A Random Walk

With fall in the air, today seemed like the perfect day to be outdoors.  Thanks to our friend Chris, Andrew and I were introduced to this delightful 1.25 mile walk along the Orange Park side of the St. Johns river!

 

St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River
St. Johns River

Virgin Islands Part 3

Sept 16: Hopping over to St. Johns

This was the day I’ve been waiting for, our visit to St Johns. The island is one of the US National Parks, which includes beaches and hiking trails. This morning we were motivated to leave early and catch a ferry from Red Hook to St. Johns. Once there, we walked over to the park’s visitor center for a quick look around and restock our water. Instead of taking a taxi to one of St Johns many famous beaches, we chose to hike up Lind Point and down to Salamon Beach, a small seclude shore between Cruz Bay and Turtle Bay.

The hike would have been enjoyable if we had brought mosquito repellent. The mosquitoes were swarming and biting the whole 1 mile trip to the beach. I am now covered in bites. Later we were informed that usually the mosquitoes aren’t a problem, but the recent tropical storm left the island covered in standing water. Once arriving at Salomon beach, it was a matter of how fast could we get our shoes off and get into the water.

Salamon beach was a great choice for snorkeling. Between Salomon and the next beach area, Honeymoon Bay, are some beautiful coral reefs. It was great to see all the different colored fish. My favorite was this large spotted fish. After a few hours of swimming, we walked around Honeymoon Beach, where we purchase the most expensive can of insect repellent ever, and down towards Caneel Bay. From the resort at Caneel Bay we caught an island taxi back to Cruz Bay.

Before leaving St. Johns, we grabbed a delicious lunch at a local brewery called Taps. Then, it was time to head back to St. Thomas for a shower and relief from our mosquito bites. I hope the we have to the opportunity to visit St Johns again the future. It is a beautiful island and with a large amount of hiking trails found in the most random places.

Sept 17: One more day of R&R

Today, we said goodbye to Chris and Tashell as they headed back to Jacksonville. Tomorrow, we will be doing the same.

Since it is our final full day to enjoy the island, Andrew and I chose to keep it simple and relax at the condo. It is serene to sit on the patio listening to the ocean waves crash along the cliffside below. We are spending our afternoon watching the pelicans search for food, the fish swim and colorful sailboats travel the bay.

What a wonderful vacation! Tomorrow it is back to Florida and our Ame (we really miss her).

St. Johns coral
St. Johns coral
Lots of fish!
Lots of fish!
Amazing colors
Amazing colors
Our 'private' beach!
Our ‘private’ beach!

Virgin Islands Part 2

Sept 12: Team Monkey Reunites

Our friends, Chris and Tashell, flew into St. Thomas today. The four of us have been planning a couple’s vacation, since our last trip March 2011 to Cambodia. Andrew and I were thrilled to share our vacation with them, a guarantee to experience lots of laughter and fun with the four of us together.

In the morning, Andrew and I decided to do a little sightseeing around the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. This town was famous for jewelry shops and local souveignors. However, I really wanted to visit the birthplace of impressionist painter, Camille Pisarro. This house, which is located in the shopping district, had been turned into an art gallery of local artists inspired by Pisarro. The only indication that it was his home was an alley with an information poster and a metal plauque commemerating Pisarro. After a brief glance in the gallery, we wondering through the alleys to look at the architecture. The buildings were reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Down one of the alleys, we found a small jewelery and metalworks store called Okidanokh. The selections of jewelry are hand-crafted and unique…much different than the rest of the jewelry shops around the area. While it is great to peruse all the different shops, it is more entertaining to talk with all the different jewelry sellers standing on the street, trying to encourage you into their stores. They have some creative and amusing tactics and lines.

After picking up Chris and Tashell, we went back to the condo and down to the beach. We enjoyed an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. For dinner, we tried Mim’s Seafood, which was located in the condos next to ours. On Thursdays, the restaurant offered all-u-can eat shrimp, which put the boys in a food coma for the evening.

Sept 13: Coki Beach

We started our morning with a little rocking and shaking. The island had small 4.4 scale earthquake. It is fairly common for Team Monkey (Chris, Shell, Andrew and me) vacation to involve an earthquake or two. Our last vacation together started in Japan a few days after the March 2011 earthquake. Chris and Shell were visiting us admist a large amount of aftershocks. I happy to share that this island quake felt small in comparsion to the ones in Japan.

The four of us decided to visit a different beach. After reading snorkeling recommendations, we chose Coki Beach. Again with few road signs, we adventured out and over to other side of the island. After missing our turn, we asked for directions and found our small beach (located next to Coral World). Once exiting the parking lot and walking on the beach, we were bombarded with several entrapeneurs trying to rent us chairs, umbrellas and other beach supplies. We finally gave in and selected our beach host Rochelle, who supplied all our drinking, eating, and sunning needs.
Coki Beach’s water was quite clear and beautiful. It was different from Bolongo, which had more grass and rocks on the sea floor. In Coki, we had to be careful of the red Fire Coral. The fish selection was also very different between the two locations. On Coki, many more fish swim in the swallow end and it easy to see more colorful fish. At one point, I had to swim away from two small jellies.

On our way home from the beach, we stopped by the grocery store to pick up more supplies for dinner. Worn out, we chose to spend our evening in relaxing and enjoying each other company, which might have included a few funny quips and ‘a little’ sarcism.

Sept 14: Charlotte Amalie Revisited

This morning Chris, Shell and I drove down to Charlotte Amalie for a little sightseeing. We started by visiting the 99 steps to Blackbeard’s lookout. While 99 sounds like a lot of steps, it sure didn’t feel like we actually hiked up 99. After counting our way back down the steps, we wandered the streets of town. It turns out that the weekends are the quietest times around town. Most shops are closed on Saturdays.

In the afternoon, Andrew joined us as we went down to Bolongo Bay Resort for a little play time . Chris and Shell decided to spend their time on jet-skis while Andrew and I snorkeled around. For dinner, we ate at Bolongo Bay’s Lobster Grille, which didn’t have any lobster in stock. How does one have a Lobster Grille without lobster? While to food was decent, the atmosphere was lacking. It was hard to enjoy our evening while being swarmed by mosquitoes.
Sept 15: Brain Freeze in Heat

Our morning was much like others..wake up, eat, and relax. Shell and I claimed our beach chairs early at the resort. After a little swimming, we spent the rest of our morning people watching. I always find it entertaining to watch the unusual people on vacation. Most of the resort guests were there for a wedding and planned to leave that afternoon.

After lunch, Andrew joined Shell and I at the beach. He quickly became our “cabana boy” bring us fruity rum drinks to try. The Virgin Islands are famous for their Cruzan Rum, which comes in multitude of flavors. These tasty frozen drinks are a great way to beat the heat while on vacation.

In the late afternoon, all of us went on another car adventure. This time we were headed to the highest point on St Thomas, the Mountain Top shop/visitor center. Mountain Top is home to original banana dauqauri. While enjoying the view of surrounding islands and beach, we sipped on the famous island drink.

 

Beautiful coral at Coki beach!
Beautiful coral at Coki beach!
Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Pelicans dove for fish at Bolongo Bay
Pelicans dove for fish at Bolongo Bay
Sea turtle!
Sea turtle!