We got up, loaded up our vehicles with all of our worldly goods, or at least the ones we brought with us, and headed out for breakfast. After refueling our bodies and vehicles, we went back to Balmorhea to finish off our final certification dives. The weather was already starting to turn, with yesterday’s spring-like conditions being quickly replaced by a return to winter.
The final dive in the PADI Open Water certification is a little more relaxed, in that I got to plan the dive and actually do some exploring instead of working around the skills reviews and tests. By the time we got in, the air temperature was at 58 and the wind had really kicked up. The water, held in the low 70s by the spring outflow, felt great and we quickly got below the surface.
We revisited some of the spring sources and explored more of the pool than we had before, did some underwater navigation, and really just enjoyed ourselves. I had some trouble with the navigation due to the compass being mounted in the gauge console and me not able to get it to a comfortable position. I’ll work on that when I put together my own gear. But overall, didn’t screw anything up badly, and my instructor passed me.
When we surfaced, the weather was turning decidedly nasty. The air temperature was down to 53, and it was starting to rain. The run for the lockers, in cold wetsuits, was pretty unpleasant, but it felt good to be in dry clothes. Gear was loaded in to vehicles as quickly as we could manage, log books were updated, paperwork was filled out, and we hit the road.
The drive back was anything but uneventful. By the time I hit Pecos, it was raining steadily and the temperatures were in the high 30s. After a quick stop in Odessa to get some lunch and top off the Jeep’s gas tank, I was back on the road. Before I’d gotten to Big Spring, it was below freezing and ice was starting to build up on the Jeep. The ground was still warm, so the roads, while wet, were still clear. Outside of Sweetwater, I had to stop to get gas and break ice off of my mirrors, wiper blades, and radio antennas. It was still raining and sleeting, with air temperatures in the high 20s, but the roads were staying wet instead of icing over, so I pushed on. My last gas stop was in Weatherford, by which time the temperatures had come up a little and were hovering right around freezing. The roads were still clear, and the rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, if a little slower than I would have liked. I pulled in to the driveway, unloaded the gear, and curled up with my sweetheart to watch the weather report.