Friday July 30

It was our last full day on the island and, to that point, I’d made it no farther east that that wacky place where the roads meet and parts go one way and parts don’t and you never quite know if you’re going the right way and simply pray that a water truck hasn’t decided to stop in at Maho and then squash you on its way back home.

Yea…like that.

So, after breakfast, MerlotMan, JewelrySlut, Shmuppie and I set out on a course for adventure. ChurchBomber, as always, had been as far east as she wants to go on the trip to Francis and was sitting the morning’s trip out. My grand plan had been to go east on Monday and see Salt Pond and Drunk Bays and Blue Cobblestone Beach. Reports from the front indicated that the Drunk Bay trail was underwater earlier in the week. Os, we waited it out for a few days, hoping that the waters would recede and we’d be able to make it out to Drunk Bay.

Out we went… Up Gifft Hill road and on to Centerline. Still no cows. We were driving along and I was pushing the Jeep to its maximum ability; I was driving about 28mph. I was whizzing in and out of curves and the vehicle was driving like it was on rails.

At about mile marker 6 (of 8), I noticed that Shmuppie was VERY quiet. That’s highly abnormal. Remember, this is the child who talks while underwater. I looked back and asked “Are you OK?”

“Yea”
“No…are you OK. You don’t look so good”
“My belly hurts…a lot”
JewelrySlut: “Are you gonna puke”
“I don’t think so”
(I can’t even imagine what was going through MerlotMan’s mind at this point. I think I smelled a combination of fear, horror and a desire to be anywhere but in that Jeep)
“It’s OK if you have to puke. Just let us know. I need to find a place to pull over”

Mind you, I’m not driving along a stateside road or highway. By the time you get to mile 6, you’re on the descent into Coral Bay and the road is steep. You’re coming down off of Ajax Peak and, for once the road is straight. As a result, it goes straight down. In other words, it’s not the best place on Earth to have a sick kid.

Spotting a dumpster turnoff just past marker 6.5, I turn around “Just give me a few seconds and we can…OH SHIT!”

At that moment, a thick brown liquid begins seeping from Shmuppie’s mouth. Thankfully, she’s not retching or anything, but what’s coming out of her looks horrifying. In a millisecond, I’m convinced that her liver has liquefied and she’s yarking it up. Then is hits me.

On Wednesday, JewelrySlut and I had gone to the store to buy vegetable oil. Since we were on vacation in an even year, MerlotMan and I were taking time to unofficially celebrate our August birthdays. The vegetable oil was the one, somewhat important, ingredient we’d forgotten to bring for the birthday cake. JewelrySlut did a wonderful job baking and frosting a nice big cake for us.
Guess what Shmuppie had for breakfast on Friday?

So…the child is slowly vomiting all over herself, JewelrySlut has nothing to catch it with and I’m driving down the side of a mountain. I beg for her to hold it…the dumpster thing is maybe 150 yards ahead, and I think I can make it.

KABLOOEY!

Mt. Shmuppie erupts. There’s vomit all over her and in JewelrySlut’s hands. All she could do was cup her hands and catch as much as possible. I screech the car to a stop, pull the emergency brake and jump out. Remember folks, this is the USVI. I’m not jumping out into the traffic side. I jump out into a guardrail and the gutter…a gutter area that’s overgrown by the jungle.

I throw open the doors and extract the ladies from the car. Shmuppie is covered and JewelrySlut has it in her hands, on her arms and covering her legs. Thick…partially-digested chocolate cake. I run behind the Jeep, and get all of my hiking water out of the packs. I douse JewelrySlut and we wriggle Shmuppie out of her shirt…previously a lovely shade of blue and now a shade of puke.

At this point, I can only imagine that MerlotMan is practicing his deep breathing exercises.

We rinse Shmuppie off as best we can and wipe her down with a beach towel. The house had provided these lovely embroidered towels…now one is brown. We hose them off as best we can and decide what to do next.

“How do you feel?”
“Fine! Let’s go”

Away we go. I know that in a mile and a half I can find someplace to stop and clean up. Love City Minimart, here we come. I hadn’t planned on adding you to the list of sites to see, but here you were never the less. I stop at the store and buy 2 gallons of water and a sponge. The clerk eyes me quizzically. In the parking lot, we take the car apart. The floor mats caught a lot of the mess and they need to be rinsed. The seats REALLY need to be cleaned. The child also needs a good rinsing. As we’re doing this, the clerk comes outside and the other guy who works there stands watching…while a box of frozen something or another melts in his hands. I use a gallon to clean the car and the other gallon to refill the water bottles. Feeling confident, we head out to wards Salt Pond. My single biggest fear at this point is that we’ll come back to the car and it will smell like baked puke. That would be BAD.

We arrive at the Salt Pond parking lot and assess the damage again. In case you don’t know, to get to Salt Pond Bay, you have to walk about 1/2 a mile down a hill. We all know what that means don’t we? At the bottom, we set out for the far side of the bay. JewelrySlut and I take the puke towel and shirt and immediately go to washing them in the bay. We’re one step away from a couple of Ukrainian women on wash day. We hang the wash in the trees and set out towards Blue Cobblestone. I had “discovered” this beach only a few months ago and really wanted to see it.

Did I mention how hot it was? Let’s assess our traveling party:
Me: Super stud father of the millennium. I’ve been blasting my pecs for months and was in prime shape…for a middle-aged semi-alcoholic bald man. There is no trail I can’t conquer.
JewelrySlut: Mother of 2, foxy as hell, but still wiping puke off herself. She’s developing the DT’s as I watch her.
MerlotMan: a nearly 60-year old man who just witnessed some car puking. The only shape he’s in is bad.
Shmuppie: Intrepid 8-year old who just finished a rather large bout of puking.

Did I mention how insanely hot it was? We started up the trail alongside the east side of the bay. Up we went…down we went…over rocks and roots, across open spaces. Finally, we got to the top of a hill and could see Blue Cobblestone…another 20 minutes away. Any thoughts of hiking to Ram Head flew out the window. At this point, MerlotMan was redder than his shirt and drenched in sweat.

“Have some water” was repeated by me every 14 seconds.

We still had to descend a big hill and walk a little bit to get to the beach. JewelrySlut wisely made the call. We were turning back. We already had 2 hills to go up and down just to get back and did not need a third. Still…the view was pretty. Our concern was that MerlotMan was about to pass out and that Shmuppie didn’t know that she was also going to join him.

We tromped back to the beach and took a look at the Drunk Bay trail. It normally runs alongside the shoreline of the Salt Pond, maybe 3-4 feet above the water’s surface. It was still underwater. So…there went Drunk Bay.

Shmuppie pouted.

Back to the beach. We were immediately set upon by a billion mosquitoes. We got our gear, braved the rocky beach and had a snorkel. Fortunately, the snorkeling was awesome. We spent well over an hour in the water and saw some good stuff. We did the eastern reef, then swam across the bay and did the west side. It ranked just below Honeymoon for the color and abundance of sea life. It was really a good time. But, all good times must end. We dried off, got bitten again, and all managed to get these lovely little barb-like plants stuck to our feet, hands, legs, arms, heads, etc… We slogged up the hill to the Jeep and arrived at a decidedly un-pukeish-smelling Jeep. Thank God.

Back on the road…me driving much more slowly, we set out for a pre-lunch snack. We pulled into the Tourist Trap and ordered hot dogs for JewelrySlut and MerlotMan. I wasn’t all that hungry and Shmuppie just looked hot. Hotdogs in hand, we got back in the Jeep to head to Skinny Legs. It was time for lunch.

Skinny’s was bopping. We had a hard time finding a parking spot…I ended up in a ditch. We ordered our usual Skinny’s drinks: Presedentes and got 2 burgers. Skinny’s is so wonderful. It’s a total dive, yet has all the charm that Coral Bay needs. There’s a roof only in the loosest sense, no walls, and a bar full of oddballs. Shmuppie took in the sights as we waited. Burgers in hand, we dove into lunch. They clearly have the best burger I’ve ever had on St John. I can’t vouch for how good it would be back at home, but sitting there, hot, sweaty, salty and drinking an ice-cold beer…it’s heaven on a bun. (Somebody wrote a song about that once I believe).We bought everyone some shirts and headed back to the house.

We got home and went straight to the pool.

Then we did laundry.

On Sunday, I’d gotten an invitation from Ruth to go see her and Ron’s new house, the Grateful Shed. We hadn’t had time to go all week, but I wasn’t about to miss a chance to go visit. So, I mustered the troops late in the afternoon and we went to the house… and got lost finding it. Finally, Ruth waved us down and we got to the house.

Wowie Zowie…it’s nice! The Shed has a huge pool, a large open kitchen/dining/living room and 2 bedrooms. The house was bathed in light and had a great breeze blowing through it. Having stayed in a house that had no breath of wind at all, I can vouch for how nice it is to have a good breeze. We got the tour, taking extra time to marvel at the sewage treatment plant. Finally Ron asked Shmuppie “So…why aren’t you in the pool?” That was all she needed. We’d told her she needed to be invited to use the pool and that she was not to just leap in it uninvited. Having been invited, she cannonballed off the deck into the water.

We spent some time at the Shed, talking to Ruth and Ron. I could go on for a while here about what wonderful people they both are but I don’t need to make Ruth blush. Needless to say, we were honored to be invited up to the house to go visit. We had a great time and it was fun to see a house still under construction. It’s so very different from what you go through back at home; the materials, the actual construction etc. We had a really good time and are all eye-balling the place once it comes on the market.

We gave each other a collective “Eh” when the topic of JJ’s came up. Instead, we went back to the house to clean out the fridge. Most of the remaining leftovers were eaten and we spent another evening on the deck, watching the stars, making up names for constellations and using the house’s telescope to spy on people at the Westin and on boats in the harbor.

We’d rounded the final corner and were in the home stretch. Tomorrow was getaway day for us.

What joy would it hold?

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