Guest Post by Becky Bohan Brown
Till this day, I still remember my first bike ride without my training wheels.
It was while vacationing with my cousins in Lansing, Mich. My parents and two siblings would pack our rental car and drive 669 miles from Omaha, Neb., to Lansing, Mich.
A goal on this trip, with my younger cousin’s Molly encouragement–would be to ride her bike, which did not have training wheels. Unlike Nebraska, there are not many hills in Michigan; so after a couple attempts, I successfully rode the streets of Lansing training wheel free. It is quite ironic that the first solo Scuba dive for my dive buddy husband and I would be on a vacation, too. We planned our annual trip to celebrate our godson’s birthday at his grandparent’s house on Johnson Lake. Brian and I knew we’d dive at Johnson Lake because it is a lake for heaven’s sake; we are landlocked Scuba diver’s and have to represent. However, an upcoming Scuba Club GO SCUBA divecation trip was planned at Sandy Channel, which happens to be just down the road. So, the light bulb went off and The Brown’s decided that we would scout it out and Scuba dive there this weekend, too.
We knew we needed a game plan; since, this would be our first solo dive. First, on the list was to stop at the dive shop in Kearney, Neb., Heartland Scuba Center, and we were glad we did. We stopped in and spoke with the local Dive Master, Ron. Upon request, he gave us a map of Sandy Channel and recommended which lake to dive in. He informed us that the East lake had the better visibility, which for landlocked divers is important. Something different about these lakes he would tell us is that there were items sunk for Scuba divers: boats, UFO, gargoyle, windmill, bell and plane. The lake we would dive in had a plane, boat and bell. Well, we’re here! Staked out where we would gear up and make our beach entry at Sandy Channel. With our first fin in the water–we now could announce: “our training fins are off!” My dive buddy husband and I would not find much visibility, about only three feet (enough only to see each other), until we got away from the shoreline.
Once past the shoreline, we both encountered a huge 16-feet catfish and schools of fish at 12-feet down. But the most memorable find would be the sunken plane. We both were swimming along at 15 feet and noticed a wing staring back up at us, then bam, almost swam into the fuselage. It was super cool! Our time however was cut short because of what happened next. This was another first for us. The first time my dive buddy husband and I would encounter a thunderstorm underwater. Hearing thunder under the water brought chills to this Scuba diver. So, Brian and I not knowing what the sound was immediately surfaced and to our amazement found that it was raining.
We would find out later about the history of Sandy Channel, which is located near the Elm Creek, Neb., interchange on I-80. According to Tom, our host for the weekend at Johnson Lake, natives in the area said it was part man made and part mother nature made. When the state was building the Nebraska interstate system just down the road “Sandy Channel” is where they dumped the sand for the project. After years of rain and water seeping in from farming irrigation efforts; today Sandy Channel is a 134 acres near the Platte River with 47 acres of ponds and lakes. Later Brian and I would discuss that we were both really nervous. Our former Dive Instructor said he was proud of us both because we went off on our own and pushed ourselves. Today, the butterflies are officially gone and my dive buddy husband and I already are planning our next solo divecation trip. Keep diving!