02.07.2016 - 10.07.2016
When we bought a house on Guana Cay, I think we both secretly worried it would turn a place we love into a place we felt forced to visit. We were so afraid that ownership would make us feel like we HAD to go there instead of WANTING to go there and we would start thinking about all the other vacations we could have taken with that money. We worried it would turn a joy into an obligation.
Sort of like having a package of chicken thawed out in the refrigerator at home that you know you should go home and cook, even though your heart really wants to go out for pizza.
I didn’t want Guana Cay to become old chicken.
We couldn’t have been more wrong.
I literally can’t wait to return to this place.
Maybe the “new” will wear off at some point, but right now, Bikini Hut and I are tangled in a deep love affair. When I am not there, it’s all I think about. When I am there, I am in heaven.
I guess Guana Cay has become my “guilty pleasure” destination. You know, the one that offers little in the way of new experiences or cultural enrichment, and at times (think Nippers Sunday) might even be a little on the tasteless side, but it’s entertaining and cheerful and just feels really good. Like watching an episode of the Real Housewives in your sweatpants while eating an entire box of ice cream sandwiches.
It might not be the most chic and refined, but it makes me happy.
So, at least for now, you will be subjected to repeated photos and descriptions of the same things. Go ahead and say it.
“Are we really going to Guana Cay AGAIN???”
Yes, friends. Yes we are.
Saturday, July 2:
The flight from TN to Abaco seems to get easier every time we make it. Maybe that’s because Matt’s doing all the flying and I am doing no more than watching the sun rise over the Great Smoky Mountains and sleeping in the back of the plane.
It seemed like only minutes before we were landing in Marsh Harbour, picking up the boat at the boat yard, and speeding towards that happy little cottage on Guana Harbour.
Hello, Bikini Hut!!
We were welcomed with open arms (and more than a few millipedes). We quickly shook the travel fugue off, changed into something breezy, and made our way to Grabbers for the first frozen goodness of the week and a spectacular sunset.
It was a beautiful night and the sunset did not disappoint. Because it was the height of the visitor season, Grabbers had gone “fancy” and had a special surf and turf buffet set up.
We surfed. We turfed.
And then we called travel day quits.
Sunday, July 3:
It was a beautiful first morning on Front Street.
No matter how much I want to sleep in, my eyes pop open the minute the sky begins to turn pale. My internal clock wakes me up (or maybe it was the incessant puppy kisses begging to be taken to the beach). I can’t help getting out of bed while the sky is still a cool gray. I have to see the sunrise.
It was our first day of a long week and we didn’t have any ambitious plans. The only plan was to have a relaxing week.
We spent a lazy morning at the house before heading toward Nippers for lunch.
The Sunday before the 4th of July is usually a pretty lively day and this one was certainly shaping up to be a crowd pleaser.
Even though it had been a month since Matt’s birthday fiesta in the British Virgin Islands, we were still recovering from a 7 day hangover from Jost Van Dyke, so, for once, we were the quiet ones at Sunday Funday.
See….I can be calm if I choose. To be frank, it was just too HOT to do much more than sit limply in a chair. Dancing in that heat would have had disastrous effects on a person my age.
The weather was gorgeous and boats came from every direction. It was fun watching from the beach as scruffy little boats with 17 drunk 20-somethings sidled up to $400,000 cruisers and attempted to anchor with about 3 feet between them. I have never seen an overindulged, middle aged man move as fast as I saw one move when a small boat filled with kids literally got right next to his mini-yacht and drunkenly threw a bean bag over the side to serve as a bumper.
A bean bag.
$90 cigar be damned. He tossed it aside as he ran through the water faster than Paula Deen at a butter sale.
We watched as another boatload of people put a large bottle of Fireball on the beach, partially submerged in the sand, and sat on their boat with a fishing line tied to the bottle.
Eventually, some poor drunk clown would walk past it, stop, and reach down for it. That’s when it would get jerked back into the water with the speed and force of a barracuda.
It was all fun and games until one poor girl did a face plant in the sand.
Oh, the things you see at Nippers Sunday Funday when you are the sober ones.
When our fingers started to prune, we dried off and headed to Grabbers to see if Steel Daddy was still playing.
We caught the tail end of his show and a beautiful sunset, but the horde of people clamoring for menus convinced us that we should probably find dinner elsewhere.
We headed inside for a quiet, air-conditioned meal at Fish Tales.
Not only did they have a/c, they had patriotic jello shots!
And whatever this delicious little thing was.
After a crisp Caesar salad with fresh caught fish, some gooey nachos, and a seafood pasta, we made the short walk back to Bikini Hut to call it a night.
Monday, July 4th:
My favorite part of each day is walking the beach at sunrise. It’s that much better when my 2 favorite sidekicks are with me.
It was Independence Day back home, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some good old fashioned picnic food and a day on the boat.
We made our way to the lagoon where the tide was exceptionally low, making for some amazing sand bars and shallow pools.
We did it up right with hot dogs, pasta salad, potato salad, cheese and crackers, chips and salsa and chilled oreo parfaits for dessert!
NOTE TO SELF: Always be mindful of what your face is doing when your photo is being taken. Always.
Then it was time for sun, fun, and a whole lot of relaxing.
Even the dogs got into the action. I had a moment of panic when Rooby leapt off the boat like a flying squirrel, all splayed legs and bugging eyes when she spotted me about 100 feet from the boat.
The good news? We discovered Roobs can swim.
After that, we put them on a float and paddled them around. If they want to be in the water, they shall be in the water!
We left when a massive number of boats showed up and decided to plow their way into our peaceful lagoon. We probably could have tolerated the company, but it was the superfluity of Gator flags that finally did us in.
We played them a little Rocky Top as we made our exit.
Everyone needed a shower and a little down time before the fireworks anyway.
We took in the sunset with a frozen Grabber and made our way to Nippers for the fireworks.
There were “FIREWORKS IN YOUR FACE!” and a beach bonfire to finish off the holiday. We could see folks getting a little crazy as we made our way through the crowd to head back home. This was a low key trip for us, so there would be no sweaty midnight dancing for our group.
I’m sorry. Maybe next time.
Tuesday, July 5th:
Apparently, this guy did too much sweaty midnight dancing. Or at least too much sweaty midnight drinking, because something made him think it was a good idea to drive his golf cart onto the beach. Where it will probably live forever, much like that giant ball that made its way down the beach some years ago.
Maybe it will be discovered hundreds of years in the future by a race of very smart apes.
That cart was STUCK.
We noticed the Tervis tumbler in the cup holder bore the name of a very large yacht that was docked at Orchid Bay.
Rich doesn’t always mean smart.
After my walk, I scored a loaf of fresh baked bread at Guana Grocery and we had amazing egg sandwiches and fresh mango while we tried to figure out what to do with our day.
We decided it was a perfect day for Lubbers Landing.
First, we made a snorkel stop at Fowl Cay.
I couldn’t help but feel nervous when I looked at the choppy water remembering that only days before, a diver had been swept out by the current at Fowl Cay and had to be rescued by Dive Guana.
I nervously bit my nails as we slowly and carefully made our way to a mooring ball.
I was trying to decide if I should fake a cramp, when I looked over and saw the Dive Guana boat on the next mooring ball.
The currents were fine and the snorkeling was glorious. I was glad I didn’t wimp out.
Once we were sufficiently exhausted from swimming, we headed to Lubbers Landing for island burgers and saltwater margaritas….the single best lunch in all of Abaco!
Lubbers Landing was SLAMMED with a huge group of at least 50 people, but that didn’t stop the amazing staff from supplying us with cold drinks, crispy hot cauliflower bites, and juicy ground tuna burgers with hand cut fries in mere minutes.
As I was wiping the ketchup off my chin, I noticed a guy walking toward me with a really cool guitar.
It was Jimmy Parrish http://jimmyparrishonline.com/ a trop rock singer/songwriter from Jacksonville, FL. Jimmy had contacted me months before and requested the use of one of my photos of Abaco for a special wrap he was having made for his guitar. He also let me know he’d be in Abaco over the 4th of July and we had agreed to meet up so that I could see the finished product.
If I say so myself, it was pretty spectacular!
I was surprised (and honored) when he handed me a sharpie and asked me to sign it….like I was the famous one.
Folks, let me tell you….if you want to suddenly silence a room filled with drunk vacationers….hand a girl with a southern accent wearing a pair of cutoffs, sunglasses, and a trucker hat a sharpie and ask her to sign your guitar.
The entire room spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out who I was.
I spent the rest of the afternoon pretending I was famous and trying to score free drinks.
After lunch and a few too many saltwater margaritas, we headed over to Tahiti Beach for the sandbar party.
When Fireball invites himself to the party, it’s time to go home!
We cleaned up a little and headed to the Abaco Inn for dinner.
We might have lingered over one Conch Pearl too many, but we still managed to make it home just before the last of the sun was gone.
Wednesday, July 6th:
Are you guys bored yet?
Seriously, some trips are for the party, some for the adventure, and once in a blue moon even I take a trip solely for the relaxation.
This had been a wonderfully low key week so far. As I walked the beach with my two favorite buddies, I felt stress free. We didn’t have any plans for the day and I was absolutely fine with that.
My morning was spent searching for sea glass, chasing Bella into the edge of the waves and watching her run, and watching Rooby stalk this very large bird.
I don’t think Rooby is aware of her own size limitations.
We did nothing more than laze around the house all morning. At least until we got hungry.
It was such a beautiful day, we decided to do lunch with a view at Grabbers. Now that I think about it, is there actually anywhere you can eat on Guana Cay that doesn’t have a view??? Grabbers was spectacular on this particular day.
A wedge salad, a coconut crusted fish burger, and a few Grabbers later and it was time for a nap.
Seriously, you’re getting bored, aren’t you?
I may as well be an old lady at an AARP convention telling you about my knitting and sciatica, but you’re still here, so we’ll carry on.
After naps, I packed up a wine and cheese picnic and we took the boat over to Shell Island for sunset.
For dinner, Forest and Edmond at Kidd’s Cove whipped us up some lobster. It may not have been lobster season, but a frozen lobster is better than no lobster in my book!
Thursday, July 7th:
It was my favorite kind of morning, where the sky is lit up in pink and blue and then erupts into gold as the sun makes its way into the day.
We needed to run some errands, so today was going to be Marsh Harbour day.
I no longer get excited about shopping on Marsh Harbour, because I know I am going to come home with things like a $60 blender that should have been $19.99.
Our goal was to come home with a washer and dryer that didn’t break the bank.
We managed to score a scratch and dent set, which suited me just fine considering the fact that within 11 months it would be rusted out from the salt air anyway.
We grabbed lunch at Curly Tails. Bahama Mamas and burgers hit the spot.
It was a gorgeous afternoon and it seemed like a shame to just head back, so we made a short detour to a little uninhabited island I had seen a thousand times, but that we had never stopped at.
Today was the day to try a new spot.
It had the clear, shallow water that I have become accustomed to…but it also held a little surprise. A hidden tidepool!
The water was bath-warm and the views out to the ocean were magnificent.
Another reason I love Abaco: No matter how many times you go, there is always something new.
Like any old couple, we fall into routines. For some old people, it's warm milk and a rousing game of canasta. On Abaco, it’s sunset at Grabbers. I can’t stand to miss a single, sizzling, blazing one.
When the sunset had cooled and the water had turned to glass, we headed to Orchid Bay for wing night.
We assaulted our bodies with hot wings, gooey mac n’cheese, and loads of sugar. An all brown dinner with nary a vegetable present.
Don’t tell my mom.
Friday, July 8th:
We always wake up happy on Abaco.
It was a great weather day, so we decided to take the boat through Tilloo Pond and down to Pete’s Pub. As we neared Elbow Cay, we were thrilled to see the day’s regatta sailing past. We knew it was regatta week, but we hadn’t really been keeping up with the schedule.
We sat still for a while and watched the boats race.
Then it was on to Tilloo Pond, where the water was insanely blue and so clear you could see every starfish and stingray that passed.
Before long, we were pulling up to Pete’s. Most people like the Blaster, but I prefer the Caribbean Breeze. Made with 151, it packs more of a punch than the Blaster.
And when you are wearing a redneck fabulous shirt like this one, you need a punch.
Before long, we made our way back to Guana with a quick pit stop for snorkeling at Sandy Cay and a beach stop.
For some inexplicable reason, ever since I got my own beach house, with my own beach kitchen, I have found myself wanting to cook on vacation. I want to learn to bake Bahamian bread and do creative things with mangos and pineapples. I want to make coconut cream pies. Lots of pies.
I’m not sure where this sudden inspiration came from, because, while I love cooking at home, I don’t think cooking and vacation can coexist. Not only do I typically have an aversion to doing anything more than heating up a cup of water in the microwave on vacation, I also have a beach kitchen with an apartment sized fridge, a miniscule stove, and counter space the size of a postage stamp.
So why did I keep finding myself wanting to cook?
Maybe it was the pleasure of doing something I love in a place that was MINE.
Or maybe, it was just, well, PIE.
Whatever the reason, I found myself in a cooking frenzy.
We had dinner in that night, Bikini Hut style.
Saturday, July 9th:
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Sunrise, sunrise, sunrise. Blah, blah, blah. I realize this is getting repetitive, but it seriously is awesome.
I still hadn’t gotten the cooking out of my system, so we hung around the house doing some odds and ends and I decided to make lunch.
I should try this cooking on vacation thing more often.
I also have to highlight this AMAZING "Murphy Bar" my Dad made for me. Because Bikini Hut is so small, we just don't have room for a bar, but I needed some place to put everything. I showed my dad a photo I found online and next thing I knew...VIOLA! Amazing Murphy Bar.
It had been several years since we had stopped at what used to be my very favorite spot in all of Abaco: the beaches at Bakers Bay.
Back when there wasn’t a house in sight, no mega yachts pulled up to shore, and no celebrities cavorting around on shore forcing the Bakers Bay security guards to attempt to chase off any and every beach goer no matter how illegal that is…..it was just a pristine and beautiful beach with the most amazing water imaginable.
I had a hankering to see it again. (I apologize to all you “yankee folk” that may not know what a hankering is, but that’s what Google is for)
Despite the McMansions that are stacked as tightly as 19th century tenement housing, it was still beautiful.
Despite the mega yacht that was literally pulled up to shore, it was still one of the prettiest spots in Abaco.
I grabbed my pineapple cup (just to increase the tacky factor), thumbed my nose at the Bakers Bay security guy, and hopped on my float to enjoy the beautiful water.
I think Rooby and Bella enjoyed it too.
I couldn’t believe it was our last night. I hadn’t once scarfed down an entire bag of Doritos, cried over an empty Nippers cup, or danced badly to the Cha Cha Slide. I had actually behaved like a civilized adult and had ended the week rested, relaxed, and completely rejuvenated.
We enjoyed a final sunset, a final Grabber, and a final dinner at Orchid Bay before closing the door on another week in Abaco.
It may be boring, but THIS IS MY HAPPY.