Virgin Islands Trip - February 2006

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Brooklyn, New York

Friday, February 3, 2006

The phone rings. The car is outside. I head out. No car. I go back in and call. He's one street off. I go outside and wait.

I'm off for 16 days in the Virgin Islands. People have been asking me which one? I reply all of them. 16 days is a long time, but it is what I figured I needed to see all.

On my way to the airport gate I make a comment about the newness of the AA terminal, a fellow introduces himself and starts up a conversation. I learn that he, and many others on the flight, are headed for a conference for 2nd Circuit Court trial lawyers.

St. Thomas

The flight is all on time and uneventful, except there was no gluten-free breakfast. So I had no breakfast. I take a taxi (the only way to leave the STT airport) to the ferry dock in Charlotte Amalie. I had planned on a 2:00 ferry, but there was a 1:30 one boarding. I take it, hoping that from West End I can get an earlier ferry to Jost Van Dyke.

On the ferry I have a short conversation with a couple. They boast that this will be their 11th time going to Virgin Gorda. Not like me. I can't imagine just going back to the same place again and again.

Tortola

I make it to West End, but no earlier ferry. I have an hour and a half to kill. Maybe I should have tried to get to Red Hook and get an earlier direct ferry?

In West End I wander around. I stop at the Hertz place. She has the reservation I e-mailed in months before! I never heard back, so I was a bit surprised. I try to buy a curry lunch, but the woman is sold out. An hour and a half later the ferry leaves for Jost Van Dyke.

Jost Van Dyke

We arrive. I walk over to the Sea Crest Inn. It is on the other side of the harbor. Compared to what I usually stay in it is rather fancy. Many more amenities than I care about (like a kitchen). I rest for a short while. I take a shower and head out.

I find Foxy's Bar. He's not there. I ask and they have no Ting to mix with rum. I stop at the Sundown Bar of Wendell's World [now closed]. No Ting either, but she'll go get some. She heads across the street and buys some. Another customer is curious. She gives him a sample. He also orders a rum and Ting.

I chat a little and head to Foxy's. It is still early. It is still quiet. Back at Wendell's World I find that they are out of West Indian curries. For West Indian food she recommends Ali Baba's. I head there. I find many West Indian dishes. I order West Indian conch. I write these notes. No Ting here either. The problem is a West Indian drink and the people patronizing these places are not West Indian, but yacht people that never heard of Ting. So I get a rum and grape fruit.

The food arrives. It was nice, but a little salty. I wander back to Wendell's for another drink. Then I head over to Foxy's to watch the entertainment. Then back to bed.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

I get up late; very late. I had too many rum and Tings. I stop at Wendell's for a double lunch; one to cover the missed breakfast. I walk to White Bay. I find that bicycles are no longer rented. Not enough demand. The hills are rather steep. Instead he now gives guided tours on 4-wheel ATVs. But it is too late for that today. I walk back stopping at the ferry to check the times. They were not posted at the ferry dock, but I do find them posted in the town center. I have a choice of 8:00 or 9:30 AM. If I take the earlier one I'd eat breakfast over at West End.

I then walk to Jost Van Dyke's east end. I make it up to the ridge overlooking East End Harbour and Little Jost Van Dyke. I take a few panoramas along the way. I head back towards Great Harbour. I pass Debbie, the woman working at Wendell's that I befriended the day before. She's now been down here for 20 years. I make it back to my room and take a nap. I must have walked some 7-8 miles.

After the nap I head out. I have the urge for some orange juice. At the grocery store I find some canned. It was unsweetened, but had a funny taste. At Wendell's I discuss my food options with Debbie. One problem is every place uses Open Pit Barbecue Sauce, and on a phone call to the company I was told I can't eat it.

So I make it back to Ali Baba's for another curried conch. I pass by Wendell's. Debbie just left. I head for my room for an early night.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

I have no problem getting up early and making the 8:00 ferry.

Tortola

The only place open for breakfast does have precooked scrambled eggs and ham. Plus they have Tropicana orange juice. I walk over to Hertz. I get my Geo Tracker. It's 9:00. I head to the north side. My first stop is Smuggler's Cove. Then Long Bay, then Apple Bay, then Carot Bay, then Cane Garden Bay, and then Brewer's Bay. Plus all other bays that were in between. I look into the North Shore Shell Museum. I see the famous Bomba's Surfside Shack in Cappoons Bay (beside Apple Bay).

After Brewer's Bay I head inland. On my way to Sage Mountain I pass Skytop. I hadn't seen this in the guide, but they have a panoramic lookout on top of the restaurant. A popular spot for the tour taxis. I head to Sage Mt. I get the free trail map. I wander in a ways. It was very muddy and slippery. I decide to go to the highest peak. No views at all! I head back down to the Mountain View Restaurant. She makes me up a hamburger with salad. She shows me where the best view is located. It isn't that far in. So I decide I'll head in for it.

After more slippery mud I get to the view. It is nice. But one has to put so much effort into not falling, that one can't enjoy the walk through the rain forest. The others I've been to are better: El Yunque, Saba, and Guadeloupe.

I head back along Ridge Road. I head for Josiah's Bay. Then I head up to Lambert Bay. Then out to Hawk's Nest in the northeast. Good views. Then I head to the east of Tortola, getting views of Beef Island. Then I go across the bridge to Beef Island. I drive around Little Mountain. It is a nice place to live, but a little close to the airport. Then I head to Long Bay. Then I go around the airport to Trellis Bay. Then I took a dirt road out to Sprat Point. Then I took a picture from the dock in front of the Loose Mongoose. I tried to drive to the south of Beef Island, but a closed gate blocked the way. Then I head to Well Bay. In exploring a road I meet a fellow. He tells me they are developing the area for BVI's first golf course.

Then I head for Road Town. I'd like to get there by dusk. I take a picture of Brandwine Bay. Then hearing some model boats racing I drive around the bay to check them out. These were serious model boats.

Then I head into Road Town. I was able to find the A&L Inn without too much trouble. I check in. I had been warned that the place was noisy. He gives me a room in the back. With the air conditioner on there is no other noise at all.

The older guide book (the new Lonely Planet is very abridged!) recommends the Midtown Restaurant for West Indian food. I head out. I stop at Jacktronics to ask for directions. Jack tells me it is just a little further, but it is closed. I mention C&F, which the guidebook says is open Monday-Saturday. Jack says he's been there on Sunday. So I go back to the room, get the car keys, and head over.

I only get a little lost. The guidebook says take a taxi. But when I did stop and ask for directions I was rather close, just that I'd gone past it.

The C&F has a known chef. He puts butter into almost everything, but does make his own barbeque sauce. So I have barbequed ribs and chicken. It was all very nice and filling. I had been starving. Lunch was small (and cheap). I head back to my room.

I look at my notes for the next day. The notes for the bike rental place say open Mon-Fri. But I was planning to return the bike on Saturday! Unless something's wrong I won't be able to take the bike to Virgin Gorda. I watch the BBC news for a while and head to bed.

Monday, February 6, 2006

I get up fairly early. The sleep was only okay. I walk over to the Midtown Restaurant. She was able to fix me up some eggs. I go get the car to return it. I arrive at Hertz at 8:15. But the place isn't open yet. I wander around the market. Not a food market, but a lot of vendors selling souvenirs to the cruise ship passengers. Only two ships were in. People are pouring out the road in the open air taxis. Guided tours seem to be the popular thing for these people to do.

Eventually the Hertz woman shows up. I return the car. She doesn't seem to notice or care about the scratches in the wax.

Now it is time to get the bike. On the way I make a short detour and stop by the J.R. O'Neal Botanic Garden. It was nice and well maintained. I continue on and find the bike shop, Last Stop Sports, in an area of warehouses. I see on the front door that they are open on Saturdays. Good!

I head out with the bike. First stop is the ferry dock. I learn that I can leave my luggage there while returning the bike on Saturday. I buy my ticket to Anegada from Smith's Ferry. I get a free map from the tourism fellow. Checking the guide book I see the town has a small museum in the Old Government House. So I bike down to it. Not much of a museum. Mostly some rooms with furniture. The most interesting thing was the detailed report of the 1924 hurricane as it hit the house and mostly destroyed it with the governor's wife and another inside. It contained very detailed on the destruction (and the barometer readings). Then I checked out the cute garden behind.

Then I biked back to Midtown for lunch. In contrast to the quiet breakfast the place was packed. Back in my room I see if there is anything else mentioned in the guide book. It mentions a church and a prison down the street. So I take a walk. Not much to see.

It wasn't clear in the guide book about Peter Island, which is mostly a high end resort. The tourism fellow did say that non-guests were allowed on. So I head around the harbor to their ferry. It is $15 for the ride with return. This sounds fair. They won't let me bring my bike. The fellow, a manager, claims the boat is only licensed for passengers, not cargo. I don't buy it, but I can't argue. To me it's the same as luggage.

Peter Island

The island has one long trail with side trails. The manager on the ferry says I can make it to the end and back in the two hours to the next ferry. So I start a quick walk. After a while it is clear that I can't do as much as I want in two hours. I chat with a couple that are also day visitors. They convince me to stay to the next ferry. They had no ferry schedule (and I hadn't bothered to pick one up), so I assumed that they were every two hours. To make it down side trails I walk fast. I get lots of pictures. On my way to what I thought was the 6:30 ferry I pass the restaurant. An employee woman that was on the ferry I came over on says it already left at 6:00. And the next is 7:30. I can stay for dinner she says. How much, I ask. $50 for a buffet is the reply. An expensive mistake! I hang around a bit until the restaurant opened. I clean up some in the men's room. It was a hot day walking briskly around the island.

Much of the buffet I can't eat, for one reason or another. So I end up stuffing myself mostly with fish and meat. Then the maître de gives me a ride over to the ferry. This to make sure I don't miss this one!

Tortola

I bike back to my room and call it a night.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

I take my time getting up. The ride out to West End and back won't take very long. I head on foot to the Midtown for breakfast. I noticed when dressing that the back strap on my one of my sandals is about to wear through and break. I ask at Midtown where the cobbler is. They tell me. I wander out looking for him and the Chase Bank. I see a bunch of other banks, but not Chase. I ask. The Chase is now First Bank. I remember seeing that one.

I get to Bolo's, the department store where the cobbler is. It is a little before 9:00, but they say even though he's supposed to be there at 9:00, better to come back at 10:00.

I go back and get my bike. I head out. First stop is the Dolphin Discovery. You can see the people playing with the dolphins over the fence. I take a bunch of pictures, hoping that in one a dolphin will be sticking up out of the water.

I continue on. I get hit by the first of many brief showers. I wait it out under The Happy Rainbow's back "porch." I bike into Nanny Cay. I stop at Bamboushay, a pottery shop, and look around. I chat about the fenderless bike and the puddles ruining another shirt of mine. What I should have done, and will do in the future, is to bring all the soiled shirts on future Caribbean trips.

I look for the William Thornton Estate. Despite knowing where to look I can't find it. Then I look for The Dungeon. Again, despite looking and knowing where it is I can't find it. The island has few historical sites, and the ones they do have are neglected.

I then find the fort at Fort Recovery. This one is easy to find, as it is surrounded by The Fort Recovery Beach Villas Resort which is well marked. It is a simple round structure with no door. I guess they used a ladder to get inside side. Or maybe there was an underground passage?

There is another shower and another wait under an overhang. I then bike to Frenchman's Cay. It starts to rain again, hard this time, so I seek shelter inside the Pisces Restaurant [now closed]. I order a fruit platter. The Midtown doesn't have fruit. The platter comes. Much of the fruit isn't ripe yet, and the best, the papaya, is only a tablespoon worth. It was mostly unripe melon.

I wander around the Sopher's Hole Wharf and Marina. It is a large place mostly catering to the boaters, plus some cruise ship people on their guided tours. There is another brief shower which I ignore.

I bike around the West End ferry docks. Then I head back towards Road Town. It is a much more arduous ride in this direction. The tailwind became a stiff headwind.

I get to where The Dungeon should be. I consult two maps. I find a rutted dirt road through the brush. I take it. I do find some ruins that are completely overgrown. No tourists come here! From the looks of the litter the place is used for parties. A large swarm of humming insects is overhead, so I move on.

The road to turn for the William Thornton Estate ruins is easy to find. Not that it is marked, but it is the only one running up the valley. I take it. The roads don't really match the map. The map is new but unlikely to have been updated in years. I get to the end of the road. I don't see anything. I ask a couple of people. They aren't really sure, but the second gives me directions. Back down the road I do find the ruins. Of course it is overgrown, plus it is behind a wire fence. At one point the fence is pushed down. I walk over it, brushing my leg against some thorns. I felt a sharp pain. Not from being stuck, but from some poison it had. Again, I can't imagine any tourists finding this place. This isn't an island to go to for historical sites.

I bike on. A car blows its horn. He wants me to stop, so he can make a turn in front of me. I had this also happen in town when walking. Apparently pedestrians don't have the right of way here. If you are about to enter a cross street that a car wants to turn into, the drivers blow their horn to make you stop, so they can turn without a delay.

There is another rain shower. I wait this one out under a sea grape. There were no buildings around.

I get back into Road Town. I take a picture of what remains of Fort Burt. It is now with the Fort Burt Hotel restaurant on top. I did so, to have a complete set of every historical site on the island.

I head to the Midtown for lunch. They suggest stewed chicken this time. It was a hassle to get the meat off all the bones.

I head back to Bolo's to get the sandal repaired. It's 3:00. He's out to lunch! So I head off to bike around. I check out the cruise ship docks. I bike down some back streets. At 3:40 I return. He's there. He fixes the back strap. [Though, by the end of the trip his repair is no more.] I head back to my room. It's early, so I shower and watch TV to kill time.

While watching the news I decide I won't bike to dinner. I can take a long walk to C&F. So I go out and bring the bike in. Less than 10 minutes later I hear a roar. It is raining. It is a deluge! I'm on the top floor and I have to turn the volume up. I'm lucky. Were the bike left out all the oil would have been washed off the chain. It could be neat to see the normally dry storm sewers in action, but I stay in.

The rain mostly stops, so I head to C&F. I pass flooded intersections. About halfway the rain completely stops. I see a road that I think could be shorter, but I go the way I know.

The place is crowded. There were many groups of people. For a change I ordered dolphin with Creole sauce. Nicer than the sweet barbecue. Returning to my room I go a shorter way. Now I can go that way to get there. About halfway back it starts to rain. I do have my umbrella, but my legs get wet. I arrange for an automated wakeup call at 5:30. I go right to bed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

The phone rings at 5:30. There is plenty of time to leisurely get to the 7:00 ferry to Anegada. There is an English couple also waiting for the ferry. Their son lives on Tortola and they come every year. But this is their first trip to Anegada.

Along the way the ferry makes a stop in Virgin Gorda to pick up a couple. I learn that they stop by reservation only. I could have saved some ferry travel time had I gone from Virgin Gorda, but they may require a minimum of two.

It was a lovely ride over. We watched the sun rising through the clouds.

Anegada

It took 1 1/2 hours to reach Anegada. Upon docking I simply jump on my bike and ride off. I first stop at Sue's Purple Turtle boutique and gift shop. I chat with the owner. I learn the reason there is no longer scheduled plane service to the island is the government commissioned a study that said it was unsafe to fly passengers in a single prop plane over such an expanse of water. The pilots say they could coast to Necker Island and land on the reef, but the government replied that the passengers would get wet. So the ferry service was started. It is being subsidized by the government. The other option is to charter a twin engine plane for some $600.

I then stop at the Anegada Reef Hotel to see what map they have. None, except for one laminated in plastic. So I head off to bicycle the island clockwise using the free map I brought. Initially I pull down side roads. The first took me to an expansive view of Vagabond Pond. The flamingos were way over on the other side. The next side road, towards the beach, was covered with prickly burrs. I become concerned about getting a flat. So I need to be more careful.

I detoured to the beach a few more times. But progress was slow. The road has been all dirt so far. It was very bumpy. Often the sand was deep enough that I fishtailed. And in a couple of places the sand was so deep I had to walk the bike.

I stopped at Pomento Point. I checked out the small museum and watched a couple paraskiers.

I was surrounded by scrub brush. It became very boring after a while. The map wasn't very accurate. Many of the dirt roads were not on it. I decide that I can't really venture far, or I won't make it back in time for the ferry. I do reach some paved road, but then when I pass the airport it stops. And the road, now leading to Loblolly Bay, gets worse. A pickup truck approaches. I stick out my thumb. He stops. [And after I posted the link to this journal in the Traveltalkonline Forum he identifies himself!] He agrees that Anegada isn't the place to bicycle. I would not do this again, and I would recommend to others to rent a four-wheel drive car.

At Loblolly Bay there is a place for lunch: The Big Bamboo. But they put butter on everything. Even in the rice and peas. So I order a steak and salad. It was my only choice.

I take some pictures and head towards the town. I come upon a couple biking to the beach to snorkel. We meet at an intersection. The turn leads to another beach bar. It's 1:30. It is so slow going that I decide I don't want to take any detour. So I pass. I continue into the town, called The Settlement. Not much of a town, but the center of government. No stores to speak of. All places to eat are out at the beaches or by the ferry dock. I stop for water. Then I ask a Rastafarian fellow where the iguanas that the fellow raises are. He tells me where. I go see. To protect them, the young iguanas are raised until big enough to survive in the wild, and are then released

I bike around. I find the fishermen's dock. It doesn't seem to be used that much any more. I'm still hungry. I stop back at the small general store and get another bottle of water and two small bags of potato chips.

I head back to the ferry dock. I have plenty of time. I pass Pat's Pottery and go in. We chat. It seems that everybody has some relative in Brooklyn or Queens. Or they lived there for a while themselves. Pat no longer throws her pottery. She now molds it and hand paints it. People like her painting. It is nice. I see she has a topographical map of Anegada. So I buy one.

I bike into a turn off and find a large dry salt flat. I take my first 360° panorama.

I get back to the ferry dock. I have an hour and a quarter to go. I stop at Potter's By The Sea. I ask about food. They only have French Fries this early. I ask what else is fried in the oil. Nothing else! So I place an order. They were skinny fries. I prefer fat ones.

I bike around and take a few pictures while waiting for the ferry to come in. It was much bigger and a little faster.

Tortola

We get back to Road Town and I bike back to my room. I stop by Jacktronics to thank and tell Jack I did find C&F on Sunday night.

I wash up and head to C&F. Clarence makes up for me a special garlic and olive oil sauce. I say goodbye to Clarence and head back to my room and call it a night.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

I get up with the sun. I head to Midtown for breakfast. I tell them I'm leaving, but may be back for Saturday lunch. I bike to the ferry dock and lock up the bike. Then I go to the room to get my luggage and check out.

I walk to the ferry and wait. I'm early, plus it leaves 10 minutes late.

Virgin Gorda

At Virgin Gorda a security woman tells me where the Laundromat and Ocean View Hotel are located. They are across the street from each other. I drop off my dirty clothes first. Then I check in and drop off my luggage.

I head south. I pull into a restaurant: the Dock Side Bar and Grill. I then continue to Spring Bay. It is a quieter version of The Baths. But the sun is wrong for a picture. I'll come back. I then head to The Baths. I don't pay and enter the free trail that leads through Devil's Bay National Park. I get as far as Devil's Bay. It is crowded. I don't realize that I'm not looking at The Baths. (The guide books say that there are few people at Devil's Bay. This is no longer true.) I head back up. The sun direction isn't too good here either. I head into town and have lunch at The Wheel House. It is part of the place I'm staying in.

I then bicycle over to Copper Mine Point, on the back side of the island. I get some good panorama pictures. And the rarely visited copper mine itself is kind of neat.

On my way back to town I stop next to a taxi driver eating lunch. He's done for the day. He's already taken his cruise ship passengers back to the ferry. He tells me his firm, Andy's Taxi and Jeep Rental, will rent cars for half days at Little Dix Bay. So I head there.

There is a closed gate, but the security woman says non-guests are welcome. I wander down to the beach and get a picture. I then find someone at Andy's. They want $50 for a half day. It would be a large SUV. A guest is nearby. He remembers me from Anegada. He and his wife were the ones the ferry stopped for the day before. Then I pick up a map of the grounds at the front desk. I see on it a trail to Cow Hill. So I bike to the start and walk up. The trail is on the leeward side of the hill, and now it's also the sunny side. It's hot! At the top I am rewarded with some lovely views and pictures.

I bike to their spa. I want a non-panorama picture of Little Dix Bay. But shrubbery is all in the way. I say this to a woman. Turns out she is a masseuse and says her work room has a view and she's going there now with a client. So I quickly get a picture as they discuss where she will start the massage.

I head back into town. The taxi driver, who works for Andy's, passes and waves. I treat myself to a quart of orange juice. I stop into the tourism office. The woman says that Island Style has the cheapest cars. She makes a call and I have a car for $40. I say 1:00 on Friday. I then buy water. The quart of OJ wasn't enough!

It's now 4:00. It's now time to get the laundry. But she isn't back yet. I wander to the room and back again. She's there. She charges me $2.50 for soap. It seems the yachties bring their own. Now she didn't use $2.50 worth of soap, so the rest is with my laundry. I complain. Back at the hotel I tell Mina, the woman managing the place, that I'll give it to her. (I didn't. I ended up saving it for the next Laundromat.) I stop at Fischer's Cove Beach Hotel and Restaurant along Trunk Bay for some pictures with the sun behind me.

I head off for Spring Bay again. I get a good picture this time. Then I head to The Baths. I enter via the main path. There are very few people now. I walk over to Devil's Bay. It is a most interesting walk through the huge granite boulders. The sun is okay for some shots, but not others. I'll come back early on Friday and get more before the cruise ship crowd shows up.

Then back to my room. Soap and water never felt better. I listen to the news for a while and write some of my journal. I've been missing some very cold weather. And snow is coming. A neighbor will cover my sidewalk. But then I'll owe her. I'd rather it not snow.

I head back to The Wheel House again. The guide book says they also have dinner. All I found was a few guys drinking. But the woman says they will cook up something for me. So I order curried chicken. It was a large order. For all this exercise I need a lot of food. I chat with the guys while I wait. Then after I eat I chat with the woman at the bar. She used to be a flight attendant and liked the free travel perk. I then learn where early breakfast is and head to bed.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I get up with the light. I go down and find that my bike is locked behind the gate. I had realized the night before that this was going to be a problem. A woman is there wanting to check out. She says they can call Mina at the pub. We go across the street to the pub. No answer on Mina's numbers. She's probably taking her kid to school. I get fruit and eggs for breakfast. Again the fruit is mostly unripe. I return to the hotel. The gate is still locked. I go up to my room. At 8:45 I go down and it is open. I head off to The Baths. Truck loads of people are already headed there.

When I arrive there is a mob waiting to pay. And another mob listening as a tour guide describes something. I head down the back way to Devil's Bay. None of the cruise people have made it there yet. There is only a couple that came off of a yacht. Then the first cruise couple arrives. Then more appear. I follow the path along the water to the main beach. I get directions to Island Style Car Rental, which weren't very good. I climb up the trail and check out a gift shop. Then I get a good panorama from The Top of The Baths.

I then bicycle into Little Trunk Bay Estates. It is just a bunch of nice houses, all with their own name. I then head to the airport. I hadn't yet checked out the back of town. I go to where Island Style is supposed to be. I ask for directions. I'm no where near the place. I head off. After asking a couple more times I find it. I arrange to pick up the car there.

I want to make it to Little Fort National Park. I stop at the tourism office to find out how to get to it. He has no idea. He doesn't even know it exists. So I head off. It is all behind the establishments/houses along the road. I go in a dirt road. I find a pig pen. I stop at a bakery. She doesn't know, but looking closely at the map it appears that it can only be reached by the beach.

I go to the beach. I try. I get in a ways. But it isn't easy clambering over the rocks. I give up. A boat is needed. I head back to my room.

I eat lunch again at The Wheel House. I have the same chicken curry. It's easy and cheap. I pick up a large bottle of water. The water from the tap is salty. I head to Island Style. She gives me a (non-grand) Suzuki Vitara. It seems to be the same as the Geo Tracker. I head towards the north end of the island.

My first stop is Savannah Bay. Then I make stops along the way to take pictures. I then parked at the second entrance to Gorda Peak National Park and hiked up to the top. Eventually I made it to the viewing platform and was rewarded with fine views.

On my way driving down the other side I picked up a hitchhiker. He's got a box of chicken and baggage. I take him to the dock to catch the Bitter End Yacht Club ferry. And I go over with him. At the Bitter End Yacht Club I have the choice of staying either 20 minutes, or an hour and 20 minutes. I consider taking the path to the Biras Creek Resort, but I learn that they put up a gate to discourage non-guests. So I opt for the 20 minute visit, which was really too short.

I then drive towards Leverick Bay. I stop for a picture across from a school. A few kids ask me to take their picture. I do, but I can't show it to them. My camera has to scroll through every panorama picture before displaying the non-panorama pictures. That would be 100's. So I write the URL to my web site in one of their notebooks.

I get down to the Leverick Bay Resort and Marina. I wander around and get some pictures. I then head to the other side of the island to find Nail Bay Sugar Mill. A rutted dirt road leads the way. I go past it and end up in Long Bay. On my way back I get directions. It is part of the Nail Bay Resort. So it is well maintained, but not very photogenic. This part of the island is being developed with one acre home sites. But they are all facing west, and in the afternoon the sun reflecting off the water is blinding.

I head back into town. I find a gas station. I put $5 in. The gauge needle doesn't move up enough. I put in another $5. It goes way past where it started. Maybe I didn't wait long enough the first time? I return the car and bike back to my room.

I go down for dinner. They are out of curried chicken. So I order a large order of stewed turtle. It was interesting. It only has a few easy to find bones. It is much easier to eat than chicken. I return to my room, thinking about whether I should take an earlier ferry and to try to get to St. John before the currently planned 5 PM. [There is a direct ferry from Virgin Gorda to Charlotte Amalie, but I had to return the bicycle.]

Saturday, February 11, 2006

At 2 AM there was a deluge. Then steady rain for a while. By the time I got up at 5:45 it had stopped. I made it across the street for breakfast at 6:50. But the place doesn't open until 7:00. A walk down the pier and back was enough. They were open, but no prepared breakfast until 7:30. I settle for an orange juice and return to my room.

I walk over to the ferry dock. I have 25 minutes to wait. Just as the ferry leaves it starts to rain. I get a fellow to bring the bike inside the cabin. Halfway into the trip the rain stops. A rainbow came out. It stayed with us all the way to Road Town.

Tortola

I stopped at the Road Town Fast Ferry to buy my ticket and check my bags. Initially she only checked one. I said I wanted to check both. I biked to the Midtown Restaurant for breakfast. I said my goodbyes. Then I head to the bike store to return the bike. I asked if there was a short cut at the other end of Port Purcell and he said yes.

I walked to the ferry. I get there with 20 minutes to spare. I paid my departure tax and waited in the departure lounge. At the scheduled time to leave we boarded. I was concerned that my bags made it on. So I looked at the pile of them. I spied my bigger one. I stayed inside and sort of followed the film on the TVs.

St. Thomas

As we approached Charlotte Amalie people got up and crowded at the door. Initially I thought why the rush. We'll still have to wait for our bags. I was wrong. I ended up at the end of a very long line waiting to get through immigration. Then in the baggage room I couldn't find my second bag! I went through customs and went to the desk. They called Road Town. Yes, they had my bag. He claims I left it on the counter. Yes, I left it, as I checked it. He confirmed the tag was on it, and its number matched my stub. They said they would put it on the next boat and I was to call when I get to St. John.

I thought there was a noon ferry to St. John, so I ran down to the ferry dock. I was wrong. The next ferry was 1:00. So I went for lunch. There were taxi drivers all over. Many are waiting for the St. John ferry to arrive, and others are just hanging around hoping some cruise ship passengers want a taxi back. I asked where I could get West Indian food. I was sent to Glady's Cafe. I found it. A fellow seats me. Most of their food is not West Indian, but there are a few dishes listed on the back of the menu. I tell the fellow my dietary restrictions. I tell him any wheat is a severe problem. He has no idea what is in any of the food. I ask a question. He goes to the kitchen. I ask another. He goes to the kitchen. It seems they have flour in their curries and stews. We are getting no where. He is unable to suggest anything. He is clueless. I get up. On my way out I complain about his cluelessness and tell them I must avoid wheat. But they have rye bread and white bread they reply. I leave in a huff.

I then wander back to the ferry dock. I see a place named Bumpa's. It is on the second floor. I go up. At least there I'm talking with the women that prepare the food. Bread, and about everything else, goes on the griddle. I buy a bag of potato chips and orange juice. Then I see poached salmon salad on the menu. It would be fine, though she usually cuts the lettuce on the same board as the bread. But she won't for me. It wasn't my ideal meal, but it worked.

The ferry is now in. I cross over the street and get on.

St. John

We arrive in Cruz Bay 35 minutes later. I head up the hill to The Inn at Tamarind Court. Nancy, the woman running the place, calls the ferry people several times. It includes getting the captain to accept the bag. This is presumably as someone has to get the bag through customs. They'll put it on the 5:30 ferry and I'm to meet it.

My room isn't quite ready yet. So I start chatting with a fellow guest that is sitting at a table in the courtyard. He was on a 14 day vacation, but just the US Virgin Islands. He's trying to change some of his St. Thomas days to St. John. He has been on St. Croix and stayed in Frederiksted (it's popular with the gays). He says the crime problem is worse there than the guidebooks describe. I do know that tourists have all but abandoned the island. We discuss his getting a prepaid cell phone for travel. He doesn't see a need for a cell phone at home, but it would be useful for traveling and wanting to change plans.

I head out wandering around town. I stop at some car rental places and inquire about a car for the next day. Some say no. One, Varlack Auto Rental, which is in the middle of the going price range, says they will have a basic Vitara for me. I see a nice green one out front. Hopefully I'll get that one. I wander and buy a fruit smoothie. The town is crowded with people. And there are lots of taxi drivers hustling for passengers. I wander along the waterfront. I find Frank Bay (Cruz Bay Beach), which is a small beach that can be walked to. It is pretty dismal. But there is one couple there. On my way back into town I stop at the information booth. I'm curious about Peter, the fellow at Arawak Expeditions that gave guided mountain biking tours before his back gave out. No address listed in the phone directory, so the information lady calls him. We chat. He works from home. His back is not better.

I wander back to The Inn. I watch the gold fish in the courtyard for a while. Then I borrow a pen and paper. All of my such supplies are in the missing bag. I sit and write these notes. The mosquitoes are fierce. Why they are breeding them right here in the courtyard!

I head out to wander. There is a large crowd at Woody's Seafood Saloon. Well drinks are $1. So I stop in. I get a stool. The fellow next to me is a carpenter specializing in doors and windows. He's down for a year or so job. We chat. He grew up in Florida. He likes the heat. A woman comes in to buy a drink. She opens her wallet. A NY State driver's license is in view. Having one myself I recognize it immediately. The time for the ferry with my bag approaches. I head down to the dock. I wait a short while. It comes in. The guy lowering the gangplank asks if I can wait. Of course I can. I've already waited for hours. Then a fellow on the upper deck says I have to pay for my bag. I reply that Road Town Fast Ferry should pay. It's their mistake. After all the passengers get their bags the fellow down below gets mine. I don't have to pay.

I head back to Woody's. I buy myself a drink to celebrate the return of my bag. I meet the woman with the NY license. She spends her winters working on St. John. She works for Arawak Expeditions! (The place I wanted to bike with.) She leaves. I head back to my room.

I shower. Now that I have my guide book I can check for places to eat. I see two of interest: Morgan's Mango and the Lime Tree Inn. First stop is Mango. I say to the woman that I'm looking for a gluten and dairy free meal. She replies no problem. Just that there are no tables now and I'd have to sit at the bar. No problem. I tell the bartender I want a gluten and dairy free meal. He replies no problem. He understands. Most of the entrees appear to be GF and DF. I ask about the soups. One, a bisque, is clearly out. He's not sure if the other has corn starch. He's thinking corn starch has gluten. It doesn't, but it isn't uncommon for people that understand food to think that it does. This as gluten is misused by celiacs, and under the strict definition it does have "gluten."

I select the other soup and an entrée. He takes the initiative to change the vegetables—they have butter—with a salad. All-in-all it was a very nice meal. I head to my room to call it a day.

I'm watching CNN. They have a segment on obesity and dieting. Their expert comes out and says low fat and high carb diets work best. But then they describe seven steps that have to be taken. An hour of exercise a day is one. The woman highlighted as a success story now exercises more than an hour a day. The segment ends saying that most people won't do this and they have to wait until the magic pill is created. Of course, never mentioned is the diet that humans are biologically adapted to. I get to bed at 10:00. This is late for me for when on vacation.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It was another restless night. I'm up and at breakfast at 7:05. But they're not ready. Around 7:30 I get some food. I need to be the first one, before anything else is put on the griddle.

I still make it to the car rental place at 8:00. We drive over to get my car at 8:15. It is not there. Then she remembers that one of the employees took it home. She calls. The woman will bring it in 10 minutes. We go back to the office to wait. I learn that they also run the Charlotte Amalie <-> Cruz Bay ferry and she knows all about my bag. At a little after 9:00 the car shows up and off I go.

I decide to do things clockwise. When driving on the left clockwise puts you closer to the water and views. My first stop is Caneel Bay. I walk around and take some pictures. Next stop is Hawksnest Beach. I then pull into a car park for Peace Hill. A fellow tells me the story of the hill. He recommends skipping Trunk Bay. I hadn't been planning on paying $4 to take a picture. He also recommends the sugar mill ruins off Centerline Road. I walk up to the top of Peace Hill. Without a lookout the view is blocked by shrubbery. I then walk down to Denis Bay.

I find the lookout for Trunk Bay. The picture is quite good and will suffice. I then pull into Cinnamon Bay. I walk around and see the tents. The archeological exhibit is closed. I buy some cashews to snack on. Next is Maho Bay. Then I make a visit to Francis Bay. Then I take a drive up Maho Point. I can't get a view without walking out on one of the cabin platforms, which I don't do. Then I take a walk around to the other end of Francis Bay. The walk to Leinster Bay looks interesting, but I settle for a picture. Then I wander around the Annaberg Plantation sugar mill ruins. The car rental woman said the $4 gets you into both Trunk Bay and these ruins. The fellow on Peach Hill said they don't collect at Annaberg. I suspected that if they do collect, it would be on the days with craft demonstrations, which aren't on Sunday.

I stopped at a smoothie truck, but there were four people in front of me. It would have taken a while. More time than I was willing to spare. I then continued to Coral Bay. I stopped at the Island Blues Café for lunch. I was hungry, so it was basically the first decent place that I spotted. They were able to make up grouper with a salad to replace the fries. I ask about the snow in NYC. They tell me it is a record breaking 22.9" in 24 hours. I'll be shoveling my neighbor's for the next few years, as she's shoveling mine.

I then headed south, taking pictures along the way. I passed Miss Lucy's. The fellow at the Peace Hill car park had mentioned that they had a brunch on Sunday. It was too late now.

I stop at a parking lot that had a lot of cars. It led to long hikes, plus a short walk to Salt Pond Bay. A fellow was sitting on a rock. He was waiting for the bus. He was encouraging people to drive up to see the seven eco-tents at Concordia that he had just put up. The road is all paved. He also said that when the paved road ended at Great Lameshur Bay to keep going and see Little Lameshur Bay. I walked down to Salt Pond Bay. Then I drove out the dirt road to Little Lameshur Bay. Then I backtracked and drove up to the eco-tents. I could easily tell the seven new ones at the end. And the drive up and to the road's end was very worth it.

I stopped at Miss Lucy's for a picture. It was now past 2:00 and the brunch was over. The musicians were packing up. I then drove all the way to the end of the public road at East End. Then I drove back to Coral Bay.

Some maps have the road connecting Coral Bay with Bordeaux Mountain Road. So I find the start of it. Up and up I go. Some paved and some dirt. I have to make decisions at some road splits. The paved road ends. I ask a fellow burning some brush. He says it does go through. He says I have to go back and take the steep rocky road I passed. He says I'll have to put the car in 4WD low. I do. I have no problem making it up the hill. At the top there is a stopped pickup truck blocking the road. So I get out and chat. He says that I just did the worst part. And the rest is not so bad. So I follow him.

At the intersection with Centerline Road there is a restaurant (which is closed on Sunday), a gift shop, and a snack place with smoothies and other things. I want a smoothie, but all have dairy, and all have to have dairy. I guess yogurt is cheaper than fresh fruit. It is pleasantly cool this high up.

I drive along Centerline Road. In one place they've cleared the trees so you can view the BVIs. But in general it is a drive through the woods. I get to where the Estate Catherineberg sugar mill ruins are. They are not marked as such, but there is a sign for it being park property. I turn in and find it, along with a bunch of private homes. Apparently there is private property scattered in the park land that Rockefeller wasn't able to buy.

These ruins, while less structures than Annaberg, are quite nice. A couple is there enjoying a drink. Like many on the island these are Americans that moved down as they preferred the island lifestyle. They had recently been to St. Croix. They didn't think that Christiansted had that much crime. It is Frederiksted with the crime.

The only place I haven't been is the southwest section. I head down Route 104. I get to the beach at Chocolate Hole. There are a couple of fellows there smoking reefer. We chat. I can't take a picture. The sun is reflecting off the water. They say I can drive out the point to take a picture in the correct direction. First I turn down the wrong road. It doesn't get me to the top. A fellow says go out to the main road and turn in the next one. I do. This is one of the areas that is not part of the National Park. It is being heavily built up with houses. All of them are tacked on the hillside with views.

It will still be light for a while, but the sun is so low that it is making driving difficult. The windshield is not clean, and a film on the inside (tobacco smoke?) picks up the sun. The Vitara has a soft top, and any sun on the back plastic window blocks that view. So I head back to Cruz Bay. As I pass the entrance to the Westin I come upon a gaggle of people hitchhiking. I squeeze four in. They lead me to the ferry dock. They're Westin employees heading home to St. Thomas for the night.

I put another $5 of gas in. That seems about right. I park the car in their lot. I'll turn in the key later.

I shower and finally find a decent news channel. Apparently CNN has more than one channel. I really didn't want to see Larry King reruns. The one I find is called Headline News. I learn that the Central Park snowfall was 26.9" in 24 hours. Though the on the ground report from Prospect Park appears to say that there is only a foot or so there. So maybe that is all I had on my sidewalk.

The Inn has dinner tonight. I talk with the chef. He uses a lot of questionable mustard. He uses commercial barbecue sauce as a base. He says Morgan's Mango is his favorite restaurant. We decide best if I go back there for dinner.

I head off. At Mango I order voodoo fish. Rather spicy. A couple near me hears our discussion of wheat and gluten. They start to tell me spelt is okay. Everything they have to say I've heard before. The spelt sellers have been quite successful in convincing people that spelt is different than wheat. But this is not so.

I head back to my room. I learn more about Dick Cheney shooting his friend. Apparently they were planning a cover-up, but the daughter of the ranch owner spilled the beans. And Bush, after denying that Abramoff was at the White House, when confronted with a photo of him in the background doesn't know how he got onto the grounds! Oh the lies. I get ready for bed.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I'm up before dawn. I have a choice of a 9:15 or 11:15 ferry to Charlotte Amalie. Messing up my plans is the need to return the car key. I'm first for breakfast. I decide I'll return the key at 8:00, take a hike on the Lind Point Trail, and take the 10:00 ferry to Red Hook. This entails a taxi ride. If I ferry to Charlotte Amalie I'd have to hike to my room with my bags. (Later I learn that it is actually fairly close and easily walked.)

I get to the car rental place at 7:50. It is not open yet. At 7:55 a fellow from a neighboring car rental place stops by. He informs me that if I lift up the wooden block on the wall I would find a hole to drop the key in. So I reach into my pocket, pull out a key, and drop it in.

I head to the Park Service Visitor's Center. They only have a simple map that basically describes the various hikes. I head off on the trail. It has branches and forks. Not all of them are marked. I do make it to a couple of beaches. And I do find the lookout for Cruz Bay. A lovely photo op, but not early in the morning! I do take a picture (it's free!), but the sun reflecting off the water degraded it.

I decide to stop by the car rental place on my way back to check that all is okay. It isn't. I dropped my hotel key in! We exchange keys. I head towards my room. I come across the fellow guest that I had met the first night. He says the woman at The Inn is looking for me. I get to The Inn. The woman at the rental place had called. She was concerned that I had left the island with their key. I check out, walk to the dock, and wait for the ferry.

In a short while we are off. I sit outside. Again the sun ruins any photo. When we were arriving the sun was in the right direction, but I was sitting inside. That was a mistake.

St. Thomas

I check in at The Galleon House. Or at least I try to. After a delay he finds my reservation. He had it booked for March 13th. But he can do some rearranging and accommodate me. (Not sure what he did, as it seems they only have one room with shared bath and it is shared with the lobby.)

I leave my bags and head out to find to find the sights listed in my Virgin Islands Lonely Planet guide. I start with the 1829 House, which is next to the steps leading to my hotel. Then I take the 99 steps towards Blackbeard's Castle. I see it and all the connecting museums (all run by the same people). I try to get some pictures. For some the sun is directly in front of me. Then with the building on a hill, and me standing below them, makes it hard to frame many of them. I then find the Emancipation Garden, the Grand Hotel complex, and the Frederik Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, the grandest of them all, Fort Christian, is closed for renovations. It's past lunchtime. I'm hungry. Between the Emancipation Garden and the vendors selling to the cruise ship crowd I find Mitch's Mobile. It's a truck with a woman serving West Indian food. She makes it herself. All her West Indian dishes are gluten and dairy free. I end up eating stewed chicken, chicken soup, and two cups of homemade passion fruit drink. It was good and filling.

I get back to finding things in the guide book. I find the St. Thomas Reformed Church. I find the St Thomas Synagogue. I wander through the historic section, which is now filled with shops. Along the waterfront I find the taxi drivers hustling for rides. The town is far enough from where the cruise ships dock that few make the walk.

I phone Cape Air. For $20 I change my 10:15 flight to 8:45. I figure this will give me a full day on a 24-hour car rental, and I'll be able to return it to the airport. Some of the car rental places are near the main ferry dock. I take a hike. I only find Avis and it is closed. I wander into Frenchtown. I see some of the now hottest restaurants. I head back towards the center. My Lonely Planet lists phone numbers for some of the car rental places. I call Dependable Car Rental, the first listed. She has a Toyota Corolla. I can have the car for Wednesday. They'll pick me up at the Galleon House at 8:30. Then I can return it to their place and they can take me to the airport. This is good. This will give me one long day with the car.

The guide book mentions Fat Tuesdays as one of the happening bars. I try to find it. I have to ask. They changed their name to Flying Buzzard!

There are more buildings listed in my guide that are near my room. I go to find them. I get some outside pictures. A woman near me makes a comment about some pretty stairs in a ruin being renovated. I strike up a conversation. She's local and very interested in old things. I ask her about L'Hotel Boynes, which is listed in the guide as being a museum. She doesn't know. I stop in the Government House. Only the lobby is now open to the public. I find the Seven Arches Museum. It is actually a private home. I get a private tour. It was all very nice. She tells me that L'Hotel Boynes was renamed Villa Notman, and I saw it as part of the Blackbeard's Castle complex.

I head to the Galleon House to check in. I do so, but learn that breakfast isn't until 8:00. So I just spent $20 to lose a breakfast. I head out towards the cruise ship dock to get the bicycle at Endurance Sports. It's a hike. When there I ask for Jen (as instructed by e-mail) I learn that she has left early. The remaining people know nothing about a bike rental. A fellow calls her. She tells him which bike. Then there is some confusion as they don't know how to process it. Then they can't find a lock. A second call to Jen now gets no answer. He takes a new lock and gives it to me.

The bike is a new Trek 4500. One of the nicest I've rented. I bike around the Havensight Mall, then head towards Frenchtown. I bike around there. Sunset is approaching, so I bike to my room and put the bike in it. I get help finding CNN Headline News. Having mastered the cable on St. John is no use here—different cable company.

I shower and head out for dinner. The book recommends Cuzzin's Caribbean Restaurant. I find it closed on Mondays. Nearby is Friends Local West Indian Cuisine [340-776-5500?]. I go in. It is very quiet. All of downtown is quiet now that the cruise ship people have gone. The woman knows the ingredients. I order barbecue spare ribs with rice and sweet potatoes (the other vegetables have butter). Two spare ribs come out. Only three bites of meat. I'm ready to order some other dish, but she offers me another plate at no extra charge. These next two ribs have a little more meat than the first ones. With two orders I'm now satiated. I'm writing my notes. The woman sees my Lonely Planet and asks what I do. I tell her I'm a programmer and I put up my trip journal and pictures. I tell her about my popular Brooklyn Storefronts album. She wants my URL. After eating I continue to write my journal. There is no table in my room and the lobby/dining area is outside and mosquito infested.

The woman running the place says I can stay as long as I want. She goes over and sits with a friend and other employees. I finish my notes and go over. I write out my URL. I chat with all of them. We talk about putting up web pages, the islands I've visited, historic preservation, etc. The others leave. I walk out with her as she closes the shutters and padlocks the doors and windows. She wants me to be careful when I get to Christiansted.

I head to the waterfront. I check out the new Fat Tuesdays. Not much going on. I see a little action at The Green House. I head back to my room.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The air conditioner has no knobs. It is set to high cool and to very cold. Plus the mattress has plastic under the mattress pad. This is the third time in my travels I've had the plastic. Because of the plastic I would never return to any of these places again. Sleep was not at all pleasant. I'm up and at breakfast at 8:00. The mother of the couple running the place is waiting on tables. After explaining my wheat avoidance she offers me white bread.

I find the Laundromat easily. The directions I was given on the Internet were quite specific. I then headed off on my bike. I passed the Camille Pissaro house, though it was 9:00 and it was not yet open. I found the marketplace, but it was not market day. I headed towards Water Island. I passed a vegetarian restaurant that advertised vegan on the front. I came upon a large cemetery. As usual in the Caribbean the coffins are above ground. It is too close to sea level to bury them underground. I go in and take a picture. It is so big I can only get some of it.

It is only about 9:30. The next ferry to Water Island is 10:30. I had been thinking of taking the St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point. It would be $18 to go up and take a picture. To be any good it needs to be taken in the morning. (When I have the car it will be out of the way.) I think I have enough time and still make the ferry. So I quickly bicycle there. There is a long line waiting. A tour group has arrived in front of me. It doesn't look good for making the ferry. I make it up. I take a couple of panorama pictures. I walk the short nature trail. I see there is a road up. I could have walked. Or done a grueling bike ride. I head down. At the bottom I see I have 18 minutes to make the ferry. It is way on the other side of town. I bike as fast as I can. I ask directions twice. First to find the Crown Bay Marina, and then inside to find the ferry. I'm asking where the ferry is with two minutes to go. The captain boards us a couple minutes late, so I had no problem making it.

On the ride over the fellow next to me befriends me. He, and others on the ferry, are island residents. There are only 170 of them. I learn that a woman runs bike tours on the island [now closed]. They are generally run through the cruise ships as part of a package. He has me follow his golf cart. He points out his house and gives explicit instructions on finding the fort. He's a Lutheran minister named Bill. His church was the Frederik Lutheran Church I'd seen the day before. Others on the island know him as Parson Bill. I give him my web URL.

I make it to the fort. I see a few extra bikes and the taxi that brought them to the top of the hill. This is where they start. There is a couple there who are island residents along with a couple that are visiting them. We chat for a while. We talk about panoramas. He has a Vacation Rentals by Owner web site and would like to have 360° panoramas of inside the houses.

I bike out to Sprat Point and the Sprat dock. Then I head to Honeymoon Beach. I know the only food sold on the island is there. I start with two waters and a bag of potato chips. Everything they have is grilled on a gas grill that also has bread on it. Usually bread is kept to one side. The grill is hot. She cleans the grill. She uses a clean spatula and cooks me a burger. It all turns out fine. I have time until the next ferry. I get a picture of the beach and chat with some couples. Most are island residents just hanging out. My time is up and I head to the ferry. There I chat with a fellow about the island, etc. The island residents are quite a friendly bunch. (Maybe it is due to their isolation.)

I ferry back to the Crown Bay Marina. I bike around Regis Point. I get a picture of Lindbergh Bay. I take it from both sides. I then bike through the airport. I stop at a lunch wagon. All his food is gone. I spy a couple of Douglas DC-3s. (Over 11,000 of these planes were built from 1935-1946.) The lunch wagon fellow says they are used throughout South America for cargo (and drug running). A Texan bought up the spare parts and they are readily available. I circle around the airport to take pictures of the DC-3s. Then I head to the University of the Virgin Islands. On my map this is listed as a photo opportunity. I can't see why. The buildings are modern. I take no picture. I continue on to Brewer's Bay. I take pictures from both ends. After Brewer's Bay the bigger hills start. So I turn back. It's now after 4:00. Traffic is mostly stopped. Apparently the rush hour starts at 3:30!

I return the bike. It is $35 for the first day. That is the most expensive bike rental in the world. The previous high was $32.50 on Dominica, which I didn't take. With car rentals starting at $45-50 there is some disconnect here.

On my walk back I pass a Wendy's. I figure another meal wouldn't hurt. I go in. There is only one girl serving the people. It goes slowly. The manager says nothing else is cooked with the fries. I order a triple burger with only lettuce, tomato, and onion. No bun. The girl does not understand what a bun is. I describe it. This request stuns the girl. Apparently I'm the first person to ever make such a request. There is no register key to enter it. So the manager says she will oversee the order to get it made right.

I continue on. I go out of my way to pass Cuzzin's. I want to see their menu. It looks fine, but she says it is only reservations, and they are only available after 8:00. I don't want to be pinned down. I stop next door at Friends. I take a couple of pictures of their stone and rubble walls. I tell her I'll be back for dinner.

I head to the Laundromat and then to my room. It is an oven. It faces west. I had turned the air conditioning off when I left in the morning. I go out to the terrace to write my journal while the room cools. A young couple comes to the front desk and asks about a vegetarian restaurant. The woman at the desk has no idea. They have a car. I tell them about the one I saw. I try my best to remember where it is. I finish my notes and head to my room. It is now cool.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A freezing room and a plastic covered mattress aren't pleasant. So I turn off the a/c and turn on the ceiling fan. This is better. I get up at 6:30. This is ample time to be at breakfast at 8:00. Actually they start at 7:45. I hung around until 8:30, when the fellow from Dependable Car comes to get me. I asked the driver where the vegetarian restaurant is. On Waterfront Street he replies. So I gave incorrect directions.

For some reason they gave me the off-season rate: $54.95 + $3 tax, for a Toyota Corolla. There is no CDW needed, as it isn't an SUV, and my credit card will cover it. Included is the free pickup and taking to the airport. This makes it the same as the bike rental, as they charge $20 for delivery. I mention the west end. She says nothing is there. I say I want to see the bible college.

I head west. I stop at Black Point for a picture. I stop at a couple of other places. I get to the Bluewater Bible College. It is 9:30. They are in their morning service. I can hear the singing. I do not drive in, which would pass the chapel. I settle for a picture from the road. The paved road ends a little past the college. I turn around and head back. My guide book mentions Stumpy Bay as a secluded beach. I turn on what I think is the road to it. It is not steep enough, but I keep on going. I continue for a ways. I've gone further than the half mile that the Stumpy Bay road should be. But I keep on going. I've invested so much time on this poor dirt road I don't want to turn back. I become concerned about getting out of there. Periodically the car bottom scrapes. I've not seen a sole. There is no one to ask for directions. I reach a point where the road gets worse, so I park. A fellow appears. I gather he's a squatter out there. He says I'm on my way to Bordeaux Bay and he suggests walking the rest. So I do. I'm rewarded with a bay that no tourist sees. I get out of there and continue east. I later figure out that the Stumpy Bay turn was right there. I don't go back. (And later I learn I was only about 300 feet off.)

I turn north on 301. I see a sign for West Caret Bay. I follow the road down. Then I climb down a steep path. At the end I find a surfer's beach. I go back up to the road. I continue on.

I see a sign for East Caret Bay. I turn and head down. It ends at a private road. I go part way back up and then I start down another branch. I stop and ask a couple of fellows surveying. One says the only way to get to East Caret Bay is to walk along the water from West Caret Bay. He says I should go visit Neltjeberg Bay. He tells me exactly how to get there. So I do. Then I made a quick stop at Dorothea Bay.

The next bay is Hull Bay. This one gets a mention in the guide book. It is not too hard to find. Down there I find people and Larry's Hideaway & Bar, a place serving food. He fries everything together. He grills everything together. He gave no indication that he wanted to accommodate me. So I bought a bag of potato chips and left.

My next desired stop was Mountain Top. I passed some sign about a great house, but it wasn't on the map. I arrived in the Mountain Top parking lot. A high solid wood fence all around blocked the view. I assumed this meant that we had to pay for the view. I went in. There was no admission charge, but you had to pass a bunch of tourist stores and a bar to get to the view. There was no food service, but a sign said that a café was coming soon.

I drove around to get to Drake's Seat. This is a lookout where supposedly Drake watched the channel between the Virgin Islands. It was mobbed. There were a couple hundred people there. There wasn't enough room for all the taxis to stop. Some blew their horns and had to drive by. Lots of tourists were Asian. They were always in large groups. I get a picture of Megen's Bay.

I then drove down to Megen's Bay. It would have cost me $4 to go in and take a picture. I passed. (I could have instead gone to Little Megen's Bay for free, but I did not realize it at the time.) I then headed up to the Scenic Overlook. It's overlooking Charlotte Amalie. While there I looked in my guide book. It had a paragraph on the Estate St. Peter Greathouse & Botanical Garden. I got some guidance as to where it was and headed back for it. On the way I stopped at a small grocery store and bought a big bag of potato chips and some almonds. The Greathouse is grand with stunning views. And it was high enough up that the breeze coming off the Atlantic was cool. Not much in the way of gardens. But there is lots of party space. Probably the premier party space on the island.

I headed back east. The guide book raved about the Tillett Gardens Art Center. I found it, but from the outside it just looked like another shopping mall. So I did not go in. While many of the stores are crafts and artists, some were other things like a chiropractor.

I drove back to the north coast. I tried to find Spring Bay. It may not be reachable by road. Instead I drove along Thatch View, so called as it had a view of Thatch Cay. I then head towards Coral World Ocean Park. I stop and get a picture of Water Bay. At Coral World it would be $15-18 to enter, depending on whether they accepted the expired coupon on the latest map. I pass. I settle for a picture of Coki Bay Beach. I then get a picture of the beach at Water Bay.

I continue on. I stop in at Pavilions and Pools. It is far from the beach. I walked around. Apparently each room has a private pool.

I then turn into the Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina. This place welcomes the public. It is mobbed with Asians again. I get a picture. Then I get another picture from the nearby scenic overlook.

I now head to Red Hook. The sides of the roads are lined with cars. Are they all at something? I gathered not, but instead this was the parking for the Red Hook ferry. Some of these people have a long ways to walk. (I later learn they are building a parking garage and so this is temporary.)

The map shows a photo opportunity at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. So I head there. I'm not sure just what the opportunity is. Certainly it isn't the clubhouse. I chat with a member about the types of sailboats they race, and the ones that I have raced. He suggests a picture from a nearby hill. It is part of a gated community. He says just tailgate a car to get in. I take a picture of the boats moored in the bay. At the gate I see a sign saying if you tailgate a car in, you won't be able to get out. I head on. (At dinner that night I learn that I was right next to the Ritz Carlton, the grandest resort on the island. But I didn't realize it at the time.)

There is a photo opportunity on Bovoni Cay. I don't know just where the opportunity is. I settle for a picture of a marina and Benner Bay.

I drive on. Bolongo Bay is mentioned in the guide book. This is a happening beach: water sports, vendors, and a bar. Plus there's a hotel and condominiums. I take pictures and move on.

I try to get down to Frenchman Bay. But the security guard at Bluebeard's Beach Club & Villas won't let me in. [I thought all beaches were public?] I then head for the Marriott. This is a huge resort prominently perched on the top of a point. I wander around and get my last pictures of the day. The sun is too low for any more. I head into town.

I stop at the Wendy's again. I haven't really had lunch. I just had the chips and almonds. This time the cashier is a little older, and doesn't blink when I said I don't want a roll. I figured roll was a better word than bun.

I head to my hotel. I wrote my notes for a while on the terrace, but the mosquitoes were getting me. I showered and headed to Friends Restaurant again. I finished my notes and chatted with the women there about my day. After eating I chat with the owner. I find out why there are not that many customers. She's only been open a week! After a career as a cop, a corrections officer, in the military, and being a people person, she wanted to run a restaurant. And her partner agreed to go for it.

I return to my room, watch some CNN Headline News, and go to bed.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My wake up call was 6:15. I realized after requesting it that it was a bit early. I tried sleeping with the air conditioning at the beginning. That didn't work. Then with it on and the ceiling fan running. That worked the best! I took my time getting up. They gave me an orange juice for breakfast. Too early for anything cooked.

I head down to my car. A fellow guest that I knew had called for a 7:00 taxi was still there at 7:20. So I offered her a ride to the airport. Our first stop was for gas. I found a station on my side of the road. It was a self serve. Not having a car in almost 30 years I really don't know how they work. My passenger helped me. I only put in $8. It wasn't enough! But it was now too late. Maybe they won't notice at the rental place? (They didn't.)

We get to the airport more than the requested 45 minutes early. I was only the 7th of 18 to check in. I could have cut it much closer. The nine passenger planes don't take carry on luggage. So I checked my large bag. This was not necessary. People with bigger ones were taking them to the plane. Then the crew was taking them there and upon arrival you retrieve them there. I asked for the jump seat, and saw to it that I was first at the door. I get it. (Someone had to get it.) I took pictures during the flight: takeoff, clouds, and landing. We flew at 1700 feet, just below the clouds.

St. Croix

There was a short delay for luggage. They brought the luggage for both planes into the terminal at the same time. By the time I made it to the taxi stand all the other people on the planes had gone. So I was made to wait a while until they had some other passengers for Christiansted. While I was waiting one fellow was showing a cheap old camera to the taxi driver.

Three of us take off. Our first stop is the Sunny Isle Shopping Center. The fellow with the camera wanted to be dropped off at People's Drugs. But they had been closed a year, and the fellow did not realize this. As we leave we learn that the fellow had no money. He gave the camera to the driver in lieu of payment. It was a pretty useless camera. The driver didn't care. He said he wasn't going to get paid anyway.

I get dropped off at the Best Western Holger Dankse Hotel [no longer a Best Western]. Of course it is too early to check in. I find that the travel people at work have completely butchered my name. Apparently the fellow picked the wrong name off the corporate directory. This explains why I never received the e-mail confirmation at work that I was expecting. He sent it to the wrong person! I leave my bags.

I head towards the town center. The first restaurant along the waterfront is RumRunners. I stop in for breakfast. The waitress says the eggs, bacon, and hash browns are not cooked near the French toast. Good. So I order them. Out comes a hash brown like you'd get at McDonalds. She says they changed the frying oil this morning. And only the hash browns and sausage have been in it. But I don't know the ingredients of the manufactured hash browns, so I don't eat it.

I walk along the boardwalk to Fort Christiansvaern. I pay to go inside. It is a well preserved fort. I walk around the area and see a few of the historic buildings. I then hop on the ferry to Protestant Cay, a small island in the harbor with a hotel and beach. I walk around, take a few pictures, and head back to the main island.

I find a few more of the historical sights. I wander up and down some of the streets. I decide to look for Kim's. The guide book recommended it for West Indian food. I go inside. The waitress doesn't know too much. She goes into the kitchen. She comes back out and says they cannot accommodate me. There is butter in everything.

Before finding Kim's I had stumbled upon Harvey's Native & Continental Food. I had an interest in the conch soup I saw listed. So I head back there. The soup was out. It had dumplings cooked in it. The fellow recommends goat stew. He brings it out. It had lots of Cole slaw. This is not one of my favorite foods. So he offers me breadfruit (a.k.a. provisions) with some stew sauce. It works out okay.

I go back to wandering around town. I stop in a jewelry shop that advertises working with gold. I ask about the feasibility of making changes to my 14K gold glasses. She discourages me. She says they are too old. I walk to where The Breakfast Club used to be. I see no signs of a renovation. I had planned to stay there, but the owner sold it, and the new owners closed it down.

I looked for the small aquarium mentioned in my five year old guide, but it closed some years ago. I headed to my room to check in. The room is huge. I'd call it a suite. It smells of cigarette smoke. The front desk woman says it is a non-smoking room, as I had specified when the reservation was made, but she has no others and there is nothing she can do when people smoke in them. She and a fellow suggest opening the windows and get a cross breeze. The problem is the windows don't stay up. And if it is a non-smoking room why is there an ashtray? I prop the windows open with the wooden coat hangers.

I head back out. I don't want to pick up the bike until the end of the day. I walk to The Mix Lounge [now closed] that is attached to the hotel. I ask about breakfast. The bartender says there is none. A nearby patron said he had it there two days before. I end up chatting with Mike, the patron. He says go to The Golden Rail Cafe for early breakfast. He's from the States, is the same age as I, and works at Seaborne Airlines from 6:00-2:00.

I walk over to the Government House. They stopped the tours for security reasons. But he lets me into the courtyard and lets me take a walk through the grand ball room. Lovely! I have time to kill. So I get a minibus. The women in it can't believe that I plan to bicycle.

At Endurance Sports [appears to be closed] I chat with the fellows hanging out there. To them much of the island is bikeable. We plot out a course for my two days. I learn that the Fast Ferry [that ferry is gone, but the link is to another] is running for a short period, so people from St. Thomas can get to the Agriculture Fair. Had I known this I could have traveled this way! The manager says the owner told him yesterday that the first day bicycle rental should be $40! Then it's $20 for extra days. He gives me the bike for $50 for two days.

I chat with the fellows about bicycling on different islands. Then I bike back to town. I look into The Mix. Mike is no longer there. I bike over to the St. Croix Marine, where The Golden Rail Café is. Breakfast starts at 6:00! I pass the dock for the Fast Ferry. I see the schedule. I bike back to my room. I ask for a 5:30 wake up call.

I have trouble getting the TV to work. I call the front desk. I take down the universal remote. It's universal as people take the remotes all the time. She figures it out and I do get it to work. I find CNN.

I catch up on my journal; I shower, and I head out for dinner. I look at the posted menu at The Mix. Most dishes appear gluten and dairy free. I walk pass The RumRunners. Between the boardwalks there are a bunch of tarpins swimming around. A fellow is tossing them some meat scraps. I go back and get my camera. When I get back no more meat is being thrown, but I take some pictures anyway.

I walk to Harvey's. It's closed. It is 8:20. Were they open only for an early dinner? I head back to The Mix.

The Mix has a jazz duo. (A brother and sister I later learn.) I pick a table as far away as possible, but still inside. A slightly older couple is near me. We start to chat. They also picked their table to be far from the sound. Like many others I meet here they were originally from the states. He works for Cape Air and knows all the pilots. They know the one I had. She sells Rum Cakes by Eleanor. We chat about the islands I've just been to. Their house is way up one of the hills. They have a drive ahead of them. So they leave. I finish my dinner, take a short walk along the boardwalk, find the hotel's pool, and head to my room. I'm in bed at 10:00.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The phone rings at 5:30. I take my time. I make it over to the Golden Rail. They fix me up a breakfast of four eggs, bacon, fruit, and orange juice for $14.50. It was a bit expensive, but a decent meal. At 7:20 I start my trip. I first biked up to Fort Louise Augusta. I found a building, but nothing old. I get some pictures of Christiansted. I found a local beach. I looked at the Altona Lagoon. It was smelly. Several times I found the island smelly. Maybe their septic tanks overflow? And here it smells as if some simply pump into the lagoon. I biked out to the main road.

My next stop was Shoy's Beach. The security guard for the Buccaneer Golf Course sent me down the road to the left. I followed it, keeping as close to the water as I could. At the road's end I found a path to the beach. Upon returning to the road there was a couple changing to go to the beach. We discussed my going back to the main road to then get to the Green Cay Marina, which was visible over a field. The woman says you can walk along the fence and you'll be there. I walked my bicycle along the grass. This saved me a lot of time! I go out to the beach in front of the Tamarind Reef Hotel (at the marina). A fellow at the pool has seen me biking. He asks where I got the bike. He's an avid cyclist and would like to rent one. I tell him that Endurance Sports is behind the GNC Nutrition place. He knows where it is.

I pass a restroom. I stop in. While inside it starts pouring. When I got out it had stopped. That was all the rain for the day. I brushed the water off the bike seat and had a brief conversation with a fellow cleaning up the grounds.

I biked down a dirt road that led between the marina and Southgate Pond. I got some pictures along the beach. Now it was back to the main road. I was planning to turn into the Chenay Bay Beach Resort. But instead I turned into a dirt road leading to a nature preserve. It also got me to Chenay Bay. The resort was not too far away. So I walked my bike along the beach to the resort. After a picture I carried my bike—now with sandy wheels—across the porch to the paths that lead to the roads out of the resort. I head back to the main road.

I then biked up a hill overlooking Chenay Bay. There was a sugar mill ruin that drew me up. I then biked out towards Pull Point. While I was considering whether to bike out a fellow sees me looking at my map and stops. He says go for it. It is level after I go down the hill that I've already gone up. And there is a grand house on the point. It had been the home of the fellow that designed Christiansted. I got some pictures. I went back to the main road.

I was alongside Coakley Bay [??] when I passed a gas station that also had a convenience store and a small fast food window. [or was it past Pow Point?] It was about 10:30. Breakfast was over. Lunch hadn't started. But she had food to sell. I asked what she had without wheat. She has baked pork chops with barbecue sauce was her reply. Her own sauce or Open Pit? Her own, she replied. I bought one. Then I bought another. Then I bought a third. Plus I bought an orange juice from the convenience store. Now I wouldn't have to worry about lunch.

Pow Point? Passing a bunch of good plantation ruins I tried to bike towards them, but a fellow drives up and says it is private and their insurance says no one can enter. I stop and ask some fellows extending the along the main road. They reply they think it will just be a home.

My next stop was Yellow Cliff Bay. I got pictures from the middle in both directions. Then along the main road I found an overlook with a bench and a couple of ceramic pelicans. I stopped for a rest and a direct picture of Buck Island.

Next I came upon Tague Point. I walked through the brush to get a picture of Tague Bay. I also wanted one in the other direction, but the brush was too thick. After getting back to the road I found a small cactus stuck on my leg. I pulled it off. That left all the spines sticking in me. I tried to pull them out, but some broke off. I headed on.

I pulled into Duggan's Reef Restaurant. I get a picture of Reef Beach at Tague Bay. The bartender has no tweezers. It is not yet lunchtime, so no celebrities to look for, not that I'd recognize any. I continue on.

My next stop is the St. Croix Yacht Club. They are hosts for some ocean races this weekend. A couple of fellows are folding up some chairs under a tent. I gather they had a party the night before. A car pulls up with a family. I ask about a tweezers. They only have a nail clipper. The mother says her son brushed a cactus once. The spines came out over time later. I bike on.

I took more pictures along the way. I then pull into Cramer Park Beach. There are two lifeguards hanging out. One was napping. There are no people to watch. There are plenty of unused facilities. The awake fellow says there are people on the weekends. I then bike out to Point Udall, taking pictures along the way. I also get a picture of East End Bay. I then bike back the same road to get to Route 60, which will take me along the south coast.

I get to Grapetree Point. There is a lovely view of Turner Hole and Grapetree Beach. But the sun is now facing me. I bike to the Divi Carina Bay Resort. I get a picture of the beach. Then from Grass Point I get the beach and bay from the other direction. I get pictures of most of the bays along the way. The road goes around Great Pond. I'm out of water. When buying the pork chops the woman there filled my water bottle. But it was long gone. I pass an entrance into Great Pond. I continue on. I spy a gas/convenience store. I buy a liter and a half of water. I drink more than a liter of it. I get around the Great Pond. I wanted a picture from the sunny side of Great Pond Bay, but Camp Arawak was fenced off and I couldn't get in. So I got no good picture of Great Pond.

The ride along here gets a bit boring. It is straight, fast, and not along the water. I do find the entrance to the popular beach at Manchenil Bay. But I'm at the down-sun end and the sun is glaring. I go back to the main road.

I pass the turnoff to Route 83. It would have been a more direct road back to Christiansted. But it is early, so I continue on. For my long route back I pass only one thing of interest: the ruins at Cane Garden. But it is private and I can't go in. So no picture.

I get back to my room at 4:20. This is nine hours after finishing breakfast. The woman at the front desk asks me how it was. I ask for a 5:00 wakeup call. I'm ready for a shower. It was at times a hot day. And I have a sun burned head. The bike helmet I wore had enough holes that places on my bald spot are burned. This is the first day I didn't wear my hat. I didn't bring my Topcoat spray. It is non-greasy and made for bald heads. For the next day I'll have to use my regular lotion and smear it into the hair that remains on the top.

After a shower I start writing my journal. At 6:15 I decide to go out and see if Harvey's is open for an early dinner. Nope. I walk along the boardwalk. I pass Stixx on the Waterfront at 6:30. The 5:30 crab races are just over. I had forgotten about them. They are fun to watch. I have seen them on Grenada. Oh well. I head back to The Mix for dinner. The chef already knows my needs. After dinner I go over to say hi to Mike at the bar (the fellow that works at Seaborne that I met the day before). He used to blow glass, but something about Ashcroft stopping glass blowing after 9/11. He hates Ashcroft. So he gave up glass blowing and moved to St. Croix. [Doing some web searching I found that Ashcroft busted some three dozen glass blowing studios, as they could make glass pipes, which could be used to smoke marijuana, which makes glass blowers part of an illegal drug paraphernalia industry.] Now he builds all the docks for Seaborne. He's a privacy nut. He doesn't have anything to do with the Internet. It has no privacy. I head back to my room to finish my journal.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The sleeping is okay, but I had to be careful not to brush the cactus spines sticking out of my left upper outer shin. I'll buy a tweezers today. I should have looked for one when I returned the day before. Though I expect they will just break at the skin surface.

I bike over to the Golden Rail for breakfast. The sun was not up yet. I got there at 5:55. Though technically not open yet, the waitress was already serving people. I ordered the same thing. It increased in price to $15. I returned to my room. I headed out at 6:44, but after a short ways I realized I had left my waist pack in my room. So back I go. Ten minutes were lost.

I headed north on Route 75. I stuck to the highway longer than I should have, so I missed a couple of beaches. I turned up Route 751, which brought me to my first beach at Judith's Fancy. I then biked down a dirt road and across some fields to get to the next resort. I then returned to the highway via Route 79. I then turned off Route 75 at Route Route 80. This took me up to the Salt River Marina. I biked into and out of the marina. This is a well sheltered marina, and would be a good place to have your boat in a hurricane.

I then continue along the coast, taking pictures along the way. In Belvedere I pulled into a gas station to check my map. I ended up having a chat with a contractor. Again, he's originally from the states and about my age. Next was a picture of Cane Bay Beach., plus a couple of other beaches along the way. I biked into the Carambola Beach Resort. I walked down to the beach to take a picture. I then waited at the bottom of the hill known as The Beast. It started to rain. Four vehicles passed. A small SUV stopped and we tried to fit the bike in the back. It didn't fit. Then a pickup truck came. He took me and the bike up to the top. It was still raining. I biked down the other side. My clothes became splattered with mud and grease. $55 of clothing ruined this day. $110 of clothing ruined on this trip.

I continued on Route 69 until I reached Route 70, a.k.a. Centerline Road. I headed towards Frederiksted. I decided best that I visit the St. George Village Botanical Garden and the Whim Estate on my way in. Both stop letting people in at 4:00, and I have the bike until 6:00. I chatted with the fellow collecting money at the garden. He wanted the URL of my web site. I told him about my most popular album. He told me his story about buying a camera from one of the pictured Brooklyn dealers.

As I started the tour the rain stopped. I cleaned the mud off my face and arms. They were setting up for the garbage can benefit that night. People bid on garbage cans painted by artists. The garden is set among the ruins of one of the plantations.

On my way to Whim I passed a sign for roast pork. All of the food the fellow had was wheat and dairy free. For $10 he gave me one pound of pork—he weighed it—beans, rice and peas, plantains, and cassava. It was my best meal deal of the trip. I bought an orange juice from Mango's, the bar he was set up alongside of. I chatted with a couple of the guys. After taking a picture of the place one of them asked me to e-mail him the picture, so he could print it out for the fellows.

At the Whim Estate I got a personal tour of the great house. I then walked around the grounds. I only took a few pictures. I then biked straight down the road. This was a mistake. Route 70 turned to the right. I ended up in a housing project. As I was finding my way out a car passed. It sure looked like the passenger in the front seat was the fellow I chatted with back on St. John. Maybe he returned to St. Croix?

Eventually I found my way out and reached the water. I biked up to Dorsch Beach. The sand was soft. A woman in an old Mercedes was stuck. The car did not have a limited slip differential, so one wheel was on solid ground, while the other was spinning. She flagged down a pickup truck that went off to get a chain.

I chatted with a fellow in another car. He pointed out where another car got stuck the day before. Again there was no limited slip differential. I biked south as far as I could. It didn't go very far. (To get to the end you have to be on the other side of the salt pond.) At the end of this road I went to the beach to take pictures. I stumble upon a semi-nude woman. I took my pictures from either side of her, so she's in neither.

I biked up to Frederiksted. I took some pictures of the streets. I bought a liter and half of water and drank a liter of it. I then headed north. (Looking the map after I got back I found that I missed most of the sites, mostly the fort and some churches.) I then headed north. I passed a family walking to Rainbow Beach. He asked me how far. I stopped and pulled out my map. All of it was Rainbow Beach, but he wanted facilities for the little ones. They've been coming to St. Croix for years. Usually they get a car, but they couldn't this weekend. They had taken the Vitran Public Bus to Frederiksted. These are the government run buses that infrequently run. I told him about the more frequent minibuses, which they didn't know about.

I continued up the road, taking pictures along the way. I reached almost to the end. It was 3:55. It was time to head back to return the bike. I took Route 63, which took me through the countryside, going around Frederiksted. I reached Route 70. I knew I would have a headwind. I was concerned about getting to Sunny Isle Shopping Center by 6:00.

I had been trying to find a health food store, so I could buy nuts and Larabars for the flight back. There was no food on the first flight leg back. Food (I expect sandwiches) will be for sale on the second flight. The fellow at the garden told me where one was. I arrived at the location. But what I found was a vegetarian restaurant. A fellow was standing out front. I asked him. He said there was one in the Plaza Extra Shopping Center, which was east of Sunny Isle. This was strange, as when I picked up the bike they said it was west of Sunny Isle.

I had time. So I biked past Sunny Isle. I found the shopping center, but all it had was a supermarket. I biked back and returned the bike. I asked about the HFS again. It is west of Sunny Isle, but it is run by 7-day Adventists and is closed on Saturdays.

As I was walking to the bus stop I spied a Wendy's. I went in and washed up. At this location they say they sometimes put the fish in the French Fries oil. So I ordered no fries. The triple burger was cheaper than on St. Thomas. It was cheaper to start with, plus cheaper as they dropped the price as I wasn't have the included cheese.

I took a minibus back to town. I walked to my room. I put in for a 5:45 wake up call. I showered and wrote my journal.

I headed out for dinner. Having the Wendy's food meant I wasn't starving. I stopped by RumRunners. They had grilled hamburgers and steaks. I asked if anything with wheat was put on the grill. The answer came back that the croutons were put there. I went back to The Mix. I didn't want to spend that much money. So I asked about the cheapest dish, the chicken Thai curry for $19. She came back that there was cream in the sauce. The next dish was $23. With a tip that would be $27. I left. I wandered to Kendrick's [now The Buccaneer] to check them out. It was even more expensive. I stopped by The Stixx. They had burgers. No bread was put on the grill. I switched the fries to a baked potato. It was all very nice for $7.50. I chatted with the waitress about the differences of the islands that I had visited—she had not visited all of them. Then I left and headed to my room.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I've decided to walk west of town to see what I missed the day before by biking on the main road. I headed out at 6:55. Initially again I was on a road far from the water. I made it around the power plant. At Sugar Beach I came upon a fellow that was taking his horse for a swim. I tried to get a picture. But my Nikon 8400 has no telephoto capabilities at all, so the pictures aren't great.

I walked along the beach. I passed the Club St. Croix, Sugar Beach, Colony Cove, and Mill Harbour resorts. Some of them looked like prisons, with ironwork covering all possible openings! I continued on, eventually reaching the Cormorant Beach Club. I then headed back along the road, until where I started along the beach. I then followed the water right up to where the boardwalk starts at Seaborne Airlines. My total time was just a little over two hours.

I asked some fellows about breakfast. Many places are closed on Sundays. They directed me to The Avocado Pitt. The breakfast was nice, but I resent being overcharged. Two eggs with toast were $3.50. Three eggs with toast were $4.50. Four eggs with no toast were $7.00. After I complained she gave me a dollar back.

I headed back to my room to pack and check out. I left my bags behind the front desk and headed out to take a minibus to the Ag Fair. I saw everything at the fair in an hour. Then another half hour to ask about food and then buy a half pound of roast pork and a smoothie. I then bought three CDs of local artists. One of the vendors displaying was Dish TV. So I went over to chat. I asked why no small dishes. He told me they don't work this far south, and of the two sizes they have the bigger one is better. I was telling him about how I raced through Frederiksted and missed the fort. It was 1:00. I then realized I had enough time to take a bus to Frederiksted to check out the fort and churches. So off I go. It would be better than killing time at a hot fair. And it being Sunday all the musicians were performing Christian music. I had no guides with me, so the minibus driver gave me a booklet with a map. Arriving in Frederiksted I found the fort closed. Also everything else was closed. I took outside pictures. There was a fellow in the park. He remembered me from the bus ride to the fair. I found the three churches on the map. Then I hopped on a bus back.

I was thinking of grabbing a burger in Christiansted. As we approached Sunny Isle I realized that for only $2.50 additional I could get off the bus and get back on another. So I did. When washing my hands at Wendy's a fellow comes into the men's room. He remembered me from Friday at the Tamarind Reef Hotel. We had chatted after the rain shower when I was getting my bike. He asked me where it was.

On the bus to Christiansted there were only two of us. The other fellow also wanted to go to the Best Western. My plan was to talk the bus driver into being a taxi for me. He readily agreed. It was good for him, as it was a lull period for people going to and from the fair. So for a reasonable $12 I simply had to run in and get my bags from behind the front desk. (My backup plan was to hunt for a taxi at Seaborne Airlines.) Along the way he was able to pick up one bus passenger that wasn't going past the airport turn off.

I arrive at the airport with lots of time to spare. A very successful vacation had ended. I now had a long flight ahead of me. The change in Miami lengthened it considerably. (There were no direct flights from St. Croix to NYC.) Looking at a map I see the turn there is a right angle, with a direct flight to NYC being the hypotenuse. As you remember from geometry this makes it 1.4 times longer.

We arrive in Miami. On the plane we were told our connection gates. But I look on the board anyway to confirm. I find my flight is 9:30, instead of the expected 8:09. I pull out my confirmation. The flight number is different. I find an AA agent. That is my flight. They changed the number. And it is 9:30 as it is delayed. I asked if I could switch to the JFK flight. It leaves at 8:11. That would be no problem. He switches it. Having no checked luggage means no problem for me.

While waiting for the new flight I overhear a couple that has done the same. But they have checked luggage, which will go to the wrong airport. He says the LGA flight is delayed as the equipment hasn't arrived yet.

While walking through the airport I was able to buy a banana and a bag of plain potato chips. Those, and my last Larabar, suffice for a dinner while waiting. I have a small amount of nuts which I'll eat with the beverage on the flight.

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