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Trip Report Last-Minute St. John Trip

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We got back from St. John a week ago but I couldn't get my act together until now to write a report. Having been there many times, I keep thinking I won't have anything left to write about but things do change so maybe a more recent experience will help. First of all, we decided to take a last minute trip because the airfare from Boston right now is so terrific. We got round-trip direct flights Boston/St. Thomas Monday to Monday for under $300 on American Airlines. You read right. Similar pricing is available through March. But I've noticed that after March, there are no more direct flights. NYC is a bit more money but will continue direct flights after that. Well, it snowed 6 inches just before we left so we were stuck behind a snow plow for a long time and barely made it to the airport in time to check our luggage in. As luck would have it though, our 9 a.m. flight was delayed until after 1 p.m.! 2 out of 5 de-icing trucks broke down (or so they say, you never know what's really wrong), which meant that we did not get into St. Thomas until 5:30 p.m. The last car ferry leaves Red Hook at 6:30. No car rental companies are open after 5 on St. John. I had 6 people with me and luggage. If we didn't make that ferry, it would mean the hassle from hell as 3 out of 6 people were elderly and rather grumpy from a day on the tarmac. I coordinated with DH that the second we landed, he'd have to move the whole group from the plane to the luggage belt while I sprinted for the car rental. As we were the only flight arriving at the time, the luggage was thankfully quick. Within 30-35 minutes of landing, we had the luggage and everyone loaded onto the rental car -- and then it was time to sprint for the ferry. With moderate traffic, it takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to Red Hook and then the whole car ferry area and procedure can be a bit unnerving and confusing. The traffic was average so that was good but it still took us about 35 minutes. This all put us at about 6:35 p.m. but I knew that as long as the ferry could see me on the dock (and they had enough room left) the STJ car ferries are in the habit of coming back for you even if they've gone out to the middle of the bay. As we were pulling into the ferry terminal, I could see the top of a car ferry or barge, so I was whooping it up. Being old hands, I knew that the entry to the car ferry area now mandates a $2. toll, so we were ready to throw our money at the tolltaker in his/her little guard booth as we whizzed by. The car ferries are loaded backwards so you have to back up onto the ferry and into a pretty tight position. Well, we made it onto the ferry with a few minutes to spare. So, it can be done, plane to ferry in one hour... if you know what's involved ahead of time. By the time we made it over to STJ, it was past 7 p.m. Everyone was starving, and we still needed to "open up" our house which had been shut up for 6 months. We dumped the "guests" at Shipwreck Landing to sit down and have some dinner while DH and I hurried onward to the house. After 6 months, the driveway and paths were overgrown and the house was stuffy, humid and hot. We turned on the lights, the ac, and swept up a little. The first day's travel was so exhausting, non of the senior citizens had to much to say about arriving in the dark to what appeared to be a hut in the middle of a jungle. I thought about all the folks who rent villas and are flabergasted when they show up at a place where someone might not have been in a while. It takes a couple of days for the critters to realize that they aren't welcome indoors anymore. The mice, the Palmetto bugs, the geckos take a while to clear themselves out. By the third day, we'd cleaned up the place and everything was civilized again. Things I thought were notable on this trip:
1. The coral reef at Hawksnest was looking much better.
2. Fish life at Maho Bay and Hansen Bay was excellent.
3. I miraculously saw 3 large sea turtles in Hansen Bay (I guess the curse is truly broken).
4. Miss Vie's sister who made the wonderful tarts died (so sad) and now Miss Vie's daughter makes them. They're okay, but even she admits they cannot match her aunt's. She and her pies will be sorely missed.
5. The economy has really taken a toll on the tourism. STJ was not nearly as busy as winters past. Prices seem more competitive. We paid only @$65/day for our car from Budget as opposed to $85 two years ago during high season.
6. The winter swells effected visibility wherever the surf was up, but the water is still as wonderful as ever.
7. The development efforts continue but the public seems more alert to environmental impact especially on the water so it's hopeful that STJ's resources will be better conserved/preserved.
8. If anyone gets a chance, go out to the new restaurant at Concordia Eco-camp. It's the best setting! Open air up on a cliffside overlooking the south shore. Great food! Amazing views. Open Tues. - Sat. Should call ahead for more info. What a wonderful addition to the east/south side of the island.
The return flight was 5 minutes early. Go figure.

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