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Jackson Blue Marianna, FL Feb 2008

February 19, 2008

From a diving perspective, it would sound allot like previous JB trips, including the one we did a report on last Fall (with pics), but I think the primary difference this time was how we traveled down there.

Typically, every time I’ve gone down to Jackson Blue (Marianna, FL… about an hour north of Panama City), we’ve done a straight 12 hour drive down. Originally we were going to do our drive on Saturday, but this time I opted to do something different. I’ve got a gazillion hotel reward points from last Fall, so I picked up Pue from work in Northern Kentucky on Friday. This saved her an hour drive home to northern Cincy first, and then another hour back-tracking south again. We drove about 5 hours to Franklin, TN just on the south side of Nashville. It was a fairly easy drive, and we could have driven another couple of hours, but since I was using Hotel Rewards that required 24 hour notice, ya just gotta plan the best you can.

On Saturday, we got an fairly early start, but knowing we had only 7 hours left to go, we had a couple of “sit down” meals instead of chowing in the car.

Our first stop Saturday afternoon was at the Sheriff’s Office to sign in and pick up the gate key. We then got the key to the trailer next to Cave Adventurers, and then snuck in a couple of dives. This was Pue’s first time to end a cave dive at night. It is kind of odd to be coming out of the cave into darkness when you normally get a nice blue karst window to peer out of during the deco.

After the diving on Saturday, we decided to hit a Mexican restaurant that is a favorite of ours before we returned the JB gate key to the Sheriff’s office. Lo and behold, Matt (Superbugman) and Ben were in there eating, and Earnest, Allythia, and Stacia (3 new friends we’d met that afternoon at JB) had just sat down with Matt and Ben. Dinner was a hoot, and I was laughing allot!!

Sunday was an easy day. Pue had been sick some leading up to the weekend, so there was no sense pushing the diving, but we had fun poking our heads into various nooks and crannies of the cave. I’ve never been one to really care about how far I got back into the cave, but would rather have a relaxing time poking around.

I had someone chide me once for wearing a compass in JB because it “just a tube” that goes one direction. I’m guessing this is same person that has failed to see the multiplicity of jumps available off the mainline. I’m always trying to look for them, but saw even more this time. Many of them seem to be unmarked. In fact, someone was telling me that I missed one that goes straight up at one point.

A major storm blew through on Sunday night, so we finished up our diving just before the rain hit with a fury. We decided to watch the Daytona 500 during the lightening storm. Apparently about an hour or so west of us, some tornadoes touched down and caused allot of damage. After the race, we went out to a different Mexican restaurant to eat…. lots of good food to be had!

Monday, we were experiencing some sinus issues, so we spent some extra time over at Oxycheq harassing Patrick and Duane and joking around quite a bit…. I did a bit of shopping to stock up and put quite a dent in the wallet. Afterwards, Pue and I went over to the Florida Caverns State park and toured the exhibits, walked some trails and through a dry/damp cave, and then took a walk around a swimming hole that appears to have a spring in it.

We started back up the road on Monday afternoon, stopping for Mexican up in Dothan before ending up in a hotel on the North side of Birmingham. I was a bit hungry when we pulled in, so after I finished gnawing on Pue, we went out to a fast food place called “Whataburger”…. unlike any burger I’d had before… a bit greasy, but good.

Tuesday morning, we took our time getting up… had a sit down breakfast, and started north again. Near the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, we stopped and did some wine tasting and brought a couple of bottles back with us.

Well… that was a bit more than I intended to write, but that’ll give you the gist… Pue got some top side pics that she might share.

All in all… a very nice extended weekend… and extremely relaxing!!

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

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