A Travellerspoint blog

October 2015

Bad Trips Happen ....Getting Bamboozled in Beaufort.

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On occasion, Matt’s charter flights involve the drop-off of a passenger to some fun locale, and sometimes, this happens on a weekend. This makes it easy to slide right into a weekend stop somewhere new. Recently, Matt had a drop-off flight to coastal NC on a Friday night. What a perfect way to spend the weekend somewhere on the beach. Right?

The flight was planned, the bags were packed, the trip was happening – or was it?

I had it all planned out. We would fly into Beaufort, NC on a Friday night and drop Matt’s charter client off. He wouldn’t be flying back with us, so we would make the short 20-minute flight to Ocracoke Island where we would spend 2 nights in an adorable inn, have seafood boils delivered to us on the beach, ride old fashioned bicycles, search for seashells, and have romantic dinners in quaint little seafood shacks.

But none of this would actually happen. At least not this time around. A week before our Friday night flight, Ocracoke flooded. Actually, the entire southeast coast flooded, but the small low lying barrier islands were hit particularly hard. When Ocracoke was still closed to visitors on Wednesday night, we made the decision to cancel and change our Friday plans.

No worries. I always have a Plan B. All neurotic planners do. What you do know about us is that we put a neurotic amount of time into planning the perfect trip. What you don’t know is that we usually put a neurotic amount of time into planning 2 trips….you know….in case the first one doesn’t work out.

My travel nightmare (okay, maybe that’s a bit strong, we’ll call it “Vicki’s Least Desirable Scenario) is to show up somewhere I have never been WITH NO PLANS.

No, I take it back. That IS a nightmare.

I don’t deal well with lack of structure and uncertainty.

I realize there are those that disagree with me. They believe you should never plan a trip. They say unplanned trips lead to spontaneous adventures, new friends, and unexpected experiences.

I say these people are imbeciles.

I say unplanned trips are how you end up sleeping in a car because you don’t have a reservation, get diarrhea from that restaurant that was rated #789 out of 800 (but you didn’t know that, now did you?), and run out of clean underwear because you didn’t count on getting lost for 2 days on those back roads without a map.

Spontaneous travel is for 20 year olds. I want to know where I am sleeping, where I am eating, and how many changes of clothes I need. I want to know the thread count of the hotel sheets and whether the bathroom has a hair dryer. I want to know whether or not there are any meatballs on the menu and if they are made with lamb or beef. I want to know what the day and nighttime temperatures are going to be and where the closest place is to get a ginger nut latte with an extra shot of espresso. And I want to know it at least 2 months before I go.

I shifted us to The Alternative Flood Plan, which would involve flying into Beaufort, spending Friday night at a lovely Inn with a romantic seaside dinner out, following by a B&B breakfast, a quick trip on the morning ferry to see the feral horses on nearby Shackleford Banks, lunch in Beaufort and a return home. No need to spend the whole weekend since Ocracoke was out. We’d be home by Saturday afternoon.

I packed one change of clothes, minimal toiletries, and we were on our way.

It was clean. It was simple. It was fine.

Or so I thought.

My mistake was not wearing a headset in the plane.

I never wear a headset. I find them bulky and uncomfortable. Okay, fine….. I don’t wear them because they mess up my hair. I opted to read a book on the flight over as Matt and his passenger chatted away.

By the time we arrived, the plans had already been made.

Not MY plans.

That’s where all the trouble came in, you see.

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Friday:

We left Knoxville on a Friday afternoon and headed to Charlotte to pick up Matt’s passenger. We had time to grab a quick lunch so we opted for something close to the airport. Have you noticed that airports aren’t usually in the best parts of town? That means restaurants near airports typically feature all-you-can eat Chinese places in strip malls or places with names like “Larry’s Sunshine Café” or “Super Taco.”

I’m not really a fan of restaurants near airports.

We chose the least offensive looking place and found ourselves in an old school BBQ joint, complete with shiny yellow gingham tablecloths, oversized plastic ketchup dispensers, and lots of waitresses wearing Lee jeans and too much eye make-up. I was starting to think we’d made a HUGE mistake when our smiling waitress showed up with a basket of free hushpuppies.

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HUSHPUPPIES.

FREE.

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The food wasn’t fancy, but it was good: finely chopped BBQ pork with a tangy Carolina vinegar-based sauce, crispy fresh fried okra, and savory Brunswick stew with sweet tea. It was just enough to make a southern girl happy.

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We made it back to the airport, picked up the passenger, and headed to Beaufort, NC. I had never been to that part of the coast and I was looking forward to a nice night out and a little bit of sightseeting the next day before heading home.

When we landed, Matt said, “There has been a change of plans.”

Anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows that that is quite possibly the worst sentence you can ever say to me. You would probably get a less violent reaction if you told me I was actually adopted and my natural parents were both serial killers or that I had an incurable skin fungus.

Matt saw my face clouding over and quickly explained, “The weather looks bad for flying back tomorrow. When I mentioned that, my flight client told me that it would help him out if we could stay until Sunday night so that he doesn’t have to drive home.”

Okay, this didn’t sound too bad. I mean, I had done enough research to know there were enough things in Beaufort to keep us occupied until Sunday. We could just extend our stay at the inn, add in a few of the other restaurants I had seen online, and do some shopping. What’s not to like about a whole weekend at the beach? This might be fun.

That’s when Matt really let the bomb drop.

“We’re going to stay with him at his condo tomorrow and go to a dinner with him that night. He also invited us out on his boat Sunday.”

Just like that, I was no longer in control of my plans. I had no information about where I was going, where I was staying, where I was eating, or what I would be doing.

You would have thought I had just been told I had an unplanned pregnancy, not an unplanned weekend.

I was instantly clammy. My breath came in shallow little gasps. I was pretty sure I was going to pass out.

Matt dove in with gusto, “It sounds really great,” he said, “He’s got a 4 bedroom place on the beach all to himself, tickets to a ‘Sea & Farm’ dinner being hosted on Harker’s Island by Beaufort and Blind Pig of Asheville that he wants to take us to, and he said he’s taking a yacht out for the day on Sunday with some nice food and drinks and we can tag along.”

“Why don’t we just get a rental car and do our own thing?” I asked, the panic starting to rise.

“I already told him we’d do it.”

And that was that.

I’m not much of an optimist. For me, it’s not about whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. I want to know what restaurant the glass came from and whether or not it was on my list.

This was definitely not on my list.

Unfortunately, I was stuck with it, so I unbound my internal optimist and took the duct tape off of her mouth for just a moment.

“This could be pretty awesome, you know,” she immediately started to jibber-jabber. “I mean, a condo on the beach, a private dinner, a yacht….this is a rich, classy guy….this has to be AWESOME, right?”

I quickly put the duct tape back on her mouth, but maybe she had something…..could this be awesome?

Probably not. The reason I keep my internal optimist bound and gagged is because I tend to be more of a "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" kind of girl.

Matt and I are not the type that luck into free luxury condos, private events, and yachts. We are not going to win the lottery. No one is going to give us a free car because we are the 1,000,000th customer at the gas station. We are the people that are most likely to step in the one dog turd that exists in a 10 block radius. That is our reality.

And this all sounded too good to be true.

Not that it really mattered. There was nothing I could do about it now. I was no longer the captain of my own ship. In fact, I was shipwrecked.

But we still had tonight at the Inn. At least I knew that would be good.

When I was looking for a place to stay in Beaufort and found that the #1 rated inn sported an inordinate number of floral polyester bedspreads and fake plants, I knew I had to look outside the usual reference sites. I dug a little deeper and found a new inn that had only been open for a couple of months, so…. no reviews, but the Inn on Turner looked perfect.

The Inn on Turner was a historic home with only 3 quaint rooms decorated in beachy chic located in the middle of historic Beaufort. We arrived just as they were serving complimentary wine and champagne with snacks.

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Champagne? I had already forgotten about the next day’s disastrous plans.

I had champagne! Strawberries! I loved this inn!

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The innkeepers had made us a reservation for dinner at Blue Moon Bistro. It was a very pleasant stroll through Beaufort’s quaint streets to the restaurant. I spotted adorable wine shops and stores that I was looking forward to checking out the next day. This was getting better and better!

We found the Blue Moon Bistro in the historic 1827 Dill House, just about a block from Beaufort’s waterfront. The dining space was small and intimate with just the right amount of candlelight.

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We started with the “big bowl” of Caesar salad and the fried oyster plate. For dinner, Matt ordered the creole style shrimp with Andouille sausage and jasmine rice. I couldn’t resist the autumn gnocchi with butternut squash, shaved Brussels sprouts, and balsamic glaze. We followed that with a spice cake served with turbinado sugar ice cream.

After dinner, we stopped off at a little bar that had been recommended by the innkeepers - the Backstreet Pub.

You know that dream where you are standing in front of your class at school in your underwear?

Yes. It was like that.

Do you ever walk into a place and know you’ve made a mistake the second you enter? But the place is small, local, and everyone looks up just as you walk in so there is no option of a clandestine escape?

As soon as we stepped inside, I felt like I had just walked into someone’s family reunion uninvited. The awkwardness of not belonging was compounded by my glance at the bar which showed NOTHING BUT BEER.

Just beer.

We were now non-beer drinking, overdressed outsiders in a local’s bar that served only beer.

I did the only thing I could think of.

I immediately ran to the bathroom and left Matt standing there alone to deal with the painful process of figuring out what to order in a bar full of staring strangers.

He doesn’t hate beer, so he managed to find something he liked and he found a cider for me, so it wasn’t a total loss. We quickly drank our bottles and tore out the door like our pants were on fire.

It had been a long day, we were tired, and I was all stressed out worrying about the “no plans” problem tomorrow presented.

There was nothing left to do but go to bed.

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Saturday:

I woke up tired because I spent the entire night Friday trying to figure out how to make plans out of the mess that had taken over my weekend.

A rental car. That would solve everything. We could do our own thing, show up at the condo just before the “dinner,” and still salvage most of the weekend. The next day, if we decided the yachting with strangers was simply too awkward, we could find something else to do and meet the client back at the airport.

It was perfect.

Except that there were no rental cars. Anywhere. Not until Monday.

I know because I called them all. I even called a guy named Jimmy at a place called A Diamond Rent-A-Car.

Sigh.

I decided to make the most of it. Not because I am a decent person deep down inside, but because, like any animal trapped in a corner, at some point, you simply realize that playing dead is probably your best chance of self-preservation.

At least we had today. We could stop in all those fun little shops, have a nice lunch, and go see the feral horses at nearby Shackleford Banks.

As we had a hearty breakfast at the Inn, I checked the ferry schedule and saw that we could head over to Shackleford Banks at 11:00 and return at 12:30. That would give us time to have lunch, shop for a few hours, and still meet up with the client in time for the 6:00 dinner.

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It would be FINE.

Shackleford Banks is the southern-most barrier island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore and is home to approximately 100 wild horses. They are thought to be descended from Spanish mustangs from early Colonial settlers and have been roaming the island for over 400 years.

Even though it was a gray and drizzly day, it was pretty neat to see the horses. The barrier islands are also a treasure trove of seashells, so we spent an hour wandering along the windswept dunes before getting back on an early ferry to head back to Beaufort.

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Beaufort was incredibly quaint. I was looking forward to spending some time looking around after lunch.

As we walked to lunch, I made a mental list of all the places I wanted to visit.

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We stopped at the old Beaufort Grocery to get some lunch. I immediately loved the mismatched dish towels that were scattered on the tables for napkins. The place was warm and lively, and it seemed like everyone knew everyone (probably because they had all been at the Backstreet Pub the night before….). The small town quaintness of it was nice.

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As I was settling down to eat my “damn fine gumbo” and crabcake sandwich, Matt’s phone rang.

It was the Inn.

“We really can’t store your luggage any longer. We need you to come pick it up.”

What?

But.

But.

But….we didn’t have a car. That meant we had to get a taxi to head out to the “condo” right then.

“I wanted to do some shopping,” I said. I’m pretty sure I was whining when I said it. “I don’t even have clean underwear or clean clothes for tomorrow. I need some shampoo.”

“It’s no big deal,” Matt said. “He said his condo was just right here. We can take a quick taxi, drop off our stuff, and run back over here.”

Well, okay. That sounded okay.

It would be FINE.

The taxi ride to the condo was 30 minutes.

30 minutes.

IN A TAXI.

30 minutes in a taxi in NYC and 30 minutes in a taxi in North Carolina mean very different things. You may as well be taking a taxi to another country.

This meant that 1) it was a really damn expensive taxi ride and 2) we were not close to ANYTHING now.

It was 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and we were stuck at the “condo” with no car and no way to get back to Beaufort unless we wanted 2 additional, expensive, 30 minute taxi rides.

“This sucks,” I said, visibly sulking.

“Let’s make the most of it,” Matt said as he looked for the key the client said he had hidden in the grill. “I mean, it’s probably a really nice place and we have it all to ourselves for the rest of the day.”

It was really nice. If really nice means that it hadn’t seen a decorator or a housekeeper since 1981.

It was frumpalicious. It was like entering an early 80s time capsule in a bad motel.

It was a pulsating pit of despair filled with wicker light fixtures, lumpy furniture, and dusty floral arrangements.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been prepared, but I was expecting this:

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And I got this:

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Ugly condo? Strike one.

To make matters worse, we had no transportation, no food, and I was wearing my only pair of clean underwear.

We sat on the beige, vinyl sofa and waited for the client to return. When my butt started to stick to the vinyl, I decided it was time to at least go for a walk on the beach. There was that, at least.

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He finally got back at 3:30. While he graciously let us use his car to go find some clean clothes and shampoo, he reminded us that we needed to leave for the Blind Pig dinner by 5:15.

It was a 1 hour round trip drive to Beaufort and back. That left us 45 minutes to shop, IF we didn’t want to get cleaned up before dinner.

So much for the cute stores in Beaufort.

No matter. There was still the Blind Pig dinner to look forward to.

And I was really looking forward to it.

It would be FINE.

The Blind Pig Supper Club of Asheville, NC creates unique and exclusive dining experiences through chef collaborations and off-the-chart locations. The chefs are incredible, the menus are show stopping, the locations are phenomenal and are kept secret until 48 hours before the dinner, and the experience is touted to be simply amazing. Tickets are pricey and sell out quickly for each dinner.

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I know, because I have tried to get us to a Blind Pig dinner for years.

And I was finally going to one! One on the beach, no less.

The dinner was a farm to sea dinner titled “Brogue” and would be held on nearby Harker’s Island. Seven acclaimed chefs would create a one-of-a-kind 7 course dinner with wine pairings for 137 lucky ticket holders.

I had to admit I was excited.

We got back to the condo around 5:00 p.m., just in time to change our clothes and head to Harker’s Island.

We noticed the client was wearing his athletic gear.

“I don’t think I want to go. I think it’s going to rain,” he said. “If it’s okay with you, we’ll just go to my friend’s restaurant in Morehead City.”

Let’s see…..Go to exclusive, high-end, private beach dinner or eat at crappy restaurant in Morehead City…..

OF COURSE IT WASN’T OKAY!!!!!

Unfortunately, I was powerless to voice an opinion because 1) I wasn’t the one who had been invited to the Blind Pig dinner by one of the hosts and 2) I had no transportation.

I was expecting this:

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And I got this:

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No Blind Pig dinner? Strike two.

After my “sort of okay” dinner, I feel asleep under my excessively floral comforter and wondered about that yacht.

Would it be fine?

Sunday:

The weekend had been in a steady spiral of decline since we received the call from the Inn to pick up our luggage.

This spiral of decline became a full on cataclysm of horrific proportions when I woke up to find the car was gone and there was no coffee.

WHO DOESN’T HAVE COFFEE?

It was Sunday morning. I had no coffee. I had no transportation. The closest place where I might find coffee was 7 miles away.

Clean underwear, I can live without. Coffee? Oh hell no.

This was a disaster.

To make matters worse, Matt doesn't drink coffee so he had no interest in trying to help me build a distress signal out of seashells so that a passing airplane might save me. The lack of coffee coupled with his complete indifference to my misery just added fuel to the already smoldering fire that was burning in my soul that weekend.

The cherry on top? The guy left a pack of bagels and a jar of peanut butter on the counter and sent Matt a text to “help ourselves.”

I did nothing but sit and stare at the ugly carpet for the next 3 hours.

Like Seligman’s shocked dogs from the 1960’s, I had stopped trying to control my environment and simply gave up and embraced my helplessness.

I didn’t even try to kid myself by saying, “Well, there’s still the yacht….”

I didn’t hold out much hope.

It would not be FINE.

The client had explained that he had rented a “yacht” (his word) and that they would be filming all day on it for his marketing firm. His “guy” was going to pick up some good food and drinks. We’d head over to Cape Lookout where Matt and I could take the dingy and explore the island, hang out on the beach, or relax on the yacht.

“It’s a YACHT,” he said, emphasizing the word the way one would speak to a child when I asked about somewhere to sit if it got too cool, “There’s a nice big indoor salon. It’s great. We’ll even have live music.”

With no car of our own, it’s not like we really had a choice, now did we?

Friends, the “yacht” was the piece de resistance.

It was a big, ugly fishing boat.

I wish I was kidding.

I guess, if length is what determines yacht status, it was technically a yacht. I guess we should have asked him to be more specific.

I was expecting a luxury yacht, with wine & cheese where I would sit on a large outdoor lounger and sip champagne as I forgot the wretchedness of the past 24 hours.

What I got was a large, dirty, utilitarian fishing boat with no outdoor seating, a darkly lit indoor salon filled with ugly green cushions with water stains and dirty carpet, and a white 5-gallon bucket filled with ice and Bud Light paired with a giant brown paper bag of turkey subs.

The music? One of the guys brought his banjo.

I can’t make this stuff up.

I was expecting this:

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And I got this:

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Crappy Fishing Boat? Strike Three.

I suddenly realized why this guy was a Senior VP of marketing.

He could sell anything.

I will call this photo "Matt's Portrait of Dispair." I particularly like the 1978 Olan Mills close-up effect.

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We had been sold a classy beach condo, an exclusive beach dinner, and a yacht tour. What we got was a dumpy room, an average dinner, and 8 hours on a barebones fishing boat with beer and Jersey Mike’s.

As I headed down to the bathroom to cry in silence, the Captain looked at me and said, “The toilet doesn’t work so good. If it won’t flush, pump it a few times.”

Priceless.

There had been some tense moments in the past 2 days as our plans unraveled again and again. By the time we got left on the boat, however, all that was left to do was laugh. We couldn’t stop laughing.

We laughed until we cried.

Then Matt offered me a turkey sub, and we laughed some more, especially when we figured out there were no napkins, plates, or condiments. Just dry turkey on wheat.

Sure, I would have loved to have taken a bubble bath in a high rise condo on the beach, enjoyed wine pairings with famed chefs in the sand, and snacked on canapes on the teak deck of a luxury sailing yacht, but I found myself laughing with Matt at the hilarious turn of events as we stole a few private hours in the sunshine on the beaches of Cape Lookout.

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Some weekends are for meeting new friends and being whisked away to exciting elite locales to experience a life you only get to see on the pages of magazines.

Other weekends are for bonding with your spouse in a dark condo with peanut butter bagels.

In my life, there is room for all of it.

It was FINE.

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Next up? Join us as we head to the hike-in only Charit Creek Lodge in Big South Fork!

Posted by vicki_h 10:26 Archived in USA Tagged north_carolina beaufort Comments (2)

Bikini Hut: Before and After

Bikini Hut is about 115 years old and has served as everything from a home to 13 children (yes, at the same time) to an actual Bikini Store. The cottage had been recently renovated completely, so everything was in top notch shape when we bought it. We just needed to change out the decor and add our own touch to it (seriously....who says "I think the perfect furniture for our beach house would be some red leather sofas and a black leather theater chair"??? Don't even get me started on that PVC and plywood table.....).

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We only had 2 weeks to make it ours, but I loved every minute of it. I decided to keep the name the house came with, because it suits the house and it suits me. Here’s the before and after!

Before:

Exterior:

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Living Area:

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Bathroom:

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Kitchen:

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Dining Area (what is now the Murphy Bed Room):

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Bedroom:

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After:

Exterior:

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Living/Dining Area:

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(There is actually a flipping millipede in the picture above! Damn millipedes!)

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Bathroom:

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Murphy Bed Room:

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Kitchen:

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Bedroom:

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Want to stay at Bikini Hut???? We’re taking a limited number of reservations. Check us out on VRBO!

http://www.vrbo.com/762793

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Posted by vicki_h 05:50 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (8)

Flip This House: Guana Cay Edition Part III

Monday, September 14:

10:00 a.m. Eleuthera was a sweet dream. What a fantastic weekend! But now we are back to Abaco to finish this place up! Before we head back to Guana, we’re going to try shopping in Marsh Harbour again. There are still a few things we need. This will be even worse than the last shopping experience. Not only will we undoubtedly be subject to the frustrations of high prices and limited selection, we will be doing it with two panting dogs.

10:15 a.m. We appear to be in the same faded out mini-van. Wait, this one is a different color. You mean there are two of these?

11:00 a.m. Shopping has not been easy. We can only go into the stores one at a time, because one of us has to stay outside with the dogs so we can keep the a/c in the mini-van on. This has not been efficient. It’s already hard enough trying to find anything in this place. And I'm not sure how much longer this mini-van can keep running.

11:30 a.m. Just left Furniture Plus and will not be back. You know you are being taken advantage of when all of the prices in the entire store are listed in terms of what it costs you per month. I wish I was joking.

12:00 p.m. The power is out at Bed, Bath, and Between but that didn’t stop them from selling me a mattress for $299. This was such a significant improvement over the $600 mattress at Furniture Plus that I bought it in the dark. I am assuming it’s okay…..?

12:30 p.m. Grabbing a quick lunch at Snappa’s before trying to get on the ferry with luggage, 2 dogs, a 6 foot bougainvillea, an anchor, and countless bags of crap. Maybe I should get another bushwacker.

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1:32 p.m. Almost got tossed off the ferry when the operator impaled himself on the bougainvillea, but all is well. Matt is keeping it from blowing off the back of the ferry. I am pretty sure it won’t have any leaves left by the time we get back.

3:00 p.m. It’s raining and the freight boat is about to show up with our mattress. Aaauugghhh!

3:15 p.m. Pretty image: a child playing in the rain without a care in the world. Ugly image: Matt and Vicki running through the rain from the ferry dock with a mattress on their heads.

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5:22 p.m. Matt went over to use the phone at Seaside and came home with new friends. They gave us leftover groceries and a bunch of lemons, so they are now my friends too! On an island where a box of cereal costs $9, the fastest way to my heart is with free groceries.

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7:45 p.m. I love, love, love Kidd’s Cove. I love living next to Kidd’s Cove. Great drinks, great food, nice people. And I only have to take 3 steps to be back home. Or crawl. Whatever the case may be.

Tuesday, September 15

Millipede count: 3

7:25 a.m. A millipede just fell off the ceiling and landed on my head.

9:10 a.m. Rooby and Bella have declared Bikini Hut awesome. They have taken up permanent residence on the sofa that sits below the two windows that face out onto Front Street. They have barked at every resident of Guana this morning. Twice.

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2:30 p.m. I don’t know what made me decide to paint the shutters today. It is so ludicrously hot and humid today it’s hard to even breathe outside, much less do any physical activity. I have sweat rolling into my pants. I didn’t even know that was possible. I might pass out. I don’t have a ladder so I am standing on a cooler. It's getting slippery because I think my feet are sweating. I think every resident of Guana has driven by just to see what I am doing. Twice.

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3:30 p.m. I thought painting in this heat was stupid. Matt is actually digging holes to plant the bougainvilleas. That’s definitely worse.

4:00 p.m. I love the new paint! Love, love, love, love!

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4:30 p.m. Bikini Hut is official! She has her own sign!

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7:14 p.m. Nothing left to do today but have a frozen grabber, watch the sunset, and head to Kidd’s Cove for some more lobster.

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Wednesday, September 16

9:08 a.m. I can’t believe it. We almost have everything done. We will actually get finished today. That means we can actually get out on the boat tomorrow and have a proper vacation day! Whoop whoop!

11:02 a.m. Time to paint the Murphy bed!

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12:14 p.m. It’s time for lunch and I am covered in paint. I need to make something here and I have used up all the food that doesn’t need to be cooked because I have not figured out how to get the gas working on the stove.

12: 17 p.m. Googling “hot point 24” gas oven” right now.

12:31 p.m. Matt is recovering after coming inside to find me with my head stuck in the oven. I’m not sure what he thought was going on, but he now understands I was just lighting the elusive pilot light.

12:58 p.m. We have cooked our first actual meal in Bikini Hut!

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3:32 p.m. I feel like I have been painting this Murphy bed forever.

4:42 p.m. The Murphy bed is painted and dry. All that is left is to affix this wall decal that looks like a headboard. Seriously, how cool is that????

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4:44 p.m. Carefully peel the decal from the backing paper. Simply press to the wall and smooth with your hands.” Well that sounds easy enough.

4:48 p.m. That was easy! It looks amazing! Wait, it’s a little crooked.

5:02 p.m. Why, why, why did I peel it back off? I can’t believe it just stuck to itself and crumpled into a ball like that. I read several DIY blogs before I did this. They made it sound very easy. They are obviously liars. Or they possess DIY superpowers that I don’t have. For heaven’s sake! Every time I peel a piece away from itself it sticks to another piece. Is it possible that it is getting even more stuck the more I unstick it??????

5:14 p.m. After 24 minutes of trying to return my decal to a decal-like shape instead of a wadded-up-ball-of-sticky-paper like shape, I have walked away. I am going to do some angry cleaning (you do that too, don’t you?)

5:40 p.m. I am back at the decal. I will not be defeated by this.

5:43 p.m. Matt just walked in, started to say something, looked at my face, turned, and walked back out. He is a very smart man.

5:52 p.m. Time out for several minutes of angry crying.

6:04 p.m. Hot damn and hallelujah! Somehow, I got the decal to let go of itself and have managed to get it back on the wall.

Wait.......I think it’s a little crooked....

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6:15 p.m. Ta-da! The Murphy bed nearly killed us both, but it is complete.

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7:40 p.m. I just made our first “real” meal (pita bread pizzas don’t count) in the Bikini Hut kitchen. Tacos with plantains and smashed potatoes, fresh guacamole, and chips and salsa. Sitting down to a real meal for the first time in “our beach house.” I think I just gave myself goosebumps.

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Thursday, September 17

Millipede count: 5

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7:00 a.m. Today is the first day we don’t really have a lot to do! We are finally going to take that boat out today! Yee haw!

8:04 a.m. It’s raining. Like, really, really raining.

9:22 a.m. Raining.

10:16 a.m. Raining.

10:25 a.m. Used all those lemons to make lemonade.

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11:17 a.m. Matt got bored and drank all the lemonade.

11:38 a.m. Raining.

11:49 a.m. Even the dogs are bored.

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12:04 p.m. There is a brief break in the rain. We have been cooped up in here all morning, so we are going to run to Grabbers for some wings.

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12:54 p.m. We can see the clouds, but the rain is still holding off. We’re going to see if we can grab lunch at Nippers.

1:33 p.m. Eating at the bar. Why? Because it’s raining.

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3:45 p.m. You guessed it. Raining. I did go out to find some driftwood when the rain slacked to a drizzle for about an hour. I saw this DIY driftwood fish on Pinterest:

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Is it just me or does mine look insane? It's like a crazy fish. It’s probably angry about the rain.

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7:27 p.m. I don’t think we are getting out on the boat today.

Friday, September 18

Millipede count: 4.5 (Rooby must have gotten that one)

7:01 a.m. It’s BEAUTIFUL today! Boat day….here we come.

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8:10 a.m. Matt just informed me that we have to have the boat at the boatyard on Marsh Harbour by noon today so that they can pull it out of the water for storage. They are closed tomorrow. “Boat Day” just became “Boat Hours.”

9:04 a.m. Cooler is packed with lunch and drinks, towels are in the beach bag, sunscreen is on. Let’s make the most of this boat day!

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9:45 a.m. I can’t think of a better place to be.

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11:00 a.m. Time for a boat drink! I have rum. I have limes. I have ice. I have pineapple juice. I have…..no cups.

11:05 a.m. It pays to be married to a boy scout.

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12:10 p.m. Bye-bye boat. See you next time!

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12:45 p.m. We are at the nursery buying another giant plant. I am afraid the ferry operator is going to throw us off when he sees it after what happened with the bougainvillea.

1:15 p.m. Waiting at Snappa's for the ferry.

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1:31 p.m. The ferry operator cringed when he saw us, but he said nothing. The plant is safely on the ferry.

2:24 p.m. I just paid Milo $25 dollars for 3 conch shells that I can get on the beach in front of Grabbers for free. Why? Because it’s Milo.

5:10 p.m. This is the most relaxing and wonderful day so far. The house is done, it’s clean, we are clean, and there are no tools sitting on my sofa. This is what it feels like to have a beach house. It feels good.

7:05 p.m. There is nothing better than a beach walk with Bella and Rooby.

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7:45 p.m. We are at Kidd’s Cove again. Seriously, why not when it is THIS close to Bikini Hut?

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I am pretty sure it’s our new favorite. In addition to the best lobster and great drinks, they have Eddie G.

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Saturday, September 19

9:10 a.m. It’s already time to pack, clean, and get ready to go home. :-(

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7:00 p.m. We spent an uneventful day packing everything, securing the house, doing laundry, and cleaning. Time for one last meal at Island Flavors.

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Sunday, September 20

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9:30 a.m. I can’t believe we are already flying home. It flew by. We have a lot less stuff than we had coming down.

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I can't wait to come back. Bikini Hut is now home.

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Want to see the before and after? Click HERE!

Posted by vicki_h 05:43 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (2)

Flip This House: Guana Cay Edition Part II

Taking a vacation from our vacation: A Weekend in Eleuthera!

Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation. When the vacation has been spent painting, sweating, getting blisters, and picking up an endless army of millipedes, this is certainly the case.

We decided to treat ourselves for “getting over the hump” by flying over to North Eleuthera for the weekend. I was a little worried that this would stymie our momentum and that we’d return on Monday and never get finished before it was time to go home.

A weekend off turned out to be the best decision we could have made.

I picked Eleuthera because it was close. I picked North Eleuthera because, in true neurotic planning fashion, I knew it was off season, so I had emailed EVERY SINGLE RESTAURANT ON THE ISLAND to see what was open. Most of the places I found open were on the north end. So the decision was made.

I settled on Ocean Tally as a place to stay for several reasons: 1) The website was simply gorgeous; 2) the cliffside location and whitewashed buildings reminded me of Greece; and 3) She said Bella and Rooby could come.

Friday, September 11

The flight from Marsh Harbour to Eleuthera was short and uneventful. Within 30 minutes, we were flying over the north end of Eleuthera and landing at the North Eleuthera airport.

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On Eleuthera, you don’t get online and reserve a rental car. You don’t even call a rental car agency. You call a “guy.” Our guy was Wendell and he had left an extremely sandy Ford Explorer at the airport. It even came with shiny beads and a broken stereo remote which, despite its non-working status, was displayed proudly and prominently on the dash with velcro. We paid cash and there was no paperwork. I was pretty sure this car did not come with roadside assistance.

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For the bumpy, rough, dirt roads of Eleuthera, it was exactly what we needed.

We arrived a bit after lunch time and we were starving. Thankfully, the drive out to Whale Point was pretty quick.

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the owner, Annette, who quickly took us to our cottage, asked if we needed anything, and left us to get settled, directing us to just come up to the lighthouse bar/restaurant when we were ready.

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I knew that Ocean Tally was a fairly new place, but I had no idea we were the first overnight guests EVER. We were also the only guests. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Our cottage was perched right on the ocean and it was impeccably clean and bright.

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We dropped Rooby and Bella off in the cottage and walked up the short, sandy path to the lighthouse where the bar and restaurant were housed. It was stunning.

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They started us off with cocktails as we perused the lunch menu. The cocktails were a heavy pour.

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Vicki liked.

I expected the usual Bahamian lunch fare: fish sandwich, hamburger, cracked conch.

I did not expect delicate stuffed crab with pickled red cabbage and butter curry lobster.

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Vicki loved.

The past week had been exhausting. Sure, we were on an exciting new island with new things to see, but all we really wanted to do was sleep. After our booze and lobster filled lunch, we crashed. We all slept for the rest of the afternoon.

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We woke up feeling better than we had felt all week. The crisp, fresh linens were soft and cool and the views from the windows that wrapped around 3 sides of the cottage fed our senses.

We were so happy to be here.

We took Rooby and Bella for a walk around the grounds before dinner.

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Did you know that you can eat sea grapes? You can. They are mostly pit and taste pretty much like a tart, slightly astringent grape, but you can eat them. You know. If you want to.

(Of course I ate one)

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We were too tired to drive anywhere for dinner, so we decided to eat at Ocean Tally again. Our first meal was so spectacular, we couldn’t wait to try another. When the food and view are that amazing, why go anywhere else?

While we were the only overnight guests that weekend, there was a small and lively crowd at the lighthouse enjoying sunset cocktails and chatter.

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We started off with spicy shrimp with polenta cakes, followed by blackened grouper topped with fresh mango.

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Dinner was absolutely as good as lunch. We agreed that Ocean Tally had the best food we have had in the Bahamas.

For dessert, I had the key lime pie, but for some reason, the photo was blurry. Probably because I was shoving it into my mouth as I tried to take the photo.

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Matt had the pastry wrapped banana with ice cream. It was delicious, but there is literally no way you can arrange those three items on a plate and it not look inappropriate…..

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Saturday, September 12

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Thanks to the hospitality of Annette, we were feeling rested and rejuvenated. We woke up early to watch the sunrise.

Annette showed up at our cottage with a wonderful breakfast tray each morning: cereal, milk, fresh squeezed OJ, fruit, yogurt, spread, and baked goods. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place to eat breakfast than the deck of our cottage.

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Ocean Tally is located on Whale Point, a finger of land that juts out with the ocean on one side and a calm bay on the other. The cottages are located on the rocky cliffs on the ocean side, but Annette has a little golf cart that guests can use to ride a short distance down the road to their beach.

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We found the beach entrance easily enough.

There was no one on the entire beach but us. I spent at least an hour beachcombing because the beach had more beautiful shells and sea glass than any beach I had been on in a long time.

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Matt found himself some seats and took a load off. I’m not sure, but I think this means the crates are seats, so don’t steal them. Whatever it means, it gets my vote for best sign ever.

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When we felt like the dogs had their fill of beach running, we took them back to Ocean Tally, dusted them off, and sent them into the cottage for naps while we drove a short distance to The Cove resort for lunch.

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Developed by New Orleans entrepreneur Sidney D. Torres, IV, the Cove is touted as one of the best resorts in the Bahamas. As we walked onto the grounds, I could see why. Tall palm trees, as lithe and elegant as runway models lined the walkway that led us through grass so green and lush it didn’t look real. Stylishly chic geometric cottages dotted the landscape, separated by clean walkways and beautiful outdoor spaces. A rocky cape separated 2 perfect coves with soft white sand beaches. The grounds were littered with driftwood benches, elegantly crocheted hammocks, and perfectly white sofas. It was white on white with a side of pink sand.

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We made our way to the restaurant and bar where a cool blue infinity pool beckoned invitingly. We were immediately greeted and made to feel welcome, despite the fact that we were obviously NOT part of the jet set that frequents this place.

Along with lunch, we were able to pay $35 each for a day pass. This granted us access to all of the luxurious amenities the Cove had to offer. I once paid $50 for two crappy beach chairs and a slightly crooked umbrella pressed against 500 other beach goers in Seaside, FL. $70 seemed like a bargain.

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We started off with some cocktails while we decided what to do first: beach or pool?

Beach.

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Not being actual guests of the resort, we were surprised when the beach attendant came running over to open our umbrella, lay out clean, cool towels and bring us ice water before we even set our bags down.

When we wanted a drink from the bar, all we had to do was stick our little Cove flag in the sand and someone showed up instantly.

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This drink was champagne with a touch of kiwi puree. Seriously. That must be ½ a bottle of champagne.

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We did nothing more than soak in the sun and sip giant glasses of kiwi infused champagne until we were hungry for lunch. Lunch could be served on the beach, but I wanted a clean, cool, fly-free lunch experience.

The restaurant was as elegant as the rest of the property. The interior was decked out in white on white with the occasional dash of driftwood, with floor to ceiling walls of glass that let the beauty of the outside in. I felt transported to another place entirely. Like Ocean Tally, this was not your typical Bahamian dive-y, paper-plate happy, fried food establishment. There was no sand on the floor, no lizards in the bathroom, and no flies on my food.

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I dove enthusiastically into the bacon cheeseburger and fries while Matt watched his figure with a jerk chicken wrap.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the infinity pool.

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We made a quick stop at Surfer’s Beach before heading back to Ocean Tally.

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Ocean Tally was hosting a birthday party dinner that night, so we got to enjoy the festivities. They had live music and a fire pit on the ocean.

Because of the number of guests, dinner was a set menu: crab cake salad (AMAZING) and chicken piccata (AMAZING).

We agreed that, while the Cove had an outstanding setting, Ocean Tally’s food blew it away.

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Not only that, we thought Ocean Tally beat the Cove in all respects. Sure, the Cove had glitz and glamour, but Ocean Tally was intimate and special. It had a beautiful location, spectacular cottages with significantly more privacy, and, because of its smaller size, Ocean Tally was more personal and warm. It suited us perfectly.

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Sunday, September 13:

We woke to another outstanding sunrise at Ocean Tally.

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We were also treated to another delightful breakfast on our deck.

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Rooby believes breakfast should be a shared experience.

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After breakfast, Matt and I decided to brave the rocks and walk down to the tide pool below the lighthouse. This was not an easy task in flip flops, but that was all we had, so we just walked very…..very…..carefully.

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After a soak in the pool, we walked the grounds and just took in the amazing details of the property. The Cove was like Ruth’s Cris, fancy and upscale, but not particularly unique. Ocean Tally was like that amazing little bistro that you have in your town where the desserts are all made by hand and original art hangs on the walls. There was so much time, effort, art, and love put into every inch of the place.

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After taking the dogs for a walk, we loaded up in the car and set out to find Ben Bay beach. We had seen it when we were flying in and knew we had to go there.

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The only negative about Eleuthera is that the beaches are hard to find and hard to get to even if you have incredibly good directions. I had good directions, but they looked like this:

From the highway turn right, then left-right-left. And there you'll be, at a really pretty beach.

What the directions failed to mention was that, once you left the highway, the remaining 20 minutes of your journey would be on extraordinarily rough dirt roads that were approximately ¾ the width of your car and that you would scrape against every shrub, bush, and tree that grew beside the road, would come across multiple turns that you couldn’t clearly identify as a road or a driveway or a footpath (is that a turn?), and would encounter multiple spots where the road was submerged under a foot of muddy water. There are also no signs of ANY KIND. None.

We ended up at a dead end, had no room to turn around, and had to back down the road for about ¾ of a mile at one point.

As we scraped past one particularly large bush for the second time, I was suddenly very happy that we had paid cash for the rental car and had no paperwork. Clearly, this was more of an advantage to us than it was to the person that owned this car.

Somehow, we found it.

It was worth it.

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Ben Bay was a perfect cove. The water was shallow and clear, the sand soft and white, and no one else was there.

This, my friends, is the beauty of the Bahamas. Where else are you going to have a beach like this to yourselves?

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We spent several blissful hours on Ben Bay before we started to get hungry.

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Before we headed back, however, I convinced Matt we needed to find the “blue hole.” No, not the famous blue hole on Eleuthera, the other one. The one no one seems to know the location of and the one you can’t find directions to ANYWHERE.

I had used my clever interweb skills and had pieced together what I believed to be a reasonably close, albeit sketchy, set of directions. It was very close to where we already were, so Matt agreed.

God love him.

Leave it to me to bypass the tourist friendly, well mapped Ocean Hole of Eleuthera, a blue hole that has signs, a park, and picnic tables for guests and, instead, head straight for the “blue hole in north Eleuthera that is somewhere in the midst of the ganga fields…be careful that you don’t step into the wrong area.”

Sure, I wasn’t 100% certain where the blue hole was and there were an inordinate number of dirt tracks that all looked the same, but a gun battle with ganja farmers was not on my radar. I wanted to jump into that blue hole!

My directions proved to be spot on, thanks to a little help from a Google satellite image where I was pretty certain I had identified the hole. We found it easily enough.

All of my bravado instantly evaporated, however, when I actually stood at the edge of the hole. I found myself staring at a 25 foot jump into an endless chasm of cobalt water.

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How did I know there weren’t any rocks down there? How deep was it? How far was it really? How hard would I land? How would I get out?

It literally took every ounce of nerve I had to jump off that cliff. And it hurt like hell.

The difference between Matt and Vicki can be perfectly illustrated by our jump into the blue hole.

Matt: Jumps off with enthusiasm and confidence. Body is immediately symmetrical and straight as an arrow. Glides into water like an angel. Lands perfectly, feet first.

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Vicki: Starts off badly and gets worse. Is she running? Awkwardly starts to slide sideways. Lands on ass.

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That's going to leave a mark.

Luckily, there was a rope to help us get out, but it still wasn’t easy. Especially with a 6 inch bruise on my butt.

Fear and adrenaline made me hungry. We decided to drive to the ferry dock and take the 5 minute ferry ride over to Harbour Island.

‘Briland, as it is known to locals, is one of the poshest villages in the Bahamas and caters to the rich and famous with its 3 mile long pink sand beach. Water taxis make the 5 minute, $5 trip all day.

I knew that most establishments would be closed, but we had visited Eleuthera and Harbor island about 15 years earlier and I still remembered that pink sand beach. I had to see it again.

I had found one restaurant on Harbour Island that was supposed to be open, so we grabbed a golf cart at the ferry dock and set off to find Aquapazza, an Italian restaurant with a Bahamian flair.

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Sure, it won our lunch business by default, but it turned out to be excellent. It was located on the water, and the views were breezy and beautiful.

I ordered their house cocktail made with Prosecco and Campari while Matt went Bahamian with a goombay smash.

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For lunch, Matt ordered the spaghetti aglio with chili and conch and I had the marinated Spanish-style “pil-pil” salad. Both were perfect, and that wasn’t just because there was nowhere else to eat.

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As luck would have it, Acquapazza is located next to Harbour Island’s famous “haunted house.” Legend has it that the home was built for a wealthy family in 1945. The tale is that the entire family that lived there simply vanished one night, leaving the lavish dinner table set for the evening meal. They never returned. It sat empty until the 1960’s when a Greek shipping magnate purchased the beautiful mansion for his new bride. The wife left the house shortly after entering it and refused to step back inside. In the 1980’s, looters and fire claimed the beautiful house. What remains today are faded swirling pink walls that make it the perfect place for a post-lunch stroll… as long as you don’t mind the ghosts whispering in your ear.

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Back on our cart, we made our way to one of the many entrances to Harbour Island’s famous beach. I couldn’t remember….was it really pink?

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Yes, yes it was.

And because it was the off season, we had it completely to ourselves.

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We did a short golf cart tour of town before heading back to the water taxi. It was getting late and we had some hungry puppies back at Ocean Tally.

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After showers had been taken, dogs had been walked, played with, and fed, and the giant bruise forming on my butt cheek had been inspected to ensure there was no permanent damage, we cleaned up for dinner.

Of course we ate at Ocean Tally again.

We had fully intended to spread our dining love around to the other open restaurants on the island, but we just couldn’t tear ourselves away.

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This white dress was exceptionally beautiful before I awkwardly spilled an entire glass of red wine on it. I looked like a scene from Carrie.

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After a quick change back at the cottage, I celebrated my new, clean dress with spicy prawns and pasta puttanesca. Matt loved the blackened grouper so much, he ordered it a second time.

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A creature of habit (he likes what he likes!), Matt also re-ordered the banana dessert. Thankfully, someone had the sense to put two bananas on the dessert this time so that it didn’t offend my coconut tart.

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Monday, September 14

It seemed like each sunrise at Ocean Tally was even more spectacular than the one before it.

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Our time on Eleuthera was done. We enjoyed our final breakfast, bid a sweet farewell to Ocean Tally, and headed back to Abaco. The weekend was perfect. Ocean Tally was perfect. It had left us relaxed and refreshed. We were ready to get back to work.

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Before we flew back to Abaco, however, Matt flew us over the glass window bridge. I really wanted to see it from the air. The narrowest point on the island, this strip used to be a natural arch that separated the calm, shallow Caribbean sea from the deep, blue, turbulent Atlantic Ocean. The natural bridge washed away in a hurricane and was replaced by a man-made bridge, but it was no less fantastic to view from the air.

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We also got a peek at Harbour Island and Ocean Tally from above. Bye-Bye, Ocean Tally! Bye-Bye delicious meals! Bye-Bye rest and relaxation!

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It was time to get back to work.

Next up: Flip this house - Guana Cay Edition Part III!

Posted by vicki_h 06:11 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (0)

Flip This House: Guana Cay Edition Part I

We never intended to buy a house in the Bahamas.

Really. We didn’t.

It was kind of like going into a puppy store. You never really MEAN to buy a puppy, but the next thing you know you are buying pee-pee pads and rope bones.

Of course we did the “what if” just like everyone else and imagined that ONE DAY we’d own a piece of paradise. We would never wear a proper pair of shoes again and would spend our golden years beachcombing and sipping rum.

But that was just IMAGINARY.

Wasn’t it?

On our very first visit to Guana Cay, some ten years ago, I took a photo of a charming little cottage in the settlement on Front Street. I have always had a soft spot for cozy, quaint, tiny, vintage houses. Put them on an island and they take on a special level of adorability.

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Throughout the years we have visited Guana, I have never stopped loving that little cottage, with its precious little pineapple cutouts on the porch railing and its tiny wooden shutters. I have taken many photos of it over the years.

When I saw the for sale sign on it recently…..I knew.

I just knew.

In my heart, it was already mine.

When I mentioned it to Matt, his response was not what I hoped for. I envisioned him looking deeply into my eyes and saying, “It’s perfect. Let’s buy it.”

Instead, he said, “It’s too small.” He also said, “It’s not on the ocean,” “It doesn’t have a dock,” “It doesn’t have a deck,” and “We can rent a house 3 times that size several times a year for less than it would cost to buy it.”

It was immediately obvious that he didn’t get it.

Yet.

In my head, I was already reading a beachy novel on my new linen sofa as the Guana Cay sunlight filtered in through gauzy white curtains. I was pretty sure I needed to start shopping for beach house furniture right away.

I had to figure out a way to make him see my vision.

I managed to do it with one simple sentence, “You know, if we bought a house, you’d have to get a boat.”

Next thing I knew, we were making a quick trip down to look at the house. Before the weekend was over, he saw my vision. Okay, maybe his vision had more boat and less house, but it was settled. We were buying a house on Guana Cay.

I was over the moon.

And scared shitless.

For those that are interested in the tedious details of the process because you might want to try this yourself someday – it wasn’t that bad. We worked with an on-island rental agent who helped us negotiate the purchase price. Both parties agreed to an attorney who coordinated the necessary paperwork. All we really had to do was get some initial information to the attorney, wire a deposit, sign a few things and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

It took WAY longer than it should, but what doesn’t in the Bahamas? Apparently, “island time” applies to everything.

About 90 days later, we signed some additional documents, wired the rest of the money and were home owners.

Buying it was the easy part.

The rest was a pain because there were just so many details to take care of and they all had to be done long distance. Thankfully, our on-island real estate agent became our on-island property caretaker and he made everything else as easy as possible. He did all of the leg work to get the utilities switched over, get the wi-fi set up, coordinate deliveries, he even cleaned up the golf cart.

The first thing we discovered was how much more everything cost than we thought. When you buy a house on an island, take what you think each thing will cost and triple it. Then add a little more money and a lot of frustration and you are probably in the ballpark. With this being our first venture into the world of Bahamian ownership, we were immediately glad we started small.

Before we knew it, it was time to head down for 2 weeks to make it our own – painting, redecorating, and getting anything the house didn’t already have.

Welcome to Flip This House: Guana Cay Edition!

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Friday, September 4:

7:00 a.m. I am pretty sure we are going to crash. Why did I buy so much stuff to take down? The house is furnished. Seriously….do I really need a seahorse shaped cutting board? I should have just packed a toothbrush.

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10:30 a.m. We have landed in West Palm Beach for the night. Somehow, we did not crash. This is good, because we would have been buried under 620 lbs. of home goods and would never have been able to exit the plane before it caught on fire and burned us along with an enormous assortment of turquoise bedding and beach towels.

10:00 p.m. I do not know how we did not die of heat stroke or exhaustion in the last 12 hours. We have been to every hardware store, house ware store, golf cart supplier, and marina in West Palm Beach. It is at least 112 degrees in the shade. Now the plane will have 720 lbs. of crap on it. Also, the man delivering the boat from Bonita Springs was late and got here after dark, so instead of dinner, we spent all night preparing the boat for its trip from West Palm Beach to Guana Cay. That’s fine. I’m too hot to eat anyway.

10:30 p.m. Damn. I forgot to get a clean change of clothes off the plane. I have no clean clothes for tomorrow. That’s okay. Mine aren’t that dirty. Matt’s, however, are decimated. I would burn them but I am pretty sure they are too sweaty to catch on fire.

Saturday, September 5:

10:00 a.m. I am waiting outside the Tommy Bahama store in West Palm Beach so I can buy Matt some clean clothes. Why did the only store within walking distance of the hotel have to be Tommy Bahama? Where is the Wal-Mart? I wonder if Publix sells shorts.

10:10 a.m. I’m walking back to the hotel with 1 t-shirt, 1 pair of shorts, and 1 pair of boxers that cost me $189. I should have walked the 9 miles to Wal-Mart. Or let him go without underwear.

12:30 p.m. We have arrived in Marsh Harbour! Yay! I’m glad we didn’t crash because the life jackets were buried under a do-it-yourself Murphy bed, an ottoman coffee table, and 500 lbs. of “beach house things” I was certain I needed 2 days ago. Now, I just really want some clean underwear. We made it through customs with a lot of stuff. I think the agent took pity on us and decided to ignore the fact that 2 people had 10 extra-large duffel bags for a 2 week trip. She only made us pay duty on 2 items. Probably because we are really sweaty and I am wearing dirty clothes. I think she wanted us to get out of her office.

1:00 p.m. I am sitting at the ferry dock and am feeling much better thanks to the Bahama Mama in my hand. I don’t even care that I am wearing dirty clothes.

2:00 p.m. We just got off the ferry. Where is the golf cart? We have 720 lbs. of stuff and it is 900 degrees out here. I need a golf cart.

2:30 p.m. We have stolen a golf cart. We saw one left at the dock with our friends’ names on it so we took it. Okay, maybe we have only met them once, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t friends. It doesn’t matter. We know they aren’t arriving until later this afternoon. They’ll never know. That's what they get for telling internet strangers their last name.

2:40 p.m. Dammit. They will be here in 20 minutes and will wonder where their golf cart is. We still haven’t found ours.

2:50 p.m. Golf cart has been found. We have safely returned friends’ cart to dock. They will never know. Except that their cart is all sweaty now.

2:55 p.m. What the &^%%%#****??????

3:00 p.m. We almost died on the golf cart. Who knew our new golf cart has a sticking gas pedal? We almost didn’t figure this out until it was too late. Note to self: Never drive golf cart with sticking gas pedal onto ferry dock.

3:05 p.m. First time walking into Bikini Hut and it’s mine. I love it even though it looks like a condiment cart threw up in the living room. Man, I need a shower.

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5:00 p.m. Everything is unloaded into the house. I think we just put 1050 square feet of stuff in a 950 square foot house. It’s all haphazardly tossed in, but I was able to find clean underwear. That’s good enough.

5:30 p.m. I really need a shower. Matt says something is wrong with the pump because only a trickle of water is coming out of the shower head. I don’t care. Okay, I am pointing the trickle of water straight down. This is like trying to shower in fog. Let me try pressing my body against the wall of the shower to capture the water I can. Okay, this is gross. But it's working. I hope the wall of this shower is clean. There is no way I can wash my sweaty hair.

6:00 p.m. Finally, we are relaxing at Grabbers with some frozen grabbers and a sunset. Surely the worst of it is behind us. “Moving Day” is over and we can start settling in. First order of business: FOOD. I haven’t had anything since my complimentary yogurt and banana at the Residence Inn West Palm Beach. Geez, I am starving. I knew I should have shoved all those little kids out of the waffle line.

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6:10 p.m. What is with all the flies???? So many flies. Matt is eating his dinner walking around so they can’t catch his plate. I don’t care. I have given up. I am too tired to care. I’ll share with the flies as long as I don’t have to move. They can’t really eat that much, can they?

6:30 p.m. I think Rooby is dead.

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8:30 p.m. For the love of all that is holy, WHERE ARE THE FLIPPING SHEETS? I can’t find anything in here. It’s just a giant pile of mess. Yellow and red mess. With a lot of tools and tarps on top.

Sunday, September 6:

5:10 a.m. I am awake. This is what happens when you go to bed at 9:00. I may as well take Bella and Rooby for a walk on the beach. Is that a millipede?

6:00 a.m. I just remembered why I am doing all of this. I love it here. Bella and Rooby agree.

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9:00 a.m. We just figured out that the water pump is fine. The shower is fine. The water was turned off. I am doing my best not to be mad that I was forced to shower in a trickle and go to bed with dirty hair. At least we now have awesome water pressure. Found a few more millipedes. What’s up with that?

12:00 p.m. We are waiting for Matt’s new boat to arrive from Florida, so we don’t really want to get into any heavy work. We’ll go to Nippers for lunch instead. Our new friends are supposed to be there.

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12:15 p.m. Robert and Stacey keep talking about how their golf cart was really sweaty when they arrived. We say nothing.

12:30 p.m. We have work to do so I am just going to get lunch and have 1 Nipper. Definitely not more than one. Mmm….lobster salad sandwich goes so well with a Nipper.

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1:30 p.m. I’ll just have one more Nipper. Two should be fine.

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2:30 p.m. The boat is here and I think I had more than 2 Nippers. Hello boat, I am going in for a nap.

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3:00 p.m. Apparently, I am not taking a nap. Matt has neurotically decided that the boat must be cleaned. Now. I am on my way to Guana Grocery to buy more paper towels and magic erasers.

6:00 p.m. The boat is finally clean. I am too tired to get cleaned up for dinner. I will just make something here at the house. Good thing I brought plenty of food.

6:30 p.m. Damn stove doesn’t work. Does anything work in here? Matt is certain the gas regulator is broken. I don’t care. I will make something in the microwave. Thank goodness we made that stop at Trader Joe’s. Pre-grilled chicken and microwave baked potatoes it is. I will eat anything I can eat in my pajamas.

Monday, September 7

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6:00 a.m. I just enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on the beach with the dogs. Today is the day we start “doing stuff.” I can’t wait. I’m ready to get started. This place looks like a dump. And I keep finding more millipedes.

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7:00 a.m. Matt is going lobster diving with friends. Really? I suppose I will be working alone today. I think I can get painting supplies at Guana Hardware. Sure, it would be cheaper in Marsh Harbour, but I’d lose a day of work. How much more could it cost?

9:00 a.m. I did not know a gallon of white paint could cost $70. I am discouraged by my tiny pile of supplies that I just spent $200 on. Matt better come home with some lobster. A lot of it.

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1:00 p.m. I am in paradise, and I am inside painting. Matt is fishing, and I am inside painting. The sun is shining, and I am inside painting.

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2:00 p.m. I just figured out the difference between renting a beach house and owning one.

RENTING:

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OWNING:

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3:00 p.m. I just threw 4 more millipedes in the toilet.

3:30 p.m. I just learned that, despite the desire to conserve water, one should not put millipedes in the toilet and not flush, lest they crawl right back out. This is not ideal for the person sitting on the toilet unaware.

4:00 p.m. The painting is done! I would pat myself on the back, but I can no longer lift my arm.

6:00 p.m. Matt came home with 10 lobsters, so he is forgiven. A little.

7:00 p.m. God knew we were tired, so he treated us to an exceptional sunset. Wait a minute…. I am tired. Matt didn’t do anything but fish all day.

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7:30 p.m. I am too tired to fend off the flies, so dinner is indoors at Nippers tonight. There is nothing better than a monochromatic plate filled with brown and white foods. This means there is nothing on the plate but fat and carbohydrates. There is nothing green on my plate unless you count the lime. Please don’t tell my mom. This is awesome.

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Tuesday, September 8

Millipede count: 4

6:00 a.m. I think I will stain the dining table and paint some furniture today. I made my own stain a few days ago with vinegar, steel wool, and coffee. It’s supposed to look like driftwood.

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6:30 a.m. Coffee, steel wool, and vinegar really do make wood look like driftwood. They also make it stink.

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8:00 a.m. I am determined to use this ugly ass piece of furniture. Sure, it’s made of plywood and has pencil marks all over it, but do you know how much furniture costs down here? My new mantra: Throw away NOTHING.

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10:00 a.m. Matt declares he would like to take his new boat out. We have work to do, but he really wants to take our friends to Firefly before they leave and it’s closed on Wednesday. I really want to go to Firefly. I am tired of working and picking up millipedes. I agree.

10:10 a.m. Matt just left to spend the morning “getting the boat ready.” I suddenly realize that Matt has done nothing but clean his boat, play with his boat, consume grabbers and nippers, and go lobster fishing since we arrived. I have unpacked, organized, washed all of the laundry left by previous owners, painted the entire interior, stained the table, painted that ugly little nightstand, and made most of meals. Somehow, this does not feel equitable.

3:00 p.m. I LOVE THE NEW BOAT!

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4:00 p.m. I have to admit getting out on the boat was a good idea. I was getting cranky. I needed a day off. Boat drinks, a trip to the beach at Man-O-War Cay, and a stop at Austin and Amy’s is just what the doctor ordered. Lubbers Landing is still the BEST!

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5:00 p.m. Amy was right – Firefly has the best fried pickles EVER.

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7:30 p.m. We just made it back for sunset. Perfect timing. I wonder if there are any millipedes in the house? Yep.

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Wednesday, September 9

Millipede count: 5

8:30 a.m. I just ran to Gauna Grocery and found fresh made banana bread. It's the small things.

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10:00 a.m. Apparently, the millipedes are an epidemic right now. I am not sure if I feel better knowing our house is not uniquely cursed with them or worse knowing it’s obviously not something I can do anything about right now. For now, I will just keep throwing them in the toilet each morning.

10:30 a.m. Finished staining the table. I like it.

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11:00 a.m. I have been compiling a list of things we need to buy ever since we arrived. It is time to head to Marsh Harbour in our boat to see how much we can find. I am excited! My only experience with Marsh Harbour to date is the brief view outside my taxi window as we pass quickly from the airport to the ferry dock. Marsh Harbour, here we come! Yay, shopping!

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12:00 p.m. We are in Marsh Harbour and have a rental car. It is an old mini-van that has not been cleaned in a very long time. At least the a/c works. Sort of. Wow, it’s hot today.

12:30 p.m. We decided to stop for lunch. Most of the restaurants seem closed for the season. Except Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s in a strip mall. Something about that is weird. I saw an “Open” sign at this place – Oasis. We’ll give it a shot. I don’t want to eat at the Bahamian KFC in a strip mall.

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1:00 p.m. Oasis rocks. Sure, they are even slower than the average Bahamian restaurant, but that is probably because they are the only thing open. Unless you want a 2 piece meal with a biscuit.

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2:30 p.m. Oasis gives an entirely new meaning to s-l-o-w. The food was great, but I think we just lost 2 hours of much needed shopping time. Maybe we should have gone for that chicken. How late do the stores stay open? So excited to finally go shopping!

3:30 p.m. Shopping here sucks. I can’t find anything here. When the Ace Hardware is the best store in town, you know you are in trouble. What I can find costs 9 times what it should. I just paid $9 for a cheap rubber plunger and $25 for a throwaway sponge mop. They don’t even have normal stores. There is no “Bed, Bath, and Beyond.” They have “Bed, Bath, and Between.” I understand “Beyond,” you’ve got lots of rooms beyond the bed and bath….the kitchen, the living area, the dining room….What the hell’s between the bed and the bath? The closet? That’s just stupid.

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4:00 p.m. ALL Mart? Seriously? Like Wal-Mart…except they have it ALL.

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4:30 p.m. Shopping was not as fun as I thought it would be. Half the things on my list are still on my list because I refuse to pay for them. I am not paying $34 for a $7 hairdryer or $49 for a $10 iron. I will just have wet hair and wrinkled clothes. And $25 for a cheap curtain panel that looks like something Big Lots would have for $3.99? No thank you. I bought a glue gun and a pile of fabric instead. And forget about replacing those curtain rods the previous owner made out of PVC. They are just fine, thankyouverymuch. This was the best thing I found in Marsh Harbour and they wouldn’t let me buy him.

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5:00 p.m. I thought we would never get all that stuff on the boat. And it was so hot. I have sweat running down my back. We look like a refugee boat. Did I mention that it is hot? I don’t feel like I will ever stop sweating. Thank heavens we found some frozen drinks nearby.

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6:00 p.m. We were so hot we decided to stop at Mermaid Reef for a quick snorkel on the way back. Amazing. I saw my first lion fish.

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8:30 p.m. Thank you, Kidds Cove for cooking Matt’s 10 lobster tails since my damn stove doesn't work. That might have been the best dinner ever. Can you guess which plate is mine and which is Matt’s? She who does all the painting alone gets the most lobster, I say.

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Thursday, September 10

Millipede count: 6

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8:00 a.m. My OCD is kicking in. Usually, when one moves into a new place, one immediately reorganizes and unpacks. We can’t unpack anything because we don’t have the modifications done. So far, all we can do is shuffle crap around. Move one pile to another pile. Put some junk on top of some different junk so that we can get to some other junk. There are no curtains on the windows. The initial excitement and newness has worn off. It has been replaced by frustration.

Stress, dirt, and chaos have become the defining aspects of my life.

I can’t take this.

If we can’t get over the hump today and get some of this stuff organized, I am certain I will die.

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10:30 a.m. We are kicking some major remodeling ass today. Matt is building the Murphy bed and I am repainting the cabinets. We are getting it DONE.

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12:00 p.m. Matt just got the Murphy bed completely put together on the floor and realized it’s too tall to stand up. The ceiling is too low. I am pretty sure Matt has reached his maximum frustration point with the Murphy bed.

Murphy Bed: 1
Matt: 0

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12:30 p.m. Nope. He was definitely able to get even more frustrated.

2:30 p.m. The Murphy bed has now been taken apart and reassembled on the wall. It’s up! I think Matt is dead on the inside, though.

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3:00 p.m. The cabinets are painted, the handles and doors are replaced, and I have an enormous blister on my hand. Why don’t we have an electric screwdriver? Oh yeah, because I needed 620 lbs. of beachy dishes and scented candles and it wouldn’t fit in the plane.

4:00 p.m. I am using a glue gun to make curtains and hang them on rods made out of PVC until I can go back to the states and get something better. Oh, dear God. I am making glue gun curtains and I have been eating a lot of instant food (because we still have not figured out the stove). I have reverted back to the 1989 college version of me. What’s next? Ramen noodles?

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5:00 p.m. Rooby has given up on us.

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6:00 p.m. It’s been a long work day, but the Murphy bed is up, the house and cabinets are painted, and we were able to put most of the stuff away. We have at least moved from “this place looks like hoarders live here” to “organized chaos.”

It’s starting to look like a beach house!

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Next up - Part II: Taking a vacation from our vacation....Hello, Eleuthera!

Posted by vicki_h 09:11 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (2)

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