Monday, March 22, 2010

St. John

As much as I keep trying to trick myself into thinking we're still there, we have come home from St. John. I'm pretty sure the only reason we came back was Charlie, because we spent considerable time during the trip discussing what our 'paradise jobs' would be so we could move there. You know, things like dive instructor, massage therapist, bartender. Unfortunately, where we landed is that neither of us is qualified to live in paradise and actually make enough money to enjoy it.

That's the thing about paradise - it's expensive! Everyone wants a piece of it. We used points for the hotel and Brad just about fell over when he saw what the standard rate was on our room. So save your points if you want to go! There are only a few hotels on St. John and the Westin was very nice, resorty, great pool, calm beach. Impressive gym, less then impressive spa, lots of activities.

Since it was Spring Break there were tons of families at the resort. We watched a lot of other couples wrangle their very small children at restaurants and on the tour we went on. We wondered, could we come back another time with Charlie? I think maybe we could! Every time a child cried out I whipped around looking for him. I missed him so much the entire time and just wished he was there to take in the pool or to the playground. I think Brad missed him too - we talked about him frequently.

While the resort was great, we didn't really spend a lot of time there awake. But believe me - we slept. When we arrived we were so very tired after Charlie being up at 2am the night before and an early flight. Actually, what am I saying? I have been tired since my third trimester. After some drinks and dinner we went to bed and slept 12 hours that first night. Heaven on a stick.

St. John is great because it's small and pretty easy to get around. There are taxis that go just about everywhere and charge you published rates so you don't get ripped off. We'd take them from the resort to dinner, to different bays for snorkeling, to go shop in town - the town of Cruz Bay, which is the only place anything is happening on this fairly sleepy island.

We did manage to find one remote spot, Leinster Bay, that had hardly any people there - we mostly had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, when we were ready to leave, we walked out to the parking lot and it was EMPTY. No taxis to get us back to the hotel. We ended up having to walk to a nearby campground and wait for the taxi that comes every evening at 6:30 to take people to Cruz Bay for dinner.

It was a long walk, lots of time to talk, which we rarely have. It was hot and mostly uphill so we discussed what our first, second and third drinks were going to be at dinner that night. When we got there, the camp had a general store where Brad managed to find Blue Moon AND an orange to go in it. He didn't seem quite as put out with our situation after that.

The campground we went to was actually an 'eco-resort', which I thought was pretty cool. Maho Bay Camps was the name, since I think some of you might want to check it out. Brad said it was a little granola for him but seemed impressed they considered Blue Moon enough of a necessity to keep in their little store.

We went scuba diving once during the trip and decided it wasn't worth it to do any more. Since we had not been diving since we went to Turks & Caicos a few years ago, we started with a refresher dive. It was pretty shallow (30 to 35 feet) and fairly mediocre - though we did see our first shark! A whopping 3 foot reef shark. He was hiding under a ledge, praying all the annoying tourists would go home soon.

When we were back up on the boat afterwards I asked where they typically go for good diving. The dive master told me that was about as deep as you go in St. John and pretty typical of what you'll see. Umm, ok, way to sell it to me. Apparently all the good wall diving is over at St. Croix, which I have heard (but can't verify) is the least desirable of our 3 U.S. Virgin Islands to actually stay on.

At that point we decided to not do any 2 tank dives, to snorkel instead and do an excursion to Virgin Gorda to see the Baths and snorkel the caves at Treasure Island. All the pictures in the slideshow with the really big rocks - that's the Baths.
You walk through these huge rock formations (above) over to Devil's Bay, which is breathtakingly beautiful. It was a yellow flag day though, so too rough to really swim in. This shot was taken in between violent swells. Run in, pose for semi-seductive picture, run out. Also a shot of the bay below.
The snorkeling was excellent everywhere we went. Well, besides the bay where the Westin is, which is better for docking your boat. Your boat you can't afford because you are now working your paradise job instead of your real career. Anyways. We went to Trunk Bay when we visited St. Thomas a few years ago so we decided to try the others. Honeymoon Beach near Caneel Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Leinster Bay. Pictures are in that order:
We saw lots of neat stuff snorkeling, including a beautiful stingray that we watched for several minutes. Lots of beautiful fish, some strange looking lobsters and all sorts of coral. It was kind of like being a fish at times, there were so many surrounding us. I kept my eyes peeled for turtles, but no go. Leinster Bay is even a turtle egg nesting ground but nada. We saw huge sea turtles in Turks & Caicos and I had hoped for a repeat performance. Someone let the turtle community know that, k??

The only spot we missed out on that I wish we could have hit is Salt Pond, which is supposed to be awesome snorkeling. It is close to Coral Bay, which has a couple of fun places to go to eat/drink. You really need to rent a Jeep to get there. I don't even want to think about how stranded we would have been if we'd made it there instead of Leinster Bay. That's OK - next time.

Overall, I think the food is a bit better in St. Thomas then St. John. In neither location do you want to look at the prices, which are ridiculous. Brad and I both remembered the food in St. Thomas being incredible, It was mostly just OK in St. John. We had a couple really nice dinners in Cruz Bay - Asolare and Waterfront Bistro. Asolare was hands down the best - it has a hill top view of the bay and is very quaint, with stone walls and arches.

We had this nutty waitress who told us during dinner she was taking an online class on how to be a psychic. She said she thought she was getting pretty good at it and something interesting was about to happen to us. I must have scoffed because she bet me an after dinner drink that one of the fellow customers would come sing at our table randomly. I took the bet and spent the next 20 minutes watching everyone every closely. I even questioned the assistant server's motives when she delivered our dinner.

Sure enough, this youngish guy waltzes over and starts singing opera. He was the busboy, on his night off. After he finished the tables next to us just stared at us. One lady asked how I made that happen. Even though I lost the bet, I did get an after dinner drink and sent the busboy one as well. That kind of talent and busing tables in order to live in paradise. I guess that's his paradise job. Kinda sucks if you ask me.

Brad was obsessed with 2 things while we were there: Iguanas and T-shirts. We couldn't walk anywhere without him pointing out the closest iguana or a t-shirt he needed to buy. Needed. Because he doesn't have enough t-shirts he says. I think his t-shirt drawer would disagree, but that is not a battle worth fighting. So here's a shot of Brad with an iguana, right before he bought a t-shirt.

Charlie had a great week while we were gone with my mom and my dad was even able to come for a few days. They played and went all sorts of places and he got a new tooth and tried some new foods. It was such a relief knowing he was in good hands while we were gone - made it easier to relax. I called every day though! He spent the last night in Williamsburg with Brad's family and that's where we picked him up. We were so excited to see each other! It still hasn't worn off.

Overall, we had a very nice, relaxing (for us), fun time. We aren't really two people who can sit around all day, so we're pretty compatible travel partners. I don't think I really appreciated how badly we needed that break together until we got back. As my neighbor told me, trips like this after you have kids are how you remember why you liked each other in the first place. And it's so true!

It was an excellent recharge, especially considering how much Brad is gone for work. In fact, he had to turn around and leave Sunday morning to go back to work. It was like being splashed in the face with cold water that our vacation is actually over. I haven't been able to get the message through to my stomach, though, who would still like just as much vacation food please.

I hope next year we can get away again together. Until then I'll just have to look at the pictures. And perfect my rum punch recipe. :)

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