Friday, June 1, 2012

Snorkeling at Turtle Cove


Today was by far my greatest day on the island. I was feeling well enough to get out and do something, and of course, that something had to be snorkeling.


I’m rather fond of snorkeling, as long as I am transported to the snorkeling site in a properly-sized vessel.

Maybe this is too much information, but I ended up feeding the fishies on my honeymoon after we rode in a tiny boat through huge waves to get to the snorkeling location. I can’t really be blamed since it was really windy, which caused the giant waves. And we were in a boat the size of a small and useless bathtub. And they tried (and failed) to feed us warm bologna sandwiches. See what I mean? All of these things combined to make me want to throw up in the sea.

I still get teased by Hubby. And he was shocked to learn that I didn’t toss my cookies during this excursion in St. Thomas.


The appropriately-named Cat catamaran was a sufficiently-sized boat. It was big enough to fool my brain into not getting sea sick. Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit that, under the right wrong circumstances, I can get motion sickness. If my eyes can’t confirm what my brain and body are sensing, then it’s all over for me. I never throw up (unless I’m in the ocean and it just makes sense to share my agony with residents of the sea), but I do tend to feel icky.

As a kid on The Ranch riding in the back of the blue Toyota pickup truck with nine of my favorite cousins (cue the banjo music!), I got to sit up front for the long drives to prevent any motion sickness. No one liked me when I was sick. Weird, huh?


That was a lot of explaining just to let you know that I didn’t get sick on our 45-minute trek out to Turtle Cove.


I always forget this when I’m snorkeling, but I recommend going about a size smaller than your normal shoe size when selecting flippers. That way, they stay on without risk of slipping off during every kick. If I went snorkeling more often, I would probably remember such good advice. So now you know what to do next time you get paid to go to St. Thomas for a week.

There would be minimal complaining from me if I got to go snorkeling more often to help me remember to get small fins.


I sat at the very front of the catamaran. This was also a strategic move to prevent my brain from being confused with the motion. There were big waves to overcome out here, but I kept my eyes on the horizon to prevent the chance of getting sick with all of the bumps. The beautiful wind blowing on my face helped, too.


We passed several gorgeous private residences as we got out of the harbor. Can you imagine living here? Iguanas year-round?!


Turtle Cove was a popular destination. We parked among five other vessels to let the snorkeling commence. I think the cove was large enough for us all, as I didn’t feel like we were cramped by the other boats and their snorkelers.


These buoys are attached to the ocean floor, which was about twenty feet below us. The boats can then anchor to them while parking in the cove. We were told not to touch the buoys since some pretty painful coral can start growing on them as they stay in the water.


This is what we in the snorkeling world like to refer to as “Mask Face.” And I just made that up, since I’ve never been able to consider myself part of that world. We were in the water for about forty-five minutes. Most of it was a guided tour from our catamaran host. She showed us some sea turtles, and I got to see one come of for a breath of fresh air. They only need oxygen every twenty minutes, and he lumbered to the surface of the water while I got to watch.

I also got to see two sting rays glide beneath me. I was happy to hear that they prefer to stay on the bottom near the sand. I kept imagining the sting ray changing course to come straight at me! This could be the iguanas talking, though.

Because me ears were still recovering from being sick (they finally popped this morning), I didn’t risk diving down low to take a look. But my guide did! She brought up a sea urchin to love and squeeze and call him George. While holding him on my hand, he used little suction cups to attach himself to me. It was creepy and cool all at once. I had to pry him off to hand him to the next guy.

Not that I eat sushi or anything, but I would probably abstain from sea urchin from now on if I did. We had such a deep personal connection in Turtle Cove that I don’t think I could ever eat one.


It was a really nice snorkeling afternoon. I don’t think it qualifies as the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced, but I got to see a few new things and enjoy the perfect water.

Am I the only one who swims through a warm section of water and wonders if someone else was recently in the same spot relieving himself?


I got to help raise the sails for our return trip to St. Thomas. This is Mary and Joe, our guide and boat captain. They were funny and made the day even more enjoyable.


While we were in the water, a few boats left and a few more arrived. This place was hopping all afternoon!

And this is their off-season?!


This very sail was raised by me. Workout for Monday? Check.


I was the only creepy lady on the boat who asked for a non-rum drink. Mine tasted way better, by the way. So tropical and refreshing after being in the salty water! I could taste some coconut and pineapple juice. It was delicious!

While disembarking, I saw a bottle of Sunny D at the bar. Does everything just taste better when you’re in paradise, or what?! Come on!


The wind took us home. It was wonderful. The radio blared some Caribbean music while the dolphins swam around us. Just kidding on the dolphins. But that would have been really cool.


They even gave us some snacks for the ride home. I had some blue tortilla chips and fresh cantaloupe and pineapple. Though it tasted wonderful, I’m pretty sure that this didn’t come out of a Sunny D bottle.


This was my favorite picture of the day as we are sailing back to St. Thomas.


I was one happy camper. But that’s because my back didn’t hurt yet from my snorkeling sunburn. It was a pretty fun day, all in all.


There was a cruise ship in the harbor every day of my sojourn. I guess during the busy season, they get about four a day. Can you imagine? I didn’t know that many ships existed!


I climbed twelve-million stairs to get back up from the dock. This was the sight that greeted me. See how busy the spa pool was the entire week? They won’t notice if I just help myself in, right?

I didn’t. But I wanted to do it.


This is the courtyard leading from the hotel to the pool area. The lighting was perfect this evening, so my camera was whipped out to chronicle the beauty.


Though I didn’t spend any time in the water near the hotel, it was very peaceful listening to it. I love how water sounds in any form. It’s always so relaxing!


If you have to eat dinner on a tropical island in the Caribbean, you might as well endure a lovely view with a sunset and mountains by the harbor. The airport is over that mountain, in case you’re wondering why it looks like heaven over there.


See? I wasn’t even lying! Twelve million steps to make it back to the hotel from the dock! And, if you look closely, the iguanas are waiting in the trees to attack each unsuspecting passerby. I knew that they were there and was armed, so they didn’t come near me.  This time.


With a beautiful view to endure while eating dinner, I enjoyed a dang chicken quesadilla at the hotel lounge on the fourth floor. It was pretty good, but there was too much chicken. I doubt that they get that complaint very often, so I kept it to myself!

Snorkel Day was my favorite. It felt great getting out to explore other parts of the surrounding areas. And the punch wasn’t half-bad, either.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Vacation Thing is Hard


I’m not really on vacation, mind you. I am working hard every second of every day. And it’s not easy being able to come to St. Thomas for my occupation as a corporate pilot. But I’m a team player, remember?


My third day in paradise was just as nice as my previous two days in paradise. The good news is that I was able to avoid iguanas and simply enjoy my day.


Lunch ended up being a great decision. I walked through the Marriott property towards the Morning Star to the east.


I had a lovely view of my hotel from the boardwalk. I don’t know how iguanas and cacti manage to live in the same place on earth, but apparently weird things like that can happen in paradise.


No one touched these courts, but they are rather nice, huh? The lack of exercise on everyone else’s part helped me feel better about my Ben and Jerry’s intake this week.


See? Lots of stairs, which practically counts as exercise if you do it right.


The beaches here are white sand, but because of the location on the south end of the island, they receive some pretty big waves. I never got into the water at the hotel because of this dilemma. It seemed that the sand-to-enjoyment wasn’t worth the risk.


This is the beach at the Morning Star. The water is clear blue and warm. The beach at Anguilla was certainly nicer, in my opinion. The St. Thomas beaches were covered in things-to-avoid-while-barefoot material. And I saw many a crab duck into the sand when people approached.

You probably know by now that that I’m not particularly fond of critters sneaking up on me.


CoCo Joes was my destination for lunch. Like everywhere else, the prices were a little high. I selected the Black Bean Nachos with Spiced Flank Steak. Luckily, I had passed a table where a 115-pound woman was putting the nachos away like I’d never seen. They looked tasty enough to try on my own. And I don’t even weight 115 pounds!


Good grief.

I am ashamed to admit that almost this entire plate went to waste. I ate as much as I could, and when I looked down, my plate still looked like just like it had when it was brought to my table. It made me, yet again, wish that Hubby was present to polish it off. He would have loved these jalapeƱo-covered nachos.

But they were delicious. This was probably the second-best meal I ate all week.


Oddly enough, CoCo Joes doesn’t make its own guacamole or salsa for that price. I ate some of the guac anyway, just to be polite.


And then I began the calorie-burning hike back to my hotel. I walked up and down a few flights of stairs and called it good.

My heart rate didn’t get up from exercise but from the breath-taking views that my camera kept insisting it record.


All in all, I would consider my third day on the island to be a success.


I guess it all depends on how people measure success. I prefer to measure it by how long I can sit in a pool lounge chair without dipping my feet over the side into the water to cool off.

Man, I love my job.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pool Paradise…and Dinosaurs


After such a strenuous first day in St. Thomas, I felt deserving of a lounge day by the pool. I had a great view of the hotel from my chair. I hand-picked  a lounge area away from the throngs of people who were at the pool today.

We must have all earned it. Relaxation doesn’t come easy, you know.


The Marriott Frenchmen’s Reef has three pools, from what I could see. This is the main pool area. Over to the left of the bar cabana is another infinity pool. It was always full of college-age kids, so I left them to their party undisturbed.

To the far left of the stairs is the spa pool, reserved for the hotel’s spa clients. As much as I would have loved to use this barely-used pool, I wasn’t about to drop the money required to become a “spa client.”


Here is my umbrella. And my view. Sheesh.


I ordered a virgin pina colada from the bar waitress, who exists simply to fulfill pool people’s every need. It was delicious, and I loved eating the maraschino cherry before slurping commenced. The executive decision was made to save the pineapple slice for my post-drink celebration.

Little did I know what a tragic decision this would be.


The pool area, like my room patio, is crawling with giant dinosaurs iguanas. They get chased away by the waitress, but they eventually show up again and can be seen cruising the pool area like they own the place (What? Were they here first or something?!). I must admit, their presence led to more paranoia than relaxation on my part. I was convinced that every time I turned around, I would see a Jurassic-period monster.

Did you know that dinosaurs can jump? I certainly didn’t know that. They should be required to put that in a brochure somewhere.

After he pretty much won the stare-down competition, I got up from my lounge chair. The now two-foot distance gave him enough courage to jump ONTO the lounge table, which was holding my beloved drink.


And he ate my pineapple. Without spilling my drink. He just slurped it off the top and stood there eating it, with all of us watching in sheer terror. And awe.

I won’t even give this visitor the consideration of a name. He is my numero uno enemy-o. He ate my pineapple slice. From my drink. While I was right next to it.

The waitress ran over with her trusty tray to chase him away. In the heat of his escape, his gigantic tail hit my drink and sent it sprawling. I was too emotionally distraught from my near-death iguana attack to care.

I just stood there in shock. The girls behind me started talking about how dinosaurs are color blind, but I’m pretty sure that he liked my bright red t-shirt. Silly me for selecting such a color to wear today. Of all days!

The waitress showed up with a drink replacement. Sans pineapple slice, per my request. I slurped it nervously, watching my back the entire time. If that T-Rex had the guts to jump my drink once, I could see him doing it again.

When his cousin arrived and started to make himself comfortable under my umbrella, I decided that was my cue to leave my “relaxing” afternoon. Am I being selfish for not wanting to share my umbrella? With a killer iguana?


Does this view of the spa pool make you feel any better? Yeah, me neither. The free replacement virgin pina colada helped, but I was still a little surprised at how the afternoon panned out!


Maybe a sunset will cheer me up? We’re getting warmer…


Ahhhhh. I feel better already. Of course, it helps that I am safely away from the pool while taking this picture. The ground shakes with the steps of iguanas all over the place.


Isn’t this view of St. Thomas so pretty? I am feeling almost back to normal now. Almost.

Dinosaur – 1            Micah – 0

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