Midwest Tour - Mermet Springs / PennyRoyal Sept 2013
Somebody tell me exactly where has the summer gone? It seems like just yesterday we were making plans for all the dive trips we were going to accomplish this summer and now it is Labor Day and we are thinking about what to do with our boat for the winter.
As with last year, Labor Day snuck up on us and we searched for the best diving in the Midwest and once again the answer was Pennyroyal Quarry in Hopkinsville, KY boasting 30+ feet of viz. I guess we have started a Labor Day Tradition. We loaded up the gear and headed south pulling into Hopkinsville close to Midnight on Friday. The plan was to try and get to the quarry early on Saturday expecting a large crowd marking the end of the summer. As we got to the quarry before 8am divers were already lined up waiting for the gates to open. Once we got in we checked-in very quickly with our passes and found a nice pavilion next to the water. The Diva Divers were still sleeping away in the hotel; so, after setting up our area we headed back to get them up and gear up for a full day of diving. (The things we have to do to keep the Diva’s happy)
After a quick breakfast, we were ready to blow some bubbles. The crowd at the quarry wasn’t quite as big as we expected. We were told the weekend before it was elbow-to-elbow. We suited up and into the water we went. We were not disappointed; the water was awesome – crystal clear. We spent the day visiting the many underwater attractions offered – typical school bus, vans, sunken boats, telephone booth, and the RV to name a few. One negative with Pennyroyal has been the lack of marine life in the quarry. However, this year we believe this has gotten better. It appears Dennis has been busy introducing more fish life into the quarry. Last year when we visited the quarry Dennis was telling us he planned to build some real showers, bathrooms and changing rooms. This year we could see he has been working on them, but they are not completed yet. Currently, there is a structure started and should be completed hopefully by opening day next year. We did notice that they have removed the old beaten down changing rooms; so, there is no place to change except for a small porta-pody or if you get creative inside your truck. All in all, we had a great time at Pennyroyal and can’t wait to get back down and enjoy the fabulous diving the quarry offers.
After a long day of diving, we set out to see what Hopkinsville had to offer. We had heard about a live band playing and set out to see what that was all about. We punched the address into the GPS and our adventure down backcountry roads and through cornfields began. In the end, we came upon this whiskey distillery in the middle of a large cornfield called M.D. Roland. This was a huge event with cars parked everywhere, parking assistants, and the local sheriffs department greeting people as they came in. A band was playing and people sitting in lawn chairs enjoying the live music. We grabbed our chairs and joined in. As we walked around we enjoyed the snow cones and even sampled some of the various “Kool-Aid” they were selling. What a great time.
Sunday morning marked the end of our visit and we loaded up and headed back toward home. But, one of our other favorite dive locations was on the way back – Mermet Springs near Metropolis, IL. There is no way we could be in the neighborhood and not stop in and at least say hi to our good friends at Mermet Springs. As we pulled into the quarry it was the typical busy day with many divers. We jumped out of the truck and headed down to the water to see what the conditions were. From the dock we could see the training platforms below and this meant only one thing – unpack the gear because we were going in. Ahhhh it was so nice to be back at Mermet. I don’t know what it is about this place, but it is simply a fabulous dive quarry supported by some of the finest people we have ever met. The conditions were not as good as Pennyroyal, but still very good for a quarry that was winding down from a long weekend of student divers. Once again we enjoyed visiting the normal attractions – school bus, petting zoo, Cessna’s, and of course the famed 727. The spoonbills were out in groves and seemed to enjoy diving with us along the back wall. After a couple dives and catching up with everybody at Mermet it was time to once again load up and finally head back to reality.
What an awesome trip. I guess I will have to call this Midwest Scuba Tour 2013. It’s a shame that we only got to do this once this year, but we are already thinking about future trips. Speaking of future trips, the MWMD Crew has just recently put the final touches on our winter trip for this year. Drum Roll Please…..we are heading back to BONAIRE this December. I simply cannot wait for this trip. It’s been a few years since we have been there and already counting the days until we step foot on the Mecca Grounds for some of the best diving in the world.