Saturday the 1st brought, potentially, a taste of things to come. This day began the same as the rest with Mrs. immersed in her tantric yoga practice (How can she call it that when she does it at home while watching HGTV or Saint Ina Garten's cooking show? Can anyone tell me that?) and then running a few miles on the treadmill while I slept in then ate cereal with strawberries while sipping Starbucks African Kitamu Coffee on the balcony. Jr., awoke about noon and joined us down by the pool declaring that he was "having another Westin day today". So he did. We ordered a smoked turkey and cheddar wrap with honey mayo, lettuce and tomato (our standard most of the week) from the Mango Deli and hopped in the jeep about 1:30pm lighting out towards the north shore beaches. Alone. No teenager. No whining about wishing "I was home with my friends and working". (Again, are you kidding me? You'd rather be bored stiff in the electronics department at Sears than on St. John? I'm kidding. I totally understand where he was coming from. Despite that, he may yet be back one more time during his senior year next February vacation but we don't need to go there for awhile.) We were hoping, hard, for Gibney but that was not to be and this probably was the day the bus blocked the potential spots on the left side and wouldn't move to let us in. We wound up at Jumbie and had a nice hour and a half before shade took over. There was a young mom there with her very cute and very little baby. I wanted to tell her to enjoy and take it all in because it goes so very fast, but did not surmising she knows and already feels the same. Or soon will. After floating about and reading as shade took over we walked back up the trail, tossed the chairs and floats in the jeep and pulled into the lot at Trunk Bay about 3:45pm. For the first time ever we went left when walking onto the beach and were far down near that end. This wound up kind of like our time at Francis Bay, just spectacular. I mean here we were on the world famous Trunk Bay Beach and as time went on we may have been two of only sixteen people on it. Awesome. The sun was still shining. It was hot. The views were amazing. That was of Mrs. on her float! The ocean, sailboats and other islands looked nice from there too. After a good long float about, I paddled ashore and dug out the iPod and speaker, a Trinidad Coloniales and ice cold Bud Lite Lime and sat back in my chair simply gazing out in awe over the sights before me. There are so many great things about the feelings one can experience on St. John whether it is stepping on and then off the Red Hook ferry. Or, hiking Ram's Head and reaching that spot where the air shoots up like nature pointed a huge fan at you. Or enjoying a good time someplace eating dinner with family or friends, or making new ones. This was one of them just sitting there chillin' on the beach until having to cool off by walking in shoulder high and hold the beer and cigar up to keep them dry then heading back to my chair on deserted Trunk Bay. Sublime! Finally, about 6:30, we called Jr., and told him we were headed back. It had taken all of my will power most afternoons as we drove back the Westin from the beaches and past Candi's with the sweet smell of her BBQ wafting in the air. Tonight I insisted. Mrs. made a pitcher of margarita's for us and Jr. (rather mopey and complaining about home) and I drove over to pick it up and then returned to eat at the poolside bar which closed at 6pm. You know how you should trust your gut? I'd wanted a rib and chicken combo all week but when I called they said they were out of ribs. Something told me we should get takeout from the St. John Market. That something was right. Candi's has always been pretty good cheap eats in the past. Not this time as the chicken was like a bunch of necks and feet or something, almost no meat. The grilled Grouper was good, though. Oh well, can't win 'em all. And after dinner I did win with another great cigar and some quiet time on the beach, this next to last night, listening to a live Van Morrison show that was broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower hour to promote his "Wavelength" album. Good stuff and nice end to a really great day on St. John.
Sunday, our last day, we awoke to rain. Lots of rain. Mrs. got soaked walking back from the workout and was surprised as I walked towards her holding an umbrella. "Where'd you get that?" "It was in the back corner of the closet." "Oh." I smiled and headed to the lobby to take care of a few things. Upon returning to the room I realized I forgot to print boarding passes. Oh well, part of being 52. Jr. awoke as the skies cleared and I announced that he'd be joining us at the beach for our last afternoon of this trip. As it was still drizzling I suggested ordering lunches from Deli Grotto and poking around Mongoose in hopes of sunshine soon. The universe received my message and armed with tasty lunches we hit Rte. 20 and saw a spot open near the entrance inside the lot at Trunk Bay and claimed it. The sun came out strong and we stayed late. I loved watching Mom and Son on their floats docked together lazing in the sea and talking for almost an hour. Loved it a lot. It was another perfect afternoon in an amazing place on an island we love. There are a lot of places one could go and explore, and I hope Mrs. and I will soon be able to. But there is something especially nice about feeling that St. John is "Our island. Our spot." and knowing it like the back of our hand, as though it was our own town here at home. That's what I tell friends and family when they ask "Why do you go there every year?" And I feel the same way about the beaches, it's our beach away from home! And so we lingered, puffed a cigar and sipped a beer. As Mrs. floated she overheard a couple on the beach say they were from NH and struck up a conversation with them, learning they were from Portsmouth and very close to us and she worked with our old next door neighbor. Small world. (Last year we were walking from Rhumb Lines back to our car when I heard my first name shouted out. I ignored it. Heck, I'm on vacation 1600 miles from home. Then I hear it again and turn around. Two couples are walking behind us and one of the guys said "I'd recognize that voice anywhere" as he had heard me talking as we walked. Turned out to be someone, from Wisconsin, that I do business with who was staying at Caneel. And, we had a nice 10 minute chat.) I love stuff like that~ And so the sun set over the hills to our left, as we faced the sea. Our thoughts turned to the inevitable that this week, so highly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed (by 2 out of 3 of us anyway and Jr. later admitted him too), was sliding into home and coming to its' end. We needed to grab dinner and pack our bags, print our boarding passes and smoke one more very good cigar on the Westin beach. And so it went. We wound up with a table on the beach in front of the Beach Bar and relaxed there for almost two hours. (No one checked in to ask how things were going and the water wasn't drinkable so didn't need to be refilled, but that was no problem, mon.) I had a Mahi sandwich with Bud Lite Lime's, Jr the chicken fingers and fries with a good smoothie, and Mom the grilled chicken burrito with a margarita. As I sat alone and puffed part of a Por Larranaga Montecarlos and sipped my second beer, those two headed to St. John Spice before it closed and Mrs. returned with a nice little beach/summer dress. No wait. That was from someplace else. She did pretty well and came home with a few things this trip. This stop it was sort of blue tie-die pillow cases. "Same as you bought last year," I said. But she explained they were a different color... (I came home with a colorful St. John beer kush that I'll use for cans on the beach in Rye, NH this coming summer!) So, slowly we walked through town then drove back to the Westin (parking each night in the Denzil Clyne lot was convenient) for the final time, to print boarding passes for Jet Blue 808 to Boston, pack and hit the beach. That night was a Bolivar Belicoso Finos with cabernet listening to my live, but pretty mellow, Eric Clapton playlist which finishes with a sweet version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". And that's a wrap. One last night of sleep in the "Heavenly Bed" which this trip was not so much compared to previous stays. Sadly we had to put in for a wake up call and set the alarms once again after a week without them.
Monday the 3rd we were up and out and dropped off mom and son at the dock, the chairs at Mongoose, and the Jeep and Denzil's. A helpful and nice porter grabbed the bags and basically told us we'd be taking the Charlotte Amalie ferry at 11am, which was fine with us, for awhile. Mom ran to grab an egg sandwich for me from Café Livin' (mmm good) and off we went. This is where the "for awhile" part came in. No one told us if you sit outside on the right side you stand a good chance of getting absolutely soaking wet. The poor women in front of me should have been rebated their money because they were all wet. I was able to duck behind a seatback and did alright, but those poor ladies were drenched. We stowed our bags with a "cab" and walked around for an hour. This made us remarkably glad that we had never wasted a day on St. John to "shop" on St. Thomas! We arrived at the airport at 1pm for a 2:40pm flight and it was deserted. Ha! So it seemed with empty ticket desks and customs booths but once past there was a colossal traffic jam of humanity waiting to go through. It would be nice to have some windows and open air here. At least more fans. Our 2:40pm flight was 30 minutes late. Despite that and a fuel stop in San Juan we still made it home and on the C&J bus we'd planned on and our garage door opened at 9:45pm. And so it went. I took a "Buffer Day" off (HIGHLY recommended) to reintegrate while Mrs. and Jr., both got back to their respective schools on the 4th. *Maybe offer up a quick good thought for Jr. who sustained a concussion Sunday playing in (and finishing because no one knew) his Rec. league basketball championship. He's kind of despondent as high school baseball's going full force every night with tryouts the week of the 24th. He needs his noggin healed up quick. I think my head may feel kind of like his but it is from the shock of the St. John trip, after so much anticipation, having come and gone. Once again it was bliss for me and broke up the New England winter nicely and making it more bearable. Can't wait to hit "Pirate's Cove" beach in Rye. The first day last year was May 31st when it was 95 degrees. Then nearly another month before you could go every day.