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Merry Christmas and a Sandy New Year!

Spending Christmas in a cozy cabin has somehow become a tradition with me and Matt. It wasn’t intentional or deliberate, but is simply a habit that we have slipped into.

This year, we had a difference of opinion. Matt wanted to revisit the cozy cabin Christmas. I wanted to spend my holiday week at Bikini Hut on Guana Cay. After a weeklong Mexican Standoff, we reached a compromise: We would spend the weekend of Christmas at a cabin in north Georgia and then proceed south to Abaco where we would stay until New Year’s.

I found the perfect cabin nestled in the mountains near Blue Ridge, GA where we spent several days doing nothing more than sitting by the fire, drinking wine, opening presents, baking, and eating.

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It was a glorious holiday.

After Christmas, we made our way to the land of sunshine and balmy seas for a week of post-holiday relaxation.

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We arrived to brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. Thoughts of winter, December, and Christmas faded as quickly as I could say, “I'll have a frozen grabber.”

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We grabbed a lunch of fish tacos, lobster bites, and a cheesy lobster club before heading back to the house to unpack and settle in.

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It had been a long travel day and I was grubby. Matt was busy getting the gas and water turned on when I heard him yell, “If you want a shower, get it FAST!”

We had a spectacular water leak spewing from our cistern pressure tank.

We realized quickly that the leak was too large to even have the water on at all. Our entire cistern would be drained in minutes.

We shut the water off and decided we’d figure out what to do in the morning. One night without water wouldn’t kill us.

Instead, we headed to Grabbers for sunset and dinner. My one complaint about Abaco in the winter is how early the sun sets. We had lobster salads as the sun sank into the sea.

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Then we went home and went to bed dirty.

The next morning was beautiful. Perfect. Sunny. Warm. Calm.

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It was the kind of morning that punched you in the face and said, “Don’t stay here and fix that tank, stupid. Let’s take the boat out. You can get a shower later.”

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After a brief internal struggle….clean hair vs. a beautiful day on the boat…..I decided that we should seize the day. Sunshine trumps shampooed hair any day.

We agreed to spend ½ day on the boat and let Matt work on the cistern that afternoon. He was certain it would only take a couple of hours, so we’d have running water for that evening. No problem.

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With our old favorite, Lubbers Landing, no longer in business, we headed to Cracker P’s. We found some lounge chairs in the sun, an endless supply of cold drinks, and their world famous smoked fish dip.

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Cistern? What cistern?

The only thing Matt and I were worried about was who was going to have to get up off their chair to go get more drinks.

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We wasted some additional time at Tahiti Beach before heading back so that Matt could devote some time to the cistern.

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Of course, we got back to Guana much later than we originally intended. We only had about an hour until the famed Guana Cay Golf Cart Parade and Ugly Christmas Party at Nippers.

It was the kind of evening that pinched you on the arm and said, “Don’t be a chump. Get out and have fun. You can get a shower tomorrow.”

After a brief internal struggle….clean hair vs. a golf cart parade…..I decided that nothing tops a golf cart parade. Because….well….. GOLF CART PARADE!

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We used our hour to decorate our cart and don some ugly Christmas outfits. Thankfully, mine had a hat, because the hair was going downhill fast. What I wouldn’t have given for a can of dry shampoo, but given that the Guana Grocery didn’t even have MILK that day, I was pretty sure I was going to be hard pressed to find any dry shampoo.

I pulled on my hat, we turned on our lights, and we headed to Guana Lumber to join the parade.

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This was some spectacular stuff, guys. There were carts lined up all the way to the end of the road. Ugly Christmas sweaters, dogs in antlers, and Tervis tumblers filled with wine were stretched as far as the eye could see.

I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.

The only thing more fun than driving around Guana Cay in a golf cart is driving around Guana Cay in a golf cart that looks like a giant reindeer while dressed up like a deranged elf with a cocktail in your hand.

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I love this little island.

The best part of the parade was that it stopped at each Guana Cay restaurant where free food was provided and drinks were at the ready for purchase.

As the night progressed, and the parade goers consumed more drinks, I realized that, while this concept was absolutely BRILLIANT, it was definitely not practical. Whose idea was it to line up 60 golf carts, drink a lot, and then drive them in unison really close together? I'd like to shake that person's hand.

However, despite one tiny mishap involving a tower of lights atop a cart roof and a power line, it went remarkably well.

First stop was Sunsetters at Orchid Bay. The sunset was beautiful and they had a nice buffet of sandwiches, conch fritters, and meatballs. Then it was on to Grabbers for wings. The last stop, and the grand finale, was the ugly Christmas party at Nippers. Nippers put out a spread of goodies and cranked up the music. I’d like to tell you what they had but all I remember is the mac n’cheese because it was AWESOME.

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At this point, there was a lot of dancing, jingle belling, and merriment. We also learned that Matt has the same taste in shirts as the average teenage girl.

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The night ended with a spectacular display of fireworks.

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And then I went to bed with dirty hair. Again.

The following morning brought a soft and beautiful sunrise. And still no water.

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We had now been on Guana for about 40 hours with no water. I had been using Milo’s secret stash of buckets that he hides behind my house to flush my toilet and had taken a spit bath using handi-wipes and a bowl of water warmed up in the microwave.

This situation was getting dire. No matter how beautiful the day was, we agreed that the cistern had to be the priority of the day.

Matt headed to Marsh Harbour to get parts and I worked around the house.

He arrived back on Guana with all of his parts only to discover that the new pump he had was missing a plug.

Matt was about to turn around and head back to Marsh Harbour when our sweet neighbor, Tina, drove by and told us she was on her way over there and offered to get the plug for us.

She is a LIFESAVER. Since she wouldn't be back until around 4:30, there wasn’t anything we could do but jump on the boat.

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We headed to Man O’War Cay for lunch, where we saw this very disturbing fake dog.

Very. Disturbing.

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Then we loaded up on burgers and bacon cheese fries. I love that they garnished the cheese fries with a lemon and sprig of rosemary, like that somehow negated the white-trashiness of a plate of fries covered with cheese and bacon.

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We wasted the rest of our water-less afternoon walking on the beach with the pups and wondering if I could wear my santa hat to dinner.

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The plug finally arrived in the late afternoon, but there was a beautiful sunset getting geared up. It was the kind of sunset that jabbed you in the eye and said, " You don't want to miss this! Come on! You can flush your toilet tomorrow!"

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And that is how I ended up holding a flashlight while Matt crawled inside an absurdly small hole to finalize the cistern repair. It didn't matter how dark it was or how small that opening was, the cistern had to be fixed. We could not go another day without water. Who cared about bathing or flushing toilets….look at my hair!!!!

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After three days without water, WE HAD WATER!

Sure, it was hinked together with bits of chewing gum and spare parts we were able to bum off the neighbors, but WE HAD WATER!!!!

A hot shower never felt so good.

I flushed the toilet 3 times. Just because I could.

We celebrated with dinner at Kidd’s Cove. I can’t get enough of Edmund’s tender lobster and spectacular potato salad.

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And I finally went to bed clean.

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New Year’s Eve dawned with a golden sunrise and crisp blue skies dotted with white clouds.

I was so glad we didn’t have to work on the cistern because it was a day to have fun and celebrate!

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It was too windy for boating, so we decided to spend the day at Nippers doing nothing more than sipping bloody marys and working on our tans by the pool.

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It was a quiet day, so we decided to take the girls to Nippers with us. This was their first time at Nippers and Rooby immediately established herself as the Head Dog in Charge.

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After a few too many bloody marys, and maybe some nippers, we munched on some seared tuna, lobster bites, and burgers.

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Then it was back to Bikini Hut for naps.

Naps?

Yes, naps. Don’t act like you don’t take naps.

Everyone knows that people nearing 50 must take naps on NYE if they have any chance of staying awake past 10:00 p.m.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

And then it was officially New Year’s Eve! On Guana Cay!

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We started our celebration at Grabbers with a bottle of champagne and sunset. Only on Guana Cay can you walk into a bar with your own drinks and, not only will they let you drink it, they’ll drink it with you!

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Gotta’ love Guana.

After passing around glasses of bubbly to the staff, we were off to a friend’s house for an early evening potluck of snacks and cocktails with old and new friends.

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Next up was our “fancy dinner” at Sunsetters. “Fancy dinner” on Guana Cay means no paper plates, real silverware, and no food that requires ketchup.

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Last up was the NYE blowout at Nippers. As usual, it was a PARTY. Frozen nippers were flowing, glow sticks were waving, tables were rocking with tabletop dancers, music was thumping, and fireworks were booming.

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Happy New Year, Y’all!!!!

By the time we dragged ourselves out of bed the next morning, it was getting close to lunchtime so we headed to Fish Tales where we found these delightful fried jalepenos and a lobster quesadilla.

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It was Sunday Funday, it was New Year’s Day, and boats were literally POURING into Guana Harbour for the Nippers Sunday Pig Roast. Even on the 4th of July, I have never seen so many people walking down Front Street toward that colorful little bar.

I looked at Matt.

He looked at me.

Simultaneously, we shook our heads.

Not today. We’d been Nippered enough the night before to last a lifetime.

Instead, we packed up and headed to the peace and quiet of the lagoon.

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Everyone was happier with this choice.

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We ended New Year’s Day with a calm sunset and giant pizza at Orchid Bay.

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Cut us some slack. Old people can only handle so many parties in one week, people.

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Even though we woke up to another stunning day, Matt had some work to do around the house and I had been itching to paint something on the ugly cistern wall.

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We agreed to spend the morning working before going out on the boat.

I had no idea what to paint. I had no plan to follow. I just sort of “went with it.” Somehow I ended up with this:

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I never said I was an artist.

And I am pretty sure my mermaid is a drag queen. She has very heavy make-up, large pink hair, and no boobs. I might need to correct that ambiguous boob situation on our next trip.

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It was VERY WINDY, so we agreed the only place we could possibly get to on the boat that wouldn’t beat us to death was the lagoon. We packed a picnic, loaded up the pups, and headed that way.

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It was our last afternoon of sunshine and sea. I soaked in the palm trees, the blue sky, and the turquoise water….wrapping them up in my soul so that I could keep them with me until I was back.

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There was nothing left to do but watch a final sunset, have a final Grabber, and get ready to head home.

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Going home is always bittersweet. It’s good to be home, but Bikini Hut feels like home too. I think God knew my heart was heavy, so he gave us a spectacular “Welcome Home.”

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This will do until I have a chance to "go home" again.

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Posted by vicki_h 08:46 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (4)

Oops, I did it again.

I just can't satiate my Guana Cay addiction.

So I dove in for another taste.

How about we just hit the highlights?

The food: If it's battered, deep fried, golden brown, carb laden, and swimming in fat on a paper plate, I'll eat it in the Abacos. Just to keep my mom off my back, I throw in a green thing every now and then.

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The drinks: Because you need to keep your blood alcohol level up to ward off those pesky mosquitoes.

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The sunrises: There simply aren't words.

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The sunsets: So beautiful they make my heart hurt.

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Nippers: Because it's not a trip to Guana without Sunday Funday!

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The Wildlife: Sharks and stingrays and screaming! Oh my!

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Blue water and white sand: Because that is the recipe for happiness, my friends.

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The colors of the Bahamas: Because nothing brightens my day like a little pop of color.

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Good friends and good times: That's what a trip to Abaco is all about.

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Before I go, I want to give a special "shout out" to Shawna Deal of Easy Touch Massage from Marsh Harbour (easytouchmassage@yahoo.com or find her on Facebook!). Us "girls" wanted massages and with no spa on Guana, we were able to get Shawn to come over for a half day to give us in home massages. While Bikini Hut is not, in fact, a Bikini Store, it apparently can operate quite well as a part-time spa, complete with mimosas and Shawna's magic hands. I recommend contacting her if you ever have a few folks that want a massage on the cays or if you are going to be in Marsh Harbour.

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See....I'm not always long winded.

I will tell you one story. On our last day of our week in Abaco, a sign appeared to me in the sky.

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In case you can't all see what is OBVIOUS, it was clearly a giant lobster.

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I took it as a sign that we weren't supposed to leave.

Obviously, Matt didn't agree with me, because I am home now.

Sigh.

Posted by vicki_h 10:46 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (7)

Weekend Getaway to Guana Cay

FRIDAY

Now that we have our own little place on Guana Cay, we run down every chance we get. When we recently had an opportunity to head down for a long weekend with use of a free airplane, we jumped at the opportunity even though it was only a few short days.

Sure, we had only been back from Honduras for 7 days, but FREE AIRPLANE PEOPLE.

I wasn't going to let a little thing like "responsibilities" get in the way of a free ride.

Literally a hop, skip, and a jump (okay, more like a 4 hour flight….but STILL….so easy) and we were climbing off the plane at the Marsh Harbour airport.

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Having our own boat on Marsh Harbour has made arrivals a little easier. I love grabbing a taxi and having it take us to our own boat rather than the ferry dock. This beats trying to coordinate my arrival with the Albury Ferry. Not that I don’t love the Albury Ferry, but not having to adhere to a particular arrival time is so liberating.

Instead of arriving to get to a ferry, wait for a ferry, and take a ferry to Scotland Cay for a stop before proceeding on to Guana Cay, we found ourselves tossing our luggage onto our boat and making a B-line for Lubbers Landing. There was plenty of time to get to Guana and unpack later. Right now, it was time for saltwater margaritas.

Although, if I am completely honest, this really set off my OCD alarm. I am a “get there, unpack, get organized before you do anything fun” kind of gal. Running off to have fun first was like eating dessert before dinner.

Although, with proper therapy, I think I can get used to it.

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How can anyone possibly need this much luggage? We looked like we were moving to Cambodia for a year, not spending a weekend in Abaco. It’s amazing what not having to go through TSA or pay for baggage does to one’s packing.

“Do I need an unabridged copy of War and Peace? Maybe. Let’s throw it in. What about that box of live pigeons? Those might come in handy. I may need this ball gown. Better to be safe than sorry.”

Once we had our 19 bags stowed, we were on our way.

OCD alarm be damned. It was liberating to have the breeze blowing in my hair while holding a hastily made boat drink in my hand within minutes of landing.

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It was Friday and our destination was Pizza Night at Lubbers Landing.

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We had put in our required order the day before, because nothing is worse than showing up on Pizza Night without being expected only to discover that you have to let Austin know the day before so he can make the dough.

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The pizza oven was already fired up and getting ready for the night’s festivities when we arrived. We ordered drinks and sank into the cushy sofa, letting the peace of Lubbers Landing sink into our bones. Austin and Amy have created an oasis of happy at Lubbers Landing and we have found no better way to kick-start our vacations in Abaco than with a cold drink at their breezy bar.

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Sometimes, you need a lot of margaritas.

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Before long, Austin was tossing our dough in the air with more skill than a Harlem Globetrotter handles a basketball. When he asked us what we wanted on our pizza, we wisely deferred to his expert judgment and found ourselves faced with an Austin Special: savory salami and pepperoni, red onions, rosemary, banana peppers, and just a hint of Lubber’s magic.

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The pizza was so good that I found myself throwing up a “Mamma Mia” to the pepperoni gods and finding myself wanting to lead everyone in a rousing chorus of “That’s Amore.”

We made it to Guana Cay just as the sun was setting.

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I couldn’t wait to get to Bikini Hut. (That’s not just the OCD talking)

I’m still adjusting to the difference in arriving to your own house vs. arriving to a vacation rental. Bikini Hut is my haven and I am so happy every time I walk inside. It is my perfect cozy nest and I couldn’t wait to settle in.

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It was the same feeling I get when I have been away from home for a while and I return and the smell and feel of “my home” hits me square in the face. Bikini Hut changed everything.

I was able to get us unpacked before the heart palpitations started and marveled at how wonderful it was to drift off to sleep in my own bed.

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SATURDAY

We had agreed to get the boat out for this trip so that meant this trip was more about fun and less about work.

I started my morning off with a walk on the beach. We had left the dogs at home due to the “last minuteness” of the trip, and I had to admit that walking on the beach is simply not the same experience without those two bumbling furballs running into my ankles, digging stupid holes and getting sand up their noses, and running enthusiastically ahead of me, turning around every few seconds to make sure I was still coming.

Yeah, I missed them.

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After my beach walk, I took a walk around the neighborhood. This meant I walked across the street and checked out the Island Flavors menu board, strolled out onto one of the many docks across the street to peek at the water, and nodded “good morning” to Milo at his fruit stand. The neighborhood walk took about 30 seconds.

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I headed back to Bikini Hut.

Apparently, Bikini Hut was an actual bikini store at some point in its 100-year history and the house came with this old sign buried inside. We assumed it was probably the sign for the original bikini store and decided to keep it. Matt thought it would be cute to hang it up outside on the cistern building.

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At the time, we did not realize this would have unintended consequences.

I was milling around the kitchen when a stranger walked through the front door and into the house.

It is important to note here that I am socially awkward. There is something about interacting with others that makes me feel itchy and hot and leaves me struggling for meaningful conversation while simultaneously scanning the room for the nearest exit. I have accepted this about myself after years of awkward mingling and tripping over nothing on sidewalks.

This moment would have been a difficult encounter for me if I had actually invited this woman to my house and knew who she was. Having a stranger in my house and having no idea why she was there was pushing me to my limits of mental stability. My hands instantly became clammy as I tried to figure out what to say.

However, she was a lovely lady, nicely dressed and very polite, so I wasn’t alarmed in a “fear of danger” way. Instead, my “social alarm” was pinging, thinking that I had invited someone over and had not only forgotten the invitation, but had forgotten who they were.

When she saw me she said, “Good morning. I just wanted to see the place.”

It is important to note here that I have corresponded with a number of people I have never actually met through the Abaco Forum and through this blog, so I simply assumed this was someone that had told me they’d love to stop by and see the changes to the house sometime and I had encouraged them to do so.

Despite my proclivity for social evasion, I am a Southern Woman. This creates an internal struggle when interacting with others. My “tell them to go away” battles with my “invite them in and give them a casserole.” We tell people to “Come on by anytime.” It’s what we are raised to do whether we mean it or not.

That is why I looked at this stranger standing in my house and said, “Feel free to look around.”

Which made things really weird.

It started to get strange when she started looking around more intently than I would expect, like she was looking for something.

The clammy hands were joined by a tight feeling in my chest. Something was off. I was trying to think of something reasonably appropriate to say. Obviously, shouting, “Who sent you??? What do you want with me???? Are they watching??” would make me look mentally unstable, so I just said nothing.

“Is this everything you have or is there more in the back?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. Obviously, she was not as enthralled with my remodeling efforts as I was and felt I should have more things decorating the place.

Still thinking she must be here to see the Bikini Hut remodel because my mind simply could not come up with an alternative, I said, “Well, the kitchen and bedroom are back there. Feel free to take a peek.”

This just made things weirder.

She looked puzzled.

I looked puzzled.

She stared at me in silence.

I stared back.

We stood and stared at each other for a moment, both of us knowing something was amiss and trying politely to figure out what the hell was going on when she courteously asked, “Is this all you have for sale or are there swimsuits?”

Life is filled with awkward moments. This wasn’t Steve-Harvey-Crowning-the-Wrong-Miss-Universe-On-Television awkward, and it probably didn’t rank up there with the time one of my friends woke up naked in a stranger’s house only to find out that the man she accompanied there the night before didn’t live there, was gone, and had her clothes, but in my book, it was right up there with being in an elevator with a stranger who audibly farts or trying repeatedly to get in your car in a parking lot only to realize your car is the one 2 rows over.

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Unfortunately, she was standing in my living room, so I couldn’t just pretend I didn’t notice her or casually run in the opposite direction. I found myself looking around for the hidden cameras, hoping this was just a huge prank.

I thought back to my mom and all those times she said not to let strangers in the house. So THIS was what she was talking about. I should have listened.

It was like being trapped in this recurring dream I have where I walk up to a yard sale and start nonchalantly looking at items only to discover it’s not a yard sale, it’s just a messy yard. Only in this dream, I was the yard sale.

I tried to figure out how to extricate myself from the situation without appearing rude or insane. Obviously, screaming and running out the back door was not an option. I considered crawling under my dining table and pretending it was a fort, because nothing bad ever happens in a fort, but that would not solve the problem because there would still be a stranger in my living room asking me for swimsuits.

I was going to have to deal with this very uncomfortable situation before she started looking through my dresser for some swimwear to take home.

It was then that I thought about the sign.

The Bikini Hut sign.

The one that said, “Swimsuits and More!”

She thought I was a retail store.

This certainly didn’t make the situation any less uncomfortable, because I knew once I responded, she would be embarrassed. Then I would be embarrassed because she was embarrassed. Then we would still be standing there, facing each other in a never ending spiral of embarrassment and misery, with no clear way to end the encounter unless a sinkhole suddenly opened up in the floor and swallowed us both.

I thought about quickly pretending my iPad was a credit card swiper and selling her something from my coffee table, but I knew I was just going to have to embrace the uneasiness of this moment in all its putrid glory because she still had not realized what was going on and was looking to me for clarification of where the retail racks could be found.

I bumbled through an awkward explanation about how this was my house, not a store, and how the sign was an old sign from when the house WAS a store……. after which she apologized, fled, and sprinted down the street.

I probably could have salvaged the encounter if I had normal human social skills instead of communicating like I was raised by a family of cats.

I cursed that sign and went about my morning. I put it out of my head.

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It was a calm day without much wind and lots of sunshine, so we decided to take friends who were on island all the way to Pete’s Pub. The added stress of running a retail store on Front Street had made for a long morning, so we were all eager to get there and get our lunch on, so we made straight for Little Harbour.

The day was gorgeous as we “oooooed” and “aaaaahed” our way south.

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The cherry on top of the trip was a double greeting by two spotted eagle rays as we pulled up to the dock.

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I took this as a sign that all of the calamities of the day had passed and the rest of the day would be nothing but sunshine and unicorns.

And drinks.

Which is pretty much the same as sunshine and unicorns. Rum is just dream flavored water, I always say.

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Pete’s Pub serves some of the best fish in the Abacos. We enjoyed some spectacular fish sandwiches with their always amazing peas & rice and walnut cole slaw before hitting the water to cool off.

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I will say, though, I am puzzled by the paper towels at Pete's. Is it a paper towel? Is it a toilet paper roll? Under normal circumstances this would not be an issue, but after a few Blasters, it's creates quite the mental conundrum.

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As we pulled out of Little Harbour, a pod of dolphins put on a spectacular display for us. This day really was sunshine and rainbows, wasn’t it?

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We kept the good times going by stopping at one of the small uninhabited cays for beach drinks. It was a sun-filled, fun-filled afternoon.

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And then we got the boat stuck on a sandbar in Tilloo Pond. No worries, the guys pushed us off and the fun continued.

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We were on top of the world!

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And then the boat quick working.

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I have always heard that bad things come in threes. I guess we had our three.

The good news? We were right outside Orchid Bay marina, it wasn’t quite dark yet, and this meant our bad things were over for the trip! Right?

We limped the boat in, tied her off, and went to drown our sorrows with ribs and cheesecake at Sunsetters.

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SUNDAY

It was a beautiful morning on Guana Cay.

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People were streaming onto the island for Sunday Funday. Arriving by boat, ferry, or crawling out of their villas, they were pouring down the street. It was going to be a lively day.

Matt went to cry on his boat for a while, so I kicked back at the house.

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I came out of the bathroom to find a strange woman in my den looking at my Tommy Bahama candles.

I wish I was joking.

After I ran her off with a pool noodle I spent the rest of the morning painting over that sign.

With only 2 full days on the island, we had to use part of Sunday Funday as Boat Day. Unfortunately, our fuel pump was out, so our boat was FINISHED.

Thankfully, our friends had their boat, so we piled in and headed for the lagoon.

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This spot never disappoints and the day was no exception. We pulled out the snacks, mixed up the drinks, and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Aaahhh…….bliss.

It was Sunday Funday at Nippers, however, so we couldn’t spend all day luxuriating in the sunshine in the peace and quiet. It is a condition of vacationing with Vicki that at least a portion of each Sunday be spent at Nippers.

I can’t help but love the colorful atmosphere, the amazing views, and the fun music.

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Okay, I really love the Nippers. Who am I trying to fool?

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Unfortunately, my alter ego, Bad Dancer Vicki, seems to come out every time I am at Nippers no matter how honorable my intentions are.

I’m afraid that I am the reason you can’t take your kids to Nippers after 3:00 p.m.

I’m sorry.

Nippers transforms me from this:

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To this:

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In time honored tradition, we moved the party from Nippers to Grabbers in the late afternoon for some sustenance. Despite the delicious pasta, buffalo wings, and pizza…..apparently, all I wanted were some Doritos.

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Sometimes you just really need some Doritos.

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MONDAY

Like a flash, it was over.

It no longer makes me sad when I leave, though.

I’ll be back before you can say, "Do you have any swimsuits for sale?"

Until next time, Bikini Hut!

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Posted by vicki_h 11:40 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (0)

A Bahamas WORK trip...as wrong as it sounds.

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We were under no delusions when we decided to buy a beach house, no matter how small. I never had the “A beach house will be a dream! It will sit there and make money while I’m not using it and then all my vacations will be free!” fantasy.

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When you buy a house in a place where a bottle of glass cleaner costs $12 and a gallon of cheap paint runs you $70, you know nothing is going to be free.

I knew that a beach house was a labor of love, not an investment….the emphasis on LABOR. I heard Matt’s “Do you know how many times we could stay in the nicest house on the island for what it will cost to own that tiny place?” lecture enough times to have it committed to memory and I fully realized that many of our trips would involve more work than play.

This is the illusion of beach house ownership:

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This is the reality:

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I knew that going in and I didn’t care.

You don’t buy a beach house because it makes sense. You buy it because you love it so much that you don’t care how little sense it makes.

That’s how I love the Bikini Hut.

Sure, I’m still in the honeymoon phase, and the dazzle may wear off at some point, but for now, I am more excited about going down to Guana Cay to change out electrical fixtures than I am about going and hanging out on the beach.

The same goes for boat ownership. I have heard it said that a boat is a hole in the water that you pour your money into.

The illusion of owning a boat:

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The reality:

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The good news is that we ran into this thing with eyes wide open. So, when it came time to head down to Guana Cay for a quick trip with the primary purpose being WORK, we were okay with that.

Thursday:

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Having our own boat and keeping it at Marsh Harbour has gloriously eliminated the need to leave at zero-dark- thirty in sub-zero temperatures in order to ensure we catch the early ferry.

Instead of scurrying out at some ungodly hour like 3:00 a.m., we set off at a comfortable time, with no goal more ambitious than “get there before dark.”

We landed in the early afternoon to warm sunshine and blue skies, immediately forgetting that it was 20 degrees back home with a forecast of snow. We made a quick stop at the hardware store (okay, that's a lie - no stop ANYWHERE in Marsh Harbour is "quick" - in reality, we wandered around the Ace Hardware with 4 employees for 20 minutes looking for some pocket doors we had ordered back in the summer). Before we knew it, we were on the boat headed for Guana Cay.

I will say that the new routine bypasses Curly Tails and my initial Bahama Mama, so I am going to have to work on better planning in the future so that there are some boat drinks on the way over! Arriving “dry” is simply unacceptable.

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Pulling up to Bikini Hut for the first time after the initial remodel trip was awesome. That sweet, happy little cottage just screamed “Welcome Back!”

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Literally.

Look at what I found in the refrigerator when I arrived:

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Pure. Awesomeness.

By the time we got settled and unpacked (and knocked back a couple of painkillers), it was late and we realized we hadn’t had lunch. We were tired and hungry so we made a b-line for Sunsetters wing night.

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A $5 plate of wings never looked so good.

Or went down so fast.

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We had noticed a glass case stocked with homemade desserts when we had arrived: carrot cake, chocolate cake, pies, cheesecakes….so of course we had to try them out.

I recommend the dessert. Any of them. All of them.

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Who am I kidding? I always recommend the dessert.

Friday:

One of the best things about Bikini Hut is how short the walk is to the beach. Rooby, Bella, and I can walk straight over every morning and see the sun rise. The place we used to stay required a golf cart ride, which is not easy alone, in the morning, before coffee with 2 very excited dogs in tow.

The girls and I got a long, leisurely walk in before heading back to the house.

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I had checked the weather in advance and knew that Friday was supposed to be less than amazing. This made diving into the work we needed to do much easier. Matt and John would work on putting up some pocket doors to provide the room with the murphy bed some privacy, while Teresa and I ran over to Marsh Harbour to buy some things the house still needed.

I had no illusions about how un-awesome shopping in Marsh Harbour would be, but there were things we needed, so there just wasn’t any choice. I’d make do with whatever I could find and I would certainly pay 3 times as much for it.

The best part about heading to Marsh Harbour was that it meant we could stop at Curly Tails for lunch! Finally, that Bahama Mama I had been waiting for.

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Paired with the blackened fish tacos, it was just perfect.

We were hoping to get our shopping done before the rain set in, but we weren’t so lucky. We found ourselves running to the afternoon ferry in the pouring rain with boxes of groceries, supplies, and a table.

We put our purchases next to several boxes of plantains, a boat motor, and a huge stash of tropical plants and found some seats.

Passenger ferry or freight boat? I guess it just depends on the day!

The rain kept pouring. It was coming down in thick sheets, often blowing sideways with gale force winds.

We had walked from Bikini Hut to the ferry. I spent the entire ride back trying to figure out how we were going to get all our stuff, that table, and our bodies to the house without being absolutely drenched.

I wasted my time.

It wasn’t possible.

We got all our stuff, that table, and our bodies back to the house absolutely drenched.

It was still pouring an hour later and we were all hungry. We considered our dinner options.

We could stay at the house and eat Doritos with painkillers, because I had only bought snacks (I still don’t understand why I was the only one that voted for that one).

We ruled out Grabbers because, even if we could get there without getting too wet, all of the seating was to some degree “open air” and the crazy wind made Grabbers a very bad idea.

We ruled out Nippers because, even if we could get there without getting too wet, there was no way to get to the indoor dining area without making that loooooooong walk.

We ruled out Sunsetters because it was the farthest golf cart ride and we knew we’d be soaked by the time we got there.

We ruled out Island Flavors because, even though it was the closest, it was right on the water and we could see from our window that the eating area was getting drenched.

We ruled out Kidd’s Cove because they were closed and I was pretty sure Edmund wouldn’t appreciate me letting myself into his kitchen to see what I could find.

This left Fish Tales. It was only a couple of doors down from Bikini Hut, so we knew we could get there quickly and stay pretty dry. It was also fully indoors, so no fear of being blown sideways while trying to swallow a conch fritter. The only problem was….we’d never been. We had no idea what it was like inside or what kind of food they had. Did they even have food? We knew it was a sports bar, so what if we got in there and all they had were chips hanging on the wall and one of those hot dog carousels like you see in a mini mart with the 2 day old wieners sitting under a sad heat lamp?

It was risky, but we had no other choice.

We dashed down the street and darted inside.

It was absolutely delightful.

Bright, pleasant, incredibly clean, with a great menu and a nice bar.

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HOW HAVE WE MISSED THIS PLACE?????

The guys were extra happy because there were lots of TVs and a pool table.

I was happy because there was wine and pasta Bolognese.

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We stuffed ourselves before making a mad dash back to Bikini Hut in between showers, falling asleep to the sound of the storm raging outside.

Saturday:

The winds of the previous day blew EVERYTHING out of the sky.

I mean EVERYTHING.

We woke to a perfectly clear day.

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I knew from the forecast that this was the ONE DAY. The ONLY DAY. The PERFECT DAY.

This was BOAT DAY.

Sure, we had work to do, but all work and no play, right?

The weather in January in the Bahamas is a total crap shoot. You can get a high of 59 with 20 mph winds or you can get an 80 degree day filled with glorious sunshine. We had the latter. It was a gift and I wasn’t going to squander it.

We loaded up a cooler, grabbed some tunes, threw the pups onboard and set off for the lagoon.

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I intended to celebrate our first real “BOAT DAY” (we managed to squeak out a half day in September, but that just doesn’t count) with mimosas, but I forgot the OJ and couldn’t actually find champagne. So we had fruit punch and Asti, otherwise known as a “White Trash Mimosa.” The only thing missing was some cheese whiz and Vienna sausages to make the party complete.

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We did a whole lot of nothing for several hours.

It couldn't have been more perfect.

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The plan was to hit the Dock & Dine on Man-O-War for lunch and do some shopping. I was pretty excited. We had only eaten at the Dock & Dine once. The food was GREAT but, at the risk of sounding like a person with a substance abuse problem, the lack of alcohol was a bummer. When we are out on the boat, we want drinks. Yes, even with lunch. We are sad, small, shallow people with an unhealthy dependence upon lunchtime cocktails.

Now that the Dock & Dine serves alcohol, we were ready to try it again.

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Never ones to presume, we asked the host if our small dogs would be allowed. We felt this was an unnecessary question and really more of a polite formality as we had never been in any outdoor establishment in the Abacos where dogs weren’t allowed.

We were turned away.

I think I actually heard my heart shatter as I looked longingly inside at one of the Dock & Dine’s juicy hamburgers sitting on a dogless patron’s table. Or maybe it was just my stomach growling.

Looked like it was going to be Doritos and painkillers after all!

I did not harbor any ill feelings toward the restaurant. I understand that not everyone loves my dogs like I do and not everyone wants to eat with my dogs. I get it. We moved on.

Alls I'm sayin' is......I think my dogs would have been much quieter than the two kids that were running around the place, swinging off everything like a couple of rabid monkeys and definitely no less sanitary than the flies that were taking up residence on everyone's plates.

Just putting it out there.

We stopped in at the various shops, picking up some new bags from the sail shop and visiting with the seashell guy.

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Lunch ended up being snacks on the boat at the little Man-O-War cay beach. Maybe it wasn’t a juicy burger, but I wouldn’t have traded the company for anything.

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By the time we got back to Guana, it was close to sunset, and we’d had nothing more substantial than some cheese and chips & dip with a whole lot of boat drinks, so we cleaned up in record time and headed straight for Grabbers (who welcomed Bella and Rooby with open arms, I might add).

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Frozen grabbers, a couple of pizzas, and fried lobster with mac & cheese was better than a dumb old burger anyway.

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Sunday:

Sunday was supposed to be insanely windy with some possible bouts of rain.

The sky looked ominous as I took my beach walk with the girls.

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Even though the wind was gusting around 20 – 30 mph, the rain held off. The blue sky was dotted with clouds that were moving crazy fast with the wind, but for the most part, the sun was out.

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Matt and John had more work to do on the pocket doors, so I took advantage of the sunshine while it lasted and had my own Sunday Funday at Nippers pool.

I literally had the entire place to myself.

Here’s me alone with a bloody mary by the pool.

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Here’s me alone with a frozen Nipper.

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Here’s me alone on the dance floor……Okay, seriously folks, that would just be sad. Some Sundays just aren’t for dancing.

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Not every Sunday can be a Funday. Some days it's a Oneday. I was content to lay by the pool alone and read the morning away.

By lunchtime, a small crowd….okay, more like 4 people, but on Guana, that’s a small crowd……had gathered around the bar to watch the game. Matt joined me for some lunch and I finally got my burger. Along with a giant plate of spicy, hot buffalo lobster bites.

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The rain finally arrived in the afternoon, so we all used the afternoon to finish up some work – the guys on the pocket doors and me painting some furniture.

By the time we finished our work, it was late and everyone was tired. We ran back over to Fish Tales for a quick dinner of grilled fish, sweet potato fries, and a salad before calling it a night.

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Monday:

Monday morning turned out to be cool, but beautiful. We'd certainly had a mixed bag of weather, but since it wasn't really supposed to be a fun trip, we were thankful for any good weather we got!

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The storms had blown through and moved out the clouds, but they brought in a cold front, dropping the temps to the high 60s.

You know what? When it’s January and the sun is shining, 68 feels pretty darn good.

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We finished up our work and set off for lunch at Lubbers Landing. It had turned out to be a pretty nice boat day and no trip to Abaco is complete for us without a trip to Lubber's Landing.

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When we got there, we found that Austin and Amy were in the states, leaving poor Stephanie to tend bar all alone.

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I immediately proclaimed it “FREE DRINK MONDAY” on Lubbers Landing.

Unfortunately, Stephanie did not agree and made me pay for all those margaritas. She did, however, make me drink my free shot when I got the ring on the hook around the pole.

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We soaked in the sunshine, eating delicious tuna burgers and playing with one of Lubbers many cats until it was time to go.

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It was time to go because John had one margarita too many. Apparently, FREE DRINK MONDAY Is not good for everyone.

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We spent the evening finishing up some painting. As we were cleaning up, I noticed the lights on at Kidd’s Cove for the first time since we’d arrived. We joined Forrest and Edmund for some drinks, but they weren’t serving dinner. That would have to wait until next time.

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So, we ran down to Nippers for dinner, knowing it would be good, but not as good as Edmund’s black beans and rice with mahi mahi!

Nippers didn’t disappoint. The “potato skins” that we ordered turned out to be stuffed potatoes. Each one was an entire half of a very large stuffed potato. No one was complaining.

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I had the cracked lobster with peas n’ rice, mac & cheese, and cole slaw while Matt went rogue and got the grouper parmesan. When I saw all of his melty cheese, I was jealous.

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Tuesday:

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It was time to head home. It had been mostly work, but we had certainly managed to squeeze in plenty of fun.

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At home, we woke up to snow on Wednesday morning, finding it hard to believe we had been basking in the Bahamian sunshine the day before.

I think Rooby can express it best:

"You mean, I went from this….."

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"To this?????"

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We all feel her pain.

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Until next time, when Matt and I will maroon ourselves on a deserted island in Honduras. Seriously…WHAT ARE WE THINKING??????

Want to see the Bikini Hut finished product?? Come on inside!

Posted by vicki_h 13:25 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (8)

Bikini Hut: Before and After

Bikini Hut is about 115 years old and has served as everything from a home to 13 children (yes, at the same time) to an actual Bikini Store. The cottage had been recently renovated completely, so everything was in top notch shape when we bought it. We just needed to change out the decor and add our own touch to it (seriously....who says "I think the perfect furniture for our beach house would be some red leather sofas and a black leather theater chair"??? Don't even get me started on that PVC and plywood table.....).

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We only had 2 weeks to make it ours, but I loved every minute of it. I decided to keep the name the house came with, because it suits the house and it suits me. Here’s the before and after!

Before:

Exterior:

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Living Area:

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Bathroom:

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Kitchen:

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Dining Area (what is now the Murphy Bed Room):

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Bedroom:

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After:

Exterior:

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Living/Dining Area:

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(There is actually a flipping millipede in the picture above! Damn millipedes!)

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Bathroom:

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Murphy Bed Room:

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Kitchen:

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Bedroom:

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Want to stay at Bikini Hut???? We’re taking a limited number of reservations. Check us out on VRBO!

http://www.vrbo.com/762793

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Posted by vicki_h 05:50 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (8)

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