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US Virgin Islands

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 7

All Good Things Must Come to an End.

Going home is always bittersweet. I never want to leave, but I'm itching to get back to my house and my dogs.

We had an afternoon flight, so we were at least able to make a leisurely departure.

Of course, I had to take one more photo of the Trunk Bay overlook....or two:

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And the Cruz Bay overlook:

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We made a final stop at Mongoose Junction to look for those final few things we couldn't live without.

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And one final painkiller at the Beach Bar to ensure I had consumed the appropriate amount of rum on this vacation.

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Okay....and maybe a bushwhacker too!

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To ensure we didn't get to the airport an earlier than was absolutely necessary, we made a final meal at Pie Whole in Frenchtown on St. Thomas.

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And then......just like that.....it was over.

Sure, the trip started off a little rough, but in the end, it was everything we wanted it to be.

And yeah, it kind of sucked leaving the balmy warm beaches for the 24 degrees that were waiting for me at home, but you know what else was waiting for me at home?

CHRISTMAS!

At least we were returning to the season of twinkly lights and sugar cookies. A time when excessive shopping is allowed and binge eating is practically required. I was ready for glitter and peppermint mochas.

Bring on the eggnog!

Posted by vicki_h 12:10 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (5)

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 6

Gobble Gobble!

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It was a beautiful morning to give thanks. No rainbows this morning, but the clouds reflected in the water were a nice touch.

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And it was Thanksgiving! I started thinking of all the things I was thankful for. Of course, I was thankful for my wonderful husband, sweet parents, my dogs (on days when Bella hasn't shredded a roll of toilet paper on my bed and I'm not running after the puppy trying to get a piece of dog poo out of her mouth), my job (at least on Friday afternoons), great family and friends, my health....... but on this particular day there were so many extra things to be thankful for:

  • I was thankful that I hadn't ordered that last plate of all-you-can-eat shrimp the night before.
  • I was thankful that Matt hadn't decided we needed to bring running shoes on this vacation.
  • I was thankful that, as much as I love them, my dogs were with my mom and I didn't have to pick up one single dog turd all week.
  • I was thankful for turkey. And for the fact that I am not one.
  • I was thankful that I didn't have to cook a turkey because Sam and Jack's Deli was doing it for me.
  • I was thankful that I was stuck on an island so that I wouldn't feel compelled to go out at 2:00 a.m. in my PJ pants & Uggs with no bra so that I could fight all the other women for $5 scarves at the Old Navy Black Friday sale.
  • I was thankful for RUM. (and Advil)
  • I was thankful for pumpkin pie. And thankful that I didn't feel a compulsory urge to Google "How Many Calories Are In a Typical Thanksgiving Meal?" Seriously. Who cares?
  • And Maho Beach! This morning I was thankful for Maho!

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We dropped the ladies off at Annaberg and we headed to Francis Beach. I decided I was also thankful for Francis Beach.

And a couple of hours alone with Matt!

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Francis was lovely. And not just because we didn't have to tote 4 beach chairs up and down the sand. It was just a perfect day. It was early, so there weren't many people on the beach.

We had a "let's try to eat all the leftover food since we are leaving tomorrow" picnic at the beach. I think my favorites were the bastardized deviled eggs I made with spinach dip and cream cheese because there wasn't any mayo.

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Before long, it was time to collect Elaine and the MIL from Annaberg. The views across the water were spectacular.

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We stopped for more photos at the Trunk Bay overlook, because I only had about 986 Trunk Bay overlook shots so far on this trip and everyone knows you can never have enough photos of the Trunk Bay overlook.

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Then it was on to Sam and Jack's to pick up our Thanksgiving feast. We had ordered the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 4 and when she brought out the food, I was sure there was a mistake. It was enough food to feed a family of 20.

We dropped the food off at the house and left the ladies to rest while we decided to take advantage of our last beach day and hit Cinnamon Bay until the sun sank low in the sky.

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Still not ready to give it up, we made a quick stop at Gibney / Oppenheimer. It was my last beach day, after all.

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Enjoying some alone time, we headed to Caneel Bay Beach Terrace for a cocktail before calling it a day.

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It was getting late, and I had a Thanksgiving affair to put on, so we headed back to Azul Peter Bay so that I could rummage around in the kitchen to see what sort of Thanksgiving table I could set.

It wasn't too shabby.

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The food was RIDICULOUS. It was enough to feed an army and it was outrageously delicious: Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots with Tarragon, Green Beans with Crispy Fried Onions, Ciabatta Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples, and Sage, Rosemary Cranberry Relish, Garlic Buttered Rolls, an Herb Roasted Turkey with gravy, and a Pumpkin Pie. We also had a dish of plantains that Elaine had cooked up using some plantains the landscaping crew had whacked out of a tree and left laying outside.

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As the sun set on our Thanksgiving and our last night on St. John, I WAS thankful.

I was thankful that I could be here and spend this week with family. I was thankful for my sweet husband who loved his mother enough to make her this promise. And keep it. I was thankful for a MIL that loves me and accepts me as her daughter and is a delight to have in my life. I was thankful for sweet Elaine who had been a joy all week.

I was also thankful that I had brought a pair of elastic waist pants.

Posted by vicki_h 05:51 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (1)

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 5

Jost do it.

It was my favorite day. Jost Van Dyke day!

This required us to actually get up early and leave the house without our customary 3 hour morning rainbow hunt on the veranda.

The morning view of Trunk Bay more than made up for it.

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We have always taken the ferry to Jost because it gives us more time there than a day boat and is more cost effective than a private boat. I will say that the ferry has gotten SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive since we last made this trip. What cost us $50 pp all inclusive the last time we made this trip increased to over $100 per person.

Ouch.

Despite the price gouge, I was still elated when the ferry pulled up to the happy little building with the red roof on the outskirts of Great Harbor.

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We hopped on a taxi and made our way straight to White Bay. We decided to make the Soggy Dollar our home base because its sturdy Adirondack chairs were much more comfortable to the ladies than a beach lounge. It also minimized any walking they would have to do in the sand since it is a straight shot out from the taxi drop off.

We grabbed chairs, lay back, and soaked it all in.

My favorite time on White Bay is in the morning, before all the party boats have arrived. Nothing is open and the only sounds are the soft waves crashing on the sand and the rustle of the palm trees overhead. There are no "who has the loudest boat speaker" competitions going on in the water, no footballs being thrown around by testosterone riddled college students all hopped up on painkillers, and no one vomiting in the shrubbery behind us because she had one bushwhacker too many.

It's peaceful and perfect.

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After walking down the beach snapping photos, I came back and couldn't find Matt anywhere. His mom hadn't seen him. Neither had Elaine.

I knew exactly where I would find him.

With Mic, of course.

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Yep. Sure it was barely past breakfast, but Mic's bloody mary is the breakfast of champions.

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We were wandering along the beach when the most AWESOME thing happened. Most. Awesome.

This lovely young woman approached me and asked, "This is going to sound odd....but are you Vicki?"

Now, this has definitely happened to me before in places we visit a lot. That part I'm used to. People who have read my blog or are part of a travel forum I belong to recognize me by my enormous camera. Small girl. Big camera. I am hard to miss. Mainly because I'm usually climbing up a tree or laying on the ground to get a better angle.

But what made this especially cool was that she and her husband had come to Jost ALL THE WAY FROM GERMANY. FOR THE FIRST TIME. BECAUSE OF MY BLOG.

Now....what were the odds that I would just happen to be there at the same time?????

Crazy. It was simply crazy.

It made my day.

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If I had not been intoxicated at the time, I might remember her name. I know, I know. I am a horrible, horrible person. And yes, it was only 10:30 a.m., but I was on vacation and there is nothing wrong with a couple of morning bloody marys when you are on vacation.

Fine. Get me the number to the Betty Ford Clinic. I'll call tomorrow.

Anyway, I hope she reads this because it was the absolute highlight of my vacation to meet her!

Now that I was famous, I demanded that Matt walk a few feet behind me and carry my bag for the rest of the day. He promptly dropped my bag in the sand and walked off in search of the next drink.

Apparently, he simply didn't understand just how famous I was.

Or maybe he was jealous.

Whatever.

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I dusted off my bag and wandered off after him.

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At some point....we made some friends.

The details are really sketchy because I'd had a few drinks at this point, but I know they were a very nice couple from Texas, I think. Or was it Arkansas? She was a teacher. I think. Or was she an underwater welder? I can't really remember. I just remember they were really nice.

I showed them how to "pour your own" at Gertrude's and we sang along to the music from the nearby boats as we pruned in the water.

We also took terrible pictures of ourselves next to the world's ugliest Christmas tree:

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We also shared a lunch table at Seddy's One Love on the far end of the beach. We managed to score the last of the lobster and it did not cost us $400.

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We wasted away the afternoon munching on Doritos and watching the party boats do their thing.

It was early afternoon, but we had already been there and done that.

I remember being told once on Abaco...."You people from Tennessee sure party hard but you burn out early."

It's true. I like to do my thing early. There are fewer witnesses that way.

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As we boarded the taxi to head back to the ferry, my only regret was that we hadn't had a chance to stop at Foxy's. No trip to Jost Van Dyke is really complete without getting to see Foxy and hear one of his racially inappropriate jokes.

Who knew the taxi would stop by there on the way to pick up some more people? As soon as the taxi stopped, Matt jumped off the taxi.

Uh-oh. I thought. He was a little tipsy. What if he didn't show back up before the taxi left?

Before I knew it, Matt was back. And guess what he had with him????

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I didn't mean Foxy. I meant the mango colada!!!!!

Dang, I was thirsty.

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We arrived back in Cruz Bay and had just enough time to head to the house and clean up for dinner.

We were headed to the Lime Inn. I was going for the all-you-can-eat shrimp. I'm not sure why. Does anyone really need to eat all the shrimp they can?

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It had been a long, beautiful day and we were spent.

Teacher from Texas (or was it Nebraska????)....you guys were awesome and we totally rocked that Bon Jovi song.

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Posted by vicki_h 07:05 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (13)

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 4

All Roads Lead to Trunk Bay

We had promised the MIL her two favorite St. John things today: Trunk Bay and a Pina Colada from Shipwreck Landing.

We spent the lazy morning hours at the house, watching the rainbows over the water below.

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Then it was off to Trunk Bay.

For me, Trunk Bay is like that uncle that gets too drunk at every family reunion and talks too loud and always brings the tuna noodle salad that no one wants to eat, but that always tells the funniest jokes and seems makes you smile every time you see him.

I love it and I hate it.

I hate it because it's the one beach that EVERYONE within a 100 mile radius of St. John ends up on. I hate it because every cruise ship day tripper heads there first. I hate it because hordes of people in bright yellow vests bob around in the water, dropped off by this tour or that taxi. I hate it because you actually have to pay to walk out onto the beach.

But I love it because it's still one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever laid eyes on.

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I also love the fact that it has the softest, finest white sand and most brilliant blue water of any beach on St. John. I love that it is big enough that, no matter how many people are there, you can always carve out a private little slice of paradise.

And I hate to admit it....but I love the fact that it has beach chairs for rent. I know all the "concessions on National Park beaches" arguments, but I love me a good beach chair.

Our villa had beach chairs, but they weren't very comfortable. Trunk Bay has REAL chairs.

After Matt made 2 trips to the concession area to get 4 chairs, made a return trip to get a replacement chair for his mom, and then made a return trip to return the replacement chair because she decided she preferred his chair and he had to get himself a new one.....we settled down to enjoy the sun, the surf, and the sand.

Ahhhhh.......Trunk Bay. You're too popular for your own good, but I love you anyway.

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It was a beautiful drive as we headed over to Coral Bay to grab some lunch at Shipwreck Landing.

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We found Shipwreck Landing just as we had left it....right across the street from the water, in ever present danger of disappearing behind a wall of glorious vines and green things, and churning out some of the best frozen drinks on the island.

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Crispy conch fritters, a spicy mahi burger with fries, and a dark and stormy made a perfect lunch.

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We spent the afternoon relaxing at the villa, enjoying the pool, and soaking in the final rays of the sun. Before we knew it, it was dinner time.

It was Tuesday night and that meant one thing: Lobster Night at Morgan's Mango!

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Matt and I have always eaten at Morgan's Mango on our first night on St. John. It happened by accident and simply became tradition. He had missed arrival night and was still waiting to get his Morgan's Mango fix.

We started off with the seafood soup du jour and the mussels cooked in Argentine malbec, tomato, garlic, butter and parsley.

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It was a good start.

Things fell apart at the lobster, however.

Don't get me wrong, it was delicious. We just misordered.....that's all. Here's how it went down:

Waiter: It is lobster night. You can get a 1 lb. lobster tail for $35.

Vicki: I want the lobster.

Waiter: How large?

Vicki: (in head) If a 1 lb. lobster is $35, a 1.5 lb lobster must be about $50. Yeah. Let's get the big one.

Vicki: (to waiter) I'll go with 1.5 lbs.

Waiter: We can also offer it stuffed tonight. We have a delicious crab stuffing.

Vicki: (in head) How much can stuffing be? Sounds good. Yeah. Add the stuffing.

Vicki: (to waiter) Sure, add the stuffing.

Matt: (in head) Mmm....that sounds good.

Matt: (to waiter) Make that two.

And that, my friends, is how you turn a $35 lobster special into a $400 dinner.

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I did the only thing I could. I drowned my pain in chocolate raspberry cheesecake.

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Posted by vicki_h 10:48 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (2)

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 2

Hail, Hail! The Gang's All Here!

It didn't feel quite right waking up on St. John knowing poor Matt was stuck in Charlotte and still had another hellish travel day ahead of him. He and Elaine would arrive on St. Thomas at 1:30 p.m. and take the passenger ferry over to St. John.

The views from Azul Peter Bay quickly made me forget anything except the simple fact that I WAS ON ST. JOHN.

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Who could be anything but blissfully happy while looking at that view?

Because we had arrived in the dark, I took some time to walk around and check out our new digs. We were staying in a villa in upper Peter Bay and it was simply beautiful.

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And sure, the upstairs master was beautiful and had a balcony with sweeping views.....

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But the downstairs master was twice as big and had a shower built for two!

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I hadn't been to St. John in years. I wasn't even sure what was still open, what had closed, or what was new. I had done some research, but places without a web presence were hard to find information about.

Like Miss Lucy's.

My MIL and I LOVED Miss Lucy's Sunday jazz brunch, but was it still there? I guess we could have called first, but we had time to kill and both of us wanted to make the drive over to Coral Bay anyway.

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We piled up in our Jeep and made the drive along the North Shore Road toward Francis Bay. The views were spectacular. Nothing changes here. It was beautiful yesterday, it is beautiful today, and it will be beautiful tomorrow.

It's nice to know there are certain things in life you can count on.

St. John being beautiful is one of them.

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When we arrived at Miss Lucy's about 30 minutes later.....there was a chain across the driveway.

DENIED.

Oh dear. I was getting hungry. And we were in Coral Bay. We drove to the other restaurants and nothing appeared to be open at 10:00 am on a Sunday.

Oh dear. We all know what happens when Vicki gets hungry.

I remembered reading that Chateau Bordeaux had reopened some time back as a new casual restaurant. Located about halfway between Coral Bay and Cruz Bay, this might keep us from having to drive all the way into Cruz Bay to eat.

Of course it was closed.

DENIED.

There was nothing left to do but drive into Cruz Bay.

We had now driven the entire circumference of the island and I was starving. We parked at Wharfside Village. It may simply be because I had been away for so many years, but everything seemed brighter, bolder, and more beautifull, just bursting with island color.

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We headed for High Tide. I have never been a huge fan of the food, but you can't beat the location.

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We watched the boats rocking lazily in Cruz Bay harbor as we ordered up some food: coconut shrimp for the MIL and a deliciously cheesy Brie-L-T for me. Apparently, I also did my very best to match my cocktail to my dress.

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We had a couple of hours to kill before Matt and Elaine would arrive on the ferry so I headed to the closest beach: Hawksnest.

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It's also one of the few beaches with a very short walk between the sand and the parking area. Given that I had to carry all the chairs and bags like a broken down pack mule, this didn't make the beach decision too tough.

I got the MIL settled and sat down to enjoy the glorious St. John sunshine.

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It was past 2:30 p.m. Matt and Elaine had landed and I expected them to be getting close, so we packed up and headed back into town to wait for them. I wanted to be waiting with drinks in hand when they finally got off the ferry.

I have never been so happy to see anyone! Poor Matt and Elaine walked off the ferry, sweaty, bedraggled, and still wearing their travel clothes from yesterday. But they were here! We celebrated at the Beach Bar.

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We took Matt and Elaine to Azul Peter Bay for some down time. They needed it!

After showers and naps, they were finally ready to get their vacation started. We cleaned up for dinner and headed to the Fatty Crab.

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When I made the reservation, I did not realize it was tapas style dining....which I LOVE....but which the rest of my party HATED. No matter. We ordered a papaya salad and spicy potatoes for the table to share and then everyone ordered their own tapas dish as their entree. It all worked out.

Except that all the food came out in random order!

Nonetheless....it was delicious. And fun. Kind of a "tag, you're it!" version of eating.

"Oh! It's Elaine's turn!"

"Now it's Matt's turn!"

"Here's Vicki's dinner!"

"Who ordered THAT?"

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After dinner, we decided to grab a cocktail at a bar that was new since our last visit: Motu Bar. It had an excellent waterfront location and an even more excellent pumpkin bushwhacker!

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You can't really stay out and party when your travel companions are almost 80, so we called it a night and headed back to Azul Peter Bay.

Posted by vicki_h 05:51 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (0)

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