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Saturday, June 13 (Last Full Day) – Once More Unto The Beach, Dear Friends, Once More

July 7, 2009
Feet at the beach

This is my happy place

This is my happy place

Using my own unique way of explaining life through beer colored goggles, I’d say the last full day of a vacation feels a lot like the moment right after the bartender yells, “LAST CALL!”

Even after the harbinger of buzz kills makes that unwelcomed announcement, most of us are still happy because we know there’s at least some time left on the clock to rock. But a few of our brain cells–the ones we didn’t manage to kill drinking–register foreboding blips on our emotional radar warning our fragile psyches that the end is near and nothing’s waiting for us on the other side of tomorrow but a long, soul-sucking journey straight back to reality.

And, it’s times like these when even the most enthusiastic traveler amongst us could use a little inspiration. So hear this, “LAST CALL FOR ST. JOHN Y’ALL,” time to get busy Limin’ or get busy leavin’.

5 ish am – Dreaming of quitting our jobs, selling our house, and chucking it all to move to St. John permanently in a feeble attempt to avoid waking up to the fact that today is our last full day on the island. Okay, actually, that was my wife’s dream. I was having that nightmare where you’re running late for a big test at school and you walk into class naked holding a jar of peanut butter…perhaps I have shared too much and half of you are thanking your lucky stars this trip report doesn’t contain ALL the pictures from the trip.

6:59 am – Plugging iPod into speaker, turning the volume to “wake to the #*$& up,” and cueing song mix entitled, “Carpe the Diem!”

7:00.00am“Over? Did you say ‘over’? This vacation isn’t over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? (Germans? Forget it, I’m rolling). Was it over when they said no beer bottles on the beaches? Was it over when I barfed up my spleen on the Reef Bay Trail? Was it over when the National Park rangers said clothing was no longer optional on Saloman?

Hell no! And it ain’t over now. Cause when the limin’ gets tough…the tough get limin’. Are you with me? Let’s gooooooo.

Meritage Cottage Living Room

Meritage Cottage Living Room

7:00 am – Covering head with pillow, Mrs. 54b opts to communicate non-verbally by extending middle finger, thus thwarting my attempts to inspire her by running out of the villa wearing only a smile (don’t worry, the jar of Jiff remained securely in the cupboard…for now).

7:01 am – Returning seconds later much less enthused, wearing only a frown and sporting some unfortunately-placed mosquito bites that decorum prevents me from describing in any further detail. (BTW, does peanut butter soothe mosquito bites…he-he.)

7:01.15 am – Itching indiscriminately but undaunted, I continue my motivational speech.

What the fritter happened to the girl I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the love, huh? This could be the greatest day of our vacation. But you’re gonna let it be the worst. Not me.”

Once more unto the beach dear friends, once more…

JJ's Texas Cafe

JJ's Texas Cafe

8:03 am – But first, “Yo quiero los burritos desayunos de Tejas.” If you thought a couple of Lone Star Staters were going to spend a week on St. John without moseying on over to JJ’s Texas Coast Café, then you thought wrong, pardner. Like every good Southwestern cantina, JJ’s features Tex-Mex that is hot, beer that is not, and an ambiguously gay picture of legendary Dallas Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman hanging over the bar. Why Troy is inexplicably wearing a duster in the picture is beyond me, but apparently it was raining men that day.

9:17 am – Receiving the gift of humility and perspective from this exchange with a local Samaritan setting up some tents near the yellow house on Gibney Beach:

“Hey there, is it cool if we go hang on the beach?”

“Oh yeah, we’re gonna have a “Save the Tatas” party later to raise money for our friend who has breast cancer. There’s going to be live music and food and beer for sale. You’re welcome to join.”

Now that’s St. John for ya. I’ve yet to read a book about the island that captured the local perspective on life better than that response right there. In fact, it inspired me to write this poem in my trip diary later that morning (it’s cheesy and I’m no John Keats, but hey, at least it rhymes, right):

Last Day SkyThe St. Johnian

It’s not about yesterday or tomorrow,

It’s about today, for come what may –

Sun, rain, or hurricane –

We’ve only time for a smile, none for sorrow

We never did meet the guest of honor, but I felt comforted knowing she has so many good friends even if fate doesn’t turn out to be one of them. I’m sure someone reading this knows of her and if so, I hope they thank her for reminding me how ridiculous it is to waste time lamenting something so trivial as the last day of a vacation. We should all be so fortunate.

Secret Beach

Secret Beach

10:43 am – Recreating the beach scene from the movie From Here To Eternity at the hidden cove located about a 100 yards up the coastline from Gibney. This mini-beach for two is only about a five-minute snorkel away. It’s surrounded by a wall of chocolate-colored rock, extremely secluded, and, as far as I know, hidden from just about everything but Google Earth. Mrs. 54b thought it was romantic but felt my kisses were a bit salty. Do they sell Listerine flavored snorkels? Get me Ron Popeil or that Slap-Chop guy on the phone, stat.

Uncle Joe's BBQ

Uncle Joe's BBQ

1:06 pm – Idling near the National Park dock while my wife procures that Cruz Bay culinary delight known simply as Uncle Joe’s Ribs and Chicken. So good you’ll lick your wife’s fingers (that’s hot). A word to the uninitiated–though Uncle Joe’s looks like a Grab N’Go Snack Shack, it will most likely take longer than a Snickers commercial before your order is up. In fact, I’m pretty sure Uncle Joe played Father Island Time in the Pine Peace School production of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Mongoose. Needless to say, you won’t be going anywhere for a while. But oh is the wait worth it.

Wave4:37 pm – Leaving Francis Bay as the rain clouds rolled in and making the slow Drive of Woe back to our villa. What’s the Drive of Woe you ask? It’s the drive back from the last beach you visit on your St. John vacation. Every time your foot hits the cold, steel gas pedal (unless you’re in a Toyota) it just reminds you of how long it will be before you feel the sand between your toes again and you start humming a few bars to, “Sometimes When We Touch…”

4:37 pm – Suffering from St. John separation anxiety already when the rain clouds miraculously disappeared. So we did what any St. John lover would do and pulled into the parking lot near Cinnamon Bay. Yep, back to the beach again. Just enough time for me to snorkel around the Cinnamon Cay like Michael Phelps (after smoking doobie) while Mrs. 54b transported herself east of Eden on a sultry beach of sinful cinnamon sand via her trashy romance novel. Sir Reginald strikes again!

Quiet Mon Pub

Quiet Mon Pub

7:02 pm – Making the Pub Crawl of Woe (are you starting to sense a trend here). We started at the Quiet Mon, which I’m pretty sure is the tavern at the beginning of Treasure Island where Billy Bones was delivered the Black Spot after committing a party foul. Today, they probably would have simply texted him his guilty verdict, but regardless dead men tell no tales and neither does the Quiet Mon, which explains why the walls are black and the décor, death warmed over. Dig on the balcony though. It’s good for watching all the chicanery over at Woody’s.

NOTE: My memory gets blurry from here on, but I know we hit Woody’s and then the string of bars over in Wharfside Village ending with The Beach Bar to kill the pain one last time with what else,  a Painkiller. It cures what “ales” ya. Drinking is sport on St. John and win or lose we still booze.

9:46 pm – Raiding the fridge for dinner “a la leftovers.” It looks eerily reminiscent to my icebox back in college. Let’s see, we have some expired condiments, a bottle of mostly consumed rum, and a half eaten Skinny Legs’ bleu-cheese burger. Sounds like Surf & Turf to me, baby!

11:17 pm – Setting two alarm clocks, our cell phones, and anything else that might make noise to wake us up in time to make the first ferry off the island.

4:32 am – There are only three legitimate reasons to be up this early on a Sunday morning: making babies, having babies, and leaving for the airport to catch a 6am flight to the Virgin Islands. Unfortunately, we’re experiencing the 4th reason now, and that is catching the 6 am ferry back to St. Thomas to fly home.

Leaving STJ

Sunrise on our last day

6:00 am – Making the walk of woe to board the ferry of woe to catch the taxi of woe so we won’t miss the flight of woe back to the world of woe.

Epilogue – If you’re not looking for it, you’ll find it on St. John.

Most veteran vacationers, especially those who’ve experienced St. John, would be quick to to accuse me of trying to do too much, and missing the point of a vacation. For those folks, treating a seven-day Caribbean vacation like a scavenger hunt is akin to spending all day staring at a Monet painting trying to count the lilies.

Well, if doing more before 9 am than most people do on their entire vacation is a crime, then I’m guilty. No doubt the frenetic pace I set–and that my wonderful wife somehow endured–on this vacation is not for the faint of heart or the lush of liver (unless you were born with the rare ability to sweat liquor like me). My wife and I are well-aware that the majority of St. John lovers–and vacationers in general–prefer to sleep in, relax, and tell island time with a sundial. And to that I simply say, “to each his or her own, and, by all means, lime it your way.”

But while I may not “get St. John” by most Caribbean barometers, I did find what I was looking for, an escape from the “it” that always seems to prevent us from really living life. Why St. John? Because it’s (not) there.

Leaving STJ

Until next time, STJ

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2012 10:46 pm

    This thread if for Chris, he will certainly get it!

  2. February 24, 2012 10:48 pm

    Very well put. Last day of vacation feelings…

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