Valentine’s Night Dive at Old Port Pier

I’m trying to make a Valentine’s night dive a tradition, so last night, for the second year in a row I and two other divers headed out to Old Port Pier to spend some quality time with our love, the ocean. 

What’s more romantic than a bouquet of kelp around your ankles while sea lions serenade you in the moonlight? 

Conditions were perfect–except visibility. There was so much silt I could barely see my own flashlight in the water. After just 20 or so minutes in the water, we surfaced, decided to call it quits, swam back to the pier and climbed back up the slippery barnacle-laden ladder. 

But any chance to get wet is a good one! That’s diving on the central coast; it’s a little hit or miss. 

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Dive Stats: 

Location: Old Port Pier

Time: 9:10 p.m. 

Depth: 23 ft. 

Bottom Time: 14 mins. 

Temperature: 57° F

Sunrise, Sunset: Weekly races with the sun.

ImageAt start, the air is cold, the sky is black, and the trees stretch their dark, shadowy fingers over the dirt path as a pair of not-yet-awake feet crunch along.

It’s 6 a.m. on a Tuesday and I’m out on the trail, climbing my way up to the top of Madonna mountain, racing the sun to the edge of the sky, and fighting every bone in my body willing me to turn around, head home, and curl back up in the safety of my warm, soft bed.

So, why am I climbing a 1,292-foot mountain at the break of dawn? A friend of mine decided as part of some new resolution to watch the sun rise and set once every week. It seems like his attempt of sorts at finding some deeper connection with nature and experiencing every moment left in SLO to the fullest. Upon hearing this resolution, I deemed him crazy. The sunsets are understandable: in California, watching the glorious hues of the dying day is already a famed romantic past-time that is easy to watch on any day of the week. But watching the day begin? Crazy. I mean, it doesn’t even rise over the ocean. That’s practically half the point of watching the sun set. There was, however, some allure to discover his reasoning, and I was curious to see what “deep” inner peace I may find joining him on these hikes.

So, there I was, 30 minutes into the hike, stumbling over rocks, cursing my curiosity and secretly hoping some sent-from-heaven saint had a bed waiting for me on top of the peak.

What I found up there was even better than some 600 thread count linens.

As we neared the last bend in the path, the sun had just stretched its’ rays over the far hills beyond San Luis Obispo. The sky was a pale, pale lavender and the fresh day’s light was just beginning to paint its colors on the town below. Perched high above the world, with a few practiced early-morning hikers already deep in meditation at my side (a clear sign this whole “sunrise” thing was a path to inner peace) we watched; still, calm, quiet as the magnificent ball of light found its way into the sky, announcing a new day. And, I realized my crazy friend was right: watching the sunrise once a week is therapeutic. It releases the fears and stresses and pressures of the workday; a reminder that even the most predictable event in the world, the rising of a new day, can also be one of the most ethereal ones.

And so, Tuesday mornings I wake in the wee morning hours and join the sun in welcoming the new day from the hills and peaks of the central coast. But don’t get me wrong–I wouldn’t complain if I was welcomed at the top with a nice queen-sized bed. Image