None of us can believe today is our last at CIMI. The week has flown, packed with marine science, challenge, adventure, and fun. TJ is the BEST Marine Science instructor across the 7 seas! All Phoenix kids enthusiastically concur. However, the week is not quite over. Kayaking awaits us this morning. First we do Kayak Calisthenics to practice how to hold our paddles and learn proper paddling technique. With our partners, we carry our kayaks across the beach to water’s edge, climb aboard and get a friendly push into the surf from TJ.

On the way back from Torqua Reef, TJ challenges us to show our strength and concentration. We all switch places with our paddling partners with ease. Then we switch kayaks with another set of kayakers and stay dry! Silly TJ orders us to stand up, one of us at the bow, one at the stern, and sing a love song. You should hear us all! The final challenge before we could jump into 100’of gloriously clear Pacific Ocean for the last time is to hang 10 from the bow of our kayak. We ALL do it successfully and with style!

Mason: I dip my paddle into the cool, morning water. My kayak glides across the surface breaking the small ripples in the sea. Rocky cactus covered mountains tower over me. Sleeping boats bob in the open ocean. This morning seems too good to be true.

Harper: “ICEBERG!” someone shouts as 2 kayaks collide! I look ahead and see what looks like a game of bumper cars being played! Kayaks are crashing and uncontrollable laughter is coming from both sides! Meanwhile my partner and I are taking our time looking below us to see what is going on underneath us in the marine world! We cannot see many fish from here, but when a sea lion swims below us, it’s pretty hard to miss!

We say goodbye to Catalina and TJ as we board the ferry to Long Beach. TJ and the other CIMI instructors salute us all as we leave the pier by catapulting themselves into the water, each with a crazy style just for us, leaving us smiling and laughing. Although we are leaving a magical week behind, our memories will be with us forever.

All of our memories are treasured, but one we can all agree is the craziest is wrestling our wetsuits…on and off.

We could all tell Devon’s story….we lived it, too.
I exit the frost-biting water and dart to the Dive Deck thinking that will be my safe haven, only to rip my wetsuit shirt off and feel as if my chest is being waxed. I tug my booties off and feel relief, but I know that the battle is just beginning. I look down to see my spandex-like pants. I know this will be a war, but you know what they say, “The harder the battle the sweeter the victory!” I yank at the demon-like pants whose sole purpose is to inflict pain. At first my pants slide down my legs, but the ankles are a different story. I pull and pull, but they just don’t move. Thankfully, I see a figure in the shape of Mike. He rips my suit off and I am free of the pain of my wet suit. I am greeted by hot chocolate and, I have to say, “Victory is sweet!”

Goodbye Catalina Island…..for now.