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By Laura Moncur in The Disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde

“How about a trip to Hollywood?” The minute the words came out of my mouth, I knew it wasn’t something that I wanted. “If you want. I never been to Hollywood.” We were waiting for my divorce to go through, biding our time in Reno until I could legally petition. “What I’d really like to do is go back home to Idaho and show you off to my family.” I smiled at that thought. No one had ever been proud of me before.

“Well, we’re going back there to get married. Isn’t that enough?” I watched Glen’s face for signs of peculiar attachment to them, but his love for his family seemed normal and just as it should be. “Sure, it’s enough for now. So, where do you want to go for our honeymoon? Hollywood?” I shook my head and he rattled off different destinations, “Niagara Falls? New York? Chicago?” I shook my head to all of them while I fiddled with my latest obsession: the Wondrous Water Breather.

Underwater DivingFor years, people had been underwater diving with air pumped from the surface. Heavy diving suits with helmets that weighed as much as I did after a bout of stomach flu. They never worked for me with all their bulk. I wanted to explore underwater, but I could never endure the weight of the equipment.

My brothers in West Virginia were in the Navy and the three of us had gone diving as children. Deep breaths and strong legs could take us to the bottom of a shallow lagoon in the Ohio River, but I wanted more. No matter how strong my lungs and legs were, it always felt like I was in desperate need of air by the time I ever saw anything interesting. Months before my exile in Reno, I had tried to modify a surface pump method of diving using my snorkeling equipment. Glen would pump the air to me while I tested and explored the bottom of the Snake River in Idaho. It worked reasonable well, but the two of us had to take turns; one pumping while the other explored. We couldn’t enjoy the experience together.

Then I remembered the compressed air canisters that my brothers showed me. They provided air on the submarines. It took me months to find a company that could make a small canister of compressed air for me. I knew that if I could somehow take a canister with me on my back, I would be able to breathe under water without a connected line to the surface for air. Not only could I enjoy the freedom of untethered exploration, Glen and I could explore together.

Old Snorkeling Gear“Maybe we should go to San Diego or Florida so we can test the Wondrous Water Breathers. By the time I get my residence in Nevada, I should have them finished.” Glen pondered the idea. He had never snorkeled or dived in the ocean and I think it scared him a little. Growing up a potato farmer in Idaho was very different from my Navy family upbringing in Virginia. He had never seen the ocean. I had practically lived in it.

“How about the Colorado River. We can take my boat down it and stop whenever the water looks good enough to dive. I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. We should try that.” The idea seemed perfect to me. The Grand Canyon had only recently been made a National Park. The thought of being the first of my family to conquer its waters was yet another feather I could put in my cap to compete against my brothers. With their naval service, they had many firsts to their names, but none of them had been to the Grand Canyon.

I set down my complicated pieces of snorkel and tubing and walked over to Glen. I put my arms around his neck and kissed his face. “The Grand Canyon it is.”