Since obtaining my Scuba certification this past June, I have been determined to not let it go to waste. Scuba certification is a neat thing to have because once obtained, it is valid for life. No need for renewal every 5-or-so years like many licenses and certifications. Toward the end of August, my good friend Molly who goes to school out in California and who is also Scuba certified suggested that we rent some equipment ourselves and embark on an adventure solo, without any instructors. I said yes without any hesitation!
We rented our gear from Midwest School of Diving in White Bear Lake and then made the trek up north to the Cuyuna Mine Range which we found to be a bit confusing, as the specific mine pools are not clearly labeled on any map that we had, so we had to rely on a bit of GPS and printed map cross-checking to finally get to a dive spot that was recommended by an instructor. All the frustration was well worth it, though, and Molly and I were able to get in two dives and had a lot of fun exploring the depths of the old mine pool and gaining confidence in our ability to scuba without a seasoned instructor. Mines are great because they are essentially large, man-made bodies of water, so the conditions are very controlled and there are few environmental risks. The only downside is that they are not extremely ecologically interesting, with few plant species and fish species inhabiting them, there isn’t a whole lot of life to see when compared with diving in a big lake or on a reef.
Diving is a very fun and interesting skill to have, and it’s an important skill to maintain through routine practice. I would definitely go up to the mine range to dive again, but I am far more interested in saltwater diving in coral reefs in the Caribbean, and hopefully one day the Great Barrier Reef!
We took all underwater pictures on one of those Kodak underwater disposables. It was fun to play with but definitely makes me want to invest in a GoPro Hero3+ to document my future diving adventures.