St. Thomas, USVI, 2003

Thursday 11/27/03

We woke up at 3:30 a.m. Our friend Tom was staying at our house, and we said goodbye to him and headed to the airport at 4:40. We got there around 5:15. The security line was huge, and it doubled back onto itself. One we finally got through, we had breafast at Burger King. Our flight took off at 7:05. We changed planes in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and arrived in St. Thomas at around 2 p.m. We picked up our rental car (black Mitsubishi Lancer) and stopped at KMart for food and beverages. We arrived at Secret Harbour Beach Resort at around 3:15. This year we were in a building a bit further up the beach, in room 312. It was a ground floor room and was very nicely decorated. It was clearly someone's personal condo; they had gone through a lot of effort to personalize it. In the past, our balcony has opened right onto the beach. In this room it opens to a little stairway which leads to the beach. It was a bit more private than in previous years. We called Marty to tell him we had arrived. He showed up at our room a few minutes later, and the four of us watched the Lions beat the Packers on TV. We had forgotten exactly how to get to Marty and Tiffany's house, so we followed Marty back there. We met their very friendly dog, Freddy. Marty, ever the jokester, tried to convince us that the turkey had shrunken while cooking on their rotissierie (but it turned out that was just a cornish game hen; the real turkey was in the oven and was plenty big). Tiffany arrived home from work and soon their friend Jeff (who works with Marty) arrived. We sat talking for a while and then Marty and Tiffany gave us presents. Last year, Marty had worn a T-shirt that said "My Dixie Wrecked" when we went on Cap'n Marty's Island Hop. Well, Marty and Tiffany had shirts made for each of us which said that on the front, and "Cap'n Marty's Island Hop" on the back. We were so touched because it was such a thoughtful and personal gift. We then ate dinner: turkey, sweet potatoes, Tiffany's secret family recipe stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, veggies, and dip. Tiff had bought a pumpkin praline pie from a friend of hers. Everything was delicious. It was such a comfortable meal. It was like spending Thanksgivng with family.

Marty and Tiffany's place
Thanksgiving dinner - Tiffany, Marty, Steve, Steph, Craig

Friday 11/28/03

Steve takes the wheel

Group shot, with Mattheus, who rented us the boat

Group shot
We woke up at 6:00, showered, and the guys each had a PopTart. We left around 7:15 and headed to Marina Market in Red Hook. We had to park quite a way down the street. We met Tiffany in the store and ordered sandwiches from the deli. There is an official menu now, rather than in past years where you would mark off what you wanted on a slip of paper. Craig got a chicken salad sandwich with dijon mustard, and I got a turkey, cream cheese, and cranberry sauce sandwich (also with dijon mustard). We got the rest of our supplies for the day and then crossed the street to See and Ski, where we rented boat #10 from Matteus. It was a partly cloudy day, and the air and water seemed to be a bit chillier than in previous years. We anchored off St. John near Mick Jagger's house, and noticed that the house next door (under construction) has come a long way since last year. We saw a sea turtle. We checked in at Customs in Tortola, and ate our sandwiches. The dijon mustard was a little excessive, but the sandwiches were good. We anchored off the caves for a while. We got to the Willy T (legendary floating restaurant and bar located off the coast of Norman Island) at noon, and it was already hopping. There were a bunch of kids there at all times, so there were no typical Willy T hijinks. It was very tame. Marty reminded Zeus the bartender that Zeus had coined the nickname "Milky" for Steve last year. Zeus laughed and called Steve "Milky" for the duration of our time aboard Willy T. We each had two painkillers to drink, and chatted with a guy who just didn't "get" our matching Cap'n Marty's T shirts. He kept saying "I'm from Louisiana" as an excuse. He, Marty, Craig, and Steve did a shot ski. After leaving Willy T, Marty let Steve drive the boat for a while. He did a very good job. We tried to go to Bomba's Shack on Tortola, but the sea was too rough to anchor and swim ashore. So instead we went to the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. Swimming to shore was our first time in the water so far on this trip. Marty got the bartender at Soggy Dollar to call Steve "Milky" as well. The bartender asked if he was nicknamed that because he didn't tan well, so we recounted the story of how Zeus named him that (Steve was nursing a drink and Zues asked "Would you like a glass of milk, Milky?"). We each had two more painkillers and we shared some piping hot conch fritters. As we headed back to the boat the bartender called out "Bye, Milky!" The legend lives on.

We headed back to St. Thomas and returned the boat. We got some group photos at the marina in our matching T-shirts. Marty and Steve dug into the cornish game hen from yesterday. Then we walked back to the car. St. Thomas is not a very pedestrian-friendly island. There is no sidewalk and no shoulder, the roads are very windy, and there are cars parked on both sides of the road at all times. Anyway, as we were walking back to the car, my foot slipped and I fell into the road. Luckily an oncoming car stopped. The bag of beer I was carrying fell to the ground and one of the cans started spraying. My knee was a bloody mess, and the driver of one of the oncoming cars yelled out "I'll take on of those beers!" I needed to do something to stop my knee from bleeding, and the only think I had was a maxi pad. So I strapped the pad to my knee with a scrunchy and limped back to the car. I must have been quite a sight. We all went back to the hotel in time for sunset, though I didn't see much of the sunset because I was cleaning my wound. We ordered delivery from Señor Pizza (one mushroom, one sausage, and one pepperoni). It took an hour to be delivered. We chatted and laughed and had a couple of drinks while waiting for it to arrive. Marty and Tiff were tired and had to work the next day. so they left at 8:30. We went to bed at around 9:30 after chilling on the balcony for a while.

Saturday 11/29/03

We got up at around 8 and had a liesurely morning. We sat on the balcony for a while and then made French toast for breakfast. We left the hotel around noon, bound for Coki Point. We stopped at Sunrise Pharmacy in Red Hook on the way to get some gauze for my knee wound. At Coki we parked in a parking lot near an above-ground cemetery that was bedecked with flowers. A man met us in the parking lot offering to rent us snorkel equipment and chairs. We took him up on his offer. He wanted $45 but Craig talked him down to $40. He gave us Milk Bones to feed the fish while snorkeling. Coki is a very funky beach. I really like the vibe there. They play reggae music on the radio, waitresses serve drinks on the beach, and women do hair braiding. Steve ordered a bushwhacker while Craig and I went snorkeling. It was partly sunny, and those times when the sun was out there was very good underwater visibility. There were a ton of yellow and black striped fish. Their behavior was funny; if you held a piece of the dog biscuit in your fingers they would swim closer and closer until one finally got up the nerve to take a bite. Once one did they all converged on you. There were also some larger fish, who were very bright. The fish would swim with you and it was very cool. We went back to shore and ordered bushwhackers while Steve took his turn snorkling. I walked around the beach getting some candids of the locals. We ate some snacks that we had brought. At around 4:00 a shower rolled though, which caused most of the people to leave the beach. We saw a rainbow and waited for the sun to come back out. We left around 4:30. After a brief stop at Marina Market, we arrived at Secret Harbour in time to watch a beautiful sunset and the geckoes eating ants on the balcony. Tiffany and Marty arrived around 7:00. We piled into their Jeep (along with Freddy) and headed to Latitude 18. We sat at our "regular" table (a picnic table set back from the main seating area, right on the water next to all of the sailboats). We got drinks and each did a shot (including the waiter). We ordered a garlic shrimp appetizer. Marty and Tiffany had garlic encrusted tuna steaks. Craig and Steve had New York strip steaks, and I had pasta alfredo. Steve had wanted Chilean sea bass (chili and sea bass?) but they were out of it. For dessert we had a chocolate Charlotte- a pie with brownie crust and chocolate mousse filling. There was a band playing, and we really enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere. Marty and Tiffany dropped us off. Steve, Craig, and I headed out onto the Secret Harbour beach with a drink. I swung on a hammock and we headed out onto the jetty. The moonlight reflected on the water was very beautiful. It was so peaceful. At around 11 o'clock we headed inside and got ready for bed. While trying to fall asleep, Steve heard some drunk woman upstairs singing a heavy metal song, yelling at her boyfriend, slamming the door, and running out onto the beach.
Coki Beach - cemetery and snorkling

Swimming at Coki Point
Snorkeling at Coki
Steve, Craig, and Steph lounging at Coki
Dinner at Latitude 18

Sunday 11/30/03

Secret Harbour

Sunset at Secret Harbour
We woke up at around 8:30. We had a liesurely morning hanging around the room. We had French toast for breakfast. Steve got a massage at 10:00, while Craig and I releaxed on the balcony. After Steve came back, we headed down to the Secret Harbour beach. Steve and Craig sat in beach chairs and I laid in a hammock. We spent the day alternating between the water and the beach. We had some leftover fish food from Coki Point, so we fed the fish. There were some pike which would only eat off the surface of the water, and other fish who would eat below the surface. These fish weren't as eager to eat out of our hands as the ones at Coki had been; only a couple would do it. We went back to our room to find we had a voice mail message that we couldn't figure out how to retrieve. Ernest, the general manager, came by and helped us out (turns out it was an empty message, so the silence we were hearing through the phone was actually the message itself). Steve and I headed down to the on-site Blue Moon restaurant at around 2:30 to get some take-out for lunch. There were two large iguanas there which kept us entertained while we were waiting for the food. The guys got bacon cheeseburgers with fries and I had a chicken quesadilla. We shared an order of crab cakes. We found out that the Patriots/Colts football game was on TV, so we watched it for a while after we ate. At halftime we went out for a swim. We met some fellow New Englanders who were also taking a halftime dip. We went back in to watch more of the game. Craig and I took another quick dip during a commercial. The Patriots won (just barely) and the three of us went back into the water for sunset. We came back inside and after a quick shower Craig and I headed to Marina Market to pick up a few needed provisions. The place was busier than we had ever seen it. As soon as we got back to the room, Marty and Tiffany called to say they were on their way over. When they arrived we went out to the jetty, and hung out there. Then we went back inside and watched some of "America's Funnist Home Videos." They left arond 9. Craig, Steve, and I headed over to Duffy's Love Shack for a drink. It was incredibly dead. We were the only people sitting in the parking lot tables, and there were only a couple of additional people at the bar. Apparently Sunday nights are not a big night on the town on the island. I got a "castaway" (which came in a glass which resembled a bamboo raft, and was decorated wth a compass and a tiny straw hat). Steve and Craig got bushwhackers (Craig's came in a ceramic parrot glass). Steve and I got jerk chicken sandwiches, and Craig got a sandwich which contained chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and onion. We left at around 11:11 and went back to the room. We watched some Sunday night footall and went to bed at around 12:30.

Monday 12/1/03

We woke up at 8 o'clock and had a liesurely morning with cereal, coffee, and orange juice, Tiffany called and said she had arranged a helicopter tour at 1:45. There was only one other person on the flight, which would guarantee us all window seats. We went to the KMart in Tutu to buy Marty and Tiffany a Trivial Pursuit game as a thank you present. It took longer than expected, though, as there were a lot of people starting their Christmas shopping. After that we hit a ton of Charlotte Amalie-bound traffic. We were about five minutes late by the time we reached Air Center Helicopters at the airport. We were introduced to our female pilot and then headed right out onto the tarmac. She started the helicopter and then we boareded. Craig and I were facing forward and Steve was facing backwards. The fourth passenger was sitting up front. It was a gorgeous day, and we had quite the bird's-eye view. We flew over St. John, Tortola, Magen's Bay, etc. It was amazing how well you could see the coral reefs from the air. It was a very comfortable ride, and the motion didn't bother Craig or myself. There were a few times when she made a sudden movement and my stomach seemed to fall - the same sensatiopn as when you crest a hill on a roller coaster. The visibility was great, but our pilot pointed out that some of the dust particles in the air actually came from the Sahara. The flight lasted around 25 minutes. Steve started to feel a bit queasy, and the pilot handled it very well, taking it more easy and announcing her movements before she made them. After the flight we headed into Charlotte Amalie to buy some Christmas presents. We headed back to the room at around 4:30. We watched the sunset from the balcony.

At around 6:30 we headed to Marty and Tiffany's. We gave them the Trivial Pursuit game, said a quick hi to Freddy, and headed to Frenchtown for dinner. We ate at Noche, a restaurant which specializes in Nuevo Mexican cuisine. We got a great table near the rotissierie. The ambiance of the place was great. It was rather dark, and was lit by many pillar candles. Craig and I got Pisco sours to drink (a favorite from our Peru trip) and we sampled Marty's spicy margarita. For appetizers we got flautas and "tableside guacamole", which was made to order by the waitress in heavy lava-rock bowls. For dinner Craig and I got dry rubbed beef tenderloin with garlic cheese mashed potatoes and mango mint chutney. It was delicious, and it was served with a very gourmet presentation. Steve finaly got his Chilean sea bass. (Marty, both the chili and the sea bass were great!) It was a great dinner. Steve and I split a boca negra chocolate dessert. We went back to Marty and Tiffany's for a nightcap and relaxed out on their deck. At around 10:30 we headed back to Secret Harbour. We watched some Monday night football and I dozed on the couch. We went to bed at around 1:00.

Craig and Steph in helicopter
Helicopter view
Aerial view of Coki Point
Aerial View of Magen's Bay

Dinner at Noche

Tuesday 12/2/03

Udder Delite milkshakes
Waiting for milkshakes at Udder Delite

We woke up at 7:30 and packed all of our things. We left the hotel at 10:45 and went to Magen's Point Resort to say goodbye to Marty. He took us next door to Udder Delite at St. Thomas Dairies for milkshakes (w/liquor). I got an Eskimo Sip, Craig got Cool-A-Mint, and Steve got Jamocha. They were delicious! We got to the airport at around 12:30. I got a hot dog, Craig got a burger, and we split some beans and rice. Our flight was delayed in San Juan, so we got home pretty late at night.

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