Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Wheels are Turning


We've had a busy couple of days.  We spent several hours with the prospective buyer yesterday, answering questions about the garden, the pond and the neighbors, while their home inspector crawled around the house checking this and that, the termite inspector looked around for evidence of those nasty insects, and their real estate agent just generally hung around to see how everything was going.  

Everything was going well and by this morning we had the inspection report with several items that the buyer wants us to address, either in repairs or in payment.  There were a couple of surprises but nothing that appears to be a show stopper.  

Today several surveyors prowled the grounds finding old stakes and other signs of property boundaries.  

Just to add some extra excitement, we've twice had visits from a couple in a fancy pickup truck who say they love the house, "have cash," and are going to buy it if anything holds up the current contract.   We've smiled nicely, referred them to our agent, and wish them well.  Our agent is coming over tomorrow morning, probably to nail down our answer to the inspection report, but --who knows?--maybe to talk about the cash buyer.  

Ah well, it will sort itself out.  And meanwhile, the wheels are certainly turning.  The day's mail brought several forms from the buyer's settlement company which we need to complete in preparation for the May 20th settlement.  We're moving right along!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Night on the Someday Soon

John and Dawn and the kids left on Saturday so they'd be home for Easter, but we had decided to spend one more night and fly home on Sunday.  On our last day together with them we went to Trunk Bay Beach and enjoyed the snorkel trail which is managed by the National Park Service, had a late lunch at Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay, and then spent the evening at the villa playing Yahtzee and eating and drinking a lot of the remaining food and alcohol; such fun!

Saturday afternoon we dropped off the jeep in Cruz Bay and hung around downtown waiting for a 3:00 rendezvous with the owners of a 47-foot sailboat on which we would spend the night.


A squall blew through, dumping a torrent of water for about an hour before moving off.  We watched it from the comfort of a restaurant's covered patio where we were having lunch.



But it was nice and sunny when we met Troy and Lauren, owners and captain and first mate of a beautiful roomy, luxurious, and breezy ketch which Ben had found last fall when he was noodling around airbnb.com, which is like eBay for lodging.  The next two photos are from their Airbnb and Facebook sites. 



With authoritative ease they got us and our luggage onto their dingy and before we knew it we were enjoying a brisk sail out of Cruz Bay, St. John, over to Christmas Cove, near St. Thomas. 


Troy then took us snorkeling around a cay in the cove which offered outstanding views of numerous types of fish.  And we saw a lobster and an eel.  It was the best snorkeling in a trip filled with good snorkeling.   
  
When we came back on board we took hot showers and then relaxed with a drink up on deck while Lauren started dinner. 


Here's one way to hold a wine glass on a boat.  Nothing like relaxing after an interesting snorkel while someone else makes a great smelling dinner!



Although we were given the master berth, I've found I have less problems with sea sickness when I get lots of air, so as night fell Ben and I made ourselves comfortable in the cockpit and Paul took the hammock.  We all watched the stars and drifted off to sleep.  


The task of the next day was to get to the airport for our flight, so after a quick but gourmet cup of coffee we sailed to Water Island, conveniently located near the Charlotte Amalie airport.  Paul steered the boat for about twenty minutes, and it was serious steering, going through shoals and making several jibs.  Pretty good for a first timer!

 

At Water Island Paul and Ben enjoyed one last swim in the amazing Caribbean.   


Then we made a short sail to a beach right next to the airport, Troy and Lauren helped schlep our bags to the terminal, and our vacation was officially over.   It was the first, and probably the only, time that we've gotten to an airport by boat! 

I had been a tad worried about being on a sailboat overnight, and it is true that each of us was a bit queasy on the flight home, but we all agreed that Troy and Lauren were so capable and so laid back that we felt taken care of and comfortable.  Spending time with them on their fabulous boat was a wonderful and enjoyable adventure and a great way to end our trip.     


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two Wonderful Days in St. John

Yesterday we chartered a boat with Flyaway Charters and a leathery skinned laid-back Captain took us to three snorkel sites -- Kittle Bay, La Duc Island, and Hansen Bay Beach,  each more wonderful than the last.   Can you tell that we had fun?





Unfortunately, no underwater photos but if you have a minute you can check out some great photos taken by local photographer Barb Crites here.    


I love this picture of Paul. 

Today John and Ben and Dawn when into Cruz Bay to shop while I hung out with the kids in the villa taxing the Internet, reading by the pool, and listening to the wind howl through the trees when two squalls blew through.  The rest helped my hurt muscle and I was thrilled that I could walk downstairs and put in a load of wash.  Oh, how being injured makes us appreciate the little things. 

Later I drove the treacherously steep road to the east end of the island so Dawn and I could shop at Sloop Jones, creator of hand painted clothing.   I found a great v-neck t-shirt and was very happy.  

I'm drinking Pina Coladas that John just made and anticipating a yummy dinner of grilled Rib eye steaks, pesto pasta, salad, and chocolate candy and champagne for dessert.  Pretty sweet!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feeling Great in the Caribbean


It's another beautiful sunny, breezy day in St. John.  If the fact that I'm here wasn't enough, there are three reasons for me to be feeling great. 


First, John and Dawn and the twins arrived Monday and the party is well under way.  


Second, although I somehow hurt my leg snorkeling on Monday -- strained quad? -- and I'm hobbling around instead of walking naturally, a heavy dose of Nuprin and frequent applications of cold packs resulted in my being able to snorkel again yesterday.  

Oh, and I was so glad because we saw not one but four skates (or were they rays; hard for us to know) who appeared to be feeding on the bottom in a little pack.  And we saw a huge school of bright yellow fish about 6 inches large and another big school of silvery small fish (minnows?) and were able to swim right through both schools.  Such a cool experience which made me so happy that I had to take a smiling selfie once I got back to the beach.   Today we are going out on a boat to two snorkeling sites with a knowledgeable captain who might be able to tell us the names of the fish we see.      


Third, in the evening we signed a sales contract for our house!!  We had received an offer in the morning which, for various reasons, I didn't have a great feeling about.  Even so, we thought we'd take it because, after all, it's only seven weeks until we move out.  But later in the day we received a great offer from a couple who clearly were very excited about the house, met our price plus a bit more, and even included an escalation clause; I didn't think houses in our county ever got those anymore!   They also offered generous "rent back" terms so we could close in mid May and move in early June.  Ben & I had a great feeling about this offer and signed the contract under the beautiful Caribbean moonlight.    


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Something is Missing



I'm writing this from a villa high above Coral Bay on St. John, Virgin Island, having arrived here yesterday to start off our spring break vacation.  

It is wonderful here but something is missing. 

The views described in the villa advertising are as fantastic as promised. 


Last night the island sunset was as glorious as ever.


 There are still lots of little lizards to spot and try to catch.


And cows, donkeys, goats, chickens, and roosters still wander the island roads freely. 


We've tried out the pool and found it to be as great as we expected.


And Maho Bay beach is still white and smooth with interesting snorkeling.  I saw a big turtle!


We would be totally smiling except that something is missing.



We are missing John, Dawn, Michael, and Johnny who were all bumped from the flight yesterday! 

Yes, United overbooked the flight by fourteen people and Ben's brother and his family were left behind as the plane closed its door and flew away!  Incredible.  

I underlined the words I want to scream since I am on vacation and trying to take it easy and I'm mindful that you, my friends, do not want to hear me scream!

But oh my,  I still can't believe that an airline would purposefully overbook at flight on the first day of spring break going to a resort location.  And, apparently, it was perfectly legal!  Airlines regularly overbook and it seems to work out, I guess, on most flights, maybe because so much travel is for business.  But did United really think that anyone flying to St. Thomas at the beginning of spring break was going to jump up and take the $500 they were offered to be voluntarily bumped?

Well, no one did.  So that left John's family, who for some reason had been picked to be involuntarily bumped.  (The first hint of this was when they realized that they didn't have assigned seats.)  It didn't matter that they had bought their tickets in October or that they were part of a larger family group,  or that they had a pre-paid villa and a rented jeep waiting for them, or that they had arrived at the boarding gate two and a half hours before the flight.   There weren't seats for them and that was that.

Having the reality of this unfold, realizing there was nothing to stop it, and then flying off and leaving them behind was a very stressful way to start our own vacation.   While it is wonderful here and we are enjoying ourselves, it isn't the family vacation we had planned.  

The good new is that they are scheduled to arrive tomorrow afternoon, after which we'll get this party started!  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunning

We had a beautiful sunny day today with temps in the low 70s,  just right for bringing our pet Bearded Dragon out on the patio to bask in the sun.  Spikey usually shows that he loves being placed in direct sunlight by striking the classic Beardie pose, tail down, chest out, head high.  


Out in the bright sun I could see the skin on his face pealing; clearly he has grown bigger over the winter and is about to shed yet another skin.   


I love the texture under his neck. 


He basked in the sunshine for a while, his little beady eyes moving to check out the shadows of birds flying overhead and occasionally flicking his tongue in what I quess was an attempt to catch a bite to eat.   After a while he went for a little walk, and then I captured him and gave him a warm bath in an old mixing tray to sooth the distress caused by the shedding; apparently it hurts a bit!

All that was quite enough excitement for the day and I think he was content to be put back into his cage.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three More "Sleeps"

My travel-loving sister, Jean, likes to count down the number of nights at home before she leaves for a much-anticipated trip, and I have picked up the habit.   I'm counting down to our spring break vacation in St. John, Virgin Islands and am excited to say that we have "Three more sleeps!"

By Saturday night we should be getting comfortable in our home away from home for the next week, the "It's About Time" villa high up on Ajax Peak.  Don't the photos look inviting? 




We'll be traveling with Ben's brother, John, and his wife, Dawn, and their two boys.  They have the top floor bedrooms and we have the pool deck bedrooms, with plenty of family space on the top floor and by the pool.  I'm quite looking forward to it.

Spring break this year comes immediately after all the grades are in for the third trimester progress reports, meaning that this week is full of quizzes and tests on top of regular homework.  It's so much fun; not!  The school yearbook has to be uploaded to the printer the day we return, so that means our deadline is the last day of school before we leave and it's been a big push to finish that up.  And we dropped the price on our house the other day and showings immediately picked up so we are again busy keeping the house very clean.  In addition Ben has been trying to get the deck restained to impress our new visitors.  Whew!

With all this going on, we are all counting the "sleeps" until we can collapse in the warm Caribbean breezes for a day or two and then snorkel and hike and eat and drink to our heart's content for the rest of the week.


Of course there is the little matter of getting ready to go.  The house sitter is scheduled, pet feeding instructions written, the pool and snorkel gear collected, and now we are focusing on rounding up our media.  While the kids are busy on their various e-devices the grownups plan to indulge in the Godfather trilogy so I downloaded them tonight on my computer.   It'll be fun to have a GF marathon; can't wait!