Monday August 11

Monday was to be out big day of activity. Naturally, ChurchBomber was sitting it out; preferring to stay at the house and sun herself into oblivion.

Today, were finally tackling one of the major things everyone must do on St John. We were off to see the petroglyphs. JewelrySlut and I had decided some time ago to get tattoos of them and realized that to not have seen them in person would make the whole experience of marking ourselves with a little St John a little cheap. I’d done my homework and figured we could handle a mostly-downhill 3.5 mile hike.

I woke up feeling less than good. I have not decided if it was the wine and rum combination from the night before or my sinuses (they were going in overdrive). In any event, I felt lousy.

We were told to be at the NPS offices at 9:10. Like good idiots, we got there at 9:00. We didn’t need to be there until closer to 9:30. It was hot in the offices…very hot. We sat for a while and watched the crowd for the hike gather. At 9:30, they herded us all off to 2 truck/taxis. Most of us paid the driver our $6. One asshat strutted around announcing for everyone “All I have is a $100 bill. It’s all I have. A $100 bill. See it?” He then told the driver to drop off a FedEx package for him in exchange for his $100 bill. If there’s a God, the driver still has the damn package in his cab.

We set off up Centerline Road towards the trail head. As we progressed, JewelrySlut and I kept catching snippets of a conversation from another family on the truck: “Magic tricks…house…Captain…” What? As we stopped at the top, I turned and asked them if they were staying at Peace O’Heaven. The looked at me funny…funnier than most people tend to do. I explained that we’d stayed there twice and it sounded like they were describing Capt Magic’s Magical Fanciful Dinner Fun Show. I asked how the house was looking and they described what seemed to be a long list of improvements. I explained “who” I was (from my online adventures) and the mother in the group had one of those “a-ha!” moments. Yet again, I was meeting a person who had read something I had written and had kinda listened to what I had to say. (My review of the house from 2006 said it needed improvements and, if made, the house would again be great).

We got to the trail, met our guide, Golda, and started out. The group of 20+ people scattered all over the trail. We hung towards the back, chatting up the guide and a family from St Luis who considered us to be blessed for being able to go to St John 3 times. OK.

The bottom line was this; as long as we kept walking, the trip was tolerable. As soon as you stopped, the bugs set in on you. I doused myself in bug spray but it did no good.

Every once and a while, Golda would stop for the group to rest and for us to learn a little something about the trees or the island. I learned what a Genip is. I decided that they’re fun to eat and quite tasty. Having a few actually settled my stomach and took the edge of my angry belly.

We hiked (mostly down hill thankfully) for a while.

(These are my notes that I typed out that night)
Saw the Petroglyphs – Spur trail .3 miles. Came across ahead of our group. I knew we were close. I crouched on the path and saw them. Through the trees and bush I saw the one site I’d wanted to see the most on St John. I crouched there and felt connected. This is the place for me. Made our way into the grove. I crouched on the water’s edge and ran my fingers along the carvings. Life is good in a good place. Hard to say how it felt and I can’t say how the others felt. For me, it was special.
(end notes)

It was very cool finally seeing the symbol of the island. As I wrote, I got out ahead of MerlotMan and JewelrySlut and, when I could tell I was close, I crouched on the trail and could see the carvings on the rocks. It was a very exciting moment. As I’ve said and will continue to say, this was the trip where I really felt a connection to the island. Not being the most eloquent of people, it’s hard to describe how it felt to be there. I’ve read that the little waterfall where the carvings sit has spiritual energy and such. I don’t know what I felt (other than hot), but there was something.

The group made its way out and back towards the main trail. We could hear the ocean so we all knew we were close. Seeing how tired we all were, this was a good thing. At the bottom of the trail, there’s a big set of sugar mill ruins. They were fun to explore and to try to imagine how ungodly hot it must have been back in the day. There were huge boiling pots that must have heated the room to something like 130 degrees. I can’t imagine having a life that involved being trapped there, more or less, until you died.

There also were bats. I failed to tell JewelrySlut about them. JewelrySlut does not like bats. I had a good giggle watching her run out of one of the rooms making a “UUUUHHHHHH” sound.

At the end of the trail, you find yourself on Reef Bay. This is a big bay that’s completely inaccessible by car. You can walk down from the top (like we did), walk around the bay from where the road ends, or take a boat. Those are your options. It’s not exactly Myrtle Beach. We stopped for lunch (lovely grilled chicken and chilie-rice wraps that I packed) and a swim. Not one to miss a chance to snorkel a new bay, I hopped in.

The snorkeling blew. The water was shallow and there was a lot of grass. As a result, there were not many fish. And, the water was hot. Not one of those odd warm pockets you get in the ocean…but downright hot and utterly unrefreshing. Still, I swam on. According to MerlotMan, a pelican nearly landed on my head at one point.

We were going to get picked up by a boat to go back to shore. Our options were to swim to it or take the dinghy.

JewelrySlut and I handed our pack to MerlotMan, put our masks on and swam out to the boat. JewelrySlut wasn’t too keen on doing it because of the water temperatures, but I convinced her that life doesn’t afford us many opportunities to swim across a Caribbean bay to a waiting boat. We swam. Luckily, as the water got deeper, it also got cooler. We saw several really large conchs on the ocean floor. I dove down to take a look at one and realized that it had an inhabitant. I left it alone, lest I get attacked in some horrible way. Once we got to the boat, we learned that, if we wanted, we could jump off it into the water. Again, realizing that this doesn’t happen to us every day, we jumped. No matter your age, when you can jump off a boat into the ocean; (and the boat’s not sinking) do it. The fall was just enough for your brain to scream at you “You’re 34! Why the hell are you doing this?” The ride back was uneventful. The south shore of St John is very rocky (in contrast to the soft, sandy north shore) so it was fun to see the differences.

Back in town, I ran into a convenience store to treat my hike-mates. At Reef Bay, I had promised JewelrySlut a Ting, and I had to deliver. MerlotMan had never had one and happily accepted any cold drink I was offering. Mmmmmmmm….Ting.

Back up the hill to the house we went. One by one, we collapsed into the pool. We were hot and tired, but I think all proud of ourselves and happy we’d made the trip.

I don’t know what happened next because overwhelming fatigue overtook me. I went to our room and took a nap. Apparently, MerlotMan and JewelrySlut did the same down by the pool.

Once we all woke up, we headed to town. We were hoping somehow a miracle had occurred and JJ’s had opened. It had not. We found a little bar to sit at and I went out in search of Conch Fritters. I found myself at Woody’s.

I hate Woody’s.

Woody’s is a very popular restaurant and bar that’s right on the side of one of e roads in town. It’s small and attracts the cool crowd on island. It’s also a favorite spot for Kenny Chesney (or was when he could still visit the island un-molested). To me, it’s a crowded, loud spot filled with obnoxious drunks. I placed my order and tried my best to just sink into the background and not be noticed. The crow outside was the usual; dumb girls and guys in tank tops who strut around too much. Mixed in with them are people in their 40′s and 50′s who, in my opinion, should know better. Inside was no better. A bunch of people who either were loud and drunk or loud and acting like they were drunk.

There was a woman on a stool down the bar from me. She kept looking at me. I was praying that she didn’t somehow recognize me from one of the forums or something because I could see how hammered she was (and that she was old enough to know better).

Her: Hi
Me (oh shit): Hi
Her: Are you here alone?
Me (shiiiiiiiiiiiit): Yes. I’m waiting for an order to come up so I can go to another bar and eat.
Her: (Leaning waaaaaaaaaaaay too close to me) You look so sad.
Me: No…I’m Ok…
Her: I just want to be your friend. Do you need a friend?
Me: No…I’m all good thank you. Oh look! I think my order’s up.

I left in a hurry and found the group. They were drinking Corona. That meant there was no Carib. That also meant they’d be cranky. Like I cared. I more or less threw the food at them and told them they all owed me for what I had been through. They were less than caring about my experience.

The fritters sucked taint. Waste of my money and time if you ask me. I don’t like Woody’s. Why the hell was JJ’s closed!

Back to the house we went. It was shower time. We decided to not have JewelrySlut wait until the end in case the water died on her. ChurchBomber had remarked that during the day, while running a load of wash, the water had died, but she’d been able to restart it.

MerlotMan took his shower. ChurchBomber took hers.

No problems.

JewelrySlut started her shower. With a keen ear, I happily heard the pump chugging along.

Then it stopped.

Shit.

Into our room I went. At least she wasn’t soapy this time. I jump-started the pump and she quickly finished. I don’t think I showered that night.

This was becoming a problem. The time between shut downs was decreasing and I was getting tired of crawling under the house to revive the pump.

Dinner was more leftovers. The original plan had been for JewelrySlut to make the potato salad and bake the cake for me on Sunday and that we’d celebrate the joyous day of my birth on Monday. After Sunday’s water aerobics, we decided to hold off until Wednesday. I didn’t want her to have to cook and bake after we’d done the hike (I’m nice like that).

We ate and then sat on the deck and enjoyed another blissfully breezy evening.

It had been a full day, and as far as we knew, we had a whole lot of nothing planned for Tuesday.

So we thought.

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