Saturday July 24

4:30AM: BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP. Here we go. It’s vacation time. Shockingly, we’d slept fairly well the night before. Chicken was at her grandparents’ house and we just needed to pack the cooler and go.

5:25: We pulled out of the house. The cooler came in at 47lbs. We had a 7:10 flight to ATL and then a 10:00 to STT. We were hoping against hope to be on a 3:00 ferry to St John.

Check in was not bad and we got through security with plenty of time to spare. We were settled and at the gate by 6:15 or so. In retrospect, a lot of things look clearer now. At the time, I was sleepy and already working on getting to Island Time.

6:50: Why aren’t we boarding?
“We’re sorry folks, but there’s a delay with your flight attendants getting here. We’re not sure where they are right now, so we’ll be a little late”

At this point, I should have flown into action. I failed to do so and suffered the consequences…
I felt confident that, even with a minor delay, we’d be OK to make the next flight.

7:00: We’re sorry folks. Your flight will be delayed until 11:00.

WHAT?!?!?!?!

Now I was in motion. I checked the board and noticed an 8:20 flight to ATL. I sent JewelrySlut to that gate to see if they had seats. I started dialing Delta “We’re sorry…due to call volumes, please try back later”. SHIT!!!!! I called my father and got him on the search for new flights. I had all the connection times out of ATL, and was ticking them off in my head, and dreading each one more and more.

Finally, I got through to Delta. They told me there was no flight at 11:00; we’d been cancelled. They failed to tell anyone that. I was informed that there were plenty of seats from ATL to STT for the rest of the day; the rub was getting us to ATL. We scored the last 3 seats on the 2:00 flight. We were booked on a 6:00PM to STT. We’d be landing at 10:00.

Shit.

Dejected, tired, and sad, we gathered out wits. It was now about 7:30 and we had 6 1/2 hours to kill. We did the only reasonable thing; got our bags and went home. We were home a little after 8:00AM.

We unpacked the cooler and I went to work. I needed help. I was ready to give up and just go back to bed and abandon the trip. Why? Because, as we all know, getting to St John is not easy. A planned 10:00 arrival meant we’d be traveling across St Thomas at late o’clock. But, as always, the forum came through.

Someone, knowing the times involved, suggested a water taxi to St Thomas. I called the absolutely wonderful people at Dohm’s and a wonderful woman, Julie, took care of us. She arranged a cab to get us from the airport to Red Hook and for a water taxi to take us to St John. We were “stowing away” on the taxi, so we had to stop at the Westin first, but we’d get to StJ and would not need an overnight on STT beforehand.

Mind cleared, and at ease, I got us some breakfast and took a nap. We only slept a little bit, but felt better when we woke up. Not great, but not ready to dry heave.

At noon, we set out again. We repacked the cooler and went back to RDU to try again. Check-in was NOT easy (thanks to some crankiness by me and a lot by the desk agent). But, we got in. We had no assigned seats for either flight, but I was told we had seats. Fine.

At the gates, many of the people from the morning flight were still there, sprawled on the floor. They were stuck. We got seats and got on our plane. We were on a small regional jet and in the last row…but we were on a plane. The flight to ATL was odd; we flew in circles for a while (Naturally, right before we left, the radar at ATL died…so they needed to get it running and unstuck the planes).

I guess we got to ATL, but I don’t really remember anything. We were all running on fumes. We found our gate and confirmed that we had seats. I think we fed Shmuppie at some point. I honestly can’t remember. **JewelrySlut reminded me that we bought Shmuppie a burger and then I vanished for a long while looking for a sandwich that didn’t look 5 days old. I seem to remember that. I was so exhausted, she could have told me anything**

I do recall boarding and being in bulkhead seats. I hate them. But, we had room overhead for our bags and unpacked what we needed for the flight. In a life-saving move, Delta seems to have outfitted their 737′s with seat back TV’s. So, Shmuppie was kept amused for the 4 hour flight. She watched one show or movie after another. I got her to sleep a little before we landed. The flight dragged and was rather bumpy. But, finally, 10:00 came and we landed.

Who the hell chooses to arrive this late? Really? On a Saturday? It’s the middle of the damn night.

It was dark, steamy and more unpleasant than usual. Fortunately, our driver from Christopher’s Taxi was right there waiting for us. So were the rum ladies. I was told that it would take 25 minutes to get the bags. So, I waited and watched the clock. At 10:27, the bags arrived. It’s good to have the right info from the right people.

We got in the taxi and took off for Red Hook. Did I mention it was late? We cruised along the harbor in Charlotte Amalie. It’s odd to take that route; usually the traffic in town sucks. But, at 10:40PM…that’s another story. Shmuppie did not enjoy the ride and was looking a little green. (Keep this in mind). But, as we got close to Red Hook, we pulled down this tiny dirt road.

Here we go. Since the driver knows my phone is dead (Verizon was not working on Saturday night), he’s taken us in to the woods to murder and then rape us. Great…

Nope…we pulled into a clearing and found a little boat slip. There, waiting for us was a boat named “Water Taxi”. At least it’s honest about what it does for a living.

It was 11:05. We’d missed the 11:00 ferry. So, had I not made the boat arrangements, we’d have sat in the ferry terminal for a full hour. That would have been unpleasant and probably not entirely safe, considering that we’d all be half asleep. Since my phone was not working, I had to borrow the captain’s phone. ChurchBomber and MerlotMan had no idea where we were. I called to tell MerlotMan to be in town in 20 minutes; we were coming!

The plan was to wait for the Westin people to arrive and then motor over to St John. They’d get dropped off and then we’d go to Cruz Bay. They could not let us off at the Westin, mere minutes from the house because of some Homeland Security bullshit. In any event, it would be OK.

But it got better. The captain, I think in a combination of pity and good-heartedness, got us on board and told us he’d run us over before the Westin people arrived. Off we went. We sped out of Red Hook and into the channel. But…we didn’t take the marked channel…we went off to the left side. This, apparently, was to avoid waves. We bounced along and the horseshoe of light ahead of us got brighter and brighter. We were getting closer and closer to the end of the journey. As we approached, we could start to make out landmarks and the excitement built. Shmuppie was green.

Crossing at night was odd. It was…as you’d expect…dark. It was very different. It was fun to do but I’d not want to do it again. There were very few boats in the channel. Mostly, it was us, skipping along the waves.

We slowed down as we got into Cruz Bay and, immediately I noticed the folly of my ways. We were not headed towards the main dock…why would we? You can’t tie a little taxi boat to the big dock. No…we were headed to the NPS dock. That was fine…if I had a way to call MerlotMan to divert him. Alas, I did not. We docked, did the money deal (It had now cost us $225 to get to St John instead of about $50) and headed out on foot for the big dock.

It’s not much of a walk, but we had 3 backpacks and 3 pieces of luggage. It was also 11:30 and I had 2 women with me. We walked quickly. We passed Uncle Joes, rounded the corner and came to the little street in front of the dock. As we got to the benches, MerlotMan pulled up. Our Knight in his Trusty White Jeep Liberty had arrived.

Hug Hug. Kiss Kiss. Let’s get the hell out of here!

Through the new traffic circle! Up Jacob’s Ladder. Down Great Cruz Bay Road. Up the VERY Steep driveway…to Morgan Point.

We stumbled into the house at a little before Midnight. We were gassed, but so grateful to be there and not in a hotel on St Thomas. I unpacked the cooler, got some clothes unpacked and had a beer. Shmuppie had some juice and we recounted our traveling tale. At about 1:00, we all stumbled off to bed. It was late, but we’d arrived. We could start vacationing.

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