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Boston Buffett Guy in Paradise - The Final Chapter

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Boston Buffett Guy in Paradise - The Final Chapter

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Here is the final installment of my trip report…

June 29

We survived the evening’s rain, but the mosquitoes were another matter. I spent all night listening to mosquitoes buzzing in my ear. When I got up, my wife counted 23 mosquito bites on my back. Ouch! When we went to the Jeep, we found a flock (if that’s the appropriate word) of mosquitoes happily residing in it. We made the mistake of leaving the sides open on the Jeep (with Courtesy’s ok). Not a good idea. My wife used her best mosquito shooing technique, and we were on our way.

As an aside, there was mosquito netting on our bed. We assumed it was there for decorative purposes. On our last day in the villa, we actually read the instructions that the owner left for us. It states that, when mosquitoes are bad, you should use the mosquito netting. Oops!

This was Reef Bay trail day. We hiked the Reef Bay trail on our last trip, but without the National Park guide. The walk downhill was fun, but the walk back up was definitely not. This time, we planned to explore the trail as part of the National Park guided hike. A park ranger leads the hike and, more importantly, a boat is waiting at the bottom to transport you back to Cruz Bay. If you decide to do this, you should call the National Park several weeks in advance to reserve a spot.

We stopped off at the Mongoose Deli for breakfast and a packed lunch, and parked at the Courtesy Car Rental place. With the limited parking in Cruz Bay, it really helped to have Courtesy’s parking area available to us.

We got to the National Park center at 9:15 am, where we met the other people on the hike. The group was a little larger than I had expected – about 30 people. We also met our guide, Ranger Golda, who was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We were then transported by taxi to the trail head. We started down the trail, with Ranger Golda explaining both the local history and the natural sights along the way. My wife, being the science teacher that she is, took an eight year old under her wing, and pointed out all the stinking toe trees, land crabs, millipedes, termite mounds, golden orb spiders, etc. My wife was loving it! We got to the petroglyphs by 12:30 pm, where we stopped for lunch. Even with all the rain, the waterfall was just a trickle. But, the spot was enchanting just the same. After lunch, we continued on to the Reef Bay ruins. There were hundreds of bats in the rafters of the ruins, which was kinda cool. We then continued on to the beach, where the Sadie Sea was waiting for us. We were taken by dinghy to the Sadie Sea, and then departed for Cruz Bay. I had never boated the south side of St. John, and so I really enjoyed the ride. The waters were a bit rough because, as Ranger Golda explained, a tropical wave was on the way. I am still not sure what a tropical wave is.

We arrived back in Cruz Bay at 3:00 pm. We headed over to the Beach Bar for drinks and a bite. I didn’t like the Beach Bar at all. We ordered the nachos, which were (I’m afraid to say) terrible. How can you ruin nachos?

We headed back to the villa, where I soaked in the hot tub and took a nap in the hammock. We then went to Stone Terrace for dinner. This restaurant is another keeper. We sat on the balcony, with the sounds of the St. John festival in the background. I started with the lobster bisque and oysters rockefeller (appropriate for St. John), moved on to tuna with a peppercorn topping, and finished with a sorbet. It was all wonderful. We also enjoyed chatting with our waiter, who had recently studied in Spain. After a crazy day, it was a very relaxing night.

June 30

The plan was a trip to JVD on board Survivan with Capt. Jason. I was really looking forward to a day of sailing, hanging at Foxy’s, and swimming over to the Soggy Dollar Bar. Unfortunately, the tropical wave got in the way.

We awoke to pounding rain and wind. We then received the fateful call from Capt. Jason – the trip to JVD was cancelled. We ate breakfast at the villa, and thought about what to do next. We decided to explore a new beach – Francis Bay. After more mosquito shooing in the Jeep, we were on our way.

I don’t have the right words to describe Francis Bay Beach. Suffice it to say, it looked just like a Corona commercial. Incredibly, there was NOONE there. Shortly after getting to Francis Bay, the skies cleared and the sun started to shine. I left my snorkeling gear at the villa, so I just sat on the beach and soaked up the beautiful view. The center of Francis Bay is clear of reef and rocks, which makes it a great spot for swimming or just lounging in the water. I did a couple of laps, while my wife hung out on the beach attempting to coax crabs out of their holes with an offering of mussels. The beach was still fairly quiet when we left.

We went back to Skinny Legs for lunch and still more World Cup. I had more painkillers than I can remember in honor of the cancelled trip to JVD.

We then headed over to Cinnamon Bay for the afternoon. Along the way, we stopped off at Colombo’s Café for a mango smoothie. We waited 30 minutes for the smoothie, which tested our ability to live on island time. But, the smoothie was totally worth it. We chatted with the smoothie guy, who said that he used to work in the pit crew for Dale Earnhardt. It seems like everyone living on St. John has an interesting life story.

We got to Cinammon Bay Beach at about 2:30 pm, and the beach was packed. I snorkeled around the left side, then over to Little Cinammon Beach. With the tropical wave that day, the surf was choppy and the visibility was poor. I did find the remains of the old plane propeller, which was not terribly interesting to look at, but was exciting to actually find. I decided to skip on snorkeling out to the cay because of the surf and visibility issues.

We left Cinammon Bay and got to the villa just in time to miss the next round of torrential rains. We tried to make reservations for dinner at Chateau Bordeaux, but it was booked. So, we tried a fairly new restaurant in Coral Bay – Sweet Plantains. This is a quiet, romantic spot with a Cuban, Spanish feel. It typified everything I love about Coral Bay – it was casual with a funky edge. I very much recommend it. I started with the spicy crab cakes served on plantain chips, moved on to the mahi mahi in a West Indian curry style, and finished with the coconut flan in rum sauce. You can’t find a meal like that in New England. It was delicious.

We lingered at Sweet Plantains for a long time before returning to the villa, where my wife went mosquito hunting.

July 1

We went back to the Donkey Diner for another great breakfast.

We then headed over to the Lameshur area to check out Little Lameshur Bay Beach. Marty had warned me that Lameshur Road would be “bumpy,” and he wasn’t kidding. Lucky for me, I had gained valuable skills going up and down “Hesitation Hill,” so I was prepared for the ride. We arrived at the beach at about 9:30 am, and found noone in sight. We walked over to the ruins, where we spent the next hour fishing for tarantulas. There are a number of small holes on the beach side of the ruins, each housing a tarantula. We would take a long piece of grass, insert the grass into a hole, and wiggle it around until we felt something tugging on it. We would then reel the grass in, give it slack, and reel it in until a tarantula poked its head out. Most of the time, the tarantula would see us and dart back into the hole. But, there was one feisty tarantula that grabbed onto the grass and wouldn’t let go. We raised him a couple of inches off the ground before he let go, ran around a bit, and then scurried back into the hole. Wearing sandals, I was a bit concerned for my toes. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, my wife then spent the next half hour feeding caterpillars to the tarantulas. She is truly a sick, sick woman.

The ruins also provided a good vantage point over the bay. We were able to watch a spotted eagle ray as it swam around the bay. I then hit the beach to go snorkeling, but as with Cinnamon Bay the day before, the visibility was poor. I sat on the beach and spent the rest of the morning watching the pelicans (more than I’ve seen anywhere else on St. John) dive into the water. We were at Little Lameshur Bay Beach for three hours, and only saw two other people.

We then went to Miss Lucy’s for lunch. We really enjoyed it, and were sorry that we found it so late in our trip. We sat right on the water, with a spectacular view of Friis Bay. I had the conch fritters (the best of this trip) and the grouper reuben. The food was fantastic. We kept entertained by petting a goat that was passing through and feeding the rooster.

We went to Francis Bay for our final beach excursion of the trip. Francis Bay was a bit busier today, and it had the same visibility problem as Cinnamon Bay and Lameshur. The snorkeling was nonetheless pretty good. I snorkeled the right side out to Mary Point, and found lots of barracuda and stingrays.

We went back to the villa, where we tried to make reservations for Chateau Bordeaux again. Still booked. So, we decided to go back to our new favorite restaurant on St. John – Zo Zo’s. We asked for Dana as our waitress. Once again, we were seated at the rail for the sunset. I enjoyed the bruschetta, an entrée of pan seared tuna, and the tiramisu for dessert. I also splurged on a glass of Tignanello to accompany the meal. Yum! My wife shared our tarantula stories with Dana, who in turn shared similar tarantula stories about Peace Hill.

We headed back to the villa where we packed for the next day. I then soaked in the hot tub one last time, watching the stars, and looking down at the lights in Coral Bay.

July 2

All good things must come to an end. I awoke with the local rooster at 5:45 am, and snapped some pictures of the sunrise. I then sat on the deck for the next three hours, trying hard to appreciate every last moment. I jotted an entry in the villa’s journal, and we hit the road for one last trek down “Hesitation Hill.” We went to the Mongoose Deli for breakfast, before dropping off the Jeep at Courtesy. We took the 11:00 am ferry over to St. Thomas, where we planned to have lunch at Café Amici before leaving for the airport. We forgot it was Sunday. Just about everything was closed. We finally found an outdoor spot called the Happy Buzzard. It’s not much to look at it, but it had a special on rum punch. We kicked back for two hours, before taking a taxi to the airport, and returning home.

I really want to thank everyone on the forum who provided me with the island tips and advice that helped to make this a magical trip.

I hope these entries are useful to you in your own quest for the perfect beach or a cranky tarantula…

P.S. When I returned home from vacation, I learned that my co-worker was stung repeatedly by a group of Portuguese man of war while swimming off the coast of Massachusetts. And I thought my week was adventurous!

Posted : July 12, 2006 10:24 pm
Posts: 2026
Noble Member

Your trip report chapters have been entertaining and helpful. I am sorry to have reached the end.

Sorry to hear bout your colleague and the Man o War stings in MA.

This line in your report made me laugh-

"We raised him a couple of inches off the ground before he let go, ran around a bit, and then scurried back into the hole. Wearing sandals, I was a bit concerned for my toes. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, my wife then spent the next half hour feeding caterpillars to the tarantulas. She is truly a sick, sick woman."

Admit it, you fed them the caterpillars as well.......didn't you? 😉


Posted : July 12, 2006 11:51 pm
Posts: 112
Estimable Member

I truly felt I was right there with ya!! Thanks for the wonderful report. I can't wait to eat at Sweet Plantains, their menu looks wonderful and your report confirms that we will be there a couple of times at least. We will not be looking for tarantula's though...ha!

Posted : July 13, 2006 5:59 am
Posts: 238
Reputable Member

Thanks for the enlightening and entertaining trip report. I enjoyed reading about your "nice" meals, especially since my little peeps are members of the non-exotic food club. Because of this we weren't able to stray from the regular food path on our trip, so it was nice to taste vicariously through you. I'll have to remember about the turanchulas, my Lizard Boy would have LOVED that!

Posted : July 13, 2006 11:06 am
Posts: 117
Estimable Member

Loved your report! I especially liked the Tarantula story. Although I'm not a science teacher, I'm right in there with your wife when it comes to creatures... I'll have to try that "poking the blade of grass in the hole" trick when I'm on St. John next year. It's refreshing to hear about someone "feeding" the Tarantulas instead of vanquishing them!

Posted : July 13, 2006 11:27 am
Posts: 1

I really enjoyed your report. Mine's over on the other board--usvi-on-line.

What a coincidence that I guessed right and it was you that we ran into. We also went over to Cinnamon after Francis that day. The current was crazy, wasn't it?

Too funny that you mentioned the Tignanello at Zozo's. John flipped his lid when he saw that on the by-the-glass list!

We did have a great vacation. Thanks for sharing yours.

Posted : July 13, 2006 3:34 pm
Posts: 117
Estimable Member

Awesome report Buffett Guy. Sorry you got hit with the rain and mosquitos we did the week before. It would take a LOT more than that to ruin a week in St. John though. Glad you had a great trip.

Posted : July 13, 2006 4:59 pm
Posts: 44
Trusted Member
Topic starter

I have to thank "St. John Feet, Fins, and Four Wheel Drive" for the tip about finding tarantulas. What a great book!

Bluwater - Well, maybe just one caterpillar...

Liamsaunt - I enjoyed reading your report as well. I'm glad you were able to catch the Pedro Martinez game that I mentioned to you. I watched it at Skinny Legs that night. By the way, tell John he's got great taste in wine. 🙂

Posted : July 13, 2006 8:49 pm
Posts: 274
Reputable Member

Do the Traantulas get in the villas?
I have a serious case of "Arachnophobia"
I will freak if one gets in my villa

Posted : July 14, 2006 11:27 am
Posts: 2026
Noble Member

gobucs, I have never seen one inside a villa. I have seen a giant flying cockroach and lizzards in villas, though....very nice villas.

Posted : July 14, 2006 4:07 pm
Posts: 274
Reputable Member

Lizards no problem
We have huge iguanas here where i live that run wild
We also have Palmetto bugs (Flying Cockroaches)
Those i can handle its just the spider thing

My Husband was laughing cuz i told him i would die if one were to crawl on me in my sleep and he responded
"If that happens im grabbing the camera"
Can you believe he wouldnt even get it off of me he just wants to take a picture- HA HA

Posted : July 15, 2006 9:03 am
Posts: 44
Trusted Member
Topic starter

I think you'll only find a tarantula if you go looking for it. So, don't worry about keeping one eye open when you're sleeping. 🙂

Posted : July 15, 2006 3:19 pm
Posts: 403
Reputable Member

Oo! I bet your wife really was loving everything there was to see since she's a science teacher!

Sounds like, despite the rain, and excellent trip. We didn't get to go to all the places on St. John you did (we only went to Leinster Bay/Watermelon Cay and Annaberg ruins), but we're hooked...we're spending more time on STJ next time. Francis Bay sounds nice...I could imagine it right away when you said Corona commercial. LOL

Posted : July 17, 2006 1:40 pm
Posts: 1634
Noble Member

Thanks so much for the trip report. I still love reading them alot and yours have been great.

I still miss St. Thomas and St. John so much. I never thought I would find a place better then Cayman or Sanibel, but I have.

Working on going back asap.

Posted : July 17, 2006 1:54 pm
Posts: 1

Andrea, there are NO transulas!! Go to Red Hook to Molly Malones........great bar. Mark lives right there in the bay...Gail

Posted : July 17, 2006 2:14 pm

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