Monday, November 24, 2003

St. John, USVI

Salt Pond Bay  
A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, but unfortunately there's no pictoral evidence of the events that eventually led us here.  Josh had done some reading that suggested that it would be well worth our while to make the trip across St. John to visit this quiet(er) little beach.  Just a 10 mile jaunt up Route 10 to the other side of the island.  Except our little island get-away was sans automobile.  About to rule it out, we then found out that in addition to the several car rental places within walking distance, there was a bus that made the journey two or three times a day.  Having no set plans for the next day, we determined that Salt Pond Bay would be our destination.  We got up and had a semi-lesiurly breakfast, then headed out the door.  At car rental place #1, we were informed that there were no cars to be had for the day.  Ah, well, on to CRP #2, only to hear the same story.  CRP #3 was either singing the same tune or closed for the day, I can't remember.  The bus, it turned out, was on island time -- no discernible schedule at what appeared to be the stop and no one obviously waiting for an imminent arrival.  The day was young and so were we, and so we started out on foot.  Just a 10-ish mile hike and we'd catch the bus coming home.

Where our guide book (or whatever source we were gleaning information from) failed us was in adequately describing the elevation gain that one has to make when one sets out to hike across an island on which the high point of 1277 ft just happens to lie directly in the path of said hike.  Then again, chances are good that the authors of our information never imagined that we try to take the journey on foot as the roadways are, shall we say, not exactly of the wide-shoulder type (not our picture... photograph found at flickriver).

There have been points in our marriage where the silence had gotten uncomfortable.  I believe miles 3-4 marked one such point.

Running out of water and breadcrumbs, we were quite happy to allow our aching feet to rest in exchange for our backsides taking a beating in the bed of a rusted-out pick-up truck of a compassionate local on his way, it turned out, to mile 6.  Our offer of compensation was waved off with a broad smile -- no doubt the story of the crazy tourists was making its way down the mountain faster than we were.

Somewhere between mile 7 and 8 we hitched another ride.  The local surfer who picked us up this time was kind enough to drop us fairly close to our destination.  The final quarter mile walk to the beach was, as they say, NBD (translation for the Moms: no big deal).

We spent a fair amount of time here between the crystal clear water and silky sand warmed by the sun... bliss!  It took a few goes around but in the end the snorkeling was amazing. Just as we were ready to give up, our perseverance was rewarded with seeing two rays, hundreds and hundreds of tropical fish, a flounder (that we nearly missed as we headed back up the beach to change for the trip home), and just when we didn't think it could get any better, some flying fish decided to use the setting sun as a backdrop for their antics.

And, as if that weren't already enough, as we made our way back to the parking lot at the trailhead, we heard the distinct rumble of that most mythical of all creatures:  the cross-island bus.  A quick sprint and ample flash of cash ensured that we were back to our villa by sundown.

Friday, November 21, 2003

St. John, USVI

St. John  
So quiet, so serene, so calming.  We snapped this picture on the way to Mahogany Tree Villas -- our private little get away during our visit to the island (we were apparently the only guests on the property... either that or we kept waaaaay different hours than anyone else staying there as we never saw or heard anyone else).  Can't think of a better way to end our first day on St. John!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

St. Thomas, USVI

St. Thomas
Looking out at the Carribbean from Bellavista Bed and Breakfast on St. Thomas where we stayed our first night before catching the ferry to St. John.