[Those are the hummingbird babies who lived outside our villa last week.]
[I'm still losing the lbs. from the vacation...slower now, but I'm ok with it. Most of the jiggle is gone. Not that all jiggle is bad, but SOME definitely is!]
So Wednesday (July 22) was Dash's birthday! DB got an e-mail on his Blackberry early that morning and so we knew when we woke up...yay! He's such an adorable cutie (we saw him last Sunday)...looks like DB's side of the family and a lot like PD1 did when she was a baby. :-)
After all that wake-up excitement, we got up, had a good (on program) breakfast of DB's speciality: low-fat hamburger scrambled with egg substitute and parmesan cheese with toast. YUMMY. With that in our tummies we were ready to check out some more snorkel-beaches!
Our first beach of the day was Hawksnest (recommended by the lady on Day 1). This one is very close to Cruz Bay and I hadn't heard a lot about it. Well, wow! The bay was very calm and there was fantastic coral here with a lot of fishies. The most we had seen so far!! I saw some squid that were really cute along with the usual tropical species. I was headed in at one point, then decided to follow DB over another reef (thought he saw something and I didn't want to miss it!). I ended up getting stuck over the reef with not enough water to feel comfortable and the reef was full of sea urchins (ouch). I couldn't see a way out for quite a bit (well, it felt like that...probably not more than a few minutes) and I was sure I was going to be banged by the surf against the coral or sea urchins. I tried not to panic and swam carefully...finally found a way out (and didn't get hurt), but that taught me a lesson about following DB blindly! ;-)
I was so relieved to be OUT so I sat down on our beach chairs to wait for DB...he came out as I had...and had a similar scare. Not too fun. But we sat and had a drink then I went back in to do another loop around the first reef we snorkeled there...niiiiiiice.
It was after lunchtime at this point so we headed in to Cruz Bay for a snack and to hit a couple of stores for supplies. We ate at JJ's Texas Coast which is right off the ferry dock. Nothing too exciting food-wise (and I kept calling the place Texas Toast), but the Blackbeard Ale was yummy. ;-)
After picking up our supplies we headed toward Fish Bay (where Laura stayed) because it was on the other side of town and we wanted to see something new. It was very nice on that side too...similarly unpopulated as Coral Bay but not as far away from Cruz Bay.
On our way back to town, we picked up a hitchhiker (lots of totally fine people do this on the island and we met some nice people this way). She was there for the whole summer and recommended we try snorkeling at Cinnamon Bay. So we headed there after dropping her off. Cinnamon ended up being our favorite place...we snorkeled there three times! :-) It has a bar and restaurant, bathrooms (even though DB taught me about, well, using the ocean for some new things this trip!) and even a campground, but it is so huge and varied that it still feels like paradise. And did I mention the snorkeling?
We saw a lot of snorkelers off the beach toward a little island so we headed that direction. Really great coral and underwater foliage and LOTS of fishies. We went a ways around the island and I was getting tired (this was late in the day) and the water was getting choppy so I headed in (without DB). Once I was in, I kept looking for DB and didn't see him. I stood there for so long that a nice man said, "did you lose someone?". I told him yes, but that my boyfriend was pretty intrepid so I wasn't TOO worried. DB was, of course, ok, but I WAS worried. ;-)
After Cinnamon, we headed to Island Blues for our evening LCs. Afterwards we decided to stay in for dinner...grilled salmon steaks, salad and broccoli with parmesan cheese. YuMMM.
Thursday was The Fifth Anniversary. Whooo hoooo! The day before, while in Cruz Bay, we had stopped at a booth called Island Connection and asked them about getting a full-day snorkel sail. They recommended the booth's owner's son who has a Hobie Cat (which I didn't know at the time is QUITE a bit smaller than the large sailboat, Breath, we had thought we were going to take on Monday). We jumped at the chance to book and arranged to meet him at 10 am the next day in Cruz Bay...
So...we got up on The Anniversary, got ready and went to Big Belly Deli (yes, that's the name) in Coral Bay to pick up some breakfast and some sandwiches to take on the boat (along with some water and beer). Not surprisingly, I trace the beginning of The Great Weight-gain to this visit to BBD... ;-)
After eating our breakfast, getting our provisions and buying new billed caps (we didn't think our resort-y broadbrims would stay on on the sailboat!), we went to get in our car. We were right on schedule. The car was dead. Very dead. DB and I went separate ways to find help. Coral Bay is SO nice that we BOTH found someone to help so were able to let one of them go. Frenchie got us a jump while his friend Mike kept us company. I kept calm knowing that we were the only ones going on the boat so they wouldn't leave without us (and we could call them on their cell phone when we were in range too). Car started, we said goodbye to the nice people and were on our way...
DB took the never-until-then-tried Center Line Road to try to save time (I had been avoiding it because it looked longer and more wind-y). It worked! We made it to Cruz Bay in record time...nearly ON time. After saying hi to our captain (19-year-old Lonnie...who is an awesome kid...has lived on a boat in STJ since he was 3), we dropped off the car at Mr. Sutton's so they could work on it while we were gone for the day (good timing to happen this day, actually) and headed to pack up the Hobie Cat.
Do you all know what a Hobie Cat is? It's a SMALL pontoon sailboat with canvas between the pontoons and canvas "benches" off the side! I'm REALLY happy that I learned to swim when I was a tiny tot and am generally not afraid of water because this could have been scary to someone else. I LOVED IT.
We packed our things into the "dry bags" and pushed off from the beach right in Cruz Bay (an advantage of the Hobie is that you can just pull it up on a beach...no docking required). What fun!!! DB and I sat on opposite sides and sometimes the same side...we had to move around to help the boat "tack". It wasn't graceful, but it was exhilarating to feel the ocean splashing up over you as you sailed!!! SO much more fun than I imagine a big boat would have been. :-)
Lonnie first took us to Henley Cay...a teeny island and we were the only people there. The "beach" was rocky, but once we got in...WOW. BY FAR the most fish of the whole week. It was beautifully clear and sunny that day (despite my best efforts I got a sunburn on my back) and you could see a long way underwater...sooo soo many fish...a whole WORLD of fish. We saw an octopus and a barracuda here. It was great.
After a while, we cast off for our next destination: Whistling Cay. Another rocky beach (DB was happy to have his Crocs and I was happy to have my Keen water shoes) and the snorkeling was in a channel between the Cay and the "mainland" of St. John. The coral here was phenomenal, best of the trip. DB saw a huge squid here, but I had bailed by that time and was sitting on the boat with a beer and sandwich. ;-)
Whistling Cay used to be the customs point for St. John so there's a ruin of the small customs house there. We had fun exploring that and took some silly photos.
After that Cay, we took a quick run over to the east side of Cinnamon Bay...Lonnie told us that around the point was some really cool stuff and, as we knew from the day before, we really loved that beach and bay. Again, great snorkeling -- highlight here was a couple of sea turtles (sorry, no photos of any of the sealife...no underwater camera!) :-)
Our sail back to Cruz Bay was slow and relaxing because the wind had died down (on the way "out" it was fast and choppy and WET -- so fun!!)...Lonnie told us stories from his recent 2-year travels to Europe and the Galapagos and Belize...all on the ocean! We lounged on the canvas benches and trailed our feet in the ocean...
We got back to Cruz Bay about 4:30 after this unforgettable trip...just in time to pick up the fixed car and get back to Island Blues for our daily LCs! There was a new bartender this night and she made them quite a bit stronger...we got pretty tipsy on two (which we had successfully had before). Oh well...it was our anniversary!
After we drove carefully home, it was time to shower and get ready for our dinner reservations (which we had made at Sweet Plantains...several people had said it was the best place on the Coral Bay side). DB told me that he had a gift to give me...I had told him long ago that I wasn't getting him anything this year (although I did get him a card) since the trip was our gift to each other but, hey, bring on the present!! :-) OMG...he got me the most beautiful ring -- a gold claddagh with diamonds and emeralds (which he said reminded him of my eyes)!!!! I love the claddagh -- the hands mean friendship, the crown means loyalty and the heart means love -- I used to wear a silver one a few years ago on my "wedding finger" to celebrate my wild Irish lover but lost it working in the yard at our house one day. DB remembered. To quote him, he "put a ring on it". This meant SO much to me. I love it and wear it every day. :-)
Then we were off to our dinner and, well, WOW again. It was SO SO SO delicious. BY FAR the best on the island. The decor was also so pretty and they gave us a special window table. It was just totally totally fantastic. It turns out they change their menu every few nights so...we went back the next (our last) night too!!!
As DB said "five years is a good start...I'm ready for the next five"...I couldn't agree more.
It was really a special day. For me and my special love.