Thursday July 29

Thursday was massage day for the ladies. Leaving them in our wake, MerlotMan, Shmuppie and I set out for adventure.

As the 3 of us patrolled the island, I had to wonder what we looked like. I’m guessing 2 Queens and a kid. I’m happy, even if just for a day, we looked nice and open in our lifestyle. Truthfully, MerlotMan loves Shmuppie but probably doesn’t want to keep her.

I’d wanted to get back to Honeymoon Bay for a while now, but knew that the full crew would not make the trip. Her Highness would not stand for the walk and I hadn’t figured out how to steal a golf cart from the Caneel. JewelrySlut and I had visited Honeymoon in 2004 and 2006, and to be honest, the snorkeling wasn’t great. But, I’d heard so many good things that I wanted to go back and see if we could find the goods.

We went to the Caneel, gave them a vial of blood, an ear and our car info, all to have the right to set foot on their property. Since the last visit, they started charging to park. What’s the matter, assholes? Rooms not selling like hotcakes at $700/night anymore? We parked, unloaded, checked in at the front desk to get our little parking pass, and set out for the beach.

“You’ve got that parking pass, right”, MerlotMan asked me.
“Yup. It’s right here in my pocket”

We got to the beach and were a little disappointed by what we saw. There were 2 gaggles of cruise ship dorks in the bay. Of course, we expected this, but still had hoped for the best. All across the bay, there were goons of assorted size and color flopping around like angry seagulls. As long as we stayed away from them, we’d be Ok. And since they had the collective snorkel experience of someone who has never snorkeled, I knew we’d be Ok if we went for deeper water.

As soon as we moved away from the beach, I realized that we’d have a good snorkel…at a price. There was a good current running from right to left, essentially pulling us towards Solomon Bay. I wasn’t concerned about myself or Shmuppie (now in a pair of rented flippers). MerlotMan had me slightly nervous, but, if push came to shove, I could always put his flippers on and tow him to safety.

I now understand everything that’s been written about Honeymoon. It has a great reef and we say a lot of fish. We even spotted a fairly large Caribbean Spiny Lobster. That was a first for us. Te sun was out, the water had cleared, the cruise ship people were already leaving and we were having a ball. We followed the reef all the way to the rocks that separate Honeymoon from Solomon. We went a bit farther (mostly so we could say we snorkeled Solomon), but the current was starting to pull us a little quicker than I liked. I signaled for us to head back. We beat through the current to a spot where the reef ended and the beach began. To Shmuppie’s chagrin, I directed us all towards the beach. There was no reason to swim through that mess. We got out, walked to the other side of the bay and started over. We drifted the full width of the bay and managed to dodge the dinghies that were ferrying the cruisers back to their boats.

At the other side, MerlotMan and I got out and Shmuppie stayed in the shallows, looking for something. We looked in her direction and a stingray was on patrol about 5 feet off the shoreline. It swam right past her and she followed…a safe distance behind.

Having had enough, and under assault from mosquitoes, we gathered up our crap. I had picked a few pieces of trash off the bottom along the way and I was gathering them to be thrown away. I pulled out a candy wrapper and a mangled blue piece of paper. Remember that parking pass that I said I’d take care of?

Whoopsie.

We walked back to the front desk, now looking 200% like we did not belong at the resort and I presented my mess. The lady manning the desk obviously had seen this trick before because she laughed at me and gave us a new pass. I didn’t have to give any blood or submit to a cavity search. I guess that was OK. I was feeling lonely after all.

We stopped at the Love City Fraco truck on the way back to the house. Shmuppie enjoyed her fresh mango shaved ice thing and MerlotMan turned down my offer for an ice cold Schaeffer. Beer snob.

At the house, we were met with applause. Were they happy to see us? Hell no. They were hungry.

After beer, lunch, naps and homework, it was time to head out again.

One of my goals for this trip was to add beaches to our list. Our trip to Cinnamon in 2008 had been rough and our 2006 trip to Maho had ended in disaster when a battalion of mosquitoes nearly ate us alive. I needed to find a new beach to go to. We still haven’t been to Hawksnest (seems too touristy for me) and going past the intersections of Centerline and north Shore would cause ChurchBomber to twitch. We really only had one choice…and I was excited about it.

“MerlotMan: we’re going to Francis Bay”
“Where the hell is that?”
“Ehhh…not too far…past Cinnamon”

Since he hates the Cinnamon Switchback, MerlotMan wanted to drive. I was actually going to make the offer. We didn’t want to do Gifft Hill again, so we went to town and took Centerline all the way out to the Smoothie stand and then came back. The ride was pleasant and we even saw some roadside pigs. Despite minimal noise from the backseat, we made it down the very bumpy road to Francis. Unfortunately, at about the same time that we arrived, so did some clouds.

I’m sure Francis is lovely on other day and offers a nice snorkel, but, as ChurchBomber put it, it was like snorkeling in black and white. But, we went across the bay and rounded the point to Maho Bay. This enabled me to say I’d snorkeled Maho on this trip. It was cheating, but I didn’t care. On the way back, Shmuppie and I spotted a platform a ways out in the distance. Always looking to tire her out, we swam out to it.

Oh…it’s the mooring pay station and nothing else.
“Let’s swim back. FAST!”

That may not have been my best idea all day. In a pair of fins, Shmuppie took off. I have maybe a year or 2 more before she’s beating my ass in the pool. In fins, she can beat my ass right now. It was all I could do to almost keep up with her and I’ve been swimming a lot this summer too! We arrived at the gang and she triumphantly announced to everyone that she had won. She had.

At the beach, we spotted some forumites…forumites from NC to boot. We chatted for a while and then noticed a curtain of blackness heading towards us. Rain was rapidly advancing in from Leinster Bay. In seconds, the sky turned black and we were in the middle of a serious tropical downpour. We put our masks on to avoid splash back and sat in the water as it poured on us. Naturally, the kids all thought this was TOTALLY AWESOME and used the rain as an excuse to stay in the water for longer. When the rain finally stopped, we gathered our stuff (gee…I wonder whose idea it was to go back into the woods a bit to put it all under heavy tree cover???) and ran to the Jeep. The Maho mosquitoes had sensed us and were out for blood.

MerlotMan drove us home and we had a quiet evening of leftovers and rum.

The week was winding down; we had only one full day on St John left, but it had been a fantastic trip. The house had cooperated. The weather had cooperated. Everything had gone according to plan.

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