Friday, May 11, 2012

Fine. Let’s Go To Saint Maarten

As if this week could get any better! I got to fly mid-week on Wednesday to take our passengers a whole five miles away to the island of Saint Maarten.
I’m so glad they decided to fly instead of taking the ferry. Who takes ferries if they have a perfectly good airplane?!
This is our life raft that we keep accessible inside the cabin. It weighs about sixty-two pounds and should only be inflated outside the airplane. Write that down. Outside.
This is one of two nose baggage compartments. Sometimes we keep bags here. It isn’t pressurized, so I don’t put anything valuable here (like my computer or explosive makeup containers). It gets pretty cold in here. And luckily for me…there is a placard reminding me not to put any live pets in here. Live pets wouldn’t be so live after a flight in this compartment.
I also store our gear pins and pitot covers in here. They don’t seem to mind the severe cold or lack of oxygen.
One pin goes into each of the gear: the nose, left, and right main gear. There are two pitot covers on the right side of the airplane, and one on the left.
The bright-red “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” cannot be mistaken. With these still in, we can’t retract the landing gear! Which means we have to stay really slow and thus won’t be able to go far at all. That would be rather awkward to explain to passengers, so I always ensure that the instructions are followed…and that they are removed before flight.
A popular item in any pilot store is a bright-red women’s tank top with these same words. Creative? Not so much. But who says pilots have to be creative?
By straight-line distance the flight from Anguilla to St. Maarten was only 5.7 miles. It took a whole six minutes to get there.
TNCM is St. Maarten. The map is course-up (not north-up), so it is actually backwards in real life. St. Maarten is south of Anguilla. In case you ever come here and don’t want to get lost. I was in two countries today, since St. Maarten is ruled by The Netherlands and Anguilla is British. Look at me, the little world traveler!
I didn’t get my passport stamped in St. Maarten (crap!), but luckily people will believe that I’ve been here because of pictures. Right? You believe me, right?
I love this picture because you can see St. Maarten in the distance with all the mountains. Anguilla, which I am on for this picture, is relatively flat. We are going to fly just a short hop over the Caribbean Sea to St. Maarten. I’m actually sitting in the cockpit of a Phenom 300 for this shot, just before we started engines.
Hi, Anguilla’s Lloyd Tower! Anguilla also has a mini airline which trucks people from Anguilla to other islands in the eastern Caribbean. We actually saw several of these airplanes land in St. Maarten while we were there for the day.
We departed Runway 10 from Anguilla, which took us off towards the east. We circled around to the west the prepare for a RNAV approach to Runway 10 at St. Maarten.
Thanks for blocking the view of my hotel at Meads Bay, Clouds. I’m trying to share the view with my lovely readers, and you’re blowing it for me!
Hello, St. Maarten of the Netherlands! If I was Dutch, I would probably choose to live here rather than the motherland. No offense, freezing-cold European motherland.
The famous St. Maarten’s Sunset Beach is just shy of this runway. This is the beach where people appear to be just a few feet underneath landing Boeing 747s. Luckily, our efficient engines didn’t blow anyone out into the water when we landed. I will share more pictures of this beach on Monday. Lucky you if you can wait!
We put the wind gust lock into the yoke for its day on the ramp. See the “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” tag on the left? That will come out before we leave. Isn’t this a beautiful cockpit?!
Look! Another Citation Sovereign! I see these guys everywhere lately. Is it fate? Should I add it to my Christmas Stocking List?
But I am rather partial to this pretty little lady, who spent the day on the ramp in St. Maarten to work on her tan. Me, too.
On Monday, I will share more pictures of my time spent in this heavenly island. I get a little picture-happy when I am in paradise, and it’s best to break up the dozens and dozens of photos so each gets its proper stardom. Besides, looking at tropical islands is no-doubt boring to most of you, so I will limit how many pictures pop up in a day.
You’re welcome.
As you read this today, I am on my looooooong trip back home. We will stop in Ft. Lauderdale to clear Customs, then continue on to Texas for a fuel stop before making the last leg home. It will be a fun day, but what hasn’t been fun this week. I think I can maneuver the shoulder harness around my slightly-pink shoulders.
Please turn into a tan. Please turn into a tan. Please turn into a tan.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Torture Continues – Tuesday in Anguilla

Waking up to this kind of view on Tuesday morning was something else. Honestly? I could get used to this type of view each morning.
It started out as a pretty strenuous morning anyway. I was awake by 8:00 AM and made the executive decision to stay in bed and read for a while. What a treat! When I’m home, I have too many projects to enjoy some good old-fashioned reading time. It’s very rare to allow myself some down time.
Just twenty steps from my hotel room at the Frangipani Resort in Anguilla, I stumbled upon a beach. This can’t be real, right? I have bruises from trying to pinch myself so much.
I am staying on the west side of Anguilla, facing a beautiful coastal nook called Meads Bay. To the left of me down the beach to the southwest, is a gorgeous resort and more sandy beach.
To the right of me is a five-star resort called the Viceroy and more sandy beach. I know people who are staying here, and I haven’t heard any complaints thus far.
Before me lies the beautiful Caribbean. Swoon.
I really might never leave. Those of you at home can divvy up my personals. I’ve got a swimming suit with me. If only I had Hubby here to enjoy this tropical paradise…
You might not know this about me, but one of my favorite things to do in this entire world is to lay near the ocean, under a cabana, sipping on a cold drink (water, in this case), feeling the sand between my toes while a fresh, cool breeze comes in from the refreshing blue water. I dream big, after all. And during this rough work week, all of those big dreams are coming true.
We timed this trip perfectly. It’s the “off season” right now, so the beaches are mostly empty and seem very secluded. Anguilla is known for being unknown…and it’s a secret little gem that doesn’t receive the massive commercial tourism that other nearby islands experience.
I’m glad for the privacy. It really feels like I have this entire eleven mile-long island to myself. And perhaps a few other guests sharing my nineteen-room resort. But other than that, it’s just me.
I even had a great book to read on my iPod Touch Kindle app. I just started re-reading the Harry Potter series so I can finally read the final book while still remembering what had happened in the previous six books. I finished The Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday and am 20% through The Chamber of Secrets. No spoiler alerts, please. I still don’t know how this series ends…
What? I’ve never been accused of being smart or quick to jump on bandwagons! I’ve been a little slow with finishing this one.
Reading without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else? Truly priceless.
This is one of the two swimming pools on the property. It is located next to the check-in desk and hotel gift shop. There isn’t a single ounce of sugar available for purchase in this hotel gift shop. I checked. It that even legal? No candy to buy?!
So I guess I just found the single thing that could make this trip better, huh?
This is the first view seen when approaching the hotel from the entry dirt road. It really is secluded. I gasped when I first saw this in person during the daytime hours. Isn’t it gorgeous?! Don’t you just want to take off your shoes and jump into that ocean?!
This is the second pool. An infinity pool that peers into the deepest corners of my soul. I haven’t used it but have admired it from the beach cabana where I spent most of my day on Tuesday.
But enough about the hotel…let’s go eat lunch! The Straw Hat is the resort’s resident restaurant, and I was willing to give it a try. My grumbling stomach agreed that this was a good idea. Sitting in a lounge chair by the ocean can be very exhausting! I built up quite an appetite while doing nothing all day.
It is a gorgeous place to eat a late lunch. I was the only one eating at 4:00 PM. See what I mean when I feel like the place is all mine? There was some fun Reggae music playing while the sound of the ocean just feet away lulled me into ordering a delicious meal. It has been the best I’ve had on this trip so far. By far.
It was a tough decision from the menu, but I finally settled on the Jamaican-jerk pulled-pork sandwich. With a mango chutney. I like pork and fruit together on a toasted baguette. How was this not going to be perfect? It was heavenly. Wipe your mouth, please.
It came with some of the coolest fries that I’ve ever had. They were so thin and crunchy yet juicy and soft. Having some Idaho in me from both sides of the family meant that I was probably going to like these, but the taste buds certainly approved.
I had to wash everything down with something. Why not a virgin strawberry daiquiri? I don’t drink alcohol, but it’s always hard to explain that personal stance to a server in a restaurant. I thought I’d go all-out and get a sweet, fruity drink to enjoy. Does the fruit make it healthy? Luckily, it wasn’t very good. Which will thankfully prevent me from ordering one every thirty minutes this week.
The sandwich and fries were very good.
After lunch, it was time to burn off some calories.  *snort*  Just kidding. Calories don’t count on white-sand beaches, thank goodness. But I decided to take a barefoot walk up the beach towards the southern tip of Anguilla. Look at that pretty sun reflecting on the ocean. A person could get used to all of this, if not careful.
Well, shoot. This is not helping me overcome the desire to move here permanently.
My goodness. Would you look at that. No, really. Look loooong and haaaard at this paradise. Why would anyone ever go snow skiing for vacation?!
This has always been one of my favorite sensations. Water trickling in under my toes, and the sand leaving with the water. I love that slow sinking-into-the-sand feeling. Warm water and lots of sand. This is something I always try to imagine when I can’t sleep. I love it.
The distant resort was beautiful and certainly worth the walk.
And just in front of the hotel was a gorgeous reef. It was relaxing to watch the water come into these nooks and crannies and leave behind all sorts of interesting stuff. Like seaweed. And foam. Man, I need to get out more if those things are “interesting” to me…
Doesn’t this look fun? Every time I got too hot sitting underneath my private cabana on my lounge chair by the ocean, I would walk a few feet to the ocean and take a dip. It may have contributed to my minor sunburn, but it was certainly worth the sacrifice.
I love that only a few people are “oot and aboot” in the water. This place is a secluded paradise indeed.
This is my hotel. It’s the pink one. Don’t judge.
A long walk back to my lounge chair. I made my second executive decision of the day (the first being to read in bed instead of being productive) to watch the sunset beyond the sea. Really, I need to be pinched.
So I got comfortable in my trusty lounge chair and waited for the good to begin. It didn’t take long. And I kept running out of words to describe the beauty.
I will just share a bunch of photos all together. You can probably find more words than I could. It’s just amazing what creations exist in this beautiful world, huh?
I guess you could say my second day in Anguilla was a pretty tough one. But I managed to muster through. I hope I can handle the rest of the week here. We’ll just have to see if I can hack it.
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