Negro Bar, Folsom, CA

Well, this one is a tribute to the determination to dive.

We have the best luck planning dive trips. We have two separate families to coordinate, each with a child and many diverse tasks/hobbies/work schedules. So getting us together so the two of us (me, husband and father of one family, and she, wife and mother in the other family) can dive is a planning nightmare in the first place.

So it's tough. We've been trying to get to Monterey for oh, two months now, and something keeps stopping us. We couldn't get there again this weekend, but we did have the opportunity to go locally, so we took it!

We had done our certification dives at Browns Ravine in Lake Folsom, but the visibility there was almost arms length, so we didn't really want to go there. There was Negro Bar and Lake Natoma, both of which we weren't very familiar with, as far as diving, so we asked around and found that both were ok. Neither has lots of fish or sunken things to look at, but we could go practice and play with my new computer.

Suunto Vytec. With the wireless pressure thingie. I can't tell you how cool this computer is. Really. No, really.

Anyway, we met up at our house in Folsom, loaded all our gear in my truck, and headed out for the State Park next to the CSUS Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma. We figured we could park closer to the entry point at the state park than we could at the Aquatic Center itself, which was worth the $5 to get in (actually $7 now, but still...). We get there, and the outside parking lot is full. Minor worry, so we went on up to the gate. Which was blocked off by orange cones. Slightly less minor worry. The guy at the gate told us the lot was full, and the lot at the fish hatchery across the street was full, and people were parking on the street a bazillion miles away. Way not-minor worry. There was a triathalon going on, and that was apparently the starting point, or mid point, or some point. We weren't gonna get in, anyway. We asked if we could go in and drop off our stuff, but he said there wasn't any place to, since all the ground was covered with vendors and such. I figured they were selling t-shirts that said "Keep Ken and Rebecca Out Of Our Water!" Sigh.

We asked if he knew of a good place to scuba that wasn't in Lake Folsom, and he pointed us to a place called Willow Creek, across from the Outlets in Folsom. We went there, but couldn't determine its divability by looking at it - go figure - and since we are way inexperienced, decided not to push things we didn't know anything about, and headed off to Brown's Ravine. I fully expect to learn that Willow Creek is the #1 bestest dive location in all the Northern Hemisphere, but if that's the case, we'll just go back.

We went on to Folsom Lake, knowing that one (two?) of the overflow gates in Folsom Dam had broken last week and the water level was down, but figuring it'd still work out. It didn't. The cove we had done our OW Cert classes in was completely above the water line. The water started out closer to the "Ok, boaters, go as fast as you want past this point" bouys than we were comfortable with, and since 2 or 3% of the boaters out there aren't bright enough to know what a speed limit is, much less a dive flag, we didn't even get out of the truck.

Sigh. One of our friends had told us she didn't like Negro Bar because she's not crazy about river dives. I thought at the time she was worried about current, though I'm not sure she actually ever said "current". Now I think it may be because there's nothing there to look at. We, being new, weren't crazy about diving in a current strong enough to make an experienced person not want to go, but we were about out of options (that we were aware of at the time, anyway). We drove on out to Negro Bar, to check it out and cuz we'd already paid for the parking pass at Brown's Ravine anyway. About the only way we would go in the water would have been if we saw other divers frolicking and having fun, without being moved around at great speed against their will. In to the park we went.

We pulled up to one of the picnic areas, and lo and behold, there was somebody getting into (or out of, I'm not sure) a wet suit. We pulled up to him and asked him how the conditions were. He said he didn't know, but his instructor over there would be able to tell us.

Instructor. As in guy teaching a class. Of people even less experienced than us. Jackpot!

We talked to him, he said there was current, maybe, oh, half a knot. And it only got to 17 feet deep, but it was good for practice, and OW dives (like he was doing), and such. Cool. We got out and started to set up.

We're still new. It takes us longer to get set up and get into our wet suits than it does to make the dive, but we're getting better. Eventually we got down to and even IN the water. It was chilly, 59 degrees, but so what? We had full suits on. Well, no hoods or gloves (I have a hood, it's part of my suit), but we were ok. I had rented an underwater camera, which was truily a POS (piece of junk ;-), but I wanted to try it out. We took pictures of each other at the surface, then went down and tried it again underwater. No idea (yet) if it worked. Then I started playing with my new dive computer -

Suunto Vytec. With the wireless pressure thingie. I can't tell you how cool this computer is. Really. No, really.

- and we went along the bottom to an amazing depth of 17 feet. Were there for half an hour, except for the unplanned surfacing by my dive buddy at one point. I looked around for her, she wasn't there, so I looked up (which is where I usually am when she's looking around) and saw her at the surface. Went on up and found her, asked if she was ok, and she told me about the unplanned nature of her ascent. Then she pointed out her husband Mike and daughter Gabby on Mike's surf board sitting right there. They had driven out after we finally found a place to dive. Gabby just turned 3, she was having a ball on the surf board. They'd been following our dive flag around. Anyway, we went on down to continue our return to the shore.

We were down for 30 minutes, according to my new... well, you know. Max depth 17 feet, average depth 11 feet. I was even able to watch a minute by minute (10 second intervals) replay of the dive, including the unexpected surfacing, in the logbook mode. Really cool. Really. 'cept now I have to go get the cable and software to download all this to my computer. I had been waffeling on doing that, now I have to. You understand.

We didn't see much down there, hundreds of mossy rocks, two crawdads, a long hunk of rope that ended abruptly, and a blanket. Vis was 6 or 8 feet, much better than Folsom Lake, much less than Lake Tahoe. Rebecca's ears were fine, my bouyance was... well, better than it had been, I have a ways to go. I wasn't sure if the camera had actually worked. It did, which is to say it functioned, the pictures aren't all that great. The computer was wonderful. Yeah, really. Lunch afterwards was great - not because it was that great a meal, just cuz we were starved by then, it was 2:00 before we got to eat.

We fully expect Monterey to be closed when we finally get over there, but we'll keep trying. We were thrilled we actually got to dive after all the driving around, and are looking forward to the next one!

The picture of Negro Bar is from Google Maps.

Next: Monterey Bay, CA

Email me!
Back to Scuba Main Page
Back to Home Page