Unexpected March trip
We came home from Roatan the end of January INSTEAD OF ST JOHN. Life went on but something was missing. Jane who we rent from called and asked how our trip was and offered us a special deal. Flights were too expensive so we let the idea go. Two weeks later I checked and the rates had went down so wayla we are headed back to St John. I had been watching the pictures on forum daily but I warned my husband to be prepared for lots of changes.
We went to Chicago Sat night after our Guys and Dolls dance and stayed at Best Western in Des Plains for park sleep and fly,caught the 545 shuttle to O'hare, no direct flight so we flew to San Juan. by United. Used United Club at Chicago to wait and got continental breakfast. Arrived in San Juan and had Mexican snack of chips and salsa while waiting for Seaborn
20 minutes later we were landing in St Thomas. They took the luggage right off of plane and you got to take it and go. Went to the van taxi Line and boarded.
I sat next to a lady that would be one of many conversations with locals. Luckily her home on island was not damaged. She was co owner for two restaurants that were both damaged but open now for business. I told her the one in Cruz.Bay is my husbands favorite for pad Thai .We also go to the one in Coral Bay at least once each visit ,She handed me her calling card and said have dinner on me as she got out of the van ! We are so glad you are returning to visit the island .How generous is that! We were not expecting that,
Arrived in red hook and had time to grab a bushwacker drink first sip and we are in island mode
Made the 5o'clock ferry. When we got in our first look a the island in person post hurricanes. Lots of.blue tarps on roofs and visible damaged. Amazed how cleaned up Cruz Bay was. This little island has worked their tails off to whip it back in shape and ready for visitors.
Courtsey picked us up in new large van he said he got in March pre hurricane. His office was demolished so he is doing his business out of his van. We went to his lot where he is rebuilding. We have always had great experiences with Greg the owner. He gives 10% discount for return customers and 6% discount if we pay cash.
He told us that the looters stole three of his jeeps and set one on fire and destroyed it,He was so thankful for return visitors he was also lucky his home was not damaged. Stopped at grocery store and headed over to Coral Bay
Jane greeted us at Angel Roost an octagon house in Upper Carolina Coral Bay. It had very little damage, lost its gate to come down to our studio, a rail on upper deck Jane said every leaf from flowers was stripped clean. They had spent their 50th anniversary huddled together in their home during Maria. She said it was the worst night of their lives. She said we had better get going if we wanted to eat because restaurants were not open late on Sunday. W ended up at Skinny Legs for burgers and watched the ND girls win ending up in sweet sixteen
Monday March 19 Sunny winds E 5 good condition for Haulover North snorkel
Walking in was beautiful as the butterflies were everywhere. The trail was very clean and easy L.ot's of stag horn and pillar coral broken. We saw a nurse shark and turtle. We forgot to charge camera batteries so no pictures. We sat at Haulover South had some shade there.
Drove to East End
The good and the bad. We drove the North shore. Gut wrenching seeing all the damage and widespread loss of home yet you look out to water and see new and better views. Driving to Annaberg ruins was tough all the mangroves and canopy of trees stripped and barren.
We walked the ruins and enjoyed the expanded view
MAHO AND FRANCIS
Tuesday I always enjoy the early mornings pre sunrise with cup of coffee watching and listening to island wake up
Went to Francis and first on beach at 0850 we had bought Neso tent for sun protection: Easy to put up We snorkeled to right saw two large turtles and two small rays. We left at 330. We had met a couple a few years ago that was here now. We met for supper at indigo Grill. We both had a mango monito and Jim had jambalaya and I had mango fish taco. We had the same her waitress we had last night at skinny legs. Had great conversation with her about the hurricanes and experience after. She schooled us in differences of native She was born here and what a local was! g
We decided to take it easy today. Larry and Jane the owners came down to visit, the eighth 11 times we have rented from them. We got to Denis at 1030it is easy trail down, Tried to use Naso tent for shade but gust of wind would knock it down. It was sad to see all the palm trees down and all coral broken and on shore: Found shade down to right and enjoyed beautiful views out to water: Stayed till 430 and went back to house and had cheese and salami and cocktails on deck. Life is good
Rained a little during the night . They have had very little rain the last few weeks. Beautiful rainbow with breakfast:
Had blueberry pancakes. We went to Trunk Bay, The guard was in the booth but there was no charge. He just wanted to make sure you were not carrying glass 100$ fine. Set up tent and walked the beach which seams larger since hurricane. Restrooms were openand a booth was open selling rental chairs, snorkels even new whole face mask to rent . It was not that windy buta gust would knock tent over. Kept putting back up because no shade to be found, I snorkeled the the trail and actually it was pretty good. Even some stag horn corral survived. We went on a non cruise day and beach was not crowded.
Aqua bistro just opened this week. We had onion rings for app that were good. I had lime and coconut drink and Jim put arm on the table that was unlevel and all the drinks spilled on him what a mess. We changed tables while the cleaned up mess and got a new drinks.
Had crunchy grouper sandwich and pasta salad. Jim had fish tacos. We talked to owners of house Above Lunazul Ted and his wife from St Luis down working on house had windows blown out and porches damaged. Such good spirit with everything they had been through.
Up and went to Brown bay and wore knee brace and splints. Remoteness is back! The views were different than previous trips. Vast open views. open climbing up. Someone said not to go to Brown Bay that was full of garbage that had floated up. I was braced to see liter all over and when we came into the open the beach was clean. Thanks to all that cleared the trails and beaches. I picked up some stuff on side and put by trash for pck up
Beach is not know for beauty but it was quiet and tranquil and we found some shade. A lounge chair must of floated up and provided a resting place in the shade
No wind so headed to Haulover north again awesome snorkel. Went the farthest out we have been and large reef we had not seen before. went to third telephone past rocks that jut out.
Miss Lucy for lunch their hours are noon-4 for now. Candy the cooks daughter was the waitress and we sat underneath the large umbrella that had been donated. Got so excited when saw on the menu that Grouper Ruben is back on menu my favorite sandwich on island.
Never saw this sign before after Saltpond
Went to Grootpan Bay after lunch. It was very hot here. I snorkeled to right what was churned up so did not see much. Tent would not stay up.My review of tent is not worth it gusts of wind bring it down. Today was the last day we tried to use it.
Tonight we went to Rumblines used what owner had given us for six piece pupu platter and drinks. Jim had pad thi. The waitress Katie was excellent and enjoyed her service. Talked to father and son who worked for BBC putting up power poles. They had been here since October and plan to be here till end of year. Son has fell in love with island and hopes to come back sometime and enjoy it when not working.
We Started out late and went to Waterlemon. We had heard from our friends that the snorkel at three mooring balls was not much there any longer. Walked whole way by shore now to big black rock. Very sad to say there was little to see around the cay. Also the snorkel on right to point all the coral was gone. Can not imagine how strong hurricane was to do so much damage above and below water. The beaches are bigger. There is good with the bad. We went to watch where the fishermen fly fish and found shade. We went and got our chairs and had wonderful quiet afternoon reading and staring at beautiful view.
Area where they fly fish
Awarak tandem kayak adventure. We were able to park at Mongoose parking lot at customer parking for day. We went to North shore deli to get sandwiches and Crack Bar. put in zip locks bags and in cooler. Checked in at office and then she walked us to Cruz Bay where they have Kayaks. She gave us the low down and safety instructions. There were foot rest and knee pads to help steer and roater in back.
First need to tell you our kayaking history is we have done two ocean tours one out to Henley Cay and one from Haulover South to point with two snorkel stops pelican rock and further out. #rd starting at Henson and going to Hurricane hole to snorkel mangroves. All of these had guides.We have come to conclusion we are not good at docking tandem kayak. Singles would of been easier. my husband seemed to think I did not paddle as much as he did. Go figure.
We started out and goal was to snorkel Caneel beaches since you can only get there by water.
The water was fairly calm wind at 8 knots. We made it over to turtle bay and hoped to make it to Hawksnest. The seas got much rougher so we decided the farthest we would go was Turtle beach. We started to go in and the beach was kinda uphill we got kayak front on beach husband got out and my foot got stuck on peddle and kayak started getting pummeled by water and sand. I finally got out and we both were holding on to kayak trying to keep it from sinking. We frantically pumped water out and finally got it on shore. We had to scoop sand out and decided to eat our lunch there. Thank goodness for zip lock bags our sandwiches stayed dry. We relaxed on the beautiful beach.
Tuesday Salt Pond
Arrived first in parking lot down at 0900. The butterflies lead us down the trail. We found some shade and set up camp. First up hike first part is all along shore now and is hard for me because I have arthritic ankles and bum knee. My husband did not want me to do this. I wore ankle splints and knee brace and off we went. Actually the beginning part was harder for me because of loose rocks but found the rest to be easier.I was so happy I was still able to do hike another year.Leaving Salt Pond it sprinkled and made it much easier walking out being cooled off by rain drops.
Story of the painted rocks, pirate and lady bug. My grandchildren live in Valpo Indiana. They have a great club who paints rocks and hides in parks for kids to find. They though it would be great if Grandpa and Grandpa hid some in St John. We left them in Drunk Bay. Hope someone finds and enjoys them or re hides them.
Wed last day
We had not been up to Peace hill in years. Just do it the 360 view is awesome. Not hard to climb up there.
MY daughter got my husband a hammock for Christmas. We did not try it till the last day .BIG mistake we loved it.
DONKEYS just will end with them
Until next year We can not wait to return. So glad we came. Still our favorite place!