News and updates
I help others understand the underwater world through my photography, design, and by sharing my exploration.
While returning from Roatan, I flew over Deepwater Horizon, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and saw our ocean burning. Unable to draw my eyes away from the window, I did not take a photo. Instead, I allowed my own eyes and emotions to absorb the experience.
Not taking the photo compelled me to begin a new journey as The Underwater Designer and to document and share views from our underwater world. Here, I begin to tell some of the stories from this journey.
Keeping it wild
My husband and I took a shuttle bus in Denali National Park and learned the full context of “Leave no trace.”
Denali National Park receives the highest level of protection designation in the parks system as a wilderness area. Most of the road is only accessible through a bus shuttle or tour system. This meant that we shared our park experience with 34 other passengers, but we also didn’t experience the crowding of vehicles at wildlife sightings I’ve seen in other parks. Unexpectedly, we also learned about the wildlife in a way that would help us with our photography for years to come.
Wild animals require a larger amount of personal space than humans need. Bears need 300 yards (900 feet) or more and other wildlife need 25 yards (75 feet) or more. Wild animals are more comfortable and don’t feel threatened when we respect their personal space.
I am excited that I was able to help keep wildlife wild on my adventure in Denali. See the photography I produced from the bus.
Lake Travis Underwater and Shoreline Cleanup
This year, I came home and was thrilled to participate in the Lake Travis Underwater and Shoreline Cleanup. Returning to where I started was wonderful, even though I was a little nervous. I've been traveling so much becoming the first woman to dive 50 states, that I haven't been able to dive my own local dive sites.
Lake Travis is home to more than bass and catfish. It's a reservoir that supplies water to the city of Austin, provides recreational activities for the public, and is a highly valued residential area. I completed many of my certifications and hundreds of dives in the lake. I couldn't imagine a better homecoming than being one of 350 dive volunteers to pick up trash.
3.38 tons of trash were collected this September. We found unopened beer cans, countless sunglasses, jello shot glasses, empty drink containers, and all sorts of plastic pieces. Having a dedicated dive for finding trash helps us make a big impact.
An American Immersion
A sea of change swept below me as I flew over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in July 2010. I would return from that trip changed and on a course with purpose.
This new journey began with a newly found dive buddy, Ben Castro. Together, we conceived to dive across the country. As an underwater photographer and a designer, I could document the experience and use my skills to share the preciousness of our local waterways with others. Little did I realize, that this journey would transform us and our goals.
Along the way, Ben left the dive journey and started his own adventures. I continued onward with the experience we gained from dead car batteries in the snow in Colorado, setting tents regularly in midnight darkness, and getting lost along the way.
Now, I can share with you the extent of my journeys and throughout the year, will count down the final 9 states. I have gone diving in 41 states and will be sharing this journey through my book, An American Immersion.
Follow me here as I complete my quest to dive all 50 states and share the story through my underwater photography.
The first time I rode up to Dutch Springs and got a glimpse of a Mark V diver being dressed for a dive, I amped up like a wind-up toy getting ready to launch. I was thrilled by the visual candy of dozens of hard hats that you could try, touch, and photograph. They inspired the cover to my exhibit in 2013, the cover of my book, Immerse Yourself, and an 8'x6' oil painting.
Since that first experience, I've returned three more times and plan to return again next Labor Day. I grew to know the people in this organization that organizes Hard Hat Rallies each Labor Day and Memorial Day, the Northeast Diving Equipment Group (NEDEG). Their mission is to "share the history, respect, and excitement of historical diving." They succeed in this in every way.
An extremely welcoming place, Haigh Quarry is an oasis among corn fields and a cornerstone of Chicago diving. You’ll find that through their annual event, you get to know Jim Haigh and learn that our lives continue to be meaningful, proven by donations to Soldiers Undertaking Disabled SCUBA (SUDS) totaling well over $36,000 in the last three years. This annual event is quite extraordinary, celebrating veterans and Jim Haigh.
Hundreds of divers gather each year to help transform the lives of disabled veterans. This year’s event on July 20 marked the 13th year that his friends, colleagues, and family organized an epic event and is the 4th year that they are supporting SUDS. Through Jim Haigh’s event, divers are able to do good and make a difference in veterans’ lives.
Historic relics from over 100 years ago remind us of when Glacier National Park was established in 1910. Like the glaciers, fewer relics remain today.
Still, I was delighted to enter the cool waters of Lake McDonald and thrilled with what I could see. Be sure to bring a dive flag if you venture out this way, and coming from Texas, I didn't mind the dry suit either!
The experience more than overcomes any obstacles with cold or distance. I flew into Spokane (Southwest Airlines allows 2 free bags!) and drove 4 hours to Montana for grand vistas of steeply cut mountains and beautifully still glacially formed lakes.
This cold little lake in Mt. Hood National Forest was a good reminder for why I enjoy exploring new waterways. The spring fed water is as clear as the photos show.
After attending the World Domination Summit, WDS, in Portland, I planned a nearby dive (which happened to be on my birthday) that would be enjoyable and rewarding. This dive was both and unexpectedly marks a new beginning. WDS inspired some new ways for me to develop The Underwater Designer and also spurred an idea for a new project I plan to launch August 2014.
Here are some things to look forward to with The Underwater Designer:
• Updates on my journey
• A formal announcement on 1/1/15 for my book and what I've been up to for four years
• The beginning of a huge campaign that you can be a part of