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Monday, June 8 (Day 1) – Chasing The Rum Runner

July 12, 2009
tags:

CAVEAT VACATIONER

Blanket and Shell

At the Beach

Please be forewarned that I sleep macho, go commando, and do more before 9 am than most people do on their entire vacation. The frenetic pace I set (and my wonderful wife somehow endured) on this vacation is not for the faint of heart nor the lush of liver (unless you were born with the rare ability to sweat liquor like me).

We are well aware that the majority of STJ beach jockeys prefer to sleep in and certainly have nothing against those of you who like to tell island time with a sundial. To each his or her own, and by all means, lime away to your liver’s content!

And while I may not “get St. John” by most Caribbean barometers, as you’ll read below, I got it and had one hell of time doing it.

Meritage Cottage

Rise and shine! Oh, sun's not up yet.

6:09 am – Wide-awake! Why? Because someone (okay it was me) did not close the curtains the night before and our cottage is presently lit up like the Hollywood studio set for the production of “Sleeping On The Sun.” If you’ve ever stayed on STJ near the Summer Solstice, you know what I’m talking about.

6:10 am – After a 16-hour travel day and consuming enough rum and cokes to liberate Cuba, my wife was in no mood for a “jolly rogering” from her frisky pirate husband, “54-Beard.” So I said, “darrrrrrrn,” like an uber-polite STJ pirate would, and decided to let her sleep in by going for leisurely jog. Or so I thought.

6:37 am – Giving birth to my spleen somewhere on the outer loop of Great Cruz Bay Road, also known as the “10th Circle of Hell.” I know this because there was an old man name Dante sitting outside his villa laughing at me as I ambled by semi-consciously mumbling between deep breaths, “get me…the manager…this is no way to run an island.”

STJ TRAVEL TIP: Though it is true that the only thing flat on St. John is your white butt, jogging is neither impossible nor  prohibitive. It can be done, and can be very rewarding at the same time, even for a 6’4”-, 240-pound Texan who looks a lot like one of those unfortunate cement trucks doing an impression of The Little Engine That Shouldn’t on Centerline Road. For the uninitiated STJ runner, the only way I know how to describe jogging on STJ is to liken it to running the hills of San Francisco with the added bonus of New Orleans-style humidity (in August). Good times.

Meritage Pool

Meritage Pool

7:13 am – Simmering in the Meritage pool while miniature, kamikaze tree frogs hurl themselves at my steaming, volcanic forehead. Seriously, what is up with the animal kingdom on St. John? Regardless of size or stature, every critter here is completely fearless when it comes to human encroachment. Even the plankton poop bigger than Charles Darwin here.

Saloman Beach8:34 am – Burning daylight along the Lind Point Trail on the approach to Salomon Beach when what to my wondering eyes should appear…but a jolly old man flashing us with his white, pasty rear. My first thought was, “oh my naked eyes, it really is a nude beach.”

Fortunately, Mr. Sans-a-pants was merely changing into his bathing suit to go snorkeling. Or at least that’s what I told my wife as we scurried to the other side of the beach.

8:37 am – Hooray, Beer! Saluting the “STJ Traveler” who invented the game “Get In The Water & Drink A Beer” while working on the application to submit it as a demonstration sport at the 2012 Olympics. Though I’m sure drinking in the English Channel is not quite as “sportacular” as doing the same in Salomon Bay (especially when you have to go pee…and don’t lie, you know darn well that hot flash in the surf wasn’t caused by global warming).

Saloman Beach

Get in the water - Saloman

10:12 am – Snorkeling around the point between Salomon and Honeymoon beaches (short, fun, lots of fish, decent place to try out your gear) and testing the hermetic seal on my new Aquapac 6000, or whatever superfluous number the company came up with to market what amounts to a $35 Zip-Lock Bag with an adjustable belt.

STJ TRAVEL TIP: Though thefts on St. John beaches are extremely rare, if leaving your cash, credit cards, and only form of ID on the beach while you’re out snorkeling makes your pucker conch up, the Aquapac is a nice piece of peace (and 60% of the time, it works every time provided you don’t try to stuff it like a turkey…my pain, your gain).

10:47 am – Playing “Get In The Water & Drink A Beer” again when the stealth bomber of sea creatures came swimming by about 10 feet from us. It was huge, black with white spots, and as I recounted to the National Enquirer later, I think it had a penchant for beer. I know what you’re thinking, and no, it was not a Catholic Priest.

As we’d find out from our fellow beachgoers shortly after, it was an Eagle Ray, and I’d spend the rest of the week trying in vain to find another. Even without a mask on it was one of the most majestic and beautiful things I’ve ever seen. And I can promise you this (put the earmuffs on the kids), if that thing ever finds Nemo, Mr. Ray ain’t taking that little clown fish to school, he’s taking him to lunch.

Mongoose Junction

Mongoose Junction

11:17 amYummy, yummy, yummy, I got the Deli Grotto’s New Yorker sandwich in my tummy, and I feel like a-telling you…that it’s-a one deliciously good sandwich. Especially after heating it up in my convection backpack for 3 hours, garnishing it with some back sweat from the hike, and serving it on a white, sandy beach. Good tip from the VI-Online travel forum: Stop by the Deli Grotto at Mongoose Junction for sandwiches before heading out to the beaches on the North Shore.

1:11 pm – Driving just past the Hawksnest Beach parking lot when my wife and I channeled Abbott and Costello…

Enter Paradise

Doesn't look like much...don't be fooled.

“Oh sweet, there’s one parking spot left outside the Gibney Beach Gate.”

“Who…what…wait, you’re seriously going to park here?”

“Like a glove.”

“What…why?”

“It’s Gibney, I read about it on the forum.”

“Yeah, so.”

“It used to be private, but Robert Oppenheimer’s daughter hung herself and left it to the children of St. John.”

“Come again.”

“You know, Oppenheimer, the guy that invented the Atomic Bomb.”

“This is his beach.”

“Well, not anymore.”

“Is it safe?”

“Yeah, I don’t think there’s any radiation left.”

Oppenheimer House

Yellow House - Gibney/Oppenheimer

NOTE: Though my wife is probably still confused as to why she said, “I do,” when the priest asked, “Do take this fool to be your husband?,” Gibney Beach ended up being her favorite beach on St. John. Points!

3:20 pm – Quintessential Limin’. Picture a secluded beach, nobody to the left or right of us for at least 100 yards, just my beautiful wife and I under some palm trees nursing a couple of cold ones with our eyes closed listening to the surf… Perfection…

And then Cousin Eddie and his brood showed up in their floating RV to re-populate the beach. Nearly a quarter mile of open coastline to work with and where does the cast from Lord of the Flies choose to park the S/S Platypus? Yep, right in our kitchen.

Gibney Beach

Limin' at Gibney

MY “DON’T BE A DINGHY” PSA: Hi, I’m 54b, you may remember me from such St. John educational films as: “Drinking and Driving on the Right Side of the Road Can Kill a Buzz” and “Mongoose Road Pizza – Delicious But Deadly.” People, we all know ugly-American beach invasions via inflated dinghys are as certain as short hairs on a bar of soap. But please respect those beachgoers who came before you, and if possible, please don’t make your dinghy encampment a permanent fixture on their horizon.

Woody's

Deceptively strong libations at Woody's

5:39 pm – Tubthumping Woody’s murderers row drink list–He drinks a Painkiller, He drinks a Bushwacker, He drinks Lime n’Coconut–when God decided to give Cruz Bay a bath. And apparently we were pretty dirty because a man name Noah came by wanting to know if we had any spare Kapok lumber.

Crazy Crackers

Crazy Crackers

6:43 pm – Though we got knocked down by the Cold-Cock Trio of frozen goodness at Woody’s, we were still able to get up again and stagger over to Crazy Cracker’s for a dinner that included their oft-mentioned Sashimi appetizer and Mahi Fish Tacos. And due to the monsoon, we had the entire upstairs deck to ourselves because nobody else wanted to sit outside. Silly tourists, they should know by now that in St. John, when it rains, it pours (more drinks). Write that down.

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