Sunday, June 8, 2008

A true vacation

Finally I'm getting around to posting more about our trip to St Thomas. You are being warned now: This will be an extremely long travelogue post!! I need to do this so I will 'remember' it all! It did start on our 16th Wedding Anniversary after all! We had such a good time. It's funny how much more relaxing a vacation is when 1)it is child free and 2)you don't have to worry about how much everything is costing! (Thank you White Directories for picking up the tab!!!)
Let me start a little earlier the week we left. Greg was out of town all week, returning home around midnight the night before we left. I'd gotten about 3 hours of sleep Monday and Tuesday nights. So much prep went in to this trip , getting the house ready and all of the details worked out for my parents. Wednesday night we were packing of course. I fell asleep at 3am and woke at 3:30am to get ready to leave for the airport. Who booked a 6 am flight?!

{here we are half asleep at the airport waiting for our flight on a half hour of sleep}

I seriously slept the ENTIRE way except for our layover in Atlanta. We landed in beautiful St Thomas to be greeted by ladies dressed in white welcoming us to the island, a steel drum band playing, a table where you could go get free rum shots. (Thanks, but no thanks). Still not your typical arrival to an airport.

Once we arrived at the hotel, we got settled in and tried to get the internet going on the computer. This took a while and some help from their IT guy, but we got it done and called the kids on Skype. This was really nice to be able to see them and talk to them - even show them the view from our window.

We talked to them almost every day, so it didn't feel like we were too far. How great is modern technology?! We spent the rest of that day checking out the resort and having dinner out on the patio overlooking the bay. Gorgeous and kind of surreal to be in a place like that. I really never imagined I'd ever go somewhere like this.

{The view out the back of the hotel}

{A little tanning deck down below the pool.}

{Overlooking the ocean from the pool deck}

{trying to get in some self portraits out on the hotel dock}

{I drank way too many virgin pina coladas, but they are so tasty and when do I ever get to have these anyway- especially on a tropical island?!}
{I've learned from Jill to photograph yummy food!}

{Our favorite dessert here- banana & chocolate chip torte with caramelized bananas on top and cinnamon ice cream. One night that was all we had for dinner!}

We realized that first day that the sun goes down at least 2 hours earlier than it does at home! We took a stroll on the beach under a moonlit sky, sat on the beach chairs and relaxed as we listened to the waves and talked under the stars.
Friday morning we slept in- perks of child free vacation. :) We decided to go to St. Johns for the afternoon. This required a long taxi ride to another part of St Thomas to catch a ferry to St Johns. It was interesting on the ferry to see people who seemed to be coming and going to work- and children who must have been going home from school. I suppose it was like taking the city bus to us, but different to me. Anyhow, we arrived in St Johns and got a taxi to a beach called Trunk Bay. The taxis cracked me up- basically some seats in the back of a pick up truck. Some were nice like this one...

others were held together with duct tape. The roads on these islands are extremely winding and bumpy. The cars are the same as ours, but they drive on the other side of the road. I think I'd have a hard time driving myself around the place.

So we reached Trunk Bay- one of the most photographed beaches in the world. Can you see why?!

I thought it was strange when we reached the beach to see this sign that reminds me of going to any old state park with a park rangers at the entrance and everything. It looked like we were going camping, not to a beautiful tropical hideaway.

We didn't have to pay the $4 each as it turned out. The day had been a little rainy and windy and we were told the waves were too dangerous to really get out in the water past our knees. I was a little bit bummed because I wanted to try out the underwater snorkeling trail, but it was a beautiful beach- and only a few people on it (including one lady who had on only a thong :(Ridiculous!) Anyhow we quite enjoyed just splashing in the ocean (my first time ever!), laying on the beach, and relaxing under the coconut palms.

We were so afraid to fry in the sun due to our extreme lack of tans, so we used SPF 55 and got zero color. Oops!
We returned to town for food at this cute deli, shopping, and were greeted by some wild chickens and their chicks.
We returned to St Thomas in time to skip out on the work cocktail party. Really, should non- drinkers feel obligated to go to a cocktail party anyway?!
Saturday a cruise ship was in port, so that meant the shops were open. We took our hotel's little shopping shuttle (little red boat) over to the downtown area.

There were some pretty amazing homes along the way that I had to take pictures of...
Check out this one...

it even has it's own pirate ship waiting outside.

While there are tons of fancy-shamncy shops in town,

in a shopping area that is just packed with little shops
we went to the tented area where the locals sell stuff.

While there a guy in a van offered Greg some pot... nice, that's just lovely. We especially enjoyed the booth of this woman. She sang the prices of everything you looked at. I tried to get a little video of her booth and her singing.

We bought some souvenirs for the kids here. Then I got my obligatory hair braiding- had to do it- just a section of my hair though. I wasn't feeling the whole Bo Derek thing.

As we returned to our hotel dock, we encountered the biggest iguanas I've ever seen. Granted I've never actually seen wild iguana before, although Greg has eaten one before on his mission.

Next we spent some time at the pool... accompanied by more iguanas (one under my chair for a little while). eek! Wanna feel like you were there too?...

We went on a "sunset sail" which was about a 2 hour sail out into the ocean and back to the hotel dock. Everything was beautiful and should have been quite relaxing. Turns out after about 30 minutes my stomach does not like sailboating. Other boats are fine, but I was just counting the minutes until we returned to the dock on this night. The rocking of the boat and the Grateful Dead music playing was not too peaceful. Taking pictures was the only thing that distracted me enough to get through it. I also spent some time being amazed at the 2 other couple on the sail boat. They drank so much alcohol. I don't get how some one can drink that nuch liquid. Greg and I each drank about a half a bottle of water adn that was plenty of liquid for me. Maybe there is something mysterious about alcohol?

Upon our return, I had to take a little cat nap and then we were off to the work party at St Thomas' famous beach bar called Iggie's.

We applauded the winning salespeople and then returned quickly to our hotel. We weren't too excited about drinking and singing karoke. :)

Sunday we went to church at the St Thomas Branch. The church is located on a small cul de sac- more like a driveway off of a highway. This little street is lined with churches. You could hear the singing from other churches during Sacrament Meeting. Interesting. Great visit. Highlight of the vacation.

One couple was talking about their conversion. How they live in a very hard to find place on the island and how the elders miraculously had found their door to knock on. The husband was prepared and thankfully so. Who knows how long it would've taken other missionaries to find their home again. It took his wife 7 more years until she was baptized. She studied the gospel, liked it, and was fascinated by the beauty of temples. She just didn't want to make that committment. One day they were visiting in San Diego and she spotted the temple there. She told her husband to drive over because she was sure it was a temple and she wanted to see it up close. While on the grounds she was asked if she was a member of The Church and she explained that her husband was but she was not. The person said, "Well, why not?!" And then it hit her. Why not? And she finally got baptized. They were so sweet and funny. She teaches Gospel Doctrine and he is the Elders Quorum President.

We enjoyed a Sunday Brunch at the hotel... Not this-

but plenty of this-that coconut cake was awesome! :)

We went next door to the hotel to tour the Marriott vacation property (time share).
It was very tempting especially knowing how much we already spend on trips and that we can trade with Disney properties. Very tempting knowing we could could take a trip just about anywhere and have a nice place to stay with enough room for grandmas and grandpa and aunts and uncles and cousins... But we didn't.... yet. :)
I finally swam in the ocean. I went out to where I couldn't touch, yet I could still see the ground perfectly. Beautiful water! I did accidentally taste the salt water though, and in my eyes, and in a small cut on my toe- yuck and ouch!
We even saw a wedding on the beach while we were there too.

Monday was our last day there. We rode our little shopping boat back to town to pick up some more souvenirs.

You can't see it well through the plastic- the booth wasn't open yet- but this person had scriptures on all of the price tags.

Even the "No Returns" sign. Keeping people honest I guess. The people there seem very religious. Most of the taxi drivers listened to Chistian radio, some even had scriptures and pictures of Jesus painted on their taxis.

I spent our last hour by the pool- sunscreen free (risky!)- trying to get a little more sun before we returned home. Then it was off to the airport ...

{Yes, this is the entire St Thomas airport!}

... and on to the plane.

Goodbye Paradise!

I can not even tell you how happy I am that I finally finished this thing!!!!! It's been hanging over my head for weeks now. If you held in there with me and read the whole thing- you deserve a reward! Go get yourself some ice cream (or a virgin pina colada)!


Greg Garrick said...

Nice post Bok. It was like re-living the trip with you again.

Sunny said...

YEA!! Sounds like you guys had a WONDERFUL vacation! AMAZING! But we will have 11 more years till we can do something like that I guess! Maybe longer because I don't think Omniture does things like that for consultants, sales people probably but not consultants. Great post Nik! I felt like I was there with you! But I haven't watched the videos yet because I don't think the speakers are hooked up this new set up is confusing me. :) I'm off for some ice cream! No virgin Pina coladas here. :( sad!

Shan said...

Nik what an amazing vacation! I want to see those beaches. Go ahead and buy one of those time shares and I will invite myself to tag along :) I may have some ice cream now..sure wish I had a virgin pina colada though! They are the best!

Abby said...

What a dream vacation! Your pictures are amazing!! Love the one of you both on the boat!

OK so I think I need to go on a trip like this, it sounded so relaxing! Glad you had such a great time.

Shan said...

Not all the pics showed up the first time I looked at this but they did this time. Nik you look so young and beautiful in the pictures! Greg looks good too but is he wearing blue shoes to church??

Nikki said...

Shan you are too kind. Greg bought some Crocs for himself there and fell so in love with them he decided they were ok for Church- in St. Thomas atleast!

Shan said...

Greg in Crocs- never would have seen that coming! They do seem like the perfect church shoe for St Thomas :)

Angie said...

I loved your post! And I read the whole thing and watched the videos! I love the picture of you and Greg on the sailboat (the first one was my favorite) and you look so good! I think you are looking younger and younger. In one of the pictures you looked like Jillie. Way jealous of the vacation, but very happy you got to go! Very fun!

Beth Soelberg said...

That looks like a really amazing vacation! I'm so glad you two got the chance to take off for a little while...especially to paradise.

And good job resisting the Marriott time share. My (biased) view in the "timeshare" department is Disney Vacation Club - you can trade out to other locations but instead of having a set week, you use points.

I would love to attend church in a more "exotic" location than the continental U.S. It would be so interesting to see what it's like throughout the world. Very cool.

Nikki said...

Yeah, we looked at Marriott just to compare it to Disney. Most of our trips are to Disney and we'd always like to stay on Disney property. Then they told us that Marriott is a part of a network that includes Disney Vacation Clubs... hmmm... made this more tempting.

Leanne said...

Thanks for taking us on your trip! That's what it felt like anyway because you did such a good job with the pictures and wording. I watched each video clip too. I'm super jealous! Wish I could go to a place like that! Some day I guess. I'm off to eat my ice cream now.

dad said...

We're so glad you got to go this time, and without the kids - so we could have them all to ourselves!
Mostly loved the pictures from the sailing cruise; nice job, especially since you were feeling a little woozy. Loved the whole post, though the video clips wouldn't load !? (Guess I have to wait for the ice cream, NOT.)

Holly said...

YEA NIKKI!! (and yea me for finally looking at a BLOG!!) It really was a great post. You guys really deserved trip! It looked like so much fun. Can't wait for our sisters vacation to St. Thomas. My favorite picture of you is when you were running from the water like Bo Derek. :) GREAT!!! :) Oh how I miss blogging. I will have to wait one more week though. AHHH!!