Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nov. 7, 2013--Thursday:

Had to be out of the room by 10 am.  I was dying to snorkel Cowpet again, but with no drier, I didn't.   We did have breakfast at Sangria's overlooking the bay.  What a view to have with breakfast!
 Angie and I had talked about snorkeling the right side of Cowpet, but we never made it there.  So after breakfast I walked over there and checked it out.  Looked like some interesting snorkeling.
 Then I walked back.  This shows another reason why we love this beach---lots of shade, chairs, and hardly anybody there!
 One final photo of Cowpet Bay at the Elysian. 
Our flight wasn't until 2:45, so we had plenty of time to get to the airport.  We stopped at Secret Harbor again just to see it when the surf wasn't up.  The day we tried to snorkel here, it was pretty rough.  Looked pretty great today.
 The water sure doesn't take long to clear up when the surf is down.
 We had tried snorkeling on the far right side.  Too bad that day wasn't like this one!
 Then we headed on towards the airport.  This is us on our way!
 View of the runway from the gas station.
 Right next to the airport is Lindbergh Bay.  We had gone here on our one cruise when we followed Hurricane Tomas and all the other beaches were actually closed.  We were determined to go to the beach that day and this one was close to Crown Cruise Port and open.  Otherwise we probably never would have thought to check it out.  It looked even prettier today.
 There were plenty of people enjoying it today. 
 Then it was on to the airport and to return the car.  That was interesting---Ken dropped me off with the luggage, then drove around trying to find somewhere to drop the car off.  Finally someone got in the car with him and rode back to where I was.  He called someone (Budget, I hope), and closed out the rental.  Didn't get a receipt for it, though.  They certainly do car rentals strangely on St. Thomas!!!

Once in the airport I was surprised that we had to go through customs!  Being a US territory, I didn't expect that.  Good thing we had our passports with us since I had hoped to go to Virgin Gorda.  I asked if we could just use our driver's license and was told that and proof of citizenship would suffice.  Wonder what happens if you just have a driver's license and no proof of citizenship?  Is that how the lady in the McDonald's parking lot became homeless?!

Soon we were on our way.  We had a nice view of Crown Harbor from the plane.  Lindbergh bay is the bay cut off this picture to the right.
Loved the ever changing cloud formations during our 2.5 hour flight back to Miami.  Even got treated to a few fleeting rainbows.

 Even saw some islands along the way.

 I assume these were part of the Bahamas.
In Miami we had another 4 hour layover.  Then another 2.5 hours flight to St. Louis. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nov. 6, 2013--Wed.:

Time to check out of Bluebeards and head back to the East side.  It was our last full day on the island.  Depression was beginning to sink in just thinking about that!  Took a couple last pictures of Bluebeard's Beach.
 Another view of Bluebeard's Beach from the check in/out building.  The far right side of the beach (more good snorkeling) with the Marriott behind the next bay. 
 The road to the resort is a mess, but they were actually working on it when we were leaving.
 some of the pretty flowers around the area.

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to hit up Sapphire beach and Smith's again.  Hindsight, it probably would have been better to snorkel at Bluebeard's and Cowpet (by the Elysian) again---the winds and surf had shifted.  It was a bit rough at Sapphire and somewhat murky.  But we swam all the way out to the reef where it was clearer.
 some of the healthy coral out by the point
 not a good picture of this guy, but he left an impression.  He kept darting out at me as if to chase me away.  I also found his coloring unusual.  Looks like the fish that are usually yellow, black and white, but he had a definite blue tint to him.  I've been told this is a male Sergeant Major and he's guarding "his" eggs.  What a family man!
 Also saw this blue trumpet fish out there.  They're usually brownish and/or yellow.
 Looking back towards shore from the reef area---note the splashing of the waves on the rocks.
 topography at the reef
 more of the healthy reef
 and some more.
 Our porcupine puffer friend peaking out to say hello.
 lots of Elkhorn coral with schools or fish hanging out at them.
more reef topography.
 a normal colored trumpet fish, not sure why he's lying on the ground like that!
 schools of blue stripe snapper
 shallow reef
 school of surgeonfish
The sky, clouds and water were looking especially pretty when we got out.
 Looking out from Sapphire beach towards the many islands off shore there. 
 zoomed in view of the point by the snorkeling area.
 We thought the closest island was named Shark island, but apparently that's just a name Angie made up.
 From there, we decided to pick up a sandwich from the food truck up the street from Sapphire and had a pic nic at Smith's Beach.  We got pulled pork sandwiches and it was very good.   From our pic nic table at Smith's, we watched a couple snorkelers.  The lifeguards weren't too happy with them going past the buoys.   I don't remember the lifeguards caring the other day when we were there. 
 to the far left past the buoys is another nice reef which I had hoped to check out more thoroughly today, but the sand was really churned up so we just swam a bit inside the buoys, then left.
 You can actually see the parking area in this picture.  It was great being that close to the beach.  
We went back to our resort from here and started packing.  Then shared a pizza and salad from Sangria's---both were very good.  That's also when we noticed how clear and calm the waters were there at the Elysian.  I guess the direction of the surf had changed and we didn't realize it before we went to Sapphire and Smith's.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nov. 5, 2013--Tuesday:

Today was the day the "kids" flew home.  They had a morning flight, so we were up and at it by 8am.  It happened to be one of the prettiest days we'd had so far.  The sun was shining brightly.  But even so, they said they had quite a bumpy flight back to Miami.
Finally got to see Charlotte Amalie with blue skies
 and blue water.
 I imagine these are some of the boats out of Charlotte Amelie that take cruisers on pirate excursions.
 I meant to take a better picture of gas prices, but never did.   Gas was $1.90/gallon more here than back home in St. Louis!  Another disadvantage to having the big Jeep Wrangler Sport as opposed to the intermediate car I had reserved. 
 We found the highways are not marked well, so it was nice seeing the starfish signs when we were going to one of those areas. 
After dropping Angie and Josh off at the airport, we headed back to the Elysian to hit the water and enjoy some snorkeling with sunshine. 
Also loved that we always had free beach chairs here.
 looking towards the left bank that we would follow around to a pretty nice reef on the other side.
 some of our fishie friends
 This is around the point and continuing left.
 Still going left.  Would love to have that house!
 Another file fish
 a yellow wrasse
 We usually turn around before we get to the sandy area by the house above, but this time we went all the way to the sand.  Right before the sandy area we found another lively reef with some more fish I've not seen anywhere else on the island.  I saw some of these guys in St. Lucia last year, but nowhere else.
 This reef was a bit worn, but had lots of places for fish to hide.
 Hadn't seen one of these guys before.
 And there were a few of them.
 At one point I looked to my right and this huge barracuda was about 5 feet from me.  He had to have been at least 3 or 4' long. 
 He slowly swam off over the sandy area.  There he goes.
 These needle fish are hard to get a good picture of, but I finally got one.  They hang out at the surface of the water and if you don't look up, you never see them.  I tried to get a good picture of their cousins (Bally-whos, or something like that), but wasn't successful.  They have round yellow tails.
 Here's Ken playing with an anchor.  I think the anchor won.
 Here's a smaller barracuda (2' maybe?) that likes to hang out at the shallows of the Elysian beach.
After a couple hours, we headed back to our room to grab some stuff for a sleep over at the Wyndham Bluebeard's Beach Resort.  I wanted to see how those rooms are, so I booked us a night there.  It seems a lot more available then the Elysian so we have more opportunity to use our VIP discount here.  Noone was willing to commit to staying there without seeing it first, though.  We still had our room at the Elysian, too, so didn't have to hassle with packing up and checking out.

Bluebeard's Beach Resort:

View of the beach from the check in building.
Nice grounds!  They even have a little store on property and this large chess board.
 View of the condos from the beach side.
 Although the "crab" town, or whatever they called the muddy area seen partly here at the bottom left seems to be a mosquito nursery. 
 Compared to a lot of Wyndham pools I've been to, this one is very nice.  Even like the pool bar.  But compared to the Elysian pool, this one pales in comparison.  It also doesn't have a hot tub.
Inside our studio unit:
It is a good size for a studio.  The bed was comfortable.
 The front door was to the left; bathroom to the right.  Didn't like that there were steps from the kitchen/bathroom area up to the rest of the unit.
 Note the steps again.  Could see me falling down them in the middle of the night.
 king bed.  small dining table for 2 under the tv in the livingroom. 
 I liked how the ottoman's lid flipped to make an end table.
 small but adequate kitchenette.
 nice size bathroom, but still no tub.
 from patio door towards front door.  I believe the couch is also a fold out.
View from our patio in building E.
All in all, I liked the resort.  Probably not as much as the Elysian.  But snorkeling is good here, too (when the weather cooperates).  If we couldn't stay at the Elysian, I wouldn't hesitate staying here.
We did head out to snorkel.  It was still somewhat murky, but better then a few days ago. 
blue tang
smooth trunkfish
 This huge fish swam by as I was looking at the shell.  Some sort of jack?  Almost missed him!  Made the snapper and grouper on St. John seem small!  Would have liked to have gotten a better picture of it, but it swam too fast for me to chase down.
 Back to checking out the shell critter.
 a graveyard of sea biscuits.
more squid buddies
 There were actually 4 high hats here.  This is the only picture I got with more then just the bigger one.
 Another stingray in the sand.  Note the barb on the top of the tail, that's what you don't want to be stuck with!
As the sun was dipping low, we made our way out of the water.
Looked like we were going to have a great sunset, but it sort of fizzled out.  In fact, we didn't have a great sunset any of the 9 nights we were there!
 Applied Photoshop camera filter for some color.
 It is a good place to watch cruise ships go by!  We didn't have problems with sand fleas at sunset, but the mosquitos sure were bad!  Even when we went to the pool after taking pictures the mosquitos ate us alive here.  Didn't have that problem anywhere else on the island.  I think it's because of the "crab habitat" muddy area between the condos and the beach.
We decided to go for fast food that night.  Note to self---don't go to McDonald's on St. Thomas!!!  Their service was about as good as Molly Malone's and again my dessert was foiled!  They were out of ice cream!