Why does a person decide to run away a join the circus? Cause that’s kinda what we’re doing, right? We are going to Southeast Asia. The only definite is that we will be in the Philippines from June 18 to July 1. We hope to visit at least Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Rebecca is hoping for Bali, and maybe New Zealand, Australia and Fiji if the money holds out. We have no return ticket. If Tom finds a job teaching Scuba Diving Instructors, who knows when we’ll come back.
*Note to reader: be prepared throughout this story for extraneous information working its way into the narrative. I’ll attempt to give you a head’s-up with an *Aside*but be warned my definition of extraneous and your definition of extraneous may not jive.
No we’re not selling our house. It would cost more to store our stuff than leave it where it is. Rebecca‘s son will live in the house, maintaining it while we’re gone and feed the cat.
*Aside* The cat is another whole topic. Facts about Ivy the cat: she is beautiful (see picture); she grudgingly lets us live in the house in exchange for feeding her and cleaning out her litter box; she is about 13 years old; at the rate she is going, she may never die; she hates change; Ivy once belonged to Rebecca’s son. Thus Ivy is the second reason for Rebecca’s son to be installed in the house.
So when did the seeds for this Big Adventure find fertile ground?
For Tom, his love of diving began when he was 16 years old living in Connecticut. He pedaled down to the Scuba Store with his paper route money in his back pocket, returning home with scuba gear and tanks strapped to his back on his bicycle.
*Aside*At that time in Connecticut, there was no license required to harvest lobsters as long as there was no boat involved in the process. So Tom dove for lobsters in water that probably wasn’t really safe to swim in. At 16 he probably didn’t notice the temperature of the water either.
Tom set aside his passion for diving when he joined The Air Force (flying above the clouds AND diving to the bottom of the ocean don’t mix well). Later marriage and a family put the expensive hobby on the back burner ultimately falling into virtual oblivion.
Fast forward to August 2005: Tom (now divorced) moved to Columbus Ohio to take a job at Defense Supply Center Columbus buying spare parts for the military. When he joined DSCC his plan was to retire in 2015. This bit of information is more important later so just keep it in mind.
February 10, 2006: Tom and Rebecca met at ZenCha Tea Salon. Fast forward a little more: Tom and Rebecca married on 10-10-10.
*Aside* I’m just going to mention that 10-10-10 is my gift to Tom. First of all it’s an easy date to remember. Second in military codes (you know that “10-4 Good Buddy” trucker kind of language) 10-10-10 is an emergency code. It means “Stop what you’re doing and listen because what I have to tell you is more important than anything else you could possibly be doing right now ” (my loose translation). Those who know me personally understand how wonderfully ironic this is. Those who don’t know me perhaps can extrapolate.
So the roots of Tom and Rebecca’s Big Asian Adventure started to grow in 2010 on their Honeymoon: a Holland America Cruise of the Western Caribbean which included a partial crossing of the Panama Canal, Curacao, Costa Rica, and a “Discover Scuba Dive” in Aruba. Rebecca had never been diving so the “Discover Scuba” was her first exposure to the underwater world. *Aside* I quickly realized that the most important thing I failed to bring to the outing was my contact lens. After a quick explanation and a practical exercise in a swimming pool we went out into open water to a wreck at a depth of around 25 feet. Many colorful blurry blobs skittered around me and the dive master kept swimming up close to check in with an okay hand sign which I returned. When I could detect her blurry figure.
Back on the ship conversation during dinner lead to a resolve to go home to research scuba lessons. The next year Tom and Rebecca enrolled in scuba diving classes. Tom wanted to start from scratch inasmuch as it had been so long since he took his courses. Tom and Rebecca both earned Open Water Certifications. They took their first dive trip to Cozumel, Mexico in 2012. Tom came home with a new resolve to expand his diving credentials, getting involved in the Columbus diving community.
Fast forward to 2014: DSCC announced a major overhaul with the elimination and re-distribution of Tom’s work team (with whom he worked since his arrival at DSCC) to new areas. This translated into Tom spending his last working year relearning his job and cleaning up problems that he had eliminated in his present position. Tom decided to retire a year early.
*Aside* At this point I told Tom that although I enjoy his company, he needed a retirement plan: something to keep him busy. Although I love him dearly, I promised him that if he stayed home every day, I would almost certainly ultimately kill him.
During the same time frame in 2014 Tom and Rebecca traveled to Anthony’s Key in Roatan for a ScubaBoard Invasion. ScubaBoard is the largest online forum for scuba divers. They annually sponsor a scuba trip to some awesome location and 60 to 70 people from around the world converge for a week of diving. During the 2014 Invasion, the 2016 Invasion was announced: two weeks in the Philippines Atlantis resorts Puerto Galera and Dumaguete (one week each). Tom and Rebecca looked at each other and declared themselves in!
Returning home Tom researched his VA benefits. Upon retirement, via the VA Rehabilitation program he was able to attend Hall’s Diving Center and Career Institute. After a strenuous program, he came out on the other side with his Dive Master credentials. He spent the Summer of 2015 teaching Boy Scouts to scuba dive at the Boy Scout High Adventure Camp Florida Sea Base. He continued to expand his credentials to instructing instructors or in PADI dive lingo an IDC Staff Instructor. So now Tom’s goal is to find a job in Asia teaching dive instructors. Why Asia? The Pacific has approximately 3 times the marine life in comparison to the Caribbean and why the heck not?
So on May 16,2016 we will fly to Sacramento, California; catch a shuttle to Travis Air Force Base and see what seats are available Space-A and make our way to Asia. Space-A or Space Available are empty seats on military flights that can be used by military personal and their families including retirees. We won’t actually know where we will first land in Asia until we see what flights are available. This may get really interesting!!