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CAKE BY THE OCEAN: A 50th Birthday Bash in Paradise

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I have found out there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them” – Mark Twain

It was a cold, gray day in December 2014. Matt and I were drowning our Seasonal Affective Disorder in a pitcher of top shelf margaritas at our favorite Mexican dive. Somehow, the conversation turned to Matt’s 50th birthday. I mean, if you’re already depressed, you may as well dredge up every miserable topic you can think of, right?

Despite the fact that it was still a year and a half away, it was already weighing heavily on his mind.

“Why don’t we plan something fun for your birthday, like when we took all my friends to the Bahamas for my 40th? You should look forward to your birthday, not dread it,” I said, through a mouthful of tortilla chips.

We started visualizing what such a trip could look like….where we would go…..who we would invite….and the more tequila we drank, the more amazing the idea seemed.

Why should he sit at home and bury his head in misery? Instead, we thought about going big and planning the trip of a lifetime.

By the bottom of the pitcher, we had solved all of the world’s problems, had figured out a cure for cancer, and had planned a birthday trip for Matt’s 50th. We had decided to rent a villa on Jost Van Dyke and invite our friends.

With 4 bedrooms, we could invite 3 other couples, but who? How to decide? We loved all of our friends and there were 12 of them.

“Let’s just invite them all and see who can come,” Matt said through the tequila haze.

It was a perfect plan.

What better way to turn 50 than do it with all of your favorite people in paradise?

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We invited 12 people.

12 people said “yes.”

This was an unanticipated turn of events.

Of course they all said yes. They have heard us rave about Jost Van Dyke for years.

Jost Van Dyke is simply one of the best places on earth. Not only does it have one of the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean, the Soggy Dollar Bar, a veritable rite of passage for any beach bum, it has TWO of the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean with Foxy’s just a stumble away. Jost Van Dyke is an island of pure magic; a bubble of happiness and perfection, an oasis of sunshine and rainbows fueled by painkillers and rum punch. It is Caribbean utopia.

So that was it, then. We were going. All 14 of us.

We were going to need a bigger house.

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Forget all those trust-building exercises where you have to assemble a puzzle together, or fall into one another’s arms with your eyes closed. I cannot imagine a more arduous test of any personal relationships than travelling together to a remote island as a group of 14.

Don’t get me wrong, I have vacationed with all of these people and loved it.

SEPARATELY.

I just wasn’t sure how the dynamics of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE OF PEOPLE I KNOW being in one place at one time would work.

Some of our friends had never even met each other.

Still unsure whether this was lunacy or genius, we booked another house.

God help us.

God help Jost Van Dyke.

It was officially on.

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SATURDAY: JOST VAN DYKE RULES.

Never mind that the mean age for this group was just over 50, the “House Rules” for this trip read something like a frat party:

• Wake up smiling every day.
• Remember that drinking rum before 10:00 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.
• Calories do not count on vacation. Anyone who attempts to exercise will be tied up and left as shark food.
• No talking about politics or the election. The first person to bring up Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton gets voted off the island.
• Stay hydrated.
• The least drunk people each day are in charge of looking out for the drunkest people each day.
• You can’t be the drunkest person each day. In the interest of fairness, please take turns. Except Matt. He can be the drunkest person every day.
• This is your vacation. If you need some “me time,” take it. Of course the rest of us will talk about you while you’re gone. We’re not Puritans.
• No passing out in the common rooms of the houses. No one wants to wake up and tiptoe around your drooling, lifeless body.
• If you don’t want to see it on Facebook, don’t do it.
• Yes to drinking games, spontaneous dance-offs, group singing, laughter, snacks, and naps.
• No to arguing, fighting, whining, crying, working, dieting, exercising, or excessive sobriety.
• Relax.
• Have fun.

A list of rules may seem unnecessary for a group of mature adults. This was not, however, a group of MATURE adults.

This was exemplified before our flight even took off as one male member of our party showed up on to the American Airlines gate dressed like a pregnant woman while screaming that Matt was the baby daddy.

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Yep. This was going to be a week to remember.

Despite the fact that we had all gotten up at 3:00 a.m. to make our early flights, the mood on the plane was downright joyful.

WE WERE GOING TO JOST VAN DYKE!

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We landed on St. Thomas at 11:30 and I sent everyone over to grab their free thimble full of rum while I sent Matt out to find a taxi large enough for 14 people.

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He found one all right!

With luggage and bodies crammed into every nook and cranny, we set off for Red Hook.

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4 carsick passengers, 7 impatient horn blows, and 23 hairpin turns later, we were dropped off at Duffy’s Love Shack where we hoped to grab a quick bite before catching the 2:30 ferry.

It was going on 1:00, so this seemed possible.

Yes, I wasn't really thinking about "island time."

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Despite the fact that there was exactly ONE very slow bartender and ONE even slower waitress, we somehow managed to eat, drink, and get merry in time to catch the ferry.

By the time we arrived on Jost Van Dyke and cleared customs, it was 3:30.

We had been up for 12 hours. We were hot. We were dirty. We were exhausted.

I had rented Escape Villa and Pink House Bougainvillea because I had a large group of people, a very special occasion, and I needed top notch service.

Despite the fact that I paid a hefty sum to rent these 2 houses for a week, I did not get top notch service.

The materials sent to me by the managers for the houses clearly stated that the caretakers would gladly help me provision the houses, accepting delivery of groceries and putting them away. This was one of the reasons I rented these properties.

From the Pink House information packet: Call our General Managers (Franky and Lydia) so they know what your order's delivery schedule is estimated to be. Please confirm with them a pick-up from the dock at Great Harbor and delivery to the villas.

From the Escape Villa information packet: The property managers will arrange to have your groceries picked up at the ferry dock and delivered to Escape Villa and waiting for you upon arrival. You will just have to email the Property Managers with the information and confirm it with them.

However, my repeated emails (which started 4 weeks before our trip), went ignored. When I finally pressed for assistance after 10 days of emailing, the response I received was rather curt:

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Two sentences that told me to do it myself. And no explanation about why or alternatives offered.

I envisioned 14 travel weary adults, ready for nothing more than a hot shower and a good meal, arriving to 50 boxes of groceries that needed to be loaded, transported, unloaded, and unpacked.

I appealed to the managers of the houses, sending this mournful plea (I am not too proud to grovel and would have done just about anything at this point): “It will be somewhat difficult to arrive with 14 people and luggage to also pick up boxes of groceries from the dock and transport them to the house on a taxi. If there is any way that this service can be provided, I would appreciate it, otherwise, I suppose we will simply try to do it on our own as best we can.”

I offered to pay extra for the provisioning assistance.

I received one response that said, “Please coordinate this with Lydia.” I received no other response.

Wow.

Not what you expect for $12,000.

So that is how we arrived: a sweaty, bedraggled group of 14 after 12 hours of travel that were forced to split up so that the women could get all of the luggage to the house alone and start getting it unpacked while the men sat in the sun at the ferry dock and to wait an additional 45 minutes for the ferry with our groceries to arrive, load the groceries onto a taxi, unload them at the house, and then all of us spend 30 minutes putting them away.

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At the moment when I was dragging our two fifty pound suitcases up the very steep driveway to the house by myself, I would have paid any amount of money for help. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even offered the opportunity.

To add insult to injury, the caretaker wasn’t even at the house when we arrived. When she finally showed up about 45 minutes later, she spent a scant 5 minutes showing us the house and left. We never heard from her or saw her again during our trip.

Even after I communicated my displeasure with the owner of the houses after our trip – not one word of apology. His response was “We have established relationships with vendors who provide our guest top service. In this case, while you’ve personally had a good experience with Bobby’s, we’ve had dozens that have not and therefore we do not use them anymore. We advised you this was the case and simply stated that you would need to coordinate with them on your own if you didn’t want to use our preferred vendor.”

Seriously???? It’s important to note that NO ONE advised me at any time prior to my arrival (not during the 4 weeks of emails that I continued to send in hopes of some assistance) that they would not help if we used Bobby’s rather than their grocery store of choice. The only communication I received in those 4 weeks were the two sentences that told me to do it myself with no explanation about why.

And frankly, I don’t think it should be their choice to force a guest to use a more expensive grocery store when that guest has a well-established history of good service with another vendor. Just. Incredible.

So….instead of arriving to this:

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We arrived to this:

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Escape Villa and Pink House?

As a well-travelled individual who has rented many homes on many island in all price ranges……My advice is…

DON’T DO IT.

Stay at White Bay Villas and put the other $10,000 in your pocket. Not only will you be treated well, you’ll have a lot of money left over for painkillers (or for sending your kids to college).

Hours later, we finally had everything put away and everyone got a much needed shower (and a much needed drink!).

The party had gotten derailed. Instead of arriving to paradise, my group had arrived to a carboard box filled hell complete with sweat, tears, and Ritz Crackers that needed to be put away.

As the official Funmeister of Matt’s 50th Birthday, I had to get things back on track. I knew there was only one thing that could make everything right with the world again: SHOTS.

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Okay, make that two things:

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FOXY’S – BECAUSE EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE DUSTY UNDERWEAR HANGING ABOVE YOUR HEAD.

I knew I had been successful when the waitress at Foxy’s came out for the third time to tell us that the pole was necessary to hold the building up and was not, despite our best efforts, put there for dancing.

The party was ON.

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SUNDAY: PARADISE DOES HAVE A NAME. IT’S GERTRUDE.

The forecast had called for mostly cloudy with an 80% chance of rain and storms for every day of our trip. I know better than to pay attention to a Caribbean forecast, but, like the rest of you, I can’t help myself.

We all know we do it.

It’s like looking behind the shower curtain when you walk into the bathroom even though you know there isn’t anyone in there. It’s pointless, but you are helpless to stop yourself.

When I woke up that first morning, I thought about that forecast.

After the arrival fiasco the day before, I prayed that we didn’t wake up to gray skies. That was a blow I didn’t think even the Funmeister could pull the group back from.

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We woke up to a gloriously perfect White Bay Day.

I was as happy as a pig in the sunshine.

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As the official master of ceremonies, I was in charge of the itinerary. (Was this even a question????). I had decided our first day had to be a White Bay Day. We had no plans more aspiring than seeing how long it took to get lounge chair marks on our butts.

The first order of business, however, was collecting 16 free painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar.

How do you get 16 FREE painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar, you ask? You have extremely awesome friends that purchased them months before on their own trip to Jost Van Dyke.

It also helps if your super nice friends can’t count and accidentally buy you 2 extra so that the Birthday Boy and his master of ceremonies, the Funmeister, can two fist it before it’s even time for lunch.

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On the “party end” of White Bay, my favorite base of operations is Gertrude’s. Not only does she have full size reclining chairs, she has “pour your own” rum punch.

My version of Gertrude’s rum punch has enough rum in it to kill a small horse.

Or Gary Busey.

The day was spent drinking copious amounts of rum and alternating between getting pruney in the gin clear water and getting marginally sunburned on a lounge chair in between sporadic bouts of bad dancing.

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Lunch found us at Seddy’s One Love downing lobster quesadillas, wings, and the island’s best bushwackers.

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That was followed by more dancing and generously giving away all of my chips to two little boys who asked me if they could have them.

With those faces, I would have given them my kidney if they had asked.

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Foxy’s Taboo was supposed to be having a Regatta party that afternoon, so we pried ourselves off our chairs and headed that way.

We found….nothing.

No live music. No dancing. No people. No party.

Although we did find some exceptional cocktails.

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Everyone was a little too salty, a little too tired, and a little too lubricated for another party anyway, so we headed back to the house for much needed showers and naps.

Besides, Ivan’s told us they were having an 80s party that night. We needed to rest up.

The plan was to put on some obnoxious 80s-wear and head to Ivan’s where we would do the robot, listen to some Billy Idol, and grab some eats.
As I sent everyone inside to “gear up,” we sent a scout over to see what was going on at Ivan’s. It was only feet from Escape Villa, but we couldn’t hear any music. That seems suspicious.

Apparently, Ivan’s had gotten the same memo Foxy’s Taboo had gotten and the party was not meant to be.

What does a Funmeister do when she has promised a night of 80s fun to 13 adults and has forced them to put on costumes only to find out there is no party?

She makes shots and starts her own party. (Shots are the vacation equivalent of duct tape - they fix EVERYTHING)

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What no one knew was that one of our 50 lb suitcases had contained a secret:

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The Rockville was 800 watts of musical awesomeness. Who needs a party at Ivan’s when you have the Rockville, an iPod full of 80s tunes, and 14 adults in costumes? Not to mention strobe lights and a fully stocked bar.

It was EPIC.

The party was so good we had strangers wandering up from the beach to join us. We could have charged admission.

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It was around 9:00 p.m. when I noticed Matt staring blearily into space while shoveling handfuls of chips into his mouth that I realized I hadn’t thought about dinner when we made the shift in plans. I had 14 adults who had been drinking all day and had no dinner.

I made a quick call to Vinnie at Corsair’s.

“Is it too late to order some pizzas for delivery?” I said in a state of panic. “I have 14 people who need some grease and dough in their bellies STAT!”

Vinnie delivered a stack of pizzas to our door in 30 minutes.

I am pretty sure he should be called Saint Vincent.

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MONDAY: BOATS & HOES.

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One of Matt’s birthday week requests was to charter a catamaran to take us out a couple of days.

Captain Colin of Jost Van Dyke Scuba had just what we needed: a 42’ catamaran with 1000 square feet of deck space and free rum punch.

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Everyone was still felt like Vicki Prince was screaming “Let’s go Crazy!” in their ears, so we started the day slowly, with some much needed boat lounging.

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Cpt. Colin took us to the Indians for an incredible snorkel.

This was followed by a nice spread of snacks on the boat.

And rum punch.

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That’s pretty much where the civilized portion of the day concluded.

Next stop? Where else do you go once the rum punch starts to flow? The Willy T, of course! (every Funmeister knows that)

This broken down pirate ship just off the beach at Norman Island was definitely the place to let this group get their fun on.

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We started off with lunch.

Lunch turned in to drinks.

Drinks turned into…well….I have been instructed not to overshare. I’ll just let you use your imagination.

Let’s just say it made 80’s night look like your grandma’s tea party.

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The boat ride back to Jost was uneventful, although we did have one person throwing up off the back of the boat, three passed out in the salon, and one puking into a zip-loc bag.

Fun times!

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The Funmeister passed waters around and we managed to get everyone back to Jost Van Dyke intact. Getting them off the boat and onto the dingy and then from the dingy to the dock was an entirely different matter.

No one fell in the water, so we will call it a success.

I sent everyone in for naps and showers, letting them know dinner was at Sidney’s Peace & Love that night.

Sidney’s was a perfect end to the day. The lobsters were HUGE and we made short work of them. All that was left was the carnage.

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TUESDAY: THE ULTIMATE F WORD.

I have heard it said that a birthday is nature’s way of telling you to eat more cake.

A FIFTIETH birthday is apparently nature’s way of telling you to drink more rum.

Because that’s what we did.

All day long.

It was Matt’s birthday and we were going to party like it was his birthday.

It was another picture-perfect White Bay Day.

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We took up our usual spots at Gertrude’s and soaked it in.

It was a perfect day filled with sunshine and friends, beach ducks, interesting strangers, Seddy’s magic tricks, lobster rolls and spicy wings, and enough rum to pickle a small army.

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I wanted Matt’s birthday dinner to be special. The restaurants on Jost are great for a beachy lunch or drinks, but none of them seemed right for a nice birthday dinner. The Sandcastle no longer did dinners on the beach, and the thought of being crammed in their dark cement hole of a restaurant just didn’t feel right for this occasion.

I had gone out on a limb and contacted Liz Henderson of Hendo’s Hideout. Hendo’s was just being built when we had last been on Jost and I remembered it being a beautiful building with a stunning view. The restaurant and bar had just opened 2 months earlier, serving drinks and lunch only.

It was a risky move. We had never even seen the completed restaurant. We had NO IDEA what their food or drinks were like. They didn’t even serve dinner.

But I had a gut feeling and I went with it.

When Liz agreed to do a private dinner party for Matt’s birthday, I was so excited. And nervous. But mostly excited.

Everyone put on their beach best. You’d have never know this group had been moderately intoxicated for 4 days.

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At least until the guys put on a pre-dinner concert, but maybe that was because of the birthday shots.

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We walked down the beach to Hendo’s, wondering what to expect.

Liz had decorated a beach front table beautifully. We were greeted by delicate starfish and small votives filled with sand.

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She immediately took drink orders and we noticed right off that these weren’t your average “White Bay” drinks. It was less rum punch and bushwacker and more passionfruit margarita and champagne cocktail. The drinks tasted as good as they looked.

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Champagne buckets arrived, filled with bubbly and ice.

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The dinner was getting off to a great start.

Liz had provided a menu in advance and we had sent in our orders the day before, so within minutes of our arrival, we had delicious cocktails and mouth-watering food.

The food. OMG. THE FOOD!

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The food was nothing short of amazing. We had lobster with butter lime sauce, BBQ ribs (because every group has the one person that won’t eat seafood!), grilled mahi-mahi with peppers, and a creole snapper that was to DIE FOR.

The champagne flowed. The food was phenomenal. The candles sparkled. The air was filled with the laughter of our friends.

It was perfect.

Liz had knocked it out of the ballpark.

Run, don’t walk, to Hendo’s Hideout the next time you are on Jost Van Dyke. You will thank me.

Our group agreed it was everyone’s favorite meal of the entire trip.

Then it was time to head back to the villa for cake.....by the ocean (I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself).

Matt had specifically requested a chocolate peanut butter cake, so I had made it myself. After drinking rum all day.

Cake mixes should come with "island directions." Kind of like "high altitude directions," but more geared toward simple things that you forget in a slightly altered state like, "First, open the box. Next, cut open the plastic pouch. Then, pour cake mix into a bowl, crack the eggs before putting them in the bowl, do not put the shells in the bowl." That would have been helpful.

I really think it turned out quite nice, complete with “nutter butter sand” and chocolate seashells (and enough candles to start a forest fire).

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Then it was time to break out the Rockville and dance the calories away.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

You may be 50, but to me, that just means you are 5 perfect 10’s. (Can I hear a collective “awwwww….,” please?)

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WEDNESDAY: RUM SOAKED, SUN SOAKED, AND WELL….JUST SOAKED.

The party hadn’t stopped since we had arrived. Our fun switches had been in the “ON” position for 4 days. I think one of our friends summed it up perfectly when she looked at me the night before and said, “I just realized I have been drinking for 13 hours.”

We needed a break.

We were exhausted.

As luck would have it, this was the one overcast day we had on the entire trip. It was a blessing.

We had booked a second catamaran day with Cpt. Colin.

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For a minute, he wasn’t sure if we were the same group he had dropped off 2 days before. We were quiet and subdued.

It was time for a down day.

We decided to put up the sails and sail to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. This would take a couple of hours and give everyone plenty of time to relax.

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When we arrived at Cane Garden Bay, we decided to head to the Callwood Distillery. Matt and I had spent an entire WEEK in a house across the street from the distillery the previous November and had never made it inside.

No one really knows how long the distillery has been in operation, but the Callwood family has been operating it for 200 years after taking it over from the Arundel family.

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As the sign demanded, we bellied up to the bar, put down our $1 and sampled 4 shots of their rum, all aged to various degrees.

The 90 proof Arundel cane rum called the “horny rum” was clearly the group favorite.

I’m not sure what that says about our group.

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After making some rum purchases, we headed to Myett’s for lunch. We ordered a rainbow variety of frozen drinks, wings, burgers, and sticky-sweet chicken thighs.

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Did I mention that we were exhausted?

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On the way back to Jost Van Dyke, we passed by Sandy Spit and made a B-Line for Little Jost Van Dyke.

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The B-Line Beach Bar, that is.

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This little bar sits by itself on a little curve of sand and serves up a delicious drink called the passion confusion. There were even chunks of frozen pineapple floating in there.

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We found a birthday message to Matt that had been left by our friends in December.

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And we left a message of our own.

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Then it was back to the villas for our requisite afternoon siesta.

We headed to Corsairs that night for dinner. While Vinnie’s pizzas are top notch and had really saved our bacon a couple of nights before, the rest of the menu is exceptional and begged to be sampled.

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Matt and I had creamy lobster mac n’ cheese and the spicy cioppino with a fresh salad. It was out of this world.

I’m not sure how we had the energy to stop for a drink at Foxy’s before heading home, but we did.

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Then it was time to head back and get some sleep, lest we end up looking like this guy:

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THURSDAY: STRESS FREE.

So far, we had spent our beach days on what I call the “party end” of White Bay. This is where you will find the Soggy Dollar Bar, an inordinate number of people in straw cowboy hats, and a sea of boats pulled up to the shore. It’s crowded. It’s loud. It’s fun.

But sometimes, you want the quiet end of White Bay. That’s when you park it at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar.

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We lined up 14 chairs, mixed up some rum punch, and proceeded to take over the place.

It appeared the “off day” had worked it’s magic and everyone had their groove back.

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That was a good thing, because we had a lot of rum to drink in two days.

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I guess Ivan’s wasn’t the quite end of the beach anymore.

When the hungries hit, we headed back to Hendo’s for lunch. Dinner had been so great, lunch had to be pretty good.

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It was good.

The afternoon was spent doing a whole lot of nothing.

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That evening, we all got cleaned up and decided to head to Ivan’s for the Thursday night buffet, because we certainly needed more all-you-can-eat on this trip!

Ivan’s didn’t disappoint and the ladies serves us up some mean chicken and ribs.

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We ate enough to send us all into a food coma for the night.

Or was that the rum?

It was getting hard to tell.

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FRIDAY: AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A HATFIELD PARTY, ‘CUZ A HATFIELD PARTY DON’T STOP.

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One of our friends had come up with this phrase on a previous trip and it had stuck. Because it was true.

We were good at this.

We had sustained the party for a week with very few down times. Even Vicki the Funmeister was impressed with this group’s stamina.

It was our last day, so we wanted to make it a good one. We decided to stay on “our beach” for the day. We lined up the chairs, blew up the floats, dragged out the paddle boards, anchored the floating mattresses, and turned up the Rockville.

The day was non-stop fun.

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We went through every phase of beach drinking that day.

There was the “this is the most fun I have ever had in my life,” phase:

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That was followed by the “I love you, man,” phase:

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Next up was the “we are amazing dancers,” phase:

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Things started to wind down with the “I've fallen....and I can't get up,” phase:

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And finally, the, “let’s just take a nap,” phase:

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With one dinner left, we let Matt pick where he wanted his last meal on the island.

Of course he picked Sidney’s Peace & Love for another monster lobster. He is painfully addicted to their potato salad.

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Before we knew it, we were hanging up our own shirt at Foxy's and taking our last sleep on the birthday island.

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SATURDAY: ADIOS TO JOST….IT’S THAT TIME OF DAY.

It’s the point that comes in every trip: time to go home.

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I couldn’t believe how the week had gone. It had been amazing. Near perfect.

All 14 of us had gotten along so well that it was almost frightening (rum helps with that, I think). There had been no fights, no arguments, and no hurt feelings. We practically held hands and sang “Kumbayah” every day like a commune full of hippies in an old farmhouse in Woodstock filled with cats.

The weather had been great. Everything had gone well. We never ran out of potato chips. And no one got hurt (except for one unfortunate incident involving a member of our party and a large shrub.....).

I couldn’t believe how great the week had gone. I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to be able to spend a week in paradise. I couldn’t believe how blessed we were to call these people our friends.

Ehr ma gawd, that’s some sappy crappy, isn’t it? I blame all the rum I guzzled over the trip for that word vomit. My liver is still trying to recover.

(But I meant every word of it)

So, here’s to Matt! Here’s to his 50th! Here’s to great friends!

If this is what we did for his 50th, I better start the planning for mine NOW.

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Posted by vicki_h 11:05 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tortola jost_van_dyke bvi british_virgin_islands Comments (5)

Jost Another Week in Paradise

Sun and Fun on Jost Van Dyke

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If I told you Jost Van Dyke is Dutch for “incredibly tiny island,” you might believe me, given that this little island in the British Virgins is small enough to walk around in a day and is home to just a few hundred residents.

Actually, no one really knows where this island’s name comes from, although it is rumored to be named for a Dutch pirate who pillaged and plundered his way through the BVI.  This island is as obscure as its namesake, and it’s that obscurity that continues to draw me back.

This place isn’t off the beaten path.

There is no path.

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Despite the fact that it was April, we were entering into what felt like the 19th month of what I will forever call “the winter that would never end” in East Tennessee. The heat was still on, I couldn’t unpack my open toed shoes, and I still had my winter fat.

What? Winter fat? Every woman knows what winter fat is. Winter fat is that extra weight you gain during winter because you are so bundled up in 27 layers of clothing that no one can tell you’ve packed on a little since fall and because there are far too many holiday eating opportunities. Like Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Year’s. And Benito Juarez’s birthday.

Hey, if it’s on my calendar, it deserves a cupcake.

As I sat in my office at work one day, my illegal portable heater buried under my desk so that the Public Building Authority wouldn’t find it and confiscate it, damning me to the level of teeth chattering cold that can only exist in a government office building, I received a call from a friend providing me an opportunity to spend a week on Jost Van Dyke.

At the Pink House.

I think I heard angels singing.

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The Pink House.

You have to understand, while I dearly love the island of Jost Van Dyke, it's primarily regarded as a day trip destination. The few accommodations there are to choose from leave something to be desired. My previous options included a room with no view that was barely a step up from a Motel 6 for about $350 a night and an economy cabin that bore a striking resemblance to my dad’s plywood garden shed for $65 a night.

I thought back to my other 2 overnight trips to Jost.

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On the first trip we slept in a cabin with a door that didn’t quite shut – allowing the mosquitoes ample access to my body while I slept covered in sweat due to the lack of air conditioning or a working ceiling fan. The walls were so thin that I could hear the goats eating the tree outside and I began to suspect that the walls were actually made out of discarded cereal boxes. We had to avoid drinking anything after 7:00 p.m. to prevent waking up in the middle of the night and having to make a mad dash with a flashlight in the dark, avoiding lizards, crabs, and all manner of nocturnal hazards, to the shared freestanding bathroom that was about 200 feet away and was out of toilet paper more often than not.

On the second trip, we splurged on a hotel room that cost us almost $400 a night for a very basic room, but one that had walls made out of actual construction materials. We found ourselves staying out as late as possible because, while air conditioned, the room had cement walls and no view from the small windows. It was a lot like being in my grandmother’s basement, except that she had video games and a big screen T.V. and a bar with a peanut machine.

A peanut machine would have gone a long way toward making up for the lack of view.

But….the Pink House.

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I had seen it on every trip. A shining jewel of a thing at the end of White Bay.  A beautiful private villa right on the beach on an island where private villas are practically unheard of.

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Multiple bedrooms with en suite baths. Air conditioning. Ceiling fans that really work. An actual kitchen. Doors that shut all the way. An ice machine. Satellite T.V. Wi-fi. It’s own beach.

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I wiped the drool off my chin and booked 2 flights.

We were going to the Pink House, y'all.

===Saturday: Planes, trains boats, and automobiles.===

I won’t lie.

Jost Van Dyke is not easy to get to from Tennessee.

But the best and most worthwhile things in life take a little work, don’t they? Like my graduate school roommate’s dad used to tell us when we were grumbling about our dissertations, “If it was easy, they’d just throw one in your car window as you drove by.”

First there is the whole indignity of the airport experience. Once you’ve been sufficiently violated by TSA, you get to jockey for position with 200 other people in hopes that you are one of the lucky few that get to attempt to cram your obviously overpacked carry on into the plane before some flight attendant grabs it from you and informs you that you have to check your bag because there is no space left, leaving you to wonder if your bag will make it there before it’s time for you to return home.

After 2 flights and about 8 hours of your life that you’ll never get back, you land on St. Thomas. You then have to make a choice: taxi to Charlotte Amalie and get a ferry to West End, Tortola and then attempt to make another ferry from West End to Jost Van Dyke, or taxi to Red Hook and take one ferry from Red Hook, with a brief stop on St. John, then straight on to Jost.

Unfortunately, our early flight got us there about 20 minutes too late to catch the early ferry and about 3 hours too early for the next one. After studying the ferry schedules of 4 different ferry companies that leave from 2 separate places, I had the mind bending logistics worked out to determine the quickest way for us to arrive on Jost Van Dyke. I also had a medium sized headache. We would take the 45 minute taxi ride from the airport to Red Hook and wait a couple of hours for the ferry from Red Hook to Jost Van Dyke.

Besides, with a couple of hours to kill on St. Thomas, we’d no doubt be several rum punches into our afternoon by the time the ferry came, so getting on one boat and staying on it sounded like a safe plan anyway. That way there was no chance we’d end up on Anegada by the end of the day wondering how we got there.

I remember as a kid, there was a ride at Six Flags that I loved called Mo Mo the Monster. It was one of those giant beasts of a thing that had “arms” with little buckets on the ends, the entire ride resembling a giant spider. The arms would go up and down and my brothers and I would spin around violently in our buckets until we were crying for mercy, staggering off and vomiting like the family cat that time it ate an entire stick of butter that it secreted off the kitchen table.

Well, if you get in the right taxi, the ride to Red Hook is a lot like that.

And if it happens to be the last day of carnival, which it was, and there is a giant parade, which there was, it’s even better because it lasts longer.

After 45 minutes (which translated into car sickness time is about twelve years) of steep hills, ridiculous curves, passing on the wrong side of the road, and swerving to miss errant chickens, we finally arrived at the Red Hook ferry.

We had a couple of hours to kill and it was lunch time, so we had the taxi driver drop us off across the street at Duffy’s Love Shack.

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Duffy’s is an awesome place, despite the fact that it sits in the parking lot of a strip mall. It’s so “over the top” kitschy tropical that it’s cool. The seats are covered in leopard print vinyl and everything is made out of bamboo.

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The drinks are served in ridiculous tiki glasses and every time you get one, the waitresses cover you in plastic leis, necklaces, and stickers.

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Needless to say, by the time I left, I had so many stickers that I resembled the back bumper of a 53 year old Volkswagen Beetle. 

When it was our time, we walked over to the ferry dock and located the Inter Island ferry to Jost. I watched as hundreds of people crammed onto the ferry to St. John and looked at the 4 people waiting for the Jost Van Dyke ferry and smiled.

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It was 4:00 when we arrived on Jost. I had reserved a rental car, and despite having been through the rental car process numerous times on Jost Van Dyke, I was still certain no one was ever going to show up, even though they always did.

Why? Because when you rent a car on Jost, you call the office and say, “I’d like to rent a car please. I’ll arrive on such and such a date and I think I’ll be on the such and such ferry.”

They say, “Ok.”

That’s it.

Rental process over.

For the anal retentive type, this is difficult. I need a confirmation number. I need an email or computer generated piece of paper that PROVES I have a car. And I have nothing but….. “Ok.” How could I possibly expect someone to show up weeks or months after making that phone call at exactly the time my ferry arrives?

But someone always does.

Paradise Car Rental pulled in just as we arrived. Just like they always do. Like magic.

Jost Van Dyke magic.

Even though I had never been there, I knew exactly how to get to the Pink House. On an island that basically has one road and no town, it’s not really that hard to figure out where things are.

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I have to admit, when I pulled onto that drive that said, “Private Drive – Pink House Villas,” I felt special. I felt like a V.I.P.

A Very Important Pink house guest.

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The house was everything I hoped and more.

Perched on the hillside overlooking the entirety of White Bay, the view was something you can only dream of.

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The decks, the grounds, the gorgeous landscaping….it was a feast for the eyes.

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There are actually 2 Pink Houses - the original Pink House, Bougainvillea, and a newly constructed house, Oleander. We were in the original.

The house has a very cool set up – all the rooms have outdoor entrances. This is great for privacy if you have several couples. Each of the 3 bedrooms was large and airy, beautifully furnished, with cool a/c and views to White Bay.

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I was like a kid in a candy store, running from room to room trying to decide which one I liked best. That’s when I walked into the Peach Room.

Suddenly, I was like one of those seagulls on Finding Nemo, jumping up and down, “Mine. MINE. MINE. Mine.”

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I headed to the breezy living area, which housed the large den and the kitchen, to see if my grocery provisions had made it.

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That’s another fun thing about coming to Jost. Groceries. While we eat out mostly, I do like to have breakfast, drinks, and snacks on hand, but the grocery options on Jost are severely limited so you have to plan ahead.

Imagine a cross between a gas station quick mart and a small-town 5 and dime from 1978 filled with an odd assortment of random food and beverage items with a few weird housewares thrown in for good measure. Give it a Dollar General ambiance but imagine that everything costs way more than a dollar. Now imagine that it is sandwiched into a space the size of your bathroom and imagine yourself walking into it an proceeding to shop in a manner that is a combination of that TV show, "Supermarket Sweep" from the 90's and a scavenger hunt. Finally, visualize yourself walking up to the register, hot and sweaty, with a toilet brush, some dusty beverage cozies, an 8 track tape, a dented can of peas, 4 boxes of Twinkies, a root beer, and a frozen Hungry Man dinner.

You now understand grocery shopping on a small island.

The best bet is to contact Bobby's Marketplace on Tortola. They have an extensive online selection allowing you to order and pay online. Typically, you tell them which West End ferry you'll be on and when you arrive for the ferry, your box is waiting for you. However, since we were on the Inter Island ferry and wouldn't be stopping in West End, Tortola, Bobby's actually put my groceries on the morning ferry and the caretakers of the Pink House picked them up, took them to the house, and put them away.

I had a kitchen full of food and all I had to do was unpack my suitcase and start enjoying my vacation.

It was that Jost Van Dyke magic again.

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Within minutes, Matt and I had changed out of travel clothes and had a rum punch made with Callwood Spiced Rum in our hands and were walking down the beach watching the sun set.

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Our Pink House adventure was ready to begin.

===Sunday: How To See Pirates, Jewels, and Dinosaurs in a Single Day.===

As we always do, we established a routine for the trip early on. It started off with coffee on the deck and breakfast with a view.

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Because Matt tried to kill me on our last trip to Jost by forcing encouraging me to run up what I called "the hill of death" every day, I declared this a non-exercise vacation. That meant the next part of our daily routine was to choose which spot to call ours for the day.

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White Bay is a magnificent beach, and it's so large you can pick a different section of it to spend your day on and feel like you are in an entirely different place every day. Each section has its own vibe.

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There's the private end where the Pink House sits. No bars, no noise, just pristine quiet and a nice assortment of chairs that are shared by the Pink Houses and White Bay Villas, the houses that sit high up on the hillside above.

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I will admit, every time I saw someone from White Bay Villas come walking down that excruciatingly long, steep path to the beach, sweating from the exertion by the time they arrived, I felt delighted to be right where I was. We barely had to step off our deck before our feet were buried in that soft sand.

Moving down the beach, you come to Ivan's next. Ivan's section of beach is scattered with mismatched chairs in various stages of decomposition, usually with an assortment of empty bottles, deflated rafts, and abandoned shoes tossed in. It's a little rough around the edges, but it has character. It also has Ivan's Stress Free Bar.

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The middle section is natural and usually empty. Lined with shady seagrape trees and a few palms, this area has no bars, no chairs, but no people either. It's a great place to grab some privacy.

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Likewise, after you climb the stairs and cross the goat path to the "other side," you find a long, pristine stretch of empty beach.

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Walk far enough and you'll come to the center of all that is White Bay, the Soggy Dollar Bar.

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Soggy's has plenty of chairs and hammocks that they let you use as long as you are patronizing their bar and grill. They also have one of the most famous bars in the Caribbean and one of the best bartenders in the known universe.

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That would be Mic, of course.

If Soggy's is a little too lively for you, you can continue down the beach to Gertrude's. You can rent a chair from her for $5 or you can buy a rum punch for $6 and get the chair for free. Kind of a no-brainer if you ask me.

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Past Gertrude's is an assortment of beach bars, each with their own unique personality: Jewel's snack shack, Coco Loco, and Seddy's One Love.

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At the far end of White Bay it's feast or famine. By that, I mean it's either totally deserted or so covered with bodies that you do best to avoid it at all costs.

I believe the pavilion on that end is frequented by a giant party boat that shows up out of nowhere and dumps a plethora of life vested bodies, with their fanny packs and water shoes, onto the beach for about an hour or two. We only saw it in use once during our week on Jost. On a good day, it's a deserted slice of heaven.

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For our first day, we chose to call Gertrude's section of beach home for the day. There are always fewer people in front of Gertrude's and we were looking for a little quiet before all the Sunday boats arrived.

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Rather than spend $5 for a chair, we went inside to see Gertrude about some rum punch.

Gertrude's bar has a unique style. When you order your drink, she asks if you want the $6 or the $10 size. Well, duh. The $10 of course. Then she puts the bottles you need to make your drink on the counter and you proceed to make your own. The rum punch is my favorite: a bottle of dark spiced rum, a bottle of mango rum, and a jug of her secret rum punch mix. Mine is about 9 parts rum and 1 part punch. She even grates a little fresh nutmeg on the top when you're finished.

I love Gertrude.

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We settled in to soak in the beauty of White Bay.

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Gertrude's rum punch can only be appropriately followed by one thing: a bloody mary from the Soggy Dollar. It is, quite literally, the best bloody mary ever made.

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When we started getting lounge chair butt, we headed to Jewel's Snack Shack for her amazing burger and special rum punch.

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This is where we met Reginald who entertained us with his dinosaur while we waited.

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Sure, that looks like a blade of grass to me too, but I assure you, it was a dinosaur. Reginald said so. After Gertrude's rum punch, a Soggy Dollar bloody mary, and Ms. Jewel's rum punch, I would have believed it was a purple unicorn with sparkly wings if Reginald had said so.

For those that have read my other adventures, does anyone remember the Pink Painkiller that my friend Kala and I accidentally concocted on our BVI sailing adventure by mixing leftover painkiller with some fruit punch and extra rum?

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Well, I don't know about you, but I think the Rum Punch With a Touch of Class looks suspiciously like our Pink Painkiller. I think royalties are due. Maybe a free chair for life?

Just saying.

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There aren't many things better than a grilled burger on the beach. Jewel's hamburger is thick and unbelievably juicy.

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I can tell she puts something in the meat, too. It reminds me of the burgers my mom would make when I was a kid that she'd put a packet of french onion soup mix into. Except that my mom usually put it on slices of white bread that would get so soggy by the time you were halfway through the burger, you'd just have to peel them off and leave them on the plate.

The late afternoon was spent trying to keep the random beach dog off my chair, doing my best pirate imitation, and trying to figure out why this guy had on a headdress.

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Once the beach part of the daily routine was over, the nap part came in. The nap part is necessary so that you can sleep off the rum and sun and wake up fresh and ready to go eat some lobster.

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And go eat lobster we did.

We headed to Little Harbor for our favorite lobster dinner at Sydney's Peace & Love.

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What I love about Sydney's: the pour your own bar, the waterfront setting, the fresh lobster, and the delicious side dishes. What I don't love: how Strawberry always talks me into buying a bunch of t-shirts in her shop that I don't need and will never wear while I wait for my food. I resolved that this time I would not buy another shirt, particularly since I already have about 6 at home.

After pouring our own drinks at the do-it-yourself bar and writing our drinks down by our name in the little spiral notebook, I succumbed to Strawberry's foolproof sales pitch and ended up with a tank top, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a sarong.

I don't even wear sarongs.

She gets me every time!

The lobster was clean and fresh. The cole slaw was sweet and tangy, just like my Granny makes. The potato salad, corn on the cob, and peas n' rice all competed for favorite side dish as I washed it all down with my version of the perfect painkiller.

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Wow, what a day.

===Monday: How To Get Stress Free.===

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With such an amazing curve of private beach just below the house, we decided to take advantage of it and spend the morning on "our beach."

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Yes, I know. It wasn't "my beach," just like the Pink House wasn't "my house," and Mic wasn't "my bartender." But that's what we do on vacation, isn't it? Isn't that the whole point - to be transported? To be some place and some thing you aren't in your every day life?

Of course it is.

That's why I found myself, despite all good intentions to the contrary, fighting the urge to scowl at the couples that would wander too far from Ivan's and dare to pause too long on "my beach," wondering if it would be going too far to chase them back to Ivan's while waving a pool noodle menacingly at them.

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We mixed up Vicki's rum punch and hit the beach. My rum punch does not have touch of class like Jewel's, but what it lacks in class, it makes up for in "you can be buzzed by 10:00 a.m." goodness.

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You know you've had too much rum punch when you find yourself trying to balance a coconut on your head before lunch.

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Because it was practically next door, we wandered over to Ivan's Stress Free Bar to see how the Stress Free Punch compared.

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Ivan's is one of the most unique places on White Bay. Like everything on Jost, Ivan's is a meandering structure that seems more tossed together than built, more carefree than established, and more eclectic than fancy. There's nothing formal about Ivan's open-air structure, with a sand floor and walls covered with seashells. While the Soggy Dollar gets the notoriety and most of the White Bay visitors, Ivan's is frequented by those in the know, making you feel like you are in on a wonderful secret.

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There's something about this place that makes adults feel like big kids. Maybe it's the sandy floor. Maybe it's the assortment of colorful chairs where you can spend a lazy afternoon sipping rum punch on a beautiful beach. Maybe it's the offbeat vibe.

Or maybe it's the tire swing.

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Tip of the day: don't get on a tire swing in a white bikini. (You'll thank me for that)

It was hungry o'clock, so we made our way to the far end of White Bay. I'd love to be able to say the east end, west end, north…whatever…but, really, I have no idea which direction it is. I still haven't mastered the art of figuring out left from right without making that little "L" with my thumb and finger. I'm not a human compass, people.

Of all White Bay establishments, Seddy's One Love still gets my vote for best lunch. The food is seriously good and the view is unmatched.

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They make a pretty good painkiller too.

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Matt had the special of the day, grilled wahoo with the most amazing mystery sauce I have ever tasted. I am sure it wasn't really "mystery sauce," but at this point I was several punches into my day so I can't be expected to remember details like that. I only remember where I had lunch because I have a picture of it.

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I had the lobster salad sandwich, which was jam packed with tender lobster, crunchy-crisp veggies, and creamy dressing with a touch of curry.

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The only thing left to do was take a nap.

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Sunset came and painted the sky in gold as we discussed dinner options.

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Although we'd been to Little Harbor the night before for lobster, we settled on Harris' Place in Little Harbor because it was lobster night. I still have night sweats when I think of the great lobster famine that occurred while I was on Anguilla, so I decided to get more lobster while the getting was good.

But first, I insisted we visit the Beach Lounge.

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I had seen this place as we passed through Great Harbor earlier in the trip. It might have been the most half-assed excuse for a bar that I have ever seen, if you don't count the time we tried to go to Dune Preserve to find that they only two bottles of liquor and cranberry juice that day and proceeded to make me what will forever go down in history as the worst drink known to man.

Matt had that look on his face that he gets when I ask him to do things that he really doesn't want to do on vacations and that are probably ill-advised by any guidebook and that usually result in us missing a boat, getting food poisoning, ending up stranded in an alley in the middle of Rome, or finding ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being the only patrons of the night in a really scary restaurant. It's the same look my dog gives me when I tell it to go to the laundry room. It doesn't really want to...but it's weighing it's desire not to go to the laundry room against having to deal with me if it doesn't.

But to his credit, he always goes along, because more often than not, these things end up in some of our greatest discoveries and most cherished vacation finds.

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It was a bit of deja vu when we strolled up to the makeshift bar and asked what mixed drinks he could make and he responded, "I don't know. I only have a few bottles and I'm not sure what's in them."

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While those Jagerbombs certainly were tempting...ahem.....I was really looking for something less, oh, "18-year-old-with-a-fake-ID-trying-to-get-smashed" drink. I immediately spotted a bottle of Cruzan Coconut Rum and said, "That. With Sprite."

And what the Beach Lounge lacked in fine furnishings (or an actual floor, walls, or indoor lighting of any kind), it more than made up for with the view.

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Then it was on to Harris' Place for what I call the Lobster Death Match. It was me vs. the largest lobster in the known universe. When I told Cynthia I wanted the biggest lobster she had, I had no idea that she had a prehistoric beast lurking in the cage.

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Halfway in, I called for a time out. I sat, trembling in my corner of the ring, hands shaking, forehead beaded with sweat, breath coming in rapid bursts.
Matt slapped me on the back and I went back in.

Forty-five minutes and one extremely bloated stomach later, I knew I had been bested.

I waved my white napkin, grimy with lobster parts, and surrendered. There was still lobster on my plate and I couldn't eat it.

I'm pretty sure that leaving uneaten lobster on your plate is nearly as bad as breaking a commandment or backing over a box of kittens with your car.

===Tuesday: How To Lose an Anchor in Four Hours or Less===

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It was boat day. I had reserved a day trip with Jost Van Dyke scuba with the intention of going to Sandy Cay & Sandy Spit and then heading over to Norman Island for the afternoon.

We arrived early and had about 30 minutes to kill so we walked down "Main Street." Main Street on Jost is basically a sandy lane lined with every manner of structure. Some actual, some implied. The harbor is scattered with tables, hammocks, stools...any place a person can take a load off. And maybe grab one of those Jagerbombs.

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Sandy Cay is pretty close to Jost, so it seemed like a great first stop. Despite the beautiful day, the sea was angry, my friends. The short boat ride over to Sandy Cay was 15 minutes of jaw rattling, tailbone busting, sea spray enduring hell.

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Try to imagine you are on a mechanical bull in nothing but your underwear and instead of being padded, the seat is made out of fiberglass and while you ride, someone is dumping a bucket of salt water over your head. Now stay on for fifteen minutes.

It was worth the ride when I saw Sandy Cay like a jewel sitting in the azure water. Sandy Cay is just a dollop of sand dropped into the ocean, a scrumptious little cake floating in the sea frosted with a few waving palm trees.

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We swam in and located the interior paths, taking our time to walk through the dense foliage and gawking with wonder at the sea views that surrounded the tiny speck of an island.

If Sandy Cay is a dollop, then Sandy Spit is a sprinkle. Sandy Spit was a repeat, except that it was a fraction of the size, allowing us to walk all the way around it in about 3 minutes flat.

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When we managed to arrive at Sandy Cay without losing any teeth or requiring a spinal adjustment, we imagined what the long boat ride to Norman Island would be like and made the quick, and wise, decision to abort the mission and head to Tortola instead.

After Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit, we made a quick run over to Smuggler's Cove on Tortola. This kept us in moderately protected waters and didn't require a long boat ride.

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Once I saw Smuggler's Cove, I couldn't have been happier we made a detour.

I have been to Norman Island. I have snorkeled the Indians. I have dug my toes in the sand at Pirate's Bight. I have sucked down a ski shot at the Willy T.

Smuggler's Cove was not only something new…it was perfection.

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This gorgeous crescent of perfect beach was littered with leaning palm trees and had almost no one on it. We swam over and spent some delicious time on the beach.

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On the way back to the boat, Matt pointed out a rare sight: a good sized octopus swimming in the open. We watched it for a long time until it finally found a hidey-hole and disappeared.

It was remarkable.

Coming to this beach was the best decision ever.

Until we lost the anchor.

So, um, yeah. The captain was trying to pull up the anchor and the rope broke.

It was not awesome.

Since he was the only boat operator, he would have typically left the anchor and come back for it later, but Matt knows how to operate a boat, and it would be nearly impossible to find that anchor after leaving and coming back. So Matt powered the boat while the captain dove repeatedly, looking for the anchor.

I sat with a bag of chips and watched the whole thing like I was watching a movie. Well, it wasn't like I could do anything to help.

After a half hour of diving, drifting, rotating the boat, and chip munching - the anchor was found!

We decided to make our last stop of the day Cane Garden Bay for a late lunch. The captain recommended Myett's for lunch, so we headed that way.

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Myett's was great, like a giant, tropical treehouse on the beach. The food was good and was served with an incredible view.

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When the boat brought us back to Great Harbor, we checked out Corsair's and decided to return later for dinner.

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Before dinner, we strolled "our beach" (I was beginning to like the sound of that) with some pre-dinner cocktails and watched the sunset over White Bay.

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I had heard good things about the pizza at Corsair's, but I am really picky about my pizza. Good pizza on an island usually means that it doesn't taste like one of those frozen pizzas that you can buy 3 for $10 at Kroger. It doesn't usually mean "good" good.

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Corsair's was good good.

===Wednesday: How to Waste An(other) Entire Day Doing Absolutely Nothing===

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You know how, after a few days of laying in the sun, eating too much, taking too many naps, and drinking an abundance of rum, you just get plain lazy?

You start to wonder how you ever lived a life where you got up at 6 a.m. and worked all day just to come home and clean house, make dinner, go to the gym, buy groceries, and do some laundry when just walking from the bed to the dresser to get a tank top seems like such a great effort you seriously wonder if you could just wear your nightshirt all day without anyone at the beach noticing.

It was Day Four and the lazy haze had started to settle onto us.

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We decided to grab a couple of Mic's bloody marys (because early morning alcohol certainly helps with lethargy) and do nothing more ambitious than try to find a lounge chair before we collapsed in the sand.

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It was a good day for people watching. White Bay is home to some of the best people watching ever. It's like people watching at the airport if everyone at the airport was half naked and drunk.

The morning hours on White Bay are quiet. You mostly have the beach to yourselves, shared only with the few other souls lucky enough to be staying on the island.

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Around 9:00, a few people show up that came over from a neighboring island on the ferry for the day. You know them by their giant backpacks and Keens and by the way they look around nervously at the chairs before plopping down in the sand, unaware that the chairs are not off limits.

The next group in are usually the sailing people - the ones that spent the previous night in the harbor on a sailboat. They pull their dinghies up on short and provide tons of entertainment as they try to fight the waves and climb out of the inflatable without falling in the water, a feat which is easier said than done.

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The last group to arrive are the most fun to watch: the party boats. The charters start showing up from Tortola, St. John, and St. Thomas loaded with people. They stagger off in their Kenny Chesney cowboy hats, clutching their ziploc bags that contain a camera, a chapstick, and some dollar bills and hoping that they will 1) see a celebrity, 2) get on the webcam at the Soggy Dollar bar, 3) not be the one that ends up face down in the sand before the boat has to leave, and 4) spend the next hour like they are in a country music video.

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We saw everything from the great grandmother who waded off the boat fully dressed in a caftan and pants clutching her oversized leather handbag over her head to the bikini clad woman wearing a beauty pageant sash who was 70 if she was a day. There were several guys, so blindingly white that I feared I would go blind if I looked straight at them, and every one of them somehow managed to have a perfectly lobster red back, like sunscreen was only necessary on the parts they could see. There was the old dude in the too small swim trunks, holding his ample belly in so forcefully that I was pretty sure he was going to rip an abdominal muscle and groups of bikini clad girls with Coronas sitting in beach chairs at the water's edge until they were so pickled, their boyfriends/husbands/friends had to carry them back to the boat.

There was even one girl doing a perfect handstand on a paddle board out in the water.

Showoff.

I could do that if I wanted to.

Okay, no I can't. I can barely walk across the room without tripping over my own feet.

Showoff.

Yes, White Bay can be a party, but even on a crowded day, it's a laid back kind of party. The kind of party where someone's boat is always pumping out tunes just loud enough for everyone to hear but not so loud it's annoying, and where people sit in chairs at the water's edge laughing with their friends. It's the kind of party where you can smell ribs on the grill and a sea of Soggy Dollar cups waves in the air above pool floats where people splash about in the water.

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Eventually, we had to pry ourselves up and go in search of sustenance. A liquid diet can only carry you so long.

Having never eaten at Coco Loco's, we decided we'd give it a shot.

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Yes, apparently, at this point in the day, Matt was double cupping it. What is double cupping? When you get another drink before finishing the first one and you just dump them together and put the empty cup on the bottom.

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.

Do you know what you get when one of you orders the BBQ baby back ribs and the other orders the catch of the day sandwich?

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Lunch perfection.

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We then spent the afternoon doing nothing more strenuous than this:

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For dinner, we thought we'd make the drive out to Diamond Cay and eat at Taboo. It takes about 15 minutes to drive out there from White Bay, which, on an island where you can get to everything in a minute or less, is the equivalent of traveling to a different country, so we stopped at Foxy's in Great Harbor for a drink to break up the exceptionally long, arduous trip out to Taboo.

Foxy's was cranking. The music was playing and people were dancing.

I wish I knew how to dance. Like an actual dance that is recognized by other people and is, in reality, awesome and not just awesome in my head. In my head, I look like this when I dance:

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In reality, I look like this:

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And it's a toss up if Matt dances as badly as me or worse.

It was getting dark and we still had that cross-country drive to make that would require a white knuckle trip of at least 10 minutes trying to avoid making roadkill of a mongoose or running into a goat, so we headed on, leaving the dancing to the people that didn't look like they were having a grand mal seizure.

Taboo is probably the nicest restaurant on Jost. Not only do they serve your food on actual plates made of something other than paper, styrofoam or plastic, they have some selections that don't include fried food, the staples of most fast food restaurants, or sides the include double carbohydrates.

They have an appetizer that I love: a savory cheesecake made with herbs and garlic and topped with marina sauce. My only problem with it is that they need to serve it with some warm bread so that I don't have to pick up the plate and lick it to get to the last of that marinara sauce.

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For our entrees, Matt had the grilled fish and I opted for a coconut shrimp linguine. I'm not sure what possessed me to order shrimp on an island where shrimp are not a fresh food, but to Taboo's credit, the shrimp were plump and firm and didn't remind me of something that had been in the bottom of the freezer since 1994.

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===Thursday: How to Get to the Bubbly Pool===

I read a couple of months ago that a man had died at the Bubbly Pool when he was hit by a rough wave and was carried out to sea.

This made me nervous.

You have to understand, I am the kind of person that rides my bike with the breaks on, even if I'm not going downhill. When I snorkel, I am constantly looking for sharks as the JAWS theme plays in my head. I will never bungee jump. Dangerous things make me nervous.

So when Matt suggested we go to the Bubbly Pool, I felt my stomach clench a little in nervous anticipation, but the Bubbly Pool is a Jost Van Dyke institution and the last time we had tried to go, there were so many people in it that I felt like I was in a frat house hot tub during pledge week. We had to give it another shot.

The Bubbly Pool is at the end of the road. Literally.

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The only way to get there is to drive your small, slightly abused SUV up and down crazy steep hills next to vertical cliffs on badly paved roads that are narrower than Giselle Bundchen's hips while avoiding obstacles like goat herds, small children, and boulders that have fallen from the cliffs above the road. Go as far as the road will go (east? west? south?) and when it stops, park and walk to the Bubbly Pool.

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We were early and we had the place to ourselves.

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Under the right circumstances, the Bubbly Pool is pretty fantastic. Anything in nature can be dangerous. Just be smart. Use common sense. Don't go in drunk. Don't try to climb up on the slippery rocks where the waves come in. Don't get in when the swells are up. Don't swim too close to the opening.

The natural swimming pool is calm and clear until a wave washes in, and then it is instantly transformed into a fizzy delight.

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Before heading back to White Bay, we stopped and oohed and aaahed at the colors of the water from every view point.

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The weather had been perfect every day so far, but by the time we got back to the Pink House, the floodgates of heaven literally opened up onto White Bay. The rain was so heavy that you couldn't even see the boats in the harbor.

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We made lunch at the house and enjoyed the rain for an hour or two, knowing it was filling the cisterns and providing some much needed water.

The rain left as abruptly as it had come, and by early afternoon, the sun was smiling on White Bay again. We were able to enjoy a few hours of beach time.

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It was Thursday and Ivan's was hosting its beach BBQ. We've never been and I was eager to check it out.

We walked down to Ivan's early and grabbed a couple of Stress Free punches to sip while we watched the sunset.

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I was tempted to lick the outlet, but since they have a policy against it, I chose not to.

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As the sun set in glorious form, the smells of grilled meat drifted out of the kitchen. Tables were set up all higgled piggledy on the beach and everyone just found a seat and made it theirs. Thankfully, we didn't choose the seat that was apparently covered in fire ants. Another couple wasn't so lucky and within seconds, they were running to the water, twitching and flailing, their hands swatting at every part of their body they could reach.

Actually, they looked a lot like I do when I am dancing.

The food was laid out on a long table and was served buffet style. Unlike Foxy's buffet, it's literally all-you-can-eat, not all-you-can-eat-in-one-trip.

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There were grilled ribs and all manner of islandy side dishes. The food was plentiful and delicious, the atmosphere relaxed, and the conversation friendly.

We dined under the stars on the beach, everyone enjoying themselves late into the night.

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===Friday: How To Go Out With a Bang (or a Whimper, Depending on How You Look At It)===

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It was our last day, so we decided to spend it with sun, sand, and the Soggy Dollar in true Jost Van Dyke style.

And we did just that.

It was a day of beach burgers and painkillers, music and fun, chairs by the water and hammocks in the shade. It was a perfect day.

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By the end of the day, I was a bit pickled, opting to do nothing more than lay in a chair I had dragged to the water's edge.

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I don't think Matt realized how much rum I'd had, nor did I, when he mixed us up some rum punches at the house before dinner and I proceeded to drink mine.

I really felt okay.

I did.

We headed toward Abe's by the Sea, the 3rd lobster restaurant on Little Harbor and the only one we had never eaten at.

When we arrived, we were the only customers, but that was okay. That's not uncommon. We asked if they were cooking and they said, "yes," so we ordered 2 lobster dinners and had a seat at the table on the dock, overlooking the water.

That's when I went from 60 to zero in 2 seconds flat.

One minute, I was fine. The next, I was this:

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(I still can't believe Matt took my picture....)

"What's wrong with you?" Matt asked.

"I….I….I don't feel so good all of a sudden," I said. I had hit the rum wall. I peered between my fingers and gave Matt a look that said, "If you don't put that camera down and get me out of here in less than a minute, you'll spend the rest of your life sleeping on a futon."

He read me loud and clear.

That's how we paid $100 for a lobster dinner that was still in the kitchen being prepared. He handed the money to the waitress, said, "I'm sorry," and we bolted.

Remember when I described the ride across Jost Van Dyke? The twists, the turns, the narrow roads, the hills, the cliffs, the bumps? Now imagine doing that after spinning for about 45 minutes on Mo Mo the Monster. My insides were upside down and I am pretty sure my face was grey by the time we got back to the Pink House.

Even in paradise, too much of a good thing is…..well……too much of a good thing.

===Saturday: All's Well That Ends Well===

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I was elated when I woke up.

Elated because I wasn't dead.

The night before, I am pretty sure I prayed to be dead. Or at least to slip peacefully into a coma.

I actually felt reasonably okay. My mouth tasted like I had been sucking on a toilet brush and I was moving a little slow, but I was okay.

Matt made me some eggs and toast and by the time I'd eaten breakfast, I was reasonably recovered.

We were taking a water taxi back to St. Thomas at the gracious invitation of the family staying in Pink House Oleander, whose flight home was at the same time as ours. The boat was leaving at 1:00, which left us plenty of time to do some final sightseeing and grab some lunch before heading out.

We followed the road from White Bay as far as we felt comfortable, even after it turned to a dirt road, littered with loose rock and so steep that I was worried I would get a nosebleed. Eventually, it became too rough for even our comfort and we turned to take the side road back into Great Harbor. But, WOW, did we get to see some incredible views before we had to turn back.

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We strolled through Great Harbor, and it took all of my will power to resist that final chance at one of those Jagerbombs. I bet King Cockroach has had a Jagerbomb.

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We stopped at Foxy's for our final meal and the man himself was holding court.

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Foxy asked me where I was from and when I told him Tennessee, he proceeded to tell me a politically incorrect joke about picking cotton in Memphis and left me unsure whether I was supposed to laugh or act offended, but that's Foxy for you. The first time I met Foxy, he asked me if I knew how to tell that his dog, Taboo, was an Island dog.

If you ever meet Foxy, ask him to tell you that joke. Then you, too, can share in my discomfort.

You gotta' love Foxy.

I had waited all week for a roti and it was time. Foxy's is my favorite, stuffed with tender chicken a potatoes and served with a sweet chutney on the side.

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Before we knew it, it was time for one last beer (or a Diet Coke if you had a headache the size of Texas…) and then all that was left was a wave good-bye.

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Our week in paradise had come to an end.

I hope yours is just beginning.

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Posted by vicki_h 17:31 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged beach island tropical st._john virgin_islands jost_van_dyke british_virgin_islands b.v.i. Comments (9)

Five Nights on the Barefoot Island

Jost Van Dyke, BVI

There are thousands of tiny islands in the Caribbean, so don’t feel bad if you have never heard of Jost Van Dyke. Not many people have. It is only a few square miles, after all, and easily gets lost in the swirling blue waters of the British Virgin Islands.

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Pronounced “Yost,” it wasn’t long ago that this tiny little island didn’t even have electricity or paved roads. It’s off the radar for most travelers, and for those few who are “in the know,” it’s merely a day trip from a larger island. Very few call Jost a destination of its own, and it was for that very reason that Matt and I decided this vacation would be spent entirely on its white sand beaches.

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Having been to Jost Van Dyke many times ourselves on day trips, we knew how small it was. We knew how remote it was. We knew that you can almost count the number of restaurants on one hand and that “Main Street” consists of a strip of sand that stretches alongside a sweeping bay and is mostly made up of bars in varying stages of disrepair, old boats, and a very fat beach dog named Taboo.

We also knew that it was one of the most beautiful places we had ever been. We’d even spent a night here and we knew that getting to spend 5 nights here would be a unique opportunity. We would either become extremely relaxed or the remoteness of it would cause one of us would go all “Jack Nicholson in the Shining” on the other. Either way, we were up for the adventure.

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Day One:

2 airplanes. 1 taxi. and 2 boats. This is how you get to Jost Van Dyke from East TN. The day was long and the logistics were tight, but a flight to North Carolina, a flight to St. Thomas, a taxi to downtown Charlotte Amalie, a ferry to Tortola where we cleared customs, and a final ferry to Jost Van Dyke got us on the island at 6:30 p.m.

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I had ordered a box of snacks and beverages from Bobby’s Marketplace on Tortola that was to be delivered to our ferry, but didn’t really expect it to be all that smooth. Nothing is ever that smooth when traveling to a Caribbean island, is it? We know to be relaxed because everything moves at a slower pace and a unique rhythm, right? I just knew that box wouldn’t be there. I expected it to show up 3 days after we left to return home.

But there it was. Waiting for me on the Jost ferry…a little cardboard box full of happiness with my name on it.

We had also called in advance to reserve a rental car. Having “reserved” rental cars on Jost many times, I knew not to expect much. The conversation goes something like this:

“Hello, I’d like to reserve a car for May 5 – 10 please.”

“Name?”

“Vicki H.”

“Where ya stayin’?”

“Sandcastle.”

“What time you arrive on de ferry?”

“Um….I think we’ll be on the 6:30.”

“Okay. I be waitin’ for ya.”

That’s it. You don’t select a car type. Why? Because they only have one moderately abused Jeep in the lot. You get it. There really isn’t an option. You don’t get a reservation number. Why? Because they just wrote your reservation down on a post-it note. Post-it notes don’t generate reservation numbers. They don’t ask for a credit card to hold your reservation. Why? Because there is no room to put that long ass number on a post-it note.

So, I wasn’t surprised when we walked off the ferry and no one was there. I stood nervously, biting my nails, trying to decide what to do. You see, we were on the last ferry. There was one taxi waiting to take all the ferry passengers where we each needed to go. With no more ferries coming, that taxi wasn’t coming back.

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It’s a long walk from the ferry dock with luggage.

Matt had given up and was just starting to load our luggage into the taxi when I noticed it was only 6:25. We were early! I told him we’d wait. He thought I was crazy, but I had faith. I mean, so far the day had been flawless. Our flight was early. Our taxi left immediately. Our ferry connections were smooth as silk. My box was even there on the last ferry…my name scribbled on the top in black Sharpie. The car would be here. I just knew it.

Precisely at 6:30, our rental car arrived. And yes, it was a moderately abused Jeep. But it was on time. And it was ours.

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We drove to the Sandcastle on White Bay. The Sandcastle consists of 6 rooms hidden in the tropical gardens beside the famous Soggy Dollar Bar on White Bay, the most blindingly beautiful beach in the universe.

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The rooms are modest, but are large, clean and comfortable. Only 2 rooms have a/c, and I prefer those to the larger, oceanfront cottages. When I need to see the ocean, I can walk the 10 steps to it, but without a/c, I can’t get cool no matter what I do. The rooms come with an assortment of books, beach towels, and a fridge to keep some drinks and snacks in.

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If you think the car rental process was laid back, wait until you hear about check-in at the Sandcastle:

We arrived. We walked over to the bar. Someone pointed over her shoulder toward our room. “Number 5,” she said. We walked over, found Number 5, and went inside. There was no paperwork. No credit card. We weren’t even given a key. I’m pretty sure our door didn’t even lock.

How can you not love the place?

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We were tired and hungry. It was Saturday night and that meant Foxy was having his BBQ buffet back in Great Harbor. After operation quick change, followed by a complete bath in OFF, we headed over to Foxy’s in our moderately abused Jeep.

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We were early and the place was still pretty empty. Even though there were 196 signs posted all over Foxy’s that said, YOU MUST HAVE A RESERVATION FOR THE BUFFET, Matt and I plopped our happy butts right down in some seats, oblivious. Within seconds a very large and very stern waitress arrived.

“You have a reservation????” she demanded.

“No,” we said sheepishly, certain that we were about to be expelled and humiliated in front of all the yachties, not to mention being denied a platter full of Foxy’s barbequed goodness. Our day of success had left us overconfident and we were about to get our comeuppance.

“No matter,” she said. “We’re full, but you stay here. I work it out.”

And she did. God bless her.

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I love Foxy’s BBQ for many reasons. First, the atmosphere at Foxy’s is hard to beat. A wooden structure pinned together with old t-shirts and baseball caps, it is open to the ocean just a few steps away. There is always music, tons of people from the boats in the harbor, and cocktails flowing like water. Second, the food is good. The BBQ buffet is only on Friday and Saturday nights and consists of green salad, fruit, pasta salad, bread, veges, peas n rice, corn, BBQ ribs, chicken, and fish. Third, as the very large, very stern waitress said, “You can have all you want ONE TIME.” With it being an all-you-can-eat-one-trip affair, there is a tremendous amount of entertainment value in watching 60 very intoxicated people try to stack and load their plates in the most efficient manner possible…attempting to get as much as they can in that one trip. It’s a delicate balance…get too little and ..oh no! …you’re still hungry but you can’t go back….get too much and….on no! …your plate just toppled like a game of drunken Jenga.

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My plate looked like a redneck Thanksgiving: a double-decker plate with nothing but meat and carbohydrates. Everything on it was brown and the only thing missing was Aunt Susan’s broccoli casserole.

But it was oh-so-good.

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After a couple of hours of watching some adults behaving badly on the dance floor and feeding scraps to the dog under the table, we headed back to the Sandcastle.

It was the night of the supermoon, the largest full moon of the year, and as we rounded the top of the hill and looked back over Great Harbor, the moon wished up a happy vacation.

Thank you, moon.

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Day Two:

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Jost Van Dyke is only about 4 miles by 2 miles with a population that hovers around 300. It looks like several green mountains set into the water and it’s hard to find a stretch of flat land anywhere. White Bay is Jost’s crown jewel and is the main beach on the island, scattered with casual beach bars and hammocks. There isn’t really a “town,” but Great Harbor is a long sandy street with a few restaurants, bars, and a convenience market wrapped around a bay. Farther down the road, Little Harbor houses a few more restaurants that specialize in fresh caught lobster and pretty much nothing else.

That’s it.

There really isn’t anything else.

This is why we woke up on our first full day wondering what the hell we were thinking and wondering just how long it was going to take us to get bored. Our room didn’t even have a T.V., for goodness sakes. What were 4 full days going to be like?

I’ll tell you what they were like.

By the end of the first day we stopped wearing shoes…even when we went out to dinner. By the end of the second day, we had decided the only reason good enough to move off of our beach chair before 6:00 p.m. was for alcohol or something fried, and even then we had to think about it really, really hard. By the end of the third day we had realized that a Bloody Mary made the perfect breakfast. By the end of the fourth day, we had totally relaxed, fully recharged, and completely reconnected.

It was perfection.

On that first morning, I strolled out onto White Bay Beach, which was completely devoid of people. For those of you who have only visited White Bay on a day trip, I can’t explain to you the serenity and beauty that is White Bay before any boats have arrived.

I envisioned a leisurely morning: a little breakfast, a little lounging, a little floating, a little cocktail….lather, rinse, and repeat.

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Matt had a different plan.

“Let’s go for a run first,” he said.

I looked at him as he sat there lacing up his running shoes, all gung ho and excited, but I still wasn’t motivated. I thought about all the fried things and calorie laden frozen concoctions that would fill my day, but I still wasn’t motivated.

Then I glanced down at the little bikini on the bed that I planned to cram my 40-something year old butt into and I got motivated.

Like I said, Jost is pretty much a series of mountains sitting in the water. One of these mountains goes from the entrance of the Sandcastle toward Great Harbor. Yes, it’s only about a mile up, but I swear, it has to be a 39% grade. It’s so steep that when you walk up it, your nose touches the pavement.

And we were going to run up it.

Of course we were.

You know those crazy people you see out running on vacation? My husband is those people.

Now that I am over 40, apparently so am I.

I should mention here that my husband is fit. Very fit. I, on the other hand, PRETEND to be very fit. There is a big difference. When you are reasonably thin and own a pair of sneakers, people just assume you are fit. This pretense had served me pretty well up to this point.

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I was about 50 steps into my run up the Mountain of Death when my left lung ruptured and started to come out of my nose. I am certain that this is what happened, because I could no longer breathe and it felt like a small bomb had exploded in my chest. A searing pain hit me in the right eye and I was pretty sure that some part of my brain had just died from the lack of oxygen. I would probably be blind within minutes. I sucked wind and slowed to a jogging pace that my 88 year old grandmother could have matched, with her oxygen tank in tow, while Mr. Universe practically danced up the hill. As I contemplated the possibility of simply making a sharp 90 degree turn and leaping over the guardrail to plunge my body toward the sea rocks below, Matt turned to see just how far behind him I was.

I gritted my teeth and smiled and waved in a manner that I hoped looked casual and athletic, thinking that from that distance he couldn’t possibly see that even my ears were sweating, but that I was pretty sure looked more like someone having a grand mal seizure, since it is very hard to wave casually when your heart has just ripped itself from your chest cavity and is trying to lodge itself in your throat.

Somehow, I made it up the hill and back without vomiting, passing out, or simply lying down in the middle of the street and praying that a moderately abused Jeep would come by and simply run me over.

After surviving the run, I decided that the only logical thing to do was to now consume at least twice as many calories at breakfast as I had just burned. That’s why I went straight to the dining room and had this:

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Mmm….a plate full of cheese and carbs with a view of the ocean. Almost made those sweaty miles worth it.

Well, actually, no it didn’t. But it was very good.

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We established a routine on that first day that we would follow for the four full days we were on the island: run up the Mountain of Death (um…yes…I did it again on every morning of the trip…madness, no?), snag a cup of coffee and watch the waves roll in, have a little breakfast, find 2 chairs with tables and a nearby hammock and spread out with towels and books and music, grab a Bloody Mary somewhere around 10:00, swim a little, hit up the Soggy Dollar Bar for painkillers, have some lunch, and spend the afternoon in alternating between cocktails, lounging in the water with a pool noodle, and laying on a beach chair until it was time to head in for a nap before dinner.

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It was heaven.

We wandered over to Jewel’s Snack Shack for lunch, having heard that Ms. Jewel makes a mean hamburger. Admittedly, the place was about the size of a garden shed…Actually, I’m not sure it wasn’t a garden shed. A few battered stools sat out front and the bar wasn’t much to look at.

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Why is it that you’ll gladly eat at a place on vacation that you’d literally run screaming from at home?

We ponied up to the bar and placed our order. Ms. Jewel quickly told us that there were no fries because her fryer was broken. And then she told us there were no bacon cheese burgers because she didn’t have any bacon.

What she did have was one fine hamburger and the world’s best rum punch. I especially liked the 3…yes, exactly 3…Pringle’s that she put on the plate as a sort of peace offering for the lack of fries. Like a Pringle garnish, I wasn’t sure whether to eat them or if they were just for looks.

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This was our view for much of the afternoon, because after a few of Ms. Jewel's rum punches, you are not qualified to do much more than sit stupidly in the water.

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For dinner, we wanted lobster, and for us the first stop for lobster is always Sydney’s Peace and Love in Little Harbor.

My favorite part is the self-serve bar. I love being my own bartender.

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According to Matt, I could not actually be a bartender because I put so much alcohol in the drinks that the bar would go broke because 1) it would have to spend too much on alcohol, 2) no one could buy more than one drink because the first one would leave them in a coma, and 3) someone would inevitably end up wrapped around a palm tree and sue the bar because my drinks are too strong.

Whatever. I think I am a bartender extraordinaire.

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As we sat just at the edge of the open air restaurant, facing the breezy waters of Little Harbor before us, a quick but fierce rain blew in. I like these shots of Matt. I like to call them Before the Rain:

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and After the Rain:

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If he’d just let me keep making the drinks, he wouldn’t have even NOTICED the rain.

Sydney’s serves up a great lobster dinner. So fresh, your lobster was probably swimming under a rock a few hours earlier, the lobster is HUGE and comes with potato salad, corn on the cob, peas n’ rice, cole slaw, and your choice of soup with garlic toast.

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Don’t let the elementary school cafeteria dishes scare you. It’s phenomenal.

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Even though Sydney is no longer with us, his lobster legacy lives on.

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Day Three:

Wake up. Run up the Mountain of Death. Shower. Coffee.

That is how every morning started. The coffee was definitely my favorite part because the view was outstanding. And because it didn’t involve hills. Or running. Or thoughts of suicide.

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We spent the morning sunning, reading, lounging, drinking, swimming….I’d like to say something exciting happened, like a band of pirates showed up and shot a cannonball into the Soggy Dollar bar or that Morgan Freeman breezed in on his boat and invited us all aboard for a giant party, but the most exciting thing to happen was watching a drunk guy from a day boat get lost and wander back and forth on the beach for about 20 minutes trying desperately to figure out where he was. I’m not sure he even knew who he was.

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We decided to hit Seddy’s One Love for lunch. It’s my favorite place for lunch on White Bay. To me, it’s a perfect combination of the most colorful location and the best food.

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One Love is like the nautical version of Hoarders, with buoys and traps, surfboards and life rings, nets and anchors taped, tied, wrapped, and hung on every imaginable surface.

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The menu is always fantastic. Maybe I only think that because they always have lobster “something.” Like this lobster sandwich:

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They also make the best bushwacker, which is one of Matt’s favorite drinks.

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The view is pretty hard to beat too.

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Oh, sorry, I meant this view.

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The afternoon was spent becoming waterlogged with a pool noodle and trying to see if I could balance a Soggy Dollar cup on my head. I couldn’t.

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We decided to take a drive to “the end of the road” to break our afternoon lethargy. For perspective, here is a road map of Jost.

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White Bay is at one end.

Driving to the other end takes you past Great Harbor, where you can often find Foxy “doing his thing.”

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It then takes you past Little Harbor where the lobster is great and the views are even better.

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After Little Harbor, you find yourself with amazing views out to Sandy Spit, Little Jost Van Dyke, and Diamond Cay.

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Finally, you end up at Foxy’s Taboo and the path to the Bubbly Pool. We decided to save Foxy’s Taboo and the Bubbly Pool for another day.

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You know you are relaxed when you are simply too tired to get out of the car.

We cleaned up for dinner. The plan was to head to Little Harbor again, but instead of eating at Sydney’s, we’d walk next door to Harris’ Place, where we’d heard a rumor that Monday night means all you can eat lobster.

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Apparently, Monday night was “eat more than we have” lobster night and Harris’ Place had no more lobster. So….it was back to Sydney’s for a do over.

It was tough having to eat Sydney’s delicate, delicious, buttery lobster a second night in a row…. But somehow I managed to choke it down.

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Day Four:

You know exactly what I did that morning, now don’t you? Of course you do. Why torture us both with the agony of it? Let’s move on to things that don’t involve sweat, sneakers, or pavement.

How about breakfast with a view?

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It was on our 3rd full day that I worked up the courage to drag out the paddle board. Like I said, I am not very athletic and things like that scare me. But I really, really, really wanted to try it, so I did what I always do. I made Matt do it first.

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He paddled to the other end of White Bay while I walked the shore and watched. The views were outstanding as I crossed the beach.

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Matt kept paddling and I kept walking until we ended up at Ivan’s.

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Ivan’s is a colorful, tumbledown, scruffy collection of buildings covered in every manner of flotsam and jetsam. Every available space is covered with sea shells, bits of glass, tiles, driftwood, coral, rocks, and anything else that anyone has managed to find washed up on the shores of White Bay that didn’t run away before they could glue it to a board.

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The place was deserted so early in the morning, so it made a perfect place for me to debut my paddleboarding skills without any witnesses to the ridiculous spectacle that would be me trying to get on a paddleboard and stay on a paddleboard.

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The paddleboard was a little bigger than a surfboard. The idea was that I would just climb on it and paddle myself around the bay. Easy as pie. Right?

Actually it was. Easy. As. Pie.

I loved it.

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Now, in addition to being bartender extraordinaire, I was a paddleboard phenomenon.

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Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I never fell off the sucker once. For me, that’s worthy of a medal.

I settled for a Bloody Mary.

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We spent a lazy morning with the paddleboard, the hook and ring game, Mic’s Bloody Marys, and the sublime beauty that is White Bay.

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We lunched at the Soggy Dollar with painkillers, fish n’ chips, and their outstanding roti.

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We then spent an afternoon looking at this:

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That’s what you see when you have one painkiller too many and can do nothing more than lay in a heat and rum fueled coma on a beach chair counting the puffy white clouds as they roll by. Ah….bliss.

Too lazy to even get in the moderately abused Jeep to go to dinner, we signed up for dinner at the Sandcastle. To sign up, you simply head to the bar before 5 pm and find the dinner book. You write your name down beside a time and you look through the menu and put down all the items you want.
At your dinner time, you show up and they bring your food to you.

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We arrived at a table with this wonderful dinner view….

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Dinner was a romantic candlelit affair with our toes in the sand and the waves just outside our reach.

There were conch fritters, snapper, and my favorite, painkiller ice cream.

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Then the light faded from another picture perfect day.

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Day Five:

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Our last full day…our last run up the Mountain of Death. No, it never got any easier.

We spent the morning drinking in the beauty of White Bay and making sure Mic, the Caribbean’s most awesome bartender, kept us supplied with liquid sunshine.

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We decided to head to the Bubbly Pool and thought the nearby Foxy’s Taboo might be a good choice for lunch, so we headed out.

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We made our way through Great Harbor….

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Then Little Harbor…..

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Over the hill…..

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And finally to the end of the road.

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Foxy’s Taboo is named after Foxy’s dog and is Jost Van Dyke’s swankiest hangout. Granted, when the other establishments boast giant pairs of dusty underwear signed in Sharpie hanging from the rafters and have bars held together with duct tape, spit, and seashells, it doesn’t take much to be the swankiest. It sits alone on a scrap of beach facing a small harbor where there were at least a dozen sailboats moored, twinkling and swaying in the blue water. The menu was a little more sophisticated than most of the ones we’d seen on the island, with choices like garlic eggplant cheesecake and Mediterranean salsa.

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The food was delicious, and while I love a good beach burger or piece of giant fried something, it was a nice change of pace.

The views weren’t half bad either.

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So, it was finally time to see the Bubbly Pool that all the fuss is about. We walked the goat path through the scrub until we came to a little pool of water the size of a small swimming pool that had about 97 people in it.

Seriously?

We politely sat on a rock and waited. I don’t do crowds. We waited while 8 more people showed up and trudged into the tiny pool with giant cans of beer. We waited while 3 more people showed up and squeezed into the tiny pool in water shoes. We waited while 12 more people showed up and crammed themselves into the few tiny spaces left in the water, most of them hanging half in/half out of the water on the rocks, some satisfied to just have a toe sticking in.

It was like the human version of that motivational exercise they always do at lame conferences where they try to see just how much crap they can cram into a jar with rocks or marbles, then tiny pebbles, then sand, then water. You know the one. It was like that but with sweaty bodies, fanny packs, and giant cans of beer.

We waited. I felt like I was in a queue at Disney World, except that it was much hotter and there was no ride waiting for me at the end of the line. Just a tiny pool of water that now probably had a high concentration of beer and pee in it.

There was finally a blessed break in the endless stream of bodies and we jumped in, had our 3 minutes of bliss in the foamy, bubbly, tingly water, and jumped back out before a new wave of troops marched boldly in.

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The bubbly pool is very cool, if you can have it in relative privacy. Unfortunately, it has gone the way of most things that are awesome and is now the 8th wonder of the world, drawing freakish crowds that destroy the very nature of what makes it so special.

My advice: Go very early to miss the crowds, or either skip it altogether and simply douse yourself into a bucket filled with Coca-Cola (it will feel very similar) or just go the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” route and take a giant beer with you and plunge right in, if you can find a space to squeeze into.

After that debacle, I needed an adult beverage, so we assumed our positions once again on White Bay and hit Gertrude’s for some liquid entertainment.

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Gertrude’s is unique. You walk inside and order a drink. She’ll often ask if you want a $7 cup or a $10 cup. She’ll then hand you a cup and an assortment of liquor bottles, presumably the bottles needed to make whatever you just ordered. Then you make it. Yourself.

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YES! Vicki was bartender extraordinaire once again. I’m telling you. This is my destiny.

After a couple of those rum punches, Matt and I had a contest to see who had the cooler initials to make out of a hand signal.

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I declared myself the winner.

We decided on Corsair’s for dinner for 2 reasons. 1) They had a supercool vintage Jeep which meant it must be undeniably fabulous and 2) They had a sign outside saying that they had a MONSTER LOBSTER.

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Okay, it was really just for reason #2.

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We had a choice of a lobster up to 8 lbs. That sounded like a prehistoric beast and I feared trying to eat something that was larger than my dog, so we went for a modest 3.8 lb. lobster.

I loved the look on Matt’s face when the lobster arrived. It was so big they had to put it on one of those giant wooden sushi boats.

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You’ll be pleased to know that we made short work of that lobster. Matt’s look of trepidation was for naught.

Matt & Vicki: 1
Lobster: 0

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Day Six:

It was time for my final cup of coffee with a view to die for.

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It came and went so fast. We were off on the 9:15 ferry to catch a 10:15 ferry to catch a cab to catch a plane to go home.

With one final stop at Pie Whole on St. Thomas, for an Italian Margarita and the best pizza in the universe, it was all over but the flying.

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Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat. It was one of the most relaxing vacations of my life.

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Would I stay at the Sandcastle again? Yes, you can’t beat the location if you want to stay on Jost. Sure, there are a few other places to stay, but the Sandcastle is tops.

Would I stay that long again?

Heck no.

I’d stay longer.

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Posted by vicki_h 18:13 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged jost_van_dyke bvi british_virgin_islands Comments (5)

Rum Days Are Better Than Others: Part II

A second sailing adventure in the Virgin Islands

Day Six: March of the Penguins

We woke to the most beautiful sunrise I think I have ever witnessed. The sun lit the sky in brilliant reds and oranges and then, as quickly as it came, it was gone. Why is it that the most magnificent things are so very brief?

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Maybe if they lasted too long, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much.

The fiery sunrise faded to a cool blue and the cloud cover gave the morning an eerie quality. The water seemed to stretch to infinity and a pale, pastel strip glowed dimly on the horizon, boats suspended in the haze.

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I watched the changing sunrise until the sun rose to a brilliant orb and brought with it a blue sky filled with white clouds. After BLT bagels and a cup of Vicki Coffee, we were ready to hit the beach.

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First stop was Pomato Point. It had been teasing us from the boat, a long slender finger of white sand dotted with slender pines that pointed out into a shock of light turquoise water that grew darker as it deepened.

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The point was something to see. It was as if the water didn’t know which way to go. The waves were wild and tumultuous coming at the point from different directions. When they would meet, they would run across each other, twisting and turning, not knowing where they came from or where they should be going.

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We walked the beach for a while and then loaded back into the “car” for a teeth rattling ride to Cow Wreck Beach. I knew I was in for something special just by looking at the sign.

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Cow Wreck Beach was the very definition of “laid back.” A beach bar, a few scattered tables, and a beautiful stretch of sand were the only things in sight. We spread out and commenced to doing nothing but nothing.

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The bartender had to run and errand so she pointed at a spiral notebook and told us to just get what we wanted while she was gone and write it down.

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This would be when Vicki anointed herself Head Bartender Extraordinaire of Cow Wreck Beach and where I made up Vicki’s Rum Punch which was about 9/10 Rum and 1/10 Punch.

I want to be a beach bartender when I grow up.

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When our drink to food ratio started to get way out of proportion, we ordered up Paradise Burgers and Lobster Fritters. There aren't many things, in my opinion, better than a hamburger on the beach. Particularly a Caribbean beach, washed down by a sweet rum punch. The soft warm bun, the juicy grilled burger, some tangy mustard and a side of crispy fries....it really is paradise, isn't it?

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That’s when we saw a group of guys walk up, hands full of panty hose and coconuts. Intrigued, we had to watch. The proceeded to put coconuts in the toes of their panty hose, tie them around their waists and then used them to “whack” another coconut. I am not sure what they were knocking down…beer bottles maybe? Whatever they were hitting, they got our vote for most creative use of coconuts and panty hose.

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After lunch, Keith and Syd headed back to the boat and Matt and I decided to head over to Loblolly and the Big Bamboo. I was also in search of the flamingos of Anegada, which I kept calling pelicans due to my 9 to 1 rum to punch ratio and somehow, as the day progressed, that turned into “penguins.” So, yes, I spent the afternoon looking for the elusive “penguins” of Anegada.

It’s no wonder I never found them. Every time I asked someone where to find the penguins, they just tried not to make eye contact.

On the way to Loblolly, we drove past the Settlement. Not much in the way of "civilization" here, but there were plenty of neat old abandoned (or not so abandoned, but maybe should have been....) homes, still beautiful in a quiet and diminished way.

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At the Big Bamboo, we enjoyed the drinks, I swapped my already read book for another at their book swap cabinet, and we stretched out in the sun.

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As the afternoon grew late, I decided we had to give those penguins one last run for their money. I was going to find me some penguins.

Pretty much the entire interior of Anegada is a series of salt ponds, and the elusive flamingos hide in the cover of the mangroves. We must have driven down every stinking road leading to the interior and never saw the first flash of pink.

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Damn penguins.

Finally, on our last attempt, Matt spotted them. Bright pink bodies were dotted on the far side of the salt pond we were standing at. I could see them! They were so big and so bright, it was like they were just so close. There was no way to drive to the other side…so we tried walking across.

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Okay, in our defense, it looked shallow. And it was…to a point.

With every squishy step, I had visions of mysterious mud crabs pinching my toes or imagined great holes of salt pond quick sand swallowing me whole. I reme]mbered the stories my grandmother would tell me of worms that would burrow into the soles of my feet if I didn’t wear my shoes outside and I was certain that if such a worm existed, it would exist in this very salt pond and I was probably already infected. I held my camera high over my head….like somehow that would save it when I fell face first into a pool of mud. I wanted to turn around, but then a flash of pink would taunt me…beckon me onward.

They were like a mirage, the more steps we took toward them, the farther away they appeared. We had to keep going…really….just a few more feet and I’d get that National Geographic photo that was dancing in my head…..

That’s when Matt took a step and sank to his knees in muck and we had to admit defeat.

To console myself, I decided that they don’t really exist. They are fake plastic flamingos, like the ones you see in front of a double wide in Panama City and they were just put out there to lure dumb tourists who wanted that perfect photo. Like me.

Damn penguins. I mean flamingos. Whatever.

When our Anegada land adventure was over, Keith picked us up, we turned in our car, now with salt pond mud added to it’s mélange of island ooze, and took us back to the boat where we watched a perfect sunset and grilled up chicken for a quiet dinner on the boat.

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Day Seven: The Porpoise of Life

For the second day in a row, the sunrise on Anegada was a thing of majesty. I sat mesmerized by its changing colors as it blasted its way into the sky.

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I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and went inside. It’s about this point in a sailing trip that the boat sort of smells like feet no matter how many dryer sheets you brought or how much Febreeze you spray and everything feels slightly damp. It’s when the lettuce freezes and the bread goes moldy if you don’t have it stowed inside the microwave. It’s when everything seems to have a fine layer of salt or sand…or both and where you look forward to that 5 minutes a day just after your shower, because it’s the only time you feel clean. It’s when the rock and the pitch are so second nature to your body that you sway slightly when on land because the sea has embedded itself in your very soul and calls to you, rocking you lightly on the breeze. I was truly on boat time now.

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I swayed back and forth and raked my fingers through my salty hair as I made the coffee. None of us had slept well because of the rolling the night before. The morning was WINDY. Too windy. But we had to head out. We had a long way to go and were hoping to make it to Jost Van Dyke by lunch. As we headed away from Anegada, a trio of dolphins swam up beside the boat. The frolicked in the waves, going from the front of the boat to the back and then to the front again, jumping in the air and swimming under the bow, for about 15 minutes. And then like a magnificent Anegada sunrise, they were gone as quickly as they had appeared.

That’s the magic of sailing, my friends. That’s the magic.

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The day’s sail was a long one and I seized the opportunity to nap while we travelled, trying to make up for the two rolling nights that had kept me awake. So, for me, it seemed like only an instant and we were pulling up to Great Harbor and I could see the palm trees of Foxy’s swaying in the wind.

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We decided to have lunch on the boat before heading to the island and I am certain that lunch included cheese.

Before I knew it, I was making my way down the wooden dock in front of Foxy’s. Fishermen in small wooden boats were cleaning their catch and dogs roamed the sandy beach. Someone was asleep in the hammock beside the dock, one lazy leg dangling over the edge, dragging in the sand. The man himself was in and I could hear him telling jokes to the tourists as they stopped to get a famous “thumbs up” photo of their very own.

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We did a little shopping and then went to find a cab. If you arrive by ferry, cabs are plentiful on Jost, as they typically wait by the ferry dock and know when the ferry arrives. If you arrive at any other time or place, good luck finding a cab when you need it. We wandered down the sandy main street and saw an empty cab parked outside one of the small open-air bars. The cab driver was inside and he agreed to take us over to White Bay.

Only on Jost Van Dyke do you drag your taxi driver out of the bar and only on Jost Van Dyke does he bring his open beer with him and another one to drink on the way.

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We parked ourselves in some chairs at Gertrude’s and the afternoon was spent with Soggy Dollar Painkillers and One Love Bushwackers, with dreamy hammocks and rustling palms overhead, and with a front row seat to all the boat disasters and drunken mayhem that only White Bay can offer. There is not a more enjoyable way to spend a sunny afternoon thank watching two people who have spent all afternoon drinking Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar try to get into a kayak in a rough sea.

As the afternoon grew late, we had the bar call us a taxi. When the taxi arrived, two guys came running over from the bar with drinks in their hands and asked if they could share, knowing that it can take a while to get a taxi if you are anywhere other than the ferry dock. We didn’t mind, but the driver said they had to finish their drinks. The drinks were full so they told us to go on. Not being in any hurry, we told them to take their time and we’d wait.

When they finally got in the taxi, Syd looked at them and said, “Were you two on Anegada yesterday and did you bring panty hose and coconuts to Cow Wreck Beach?”

We laughed about it all the way to Great Harbor, where they were getting out. We were going all the way to Little Harbor, so we said “Goodbye” and continued on our way. When the cab driver dropped us off at Sydney’s, we knew we had about a $30 fare. When we asked him how much, he said, “Those guys paid your fare.”

So…to the guys with the giant coconuts, Here’s to you! And your big coconuts!

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We wandered over to Sydney’s to look at t-shirts and pre-order for dinner. We needed to pre-order dinner and when Janet asked me what I wanted I told her I wanted the biggest lobster she had.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Vicki.”

“I promise you the biggest lobster we have, Vicki.”

We cleaned up on the boat and returned to Sydney’s that night for dinner. I love the “pour your own” bar. I designed myself Head Bartender Extraordinaire of Sydney’s Peace & Love .......because I now had bar experience.

I mixed up some bushwackers and we waited for our lobster.

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When my food arrived, the waiter asked, “Which one is Vicki?” I kid you not, that lobster looked like a sea monster, it was so big. It was delicious and came with Sydney’s amazing sides: peas n’ rice, cole slaw, corn on the cob, and the best potato salad on the planet.

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The night came to a close with a slice of key lime pie and the sound of tree frogs singing from the distant hills.

Day Eight: Time For Cruz’in

It was our last full day on the boat, so we headed back over to St. John. Keith and Syd were headed back to St. Thomas the next day and Matt and I were returning to Jost for the weekend, so St. John was a good halfway spot.

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It was a short trip and we were soon making our way to Caneel Bay. We found a mooring near Salomon Beach and took the dingy into Cruz Bay.

No matter where else I go, there is no feeling like the one I get as I grow closer and closer to Cruz Bay. When I see the familiar buildings dotting the landscape, see the same boats moored in the Bay, and see that ferry dock with the tangerine colored building with the big wooden shutters, my heart grows light. This place holds a special magic for me that no other shares. When I arrive, I don’t feel like a mere visitor, I feel like I am home.

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As we went back through customs, they asked if we had any meat on board. We all immediately thought of the pack of ground beef we had thawing out for burgers that night and simultaneously answered, “Nope.” With our illegal international hamburger safe, we headed to St. John Spice.

The smell of that store hits me before I even reach the sidewalk. It’s a smell I have grown to love over many trips to this island and many trips to this, my very favorite store. We were lucky enough to find Ruth and Ron in and we visited and shopped before heading to the Beach Bar for some lunch.

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A tuna down now and lime n’ coconut later, we headed back to the boat.

From the boat, Salomon Beach was beckoning me, bright and cheering, it’s palm trees waving like old friends saying, “Come on over. The water is just fine.”

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Matt and I took the dingy over to spend the afternoon on the beach. It was wonderful being able to lounge on beautiful Salomon without having made the long walk down the hillside to get there. We drifted in the crystal clear water and lay in the warm sand.

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That’s when we saw a Coast Guard boat pull up to Who Cares. OH NO! Someone told them about our illegal international hamburger! It was a Burger Raid! Turns out they were just doing a routine check, but I thought a Burger Raid would have been so much cooler.

Back at the boat, we grabbed some “back of the boat” showers and headed to Francis Bay for the evening. We spent a relaxing final night on the boat, with bacon cheese burgers and grilled lobster cheese sandwiches for dinner. Emphasis on the cheese.

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It was our last night on the boat, and I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep. That wasn’t meant to be.

Just as we were turning in, my stomach started ..well….turning in. You know the feeling I mean. This is not a feeling you want to get on a boat. Not when you have walls as thin as paper, a toilet the size of a Dixie cup that flushes through 900 feet of tubing before exiting the boat, and you have to put any used TP in a ziploc.

Oh no. This was not good at all. I was certain it was the curse of the illegal international hamburger.

Matt was laughing at my distress as he rolled over to go to sleep.

It hit Matt about 3 hours later.

It was a very long night.

There was one moment of panic, around 3:00 a.m. when I became certain that I had completely overwhelmed the boat’s very delicate plumbing system. I felt prickly with anxiety. I didn’t want to be “that person.” You know the one. The one everyone would always remember as the one that overflowed the boat at 3:00 in the morning on the final night. That’s a sure way not to get invited next time.

I jiggled the little flusher button. Nothing. Maybe it’s like the shower, I thought, which you have to run for a minute, then turn off and drain for a minute, then run for a minute, stop, and drain for a minute. So I’d pump, and wait. Pump. Wait. Eventually, I was in the clear.

I wiped the sweat from my brow and finally drifted into a brief, fitfull sleep around 3 a.m., filled with visions of waking to a “cloud” surround the boat in the morning when we woke. I made a mental note to suggest an early departure in the morning.

Like, before sunrise.

Hey, ship happens.

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Day Nine: A Sunny Place for Shady People

Hollow. Depleted. Empty. Exhausted. That’s how I felt when I woke up, but I was happy to be alive.

The boat was due back on St. Thomas by noon, but Matt and I hopped off in Cruz Bay and Sydney and Keith went on their way without us. They were flying home that afternoon, but Matt and I had extended our departure to early Monday morning because it saved a significant amount on airfare.

We had decided to grab the ferry back to Jost and stay until Sunday afternoon. Keith dropped us off at the dingy dock near the Jost ferry and we hugged goodbye and wished them a safe trip home. Because no one was at the ticket office, we ran over to Deli Grotto for some breakfast.

I grabbed a Snickers cappuccino and a bagel with bacon, egg and cheese and one of their amazing crack bars and we sat to wait for the ferry. On our other trips to Jost, the ferry always took us directly to Jost where we cleared through customs. This time we went to Tortola first, cleared customs, then went to Jost. It took a little longer, but wasn’t really a big deal. Just different.

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It was early morning when we arrived and we grabbed a taxi straight to the Sandcastle. Our room wasn’t ready, but they took our luggage, gave us towels, and sent us to the beach.

Today was all about power lounging, Soggy Dollar style.

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We grabbed a couple of chairs and spent the morning swimming, reading, and listening to beach tunes. We had frozen mango daiquiris from Gertrude’s and bloody, bloody good bloody marys from Mic at the Soggy Dollar.

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Lunch was at Seddy’s One Love where we found an amazing lobster salad sandwich and an equally good lobster quesadilla. Reuben was playing and there were some girls at the bar dancing and having a good time to his music. With my toes buried in the sand and the sounds of Rueben’s guitar playing, the waves crashing outside and the palms tall overhead, a cold drink in my hand and Matt’s smiling at me across the table, it was a perfect moment in a perfect place at a perfect time.

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It’s the moments like these that I close my eyes and conjure up when a thick gray February sky is bearing down on me and my desk seems piled with an impossible load.

Life seems like magic on White Bay, doesn’t it?

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After lunch, we waved “goodbye” to the girls and I stopped at Jewels to try her self proclaimed famous rum punch. I don't know about a "touch of class" but it sure had a touch of something and from the way I felt, it was probably something that should be considered a controlled substance. It was DELICIOUS, but deadly. I definitely reached my limit and we left the heat of the afternoon to retire to our cool, clean, air conditioned room. I grabbed a quick shower and slipped between the cool white sheets, smelling of coconut and took a decadent nap, the kind you can only take on vacation.

We woke up sun soaked and rested and decided to walk down to Ivan’s. The Soggy Dollar was hopping and we knew Ivan’s would deliver a little peace and quiet. We followed the goat path up and over and around until we saw the ramshackle outpost of shells and hammocks that is Ivan’s Stress Free. We kicked back Ivan-Style until the sun started to set.

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We wanted to eat at the Sandcastle that night, but they had 3 dinner choices and not one of them appealed to either of us. Plan B was to hit Foxy’s Barbeque, something we had never done before. So, we grabbed a cab and headed back over to Great Harbor. The meal was at 7:00 p.m. You were given a ticket and were told that when they called “time to eat” you could go up and get as much as you wanted on your plate, but that you only got one trip.

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While we waited, I ordered a Sleezy Breeze and we enjoyed the mix of locals and boat traffic coming in, drawn by the wonderful smell of smoked ribs floating on the night air. When the food was ready, I didn’t have to be told twice to get in line. They actually gave us two plates. One for “salad” which was piled high with a green salad with the most amazing dressing, pasta salad, fruits, cheeses and bread. Then, they heaped a larger plate with ribs, BBQ chicken, stewed fish and sides. It was delicious and it was more than I could eat. Which is saying a lot.

That night, I had my first night’s sleep in a “real” bed. Westin might have a right to the name, but I can promise you that after sharing a small boat bed with a 4 inch thick mattress with a 6’1” man for a week, the bed at the Sandcastle was a Heavenly Bed.

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Day Ten: Seas the Day

It was our last day and we were going to make the most of it. We decided to spend the day on White Bay, perfecting the art of doing nothing, and catch the last ferry at 3:00 p.m. back to St. Thomas.

Early mornings on White Bay are amazing. There is no one around and everything is still and quiet. There aren’t any stirrers half buried in the sand yet, and no one is having a “battle of the boat speakers” competition yet.

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I grabbed a cup of coffee from the kitchen and sat out in front of the Soggy Dollar. I told Matt to let me see his iPhone for a minute and I showed him us on the webcam. Ta Da!

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We set ourselves up with some chairs under a palm tree and we sat and watched the Sunday boat parade roll into White Bay to the tunes of Bob Marley and to the taste of Mic’s bloody, bloody good bloody mary. The day seemed perfect, the way a last vacation day always is, making it so much harder to leave. I tried to memorize the way the green of the palm tree above me looked against the sky and the sound of the waves as they slapped the sand. I wanted to burn it into my memory so that I could carry it home with me, like a token in my pocket that I could hold onto on cold February days when my door locks are frozen and my teeth are chattering from the cold.

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We decided to grab some lunch at the Soggy Dollar. The chicken roti had my name on it and Matt got a cheeseburger. We chatted happily with Mic for a bit and bought the girls from Seddy’s a round of drinks because they had told us we were a hot couple. At our age, it doesn’t take much.

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We returned to our chairs in paradise and drifted on the sounds of the boat music until the party boats arrived.

When the boob shaped beer bong comes out, it’s time to go.

We packed up and said our goodbyes and grabbed a taxi to the ferry dock.

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We were on the 3:00 ferry back to STT. In Red Hook, we grabbed a cab, made a stop at CYOA to grab our extra luggage (which Jay had been kind enough to hold for us so we didn’t have to lug it to Jost) and headed to our hotel near the STT airport.

We stayed at the hotel and had a light dinner at their beach bar, watching one final sunset. As the sun settled into the ocean, I could feel my warm skin, like the sun was hidden inside, glowing from the inside out, floating just beneath the surface.

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Day Eleven: Snow Day

We were on a 9:00 a.m. flight home. When we boarded, the 80 degree breeze barely cooled the sweat on my brow. When we landed, the ground was covered in snow.

I thought of the past week and the wonderful places I had been. A place where boats rise in the gray of the morning, like ghosts, pale and white against the soft sea and the soft sky…the water the color of an oyster, a pearl, nothing more than a mist. A place where the sun melts into liquid and where it seems there is nothing between you and that setting sun but a sea of gold. A place where you can’t tell where the sea ends and the sky begins and your eyes aren’t sure if you see a cloud or a mountain or the tip of a wave as it all drifts into one. A place where the morning sun arrives in burning red, setting the sky and the water aflame with crimson and purple. A place where your heart begins to beat in time to the rhythm of the ocean and your veins move to the ebb and flow of the tide as your body sways to the invisible pull of the sea that now pulses through your veins. A place where the blue of the sky and the turquoise of the water are dotted with brilliant green, like gems in a satin pool of aquamarine.

As I walked off the plane, I shook the last little bit of sand from my pockets and hugged my jacket to me, smelling of coconuts and sunshine, feeling warm despite the chill of the winter air around me, and I smiled.

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Posted by vicki_h 07:26 Tagged beach caribbean st._john virgin_islands jost_van_dyke anegada Comments (3)

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