Sam A Baker State Park - July 2011

What a year the Midwest has had! We started out with record snowfalls measured by the foot. Spring came in very cool and then the rain hit and didn’t quit until many of the lakes reached record levels. Tornadoes terrorized many communities; totally, devastating Joplin, MO. Now, we are in a heat wave with multiple 100+ degree-days. In the North, the Missouri River is still flooding out many communities and in the South we are in a drought that some say is worse than the 1930’s. With all this, we divers want one simple thing out of life, we want to blow some bubbles in some sort of water where we can see at least a few feet.

The lakes and quarries are pretty much a mess. We spent 4th of July weekend running around from dive site to dive site on Table Rock looking for some sort of diveable water, but gave up. Recently, we traveled to Sam A. Baker State Park for a family camping trip. Last year we enjoyed this trip and spent hours snorkeling on the Big Creek River. We are getting so desperate to spend some bottom time; we actually brought along our scuba gear hoping to get our gills wet in the river. All I have to say is Wow and maybe we sold out a little, but we experienced the best viz we have seen all year and all in 6 feet of water.

The temps were bordering 100 degrees (what a weekend for camping) and the river was full of swimmers trying to stay cool. We lugged our gear through the woods and down to the river. Because of the storms and flooding the river changed quite a bit from last year. Last year there was a deep sinkhole about 10-12’ foot that we had hoped to dive, but this year it was filled in. Regardless, we carried the gear down and we were going to use it. Those swimming watched us in wonder as to what kind of crazy things we were doing with all this gear, but once we got into the river we were full of excitement.

We could actually see our gauges and the fish were totally amazed with these new gigantic fish that had joined them. Those swimming would dive down and wave at us as they watched us from above. We spent the day relaxing, blowing bubbles and laying on the bottom of the river playing with fishes….can you really say it gets any better. If you used your imagination, you could really think you were in the Caribbean. Well, maybe that is a stretch, but is sure beat the muddy, murky water of the lakes we have been trying to dive in so far this year.