm, humid climate ready to make our way to Fajardo and break in the new year. We were meeting the EXTREME SEAL EXPERIENCE crew already stationed at the hotel and ready to party. They provided us with tickets to an amazing new year’s celebration at the El Conquistador Resort where we dined on an astounding spread of every food and dessert you can imagine, rocked out to the best 80’s cover band, danced on the salsa floor and played with glowsticks in the disco. There’s no better way or better company to break in 2012! All photos are compliments of the lovely and talented Kristin