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Sorry, Winter, Please Leave a Message. I'm on Vacation.

Finding the sun on Guana Cay

It was February 2, 2015. Punxsutawney Phil climbed out of his little hole, saw my excessively white body covered with a nice layer of winter fat, screamed with terror, and ran back inside, thus dooming us to six more weeks of winter.

That was it. I’d had enough winter.

The winter doldrums had set in and Matt and I were both getting cranky. It was 18 degrees and we’d just endured 2 weeks of repeated snow and ice storms, which is UNHEARD of in Tennessee….the state where mere snow flurries force thousands of winter weary citizens to flock to the nearest grocery store to stock up on milk and bread and cause entire cities to shut down.

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10 Signs I Needed a Winter Break:

1) I needed a reason to put down that cupcake.

I don’t know about you, but in winter, the caveman part of my brain takes over and I start storing up fat like I am in danger of going for months without food. I eat without abandon. Knowing that a bikini might be in my near future makes it harder to curl up on the couch with that half gallon of ice cream.

2) I needed a reason to paint my toenails.

I was sporting a half grown out gel pedicure from November in “So Hot it Berns” Red and my feet were rough enough to sand my coffee table. Something had to give.

3) I was pretty sure I had Rickets.

Laugh if you want, but lack of sunshine can cause Rickets. And I was pretty sure I had it. Just like some orphan in a Charles Dickens novel, I just knew my serious lack of Vitamin D required an ocean view room for a cure.

4) My tan had faded to the point that I was translucent.

Which would be awesome if I was a VAMPIRE. It had gotten so bad that I was considering using a self-tanner. Lest I end up looking like a giant Cheeto, I needed tan lines. Fast.

5) The last frozen drink I had was because it was 12 degrees outside and my latte iced over on the way to my car.

Matt and I did try making some tropical drinks one night. We turned on some Caribbean tunes, mixed up some coconut rum and mango, and then cried. Because it was snowing outside.

6) The only umbrellas I had seen recently were the kind for rain. Which sucks.

There are so many uses for umbrellas that are SO MUCH BETTER. Like garnishing my Pina Colada. Or blocking the sun from my burger at Nippers.

7) I was obsessively checking my airmiles.

Like 4 times a day. To see if some had magically appeared and I now had enough to run off somewhere exotic. Unfortunately, I only had enough to make it to Detroit. On a Tuesday.

8) The last beautiful sunset I saw was on a Lifetime Movie.

I had literally been trapped in the “dark when I go to work” “dark when I go home” zone for so long, I was pretty sure I would need some of those sunglasses they give you when you have your eyes dilated the next time I actually SAW the sun.

9) The last book I had read was the Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas.

I needed a fluffy, pointless novel in the worst possible way. Possibly something with a shirtless man on the cover.

10) The only salt I had in my hair recently was when I fell asleep on the couch on a bag of Doritos.

Which takes us back to reason #1.

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It was a bone chilling 14 degrees with a wind chill of 5,000 below when we left Tennessee on a Friday morning. By 9:00 a.m., we were stepping out of the plane into the bright sunshine of an 80 degree day.

Does it get any better than that?

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This was Rooby’s first beach trip and she traveled like a pro: sleeping through the flight, navigating her way politely through customs without peeing on the clean tile floor, and riding quietly in the taxi.

All of that was lost when we put her on the boat.

We were lucky enough to have our boat waiting for us at the Curly Tails dock when we arrived at 9:30, so no need to wait for a ferry. Yay, Darvin!!

We loaded our luggage into the cuddy cabin below, tossed the dogs into the boat, and went down to change before heading to Lubbers Landing.

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That little gate thingy (is it obvious I am not the boat Captain?) that is between the inside of the boat and the platform on the back of the boat was missing.

"Watch her," I told Matt as I went down into the cuddy cabin to change.

"She won't go off the boat," he said smartly just as we heard a loud SPLASH!!!!

Poor little widget had never seen a large body of water. She thought she could just step off.

Might as well start things off with a BANG!

The good news: Rooby can swim! After that, she had to wear her life jacket.

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It was a challenge getting changed.

First, it is not our boat, so we are not in control of the condition it is in when it comes to us. This time, the bottom 2 feet of the cabin were filled with water. So, our luggage was piled on top of the bed thing (again, I am not a "boat person," I do not know the proper names for "boat things"). Every woman knows that putting on a swimsuit under the most agreeable conditions is not easy. It's like trying to put an elephant inside a rubber band. In this case, I was balanced precariously on top of our luggage, a chip bag shoved up my butt crack, while trying to get out of 19 layers of winter clothing without exposing my girl bits to the luggage boys on the dock or falling into the fuel infused water that filled the cabin floor, complete with 12 sodden life jackets in varying stages of disintegration floating about.

Somehow, I managed to get changed without getting arrested for indecent exposure or pulling a hamstring and climbed out of the cabin, sweating profusely and cursing, so that the next unlucky person could go in for a turn.

It was time to get this party started.

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Within minutes, we were at Matt’s favorite place in the entire world: the dock at Lubbers Landing. It gets our vote for Most Relaxing Spot, Best Drinks, and Best Food. You simply can’t beat it.

And they even had a friend Rooby’s size! Well, almost.

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Honey is Austin and Amy’s super sweet Chihuahua. The Roobs is only 5 lbs., but next to Honey she looked like a GIANT. I think this did a lot for Rooby’s confidence.

Lubbers Landing has the coolest Bohemian Chic vibe going, thanks to Austin’s flair for building and Amy’s flair for decorating. It has an exotic, yet casual feeling that immediately puts a smile on your face and a Reggae wiggle in your booty.

Okay, the drinks might have something to do with it.

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AND........It’s the perfect place to spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing.

Which is exactly what we did.

Absolutely.

Nothing.

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Except sample nearly every drink from the bar and gobble up some delicious island burgers and cauli-wings.

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As the sun dipped lower in the sky, we reluctantly pried ourselves off the deck so that we could boat to Guana Cay before sunset. We hadn’t even been to the house yet. We still had bags to unpack!

The views from the house were almost so good we stayed to watch the sunset from the deck.

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But I always look forward to that first sunset with a frozen Grabber in my hand, so we got the bags unpacked and the dogs settled in with plenty of time to catch the sunset at Grabbers.

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There is nothing like watching the sunset with a frozen grabber in your hand.

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Okay, maybe watching it with a lobster bite in your hand.

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Or a conch fritter.

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Or a lobster dinner afterwards.

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Or playing the hook and ring game.

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Okay, it was all good.

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The next morning, we woke up early to take Rooby and Bella to the beach for sunrise. It was Rooby’s first time to see the ocean.

She was an immediate fan.

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One of my favorite things about the Bahamas is that you can take your dogs on the beach. Without a leash. And there isn’t even anyone there for them to bother.

There is no way to describe the joy of a small house dog that has been turned loose on a beach. With a ball.

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This must be how people with kids feel on Christmas morning. Except that I didn't have to clean up 7 bags of wrapping paper while listening to the unholy noise of a new Barbie Microphone accompanied by screams of "MAKE ME SOME PANCAKES!!!!"

I could just take my kids home, spray them off with the garden hose, and put some food in the floor.

The sky was cloudy on one side and clear on the other, which made for a spectacular morning sky.

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The day looked beautiful, and we had never taken John and Teresa to Treasure Cay, so it seemed like a good plan for the day. The boating from Guana to Treasure isn’t the easiest, so a good weather day is essential.

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The ride over was gorgeous…..crazy blue water as far as the eye could see, the color of the water growing more and more intense as we got closer to Treasure Cay.

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The water was a dazzling electric blue as we motored slowly toward the dock at Treasure Sands Club.

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We had never been to Treasure Sands and decided today was the day. Partially because I had heard good things about the restaurant, but mostly because they had a dock and I was tired of wading in with my clothes wrapped around my shoulders and my bag on top of my head.

“NO DOCKING.”

Wha??????

That’s what the big sign on the dock said.

At least there were mooring balls we could tie up to nearby, but I still had to wrap my tunic up around my shoulders and balance my 18 lb. beach bag on my head like a Sherpa toting a load up Mount Kilamanjaro.

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As we approached Treasure Sands, I heard music playing, I saw brightly colored curtains billowing in the breeze, I saw colorful drinks carried on trays, I saw a sparkling pool surrounded by loungers with candy colored cushions.

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Treasure Sands was a little more South Beach than Abaco, but in a place where paper plates and faded picnic tables are the norm, it was a fun change of pace.

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As I sat down to lunch in my rubber flip flops and sun dress, I noticed another patron walk by in skin tight jeans, a long sleeve silk blouse, more jewelry than the display counter at Cartier, blonde extensions, and 5 inch platform Perspex stripper heels. I watched with a mixture of horror and giddy expectation, waiting for the moment when she would fall over and sand would stick to her super tight jeans and her ankle would expand to the size of a beach ball……….or her enormous silicone breast. Wait, same difference.

Why, why, why, why, oh why must women wear stilettos at the beach? For that matter, why skinny jeans? Or Night at the Roxbury makeup? Isn’t it bad enough that we have to fall to these masochistic trappings in “real life?” MUST we bring them to the beach? Isn’t that the one sacred place where a ponytail, flip flops, and a little lip gloss is enough?

I looked at Matt, “We’re not on Guana anymore….”

Sure, it was a little pretentious, and the hamburger cost $25, but the drinks were strong, the lobster club was to die for good, and we got to waste our afternoon beside the pool listening to superb DJ tunes.

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Worth. Every. Penny.

I just gotta’ remember my stilettos next time.

It was around 2:00 p.m. when we noticed the sky had started to darken. It also happened to be one hour from low tide.

Anyone who has made the boat trip from Treasure Cay to Guana knows that these were not ideal circumstances.

We debated staying or going. Staying? Going? Staying? Going?

Every 15 minutes, I’d look at Matt and say, “I think the sun is about to come out.”

When it failed to make an appearance, Matt said, “I think you can stop saying that now.”

The sky continued to get darker. We could not see any end to the darkness creeping our way, so we decided to hurry home before we ended up boating back in the rain or the dark. Power boating on the ocean in the rain just plain sucks.

Now it was actually low tide.

And the wind was picking up.

Matt was a tense bundle of nerves as he carefully piloted the boat back toward Guana. He was white knuckling it as the waves soaked us with water again and again. I could tell he wasn’t having a lot of fun, so I thought I’d lighten things up.

“You know what……” I ventured, as the waves rocked the boat again and again, water spraying into our faces and soaking our already wet clothes.

He looked at me and unleashed all the fury he wanted to hurl at the ocean and the sky and the wind and the waves.

“What I NEED is for you to be quiet. All of you. TO BE QUIET. You’re all laughing and giggling and having a grand old time while I am trying to drive this boat. Do you want to drive this boat? Huh? Do you?” he shouted as I sat still and quiet as a statue.

He sighed.

“I’m sorry. This is intense. What did you want to tell me?” he asked.

I pointed at the sky, completely filled with ominous black clouds in every direction.

“I think the sun is about to come out.”

He laughed.

And we survived.

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The sun never did come out, so we got cleaned up and headed to Grabbers for a NON sunset, which, with a frozen grabber in your hand, is just as good as a sunset.

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We discussed where to have dinner. When you only have 3 restaurants, it should be easy. Right?

(There are actually 4 restaurants, but we don’t really like the 4th one…so we don’t count it)

Not really.

You already ate at Grabbers on the first night without planning things out properly. Now, what about the other two nights? Do you do Grabbers, Grabbers, Nippers? But you’re having lunch at Nippers on the 3rd day, so that doesn’t work because you’re double Nippering.

Double Nippering [duhb-uh l] [nip-er-ing]
the practice of eating a sequential lunch and dinner at Nippers

Fine then. What about Grabbers, Nippers, Grabbers? No, lunch on Sunday is at Nippers, so you are still double Nippering.

Well, we haven’t tried that new place yet. Okay, how about Grabbers, Island Flavors, and Nippers? No, we can’t eat at Nippers Sunday night because we are eating at Nippers on Sunday for lunch and we always get Grabbers pizza on Sunday night.

(The apparent lesson here is: if you only have 3 nights and the 3rd day is Sunday, you should eat at Nippers first, otherwise, you over Grabber yourself. Write these things down, people. This is sound advice.)

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We ended up at Island Flavors.

To avoid any double Nippering.

We had never been to this relative newcomer , but had heard good things about it. I immediately liked it when I saw the bathroom sign.

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There were some plain tables scattered around under a garden style canopy next to a simple shack with a gas grill outside. A brusque woman who offered no greeting of any sort put several menus on the table and walked back into the kitchen without a word. She returned several minutes later to take our order. We ordered. She left to go back into the kitchen. A few minutes later, she returned with our food.

What Island Flavors lacked in ambiance and congeniality, it made up for in flavor.

The food was REALLY GOOD.

I had some loaded fries that were basically nachos with French fries instead of chips. Holy Jalepeno, they were good.

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Just in case a basket full of French fries, taco beef, and cheese slathered in sour cream wasn’t enough to sufficiently clog my arteries, I also ordered the grouper sandwich.

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It was a mile high, delicately fried, and unmistakably fresh.

We decided to have a late night Nipper, because when there are only 3 restaurants on the island, it just makes sense to visit them all in one night.

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We took the girls for another run on the beach bright and early the next morning.

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Rooby can get an entire day’s worth of exercise in one hour of running on the beach because she takes 4 steps for every one step we take and, while we walk in a straight line, she looks like a drunken sailor zigging up this way and zagging down that way, making sure not to miss a thing, with Bella as her ever-loyal sidekick.

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When we felt like we had sufficiently worn them out, we loaded up the boat to head out for a while before the Nippers Sunday pig roast.

Back when we were Guana Cay newbies, we thought you had to get to Nippers at 10:00 a.m. and stake out a table. That lead to early drinking.

Which lead to early drunkenness. And we all know where that gets you:

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These days, we like to boat for half a day and get to Nippers in the afternoon, just as things are getting interesting. We have found that it keeps US from being what is interesting.

It was a beautiful day to boat over to Shell Island. The tide was up, so it wasn’t the best for shelling, but it was perfect for soaking in the sunshine and amazing views.

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It was also perfect for rum punch and Kalik!

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And for fishing Matt’s hat out of the water!

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After Shell Island, we boated over to Bakers Bay. They can keep me off the land, but they can’t keep me off the beach.

Thankfully, there are still a few “house free” stretches of beach where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful spots on Guana Cay.

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We enjoyed.

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But my love of the beach is no match for my love of a good burger, so we eventually made our way to Nippers to enjoy some lunch, some frozen Nippers, and some fun.

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Every time we go to Nippers on Sunday, I promise myself this is going to be THE DAY.

THE DAY that I only have one or two frozen Nippers. THE DAY that I don’t get out there and dance badly. THE DAY that I just sit on my rainbow colored bench and watch the fun rather than bursting into the middle of it like a 5’4” roman candle.

It was a gorgeous day. Things started off with grilled burgers and ice cold Nippers.

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Everyone was having a good time. The sun was shining. We were all laughing.

Next thing you know I’m clutching a water bottle like it’s an Oscar and screaming with toilet paper wrapped around my head on top of a table.

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Sigh.

Maybe next time.

After some naps, we made it to Grabbers in time for sunset.

Apparently, I didn’t get the “we must all wear orange” memo.

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The sunset was memorable, the pizza was just as good as it always was, and I no longer had a toilet paper turban.

It was a good night.

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A bold pink sky greeted us as we piled up our golf cart and headed to the ferry.

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As we rode to Marsh Harbour on the ferry, Rooby gave Guana two paws up.

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It had been short, but sweet, and just long enough to get rid of my Rickets.

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(Don’t worry….we’ll be back on Guana next month! See you soon!)

Posted by vicki_h 13:00 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (3)

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)

Come wind, come rain, come dark of night.

Vicki vs. Tropical Storm Arthur

The siren song of the Caribbean in summer has an allure that few of us can resist. The sun is bright, the water is calm and the nights are warm. When the mercury hovers over 80 and there is still a light breeze and you have miles of soft sand with blue waters just waiting to be explored, you just have to go. It’s no wonder Matt and I end up in the Bahamas every summer despite the fact that it is a hurricane hot zone from June to November.

When we decided to fly down with friends for the 4th of July, we knew it was risky, but the forecast looked fine as we loaded up the plane and made our way south.

Saturday:

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Things started off well enough. The sun was shining and the Bahama Mamas were flowing at Curly Tails as we waited for the ferry to Guana Cay.

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By the time we arrived on Guana, the skies had started to darken. This should have been our first clue that something was amiss….but we attributed it to nothing more than a passing tropical shower as we bought our groceries in the pouring rain.

NOTE: A golf cart does not make ideal transportation in a monsoon-type situation.

By the time we got unpacked and had the groceries put away, the sun had popped back out so we loaded up on the boat and headed to Elbow Cay for a dinner at Firefly.

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It was a beautiful night for dinner on their deck looking over the water.

After dinner, the ride home was a perfect chance to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Rain? Pah. I’m not afraid of no rain.

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Sunday:

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When we woke up, the sun was shining. It was a beautiful morning. See? No rain. We loaded up in the boat to head down to North Guana before the Nippers Sunday BBQ.

As we anchored just off Baker’s Bay, we couldn’t help but notice it was starting to….cloud up a bit.

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The skies started to darken, so we thought it was probably a good idea to head back. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a rainstorm on a boat.

Besides, it was time for Nippers Sunday Fun Day!

To spare you the gory details, here is the highlight reel:

MMMMmmmm……..ate BBQ.

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Met a Giant.

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Sat next to Steve Spurrier (but no photo, because he scares me).

Had some Nippers.

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Stuffed toilet paper into the back of Matt’s pants when he wasn’t looking. Photographed it.

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Had some more Nippers.

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Danced badly.

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Had more Nippers.

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Danced worse.

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Had tequila shots.

Got rowdy. Found dirty headband on the ground and made Matt wear it.

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Watched lady come down the stairs with a Nipper on her head.

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Went to Grabbers.

Hula hooped.

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Danced some more.

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Drank Grabbers.

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Had a food fight. Told to “calm down” by Irene.

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Asked for more Grabbers. Told “no more Grabbers for you.” (Seriously…how bad do you have to be when they refuse to bring you another Grabber?)

Decided to head back to Nippers where they don’t care if they overserve you.

Wrecked golf cart en route.

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Saw police. Ran home.

(When my mom reads this, I am pretty sure I am going to get grounded)

Monday:

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It had drizzled off and on all day Sunday. This gave way to gray skies and rain on Monday. It was so bad, we couldn’t even go outside. The weather forecast said something about a tropical depression forming near the Bahamas.

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We spent the day checking the weather obsessively, napping, watching t.v., napping, checking the weather, and eating cookies. Matt walked to Dive Guana in the rain to get us a replacement golf cart because we had killed ours. I remembered watching the little wheel roll sadly down the street as the cart sat stuck in the bushes in front of the Art Café. It was now parked sadly next to the ferry dock where pretty much everyone could see it.

Oh the shame.

I started to wonder if I should have paid attention to any of those: Tips for Travel in a Hurricane articles. I hadn’t, so I wrote my own.

Planning Tips for Travel During a Tropical Storm:

1: Choose your destination carefully. If you are worried about hurricanes, go to Boise. I should have gone to Boise.

2: If you still insist on the Caribbean, get travel insurance. Or just bring lots of alcohol. It’s just as good as insurance in the event of a failed vacation.

3: Tell people where you are going. This will help the authorities locate your body when your housemates kill you and bury you in the sand after being trapped inside with you for 3 days.

4: Pack an emergency kit. Mine included rum, tequila, chocolate, and a coconut pie. Oh, and matches. In case the power went out and I couldn’t find my pie.

5: Dispose of perishable foods before a storm hits in case the power goes out. When someone asks you why you just ate the whole coconut pie in one sitting, tell them you are disposing of perishable foods.

6: Make sure you travel with people you really like. Like, enough to be locked inside a 1000 square foot apartment with them for 60 hours with no T.V.

Sigh.

There was nothing to do but wait.

Tuesday:

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Well this pretty much sucked.

We woke up in the middle of a Tropical Storm. Hello, Arthur.

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The rain was blowing sideways. We could hear non-stop thunder and lightning. It had gone on all night, so none of us had slept very well. We’d been trapped inside for 36 hours at this point and there was no sign that the weather was going to break any time soon.

We spent the entire day stuck inside.

How to lose your mind in 48 hours or less:

1. Go to any small island during hurricane season and wait for a storm.

2. When the storm hits, immediately go to the interwebs. See this:

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3. Have a small meltdown.

4. Once your housemates untie you, run out of things to do. In the first 5 minutes.

5. Watch the Travel Channel and cry a little as the World’s Top Ten Beach Bars episode comes on as you look outside your window.

6. Hate the people on the World’s Top Ten Beach Bars episode.

7. Take a nap. Who cares if it is only 11:00 a.m. and you have already had two naps today.

8. Find yourself looking at a roll of duct tape and a few pencils and wonder if you can make a life raft.

9. Find yourself looking at the same roll of duct tape and a few pencils and wonder if you can use it to bind your housemates and put them in the closet.

10. Hide in the closet and eat your coconut pie so that your house mates won’t eat it all.

11. Fight with house mates over who ate the whole coconut pie.

12. Watch a spot on the ceiling for 45 minutes wondering if it's a spider, decide it is not, look away just as you think it moves, and watch it for another 45 minutes to be sure.

13. Pace for 15 minutes.

14. Try not to kill your house mates.

15. Die slowly inside.

16. Repeat steps 5 – 15.

We thought we had a break when the rain slacked off to a drizzle late Tuesday evening. We jumped in our golf cart and zoomed to Grabbers to grab dinner before the gale force winds started blowing again.

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We rushed back home just as this arrived:

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Wednesday:

Woke up to rain. And thunder. And lightning. This is a photo of me from Wednesday morning:

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We were all irritable. We had eaten all our food in 2 days, had bedsores, and would be fine if we never saw another episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey in our lifetime.

We settled in for what we assumed would be another washed out day, but then….the heavens opened and a glimmer of sunshine peeked through around noon.

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You would have thought I was Noah and a dove had just brought me an olive branch.

Hallelujah!

We looked like a bunch of blind albino mole rats when we crawled outside on weak legs, eyes blinking against the bright light, skin pale and pasty.

Before the rain:

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After the rain:

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We had a few glorious hours in the sunshine before the rain returned and drove us back inside.

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Thursday:

We had been on Guana Cay for 4 ½ days and had only managed a few hours outside by this point. Today was supposed to be the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party on Fiddle Cay. An all day event where hundreds of boats descend upon an uninhabited island, pull up along a long sandbar, and party with burgers and margaritas until the sun goes down.

We were thrilled when we woke up to glorious blue skies.

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We boated over to Fiddle Cay, arriving early enough to get a great spot on the sandbar.

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We met old friends:

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And new friends:

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We ate cheeseburgers:

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And then the party started.

Do you know what happens when 4 adults on vacation get trapped inside for 3 days and then attend an all day party on the beach?

They lose their minds.

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It’s all fun and games until someone ends up passed out on top of the chips.

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Friday:

It was the 4th of July and it was our last day on the island. Since we had not been able to do much boating, we decided to put Nippers 4th of July party off until the afternoon and take the boat out for some much needed sun.

First stop was my favorite little cove on Man-O-War Cay.

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Next stop was Lubbers Landing for saltwater margaritas and some of Austin and Amy’s amazing island burgers.

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If you haven’t tried Austin’s cauli-wings, you gotta’ try them.

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Last stop was Tahiti Beach which put on an exceptional display of amazing clear water just for us.

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We decided to do it up right for the Nippers July 4th festivities. I mean, when the red, white, and blue denim vest comes out...you know it is ON.

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We all took it pretty easy that day and did more spectating and less participating. I can only handle so many hangovers in a single week, you know.

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We ended the day with dinner at Grabbers with our good friend, Glenn.

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The best part of the day was the fireworks show at Nippers. Nippers now has these cool wooden loungers down on the beach. We decided to watch the fireworks from there instead of from up on the hill.

The fireworks were literally IN OUR FACE. Like…right in our face.

It was part excitement, part fear, but all amazing. (I have suffered a little PTSD since, but the doctor says I’ll be able to hear loud noises without wetting my pants in about 10 more months).

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Saturday:

Our final morning dawned bold and beautiful.

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Sure, it hadn’t been the ideal trip, but we had maximized the time we had. No silly little rainstorm is going to stop us.

Take that, Arthur.

What's next for us? A return to Glacier National Park to hike 60 miles in 6 days. Hopefully with fewer blisters than last time......

Posted by vicki_h 08:04 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour Comments (4)

Do You Have Time for a Quickie?

Another mini-cation on Guana Cay

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I don't have to tell you that Matt and I can’t go very long without the itch to get out of town. Unfortunately, our lives and jobs are demanding and don’t often allow us the luxury of a full week off, so we make do with lots of mini-cations.

Who says a 3 day jaunt can’t be a full-blown vacation? A mini-cation can recharge your batteries and provide some much needed downtime.

It was March and the world was just starting to thaw, but it still wasn’t warm enough to get outside. I want to speak to the person that decided that spring begins on March 20, because that person is just a LIAR. There was no spring outside my door.

I was pretty sure that if I had to spend one more weekend cooped up inside with Matt watching “Game of Thrones” in a marathon frenzy, my head would explode.

It was time for a getaway, and there is only one place I can go when I need to getaway but haven’t spent my requisite 9 months obsessively planning my vacation in such precise detail that I know exactly what time I will be brushing my teeth on Day Four.

Hello, Guana Cay!

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Guana welcomed us with open arms, a beautiful sunset, and some darn good ribs.

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Day One: Abaco is for Lovers Lubbers

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We wanted to try something new. We had contacted Austin & Amy of Lubbers Landing about spending the night. I mean, if their tuna burger is that good, how awesome must the cabins be?

As we boated over to Lubbers Quarters, the water astonished us with light and color. It doesn’t matter how many times I see this water…it still amazes and delights me.

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We made a pit stop in the small bay at the narrow point of Man-O-War Cay. The sand is soft, the water is shallow, and the beach is a gentle crescent. It’s one of the most perfects spots in the world.

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If you walk onto the beach, you’ll see that all that separates the sea from the ocean is a road. Cross the road, and the raging Atlantic rushes at you in a mist of salty water. It’s simply a breathtaking spot with a 360 degree view to die for.

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Getting pretty hungry, we decided it was time to move on.

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we stopped at Firefly for lunch. The Firefly Sunset Resort is located near White Bay on the Sea of Abaco side of Elbow Cay. This upscale resort has some of the best dining in the Abacos.

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We discovered they also have some of the best drinks!

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Most restaurants in the Abacos have a menu that looks like this: Fish (fried, grilled); Ribs; Hamburger; Cheeseburger; Cracked Conch; Conch Fritters; all entrees served with french fries, baked mac n’cheese, and potato salad (aka, how to have a heart attack in 3 days).

Firefly had a menu so delightful that I literally became giddy and lightheaded. Or maybe that was the drink.

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I had a hard time deciding between the Panko Crusted Fish Cakes with Fruit Salsa or the Stone Crab Quesadilla with Mango Pineapple Salsa and Chipotle Sour Cream. Wait, maybe I should get the Curry Lobster Salad tossed w/ Garam Marsala & Citrus Juices?

Too many choices. Too little stomach space.

At the very last minute, much like a squirrel that can’t decide which side of the road it wants to run to, I went for the Fish Taco. It came out with crispy romaine, sweet-hot Vidalia onions, & savory heirloom tomatoes wrapped in a chili dusted tortilla. It came with crispy sweet potato fries. We also tried the bacon wrapped lobster skewers with lemon garlic aioli.

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Don’t worry. I still got my mac n’cheese. I’m not crazy, after all.

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We made a quick hop over to Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay after lunch. It was low tide and I never get tired of seeing the sandbars that make their daily appearance in the shallow water.

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We saw Austin from Lubbers Landing on his kiteboard. He was whizzing through the water and flipping through the air.

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That’s when I remembered we hadn’t made a reservation for dinner.

Like many restaurants you find on the smaller cays in the Bahamas, you have to let Lubbers know you are coming to eat dinner by 3:00 p.m. and you have to order your food at that time. Otherwise, you won’t be eating. They don’t get enough foot traffic to simply have food out ready to prepare “in case” someone happens to come by.

It was 3:05.

I started to have heart palpitations.

There’s a saying around my house, “If Vicki’s hungry, ain’t nobody happy.”

No dinner?

My mind quickly went to the bag of chips we had leftover on the boat from earlier in the day. I thought about running back to the boat so that I could hide it in case I needed it later for emergency provisions. Maybe I could find an old granola bar stuffed in the bottom of my bag.

It was every man for himself.

Just before I made a mad watery dash back to the boat in an attempt to hide any food that was left in my tote bag, Austin came over.

“I have exactly 4 lobsters left,” he said. “You guys want them for dinner?”

God bless Austin.

We left the beach and headed in to the dock at Lubbers Landing. We were greeted by Austin & Amy, sunshine, and one gigantic saltwater margarita.

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After drinks, Amy showed us our cabins.

Lubbers Landing has only 3 cabins, all nestled privately in the woods and connected by a maze of raised wooden walkways with rope railings. It is like the world’s best grown-up summer camp.

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Each cabin is unique and is furnished beautifully with Amy’s eclectic and artistic touch.

They were rustic, yet luxurious, with soft bedding, air-conditioning, and high end furnishings. Special touches like seashells, handmade pillows, or Amy’s handpainted signs gave it a personal touch.

I was in heaven.

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Our room even came with a Chihuahua.

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I was trying to figure out how I could live here forever without Austin & Amy noticing, when Matt reminded me it was time for dinner.

Ecclectic stemware and soft lights greeted us as we sat down at a thatched umbrella table looking out at the Sea of Abaco.

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The lobster was grilled and served with a fresh salad, house made dressing, and their signature home-cut fries.

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Just when we thought adult summer camp couldn’t get any better, Austin built us a bonfire on the beach where we sat and sipped our wine, ate chocolate cookies, and listened to Bob Marley tunes.

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Day Two: Time to DEVOUR!

Sunrise is beautiful on Lubbers Quarters. I thanked God for the beautiful sunrise and I thanked Austin & Amy for the most perfect place to watch it.

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After some much needed coffee, which Amy makes early every morning and leaves out for guests, we decided to walk along the path behind the cabins. Austin said it would take us to a beach.

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It took us to a pretty little beach with a swing and a makeshift bar. I can only imagine what that water would have looked like if the sun had been out.

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Breakfast is a casual affair at Lubbers. When we were ready, Amy asked us what we wanted and cooked it up. Breakfast was a fried egg sandwich with peppers. Oh yum!

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We lounged around all morning, but eventually, we had to get a move on. We hated to leave, but gave Austin & Amy a hug “goodbye” (Where else do you get a hug when you leave a hotel? I mean, really?), and headed for Green Turtle Cay.

We docked in New Plymouth, grabbed us a golf cart, and made a quick stop at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar for a Goombay Smash. Then it was off to the Green Turtle Club.

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We had afternoon tickets to the Coco Beach Party that was part of the Devour Food and Film Festival that was taking place on Green Turtle Cay. Devour is an international festival celebrating cinema, food and wine culture that takes place in Nova Scotia and is in its fourth year.

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This was their first year having a festival in the Bahamas. Called “Devour! The Beach,” the event included several days of food & wine events and film screenings. Our tickets were for the all-afternoon-rum-infused party at the Green Turtle Club where chefs would take turns grilling lobster, making fresh conch salad, and roasting wild boar.

Wait a minute. Abaco? Wild Boars? Whaaaaaaa? Was someone trying to say that there were wild boars on Abaco???? Don’t ask me why, but I had an irrational fear of wild boars as a child. It’s not like I lived in an area with wild boars. Nor had I ever actually seen a wild boar. It’s more likely that my older brother showed me a picture and told me that they were in the woods waiting to gore me to death, leaving me terrified every time I tried to walk through the woods alone, certain that a wild boar was hiding behind every tree. Do wild boars even live in Georgia?

It's just like the irrational fear I have now of snakes coming through the bathtub drain. It doesn't have to be possible in the real world to be scary. I mean, just think about MONSTERS. Okay?

My mind was now filled with images of me laying on the beach and being gored to death by a wild pig. Were there really wild boars on my beloved Abaco?

Apparently, yes. Like most things in the Bahamas, it all started with the settlers. They didn’t just show up with a bottle of rum and a desire to tame an island. They brought household goods, seeds and plants, and, you guessed it, livestock. That would include pigs. Combine that with the occasional shipwreck where it was every man, woman, and pig for himself, and you ended up with some loose pigs that eventually became the wild pigs that live on Abaco today. Thanks to a plentiful supply of fruit, sugarcane, and thick forests in which to hide, they continued to roam, forage, and have lots of babies.

I guess I was going to have to start carrying my pepper spray in my bikini.

When we arrived, we made straight for the rum punch table, because we are classy like that.

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The first station had Abaco wild boar with Bahamian potato salad and cole slaw. I did not expect to like it. I’m not sure how I thought wild board would differ from farm pig. I guess I thought it would taste like something that had been eating tough coconut shells all it's life and running from dogs, but pig is pig. That was some fine pork.

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There was fresh conch salad, grilled lobster tail with roasted garlic, tacos with goat cheese and charred poblano guacamole…oh, so much food.

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I had a bit of a conundrum when I had been standing in the taco line for a good 20 minutes. It's important to note that I don't believe in waiting in line for food. The line was short and I was close by, AND I LOVE TACOS, and I was all jacked up on rum punch and goombay smashes, so I hopped in it. I reached that point, a good 15 minutes later, where I started to wrestle with the, "Do I get out of line?" question. You know, when you've already invested so much time that you can't make yourself quit, but you know that the longer you have to wait, the stupider you are going to feel. But I reasoned with myself (the way we do in these situations), "These must be AMAZING tacos if they take so long to make and so many people are waiting for them, right?" So I kept waiting. Like a dipshit. Another 10 minutes passed.

That's when I discovered I was in the LAMB taco line.

I don't eat lamb.

I generally try to avoid eating anything in its infancy.

Pisser. I had invested 25 minutes in this line. What was I supposed to do now?

So I ate them. And, yeah. They were good. But I'll never be able to listen to "Mary Had a Little Lamb" the same way again.

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Drinks were flowing, music was playing, and a good time was had by all.

Well, except for those conch. I don’t think they were having a good day.

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We ended the day back on Guana at Grabbers.

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We had conch fritters, frozen grabbers, and a thick slice of mango cheesecake because there is no such thing as calories when you are on vacation.

Everyone knows that.

Day Three: How NOT to End Nippers Sunday Vomiting Off a Dock

Sunday morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise.

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It was much sunnier than the previous day, but it was SO WINDY. We decided to leave the boat docked and waste the morning in the sunshine at Grabbers.

There are worse ways to waste a day.

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Around lunchtime, we wandered over to Nippers. It was a quiet day We ordered up lunch, and, since I had my fill of pig the day before, I declined the buffet (yes, hell just froze over) and got a cracked lobster sandwich.

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And some fried buffalo lobster bites, because one fried lobster is never enough.

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It just wasn’t a day for dancing, so we chose to walk down to High Rocks instead. This is the most beautiful stretch of beach that you can reach by land on Guana Cay.

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We wrapped it up with a quite dinner and a beautiful sunset at Grabbers.

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See….I can do a quiet, relaxing, respectable trip. I just don’t like to make a habit of it. ;-)

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Next up: 6 adults on a sailboat for 7 days in the Exumas. We’ll either kill each other before it’s over or we’ll have the adventure of our lives! Stay tuned……

Posted by vicki_h 11:16 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers lubbers green_turtle_cay Comments (4)

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