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Guana Cay....Anything but Boring.

a.k.a. I think I'm getting to old for this S**t.

July 4th and Abaco.

Like tin foil and a microwave….neither is particularly dangerous alone, but put them together….and POW!

Explosive.

Time it right and you end up with 3 days of high-energy events….the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party…..the 4th of July……and Nippers Sunday Funday. Add to that 8 adults in varying stages of insanity and immaturity, and you have a situation just waiting to happen. Or many situations.

This trip made my 38th birthday on Abaco look like a tea party. Like diarrhea after a bad street taco, it was the gift that just kept giving, replete with “What the ?!” moments.

Hold on, folks. This one’s a doozy.

Day One: Up and At ‘Em!

When I was a kid, this is how my Dad woke us up every morning. He’d beat on our door and shout, “Up and At ‘Em!!” in the most annoyingly cheerful voice ever.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured out what the phrase actually was, ending a long standing belief from my childhood that my Dad inexplicably shouted “Up and Adam” at us every morning.

All 8 of us piled up in the Chieftan in the wee hours of the morning. Destination: Guana Cay.

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We had 5 days of fun planned and wanted to get the party started as early as possible. I mean, when you intend to spend the next 5 days going full throttle, why not start at 4:00 a.m. just to ensure the maximum level of exhaustion?

Thanks to Darvin, the man who can do anything on Guana Cay http://www.everythingguana.com/, the boat was waiting for us at the ferry dock in Marsh Harbor as soon as we touched the ground. We hit the ground running.

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We’ve decided that the perfect first day is accomplished by boating straight to Lubbers Landing. Austin and Amy give us the perfect place to relax, unwind, and breathe the city air out and the island air in.

We spent the afternoon with good food, good friends, and the best drinks in Abaco.

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Austin’s going to have to start giving something other than Patron for mastering the “around the pole” game. I bet if he was giving out free shots of Tortilla Gold Matt wouldn’t be so good at it.

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By the end of lunch, we were 100% in island mode.

After lunch at Lubbers, we hopped over to Tahiti Beach for a quick swim. The sandbar was out in full force and the afternoon boat party had started. We all enjoyed a soak in the bath warm water.

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But for this group, flying to the Bahamas, boating to Lubbers Landing, and beaching on Tahiti Beach wasn't enough. Hell no. This trip was about seeing which would kill us first, overconsumption or exhaustion, so we headed to the beach at Man O War. Why not go for total collapse on the first day?

Rest is for sissies.

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We finally made our way to Guana Cay late in the afternoon. We hadn’t even been to the house yet. Our luggage was in the boat and we had been climbing on top of it all day. It was starting to get as limp and soggy as we were.

We only stayed at the house long enough to unpack and get showers. Then it was off to Grabbers for sunset.

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Having recently become big fans of “wing night” at Orchid Bay’s Sunsetter restaurant, we headed that way for some $4 wings.

Dinner took “island time” to a whole new level. You see, wing night is very popular. Even though it was 9:00 p.m., the restaurant was packed. AND we had a table of 8. With a table of 8 in the Bahamas, you might as well be asking the restaurant to feed the entire country of China.

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An hour later……

We managed to eat in less time that it had taken to get a water refill.

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There was nothing left to do but head home and fall into bed, exhausted.

Day Two: Time to Get Stranded Naked!

It was the day before the 4th of July and that meant one thing: The Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party on Fiddle Cay.

No one gets stranded. Or naked.

Sorry.

However, it is the world’s most awesome beach party. Bob and Patricia Henderson work tirelessly each year to throw this most amazing FREE event. Hosted on uninhabited Fiddle Cay, where hundreds of boats surround the islands sandbar, Bob and Patricia give away 1200 Cheeseburgers, 600 hotdogs, 250 pounds of Fries, 100 gallons of Margaritas, and 100 gallons of Boat Drinks.

It is an unforgettable event.

It’s like Bourbon Street and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville had a baby. And Las Vegas was the Godmother and any Orlando water park was the Godfather.

You never know what’s going to happen.

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When Matt told me we were taking a group of 8 down for this year’s event, I knew the boat we normally used wasn’t going to cut it.

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Unfortunately, it is a very bad idea to try to rent a large boat for the single busiest week in Abaco at the last minute. By the time I knew we needed a bigger boat, there were no bigger boats.

That’s when I found the Regal. As soon as I saw her, I knew it was love.

From her hydraulic Flexiteek swim platform to her convertible rear facing chaise lounges to her wet bar and Bluetooth sound system….she was a thing of beauty and I knew she had to be mine.

And she came with a Captain.

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Sure, this meant we would have a witness to our debauchery, but it also meant there was no risk of being stuck on the sandbar for an extra 4 hours while our boat captain “slept it off” on top of the chips in the cuddy cabin.

Worth. Every. Penny.

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The ride over was awesome. Even Matt was able to relax instead of having to be the “responsible one.”

No one had to be responsible today.

Except Joey.

I’m sorry, Joey.

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Captain Joey had us anchored off Fiddle Cay just after 10:00 a.m. I was amazed at how many boats were already there so early.

I could smell burgers cooking on the grill. People were lazily drifting about on floats. Margaritas were being poured. The sun was shining.

It was shaping up to be a fantastic day.

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We managed to get in the cheeseburger line early, so there was almost no wait time. I think I’ve told you before that I don’t believe in waiting in line for food. Not even really good food. Not even really good FREE food.

The line was blessedly quick.

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That was good, because when I looked up from my hamburger, grease and ketchup smeared on my cheek, I saw Matt coming toward me with the Yeti cooler in tow.

Holy cats.

When Matt straps the 45 lb Yeti on like it’s a fanny pack…..a serious party is about to get started. I had never been so happy to have a bundle of greasy meat, bread, and potatoes in my belly.

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I threw an extra handful of pickles down my throat just to be on the safe side.

My recollection of the events after lunch are somewhat fuzzy and play in my head to Flo Rida’s theme song from the Hangover…….Thankfully, I made it out of there with all my teeth and no tattoos that weren’t temporary.

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Poor Joey. Somehow he managed to wrangle all of us back onto the boat before the tide went out and he ended up having to spend the night with us on the sandbar.

I don’t blame him for not wanting to spend the night with us.

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Instead, he took us to No Name Cay to feed the pigs before heading back to Guana.

I was a little apprehensive. I had read about a couple of people getting nipped by the pigs in recent weeks.

Having a group of somewhat intoxicated adults waving food around at a bunch of wild pigs seemed to me to be the Bahamian equivalent of “Hey y’all…..watch this….”

As such, instead of all of us running up on to the beach to feed the pigs, we elected a Pig Ambassador, who represented the strongest among us.

Of course it was Matt. Did you really think it would be anyone else? The man hauled a 45 lb. Yeti around all day like it was a beer coozie, for goodness sakes. He’s tough as iron.

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Besides, the rest of the group was in no shape to be feeding pigs.

Captain Joey deposited us safely back at the Guana dock in time for a beautiful sunset at Grabbers.

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We took stock of the day’s injuries.

We had: one black eye, one bruised arm, one bruised ankle, two bruised legs, one cut foot, two blisters, and one toenail completely devoid of polish (hey, to a woman, this is an injury!).

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Good thing we had a nurse in the group.

A wedge salad with the fresh catch of the day was just what the doctor (or nurse) ordered.

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When we returned to the house, an Abaco forum member ( http://abacoforum.com/ ) whom I had met briefly the day before had left the sweetest note and two t-shirts for Matt and I, as thanks for the inspiration he finds in my travel blog.

IS THAT NOT THE SWEETEST?????

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Robert – if you’re out there, I have 3 things to say:

1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You made my day!

2. I’m sorry we didn’t see you at Stranded Naked. I was apparently too busy drinking out of strangers’ champagne bottles.

3. I kept both t-shirts. I will give Matt his when I feel he has sufficiently earned it. My blog, my shirts. It’s only fair.

Day Three: Red, White, and Booze

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The significance of July 4th is not completely lost on me. I am not unaware that we are celebrating our Declaration of Independence, our freedom, and the birth of the United States. It’s awe inspiring when you think of what happened back in 1776. It fills me with gratitude and pride.

Is it so wrong that it also makes me want to cook meat over fire, drink, and watch things explode?

Even in the Bahamas, many places recognized the U.S. holiday. We had chartered the Regal for a second day to take us to Pete’s Pub for their annual July 4th Pig Roast.

I was surprised when Joey showed up for a second round. I was sure he’d had enough of us the day before, but there he was, undaunted.

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We thought about stopping at Pelican Cay on the way, but the water was rough and Joey suggested that it would be best to get to Pete’s before it got so crowded that we were unable to get space at the dock and were forced to swim in.

As soon as I heard the words “swim in” I decided I could see Pelican Cay after lunch.

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Pete’s was pretty quiet when we arrived. They weren't serving lunch yet, so everyone grabbed drinks, found seats, and enjoyed the relaxing vibe.

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Everyone except me. I was busy stalking the smoker.

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Smelling that meat made me feel very sorry for vegans.

Smoked meat is the monster truck of the food world. It’s the guy at the gym in the too small muscle shirt who is deadlifting weight so heavy that the veins in his forehead start to bulge. Regular grilled meats ask politely if you’d like a taste. Smoked meat will punch you in the mouth and scream “HELL YES!”

Seriously, the smell of that meat turned me into the carnivorous equivalent of a crack addict. I quickly scribbled a note on an old napkin.

Dear Guy at the Smoker,

I will give you $10,000 if you will walk away from the smoker. Now. Just go to the bathroom for 5 minutes. That’s all I need.

V.

It didn’t work. He was guarding that smoker like his life depended on it. It would have been easier to get a hotdog from a hobo than to sneak anything past that guy.

And just when I thought I couldn’t wait another minute…..I was handed a stunningly beautiful combo plate loaded with slow smoked shredded pork and a crispy chicken leg quarter. As though that wasn’t beautiful enough on its own, they loaded the plate down with potato salad, slaw, corn and rice, and baked beans, which immediately threw me into a full on food frenzy.

MUST EAT ALL THE FOODS.

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I love the 4th of July.

Thank you, Thomas Jefferson. I choose to celebrate with a chicken leg.

The DJ was late, so we all headed for the water after lunch. We waited. And waited.

AND WAITED.

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No DJ.

We left.

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It’s probably a good thing. If the DJ had shown up, there would have been more drinks. There would have been dancing. There would have been even more drinks. By the time we left Pete’s, we’d have been pickled.

That would have made it harder to jump off when the boat caught on fire.

Yes, you read that correctly: WHEN THE BOAT CAUGHT ON FIRE.

One minute, you’re innocently drinking moonshine and dancing on the boat……

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The next minute a life jacket is shoved at you as you are told to get the F*** of the boat.

There are times when the universe likes to remind you that you are not in charge. Usually, the reminders are not easy and are slightly painful. They are a lot like playing with a cat. One minute, you think you are having fun and the next minute, “OUCH.” That sonofabitch just up and bites the hell out of you for no reason.

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We were having some boat drinks, playing some music, and dancing on the Regal when I noticed black smoke starting to pour into the main cabin.

I have slow reflexes when I am NOT drinking. When I am drinking, my reactions are akin to someone in a coma. My flight or fight response is clearly broken and Matt often reminds me that I seem to lack the natural, God-given fear that creates a healthy sense of self-preservation in most people.

Naturally, my reaction was to move some things and lean down to see the smoke better, because that is certainly what most people would do when faced with a sudden boat fire.

That’s when Joey shoved a life jacket in my hands, moved me to the back of the boat, and said, “Jump off. NOW.”

I jumped.

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I had been filming the boat dancing and realized that I still had the GoPro clutched in my sweaty hand.

The playback of the incident is funny. I’m not crying. I’m not panicking. I’m not screaming for help. The only sounds that can be heard on the audio are the sound of the water and me repeating over and over, to no one in particular, “I really hope the boat doesn’t blow up because my camera is still on it.”

Priorities, people.

Everyone, including Joey, was scattered about in the ocean watching the boat burn, hoping it wouldn’t explode.

Because, well, then my camera would blow up.

Obviously.

So, there we all were, drifting alone or in pairs on the current, slightly drunk, silently worrying about sharks, and wondering what the hell we were supposed to do now.

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As I drifted farther from the others, I started trying to remember all those “lost at sea” stories that I have heard on Good Morning America. What did they say to do? Float on your back? Swim? Do you punch a shark in the nose or in the gills? Did I remember to put on sunscreen?

If a Vietnamese fisherman can survive for 4 days, surely I could make it a half hour.

I silently cursed myself for not grabbing that bag of pretzels before I jumped off.

Luckily, one thing you can be sure of is that a motor yacht with plumes of black smoke pouring from it will quickly get the attention of other boats.

We had no need to be worried.

Embarrassed maybe, but not worried.

Some nice folks from Florida pulled us out of the water, one at a time. We looked a hot mess. Some of us were fully dressed, some had life jackets half on/half off, there was smeared mascara, someone only had on one shoe, we all smelled like diesel fuel, and there were more bruises. You’ d have thought we had just endured a capsize, not a simple jump into the water.

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Moonshine and boat fires don’t mix, y’all.

Once everyone was on the boat and Joey was sure the engines were not going to explode, those nice folks from Florida even helped us get all our stuff off the boat. Even my flip flops made it!

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And yes, the camera was fine. (I know you were secretly worried)

I can’t thank Steve, Helen, Victoria, and Matthew enough. They saved the day.

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With the fire out, Joey stayed with the Regal while we were boated over to Lubbers Landing where Blue Wave had another boat waiting to take us home.

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Blue Wave handled it like champs. Thankfully, it was just a funny story instead of a tragedy.

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Just in case you aren’t sure, here is where burning boats fit into the hierarchy of funniness:

7 - EXTREMELY FUNNY: A Chihuahua in a toupee.

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6 - REALLY FUNNY: Matt in the 80s.

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5 – FUNNY: Jumping off a burning boat into the ocean (provided everyone is safe).

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4 – STILL FUNNY: Hemmorhoids (if someone else has them)

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3 – LESS FUNNY: Hemmorhoids (if you have them)

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2 – I'M NOT SURE IF IT'S FUNNY: Adam Sandler

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1 – NOT FUNNY: Exploding boats.

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That should clear that up.

By the time we got back to Guana, everyone was tense. Our day had been cut short. Our stuff (and some of us) smelled like diesel fuel. We’d had to jump in the ocean in our clothes and they had dried stiff and salty. Some of us were only wearing one shoe.

We couldn’t let the day end like that.

We put the life back in the party by making a quick stop at Nippers and Kidd’s Cove to remind ourselves that it was a beautiful day, life was fun, and there were things to celebrate.

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Back at the house, we thanked the Lord for our safe return and took stock of the new injuries of the day.

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Earlier, at Kidd’s Cove, Matt had made us a reservation for dinner. The last time we’d been on island, Forrest wasn’t around and his dad had done all the cooking. Mind you, Edmond was a fine cook, but he only had one thing on the menu…..Mahi-Mahi in a bowl of black beans and rice. Both times.

I was looking forward to seeing what Forrest had to offer. I have been told Forrest is professionally trained and is an excellent chef. After the day we’d had, a really good meal was in order.

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They weren’t quite ready for us when we arrived, so we sat at their pop-up bar across the street and had some Jello shots.

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When we were finally seated, I was giddy with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to hear what my options were.

That’s when Edmond came out of the kitchen.

“I’m cooking tonight and I’ve got mahi-mahi with black beans and rice.”

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We're going to have to teach Edmond to make something else.

We ended the day with fireworks at Nippers because apparently we hadn’t had enough smoke and fire for one day.

Happy Birthday, America.

Day Four: Just Kill Me Already

I woke up exhausted.

This trip was killing me.

I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.

And today was Nippers Sunday Funday.

Oh dear sweet Lord.

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We arrived early, before the crowd, to ensure our newbies had a front row seat to the action and to allow them the “full day experience,” which is really the best way to experience Nippers for the first time.

Sneaking in late in the afternoon just for the pinnacle of madness is not sufficient.

You need to be there early, when it’s calm and quiet. The music is playing, the breeze is blowing. You have a drink, lay by the pool, laugh with friends, have a little lunch. It’s beautiful and the atmosphere is chill and relaxed.

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While you are blissfully enjoying your mac n’ cheese, more and more bodies pour in, faster than a flu virus spreading on a playground. Before you know what has happened, Nippers is a bouncing mob of sweaty bodies, thumping music, and frozen drinks being spilled on your feet by strangers and you are right in the middle of it.

And you like it.

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I gave our newbies “Vicki’s Top 10 Tips for a Successful Nippers Sunday Funday:”

1) Get there early. Otherwise, you’re stuck at what I call the SPF 70 tables – the ones with absolutely NO SHADE. You will fry in less than 20 minutes and then you’ll have to go home and spend the rest of the afternoon bathing in aloe instead of having fun.

2) NEVER leave your keys in your golf cart. Not because someone will steal it. Don’t be crazy. This is the safest place on earth. Don’t do it because every rental golf cart looks exactly the same. Do you trust 400 drunk people to know exactly which one is theirs when the leave? I didn’t think so.

3) Don’t wear heels. Heels and a swimsuit? Heels at the beach? Heels in the sand? Why? Just WHY? Please, stop the madness.

4) Leave the trucker hats at home. I’m sorry, but I am so sick of the 20-somethings that show up in their matching trucker hats from their massive yacht and try to take over Nippers with their designer swimwear and Daddy’s AmEx card. Stay in Bakers Bay for gods sakes and leave Nippers to the 40-somethings that have nowhere else to lose their dignity without being judged by a bunch of entitled young people.

5) Eat the buffet. "ALL YOU CAN EAT MACARONI AND CHEESE." There’s really nothing else to say.

6) Have the Frozen Nipper. Sure, you can drink other things but this is why you are really here, isn’t it?

7) Don’t have more than 3 Frozen Nippers. You’ll thank me for this one later. If you ignore it, I can promise your boat/dock/deck/spouse will be covered in a moderate amount of bright red vomit later.

8) Never go to the bathroom in bare feet. This one needs no explanation.

9) Don’t get in the pool after 3:00 p.m. You just don’t know what might be in there.

10) Dance badly. No one cares. Most of them dance as badly as you do. This isn’t the place to worry that you might look silly. This is exactly the place to look silly.

It appears they took my advice.

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It seems the Nippers crowd always migrates to Grabbers late in the afternoon. It’s the place to fill your stomach with some heavy food, the place to slow down, the place to regain your composure.

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Or, in the case of our group, the place to enter a dance contest, try some hula hooping, and see how many more drinks you can consume before requiring a stomach pump.

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We added the new bruises to the “bruise of the day” list and called it a night.

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Day Five: It's Not Over Until It's Over

I jumped out of bed in a panic.

It was already 6:30 a.m.! I should have the cooler packed! We should be headed to the boat! I should be dressed already!!! Where were we supposed to be today????? Beach party? Nippers??? Fireworks????? Where was I? What day was it?

That’s when I remembered we had absolutely nothing planned for the day.

Sigh.

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It was our final day and it was blessedly agenda free.

Once everyone was up and about, we all agreed that our first destination would be the lagoon. The water was a little choppy on the sea and we thought this might offer a calm place to hang out on the boat for a while.

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It was perfect.

We did nothing more ambitious than sip on some bacon bloody marys and watch the clouds roll by.

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When we started to get hungry, it was time to make a decision. We narrowed it down to 2 options:

1) The weather was looking iffy, but it was gorgeous on Guana. It seemed like a good idea to swing by Guana grocery and get stuff for sandwiches and do nothing more than boat over to the north end beaches to relax.

2) Throw caution to the wind and head to Treasure Cay.

You’ve probably figured out by now that we have more guts than smarts.

The ride over was as beautiful as it always is. I am always mesmerized by the changing colors of the water as you get closer to Treasure Cay. It’s practically electric.

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As we neared the dock at Treasure Sands, the black clouds started to roll in. We watched the clouds gather ominously…promising a thunderstorm.

The bottom dropped out just as we made it inside.

I’d like to say we didn’t mind it so much. I’d like to be a big enough person to say we’d had our sun and our fun and a day of rain was just fine. But I am, in fact, a very small person and I wanted sunshine dammit.

I learned that no amount of sulking will make the rain stop.

We were stuck in the Treasure Sands club for HOURS.

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Oh well. If you are going to be stuck somewhere, at least get stuck somewhere with AWESOME FOOD.

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All of the food was fantastic, but it was the Crichton that won my heart.

THE CRICHTON: Vanilla ice cream, Espresso, Amaretto

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Listed with the “Adult Coffees” rather than the desserts, I expected a drink. Maybe like a grown up milkshake.

However, it was not a drink that showed up. It was this awesomeness.

Sure, that may just look like ice cream, but to dismiss this is JUST ice cream would be like saying van Gogh was JUST a guy with one ear. Comparing this to ice cream is like comparing Disney World to that time you took a creepy photo with an unlicensed character in Time Square that one time when you were drunk.

IT IS NOT THE SAME THING.

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I shoved it into my mouth with such unrestrained urgency that Matt gave me “that look.” You ladies know the one. The same look your husband gives you when you eat that 3rd piece of cake at the wedding or when you buy the dress that’s $435 because it’s ON SALE instead of the one that’s $49.95 or when you drink the champagne out of the bottle. Okay, maybe these are just me? Whatever. You know what I am saying.

I looked at him and said, “SHUT UP!” but I don’t think he understood what I was saying because my mouth was full of delicious ice cream-coffee-liquor awesomeness, but my passion was conveyed and that’s what matters.

With lunch over, there was nothing to do but wait.

And wait.

And wait.

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To add insult to injury, the roof was leaking everywhere. We may as well have been outside. We bundled up in towels and wished we were eating bologna sandwiches on Bakers Bay beach.

The storm finally slowed to a drizzle and we were able to leave.

So, our calm, quiet day hadn’t been so calm and quiet. It was par for the course. With this group, anything could happen.

We cleaned up and headed to Island Flavors for dinner. It was the only place that we hadn’t eaten at yet and they had MANGO SOFT SERVE!

MANGO SOFT SERVE!!!!

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And then, five days of madness were concluded with a simple fried grouper sandwich with a side of mac n’ cheese.

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Just like that, it was ov------

Wait.

It’s not over until it’s over.

And it wasn’t over.

Guana Cay had one more kick in the pants in store for us.

Apparently, one black eye, a sprained ankle, countless cuts and bruises, one boat fire, and one thunderstorm were not sufficient.

We also needed to run out of gas on our golf cart at 11:00 p.m. in the dark.

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Sweet heavenly Moses. I was never going to survive this trip.

Day Six: TGIFO (Thank God It's Finally Over)

Survive it, we did. We made it to the airport the next morning, a little banged up, a lot tired, and still smelling a little bit like diesel fuel, but we’d had a blast.

Now it was time to go home and lick our wounds.

Guana Cay: Don’t cry because it’s over. Cry because it happened.

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Until Next Time!!!!

Posted by vicki_h 10:00 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (3)

It's official: I am boring.

ANOTHER trip to Guana Cay.

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It’s official: I am boring.

I knew this would happen eventually. In fact, I saw a list online (which means it must be TRUE) titled, “How to know if you are boring.” Number 4 on that list? “Boring people always do the same thing.”

I went to Guana Cay again.

So, I am definitely boring.

In fact, you’ll probably fall asleep before you finish reading this.

What can I say? I LOVE IT THERE.

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I promise, there will be some more exciting destinations coming up in the fall and spring, but for now, please indulge my dreary, mind-numbing, repetitive vacation obsession with this little island.

This trip was short and sweet. It was also completely unplanned. That’s the beauty of going back to a place again and again – you really don’t need to do much more than throw a swimsuit and some flip flops in a bag and head down.

That’s pretty much what we did.

With less than a week’s notice, we decided to head down to Guana Cay for Memorial Day weekend.

You see, I was on a mission.

I was looking at houses, folks.

Yes, I know all of the reasons NOT to buy a vacation home.

First, there’s simply the fact that it costs a lot of money. Money that I could spend on other important things, like food and health insurance. Or lots of shoes.

Then, there are all of the unnecessary headaches. Maintenance, repairs, supplies. No longer is my vacation a carefree experience but it will involve things like buying toilet paper and fixing door hinges. Not to mention rusting appliances, mildew, bugs, and lizard control.

And what about the loss of the “freedom to travel?” I mean, having a house somewhere will make me feel OBLIGATED to vacation there, won’t it? Can I really enjoy myself in a mountain cabin when I know that I am paying exactly $2.74 per minute for a house that is sitting empty on an island somewhere?

Not to mention the feelings of extreme guilt and regret.

Every time I see a homeless person on my way home, I’ll have to think about the fact that I have TWO houses and they are sleeping in a tarp.

I also know that every time I look at my mom I am going to know she’s wondering why I didn’t spend that money on something more worthwhile.
Like a kid.

And let’s be frank, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, we all know that I am going to be sorry I didn’t use that money to buy machine guns, gold, and dehydrated foods and bury them in the back yard.

Sure, I know all these reasons. I know a vacation home is a poor investment. I know it is a headache. I know I could rent a house 10x nicer for way less than the cost of ownership.

But I went and looked at houses anyway.

I mean, it’s Guana Cay. Boring or not, I love it.

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Day One:

We headed down on a Friday afternoon. This was the first time we hadn’t left in the wee hours of the morning, in time to make the first ferry of the day at 10:30 a.m. Instead, we barely squeaked onto the last ferry at 5:45 p.m.

But not without a Bahama Mama from Curly Tails!

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We made it to Grabbers just in time for sunset.

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Then, we dumped the dogs off so that we could go eat dinner without 4 beady little eyes boring a hole into our very souls with their pathetic looks.

Instead, we drove away on our golf cart with 4 beady little eyes boring a hole into our very souls with their pathetic looks. Unfortunately for them, the soul-penetrating pathos they were beaming at us failed to make us realize how selfish we were being by wanting to go get food without them instead of recognizing their emotional agony.

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We went to dinner.

We decided to try Kidd’s Cove, a simple bar with a few inside tables. I had noticed their chalk board menu on our previous trip and everything sounded pretty good. It’s run by born and bred Guana Cay residents Forrest and Edmond Pinder, a father and son duo who cook up some mean mahi-mahi and also run a charter fishing business by day.

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Forrest wasn’t on island, but his dad was running the show in the kitchen in his absence.

The bad news was that Edmond was only cooking one thing that night: Drunken Mahi-Mahi.

The good news was that he was a pretty good cook!

While we waited, we ordered the house drink, "the mosquito." They also brought us out some of their sushi to try.

Sushi?

On Guana Cay?

Sure, this was the equivalent of getting a Chicago deep dish pizza in Mud Lake, Idaho, but it was free. Why not?

You know, it was pretty good.

I mean, they do catch their own fish……

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We all had the drunken mahi-mahi – tender fish stewed in a bowl of black beans, tomatoes, rice, and topped with a scoop of homemade potato salad.

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It was FANTASTIC.

Day Two:

So far, this trip had not followed the “rules of Vicki’s Guana Cay vacation.” We flew down in the late afternoon. We didn’t eat our customary first dinner at Grabbers. We ate SUSHI at a bar, for goodness sakes.

This trip had been the Bizarro version of the Guana Cay experience.

So, it came as no surprise that I didn’t wake up in time to see the sunrise.

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Bella didn’t mind.

It was Saturday and the weather was glorious, so we decided it would be a perfect day to take the boat all the way down to Little Harbour and visit Pete’s Pub.

This required a stop at Pelican Cay for beach drinks.

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Then it was on to Pete’s for lunch.

Thankfully, there was no live band and we knew exactly what the Blaster would do, so we had a nice, peaceful, relaxing, quiet, non-dancing, non-drunken lunch.

I told you this was the Bizarro trip, didn’t I?

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This gets my vote for “Worst Car Choice Ever.”

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And we’ll just call these “Boats I’ll Never Own.”

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On the way back, we made a stop at Lubbers Landing to see Austin and Amy. Guess who else we got to meet? Tiki Tim!

Yep. He’s a real person.

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If you don’t know, Tiki Tim provides a daily weather update on the Lubbers Landing Facebook page. You should check it out. Nothing says, "crazy" better than incessantly checking the weather for a place you don't actually live.

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Then it was back to Guana for a Grabbers sunset and some ribs with the dogs in tow.

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It was a quiet end to a calm and uneventful day.

Bizarro, no?

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Day Three:

The upside to spending the previous day like geriatric patients at a nursing home and being in bed before dark was that I was able to make it up in time for sunrise.

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We took a quick boat ride over to shell island where the dogs insisted on following me all the way around, forcing me to spend an inordinate amount of time shooing them away from dead things and old seaweed.

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After collecting some shells, we boated to the other end of Guana to take a second try at the Scotland Cay lagoon. We wanted to see if we could manage NOT to get stuck in the sand.

SUCCESS!

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Even Rooby, aka Cool Breeze, thought it was pretty awesome.

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In keeping with our Bizarro trip, we went to Nippers Sunday Fun Day and did nothing but watch. No nippers. No mac n’cheese. No dancing. No toilet paper on the head.

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Normally, THIS would be our golf cart. Not this time.

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Seriously? This was getting weird.

We grabbed a pizza and wings at Grabbers and called it a day.

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There was all kinds of dancing and mahem going on, but we just sat back and watched. Maybe we are getting old.

We had enjoyed Kidd’s Cove so much the first night, we went back for a late Sunday dinner. This time, there were TWO choices: Drunken Mahi or a Mahi plate.

After I got the mahi plate, I figured out it was the exact same thing as the Drunken Mahi, only it was all separated on a plate instead of in a bowl.

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That Edmond is very clever.

Day Four:

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Before we knew it, we were headed home. The trip came and went pretty quickly, but we accomplished what we had come to do. We looked at 4 houses and satisfied the ever-nagging question: Do we want to buy a house on Guana?

You’ll have to stay tuned for the answer.

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Posted by vicki_h 08:16 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (6)

Guana Cay: Same Time. Same Place.

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It starts off with a Bahama Mama from Curly Tails, complete with exactly one orange slice, a cherry, and a colorful umbrella. I know exactly what it will taste like as I take the first sip…part coconutty, part fruity, and part sunshine. Later, I’ll dig my toes into the sand, scrunching my feet until I get past that warm upper layer and reach the cool sand beneath, ruining my new pedicure and not caring. I’ll do it watching the sunset with a frozen Grabber in my hand as Glen, my favorite waiter, patiently waits for me to decide between conch fritters, lobster bites, or wings.

It’s a first day of vacation that I know well, because I have repeated it almost 20 times.

Sometimes you crave the excitement that can only come with a new destination. You want that thrill you get when you step into a new environment, not knowing what is around the next bend, but feeling like anything is possible.

It’s a rush.

In my younger days, I was puzzled by people who returned to the same place again and again. What was wrong with them? Were they afraid? Or were they simply unimaginative? Didn’t they know there was more to see? Travel was supposed to be about finding something new and undiscovered. It was all about the passport full of stamps.

Part of me still believes that, otherwise, you wouldn’t find me dragging myself down to Brazil, wondering if I’ll make it home with all of my fingers.

While I still crave the new and exciting, as I have grown older a part of me has recognized the soul-soothing joy of returning.

There is definitely something to be said for the “Repeat Vacation.”

Going back to the same place again and again has the comfort of slipping into your favorite pair of slippers. It’s like curling up with a warm blanket and a favorite book. It’s as sweet as getting a warm hug from your grandmother.

Consistency is the most underrated of virtues, especially in vacations. I can visit NYC over and over, only to find that it is an entirely new city each time, but returning to Guana Cay, I find everything just as I left it. Milo is selling seashells and limes on Front Street. Glen and Irene are handing out frozen Grabbers as the sun sinks on the horizon. Music pumps out of Nippers as bodies slathered in suntan oil scatter onto the beach below.

No matter how long we are away, when we return, we feel like we just turned our head for a moment to watch a boat pass by, and, turning back, everything is the same.

It’s why I return to Guana Cay again and again.

It’s a sweet relief. There is no planning. No anxiety. No pressure.

It’s coming home.

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Day One:

As soon as our feet hit Marsh Harbour, we grabbed a Bahama Mama at Curly Tails, jumped in the boat, and headed toward Lubbers Landing. We were early enough for lunch and I was craving some fish and chips.

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The place was just as we had left it….Amy’s colorful signs decorated the bar….fresh squeezed margaritas flowed like water…..the fries were still hand cut....and you still earned a nipple shot of Patron if you mastered the “around the pole hook and ring game.”

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We stayed long enough to detox from travel day, but left before the saltwater margaritas incapacitated our boat captain.

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Before we knew it, we were sipping that first frozen Grabber. It was a little overcast, so there was no sunset, but that didn't make the Grabber taste any less delicious.

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For dinner, we headed to Sunsetters. Not fans of the Orchid Bay restaurant in the past, we had heard good things about it recently. Especially “wing night,” where they served up a plate of wings for $4.

With a fried lobster and an order of mac n’cheese on the side, those were some mighty good wings.

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The boys had scheduled an early morning fishing trip with Henry Sands, so we arm wrestled for the check and called it a night.

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Day Two:

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I hate fishing.

I simply don’t understand the allure of getting up in the dark to go sit on a boat in the hot sun for hours doing nothing but watching a string.

There are flies. And unpleasant smells.

Don’t even get me started on the bait.

So, when I found myself awake at an ungodly hour to go fishing….I wasn’t the happiest camper.

I tried everything to get out of it.

"It looks like it's going to rain," I said.

"You can go inside the cabin if it does," Matt replied.

“I don't fish,” I told Matt.

“You’ll enjoy the boat ride,” he said.

“I’d really rather just stay here and read on the beach,” I pleaded.

“Our friends want to go. If you don’t go, they’ll feel bad,” he said.

“I really think the dogs will be lonely,” I whined.

“They have each other,” he said.

“What if I told you I have diarrhea?” (It was the first time in my life I actually WISHED for diarrhea….)

“You don’t.”

Sigh.

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So, I found myself on Henry Sands’ big fishing boat heading out into the open ocean at early o’clock.

Surprisingly, I also found myself having a pretty good time.

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The sun hid behind the clouds all morning, so it never got hot. It didn’t stink like I thought it would. The fish were prettier than I thought they would be. There was more action than I expected. And the rocking of the boat with nothing to do but listen to the music playing on the radio was pretty darn relaxing.

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Like a little gift from God for being a good sport, the clouds started to break and the sun came out just as we headed back into the marina. It was turning into a beautiful day.

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The fish were cleaned and the scraps were tossed to the cats, the sharks, and the rays.

All in all, it wasn’t so bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I still hate fishing.

But I didn’t die.

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We decided to eat lunch at Grabbers before heading out on the boat for the afternoon.

After a frozen Grabber and a coconut fried fish sandwich, I had forgotten all about the fishing.

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We grabbed Rooby and Bella and headed to the beach at Man O’War Cay where we stopped for some boat drinks and a quick swim.

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While I appreciated the effort, I don’t think Matt understood the concept of portable kitchen accessories when you’re on a boat. I wasn’t sure if he intended to grate some nutmeg on our drinks or shred an entire coconut.

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It was Friday and that meant Pizza Night at Lubbers Landing. We hadn’t made it to Pizza Night before, because we needed enough daylight to get the boat back to Guana before dark. With a late sunset time and Austin agreeing to make our pizzas a little early, we finally made it.

I had been tormented ever since watching Austin build his super grouper pizza oven, knowing that, if their island burgers and house made drinks were that good, the pizza had to be PHENOMENAL.

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I was excited.

I love pizza.

We had let Austin know in advance how many pizzas we wanted, a requirement since Austin makes all the dough fresh. If he doesn’t know you are coming…..no dough for you!

When we arrived, we ordered up some saltwater margaritas and caiproskas and just enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere that only Lubbers Landing can serve up so perfectly.

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When we were ready to order, Austin gave us our choice of toppings. Within 5 minutes, we had a hot, fresh wood oven pizza in front of us. The crust was crisp and chewy, perfectly charred, and topped with savory salami, mushrooms, and black olives.

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What can I say? It was pizza perfection.

The girls gave it two paws up.

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When Austin and Amy do something, they do it right.

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We headed back toward Guana with an hour of daylight left. It was perfect timing to see a beautiful sunset on the ride home.

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We were welcomed home by the moon and a fresh baked key lime pie.

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With an ending like that, I had already forgotten the day started with fishing.

Day Three:

We started the day with the sunrise and two happy dogs.

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It was going to be a long boat day, so we left the girls inside, packed up the boat, and headed south.

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In 10 years of trips to Abaco, we had never made it to Pete’s Pub. Every time we tried, there was a problem. The weather was too bad. The sea was too rough. It was too windy. Someone had a hangover.

Apparently, getting our group to Pete’s was as likely as finding a unicorn.

We were determined this time, and the conditions were perfect. Sunny skies, not too much wind, and full tank of boat gas.

It was Little Harbour or BUST.

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From Guana to the Tahiti Beach on the end of Elbow Cay, it was the usual sights: beautiful water in ever changing shades of blue and green and bright blue skies.

As we passed Tilloo Cay, things were new.

When we reached the shallow area of Tilloo Pond, we were mesmerized by the changing colors of the water.

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Before we knew it, we were pulling up to a beautiful deserted beach on an uninhabited cay. There were two curved crescents of beach with one finger of the softest sand sticking out into perfectly clear aquamarine water to separate them.

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It was the perfect place to anchor and enjoy some beach drinks.

We were lucky enough to have it to ourselves for a while.

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Eventually, we heard the rumbling of a boat motor. Make that 3 boat motors. Before we knew what was happening, 3 boats absolutely LOADED with bodies pulled up and started spilling people into the water.

It was like watching a bunch of red ants attacking a bowl of potato salad at a picnic and just about as welcome.

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That was our signal that it was time to move on.

Besides, we were hungry and Pete’s Pub was waiting!

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As we pulled into Little Harbor, I could tell this was going to be something special.

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I immediately loved Pete’s. A broken down, rambling structure with everything from t-shirts to traffic lights hanging from every available surface, it reminded me more of something from Jost Van Dyke than Abaco. Barely propped up in the sand, it more closely resembled a randomly tossed together house of cards than an actual structure.

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We ordered the BLASTER, the signature drink, and checked out all of the fish specials on the menu. I opted for a ginger garlic tuna sandwich that was served with corn and rice and walnut cole slaw.

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While we waited for our food, I wandered around and took it all in. This place was AWESOME. The floor was sand, the views were amazing, there was even a live band (High Rocks from Eleuthera).

A quick walk over a boardwalk revealed a wild ocean side just on the other side of the palm trees.

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I’d like to say we spent some time in the art gallery, appreciated some fine music, and behaved like civilized, sophisticated adults.

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I don’t know what was in that Blaster, but it rendered any semblance of maturity impossible.

The Blaster at Pete’s should come with a warning label:

WARNING: The excessive consumption of Blasters may lead to bad dancing with strangers and awkward limbo contest participation; it may impair your ability to eat walnut cole slaw without seeing it again later; and may be generally hazardous to your health.

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That’s all I’m saying about that.

The good news is that we made it back to Guana Cay intact, and in time to see the sunset at Grabbers.

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Day Four:

We took the girls for an early morning run on the beach.

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Apparently, Rooby can’t read.

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Then, I tortured them with dog hats. Bella was a good sport. Rooby was not.

By way of silent protest, Rooby wouldn’t move. She lay immobile on the deck, peering at me out of the side of her hat to make sure I was seeing her misery and understanding that I had ruined her entire life. There is nothing funnier than a concentrated display of overly emotional suffering in a dog.

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She got me back by chewing up the hat when I wasn’t looking.

We had decided to do a few hours on the boat before heading to Nippers for a Sunday lunch filled with all manner of people watching.

Our caretaker had told us that his favorite place to go in all of Abaco was “the lagoon.” I was immediately intrigued.

“Lagoon?” I asked, with visions of a Gilligan’s Island style swimming hole, complete with coconut trees and monkeys. Okay, maybe not the monkeys.

He directed us toward the shallow area just between the south end of Guana Cay and Scotland Cay.

“Isn’t that a little shallow?” we asked.

We had been tempted by this incredible little turquoise hole before, but the super shallow water and a healthy dose of fear had always kept us out.

“Nah,” he said. “It’s fine.”

“It’s fine,” I said to Matt.

Famous last words.

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The lagoon was beautiful. Shallow water filled with starfish and stingrays, a small sandbar, and a deep blue hole in the center. The gorgeous palm fringed beach was private, being part of the private island of Scotland Cay, but the water belonged to everyone.

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I loved watching as the little sandbar started to emerge.

That should have been a clue.

Shallow water. Sandbar emerging. Low tide coming.

But we just kept playing blissfully in the water.

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And that’s how we got stuck in the sand.

Do you know how easy it is to pull a deep V boat that’s really big and heavy off of the sand when it is in really shallow water?

Not.

We felt incredibly stupid.

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There wasn’t a soul around, which was good for allowing our stupidity to remain anonymous, but bad for getting some help.

We pulled.

We pushed.

We did a “get the boat unstuck” water dance.

We cried.

We shouted.

Just as we were giving up and resigning ourselves to being stuck for the next few hours until the tide came back in….another boat pulled into the lagoon.

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Hot damn and hallelujah!

Sure, it was humiliating, but being towed off the sand was better than sitting in the heat for the next 5 hours.

Thanks to the little boat with the big heart, we still had time for a stop at Shell Island before calling it a day.

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Having walked the circumference of Shell Island before, I decided this was a good plan for the day. It was low tide, so it should be easy.

Apparently, this wasn't my "smart day."

You know how, when you make your mind up to do something, even once that little voice in your head keeps saying “This is stupid,” you keep going? Like turning around will somehow make you a quitter, doomed to fail at everything for the rest of your life?

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That’s what happened to me as I got past the halfway point, only to realize that the last time I did this was several years ago, and that a number of storms had washed a number of dead trees into the path that weren’t there before. The beach route was blocked.

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This was further complicated by the fact that the water route, while shallow, was filled with sharp, jagged rocks and I was barefoot.

But I was already more than halfway, I told myself. To turn back now would take longer than to just power ahead. It had to get better, right?

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It didn’t.

After 30 minutes of alternating between walking gingerly on sharp rocks, praying there wouldn’t be a sea urchin, and picking my way through an entangled maze of downed trees, all pointing at my internal organs like spears, I emerged on the other side….sunburned, sweaty, dehydrated, and exhausted.

But triumphant!!

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This victory called for a Nipper.

I am happy to report that we finally had a calm, low-key Sunday at Nippers. We were spectators, not participators. Sure, that’s only because we were all still a little fuzzy from the Blaster Debacle the day before, but I’ll still claim it as a sign that I am slowly moving toward true adulthood.

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Nah.

Although, it was nice actually remembering most of my Sunday afternoon and not emerging at 6:00 p.m. from a frozen Nipper fog, covered with sand and glow sticks, wondering where my other flip flop was.

And just as we started the trip the way we always do, we ended it the way we always do: late night pizza at Grabbers with a sunset fading into the starry night.

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Maybe we are boring for always going back to Guana Cay.

After all, “going back,” means retreat, doesn't it?

However, “retreat” doesn’t always mean surrender.

It can also mean haven, sanctuary, refuge.

I have found my sanctuary.

I’ll see you there again next time.

Same time. Same place.

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Posted by vicki_h 09:51 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour Comments (0)

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