Monday July 26.

Someone served me about half a drink too much the night before. I woke up feeling shiny. 3 Advil later, I was ready to go. Shmuppie was in front of the TV. What a shock.

The plan for Monday had been to get up early and head to the East End and Salt Pond Bay. Shmuppie really wanted to go to Drunk Bay to “make a rock person”. However, we learned at the BB that the path was washed out. The rains the week before had raised the water level of the pond enough to cover the path. So…no East end hike for us.

Needing to move, I gathered Shmuppie for another walk. We went back up the hill past the house, but this time, continued out Maria bluff road. Next thing I knew, we were rapidly descending an unpaved road towards Chocolate Hole. Great job, Dad. You’ve started a death march! Shmuppie was happy, but getting tired. However, when we got to the end of the road, I knew exactly where we were…and the news was bad. We were back on Great Cruz Bay Road (good news). We were 2 hills away (plus the driveway) from the house (bad news). It was hot. We started up the road. Any attempts on my part to point out trees or boats or anything of interest were met with complaints. Someone wanted to be carried. I told her I’d leave her on the aide of the road and maybe an iguana would drive her home. We finally got to the house and collapsed. She was tired…so was I. The gang was up and wondering what we’d been thinking. Shmuppie didn’t have the energy to complain…she just parked in front of the TV again.

We spent the late morning at the house…swimming, sunning, drinking, burping, cursing, “Your Assing”, drinking…typical vacation stuff for us.

I talk to people all the time about how they spend their vacation days on St John. Everyone does it differently, and it’s fun to hear someone else’s ideal day and turn my nose up at it. We’re not necessarily beach people. I know…go to an island and you don’t like the beach. I can spend the day on a beach, but not on St John. Take Emerald Isle…I can sit there all day and read and swim when needed. But it’s too damned hot down island to sit in the sun all day. And, since there’s so much to see in the water, I’m not inclined to sit on a Caribbean beach…but I’m also not in the mood to snorkel for 8 hours and fry myself crisp. So, most days are spent by the pool, hanging out and having fun. We head to the beach to snorkel later in the day. I may arrange some activity in the morning, but most days are spent housebound. It’s just how we roll.

By mid-afternoon, it was time to muster the troops. Later in the week, I realized that my strategy was all off. Moving 3 “Island Time” adults and an 8 year old takes a lot of coordination. The simple act of me loading the snorkel gear, cooler and towels into the Jeep wasn’t enough. Grabbing the keys and tapping my foot only made them move more slowly. I finally figured that if I told them I wanted to leave at a certain time, and padded in a half hour, I could ALMOST get what I wanted. It usually took 45 minutes to get everyone moving. Later in the week, I could get the troops to move more or less on time.

Since it was Monday and JewelrySlut hadn’t seen anything in town yet, we decided to go to town before the daily snorkel. We stopped at St John Spice again, Freebird, Low Key, all the usual suspects. With MerlotMan and Shmuppie twitching, we went back to the Jeep to go snorkeling.

Since 2004, when I first saw the funny little staircase to nowhere, I wanted to go to Jumbie beach. But, stairs and my crew don’t get along. So, I drive past the staircase a few dozen times, waiting for the day when Shmuppie would join us. I knew I could get her down the stairs. In a move that both saddened and pleased me, the park service (or someone) ripped out the stairs about a year ago and created a trail. I never got to take the stairs, but I knew I could get to Jumbie. We found a spot in the little parking lot…there are 5 spots in total for the beach, and crossed the road. The little path ran through the woods and gently sloped down over a distance of only about 100 yards. That was a walk ChurchBomber could handle. Plus…I promised good snorkeling.

We arrived at the little beach and I was thrilled. It sits one bay over from Trunk Bay, but it might as well be 100 miles away. There were maybe 10 other people on the beach. The entry was a bit rocky, but Shmuppie and I got in the water and began our snorkel Recon. There was a bit of a current, so it was rough going at first. But, once we got to the first reef, we were able to more or less float along its length and traverse the whole bay. The sights were better than at Trunk and we saw some cool fish. I got better at taking underwater pictures and managed some good shots. Shmuppie, as expected, babbled away the whole time we were in the water. We spent over an hour in the water, and by the time we were done, we were all waterlogged and ready for beer. We pried Shmuppie out of the water and fought the mosquitoes as we dried off.

It was time to go back to town and to go to JJ’s. After the 2008 trip, we were looking forward to returning to our favorite bar.

Funny thing about memories…they can look better in your mind than in reality….

BOM…BOM…BOM…

Well, “our waitress” moved off island in 2009. We were hoping to break in someone new and have it go well. At the new, HUGE, sign they have, we finally looked at the menu.

“Have conch fritters always been $11? What the hell?”

We sat (our usual table was occupied) and ordered up the customary 4 Caribs. Shmuppie got a pina colada. We toasted our trip and all drank lustily. There’s something about a Carib. You can NOT drink them in the states. They taste like warm ass. But, sit down in the islands, hot and salty after a good snorkel, and they taste like heaven. The fritters and onion rings arrived…

“Um…hon? Didn’t we used to get 6?”
(She studies the plate)
“Yea…what the hell?”

Less food…more money. Welcome to a bad economy? Seriously?

No matter…we ate happily and savored the moment. We were back at our bar, in the middle of the silly little town of Cruz Bay. The crazies were in the park, the chickens were wandering around, and the “tourists” were arriving for dinner.

Tourists you say? Yea…we’re not tourists. Not on St John at least. We’re visitors. There’s a difference, and a lot of people reading this are nodding right now. Tourists show up in sneakers and socks. They wear matching clothes. The women look made up and put together.

Visitors look like locals. We were flip flops. Our shorts are raggedy-ass looking. The shirts more or less match the shorts. The women wear hats and ponytails.

So, we’re sitting there and Vinnie Baggadonuts from Montclair shows up. He’s got on a muscle shirt and is strutting about. His son is orange. The daughter has on a little dress and is texting. Wifey is also orange, she’s got gold dripping off of her, and she’s got on gold sandals. They walk past us 5 homeless people and sneer. “Go the hell back to Jersey…or at least St Thomas”. They sit and Dad orders a Milluh Light. Mom asks about the wine list.

We weep.

“Lookat dis. They got conch frittuhs. (Conch pronounced with a “ch” and not a “K”) Let’s get some”
“Oh Vinnie…they’re fried. I’m on a diet”

Mom and daughter order garden salads, Vinnie orders a burger…well done…and Junior orders the menu. I find myself wanting to walk over to them, in all my salt-crusted funk, and set them straight.

Leave the designer threads at home. You’re not impressing anyone.
Lighten up and order a Caribbean beer. Carib not your thing? Order a Presendente.
Buy flip flops.
Untuck the shirts.
Leave the Jersey in Newark.
Get your asses on Island Time for the love of God.

We finish up and the bill comes. MerlotMan pays it. 2 minutes later, the waitress throws the bill back at us.

“You underpaid. That was the bar bill”

ChurchBomber flips the bill and chokes. Beers apparently now cost $4.50 each at JJ’s. Ouch. The shine on JJ’s just got a little less shiny.

Earlier in the day, JewelrySlut had made potato salad. Monday, originally, was meant to be steak night. It would have been…had I remembered to thaw the steaks. Whooops…time to slice leftover chicken. I laid out way too much food and we all took showers and snacked.

Bed time came a little earlier on Monday. We spent the evening on the deck, watching the stars. We’d been on the island for a little under 2 full days. We’d snorkeled twice, been to 2 bars and were having a great trip.

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