Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Wow, I'm so slack. I've not written a post here in a month! It's been a whirlwind semester and I am just now finishing everything up. Classes went well... but I'm still waiting on final grades, so fingers crossed for A's.

I've been having a lot of fun making videos and blogs for YouTube with all the makeup/beauty stuff. If you haven't seen them, the blog is:

It's just for fun. :)

Right now I'm finishing up cleaning the apartment and packing up for a trip to the Shore and Florida for the holidays. I'm excited to take a break and see family! :)

I'll try to blog from home, so keep an eye out.

All my love,


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Miss Dora of New Orleans

Hey all. So I am currently on an evening flight from New Orleans to BWI and I wanted to share a story I heard on the way here. I will make a travel post as soon as I'm home and have loaded my photos to the internet. But for now, I want to tell you about a beautiful lady who made my day.

Miss Dora was my driver today. I had called ahead for a limo service to pick me up from my hotel to take me over to the airport. So when I got my luggage outside I look up to see a sleek, black stretch limousine out front of the Best Western St. Christopher. A lovely black lady in her sixties poked her head out the window and smiled up at me "Are you Megan?" I grinned and nodded as she stepped out of the car. "Wow, an actual limo all to myself?!" I was fairly shocked. When I reserved a car with the company I assumed a dark sedan would pick me up. "Yes, ma'am, this limo has your name on it! You are welcome to any of the drinks inside and you can adjust the fan and music as you see fit" she said while pulling away from the hotel. She glanced in the rear view at me and I smiled. "So how are you today?" I asked. I then learned the following about Miss Dora:

Dora hails from a small town in Louisiana about 110 miles north of New Orleans. Though she was not born in the Big Easy she has lived and worked there for over 40 years. She and her husband bought a home in the city limits and found jobs downtown.

As we drove, Dora told me about some of the city's history and changes throughout the years. She asked about my trip and we chatted about the steamboats and parades. Once on Interstate 10, Dora asked if I knew about the cemeteries and why the graves were above ground. I told her I understood because much like N'awlins, the place I grew up in is well below sea level. I told her a story about a massive flood that affected Chincoteague Island (near where I grew up) and how it eroded the graves and left coffins floating down Main Street. She understood and related it to Katrina.

She hesitated and glanced over the dividing wall of the interstate and into an extensive graveyard. "There are a lot more souls out there now after the storm. Lord blessed my family that no one was taken from me that day." I asked Dora if she was still in the city when Katrina hit. Thankfully her and her husband had the good notion to evacuate in advance and trek up to the northern part of the state where her family still resided. "We got out, thank God, but it wasn't without cost. We packed up an SUV and headed out of the city. But a few days later we went back to see the damage. They wouldn't let us into the city."

"Finally, we were able to walk to our home... or what was left of it" she said. "Did you lose everything?" I asked quietly. "Yep, we sure did. The levies broke and soaked the city. Everything in our home was ripped or broken or waterlogged. The walls in the house buckled and every door was sealed shut from the wood expanding" she said. "It was a hard thing to see. A hard pill to swallow. Everything from 40 years of a live here and it was just washed away in an instant." Her voice softened. "But I'll tell you hunny that it's not so hard anymore. We all got out alive. I still have my health and my family." "Everything else can be replaced" I chimed in. "Amen. That's the truth. You can't worry about all that material stuff when you can fix it" she said.

She smiled in the rear view and turned off an exit. "I'll tell ya something funny. When we got back to the house I went up to our bedroom to try and salvage what I could. I opened the closet that had my wedding gown and my husband's tuxedo in it. They were still there, hanging right where I left them. Not a rip or tear. The only thing was that the middle of my dress was covered in beautiful little pearls. They had turned grey from the water so I took them to a friend. She removed all of the grey pearls and hand stitched new ones on for me. My husband's tux was a light green color and it didn't even get wet! I told him it was a sign for our marriage and that we'd never fall apart" she laughed. "So far so good!"

Thankfully when her and her husband fled the city to outpace the hurricane, she grabbed a few essentials. "I had a clear enough mind to grab photo albums of my wedding and all of my children growing up. I got some of my jewelry, a whole heaping pile of clothes and the important papers we needed... like the deed to our house. I just filled the SUV with anything I could grab that would fit." "Wow, I'm so glad you thought of that. I'm sure so many people just left or thought it wouldn't be so bad. I couldn't imagine losing every photo or important piece of jewelry I have" I said. "Exactly. That's why I grabbed it. Just in case."

I complimented the city on how great it looks and how optimistic those who are in the city limits seem. "Oh yes, hunny. It seems like nothin' can really hold the New Orleans folk down. Of course it takes lots of time and lots of money but things are heading back to the way they were. It's just one of those things where you know the danger is there but you never think it will actually happen to you. Not like that anyway."

As we pulled into the airport the topics changed to jobs and taking vacations. She wanted me to enjoy life and take a cruise! Her and her husband take one for their anniversary almost every year. As we pulled to the terminal she thanked me for chatting with her. "Lots of folks don't make conversation when they're leaving or they have such a big group that they just talk to their friends" she said. As I climbed out of the car and handed her a tip I asked "What is your name?" "Dora" she said. "Like the explorer!" I laughed and told her I had a pet of the same name which she was tickled pink by. "Oh yes, I like my name! Your friend made a good choice for her kitty" she laughed. I turned to wish her a happy day and said "thank you for talking to me today Dora. It was really great to meet you." She walked up to me and opened her arms for a hug which I happily accepted. I gave her a squeeze and she said "Please come back to my city someday, sugar."

I promised I would.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Blogs my Goodness!

I've been so scattered lately! Work is keeping me on my tootsies much more than desired, but all is well. I'm looking forward to things calming down and getting back into my old routine.

I started ANOTHER blog... yes I know. This makes... five. LoL. BUT I wanted to make some videos on YouTube for a while and I've finally got the motivation to do it!

This all came about because I got a paper of mine accepted to the AERA conference in VANCOUVER, Canada this coming Spring! YAY!!!!!!!!!!! The issue is that it's a pricy trip and I'll also be going to Boston for a conference in the Spring. So I need to make and safe money like woah. So I made a makeup blog and vlog to promote my Avon business and to start playing with makeup. So feel free to check it out and follow it! I only have one follower!!!

Thanks all!

I hope you had a great Halloween!
<3 Meg

Monday, September 5, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Since the wheels touched down on that 757 in August, I have barely had time to catch my breath, which is opposite of what I expected. As you all saw, the trip was AMAZING. Thank you to everyone who followed the blog and posted. My face lit up every time I saw a new comment!

As soon as I got back I found out that my super brilliant and beautiful roommate has passed her comps!!!!!!! She is now ABD and ready to work on the dissertation this year. I can't even tell you how proud I am (though not surprised). I think everyone knew she had it in her, except for HER! I hope this gives her the confidence boost that she deserves to keep doing great. :)

I had great intentions of relaxing, cleaning, prepping for the new semester and celebrating my 26th birthday with friends. The Gods had other plans for me... and more specifically for my Dad.

Not three days after Dad and Joan arrived home did Dad have some serious pains. Serious to the point of being driven to the hospital. I promised him not to blog about what was going on during the "event" but I'll just give everyone an overarching idea. Dad spent over a week in the hospital at home on the Shore... a few days of that in ICU. His gallbladder was gangrenous and life-threatening. Thank GOD he had the gallbladder attack when he did. If we were still in the islands, I don't know what would have happened. Anyway, instead of the standard laproscopic surgery they use now, they had to do an open gallbladder surgery that is a pretty big deal. He was in surgery for almost 5 hours and left with a nine inch scar across his torso. He is still on the mend... it takes up to six weeks to be back to normal after the surgery. I really feel for him. I could see how much pain he was in, but above that, see the discontentment in not being able to do ANYTHING. My father is a very active man. He is always working or fixing things, reading, cooking etc. So to not be able to do anything for yourself is just the ultimate power loss. I am happy to say that he is well on the road to recovery now though.

Because of the gallbladder episode, I repacked my things and went straight back home, with Arie (my cat) in tow. I'm not really sure what I expected to do aside from offer social support and pick up around the house (cook and clean etc) while Joan helped Dad. It was good for me to just be around him so I wasn't out here in NoVa worrying. The experience was terrifying from an outside perspective though. I never want to feel powerless to help, and I never want to think about the possibility of something bad happening to my Dad or Mom or anyone! It's very sobering. While I was home, I had Arie get surgery on her kitty mouth to remove cavities. Since she has a lot of digestive and allergy issues, her teeth/gums are really bad. They had to remove 13 teeth in total. Poor gummy bear. <3 She's doing well though. I'll take her back to the Shore this coming weekend for her checkup and to spend Sept 11th with Dad.

By the time I returned from the Shore, my birthday had passed. I was lucky enough to see my grandparents that day, along with spend time with Dad and Joan. But to me it still felt like a normal day. My birthday celebration was in the islands. :) All the same, it will be nice to get together with friends in a few weeks to have a very belated birthday dinner. The upside of my birthday here in NoVa was due to Kris. She got me an AWESOME Kindle for my birthday so I've been busy catching up on summer reading.

Classes started this past week, so to me "summer" in its traditional sense is over. I'm sad because aside from a few hiccups, this has been an amazing summer. It just flew by. I am excited for the semester though. My students seem great already and my classes look promising. Not to mention the Fall weather will be here soon enough and I can pull out the pumpkin decor. :) I regret not being able to spend Labor Day weekend with Joe as originally intended, but with the surgery and school it just wasn't in the cards. I'm hoping for Columbus Day weekend.

The last thing to catch you all up on are my photography jaunts! I just did a photo shoot for my friend Stephanie and her charming hubby, John. They were so great! They were natural and didn't need to be posed. I think the shots came out really well too! It was a rush to have a paid photo shoot. I would love to make this a regular hobby. I think I want to/need to review some good photography books for portraits as well, to kind of hone the skills I have. I am good at landscapes, but I do still worry that I'm not taking the best shots I can. With a newborn shoot coming up in the next month or so, I have some research to jump into. :) Regardless, I'm excited. I need to get my camera fixed (after it's fall in St. John) and I'll be set. I killed my point and shoot via Coke spilling on it in the hospital when I was helping Dad up out of bed, so I used the money from the photo shoot yesterday to buy a new Kodak. :)

Whew! I think that's all for now!

Cheers and Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 10: Traffic Citations and Missing Flights

Day 10

Wow, what a trip! I can't believe it's over. It seemed to go by so incredibly fast. I decided not to write my day 10 blog yesterday because I didn't get home until about 2:00a.m. this morning. I figured you all wouldn't mind if I caught some sleep.

Yesterday was a series of unfortunate events which I take as a sign from God that I should have just stayed on the islands longer! ;) Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad day, just a long day with some bad luck sprinkled in.

First off, we got up at the crack of dawn to clean up the villa, pack and load up the Suzuki one last time. On our way out of town Dad wanted to drop by the post office and send off a birthday card to my Uncle Rob. There were no parking spots so he "pulled a Ken Tucker" and parked on the side of the road with his flashers on to run in and back out. Joan and I trepidatiously sat in the car, just waiting for a cop to see us illegally parked. Sure as shit, about 5 minutes later a USVI po-po pulls up and starts writing a ticket. Doesn't say a word to us, just starts writing up the citation. So I haul ass into the post office where ONE person is working and poor dad is just standing there in line. I sent him outside to handle the cop and I took care of the mail for him... in hindsight I should have been the one to run in in the first place to save the hassle, but I didn't speak up. Sooo yeah. We got a ticket. Not sure how much it is for. :-/

When we left town with a citation for "impeding traffic" we loaded on to the Roanoke car ferry again (yay, my favorite!) and settled on the upper deck to take one last look at St. John. I kept snapping random photos because I fear it will be years and years before I get down there again. I didn't want to forget a moment of the trip.

When we got over to St. Thomas, we had a few minutes to stop and grab lunch. So much like the very first day I was on the island we stopped at The Greenhouse for lunch. All three of us got their signature Greenhouse burgers and fried plantains.

We thought we were running low on time so we made our way to the airport to get checked in and settled for our 4:45p.m. flight. They do things a little differently at the airport there, so we got there well before 2 hours early fearing a crowd of people like when I got there a week before. However, we got through security and customs in about 20 minutes. Then we waited. And waited. And bought some rum at the Duty-free place and waited. And then we find out our plane is delayed one hour due to crappy weather in Miami. So we waited. A security siren started blaring near us and no one moved to turn it off. It was like the people working there were immune to the noise. In the meantime, the irate tourists who were dreading their treks back to the states were growing more and more uneasy with the pulsating noise of the siren and the staleness of being stationary in those uncomfortable airport seats.

I found out that my connecting flight to Dulles was delayed til 9:50p.m. so I was hopeful that even with our late departure, Dad, Joan and I would be able to sit down at the Cuban restaurant in the Miami airport for some dinner before they left at 9:30p.m. I was wrong. After the flight FINALLY boarded and landed in Miami we parked on the tarmac. And waited. And waited... and waited some more. Because of all the delays, every gate was full and planes were just littered all over the runways and taxi-ways like a bunch of SUVs in a Walmart parking lot on a Saturday. After almost an hour and a half of waiting on the taxi-way, we finally got to our gate... at 9:42p.m. Dad and Joan missed their flight to Norfolk by about five minutes, and of course, it was the last flight of the day there. So they are just now probably landing in Norfolk a day later. :(

I was on the BACK of the plane and had less than 10 minutes to deplane and run down 15 gates to my connecting flight. I was sure I was going to miss it. I really almost did. Dad and Joan ran with me, clearing the way of travelers who obviously have never seen a girl late to her plane before. The announcer crackled final boarding for my flight while I was three gates away, so I swung around and hugged and kissed Dad and Joan quickly and then hauled ass with my 15lb backpack on my back and a case of rum in my hands. They had closed the door, but saw my fat ass charging towards them at full speed, flailing my ticket around like a flag on the 4th, so they let me in, and promptly shut the door behind me.

The girls I sat next to on the flight were young undergrads from VCU who were coming back from a semester abroad trip to Barbados. They were diverted from Reagan to Richmond and then missed that flight, so ended up on my plane to Dulles. So we had a good chat before the headache from the rush of the day set in and I started quietly nodding off, with book in hand.

We landed at Dulles around 12:20a.m. and fear immediately set in as I deplaned and called Kris to get me. I had to run to get to my connecting flight... and they hadn't even open the doors to unload luggage yet. There was NO way my bag made it onto my plane. But still, I held on to a thread of hope as I got to baggage and saw mountains of roller-boards on the carousel. It was wishful thinking. After half an hour, Kris and I gave up looking and I got a number for Baggage claim services for American Air. So we trudged back out to the Jeep in the stagnant stuffy DC air only to find that the parking pass was missing. We feared that instead of a $4 charge for the short term, we'd have to pay the full $36.00 when you lose the ticket. But Kristen put on her sweet southern accent and pleaded with the attendant to help us. Almost 20 minutes later, we left with only a $4 charge on my credit card (good thing because I only have about $33 left to my name until the 16th)!

We pulled in to Lakeside around 2:00 and I promptly squeezed my fatty cat, Arie, and went to bed. When I woke up this morning, I swore I was still in St. John. But when I opened my eyes, I saw our algae filled "lake" out my window and Ariella purring next to me. I'm home. I've certainly missed my own bed, my roommate, my cat, and the ability to call my boyfriend in the mornings. But I also feel the heavy weight of reality start to set in. After a week in paradise, you start to forget what is waiting for you to work on at home.

I think I'll go take the trash out now and call American again about my poor missing bag.

Cheers and Caribbean memories for years!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 9: Jumbie Barracudas & Ronnie's Pizza

Day 9

Today was our last full day in St. John. Tomorrow we will be lugging ourselves back to the airport and heading stateside. :( I'll be honest... I'm not ready!!! I could spend weeks longer here on either St. Thomas or St. John... or even make a trip to the BVIs! But alas, reality calls, and I've ridden the fantasy tropical wave for long enough. :)

But back to the day! Dad and I got up and out super duper early this morning to make our way to Jumbie Beach before the tourists took over the sand. When we got there NO ONE was there. It was like our own private beach. Neither of us had been to Jumbie before, so the snorkeling was trial by error. We hugged the rocks and headed out and around the reefs. Of course the first thing we ran into was this...

I was a bit nervous around it, but he didn't seem to care that we were there in the slightest! My demented father wanted to swim up next to it so he started following the damn thing around the reef. I hung back and kept all of my body parts in tact. :)

We continued further out and sadly, much of the reef had died off. There was some brain coral and fan coral started to regenerate closer to shore. We swam through schools of Blue Tang and Fries. There was some MASSIVE Parrot Fish on this swim and they are just so fantastic looking. They are all different colors and very rainbowish. They were very deep in the water so it was hard to get a good shot of them, but seriously, open a new tab and Google Image "Parrot Fish" and check out the different varieties!

Around lunchtime we went back to the villa to pick up Joan, who decided to get off of her knee for the day so it could heal up a bit more. We stopped by Ronnie's Pizza again today and, surprise! They were open! I'm very glad we tried it again because WOW! The pizza there was awesome. Much like yesterday, I have to post some food porn for you all. <3 Delish!

After lunch we all drove down to Mongoose Junction in downtown Coral Bay and went SHOPPING!!!! I'm very glad I waited really until the last day to make my biggest purchases because there was not a lot to spend... and there's not a lot left! I picked up some funky island jewelry and some trinkets to take home. I still need to find a few postcards before hitting up the airport tomorrow (and a few cigars).

By late afternoon we came back to the house and changed into our swimsuits for one final dip in the Wally pool. You would think it was a group of 10 year olds taking a dip because we got into a noodle floaty fight using the water jets at the sides of the pool. I'm pretty sure I got a lung full of chlorine from laughing so hard! :)

Now we are about to sit down for dinner. Dad is cooking up a London Broil and we're gonna finish up the fresh fruit we bought down here. Then we'll pack up and turn it in early for the night. Long travel day ahead. I'll try to make one last blog either on the plane or after I'm home.

Though I will continue to post on this blog and I'll have another day of talking about the trip, I do want to thank everyone who did read through this and those who had some fun with these posts. It was nice to write to an audience again. :)

I have a TON of photos from the trip (422 to be exact), so I'll make some more posts on here or Facebook with photos from the trip on here.

Cheers and my last St. John Brewery Root Beer!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 8: Nurse Sharks and BBQ

Day 8

Maybe I'm tanning and I just don't see it. LoL. My forehead and nose are getting nice and pink, but otherwise I still feel like a beacon of light compared to everyone else on the island. :) No worries though!

Snorkeling has been such an adventure during this trip. Dad and I are on the fourth day in a row of snorkeling around reefs and had some more luck today with some new finds. The three of us drove out to Francis Bay for some relaxing on the sand and swimming. There were a few others there, but thankfully Francis is spread out enough that everyone gets their own space. Dad and I snorkeled around some shallow reefs in the bay, but this time without the camera (so no photos of that today). Of course the Blue Tang were out in full force, which was beautiful! And the brain and fire coral were abundant in this little nook of a reef. But the real treasure today was finding a large black and yellow striped angel fish. This sucker was BIG! Like as in the size of a dinner plate. Very beautiful and very tropical in the stereotypical "tropical fish" sense. The next gem of the day was our encounter with a nurse shark. She/he was nuzzled in between two large pieces of coral and rock and appeared to be sleeping... or just really lazy. We swam out past her and caught sight of many more fishes before heading back. On our way back to shore we spotted a nurse shark (probably the same one) and a Jack swimming next to us in the opposite direction. We both turned around to follow the nurse shark a ways, but she/he was haulin the mail, so we lost them quickly. Very cool sighting though!

After our snorkel adventure we just bobbed around with Joan for a bit and got some sun with a Carib in hand. Don't worry, my pasty ass was covered in SPF 30. No skin cancers for me!

Around lunch time we packed it in and headed back to Cruz Bay. Originally we were going to stop by Ronnie's for pizza, but they were closed, so we made an even better decision to hit up Uncle Joe's for BBQ chicken. Oh. My. God. This was the most amazing BBQ chicken ever! I'll have to show a little food porn for you all to drool over because describing it just will do no good! During lunch we got to enjoy some island music floating over from Caps. This was very "St. John" to me. The locals were wandering around, the tourists had their dixie cups full of beer, and I was elbow deep in BBQ sauce and a Coke. :) Good times had by all.

We didn't head directly home after lunch, but took a cruise in the Suzuki up some hills and dips around Chocolate Hole, Rendezvous Bay, Fish Bay and to the edge of Reef Bay, scouting out villas. Apparently this is customary for Dad and Joanie to plan out their next vacation stay on the island. :) Maybe if I give enough input I can talk my way into their next trip out this way. However, this was an epic birthday/Christmas gift for me, so they have taken super duper care of all my expenses and meals. Next time I would like to say I'd have saved enough money to contribute more substantially. <3 Trust me, I'm not complaining about the top of the line treatment I've gotten down here. This is an amazing experience! But I like contributing to the cause as well. NOTHING here is cheap... except maybe limes.

We called it a day and settled back at the villa and took a dip in the pool again. After a spell Dad cooked up some awesome clam pesto spaghetti for dinner. The rest of the evening consisted of lazying around on the couch with a box of Oreos. ;)

Last full day on the island tomorrow so I'm going to make the most of it!

Cheers and Caps' Coldest Beers!


Buster, Ruins and Flamboyant Trees

As promised, here are a few photos of my day yesterday. We did so much that by the end of the day I was too tired to do much of anything but pass out!


Miss Buster is the local cat at Shipwreck Landing restaurant in Coral Bay. She has been a restaurant kitty for 13 years, but just started walking around the serving area recently. She would wander to each patron and mew until they dropped some grub. But this gal was no easy tart! She loved fish and crab cake. All other food was left where it was dropped for the chicken to come through and pick it off.

Danish Ruins at Little Lameshur Bay

These ruins were fabulous! You can see them from the Little Lameshur beach and facing the bay.

Flamboyant Trees

My father is dead set on wrecking the rental car to get a good look at the local Flamboyant trees. I can't say I blame him. These are the brightest crimson red trees around the island. They certainly live up to their names!

The real blog from Day 8 will be posted tonight... but here is a preview:

Cheers and Carib Beers!

Day 7: Petroglyphs and Little Lameshure Bay

Day 7

Third day in a row of snorkeling and I still feel pale! How is this even possible? :) Lack of tanning aside, I am having a great time snorkeling. Dad, Joan and I went out to Little Lameshure Bay for some quiet and snorkeling. Usually Lameshure is a very isolated beach area because the road to the beach is mostly washed out with crater like potholes. Today, however, a large group of kids and their parents were there for a birthday party. So Dad and I snorkeled by the cliff wall around the bay.

We saw a bunch more of the Blue Tang, which has quickly become my favorite tropical fish. Dad spotted a big ole Grouper down there as well... that woulda made a yummy sandwich. I unfortunately saw a sea snake wrapped around a piece of coral down there. I would have taken a photo but I was too busy screaming through my snorkel mask and kicking in the opposite direction. Ugh! lol. So it turns out I am a pansy! ;)

After our snorkel session we floated out near the shore and enjoyed the sunshine a while. There were these great ruins of a Danish governor's home at Lameshure. I got some great shots but I haven't loaded them on here yet, so I'll put them up tonight. <3

We set off for lunch at Shipwreck again. We all got some fish and chips. The local restaurant cat, Buster, came over to hang out with us in hopes of grabbing some fish. She was a sweetie (and yes, Buster was a she). By the way, I'm adding a cool photo of the Flamboyant tree blooms so you can see how fabulously red they are! :)

After lunch we trekked the almost hour drive back to Cruz Bay for some shopping! Dad and Joan were lovely and got me a Petroglyph key pendant and chain which I was poised to buy myself. But they beat me to it. ;) This particular petroglyph has become a signature of St. John because it was found here along with many other old Indian stone carvings. It is literally everywhere!

I picked up some great Larimar stone earrings as well. More shopping is to be had before I set back to the mainland on Tuesday. :)

When we finally got back to the villa, we popped into the Wally pool for some relaxing floating before a night in. I finally finished submitting all of my grades for the summer term. So I am "officially" on break! LoL. :)

Cheers and Coral Bay Excursions!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day Six: Blue Tang and Pink Cadillacs

Day Six

Another beautiful day for snorkeling! We trekked out to Oppenheimer Beach for some sun and swimming. After bobbing around like corks for a time, Dad and I geared up and set out to snorkel around the reef. No sea turtles today, but a LOT of Blue Tang and Parrot Fish. Schools liked to hang around the reef and cliff walls off of Oppenheimer. The Brain Coral had started to regenerate which looked pretty cool! I kept glancing behind me pathetically, looking for sharks. Of COURSE it was shark week on Discovery this past week, and I caught a few of the shows on attacks. And being the big ole puss that I am, I was hesitant to kick around in the waters out there. But no sharks, just Cuddlefish and some small Fries. :) We snorkeled a little over a mile one way, out towards the "Easter Egg." and then back to shore. (Any of you who have been to St. John know what the Easter Egg is, I'm sure).

We stayed out on the beach for a good long stint today. Joan was feeling much better so she floated around near the shore with us. There was a large group of local kids having what looked like a parks and rec day at Robert Oppenheimer's old home. They spent most of the day splashing around in the water, having a good ole time!

After a bulk of the morning and early afternoon at the beach, we set back to Cruz Bay for some lunch. We settled on Deli Grotto in Mongoose Junction. I was feeling particularly adventurous so I grabbed a bottle of Ginger Beer and ordered a Pink Cadillac. A Pink Cadillac is a sandwich consisting of turkey, cheddar, guac, salsa, and cream cheese on pumpernickel. It was definitely different, and pretty good!

Sadly, when I got back to the villa I had to get to the grading. So I spent much of the rest of the afternoon in the house with the laptop. Dad made a fabulous London Broil for dinner and we settled onto the porch to watch the lights come on at St. Thomas.

Good day. Good night!

Cheers and Ginger Beers!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day Five: Turtles and Shipwrecks

Day Five

I SNORKELED! Yayyyyyyyy!!! This wasn't my first rodeo. I've snorkeled quite a bit before in the Gulf of Mexico, but still, I was uber excited to get down here and snorkel around the reefs and beaches. Dad and I set off from Maho beach and snorkeled around towards Francis Bay. We saw about half a dozen sea turtles (Squeeee!) and a bunch of fishes including a Blue Tang which I have a photo of above. Both of those images are not mine since I did not have an underwater camera on me. I came across this fabulous, tomato red starfish just chilling out 10 feet down or so. So Dad dove down and scooped him up for me to hold a few minutes before dropping him back to his home. It was a truly amazing time! Saw a barracuda as well... but I was on land, so no screaming and swimming away at top speed lol. Can't wait to do it again. Hopefully we can get out to Waterlemon Kay this week.

The other great event of the day was to trek out to Coral Bay on the other coast of the island. Dad and Joanie usually get a house down in Coral Bay, but this time they decided to change it up, so we're in Cruz Bay instead. Coral Bay is something otherworldly to me. It is fantastically quiet and lazy... and I mean that in a good way. Not a lot of people live on this end of the island, so there are fewer cars and even fewer homes or shops. There is, however, a fantastic little bar restaurant called Shipwreck Landing down there (not the same as the one Dad and I ate at on St. Thomas when Joan was in the hospital). I got a delicious crab cake platter and munched on some conch fritters. Plus I got a nifty girlie mixed drink called "Bushwacked." It was some mix of rum, bailey's and coconut cream. Yum!

We drove around Coral Bay after lunch and checked out the wildlife. Lots of chicken, goats, big ole pigs and donkeys roaming the streets. :) Dad snapped a few shots of me at an overlook near the restaurant. Enjoy me in my natural, unphotoshopped glory ;)

After our excursion, Joan was feeling a little under the weather so we headed back up and over the mountain to Great Cruz Bay. The pops and I dropped her off and drove back out to Starfish Market for some groceries for the rest of the week. WHEW they are expensive here! We got enough food for about 5 days and it cost over $100!!!! And of course gas is about $4.57/gallon here because we are so far out. I can see why much of these islands are like a third world country. It's rough to afford the cost of living here. The economy here does remind me of that in Hawaii. You are either rich or dirt poor. And all the economic stimulation comes from tourism.

But I digress. What a long and wonderful day! I really got to enjoy the beaches today and catch a glimpse of the sea life. I do hope we snorkel again soon... and that I get some semblance of a tan... I'm as white as the sand out here still! Eek!

Cheers and St. John Root Beer!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day Four: Duty Calls

Day Four

So even though this is in fact paradise, I still have a job to do. My students' finals are due for NVCC this week so I spent the entire day on the villa porch with my lappy and a rum and coke. I would have to say that this should be the ONLY way in which college profs are allowed to grade anything. :) So I'm over halfway done with my grading responsibilities for the summer! I should be done by tomorrow evening.

The other nice part of being at home and out on the porch all day was the nature watching I got to do! The island is full of iguanas and tropical birds, so spotting them is fairly easy. There is probably a 40-60 foot drop to the ground from the porch, so there are a few trees below that you can look straight down into from the railing. The iguanas here are fantastically lazy creatures who crawl up the tree branches and sun themselves... all day. We have an average of 6 of them in the trees at a time, keeping a watchful eye over us humans! So I got out my nifty, broke ass camera and took some closeups of these dashing young lizards.

After much grading, Dad and Joan's friends Patty and Joe came by to visit a bit and check out our end of the island (they are staying in Coral Bay). After they left, I suited up as Barney would say, and took a dip in the pool. Since the tropical storm is swinging north now, we got some early rain and a LOT of humidity today, making it rather sticky outside. However, I'm feeling for everyone up in NOVA. I've been watching the weather and DC looks to be getting some really crap heat.

Oh yes, and the bird up top is a Banana Quip. They are TINY little guys who love sugar water. They're pretty quick so I was lucky to get as good a shot as I did. Cute lil guys. <3

I don't have much more to report today other than the fact that my father is an amazing cook. Which most of you already have heard. :) Tomorrow if Joan's leg is a little less sore, I think we'll hit up Francis Bay again for some swimming, or down to Cruz Bay to shop. :)

Cheers with Cruzan Rum!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day Three: Afternoon Excursions and Hikes

Day Three

Well, not like I didn't already know this, but today proved to me that I am massively out of shape. :) Since we got back so early this morning, we took it easy until after lunch (grilled ham and cheese sammies and some Carib beer <3). Joan is still in a lot of pain so she decided to rest up at the house for the day. Thus, dad and I set off on an adventure around the island. Since I've never been to the Islands before, everything is new to me. Dad has been coming for a few years now, so he was the perfect tour guide! We settled on cruising around the different parts of the island... some spots well known, and others void of outsiders. The first stop was to drive around downtown Cruz Bay. We went through the Lumberyard and past the different shops and eateries. The Suzuki chugged up Battery Hill and we weaved around the narrow roads, heading up the mountainsides. Dad patiently took me to each overlook so I could manage my broken camera as best I could. Our first outing was at Peace Hill. We trekked up the rocky trail to an old sugar mill on top of Peace Hill and checked out the remains of a statue of Christ that got ravaged and blown away by a massive storm a good two decades ago. There were some fantastic views of the British Virgin Islands from this side so many of the photos have Tortola and Yost Van Dyke in the background. After a few good scenic shots, we headed back to the car for our journey further northwest. We rounded a bunch of the beaches... some covered in tourists and others tucked away behind the brush. I dipped my feet in the water at Francis Beach and watched a stingray float by my ankles. A windsurfer was struggling along in front of us, but he didn't seem to mind. It was a beautiful day today with the threat of rain following us along.

We met up with some donkeys near one of the lookout points that gave a great view of Waterlemon Kay, and they seemed "happy" to see us... if you know what I mean. And if you don't know what I mean, then I'll just say that I saw some terrifyingly large donkey genitalia today. It may haunt my dreams tonight. But this guy (who was kind enough to keep his junk retracted) let me get close enough for a great shot. :)

Dad and I made it up to Annaberg Sugar Mill and walked the ruins. What an amazing and heartbreaking operation that was. The technology behind it at the time seemed smart, but the use of the slaves for all that work just seems unfathomable now. Not to mention imagining the hillsides and mountains covered in sugar cane. It was a good history lesson. It was also here that I learned about the Flamboyant tree and its GORGEOUS red blooms.

Best shot of the day :) We were at Annaberg here <3 After almost three hours out and about we decided to make an about face and head back to the house. The sky was getting darker by the minute so we zipped back along the windy (and terrifyingly sharp curved) roads to Great Cruz Bay. I have not yet explored Coral Bay on the other end, but I think that is the plan for later in the week. Another couple from the Shore is down here on vacation so we will likely meet up with them over there this week to catch up. And snorkel plans are in the works as we speak. I do hope Joan feels well enough in the next few days to join us on the beach.

I ended the day on the deck again watching the sunset paint the sky. Not too long after, a massive rainstorm made its way across St John, making a beeline for St. Thomas. It didn't last long, but it was a precursor for tomorrow. We will be missing Tropical Storm Emily, thank God, but we'll still get some of the rain and wind from that system south of us. So tomorrow may be a shopping and grading indoors day. I still have work to do down here and I can put it off no longer. But no complaints here. I wish I could grade all my students' papers in paradise :)

I miss you all back home, and I hope you are enjoying my recounts of this trip. I'll have a ton of photos to load when I'm back home, but again, I'll try to post as many as I can on here each day. This internet is reallllllllllllly slow goin. And no phone service. It's weird not checking my status every few minutes or texting back and forth all day. It's a nice break from the technology, but I do miss my darlings back home. <3


Day Two: We All Fall Down

Day Two

Mr. Iguana says "Watch your step!"

Well today was exciting to say the LEAST! No, I didn't snorkel or cliff dive or sail around Cruz Bay. But I DID have a good long stay at a hospital! Don't worry, it was not for me. But let me start at the beginning...

The day before I got here, Joan and Dad came over to St. John to get settled in the house. When Joan went to go into the house she slipped on wet tile outside and landed flat on her right knee. For the first day it didn't hurt her too bad, but started forming a nasty bruise. However, by the time I arrived, she was obviously in some pain. We took it easy on day one, but by that night the pain really took hold. And by the time I woke up yesterday it became very clear that she needed to seek out medical help. So we set off to the local clinic on St. John as there is no hospital on this island.

After almost five hours in the clinic and three X-rays, they requested she boat over to St. Thomas and go directly to the emergency room in case she had a broken or dislocated knee cap. So off we went! We took the Suzuki back onto a car ferry (called Captain Vick) and headed back to Red Hook. When we got back to St. Thomas, three of the large Carnival cruise ships had docked, so the island was teaming with tourists. When we finally got up to the hospital it was almost 3:00p.m.

The ER was something to behold. The administration was just sitting around, shooting the shit, paying no mind to the people in obvious discomfort in the waiting area. They had one intake nurse doing triage as well as inputting patients into the system. She was a sweet blonde gal from Buffalo, NY. We found that many of the nursing staff were traveling nurses from the states. A few hours later, they finally got Joan to Trauma 2. Even still we had hours to wait before any treatment could take place. They wanted to take new X-rays and have an ortho doc come in to see her (he never did)...

During our wait we met some of the BEST staff of doctors and nurses I have ever met, in one of the worst run facilities I've been privy to. From Dr. Flowers, a sweet ER doc from St. Croix, to Evelyn the charge nurse from West Chester, NY, to June, a twenty-something nurse who came over from the states after a few cold winters in Wyoming. Around 10:00p.m. Joan got a diagnosis of an obvious contusion from the fall and a soft tissue infection. Thankfully her blood work was good and they caught it before the infection spread too drastically. So another doctor from St. Thomas who studied in Boston and then returned got her on an antibiotic drip and pain meds. She should be fine, but rather sore for the next few days.

Another fun tidbit... sometime during the day, I dropped my purse on the clinic floor and cracked the LCD on my NEW digital camera. The expensive one. It still works, but I can only see out of the corner of the screen... and not well. YAY! But it's fine. I'll get it fixed at home, and in the meantime I fully intend on continuing to use it! Hmph! :) I'm just as accident prone with technology as Joan is with her person. <3 Well back to the story. After fussing at us all day to leave her to get food, dad and I finally capitulated and set into town while Joan awaited results. We set back to downtown Charlotte Amalie and went to Shipwreck Bar and Steakhouse for some burgers. And by burgers I mean they were probably the size of my head. :) It had been over 12 hours since we ate breakfast so dad and I devoured our "Shipwreck Supreme" in record time. It was either the best burger in existence or I was just starving. Either way, it hit the spot. For the food lovers out there, it was a huge angus beef patty, cheddar, mushrooms, onion, bacon, lettuce, toms and pickles with fries and some onion rings. Plus coffee that could probably serve as fuel for an SR-71. It was STRONG. :)

So, by the time we got done at the hospital it was far too late to catch a car ferry back to St. John. And it started to storm. Thus we called around to local hotels and decided to stay on the island for the night in the clothes we were wearing. So after getting soaked in a torrential downpour, we settled into a small but cozy hotel room at Bluebeard's Castle. The view at night from our room up a hill was amazing. The pictures don't do any justice. :)

We got up around 6:00a.m. this morning to catch a car ferry back to St. John. Before setting off, we grabbed an early breakfast at Delly Deck by the cruise ship ports, which were now void of the massive skyscraper-like liners. At the docks on Red Hook we got on the biggest, fastest and newest ferry, "Mister B" and off we went. So here I am, a shower and a change of clothes later, on Day Three and back at St. John. Joan is doing well, just in some pain and taking a nap. Dad is on the porch checking out Great Cruz Bay with a Dominican cigar in hand. I think I'll join him. <3 I'll post again tonight after today's adventures :)

Cheers and less spills,