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A Double Dose of Vitamin Sea

We had a mid-April trip to Guana Cay planned when a last minute opportunity to fly down for free came up at the end of March.

There is no such thing as an overdose of Vitamin Sea.

It was the end of March when we zipped down with good friends and seasoned veterans of Abaco for a fun-filled weekend. We arrived early and were greeted with brilliant blue skies and an abundance of sunshine.

Keeping the boat at Treasure Cay has changed our “arrival routine” from a Bahama Mama and conch fritters at Curly Tails to a lunch trip to Treasure Sands before making our way to Guana Cay. Treasure Sands is beautiful and has amazing food, but it’s not the most convenient place to boat to from Guana, the passage demanding calm seas and as little wind as possible to be entirely comfortable. Because our boat is already there, it just makes sense to enjoy it before we leave.

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So we launched right in with drinks by the pool and a delicious seaside lunch.

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We arrived on Guana too late for a grocery run and headed to Grabbers for sunset cocktails instead. Who needs fresh water and milk when you have a lethal frozen concoction of rum waiting for you?

I should point out that one too many frozen concoctions of rum often leads to a “golf cart incident.” In this case, Matt turned left and my body went right.

I think falling off your golf cart is a rite of passage on Guana Cay.

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The next morning we grabbed the necessary provisions at Guana Grocery and discussed our plans for the day. It was going to be windy every day, so we couldn’t venture very far. Friends who were also on island were boating over to Firefly and we agreed to meet up for lunch.

That would have been fine if the boat had started.

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While the guys puzzled over the problem, the girls headed to Grabbers for sunshine and frozen mango daiquiris. Before we could do as much as dip a toe in the water, the guys told us to “Come on!”

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After puzzling, deliberating, changing the battery, and finally giving up and calling Troy, we discovered that someone had inadvertently hit the battery kill switch.

Note to self: Check kill switch before calling Troy.

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Humbled and late, we headed to Elbow Cay. We made it in time to meet our friends for a fabulous waterfront lunch with the best frozen drinks in Abaco.

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It was getting late and it was pretty windy, so we cut our losses and headed back to Guana for a peaceful sunset.

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It was Friday night and Kidds Cove was serving up their Friday night grill. They day wrapped up with butter and garlic drenched lobster and crispy conch fritters.

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Saturday morning was beautiful….but still windy. I made breakfast from my score of fresh baked Johnny Cakes that I found at the grocery the day before, and we tried to decide whether to even get the boat out.

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But first....$5 bloody Marys from Sir Eden at the Orchid Bay Farmer's Market!

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Ultimately, the sunshine won out and we decided on a conservative plan: a quick trip to Man-O-War for lunch at the Dock & Dine and a stop in at the lagoon, where the winds are always calm.

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One of the things I love about Guana Cay, especially since buying a home there, is that it’s more like home than a vacation and the people who live there and visit regularly have become friends and family rather than strangers. As such, we had somehow amassed a group of 14 for dinner that night and I only had a reservation for 6.

Mermaids was quick to accommodate the change and immediately had a table set up for our entire group. The service, the food, and the drinks were top notch as always!

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After dinner, we hopped over to Grabbers for some Karaoke with Gabby and a little bit of (very bad) late night dancing.

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It was Sunday Funday, but the water was the calmest it had been all weekend, so we decided to forgo Nippers and head north to No Name Cay. I had seen that there were some piglets on the island and wanted to get my baby pig fix.

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Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I am not short of opinions and, from time to time, I have to climb up on my soapbox. So ….get ready.

I realize these are PIGS. However, they are not pets. They are not very keen on being touched, chased, or handled. I was dismayed by how many people I saw flat out running after them, chasing them, as they ran away squealing and terrified. I saw parents letting their kids throw things at them and grab at them, as they tried to hide under things to get away. I saw people throw food on the sand rather than in the nice, clean wooden trough that is provided, causing the pigs (who will eat ANYTHING PEOPLE) to gobble up the food….sand and all. All I am trying to say is that a little human decency goes a long way. These are animals. They are hungry, thirsty, and slightly apprehensive of all the human attention. Enjoy them from a distance, take a picture rather than grabbing a piglet by the tail, put food in the trough rather than throwing it in the sand, don’t chase them if they are afraid – let them come to you if they choose, give them some water. Be decent. That’s all.

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Once we had our piglet fix, we headed to Green Turtle. We had always pulled into New Plymouth on previous visits, but decided to pull into the dock at Coco Beach and make the short walk to the Green Turtle Club.

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It was a great way to wrap up a short trip.

Beautiful beach, wonderful food, strong drinks.

Great friends.

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BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE….

Because Matt and I headed back down with newbies less than 2 weeks later!

Online friends Mark and Kristen became real friends back in October when we met in the flesh in Maryland. Somehow, we didn’t scare them off and they actually agreed to come to Abaco for a first visit.

Despite many trips to Exuma, they had not yet taken the plunge and visited Abaco so we offered to take them with us and show them around. It was a way for them to dip their toes in the water without making too much of a commitment.

It felt like “déjà vu all over again” as we lay in a near comatose state, sun drunk on the beach loungers at Treasure Cay.

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Champagne was followed by cocktails. Cocktails were followed by lunch. Lunch was followed by the beach.

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And…much like two weekends prior….that was followed by sunset at Grabbers and dinner, except that this time, I managed to stay in the golf cart.

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The next morning, we discovered that the winds were still up. That meant we couldn’t go very far comfortably.

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We settled on a trip to Elbow Cay (dang, this feels familiar). Our first stop was the beach at Man-O-War where we looked for starfish and shells, lounged in the sunshine, and enjoyed strawberry mimosas and bloody Marys.

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Next stop was Firefly for a decadent lunch and a revisit of those glorious frozen cocktails.

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Then it was on to Tahiti Beach for the sandbar party and boat drinks (or, more appropriately...lounging in the water drinks).

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Last stop was Hopetown for a quick shopping trip and a cocktail at Hopetown Harbour Lodge.

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That night, Mermaids helped me surprise Kristen who had celebrated her birthday just before the trip with a mermaid themed birthday dinner. Mermaids is TOPS!!

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Sunday Funday dawned bold and beautiful.

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We felt like Mark and Kristen needed the Nippers experience for their first visit, but we didn’t want to waste a gorgeous boat day, so we made a quick trip to the lagoon.

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We sipped strawberry daiquiris and snuggled some warm beach dogs while we watched the water turn every shade of blue around us.

Then it was back to Guana for lunch at Grabbers. I love their tuna poke and wings! Yeah okay, I also love the Grabbers!

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It wasn’t a super crazy Sunday at Nippers, but that’s good. That might have been a bit much for a first timer.

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It was just busy enough to enjoy some drinks, do some pool dancing, make some new friends, and hang out on the beach.

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For dinner, we cleaned up and headed to Orchid Bay for pizza (my favorite Sunday Funday dinner!).

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Our last day proved to be another windy one, so we didn’t want to venture very far. While I really wanted to show them Green Turtle, No Name, Munjack, or Pete’s…we settled for Man-O-War.

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We enjoyed some seriously good cracked lobster burgers at the Dock & Dine.

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Then we wandered down to the Sail Shop, Joe’s Studio, and my favorite….Sally’s Seaside Boutique where I can always find something adorable made from her traditional Bahamian fabrics.

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Craving just a little more beach time, we stopped at my favorite little beach for some sunshine and afternoon cocktails.

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Don’t worry….this little guy is in the water….it’s just that clear!

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Too soon, our last day was over so we drowned our sorrows with frozen Grabbers, a final sunset, and a quiet dinner at Nippers.

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But don’t feel too sorry for me just yet. Coming on the heels of back to back trips to Guana is an anniversary trip to Anna Maria Island! Stay tuned friends!

Posted by vicki_h 11:38 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (3)

Ringing in 2018..... Guana-Cay Style

YOU CAN’T RAIN ON MY PARADE.

The flight to Abaco had been uneventful. It was the day after Christmas and Matt and I were en route to Bikini Hut to ring in the New Year.

Flying into Abaco is interesting. There is no flight control. There is no tower. Each pilot simply communicates on the radio with every other pilot to decide who is where and who is landing when. It doesn’t matter if you are a single engine Cessna Skyhawk or a commercial jet – it’s an act of cooperation and it amazes me every time to hear tiny 4 seater private planes coordinating with turboprops and jets to see where everyone is and what order they are landing in.

“This is Cessna 41-Mike,” we heard over the radio. “Has anyone made it into Treasure Cay in the last 15?”

It was raining, you see.

The flight was uneventful until this moment. Now…we were nearing the Treasure Cay airport in a downpour and many planes were having a hard time landing due to low visibility. The commercial planes had to turn back because there is no ILS approach and they required a higher altitude for visibility to land.

Just as we were considering turning back to wait it out at a drier airport, someone responded. “Baron 32-Alpha just landed. Clear of active runway.”

That said, we knew we could make it.

Landing in the rain is not my favorite, because it means unloading in the rain, getting a taxi in the rain, and probably getting on the boat in the rain, but what other choice was there?

We landed in the rain. We unloaded in the rain. We got into a taxi in the rain.

It was still raining when we reached the Treasure Cay Marina, where our boat was waiting. Rather than load the boat in the rain, we decided to wait it out with rum punches and fish burgers tucked inside the Tipsy Seagull where it was nice and dry and where our furry children were welcome.

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A few rum punches later, the rain dissipated and we loaded the boat to make our way to Bikini Hut on Guana Cay!

We were almost there.

Sure, we arrived later than expected, but we had plenty of time to unpack, get what few groceries we needed from the on island store, and get to Grabbers for sunset, that first frozen grabber of the trip, lobster bites, and mac n’cheese.

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It felt like a Welcome Home to me.

IT’S NOT WEDNESDAY, IT’S SUN DAY.

Sure, it was mid-week but the sun was shining and the day started off bright and HOT. This was fine with me because December in Abaco can bring anything from 50 degrees to 80. A high near 80 with endless sun was a perfect first day.

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We had nothing planned. A whole lot of nothing.

The morning started with a walk on the beach with my favorite girls. Bella and Rooby were happy to be back.

Rooby loves watching the sun come up.

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Our December trips are more about “to dos” than leisure, and Matt had a list of things he wanted to accomplish during our week at the Hut. I didn’t have much to do, so I opted for a lazy day at Grabbers. I knew it wasn’t going to be this warm all week and I wanted to take advantage of it while I could.

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I grabbed one of these….

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And stared at this….

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Until I was so sun drunk I could do nothing more than roll over every once in a while to ensure I burned evenly.

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Eventually, the lure of the sun was more than Matt could take and he joined me for lobster caprese sandwiches and fish tacos.

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And then a little more of this….

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We have become friends with several other homeowners on the island and everyone had finally arrived, so we agreed to meet up at one of the houses for dinner. We grabbed a sunset, a Grabber, and headed out to finish the day with our island family.

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IT’S A PINK NIGHTMARE.

It was another beautiful morning on Guana Cay.

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Matt had plans to do something fun like pour a cement ramp to the laundry room or rebuild the shutters, so I grabbed my beach bag and ran out of the house faster than you can shake a paintbrush.

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I had no intention of spending a beautiful day painting trim, so I parked myself on a lounge chair at Nippers, ordered a spicy bloody Mary, and watched the clouds go by.

Matt joined me for lunch and we agreed to share a healthy lunch and a fried pile of delicious crap so that neither of us felt too guilty. The seared ahi tuna salad was amazing….but so was the cracked lobster with fries.

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To avoid being labeled a total slacker….I spent the afternoon painting shutters.

Mainly because I had to soften Matt up.

You see, it was the night of the annual Guana Cay Christmas Golf Cart Parade.

We discovered last year that the golf cart parade is the most fun that can be had at 3 mph. Everyone dresses up in tacky Christmas attire and meets at the Lumberyard. From there, about 50 decorated golf carts roll through town, making stops at each of the 3 main restaurants on Guana where food is served and drinks are bought….ending the night at Nippers for a tacky Christmas dance party.

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“I look like a deranged Easter Bunny,” Matt said.

“You look AMAZING!” I lied. (actually....he DID look amazing....)

Matt’s favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, but I still couldn’t believe he had agreed to my costume idea. He did, however, require a small dose of liquid courage.

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We met up with our island family first so that we could all head to the Lumberyard together to ensure we were lined up in succession during the parade.

I love these people.

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We made our way to the Lumberyard and waited for the parade to start.

Now….Matt might have been wearing the world’s largest pink onesie, but I was wearing HIGH HEELS. I never wear heels on Guana. High heels and Guana Cay go together like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.

And much like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna, mixing the two leads to a greater than average chance of violence, bodily harm, ripped fishnets, and tears.

I proved this point when I got clever and decided to hold one leg up under my lampshade, you know, so I looked more like the one-legged lamp from the movie?

Rather than looking like a MAJOR AWARD…I got my heel caught in my hoop and immediately took a hard dive to the gravel.

This broke my fall:

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At that moment, I would have given anything to have been wearing a pink fleece onesie.

Instead, I brushed it off and screamed, “And she’s up!” I guess I am not so FRUH-GEE-LAY after all.

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FRI-YAY!

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The next morning, Matt had to make the Bunny Walk of Shame.

He had gotten our golf cart stuck at Nippers the night before, you see. Late nights, drinks, bunny suits, and golf cart parking do not mix.

With the golf cart secured back at the Hut, we decided it was a nice day to get the boat out. It was sunny, but the wind was acting up a bit, so we decided not to go far.

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Our plan was to simply hop over to Man-O-War and grab lunch and pick up a couple of new bags from the sail shop to add to our ever growing collection.

We stopped in at the Dock-N-Dine where we enjoyed the beautiful views and ran into more Guana friends.

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I like any restaurant in Abaco that veers from the traditional menu of: 1) Cheeseburger, 2) Fishburger, 3) Cracked Conch…all served with fries, peas n’rice, or mac n’cheese.

For starters, we enjoyed the black bean and lump crab cakes topped with goat pepper salsa and served with citrus yogurt. For lunch, I had the triple seafood pita club: a warm pita filled with fried lobster, shrimp and crab along with crispy lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Matt dove into the amazing Tommy Burger which is topped with crispy onions, spicy apple jam, white cheddar, and a rosemary BBQ sauce.

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We meandered through the sunny streets of Man-O-War until we reached Albury’s sail shop. This is a must stop on most trips to Abaco. We love their canvas bags and simply can’t get enough of them.

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In order to get Matt to knock off half a day and play on the boat, I had agreed to spend the afternoon working on the shutters.

That night, one of our island friends hosted dinner for the group and we all gathered for the end of another beautiful island day.

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MEET ME AT TAHITI

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After our morning walk on the beach with the girls, I convinced Matt to take a full boat day. We’d been working all week (in between having a little fun) and it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The sun was shining, the water was calm, the wind was down….it was a perfect day.

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We made our way to Elbow Cay and anchored at Tahiti Beach to watch the sand bar arrive.

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What we didn’t expect was an actual SAND BAR.

This floating bar showed up just as we were leaving, so I didn’t get a chance to try it. That just means something new for next time!

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I had my heart set on Lunch at Firefly. Without a reservation, you better get there early or you won’t be eating. We pulled in right at noon and scored an amazing waterfront table. By the time we left, they were literally turning people away telling them the list was too full to add anyone else for lunch.

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Firefly has the best cocktails and food around, so a meal there is always something to savor.

I started off with a smoky mezcal old fashioned, which was a nice change from the sweet tropical drinks I had been sucking down for the last few days.

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The lobster quesadilla with mango pineapple salsa was calling our name. Drizzled with chipotle sour cream, it was the perfect way to start lunch.

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Matt had the panko crusted fish cakes (which looked more like balls….just sayin’) served with mesclun greens and fruit salsa.

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I had what was quite possibly the best salad of my life: the naked cobb salad with coconut panko crusted lobster. Yes, I realize the bacon, blue cheese and deep fried lobster destroyed any chance that salad had of being healthy, but it was so delicious I did not care.

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After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown Harbour where we walked around for a bit before relaxing with a drink at the Reef Bar at Hopetown Harbour Lodge. I never get tired of these views.

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With the shorter winter days, it was time to head back so we could make it in before dark.

We wrapped up the day with a blazing sunset at Grabbers and a pizza at Orchid Bay.

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THE PERFECT STORM.

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It was Sunday Funday at Nippers. It was New Year’s Eve. And it was the day the famed Bucketlust yacht group and their Bravo film crew had decided to descend upon our tiny little island.

It was the perfect storm.

We headed to Nippers early so that we could enjoy the beach bar before the crowds arrived. I admit that I am one of the instigators when I am with a group, but when it’s just me and Matt, we keep things low key. We were just there to be spectators today.

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The calm before the storm….

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The place was empty and beautiful, just the way I like it. We had some frozen Nippers, dipped in the pool, lay in the abundant sunshine, and shared a cheeseburger.

When things went from this:

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To this:

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We knew it was time to call it a day.

We did what old people do on New Year’s Eve….we went home and took a nap. How else am I supposed to stay awake until midnight??

Then it was time for NYE dinner.

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I tried to dress fancy for the occasion, but it had turned cooler, and within minutes, I decided to ditch the dress for jeans and a long sleeve shirt.
In case needing a nap in order to stay out late isn’t a sure sign you are old, another one is trading in a cute, sequin mini dress on NYE for jeans because it’s more comfortable.

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Normally, we spend NYE at Nippers, but we simply couldn’t resist the lure of being eyewitnesses to the debauchery promised by the Bucketlust NYE party at Grabbers.

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From what we gathered, Bucketlust is an international group that puts together outrageous party vacations for young schmucks who like to spend a week wearing inappropriate costumes, throwing garbage into the ocean, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and dancing while partying aboard a flotilla of 25+ catamarans as they sail through some poor, unsuspecting island chain.

It was our lucky day. This ghastly group of people had chosen the Abacos as their NYE destination and had chosen Guana Cay as their first stop to host their extreme NYE party.

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In a very short period of time, our sweet little Grabbers was transformed into a den of debauchery, loaded with 300+ partygoers dressed in their best porn versions of your favorite Disney characters. They proceeded to litter the beach and ocean, tear up the hammocks, throw crap into the pool, and drink until they vomited or took their clothes off in front of strangers – which ever came first.

It was quite a show.

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One of the Bucketlust staffers actually approached us before midnight and advised that we leave just after midnight because ….”It will really get bad after that.”

At midnight, we left. We’d had enough. If what I saw was only the beginning….I didn’t need to see any more.

Sign 3 that I am getting old? Sure. After watching those young people, I wear my age with pride.

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ABOUT LAST NIGHT...

On our way to walk the dogs, Matt and I stopped at Grabbers because I wanted to get a look at the boats in the harbor (they had arrived after dark, so it was our first chance to see this massive group of boats).

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What I didn’t expect was the amount of devastation they left in their wake. Plastic cups, Styrofoam plates, straws, flip flops, and the remnants of costumes littered the beach, hung from the trees, and worst of all….floated all in the harbor. You could still hear the electronic dance music eurothumping from their boats AT 6:00 a.m.

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(Sign 4 you are old – you are up at 6:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day)

I’m sure the homes nearby loved listening to their music all night and into the morning. I’m sure Grabbers staff loved trying to get their dirty underwear out of the palm trees. And I’m sure the sea creatures loved swallowing their plastic straws and dodging their plastic cups in the ocean.

I sincerely hope Bucketlust was a “one and done” as far as the Abacos are concerned. The Abacos are family islands. I love a good party as much as the next girl, but these people were not respectful of this island, it’s people, or the environment. I say take your garbage and bare butts to Ibiza or Mykonos. Go to Cancun for God’s sake, but don’t bring it back here.

(Sign 5 you are old – you give a lecture to young partygoers for partying too hard on NYE)

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I will now climb off my soapbox and tell you about how we spent our last day on the island taking the girls on a boat ride to the lagoon.

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We drank strawberry daiquiris and ate chips and wasted the day away.

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We ended the day with a quiet dinner at Nippers – seafood fettuccine for Matt and grilled lobster for me.

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ARRIVE IN THE RAIN. LEAVE IN THE RAIN.

We had amazing weather while we were down, but we had arrived in the rain and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t pouring when we woke up to leave.

I have to brag on Matt here. The man is a saint.

We had to take the boat back to Treasure Cay. This meant loading the boat in the rain, driving the boat to Treasure Cay (an hour) in the rain, unloading the boat in the rain, loading the taxi in the rain, unloading the taxi in the rain, and loading the plane in the rain. He put me and the dogs in the dry and did all of this by himself so we wouldn’t both be wet.

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He’s a good man.

We arrived home to unreasonably cold temperatures, but with the warmth of our island home still in our hearts.

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Next up – we couldn’t handle the cold, so we ran off to Key West! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 13:25 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands caribbean tropical bahamas abacos abaco guana_cay Comments (5)

Better Late Than Never - July on Guana Cay

Obviously, I am a little behind on the travel blog. We did a lot of travelling over the summer, but life got in the way and the photos have stayed buried in my camera and the stories have stayed buried in my memory. It’s time to get them out of there!

As we have done for many years, we made a trip to Guana Cay in Abaco for the week of July 4th. What can I tell you about Abaco that I haven’t already? How many more photos of deliciously clear water can I show?

Besides, it’s been almost 3 months. I have no idea what we did.

Rather than a play-by-play that will leave you knowing every meal I ate and what time I brushed my teeth each morning, I’m simply going to share my favorite stories from this trip.

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Doom, Despair, and Agony on Me….the Cheeseburger in Paradise Party

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We arrived at the airport early Friday morning, with every intention of getting to the boat and making the hour-plus boat ride to Fiddle Cay in time for the 2017 cheeseburger party. This was an optimistic goal, and one that, in hindsight, we should have crossed off our list.

First, let me make it clear that this IS NOT the same party that we have attended in years past…AND LOVED.

THAT party was the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party, hosted by Bob and Pat Henderson. We enjoyed it immensely every year that we attended.

Bob and Pat had to take a hiatus from the Cheeseburger Party due to several difficult family events and, without their blessing, another group started the “Cheeseburger in Paradise Party” on the same date and on the same deserted cay. Our gut instinct was to avoid the new party and find something else to do, but we were travelling with friends and they really wanted to go.

We should have stuck with our gut. I found the event less awe-inspiring than in years past.

We managed to arrive around 1:00 p.m. and found a very different atmosphere than we were used to. It was apparent that large crowds from Nassau and other non-Abaco places were present and they definitely changed the feel of the event.

Too many jet-skis with careless drivers zoomed recklessly between carefully anchored boats, causing them to rock and crash into each other as the repeated wake hit. A hover boat kept zipping past people trying to relax in the shallow water. Small boats that barely looked seaworthy floated in, loaded with about 5 times the number of bodies that could safely be aboard. Too many deafening speaker systems, thongs stretched far past their maximum usefulness, and guys with grabby hands.

Ick.

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day and we were in a beautiful spot – might as well enjoy what we could.

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We entertained ourselves by dragging out the Inflata-Bull and dragging it around. It wasn’t until about halfway through the day that I realized exactly why Matt wanted to be in charge of the Inflata-Bull.

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I’m a little slow.

The day was going fine until I realized the pool float my camera (yes….THE camera) was being pulled around on was getting splashed excessively and that my camera was sitting in an inch of water.

This is the last photo that camera ever took.

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It would be vacation by iPhone at this point.

So far, I had made the bad decision to even come to the Cheeseburger Party and the bad decision to think a float in the ocean was a safe place for a $4,500 camera. I decided to make it 3 for 3 and agreed to sleep on the boat that night, despite how it went the last time.

I thought we had remedied all the issues we encountered the last time we tried to sleep aboard:

• We now had a power cord long enough to reach the dock which gave us a/c and allowed us to use the bathroom;
• We had the center cushion that actually allowed the seating and table in the cabin to be turned into a bed; and
• I was not dying of the Bubonic Plague.

Apparently, I had been misinformed.

While we had a power cord, the a/c on the boat didn’t actually WORK. Likewise, Matt proceeded to inform me that something was wrong with the flushing on the toilet so I couldn’t use that either.

This would have been fine had the dock we chose for the night ACTUALLY HAD A BATHROOM. Quite the opposite…it was located in the middle of nowhere and had no facilities of any kind. It was more “dock with electricity” than marina.

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I went to bed and hoped for the best.

Much like my “hope for the best” with the Cheeseburger Party, the best was not meant to be.

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and HAD TO GO.

It was not #1.

We were on a remote stretch of Green Turtle Cay, so I made the decision to try to walk into “town” and see if there was any sort of park building or other public facility where I might find a bathroom.

The walk was excruciatingly long and dark. Like dark dark.

I walked around town and exhausted every possibility.

There was no bathroom.

I was sweaty and desperate.

I walked back to the remote dock and did the only thing I could do. …I had to hang my happy a$$ of a dock ladder and go in the ocean.

It was horrific and humiliating.

I feel very sorry for the turtles and fish.

At least it was dark dark.

Social Media vs. Reality: My true confession

I am sharing this photo to illustrate the difference in the version of our life we wish to portray through social media and the reality of our life.

The moment I was trying to portray…a peaceful, solitary morning on the beach.

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The actual moment…I sit and stare at the ocean unaware that my dog has chosen that exact moment to take a crap behind me.

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The hard truth: My life is less about peaceful moments on the beach and more about picking up crap.

I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

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How do you know if someone REALLY loves you? I mean really, really, really loves you?

They’ll pee on you if you ask them to.

Unfortunately, after getting a jellyfish wrapped around my upper thigh on Treasure Sands’ beach and enduring Matt’s hot urine on my leg, I discovered that whole “jellyfish and pee thing” is a myth.

Now my leg hurt and I was covered in pee.

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Don’t worry, I was able to effectively drown my sorrows with pink drinks.

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Meanwhile, back at Nippers…..

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It was a great summer week, filled with all of the best things….good friends, my sweet dogs, lots of boat drinks, endless sunshine, and all the fried things.

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Until next time Abaco!!

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Posted by vicki_h 12:05 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (1)

Hitting the backspace button: Let's go back to Abaco!

A Quick Easter Break On My Favorite Little Island.

Now that we have our own place on Guana Cay, we try to get down there every chance we get. So when we had an opportunity to make a quick, last minute trip over Easter weekend, we jumped on the chance.

I was on Cloud 9…I was heading to Bikini Hut!

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An early morning flight had us on sunny Abaco by 9:00 a.m. By 9:30 we were loading our bags onto the boat, and by 10:00 we were off and running. We headed straight for Firefly on Elbow Cay for an early “welcome home” lunch.

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We enjoyed frosty cocktails in the warm sun, took a quick dip, and had a long and lazy lunch.

I love the food at Firefly. Most of the offerings you find on the Abaco culinary scene are fairly similar…..fish sandwich with fries…..burger with fries….conch with fries. While it’s no secret that I love some fried food, it’s nice to know there are a few restaurants where you can find some creative options. Firefly definitely stands out as one of the best. We enjoyed ginger-sesame crusted tuna tataki followed by crispy coconut fried lobster with fresh mixed greens and the blackened catch of the day with sweet potato fries.

Not a paper plate in sight!

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After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown, intending to visit the Reef Bar and do a little shopping before heading to Guana to settle in.

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Hopetown was CRAZY! I have never seen that many people in town before. The Reef Bar was covered up. We realized it was spring break for a lot of families, so we downed one cocktail, took in the views, and jumped back on the boat in search of peace and quiet.

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We didn't exactly find peace and quiet. We had friends on the island and we saw their boat in the shallow lagoon on the south end of Guana Cay. We decided to try to creep in despite the fact that it was low tide.

We proceeded to get stuck, had to have our friends pull us off the sand with their boat, and I blew out my favorite flip flop when Matt told me to "GET OFF THE BOAT AND PUSH!"

Once we were safely back out to sea, we limped back to Guana in shame.

Hopetown had been a bust and the Lagoon had been a bigger bust.

We were ready to get to our little island and call it a day. We hoped it would be quieter than we had found Elbow.

It was.

Our little island was wonderfully peaceful when we arrived.

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We unpacked and settled in, cleaned up, and headed to Grabbers for that first glorious Guana Cay sunset.

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Afterwards, we met friends at Kidd’s Cove for a feast. We celebrated their last night on the island and our first with my favorite potato salad, peas n’ rice, salads, and fresh caught snapper.

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The next morning I woke up early to see the sunrise and realized I had lost my voice and a splitting headache. I couldn’t be getting sick. I was on vacation!

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I had no time to think about being sick. I had packing to do. Sure, we had just arrived, but Matt had convinced me to try spending the night on the boat that night and I needed to rally. I took some Advil and got our stuff together for our overnight trip.

It’s amazing how much stuff I needed to spend one night on the boat.

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We had never slept on the boat. It had a nice cabin and it was one of the reasons we decided on the boat we did. We felt like it was a good time to try it out, since this trip was just the two of us. It would be a good way to test run it and see what worked and what didn’t.

Let me just end the suspense….nothing worked.

We had decided to venture to Treasure Cay and spend a night in the marina. It would be great, Matt said. It’s a nice day, he said. We’ll have shore power, he said. We have a nice cabin with a nice bed, he said. We have a working bathroom, he said.

Lies.

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It didn’t start off too badly. The waves were a little bigger than normal, but just enough to elicit joyful shrieks and laughs. But as we picked up speed, the waves got bigger and the wind got stronger and the shrieks were no longer joyful.

The sea was angry that day, friends. Very angry. I was a acutely aware that as a very small woman with no means to secure myself to the boat, I was in a vulnerable position. I tightened my grip on the metal handle in front of me (for which I’m sure there’s some actual boat term but that I prefer to call the “Oh Shit” bar) and held on for dear life.

Our plan was to first go to Treasure Sands on the far end of the beach for lunch and lounging before making our way back to the marina for the night. We got all the way to Treasure Sands before realizing the water was far too rough to stop there.

This meant we had to go ALL THE WAY back to Don’t Rock. Against the wind and against the waves. That’s when the $hit really hit the fan. I knew I was in trouble when Matt told me to just go below, shut the door, and hold on.

The next 20 minutes were violent. The waves pounded the boat hard enough to knock me into the ceiling repeatedly and to cause the microwave to keep flying open and shooting the glass tray across the cabin. I feared I would be decapitated at any moment.

I spent the majority of the ride wedged in with pillows while using my arms as a brace against the ceiling to keep me from flying up and hitting my head. My teeth were banging together. I was pretty sure I was going to die from a head injury caused by an airborne flashlight that had worked its way out of its cubbyhole.

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It would have probably been smarter to turn back, but we were committed.

I thought about grabbing the air horn to send Matt a distress signal, but I was pretty sure things were worse up top.

Thankfully, I am not prone to motion sickness.

When we finally pulled into Treasure Cay marina, Matt was grim faced and saltwater soaked from head to toe, and my arms felt like I had done 2 hours of push-ups.

So…sure….it wasn’t a great start.

But as we cruised into the marina, things immediately started looking up. It was calm, sunny, and beautiful.

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I set out to explore while Matt tied the boat off and got us checked in at the marina office.

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Treasure Cay is definitely the closest thing to a “resort” that I have seen on Abaco, but it wasn’t resorty by any means. It was still just good old Abaco.

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“We have a small problem,” Matt said as I returned to the boat.

After the ride over, I really didn’t think any additional problems were acceptable.

“Our power cord isn’t long enough to reach the dock so we won’t have shore power.”

That meant no lights, no microwave, no toilet, no a/c.

Let me translate that into Vicki-speak: Darkness, mosquitoes, 15 minute walk to the bathroom, and no coffee.

This was dire.

“Well,” I said, “At least it’s a cool night and we have a comfy bed.”

“That was another thing I wanted to tell you….”

Apparently, the center cushion that turns two narrow, uncomfortable benches around the table into an actual bed was not on the boat.

What was supposed to be this:

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Was, in fact, this:

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And I was feeling worse by the minute. The headache that was ever present was now being joined by a horrible sore throat.

No matter.

We were here now and there was no way in hell I was heading back out into the Sea of Doom for another boat ride.

Instead, we decided to make the best of it and grabbed a taxi to Treasure Sands. If we couldn’t have overnight luxury, we’d have afternoon luxury!

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After the horror of the morning, Treasure Sands was pure bliss.

Treasure Sands was posh, uber hip, and an oasis of relaxation. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Poolside champagne made me forget that boat ride had ever happened, and made me temporarily forgot that we had an uncomfortable night in front of us.

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Like Firefly, Treasure Sands is one of the better dining options in the Abacos. We enjoyed a decadent lunch. I opted for the open face hot fish – fresh hog snapper delicately fried “Nashville hot chicken” style and served with tangy pickles. Matt went for the always delicious lobster club. Both were served with their parmesan garlic fries.

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We lounged late into the afternoon.

Mainly to avoid going back to face this:

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But eventually, we made our way back to the marina where we grabbed showers and opened some wine to enjoy with the sunset before dinner.

For a moment, I forgot about the lack of power, the long midnight walk I’d be making to the bathroom, and the two tiny, hard sleeping spaces we had waiting for us below and I realized how much I could enjoy a night on the boat. It was a beautiful night.

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We walked from the marina to Coco’s for their Friday Night Fish Fry and started the evening with a hard-earned Treasure Bomb Shot. It tasted like cough syrup and made me wish I had some. I was feeling worse by the minute.

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I drowned my sorrows with a frozen blue margarita and then fed them some hot conch fritters.

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For dinner, I went with traditional Abaco fare and got the blackened catch, cole slaw, and mac n’ cheese. Matt got daring and ordered the Fish Fry special.

I draw the line at eating things that still have eyes.

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We returned for our night on the boat.

I’d love to say, “It wasn’t so bad.” I’d like to convince you that I am a good sport and made the best of a less than ideal situation.

I am not a good sport.

It was miserable.

It was a combination of my increasing congestion, a now incessant cough, and trying to sleep on a narrow sliver of hard vinyl.

It’s important to note that I am a finicky sleeper. I need everything to be exactly perfect for me to drift off: pitch black, cool, silent, with a firm pillow, a thick comforter, and a soft mattress. Matt has equated my sleep set up to being no less complex than launching the space shuttle.

The boat cabin was warm and small with light and sound from the marina flooding into every hatch that had to remain open lest we suffocate without the a/c. The “bed,” we’ll just call it that for fun because we all know that wasn’t a bed, was excessively small and ferociously hard. Because I only brought bedding for ONE bed, not 2 separate beds, we had to split the bedding, so it was completely insubstantial.

I’m not sure who was more miserable, me, who coughed all night long and woke myself up with a loud congested snort every time I managed to doze off, or Matt who had to lay awake and listen to me cough all night long and snore myself awake every 23 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention that it was a FULL MOON? A very huge, bright, shining in the hatch above my head FULL MOON?

Let’s not even talk about the long walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

It was a long night.

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But we survived it. As the sun rose over Treasure Cay, I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

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We made our way to the small quick market and perused the laughable and awkward medicinal offerings. I found a $24 bottle of DayQuil and an $8 bottle of some unrecognizable nasal spray.

It would have to do.

It’s amazing what a little medicine can do. I felt 90% human and went in search of coffee, since we didn’t have any power.

I found myself at Florence’s and remembered reading about the legendary cinnamon rolls generated by this modest cafe. I popped in for coffee (heaven!), breakfast sandwiches, and ….mmmmm……..cinnamon rolls.

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Obviously, whatever illness I had did nothing to my appetite.

After some coffee and sugar, I felt 99% human.

At least for the time being.

We made our way back to Guana and marveled at the beautiful day.

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With no plans for the day, we headed to Mermaids on the Rocks for lunching and lounging.

If you recall, it opened just last month, about a week before our March visit.

I still really loved the place.

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Tish, the bartender, mixed us up some fantastic cocktails that we enjoyed with their killer view.

We knew their dinner was good, so we wanted to try lunch. It was fantastic.

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Oooey, gooey loaded nachos, a cheesy burger, and a panko coconut fish sandwich made for lunch perfection.

Their crystal clear pool made the perfect place for a post-lunch siesta.

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We followed Mermaids with trip to Grabbers for a dip in the water.

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My DayQuil was starting to wear off, so we headed home. I grabbed some Vicks and Advil at Guana Grocery to round out my vacation cocktail that I hoped would get me through the rest of the trip.

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After some down time, we headed to Grabbers for sunset and drinks.

Do we get tired of going to the same places over and over?

No.

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We followed that with rib night at Orchid Bay.

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The next morning was Easter Sunday. We hadn’t thought to bring church clothes, so we headed to the beach to have our own sunrise service.

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As the sun rose higher into the sky, I was not only thankful for the gift of God’s son and my salvation, but for all the gifts he has blessed my life with.
What a beautiful reminder of what really matters.

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Not interested in another bone jarring boat ride, we decided to keep ourselves parked on Guana for the day, as the wind hadn’t really subsided.

We spent a lazy morning at Grabbers doing a lot of nothing. Which was absolutely perfect.

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I felt like death on a cracker, but was surviving on a steady diet of DayQuil and alcohol.

And cheeseburgers.

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Nippers Sunday Funday and Easter went together about as well as cats and sweaters, so we took a pass. It just didn’t feel right.

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We chose to end the trip with dinner at Mermaids – seared tuna for me and pasta carbonara for Matt.

Mermaids was still hitting home runs.

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Our trip had come to an end, but that was probably for the best. I was quickly running out of $24 DayQuil and the closest thing Guana Cay had to a doctor was Troy, who owns the dive shop and also serves as the entire Fire Department and the island’s entire EMS division.

It was time to head home….and for once….I was okay with that.

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Next up: We’re heading south to let the good times roll in New Orleans! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 08:19 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (4)

Shamrocks and Shenanigan’s: St. Paddy’s Day on Guana Cay

It was the perfect storm. No, I am not talking about the Andrea Gail. I am talking about the fact that someone decided that St. Patrick’s Day (which is pretty much about drinking), the Barefoot Man concert on Guana Cay (which is pretty much about drinking), and a party at Nippers (which is pretty much about drinking) should all happen simultaneously. Given that any one of these events alone can result in rampant debauchery and mayhem, having them all at the same time was certainly a recipe for complete pandemonium. There was no way we could survive with all of our vital organs and/or appendages intact.

The last time Matt and I tried to attend a Barefoot Man show with John and Teresa, things didn’t go so well. For those who have not read the story, read entry #1 on this blog and you’ll understand….And it wasn’t even on a holiday designed around pub crawls and binge drinking. It was just a Tuesday.

A strong believer in the old adage that “What doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger,” Teresa and I signed on, despite the dire results from our previous attempt to attend a Barefoot Man Concert at Nippers together.

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Who needs green beer?

Irish I had a Frozen Nipper!

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We headed down on Thursday afternoon to ensure we didn’t miss a minute of Friday’s fun. An uneventful flight (the best kind!) got us on Guana Cay in time to settle into Bikini Hut, enjoy $5 Wing Night at Orchid Bay, and relax with a spectacular sunset at Grabbers with a frozen cocktail in hand.

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Wings and champagne.....because I'm classy like that.

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Friday morning found me on the beach early, which seems to be a habit I simply can’t break. My inner alarm clock wakes me before sunset EVERY MORNING on Guana Cay. Knowing it’s only a 2 minute walk to the beach compels me to throw on some cut offs and flip flops and head out the door in the dark every morning. I can’t wait to see the sun come up over that beautiful beach. It’s never the same, and it never disappoints.

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It was an overcast day, but we still expected big crowds to descend upon our little island for the Barefoot Man concert, so I was the designated “table holder.” Ensuring we had our choice of table for the day meant going to Nippers at 10:30 and sitting in the sea breeze sucking down bloody marys until everyone else showed up a couple of hours later.

It was a tough job, but I felt fully up to the challenge.

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As people poured in, filling up every available seat by 11:30, I was glad I had come early. Not to mention that getting there early meant I got to hear the pre-show warm up, had ample time to visit with the colorful cast and crew of Nippers, and had a chance to get up close and personal with the Big Guy himself.

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The downside was that I was already a few drinks in when everyone else arrived.

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We were decked out in our St. Paddy’s Day best and we were ready for malarkey and shenanigans.

Obviously, there were plenty of both.

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In stark contrast to Barefoot Man 2008, Barefoot Man 2017 was a blast. There were no black eyes, no food fights, and no shouting. No left mad and no one cried.

Based on our 2008 Barefoot Man Experience, I had set some goals for the day:

• Goal #1: Actually see Barefoot Man perform.
• Goal #2: Alternate one glass of water for every frozen Nipper.
• Goal #3: Make it through the day with no one getting in a fight.
• Goal #4: Actually eat my lunch instead of wearing it.
• Goal #5: See to it that Teresa’s hat did not end up some shade of “Nipper” by the end of the day.
• Goal #6: Get home without anyone getting hurt.
• Goal #7: Maintain our dignity.

I am pleased to say that we accomplished Goals #1-6.

Goal 7 is subject to interpretation.

Unlike 2008 where some of us were crying, some sleeping, and some holding cold compresses to their face by the end of the day, we enjoyed a beautiful evening at Sunsetters, eating pizza instead of comparing our battle wounds and looking for band-aids.

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As usual, Saturday morning found me on the beach at 0-dark-thirty. And I couldn't have been happier about it.

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Matt had some things to work on at the house and on the boat, so Teresa and I planned to kick around Guana for the day.

We started things off with a visit to the Orchid Bay Market, a seasonal event with arts, crafts, and delicious foods.

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It coincided with the regular Saturday Sir Eden market, where you can find amazing produce from a local organic and hydroponic farm on Abaco.

After buying enough lettuce for a month’s worth of salads (it was so pretty I couldn’t help myself…besides….on an island where 99% of the offerings are battered and fried, I find myself craving something green!), we decided to head down to the new Mermaids on the Rocks to have a look around.

Guana has a limited number of restaurants, most of them very casual in nature: Grabbers, Nippers, Kidd’s Cove, and Sunsetters at Orchid Bay. We were excited to see the “new kid on the block,” Mermaids on the Rocks, rumored to be a little more upscale with a view to die for. It had opened just the previous week.

Those rumors were spot on.

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We found ourselves at a happy, blue building with a bright and colorful bar overlooking the beautiful Sea of Abaco. The views were stellar, the décor was top notch, the wine perfectly chilled, and the pool rules told me someone had a sense of humor.

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With a casual pool bar below and an upscale restaurant above, Mermaids seemed to fill a niche that Guana Cay sorely needed. Without hesitation, we made reservations for dinner that night.

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With an afternoon to kill, we headed to Grabbers where the guys met us for lunch and some luxurious lounge time. On a pretty day, Grabbers is hard to beat.

With a crystal clear pool, shallow sea, palm lined beach, and crispy conch fritters….what more could a girl want?

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Okay, maybe a savory caprese lobster salad sandwich.

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And her two best sidekicks.

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It was a perfectly lazy afternoon.

We were excited to try Mermaids for dinner. We arrived just before sunset and were immediately in love with the outdoor deck and the view.

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One of my favorite things about Mermaids immediately became this sign.

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Have no fear…this doesn’t mean you can’t wear flip flops to the restaurant. This means don’t come strolling in the door wearing nothing but a sarong and a bandeau bikini top crushing your upper half into a uniboob. You just have to put some actual clothes on. Resort casual is perfectly fine, provided you’re wearing more than a swimsuit cover up.

While I love running barefoot around Nippers and Grabbers in nothing more than a swimsuit and a tank top, it’s also nice to have a place where the expectations are a little higher. A girl needs a place where she can pull out the cute dress and nice shoes every once in a while.

We enjoyed sunset on the deck with wine and some of their specialty martinis before moving inside for dinner.

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The interior of the restaurant was simply lovely. Special thought has been put into every detail, from the beautiful mermaid artwork to the intricate lattice of ropes that separates the two main dining areas. The wood bar gleamed and candles cast a soft and intimate glow at the table.

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While I love a good burger and paper plate full of fried things, I was happy to see a menu that offered things like fresh ceviche, spaghetti pomodoro, and several proper steaks, as well as an abundance of fresh seafood options.

My favorite? NO PLASTIC GLASSES!

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We had set our expectations high and Mermaids didn’t disappoint.

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Sunday morning was clear and beautiful.

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We decided to take advantage of the weather and take the boat to Pete’s Pub for the day.

The water views from Guana to Pete's are some of my favorites in all of Abaco.

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Pete’s was calm and colorful and we spent the next few hours sipping Bloody Mary’s and Blasters, dining on their fresh fish sandwiches and savory cole slaw, and doing a whole lot of nothing.

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We made a few stops on the way back for some snorkeling and beach time.

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We were back in time to get cleaned up and head to Grabbers for our nightly sunset ritual.

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Then it was over to Kidd’s Cove for the best lobster on Guana. It’s always the most tender and you can’t beat the potato salad. I could eat a vat of that potato salad.

It’s a good thing all I have to do when I am finished is waddle next door to Bikini Hut!

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The morning of our last full day hinted that it would be another beautiful island day.

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It had been a relatively low-key trip to Guana. Matt had some more work to do, so I spent our last day sunning myself at Grabbers and sipping frozen concoctions.

There was hammock-time, pool floating, lobster bites and cheeseburgers, and plenty of frozen Grabbers.

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We made a late afternoon run over to Shell Island before calling it a day.

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We decided to have dinner at the house, so I popped by Guana Grocery to pick up a few extra things and found a massive sweet potato. You could make an entire pie with that potato. That potato alone could solve world hunger.

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I didn’t buy the potato.

It frightened me.

Instead we had a great pasta dinner and the world’s largest salad, using the 9 lbs. of hydroponic salad greens I had bought from Sir Eden for no good reason.

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It had been an uncharacteristically calm visit to Guana. I was pleased to know that I could actually visit the island without wrecking a golf cart, getting stuck on a sandbar, having to evacuate a boat on fire, anyone needing stitches, getting cut off by Irene, or running from the Police.

Sometimes I CAN adult.

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Stay tuned for my girls' weekend to Nashville .....where I don't adult very well!

Posted by vicki_h 13:12 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (1)

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