The afternoon we left Catalina was filled with anxious excitement as the students packed up their belongings while the professors worked to fit exactly the allowable airline weight, 50 pounds, of SCUBA diving gear into nine “Action Packers.” Finally, after much planning, preparation, hard work, and anticipation, we were finally ready to begin our journey to the farthest U.S. territory across the globe. We were headed to the island of Guam, nearly “flying into the future,” as we would be crossing the International Date Line. The Catalina Express was a swift, smooth trip back to the mainland. That night, we spent a great night in the comforts of the Renaissance Hotel near LAX. After very little sleep due to a racing mind, I woke up minutes before my 5:30 a.m. alarm — ready to go!
Checking in went smoothly, especially as a large group, and the security line was thorough, yet swift. My carry-on was the only bag to be re-checked, since the security monitors found my underwater camera housing to be quite interesting. On our way to our boarding gate, numerous people were intrigued by our group of mostly college students and our plans to travel across the world and dive in Micronesia. It’s safe to say we stood out in a good way. Our group was also lucky enough to be seated next to each other on both plane flights.
The five-hour flight to Honolulu and continuing seven-hour flight to Guam seemed like no time at all when we had great course reading material such as Destiny’s Landfall (a history of the island of Guam), and The Biology of Coral Reefs to keep us occupied. Furthermore, I spent this excessive amount of time to compile the raw data collected by the students on our trial scientific transects from Catalina. All of the data recorded was clear and consistent, which indicates that we have a great group of scientific research divers in training. However, the best surprise of all was that the movie Oceans was showing on our individual Continental flight televisions. Many of us watched this film together as a group, marveling at the mysterious power of the ocean and its majestic creatures. Watching the film seemed like a perfect preview for what was awaiting us in the Micronesian waters. Has it actually hit yet? We were on our way to Guam!