Monday, June 3, 2013

Family Portraits and Final Farewells

Day 10: May 31st

Today is our last full day in the islands. It is severely depressing to know that in 24 hours I'll be stateside in Northern Virginia, prepping to go back to work. I guess that is the downside of any getaway. However, I am NOT complaining! I got a great opportunity to be down here with family and to send Joan off the way she wanted it. So this has easily been a trip of a lifetime and I am so happy that I've been able to be a part of it.

We started off the day with a trip to Hansen Beach which is on the East End of St John (past Coral Bay).

After hanging on the beach we drove down the road to Vie's Snack Shack where I had the BEST conch fritters and johnny cakes of my entire life! AMAZING! 

We ended the day with family photos at the villa, followed by a final dinner at Shipwreck (hooray for my fish and chips) and then down to Maho and Annaberg one final time to say farewell to Joan and light a memory lantern in her honor. 

Tomorrow I return to reality.

Cheers and one more St John Root Beer,

Friday, May 31, 2013

Key Lime Pie and a Shot of Jack

Day 9: May 30th

Villa Gravity has taken over. We were all taking our good ole time getting up and going today. After breakfast we packed up the Jeeps and rode towards the bottom part of the mountain. Fortsberg is more than a villa of course. It used to be a fort and battery site for the Dutch in the 1700s. Now privately owned, the ruins sit on the mountain top and bottom, letting time take them away. We got permission from the owner to hike out to the sites. The hike down to the battery (complete with 7 cannons) was steep! But it was cool to see what remained of it and I imagine if we were allowed to dig around the area we'd find some antiques from soldiers who were stationed there.

After a time we set further down to the beach which was super rocky, to hunt for shells. Care, Dad and Rob and Val went all the way down the beach to a set of rocks and a wade pool. Kris and I only went about halfway because of how precarious it was to climb the rocks.

After a long, exhausting hike back up the hill, we walked back to the villa. Dad, Rob and Val hiked up to the ruins (I'll have to ninja pictures).

We relaxed for lunch at the villa and I jumped in the pool for a few hours to cool off. Kris came across a conch shell at the villa that was cut to be used as a horn. That was fun trying to get any of us to use it correctly. It sounded like sad whale farts... lol

After dinner at the house, we decided to continue a tradition that Joan had started four years ago, when her, Dad, Rob and Val were visiting down here. It was around Rob's birthday so they went out to Skinny Legs for cake. They were closing up and only had key lime pie, so they got slices of pie and shots of Jack Daniels.

So we set down to Skinny's (not far from the villa) and ordered six slices of key lime pie and 6 shots of Jack. :) The waitress and the bartender seemed pretty impressed with the odd order.

The rest of the evening was spent on the deck. Val and I hopped into the hot tub with some of her awesome rum punch. We stared up at the stars and talked about the trip, relationships, life, travel and memories. It was a nice end to the evening. The sky was clear enough that I spotted about 5 shooting stars. :)

Tomorrow is our last full day here... Best not to think too much about it.

Cheers and Conch Shell Horns,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay

Day 8: May 29th

What an amazing snorkel day! It's only 4:00pm and I already have so much to post! Once again we were up at the crack of dawn for another eventful day. After a fast breakfast of bagels, mango and coffee, we packed up our gear and headed out. I must note that the "driveway"/road from the villa to the main road is an epic event in and of itself. Most of it is unpaved and all of it is fairly treacherous. They even list that you MUST have a 4WD vehicle to get to the villa. We have two Jeep Wranglers so we are golden. I have noticed that Jeep keeps the islands well stocked. :)

Anywho, we drove down to Leinster Bay and began the 1/2 mile hike out to the beach so we could snorkel to Waterlemon.

A highlight reel of the snorkel: We saw starfish (hundreds!), sting rays, sea turtles, angel fish, blue tang, stoplight parrot fish, urchins (ugh!!), foureye butterflyfish, barracuda, yellowtail snapper, sergeant majors, and small fries among MANY others I just couldn't identify.

And to top it off we spotted an Eagle Ray which is a SUPER rare stingray. In the 20+ years that Joan went to the Caribbean, she never spotted one. How funny that we saw one at Waterlemon, where we just placed Joan two days prior...

(This one is not my photo. Mine didn't come out well. This is from

It was a beautiful snorkel. The reefs were lush and FULL of brain coral. we spent a while resting on Waterlemon before fighting the current back to Leinster. I was fairly exhausted when it was all said and done but I can easily say that this was my favorite snorkel sight. Just all the starfish alone was amazing. 

We then headed back to Cruz Bay to fill up on gas (there is only one station on the entire island) and to grab lunch. We went back to Mongoose Junction and ate at the Grotto Deli (just like I did two years back). This time I got the Trunk Bay Chicken Sandwich. Care got the Pink Cadillac that I got last time. Dad got the New Yorker and Kris got Turkey and Artichoke. Val got a Veggie Pannini and I'm not sure what Rob picked up. Either way it was amazing because we were so famished. 

Care, Kristen and I swung by Skinny Legs in Coral Bay on the way back so we could pick up some shirts/goodies. Dad came across a 1959/60 MGA, which was super cool and rare!

Now we are back at the villa. I just dove in the pool to unwind a bit and (not to brag) made my way to the hot tub to work out some tense muscles. I was working hard to get to the island today so my legs are a bit stiff. 

Now we are hanging out until we go out to Maho beach to watch the sunset. 

More tomorrow!

Cheers and St. John Brewery Root Beers,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Turtle Sighting & Shopping in Cruz Bay!

Day 7: May 28th

We were up and out super early today so I didn't bother to upload a bunch of photos yet. However, we had a GREAT day of snorkeling on Francis Beach. I think the girls liked this beach best thus far. It was one of my favorites as well. Very white sand and a great snorkel around the bay. We came across four large sea turtles chowing down on some plants. They were simply amazing to watch. We came across some more blue tang, angel fish, millions of small fries and a few stingray. I floated around shore for a while after we snorkeled and these little silver fish (about the size of blue tang) decided that nibbling on my legs was a GRAND idea. It was freaky so I kept running up and down in the water squealing. I'll be that was a sight. :)

After the snorkel we rode back to the villa for some lunch and then...

SHOPPING DAY!! Okay, so I'm a girl, so I'm totally allowed to be excited about this. I remember two years ago when Joan, Dad and I went into Cruz Bay for shopping, I was just overwhelmed and excited. Today I had a plan. :) I picked up a few trinkets here and there, but I really wanted some Larimar and new Caribbean Topaz earrings since I lost one of mine from the last trip. I also got some goodies from St John Spice (coffee, tea and a meat rub). I went by the spice cam, but had no service to call my friend Maria to tell her we were there. Ah well. We spent most of the time shopping in Mongoose Junction, but wandered further around downtown Cruz.  By 5pm our stomachs and wallets were empty, so we dropped by Uncle Joe's for some BBQ. I got their chicken, rice and beans and coleslaw. Delish! Dad ran across the street to Caps for some frosty El Presidente beers for the group.

Around sunset we packed up and headed out to Annaberg to show Care and Kris the ruins there. It was simply beautiful and a great view of Waterlemon, where Joanie is. Tomorrow we are going to hike down to swim at Waterlemon for the day. Being that we'll be up and out super early again, I'm going to bed at 9pm... don't judge! I need lots of sleep to be this epic. ;)

Cheers and MORE Caps Beers,


Beach Hoppin and Shipwreck Fish & Chips

Day 6: May 27th

Well we had quite the slow start today. Yesterdays activities pretty much wiped us out. I didn't get up until about 7:15 (which I know is still early, but I have been getting up at 6am). Dad made these fantastic pancakes with a mango and banana flambe' on top. Delish!

Then we suited up and went to Oppenheimer beach for some snorkeling and sun. The reef has regrown quite a bit from two summers back. The brain coral was abundant this time around whereas last time I was here we couldn't find any! Lots of parrot fish, blue tang, small fries and angel fish. I did swim by a small barracuda but he didn't want much to do with me, so I let him be. No reason to panic! lol

After relaxing under the trees at Oppenheimer we packed up for some lunch back in Coral Bay. Let me just say that I LOVE Shipwreck and I have missed the food there so much! I got fish and chips with a Smirnoff blueberry lemonade. Sooo soooo good!

Then the great adventure to Little Lampsure. What a mess! They started to fix the road back there, which I guess is good? But at the same time the bay was FULL of people today. Usually Lampsure is empty because you need 4WD to get back there. /sigh
But we still set up camp near the ruins and snorkeled around. it was a bit murky, but still a good time.

5 hours later:
We picked up some groceries and headed back to the villa for dinner and to unwind
So here I sit ... after 2 wines, a rum and OJ and some vodka cran... I MAY be a little tipsy, so please excuse any spelling errors.
Dad and Val made a fabulous dinner of coconut and mango rice, grilled chicken and mixed veggies. And I grabbed dark chocolate M&Ms for dessert ;)
It's pouring a flood outside so I will call it an early night.

Cheers and Coral Hunting,


Monday, May 27, 2013

Joan is Forever at Waterlemon Cay

Day 5: May 26th

Today I went through a massive range of emotions: happy, sad, devastated, thrilled etc etc. Today was the day we've been waiting for, but also dreading. Today we took Joanie to her final resting place on St. John. 

The plan for the day was the same as it was for the wedding which was supposed to happen a year ago. The only difference is that we were having a burial, not a wedding. We chartered a boat for the day: Born to Rhumb which was captained by an adorable married couple, Andrea "Andi" and Shane. 

We began the journey to Waterlemon Cay, which is where Joan wanted to be placed. It was incrediably hard and powerful and something I won't forget. The sun was bright, the water was turquoise and sparkling. Her urn was a beautiful coral pink color, made of salt. Dad set her in the sea, and the urn would dissolve in about two hours. I think there should be a great sense of closure from this, and I hope I see that over time. But at that moment it just felt all so real again. I could imagine her sitting on the boat with us, white hair whipping around in the wind, a drink in hand and a smile on her face. Though she was gone, I think we all felt her presence throughout the day. I am a bit religious, so I imagine her looking down on us and being proud that we followed through with the plans she made. Bless Andi and Shane... they were so sweet and respectful. They even thanked us for sharing the moment with them. I think Joan would have really liked them both. 

We continued on to Tortolla customs for entry to the British Virgin Islands. Hooray for a new stamp in my passport! We all got a Painkiller (drink) and set off for the Indians to snorkel. We snorkeled around some super reefs and of COURSE I dropped my new water camera in about 42 feet of water. I didn't have a little floaty attachment so down she went. :(  However, Andi was amazing and so mermaid like. She just said "I got it, give me a sec" and dove down FORTY FEET to save this cheap ass camera. And she made it look effortless. 

After the Indians, we set off to Norman Island (The inspiration for Treasure Island) and snorkeled through the caves there. The colors were so beautiful! I didn't bring a camera, but I'll try to snag photos from Val. 

From there we set off to Jost Van Dyke for lunch at Foxy’s Taboo. I got a "Wreck" (think lots of rum and fruit juice) and a grilled fish sandwich. Plus their chips and salsa...homemade. OMNOMNOM. 
We went around Jost on the boat for some shopping at Foxy's main restaurant/shop and some photo ops. I got a few cigars and some kitschy goodies from the BVIs because who knows when I will return. 

A cool stop on the way back around Jost was to Sandy Spit: literally a little spit of land in the middle of the sea. Beautiful white sand and two palm trees. Of course the trip to the BVIs wouldn't be complete without (drum roll).... topless girls! A bunch of college age party goers were on the spit drinking and a few girls were walking around with their fake boobs out. No real boobs are THAT perky. Holy cow. They also brought a blow up doll onto the beach... I don't know. Um, it's best not to focus on that. So anyway... beautiful coral, swimming and white sand. And boobs. Hooray for boobs. 

Our last stop was to the Soggy dollar Bar, where we intended to get some drinks, but after we got in the water we decided we just wanted to float and watch some other boats/yachts dance and zip-line off their masts. Andi even swam over and did it herself! Good form! I'm too chicken and would probably bust my ass so I stayed in the water. 

We headed back to Cruz Bay for customs and said goodbye to Andi and Shane. If you ever venture down to the islands, and want to do a boat trip, contact Born to Rhumb. They were amazing.

Exhausted, we went back to Fortsburg to wind down for the night. I went to bed at 8pm after a spaghetti dinner at the villa. I just can't hang! lol

Cheers and Remembering Joanie for Years,

Big Sister Joins the Fray

Day 4: May 25th

Today was more travel. We packed up our things at Sapphire and headed out towards Charlotte Amalie for lunch and to pick up another rental Jeep.  Rob, Val, Dad, Kris and I stopped by the restaurant Hook, Line and Sinker for lunch. They were situated right on the wharf, so there were a bunch of pelicans flying around the building, fishing for their own lunch. I ended up getting a tun melt which was AMAZING.

After a speedy lunch, we split up. Rob, Val and Kris took the bigger Jeep to get groceries and to head to Red Hook to catch the ferry. Dad and I took the two door Jeep (a bit ragged out... the flaps kept flying backwards) and drove down to the airport to pick up Carolynn. Just as we pulled up, her United flight was touching down. Well timed as usual. ;)

Care was excited and exhausted, so we drove her back out to Red Hook for some lunch since she had not eaten anything since Newark at 7am. We ended up at Iggie's Beach Bar where she scarfed down some fish tacos and had her first Painkiller. :)

By the time we got to the ferry docks, Rob, Val and K were already gone. They rode over on the Roanoke which was exciting for Kris because it was my favorite ferry... palm trees on top, a big sign that read "Tug Life" and it was old as dirt. A fantastic ferry boat. Loads of personality. ;) They finally fixed the lift gate it seems... it used to not really close.

When Dad, Care and I arrived to the docks, Captain Vick was loading up. Vick is the same style car ferry as Roanoke, but not quite as tired. We took Care up top to look at the beautiful Caribbean water as we trekked over to St John. Somewhere between the two islands, I really started to get excited! I love this place. I've dreamed of returning to it since I last left in the summer of 2011.

We took the long way to Coral Bay where the villa Dad rented is situated. We are staying at Estate Fortsburg which is... amazing. Whoever owns this placed spared no expense. It features four bedrooms which would comfortably fit 8 people, and five bathrooms. A huge kitchen/living space which faces the top deck (it's on a mountainside). The deck has a small pool which butts up to the edge of the deck, looking over Coral Bay. And one of the coolest, strangest parts is that each bathroom has an outdoor shower! So neat! The only problem is the door to the shower is see-through, so Kris and I have to be mindful of who is in there, so they don't get a free show. LoL.

After everyone unpacked and settled in, we headed over to Miss Lucy's for their Full-Moon Party and Pig Roast. Local cats hung around the table for some scraps, so we got to play with island kitties for a while. I got pulled pork, local stuffing and plantains.... holy God. It was amazing. I keep saying that don't I? Well, I apologize, but it is true. This place does amaze me quite frequently. After the party we got back to the villa and watched the full moon on the deck. What a beautiful sight. :)

Tomorrow we take Joan to her forever home on Waterlemon, so I'm calling it an early night.

Cheers and Full Moon Rum Punch,


Friday, May 24, 2013

Best. Milkshake. Ever.

Day Three: I have climbed the mountain!!!

What a day! We had a slower start because of some horrible downpours this morning. But after it cleared up we packed the Jeep and went on an adventure around the island. 

Dad and Rob posing for some photos by the point. Such handsome family members. :)
I followed them out to the point to enjoy the delicious breeze this morning.

Udder Delite Dairy Bar is AMAZING! If you can find this (near Magen's Bay), then please stop and get a milkshake! I picked a Chocomint shake... Chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk and creme de menthe. Whew. I mean... damn. It was fabulous.

After swimming for HOURS at Magen's Bay, we drove up to Drake's Seat on our way to Mountain Top.
Mountain Top was cool! What a great view of Magen's Bay and the BVIs.

The largest rum bottle EVAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;) If only it were really full. 

Tomorrow we pick up Carrie and head over to St. John for a week. :)

Cheers and Chocomint Milk Mustaches,


Wheelin' and Dealin' in Charlotte Amalie

(This is at about 5:45am)

Day Two: May 23rd

Somehow I managed to wake myself up at 5:45am today on my own… yeah, I know! I was shocked too. I rolled over and looked out the porch door to see the hint of a sunrise peaking up through the clouds. I sprang out of bed and grabbed my camera. Groggily, I snapped a few great shots of sunbursts poking through, and light shining on the boats in the inlet. Just as fast as I sprang up to take photos, it hit me. It’s 5:45 in the friggin morning! The college student in me decided that this was unacceptable, so I crawled back in bed until 6:30.

Today was our great Charlotte Amalie excursion. After eating breakfast at the resort, we packed up the Jeep and headed into town. Wandering down the waterfront and subsequently main street was sensory overload. I have NEVER seen so many jewelry stores in my entire life. Now I see why Joan always came back with some nice new baubles! Being a stereotypical woman, I am drawn to shiny objects. We were not short on those today! Val, Kristen and I got matching hook bracelets that are common down in the Caribbean.  At the same place, I found these BEAUTIFUL pieces of blue diamond jewelry. The jeweler was fairly desperate for a sale, so he wouldn’t leave me be. He tried to convince me to buy a $1,400 blue diamond ring (for $735) and the poor guy just didn’t get that I was serious in that I am POOR. However, I came across a small three diamond (two blue and one white) pendant which was gorgeous, but priced a little over $1,000 which is just ridiculous. So I oohed and ahhed over it, but turned to head away because come on… He offered to sell it for $400 which I kindly turned down. He said “WAIT HERE” and jotted off to his boss. Ten minutes later I am walking out with the pendant, a fine silver chain and the hook bracelet for under $200.00 (still pricey, but for real jewelry, it was a steal). After that I found a small Caribbean topaz ring which was very inexpensive, as well as a sundress and sarong. I’d say it was a successful excursion.
On the “must-do” list was a lunch date at Cuzzins (sp?) on Back street. The building sat at a crossroads, and stood well over 200 years old. When you walk through the door, the smell of home cooking just wafted in. After MUCH hemming and hauling, I settled on stewed mutton with fungi (a mix of cornmeal and okra), local stuffing (a mashed sweet potato, cinnamon, raisin and pepper mix) and plantains. Oh. My. Word. It was amazing. Just AMAZING! Kris got a curried conch which was out of sight! I can see the draw to the place! J

When we got tired, we drove back to Red Hook and went for groceries. I said this last time I was here and I’ll say it again… GOOD GOD the food is expensive. Like 4.99 for a bag of frozen spinach? For real? But this will save us quite a bit in eating out.

When we arrived back to Sapphire,  we quickly changed into our suits and headed to the beach. Considering the age of the resort, I must say the beach is still amazing. White sand, coral and crystal clear aqua blue water. Oh how I’ve missed bobbing like a cork. J I think Kris was pretty pleased as well. I do think I stayed out a little too long though because I’m looking sort of like a steamed crab right now. Thankfully it doesn’t hurt… yet.

After a long swim and just enjoying one another’s company on the beach, we headed back to Rob, Val and K’s suite for dinner. Here was what Rob and Val made us:

-          -Linguini with asparagus spears, garlic, mushrooms and some EVOO
-          -A tossed salad with avocado and tomato, and a lemon, EVOO and spice dressing
-          -Ting and rum to drink. OMG. LOVE IT! Think pink grapefruit and the sweetness of rum. :)

So tonight I’m closing out at 10pm because the sun and shopping just took it right out of me. Let’s hope I catch the sunrise tomorrow.

Cheers and Ting & Rum giggles,