We had a blog about our adventure on the Kekoa. It was a wonderful time and an amazing group of people. Here is a video of them rebuilding post Irma/Maria
Click the link to watch their story
So our last trip down, we decided to do the Reef Bay Trail. I took the day off from work and we hiked out hearts out.
As most of you know, the trial starts near 1000 feet and ends near sea level. Post Irmariageddon, the trail is actually in good shape. We took many pics, so this might be a guided tour via the internet. Having typed that, we have previously done 8 tough miles, if you are not prepared, you will not enjoy this hike. I compare the difficulty to the 8 tough miles. We hope you enjoy your tour.
As we have had numerous questions about how the park is "really" doing, there are many pics. Likely boring, but you will see the actual state of the park.
We started about 9 in the morning. There was only one car parked at the start of the trail, so we were able to get a parking spot.
The national park has many signs describing the local flora.
As a number of you asked about the condition of the island and park we took numerous pics on our hike.
You can see some of the trees and brush that has been cut away to open up the trail, honestly we only noticed it in a few guts.
And here is the Bay Rum Tree. As I am a particular fan of Bay rum, I had to take a pic.
Hiking along over the next few minutes will take you to our next stop.
You can see some of the damage from Irmariageddon in the last few pics. However, the Greenery is nearly covering it up.
The only real damage which bothered us was that we were unable to read some of the signs on the trial. Honestly, it was a small inconvenience, but people ask for our opinion, so we chose to put up information as it really is. The trail was beautiful. The history is still there and vegetation was back.
This tree is huge. Not even sure what the sign says, but keeping the trek real. We all got pics of ourselves here. Nice stopping point.
This is part of the craziness of the storms last year. Other signs are not legible, yet this one is as perfect as the day it was put up.
Never know who you will come across. Why does the hermit crab cross the path?
We hope hope this shows that the island is back. The trials are open and the park is beautiful.
Suggestions for this hike would be comfortable shoes. Bring lots of water, perhaps a small snack. It took us about 2-3 hours round trip to the Petroglyphs.
There is a national park tour which you walk down to the beach and take a boat back.
Spoiler, I started this blog 2 years ago, when we participated in the race in 2016. Some were bugging me for another blog, and this would be a fun one. Here goes.
What do zombies, Elvis, goats, beer bongs, fireball shots, and a motorcycle medic have in common? All part of the annual 8 Tough Mile race.
We had heard about this race over the last few years and I always thought "why run across the island....they rent Jeeps here." So last year, while lazing about one evening, (after checking the local rum for quality control purposes) I mentioned to Lisa that we should try the race......If you have read some of the previous blogs, you realize I get myself into trouble quite easily, and my wife is a saint.
What is the 8 Tough Miles? Well, it is a "race" from one end of St. John to the other via Centerline road. Starting at sea level and ending at sea level....Oh, you get to 999 feet in elevation somewhere near the middle. Effectively running up the empire state building and back down. But not quite so easy, it is not just up and down......NOOOO, that would be too easy.
All these hills go up and down and up and down and up......not to mention the goats which dart in front of you. Donkeys rambling at the side of the road, Steel band playing (really cool). Our little island of 3000 residents hosted a race for 1300 people. There are the necessary pre race parties and post race parties....If there is one thing our little island likes, it is a reason to have a party!
A number of our local friends looked at us oddly at the mention of us joining the race. Dan went so far as to point out that we have our own Jeep on island now...Smart man. But Lisa was excited and I was committed....I did raise my life insurance though.
We ended up spending 2 nights at Estate Lindholm prior to the race, as there were guests at Villa Tesori. It was convenient to walk back to the room after the pre race parties went on all night. (OMG we are getting old) We gave in at 9:30 and went back to the room.
Up early along with 1300 of our closest insane friends, lined up next to the National Park dock. They arranged us in levels of insanity. Those speed racers up front, us turtles in the back.
Many different groups on island take on the duties of handing out water and gatorade to the victims.....err, I mean participants of the race. Many come in costume. Most watering stations are about 1/2 to 3/4 miles apart.
While it is called a race, and many do race, we walked. A steady plodding pace. Up Centerline past the hospital.....then we saw the zombies and signs of the apocalypse!
We managed to escape the Zombies.....by this point we were about one third of the way and were already dragging. I started to realize why it takes 30 minutes by jeep to get from Villa Tesori to Coral Bay. Up, down, up, down. But the local islanders were out on the road cheering us on. Bands, drummers, music. More parties at the side of the road and it wasn't even 9am yet!
By now the sun was coming out. Everyone was running and walking on the shady part of the road. The road had been shut down for the race, but at points only 1/4 of it was being used due to the intense heat from the sun.
Saw the half way sign and nearly passed out. HALF WAY??? Are you kidding me. Im dying, sweating, panting and being passed by a woman pushing a baby buggy....As Dori from Nemo would say....Keep On Swimming...one foot in front of another. At least if i pass out there was a medic on a motorcycle.
After what seemed like forever we finally reached the highest point. All downhill from here....or so we thought. Our legs were rubber, but we were determined to see it through.
Lisa was still doing the Keep on swimming, keep on swimming. By the end of the race I wanted to gut and batter fry Dori....Then we saw why we came to the race. A true St John idea. Yes, the next watering stand had......
A BEER BONG!!! And it wasn't just a normal beer bong.....that would be much too easy. It was a quad beer bong. I love this island. Keep on swimming, keep on drinking....er, swimming. Now I wondered at that point if Jimmy and Bridgett were actually going to do what they said the night before. We had been drinking, err..visiting with our good friends Jimmy and Bridgett and they talked about having a surprise stand near the end.
We were now getting into some of the steeper areas and I was almost forced to run down hill. Expecting to do a face plant at times, I chose the better part of valor and waited for Lisa to catch up. We rounded the corner to view Coral Bay and saw Jimmy and Bridgett, They were serving shots!
Seriously, where else can you get up at 4 in the morning, join a group of other maniacs, run across a tropical island and be served drinks while doing it!
Going downhill for the final leg was much easier. Downhill almost seemed like coasting. Another huge party was taking place at the ball field. The cameradie which our little island creates is amazing and humbling. I have never been a part of something like it before and we both cherish our time here. Tired or not we were happy to be participants.
The taxis were lined up across from the ball field to take us back to Cruz Bay to yet another party. We opted to go back to Villa Tesori and pass out, err....I mean rest. Lisa had decided she was going to the awards party at St. John Brewers, until reality hit and Villa Gravity set in.
Would we do it again? Lisa says "Hell No, Ill meet you at the end with a rum punch." I might, but would take some serious convincing and crazy friends. Was it worthwhile? ABSOFREAKINLUTLY! A wonderful experience we shared with our friends.
8 Tough Miles is a Charity, which raises money for scholarships.
The 2018 race was run unofficially. There were many participants and from what we heard and read, it was a hit. I have no doubt that a the 2019 race will be the best ever.
That was my thought while at Villa Tesori recently. Of course the Coquis serenaded us at night, but no phone, internet or cable. Everything had been destroyed by Imramariageddon. It seemed peaceful. Hot and sweaty, but peaceful.
So we worked on our beloved Tesori and enjoyed the silence. Clipping branches, dragging debris, building windows, pulling wire....all very productive, but something was missing. Brian's phone usually rings more than a dozen times a day. I can't get him away from the darn thing.....and yet here we were and he didn't care. Perhaps he could relax.
We worked from about 5 (sunup) to noonish, took a break until 3 then started again, ending at dusk. The idea of a siesta grew on us. Or me. Brian would dart off to Paradise lumber to purchase some doohickey or thingamabob to fix whatever he discovered broken. His trips seemed to get longer as the week wore on. I wasn't sure whether he was stopping by Cruz Bay Landing or making new friends at the Paradise. Finally he fessed up.
Apparently he was taking his phone and talking, typing and internetting!!! He discovered as you crest the Gift Hill, ATT popped back on. The sneaky devil was grabbing his phone on his "trips to get supplies". So here i was moving piles of brush, sorting the trash, and he was playing!!! So much for enjoying the silence. Well much like the tooth fairy, or honest politicians one must leave childish thoughts behind. He would not be happy without knowing what was going on.
We normally have 3 internet services, or as I call it Overkill. In case one goes down, he always has a fallback. But in this case the hurricanes took out his plan, along with most of the islands. He was now on a mission to ensure he was never out of touch at Tesori again. He couldn't do anything while we were on island, but I could tell he had an idea.
Our friend Sloop Jones works with Hughes net. The big satellite, talk to aliens type things you always see in the middle of nowhere. He and Brian had a powwow on our last visit and apparently the new Hughes satellite "gen 5" are just what we need. The last time these two conspired on something we did get ATT signals everywhere in the house. So I had faith they would figure it out.
The picture above is not aliens targeting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but the area now covered by Brian and Sloops new beloved satellite internet. As long as i can get to talk to our children, and our new granddaughter I don't care.
The local utility just restored power. We still don't have the local internet, telephone or cable. No one has any idea how long those will take, so we did order the new satellite system. With it we will be self sufficient. Brian's phone will be back and he will not need to make trips to the top of Gift Hill to get a fix.
Another thing I learned was that if you have a new iPhone you can make and receive calls over the internet. No need for any ATT bars. Which is good as the towers near Villa Tesori are still down. Our new satellite system is on a ship en route to VT. Should be installed in the next few days. So if you see flying saucers near gift hill, just wave.
Happy Holidays To All.
We finally were able to get back to our happy place. As of today there are no direct flights from Newark, JFK or Philly. We are told they will resume in the first quarter, but this made our planning difficult. We ended up on United (who claims to have no flights to St Thomas). Had a layover in Puerto Rico with Seaborne taking us to St Thomas. Just takes a little more thought. Our return was on American with a layover in Miami.
As a whole, St John is returning much faster than we expected. The island is GREEN. At this point most businesses are open. Not all, but most. The courageous islanders are in good spirit. The Westin and Caneel are down, but a number of Villas and small boutique hotels are open. Most of the Car rental firms are open. Slim mans and L&L have parking available. All grocery stores we visited were well stocked.
Beaches. Well here is the difference. Not much shade from palms on most beaches. The national park service had cleaned up and opened most north shore beaches. The only one they have not gotten to yet was Maho. Watch our vid of Maho on the FB page. Even though it had not been cleaned up, there were a number of people snorkeling and swimming. We did see turtles popping their heads up. Hawksnest was as wonderful as ever. Little fish nipping at your feet always makes me smile.
Amenities at the beaches have not fully returned. There are no restaurants or bars. There are rental stands for snorkel gear and chairs. Porta potties are available, but the showers were not in operation at Trunk as of our visit. Not all of the debris has been removed, but we were told that is being taken care of quickly.
Heading over to Coral bay side, we did not stop at Anaberg, so no update about it. I wonder if the defiant tree which used to grow out of the top of the ruins made it? It was always an inspiration to us. We put up a FB video of Chateau Bordeaux before it was cleaned up. Tremendous damage. The most amazing thing was the number of homes which are now visible to us for the first time.
Driving down centerline to Coral Bay one goes from no damage to the appearance of a war zone. There is a bright side to this as the BVI's are incredibly visible. Beautiful string of green pearls on the blue background. Yup, we stopped so i could get pics. I r a tourist again!
This was the first trip where we simply dropped in on our friends with out pre ranging a visit. No cell service either at Villa Tesori or on the East End. We stopped out to see Catherine Perry and Sloop Jones.
Before getting to them, we drove by Skinny's. Much work was going on and we were told they expected to be open mid December. NEW ROOF! We wanted lunch and stopped by Aqua Bistro, but it did not appear open. However, Wok on the Beach was. We never ate there before. Thoroughly recommend it. We both had their grilled cheese. Comfort food for an emotional trip. Very nice setup. Bistro tables with ocean view, small bar. Friendly service and happy guests.
Heading off to Catherines is always fun. I used to enjoy off roading and Catherines place is past Carolina Corral. The storms have not been kind to roads in the VI. Secondary roads have become more interesting. I tried to get Lisa off road couple times to no avail. This trip finally did the trick. Lisa drove and I can confirm this would be the equivalent of a Green trail. Lisa is now an official off roader! Ginger the Jeep handled the road like a champ. 4WD is suggested if you get off the main roads. To all you off roaders, grab a jeep and enjoy until they fix the roads!
Catherine was surprised and happy to see us. She made out very well from the storms. She has had a number of guests stay at her place since. Most have worked with her and other groups cleaning up roads or helping locals. She pointed to where a tornado just missed her home. It appeared like a large knife was dragged up the hill. We mentioned that one of the Parrot Fish post lights at our place was actually a Flying fish and now awol. She promised to fit a replacement into her schedule.
Sloop was also happy to see us. He is truly a kind and special soul. There are quite a few people staying at his place. A camper and Tent are already in use and everyone appears to be in good spirits. His studio lost the second floor and one of his outbuildings took flight. It landed up the hill in one piece. Discussions about how to retrieve the errant building are underway. The debris from his second floor in all collected, arranged for future use. Nothing will go to waste. There Is a plan to put up a couple Yurt's on the second floor to help out with the local housing issue.
Sloops Cottage was being re-screened as we were there and should be ready for guests soon. He even recently re-roofed his lower art studio and is planning on getting back to painting decorative clothing. All in all it was an inspirational visit.
Back to Cruz Bay.
While visiting Ruth at the Spice Shop we ran into some of the linemen who are working relentlessly returning power to the VI. They had their families with them and were planning a beach day. Everyone in the store thanked them and wished them a wonderful day at the beach. The shop itself showed no change. Still well stocked and smelled as wonderful as ever. Managed to get a new painted wine glass. It has the petroglyph on it.
Lisa lost one of her petroglyph earrings and we had to replace it at Patton. They were very helpful and able to sell us just the one we needed. Even polished the old one for her. We then headed off to Caravan. One of our friends had broken a ring and Radha was kind enough to swap it out for us. Mongoose Junction did not appear to have any issue we saw.
Always have to stop by Sun Dog when at Mongoose Junction. We were having a drink when someone told Lisa they knew her. Alexi had bartended for the ACC gala last year and recognized her laugh. (We hosted the Gala last year.) We commiserated about what a wonderful event it was and how well the ACC is doing now. Multiple relief flights taking all the cats and dogs stateside for adoption.
Off to see Ryan at the ACC. Small number of animals at the shelter so we were not needed to walk dogs this visit. They are doing well. Saw a number of other friends volunteering there, moving supplies. Hoping to have one more relief flight for the animals, collecting them from the surrounding islands.
All in all, the island is back. Not perfect, but it is definitely back. Ready for tourists? Some palm trees are missing and rebuilding will go on for years. But, the fish and turtles are about. Beaches are beautiful, sand is soft, water is warm. Sam and Jacks are selling wonderful to go lunches. Boo at CBL is still mixing a mean Rum Punch. Ferries almost back to normal schedule. The beauty of St. John and its people are visible and welcoming today. After visiting and talking to friends, it still soothes my soul. So yes, i think St. John is back.
Now, about Villa Tesori.
We were blessed. Not only did we have minor damage, but we had a whole house generator. Both of us are certain that we would have had much more damage without it. Our wonderful property manager John Brego and his amazing crew were able to get our place dry right away. No mold issues.
Yes, we lost some doors and windows. We have 2 maids closet doors on order, but the damaged ones are in place and usable. They do not interfere with guests comfort. 2 windows are also on order. One in the apartment, which has a temp window installed. The other is in the upper turret bathroom, which is generally left open for ventilation when using the bathroom. We have the window which can be screwed in temporarily, but that would keep the humidity trapped in the bathroom.
All of the exterior deck fans were a loss. We have replaced the main fan in the rotunda. I really enjoy how much air it moves. Skeeters will have a tough time flying against that wind! Negative is that people with contacts might get dry eye. The others are on order and should be installed soon.
On to the surprising things.
If you have been to Villa Tesori, or have seen pictures, my main thought was that our Gazebo would be toast. All the way at the end of the deck. Huge sail of a roof, just asking to be lifted to parts unknown. But, nothing happened to it. The grill, ice maker, and fridge are all still there an working. Though one thing did occur which we had not considered. While we understood that hurricanes whipped rain around like a wild banshee, we forgot that most of the rain was salt water. Salt water whipped at hundreds of miles an hour into a structure, be it walls, windows, doors.....or electrical outlets....Yup the exterior electrical was fried.
I think we spent about 3 days replacing outlets, switches and pulling wire. The wind had forced water past the covers, switch plates and into the conduit. POOF, no power. I became very familiar with the layout of Paradise lumber. Ran into a number of friends and became friends with Brian who owns it. Im a likable guy, but the fact that i bought a ton of stuff probably helped....lol.
The second thing which surprised us was the new exterior door on the apartment looked aged. It took a direct assault from the wind driven rain and shows it. The finish appears to be stripped off. The amazing part was the rain forced into the joints of the door. Normally this would just create an issue requiring some sanding. However Salt water when it dries leaves salt crystals.....which expand, creating cracks.
My third unexpected discovery was the hinges, handles and fixtures on the exterior were essentially sand blasted by the rain. While they all work, we are replacing them prior to the next hurricane season. As well as some additional windows. Rather safe than sorry.
Hope this helped any inquiring minds about the island or Villa Tesori.
Have a Wonderful Holiday Season.
See you at the bar!
Brian and Lisa.
Ps. It's snowing in Pennsylvania today and we want to go home!!!
An interesting thing has happened since we bought Villa Tesori. My wife has picked up the habit of giving all the friends who visit Villa Tesori island nicknames. Many of our island friends go by nicknames and for the life of me I'm not sure i know all their real names.
It all started on the trip that we bought the house. We were joined on this trip by our friends Scott and Jeanine. Lisa had never seen Scott out of a suit and had some concerns that he would fit in with our island of misfits. One hour into our first visit to Quiet Mon that concern had disappeared, along with a large number of drinks. The discussion ensued about how different people are on island vs. stateside. Jeanine pointed out that it was Roxi who is the fun loving person getting Earl (Scott) into trouble.
Roxi and Earl? One can't always be the fun loving person they are at heart and live in the real world. A few more drinks and Lisa was now fully engaged with the alter ego idea and named herself Trixi. I have no idea where it came from, but from that point on it was Trixi and Roxi.....Two castaways from an 80's girl band. I however had not yet gotten a nickname....Trixi and Roxi were on a mission....I din't care either way, but a happy wife is a happy life.
As it turns out one of our friends was on island staying on Gibney Beach. I have a decades long relationship with Joy and her family so we all stopped over to visit them. While our favorite beach is Maho, I think everyone should try and see Gibney at some point. Incredible history and pristine conditions.
Pancho is Joy's husband and an incredibly nice guy. He does have a dry sense of humor, and is known to enjoy practical jokes. We all were wading in the amazing warm water when I saw a small ray swimming near Scott and I. Pancho works for the Smithsonian and had previously worked for the USVI national park on some projects. I asked him what type of ray it was.....which is where I got my name.
I now need to describe Pancho a bit better. He is originally from Venezuela and has a wonderful accent. So after asking him about the ray, he looked at me and I knew I was about to get played. In his most serious scientific voice he said.....Oh, my.....that is the two step ray.....one step, two step.....your dead!
Lisa, Scott and Jeanine attempted to walk on water getting to the beach....Pancho was laughing, I just looked at Joy and asked...Really? I will point out that Pancho also got us one more time that trip, having us eat the mango's forcing our teeth to scrape against the skin....getting the juice all over your face....He only does this to friends...
So I am now Two step ray....or Ray for short.
Along the way we have picked up others. It seems to have taken on a life of its own.
Trip...for his ability to take in the beauty of the island and not pay attention to where his feet were going.
Flo....the bottles of wine never seemed to stop pouring.
Nemo....short for Captain Nemo. He is happiest in a boat, watching boats or in the water exploring.
Rufie....dont let her make you a drink if you want to remember the rest of your day.
Roadie.....there is no open container law in the USVI, on vacation no reason not to start in the car.
Lovie....She wore dresses and full makeup/jewelry the whole trip.
Cecil De Feesh....we could barely get him out of the water long enough to eat.
One of our friends is bothered that no one can remember her nickname. (Lisa and I blame this in Rufie). However we decided she will have to come back and find it again.
All our group love their names and now use them stateside as well.
Do any of you have island names?
We were supposed to head to our happy place a few weeks ago, but fate's fickle paw intervened. Our Portuguese Water Dog Boomer was chasing a squirrel. The evil squirrel dove left, Boomer followed.....almost. Three of Boomers legs followed his nemesis, the last one not so much.
It was obvious to us when he came in that something was wrong. He put no weight on the left rear leg. Our vet said to give it time. The X-ray was undetermined. So we waited a few days to see if he improved. He did not.
We asked for a referral to a local doggie surgeon. When pulling up there was an animal ambulance out front. Quite comforting. A number of X-ray's later it was determined that our friend had torn his CCL, the doggie equivalent of an ACL. Apparently this is a common injury, our referred Doctor specializes in it.
Surgery was recommended with a recovery of 3-6 months. Essentially crating him for the first 6-8 weeks. Leash walks for normal dogie business for the first 8 weeks. No stairs....we have many stairs. Brian ended up carrying the poor guy in and out for weeks, holding him for his business the first week post surgery.
We were supposed to head to the island in 2 weeks. So the trip had to be cancelled. Which is where this becomes relevant to St. John and Villa Tesori. We own the home, so no loss of deposit. For those of you who have visited lately, you've seen Ginger, our Jeep, (my favorite car!) So we don't lose any deposit on a vehicle.
We never attempted to cancel airfare before. Thus the Blog. To say they were unhelpful would be a understatement. Brian books the air. It never occurred to us to buy trip insurance. Having now gone through the hassle (Brian on hold with the fight club section of United Airlines), I suggested to him that we consider the insurance next time. I got a glare and grunt, so Im pretty sure we will be buying the insurance next time.
As for Boomer (Terror of all Vermin), he is doing well. He now can be tethered on our deck. The squirrels and chipmunks he despises sprint a few feet in front of him taunting the poor guy. We are positive he is plotting a horrible demise for them.
Moral of the story, don't chase Squirrels unless you have Trip Insurance.
There are a few of us who have caught the St. John bug. It can be all consuming, here are a few signs to watch out for.
You click on one of the dozens of web cams from St. John every day. (Guilty, we click on Tesori's cam a few times a day.)
The calendar you use to keep track of your days is from St. John...I have sticky notes stuck to this years until the new ones come out. (we grab our Steve Simonsen Calendars from Ruth's place. Along with St. John Super Spice!)
You have discovered dozens of uses for St. John Super Spice and are in mourning when it runs out.
You have a carefully hoarded container of St. John Salt gathered from Salt Pond when it was dry. (and you don't share it)
When someone calls our little island "St John's", it is like fingernails on a chalkboard and you want to club them like El Kabong!
Your entire casual wardrobe represents our little part of the planet. Brian's entire T-Shirt collection somehow comes from here. Foxy's, Rum Hut, Skinny's, Palm Tree Charters (Hi Bridget and Jimmy!)
Hats....OMG, Brian has over 40 hats from here...and he keeps buying more...I bring up his obsession with hats and he just says the word "shoes" and I drop it....but if you have over a dozen hats from here you might be an addict!
Your car appears to be held together by Island related bumper stickers. Some dipstick backed into my rear bumper and we are now re-stickering the bumper. A wonderful reason to make more trips home!
You have a chalk board in your house that counts down until your next trip....Mine is in wakeups! I have seen people with app's that track and have it as a tag line in their email.
You visit the Virgin Islands Online or trip advisor St. John pages every day. Yup, but we advertise on VIOL....so I'm not an addict....lol.
The wallpaper on your computer or phone is related to St. John....ours is Tesori and turtle pictures from Maho.
Your friends invite you to the Jersey shore or Chesapeake Bay and you cringe......Thank you, but i can't see my feet in that water.
While out, someone grabs your wrist and says.....OMG, thats the St. John bracelet.....or petroglyph bracelet.....and new friends are found. (Has happened to both Brian and I)
You ask restaurants for "to go cups" and the waitress looks at you like you need therapy.
You need a sticky note on your steering wheel when you get back to remind you to drive on the right side of the road. (Thats me)
Most of your friends on social media are island related.
You have all the ingredients necessary to make painkillers at home.
Your kitchen cabinets hold a precious collection of plastic cups from Soggy, High Tide, Snorkels (the big one!) and other bars.
After getting state side it takes a few days to remember to flush after number 1....water is precious.
You have Schnell pottery and light fixtures in your stateside home and you light up when someone asks "what is that?" Grab a drink and go into island mindset, explaining the wonders of St. John.
At a party, someone brings up St. John and says...."I would never want to go back to the same place all the time". They are a whiner....my response is "You are right, please don't come (and whine on our beautiful island) You should go to Disney!"
You pull into a parking lot and notice a St. John related bumper sticker.....and stalk the owner to start a conversation. Happens to us once or twice a month.
You have convinced your friends that drinking before noon does not make you an alcoholic....(just a pirate). Our friend Elaine just fell to the dark side.
You have memorized Feet, Fins and 4wd.
You have the Cruise Ship schedule for St. Thomas saved as a favorite on your browser. Gotta make sure your beach time is well spent!
You begin to consider DEET a cologne.
You have get togethers with your Island friends you found through the message boards when you are on Island, calling everyone by their board names.
You start shopping on one of the local realtors web sites. Its almost like being on House Hunter International. We recommend Gretchen from Cruz Bay Realty.
Drink right, Drive left.....at least on St. John!
If anyone has any other symptoms, please drop me a line.
An addition from BillVT on the VIOL board:
You get suckered into being on the board of your small time-share's homeowners association and find it almost as much work as a full time job. Good thing you're retired. But once a month, you have a conference call with six other self inflicted sufferers like yourself to discuss WAPA rates, insurance, thread counts, deck furniture and how to sell off the last weeks left in inventory that just happen to be in hurricane season. Somehow you've made your addiction into a job.
We are often asked, What should we bring to St John? What do you recommend for families? Groups of adults?
Here are a few thoughts:
If someone whines at home, you can count on them whining in St. John. The beauty and tranquility you see will get droned out by the insistent annoyance of whiners.
Villa Tesori offers plenty of room. Private balconies off of each of the 4 main suites. Read a book, or enjoy a glass of wine with that special someone. Brian and I enjoy our mornings alone on our balcony. Drinking coffee and catching up with each other and the world. If you discover a whiner in your group....hide on the private decks...Throwing them off the deck might destroy the solar panels.
While the master bedroom deck is amazing, we only spend time there when it is the 2 of us in the house. We would suggest drawing straws or rolling dice to see who gets what room. The apartment is amazing with a king and full kitchen. Secluded for privacy or for the younger crowds that want to get away.
One vehicle for two couples is ok, preferably one vehicle per couple. Not everyone is going to want to do the same thing. You are on vacation, St John has a great deal to offer. Dining and snorkeling with the same people all week can strain friendships at times.
I hate to use the word plan, but plan a beach day. Make sure everyone knows where to go and what time to leave. St John offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We provide chairs, towels, snorkel gear and coolers. No glass is permitted on the beach. Go to the beach early or late, the masses usually get there at 10 and are gone by 3. Check the cruise ship schedule, Trunk can look like the Jersey shore when multiple cruise ships drop their tourists off.
When you do plan a beach day, make sure everyone knows when you are leaving to and from the beach. There is always one Pokey Puppy in every group which will force everyone to wait for them. State a "wheels up" time to leave for the beach. If they want to sleep in, they can catch up. The same for return trips....perhaps you got lucky and have a Manta or Eagle Ray in the water and some of the group want to stay longer. Having an extra vehicle at the beach will let others get on about their day.
If you like to snorkel, bring an underwater camera. Or, rent one from St John Beach Bum. It is located next to the ferry dock in Cruz Bay. We love to review our pictures when stuck in Pennsylvania. A picture of turtles or blue tang (Dori can be found at Ditleff) makes a boring day in Pennsylvania better...
Dine in a few nights. Villa Tesori has incredible sunsets most of the year. Brian and I love to watch the sunset, cook on the grill then go into town. We also enjoy just sitting in the rotunda watching the cruise ships slip by, drinking and listening to the Coqui's. Cruise ships at night look like floating christmas trees. There are apps that will tell you the name of the ship, where it is going and where it has been. It is fun to think about all the people on those ships with 3000 of their closest friends while enjoying a quite evening in. We use Shiptracker.
Break out the binoculars or telescope at night. Amazing views of the sky are available from VT.
Have a Villa Gravity day......allow Villa Tesori to keep you all day. Plan ahead, Start the blender early and enjoy what the home has to offer. Put on sunscreen early and often. There is plenty of shaded area at the gazebo or the rotunda to stay safe. Get creative with the margarita machine. The gazebo ice maker should keep up, but if not St John market is a few minutes away.
If you want to go out to eat make reservations ahead of time. This is especially important during high season. Zozo's, Asolare and others get packed. Call ahead for reservations. WEEKS in advance. Find out what time sunset is and bring your camera.
Charter a boat or go out on one of the group tours. It is a short trip to the BVI's. Go to the Soggy Dollar, Jump from the Willy T. Shop at Pussers Landing. Visit Foxy's and listen to him rhyme a song about where you are from. To get the captain you want, it might be necessary to make reservations many months in advance.
Take a day and visit Coral Bay. Get a burger at Skinny Legs. Take a Sloop Jones workshop and create your own shirt. Go to salt pond and look at all the visitor created sculptures.
Ladies, we are sorry, but your hair will get frizzy. St John is a tropical island with high humidity. We do provide hair dryers. Bring conditioner and a smile, everyone's hair will be frizzy. St. John is also a makeup optional...you will sweat, Raccoons are not native to the Virgin Islands. Don't worry, everyone else will sweat as well!
If you go into town at dusk or later, you might want to wear long pants. Villa Tesori is 700 feet up and has nice breezes. Cruz bay and Coral Bay are not as breezy. There is a higher chance of noseeums in town. Long pants can help prevent bites. Remember to put on bug spray when going into town for the evening.
Seat belts. There is no open container law on St. John (we recommend against drinking and driving), but seat belts are mandatory. If you don't want to be pulled over by the local constabulary, wear your seat belt. It is also against the law to talk on a cell phone and drive on St John. Wait until you get to town or the villa to return that call!
Drink right, drive left. Every trip down we are nearly hit by some tourist not paying attention to the road. Yes, it is the most beautiful place on earth, but you want to get home in one piece.
The locals are comfortable on our windy roads. If they are on your tail, pull over and let them pass. Some of our local drivers could challenge Mario...
Road obstacles...We have some unusual traffic on our little rock. Sheep, Goats, Donkeys and the occasional wild boar will get in your way. Just take out your camera and click away.....the rest of us do as well. Pull over first!
Construction traffic. Occasionally you might get stuck behind a truck. Give them a safe distance. Brakes fail. Do not tailgate, especially trucks going up hill!
If you are out and about remember to reapply sun screen. Sun burns are no fun. You might also want to consider investing in rash guard shirts. I burn next to a light bulb, so an extra level of protection is self preservation for me.
Gatorade type water drops. You can buy these at nearly every grocery store (we get ours in bulk from amazon). Put a couple drops in your water bottle and instant gatorade. The sun is really draining if you are out playing. Much cheaper alternative than buying the pre made sports drinks on island. They cost about 6 dollars via amazon prime.
If the power is out on island, relax. Villa Tesori has a generator. Bring the party back to VT, or sit at a local bar and enjoy the view!
Wifi....we have 2 separate wifi services plus are able to get data via ATT. Data rates range from 512k to 14mb, subject to Jumbies and weather conditions.
Food products are more expensive on St. John. It is an island, everything must be imported. We generally bring down frozen meat, fresh veggies (tomatoes, carrots, peppers) and cheese. Brian loves cheese, and quality cheese might as well be priced in bitcoin!
We use small coolers that are effective as carry on items. Ensure the meat is frozen and pack everything around that. Also make sure that the cooler is full, otherwise items warm up too quickly.
Food and Drink budget. You can work this out as you wish, but it has been known to cause problems. One person or couple does not pay for their fair share. Figure this out ahead if possible. It can help prevent unhappy friends and family.
As a request, bring down pet treats, supplies. If you have time drop them off at the St. John Animal Care Center, or leave them on them Island in the kitchen as you leave. We will have the items dropped off for you. Thanks for your support!
As we own a lot on Ditleff Point, explore this special place. There is a key card on one of the set of house keys. If you want to have a secluded unique snorkel, Ditleff is amazing. It is a rocky beach with private access. 5 minute ride from VT. There is rarely anyone on the beach. Walk to the end of the point, it is worth the hike!
Go out for a night and listen to some wonderful music. There are many musicians on island and schedules of who is playing where are available via the venues. Also, Sunday night open mike night at Sun Dog Cafe is wonderful! Local talent and Tourists get up and perform.
If anyone has ideas to add, just email, respond in comment or messenger. We will be happy to put up helpful ideas.
Enjoy your time in Paradise.
On our last trip to Villa Tesori friends joined us. Tom like myself gets up at what our wives refer to as O'dark thirty. This is great for all of us as he and I can manage to get into and out of trouble before the girls even get out of bed.
Early morning snorkeling is our usual activity. Arriving at the beach as there is enough light to see usually means you have the beach to yourself. I hadn't gotten to snorkel as much last trip as we ran the 8 tough miles, well walked most of it, but we finished.
We were all out at dinner Wednesday evening (Vista Mare-LOVE IT!!!) and the wine was flowing. Tom and I were discussing where we wanted to go snorkel the next morning....and the girls decided they wanted to go as well (did I mention the volume of wine consumed?) The girls might have over imbibed (duh), but Tom and I thought ok wheels up at 7:15. After a few guy smirks we said, no worries, we will wake you up! Which led to the next mornings conversation between Lisa and Annie..."this sounded like a much better idea last night."
We all piled into the Jeep and drove to Maho. The beach was completely empty at 7am. Dropped our chairs and towels on the beach and hit the water. It didn't even take 50 feet until we saw the first turtle. For the next hour it was non stop turtle mania. I have never seen so many at once.....I had been following one and he led me to 3 others...Video below. One of them darted off before the camera started rolling.
As we were getting out of the water a flock of pelicans were strafing up and down the beach chasing a school of baitfish. Tom managed to get in the school and got a look inside a mini feeding frenzy.
As we finished our hour long snorkel, the girls were heard saying "
Glad we made it, but never again" Apparently hangover over rules turtles. No matter, Tom and I will be back!!!
Lisa and Brian blog about their adventures on St. John and the experience of owning Villa Tesori.