Archive for February, 2012

I received a call from the school nurse.  News 2 in St. Thomas wanted to do a nutrition commercial and wanted to feature the students.  Isabella was one of 12 selected to be on camera.  She was assigned “portion control”, which had five tips she was suppose to memorize.  Her smile stretched from ear to ear when I picked her up from school that day.

“Did the school call you?”

“Yes, they did,” I said.

“Does Daddy know?”  She was glowing when we got into the car.


Are you ready?


She would have to sacrifice her Saturday, but she was ready.  Joaquin stated, “If it is for a Nintendo 3DDS, you can borrow mine for the commercial.”

“It is a nutrition commercial.”

“What’s nutrition?”  Joaquin asked.

“It is when you eat right and exercise,” explained Isabella.

“Oh, that’s going to be a boring commercial!”  Joaquin replied.



Isabella's school


We dropped Isabella off to start her movie career…..oh I mean read her 30 second script.



Lights, Camera, Action


I was able to watch her do her part, which might have been more nerve racking for me.  She stumbled a couple of time, but eventually made it through with flying colors.



"3, 2, and ....."


This was not your typical Saturday, but we will always remember it.  We hope to be able to put up the clip when it airs in March.

The Beginning


We went to Magen’s Bay to relax and get some sun.  The kids hardly ever stay on the beach.  They start inching their way down to the water even while we are trying to get their cover ups off, set up the blankets, and douse them with sunblock.


Isabella's Hole

Joaquin's Hole


Today they were focused on “a project” that they had been discussing for several days now.


Project Name:  ”Let’s Build a Giant HOLE at the Beach”



They soon found out why playing in the sand is my second favorite activity at the beach, second only to getting a tan.  I love sand castles and looking for shells and digging giant holes.  BUT when you dig a hole, you MUST bury someone in it!  Those are the rules.



Is that a cabbage patch?

Isabella eagerly agreed to put in the hard labor to cover Joaquin with sand.  I told her to not go past his head.


Oh, no, it is just a Joaquin head sprouting from the ground.



Don't forget to water it.


We will come back next week to see if we can pick our Joaquin head from the patch.  They are a little finicky.  You have to know exactly what time to pick them.  I know from experience.


Entrance to the Mafolie Hotel


We have eaten every meal at home this week, so, we decided to go out to dinner for Saturday night.  We had gone to Bolongo Bay where Iggies Grill and Beach Bar is during the day.  Jonathan and I just relaxed and read on our Kindles.  The kids played with their sand toys.  We watched people on paddle boats, sailboats, and jet skis just increasing our desire for our own water toys!!


Path leading down to the restaurant.


I called the Mafolie Hotel and Restaurant to make reservations.  We came home after a hard day’s work.  Well, who am I kidding?  No one.  We came home after the beach and showered.  That is one of the best feelings, to get all the sand and grit off of your body.  I have even discovered sand in my ears a couple of times!




We descended the narrow, stone stairway and followed the signs to the restaurant.  With the ocean breeze sweeping past, we entered the lobby.  A favorite quality to the St. Thomas restaurants is the open air feel since most do not have walls nor windows.  The Mafolie Restaurant did have drapes that they can swing down to protect patrons from the frequent rains.  I mean, we do live in the tropics.





View (B)


We were escorted to our table which had a breathtaking view.  This view is to the south of the island including the harbor and downtown area.  You can see Water Island in the distance in View (B).  We haven’t ventured over there yet, but do plan to do that in March.




The kids


Jonathan and I commented on how much we have enjoyed taking our kids to these restaurants.  Sometimes, in our hectic lives, we forget to just stop and talk with the kids about their day or friends.  This has been a great bonding experience for our family.


Open Air


We had 5:30 reservations and seemed to be some of the first people there, besides a few at the bar when we first walked in that may have actually been staying in the hotel.



Pork Tenderloin


BBQ Ribs


The food was amazing.  Isabella loved her pork tenderloin, prompting mommy and daddy to try some!  Joaquin’s BBQ ribs, with subtle clove taste in the sauce,  just fell off the bone.


Mahi Mahi


The Mahi had been recommended by the server, so, both Jonathan and I ordered that.  And Thank Goodness we didn’t have to share with each other.  We both just savored every bite.  The fish topped with a  “lobster and shrimp toss” was gobbled up with the rest of the meal.


The City Lights

It was a great memory.  Good food, Great views, and Exceptional Company.



This is how we spent the last morning altogether before the next day when Nana had to leave.  We made fresh coffee and sat in our new patio chairs and gazed at God’s glory, which includes the scenery and my family because He made them all.



Hey cuties




Three of my favorite people


We wanted to have a nice relaxing day, and since we all had gotten our fair share of sun at Trunk Bay, we were not in a rush to get to the beach.  We tried to go to Secret Harbour, but we couldn’t find a parking spot.  So, we tried a new beach.



Look at the Ducks


Sapphire Beach is located on the east end making it a long ways, but just like other beaches on the east end, the trip is worth it.  Upon lugging our stuff and staking out a spot, we stumbled on ducks!!  I know what you are thinking, “Well, they are just ducks.”  But I have never seen ducks at the beach.  I thought they were fake at first, but who puts fake ducks at the beach.  They provided pretty cheap entertainment for the afternoon.



Sapphire Beach


Sapphire Beach has wonderful parking.  What?  That has to be listed in the amenities here.  There is a guard, but they just tell you where to park and give you a free parking pass.  Sapphire also has a marina where you can meet your captain for the day on a snorkel adventure, fishing expedition, or dinner cruise.  Jonathan and I have done all three during our trips to the island.  It is a fairly large beach with sport rental equipment, snack bar, and a good view of St. John in the background.


Sapphire Beach



Good Looking Bunch


We choose to hunker down underneath the shade of a huge tree on the beach to avoid sunlight for a couple of hours.  Of course, our kids shoveled in their food and raced off to the water.




This picture shows you the labor and pain that goes into a beach day.  All of your crap that you take, sunblock, more sunblock, coverups, food, drinks, equipment, towels…….etc.  But once that is all done, the breeze whisks away the hardship.


Pretty busy



Love this one


We also wanted to try to take a few more pictures while Nana was here, so, she could remember it when she was in a blizzard back home just in case she starts to forget.



The sun is setting.


This was the perfect way to end her trip.  Oh, NANA, we miss you!!!!



Cruz Bay


I am sitting on my porch overlooking the ocean with my hair naturally drying in the salty breeze thinking of her.  It is almost a week since we did this trip with my mom.  My mom is such a special person for me, and St. John is a very special place that we knew instantly when she booked her trip, that we would take her over there.


Welcome to St. John


St. John is located just a few miles away from St. Thomas making it a fifteen to twenty minute boat ride from Red Hook in St. Thomas to Cruz Bay in St. John.  The ferry leaves on the hour every hour until eleven o’clock at night or so.  We have been here five weeks and hadn’t made the trek yet, but now that Nana was here, it was time.



The Ferry Ride


So, we loaded the crew up in the car, nicknamed “Squeaky” for obvious reasons, and grabbed some Mc’Donalds and drove to Red Hook.  The kids really wanted to sit on the top part of the ferry, which is the best seat in the house except if it rains!!


From this side


But we were lucky, it didn’t rain at all.  We all were able to watch the other boats speed by and watch St. Thomas growing smaller in the background.


Bye St. Thomas


In the distance, Red Hook, one of the hopping spots for St. Thomas, grew smaller and smaller.  You would think, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just another island, right?”  No.  St. John is the most unspoiled place I have been.  It is 2/3 National Park donated by Mr. Rockefeller in the 1950′s to the government to preserve the island for all to enjoy.  Cruz Bay has several shops and restaurants, but once you leave there, you enter the jungle with pristine beaches all around you.  Like St. Thomas, there are quite a few beaches to pick from while you are there.


The overlook to Trunk Bay


Trunk Bay is one of the most photographed beaches in the world.  It actually was one of Jonathan’s automatic screensavers on his cell phone when we bought it.


My painting I did for Michelle Robertson's birthday last year.


And I suspect, one of the most painted beaches in the world!


Awww...Trunk Bay


We selected Trunk Bay.  The sand is soft and the water so clear that you can just watch the fish swim by as you wade into the water.  This is designated as a National Park, so, there is a small entrance fee, but it is worth it.  They have fabulous facilities and …..what can I say about the view?  I got to display my new floppy beach hat, a must in the sunny islands of the Caribbean.




We heard a local saying that he just loves Trunk Bay.  He said, “If by some freak chance, I see a small rock, I want to tell the Lifeguard, Hey there is a rock there and that shouldn’t be!”  We all chuckled, but we knew what he meant.


Look at how clear the water is!


We decided to buy some snorkel equipment to get the kids used to it because they should learn that hobby, right?  We had tried two years ago in a cold swimming pool in Taos, NM.  Needless to say, it didn’t go well, but now they were two years older, we were in warm water, and their swimming ability has grown exponentially.


That's the lifeguard on a paddle board.


The lifeguards are there to watch the safety of the swimmers and the safety of the coral reef that surrounds that huge rock out there.  That is where the snorkel path is with signs of what you are seeing.  That was neat.  We have seen squid, lots of fish, and coral out there.  One particular fish is called the Parrot Fish.  It is brightly colored in parrot-like colors, and you can hear it in the water as it scrapes the coral for food!



The kids learning to snorkel.


I have to say that the kids did pick up snorkeling.  And like everything, it was hard to get them to even break for lunch.





What is that? A Shark? No, it is a one horn butt fish!!!  That is a common theme on T’shirts, shorts, and hats on St. John, since it is so well known for snorkeling.



Oh, no, it was really Nana snorkeling out there!


I was so proud of my mom.  She just took to snorkeling like a fish to water!  She has always been a swimmer, so, I didn’t think she would have trouble!


This is fun!


We stayed at Trunk for over four hours.  Then it was off to the showers.  We had brought a change of clothes, so, we could eat at one of the delicious restaurants in St. John before boarding the ferry back to St. Thomas.




Great job Nana and Isabella and Joaquin!


As we packed up our things, we realized that we had gotten quite a bit of sun!  Jonathan, my mom, and I were a little toasty!  The kids were better because I think you are more cautious with their young skin.



Hey, there little guy!


As we were leaving after our fresh shower, which is so invigorating, we spotted some local life crawling across the walkway.   To silence Joaquin’s multiple requests to take a picture of the hermit crab for my blog, I snapped one quickly, then I noticed tons more crawling in the brush.



Shopping in St. John


We headed back to town to have a relaxed dinner, but discovered they didn’t start seating until 5:30PM.  I’m starting to see a trend with the local restaurants with 5:30 as apposed to 5:00 as the first seating time.  Interesting?  So, what do you do in St. John while waiting on your reservation?  SHOPPING and get a drink or two at the bar!



Raspberry smoothie


The kids and my mom ordered raspberry smoothies, which were absolutely satisfying.  I know because I had to have a sip for quality control.





Jonathan and I had an adults drinks!





Jonathan said as we were throwing our beach stuff on the floor by the bar (very classy), “Should we be at the bar with the kids?”  Oh, honey!  No one even cares as it seems to be fewer rules down here.



The view from the bar


We noticed the harsh work environment for the bartender.


Our Table for Dinner


Then it was time to be seated.  We ate at Bistro on the Water Front.  It is upscale with wonderful food and excellent service.  I always get the Caribbean lobster, which is like a regular lobster except it doesn’t have the large claws.  I have to say that it is the best lobster I have ever had.



Hello There


View from table


We ate and drank and visited while watching the sunset over St. Thomas in the background.  Then we gathered up all of our “stuff”, which seemed to have multiplied somehow, and headed over to the ferry for our ride home.


Just another wonderful dinner





Entrance to Bolongo Bay


Tuesday was a day of shopping.  Wednesday was a day of eating.  We had early dinner reservations making the beach a hard choice for this particular day.  So, my mom, Jonathan, and I decided to have a leisurely morning followed up by driving and going out to lunch.  Since this was my mom’s first trip to the Caribbean, she was up for anything.  Jonathan and I picked Iggies Beach Bar and Grill.  We had been here at least once every time we came on vacation.


More Beach



Located at Bolongo Bay, Iggies Beach Bar and Grill offers a laid back atmosphere with a killer view.  The menu includes burgers, fish sandwiches, nachos, salads, and so much more.  They also have a dinner menu for after five.  We love going there because the food is reasonable and delicious.  And you knew I would talk about it, Iggies has great parking!!!






As soon as you enter Iggies Beach Bar and Grill, you notice the casual feel to the restaurant.  It almost reminds me of a beach version of Cheers.  You actually think that the waitress might refer to you by name.




View from Iggies


Again, you are just steps away from another great beach and more crystal clear water.  After lunch, we went to gather up the kids and get ready for Round Two.  We really wanted to show my mom what wonderful restaurants are located on this rock.  Well, at least, that was the excuse we were using.




Havana Blue


Havana Blue.  Before you just go in to eat, I would recommend making reservations.  I actually made them the day before off of their website.  They start seating at 5:30, which was the time we wanted to go because we wanted to watch the cruise ships as they leave St Thomas on their way to the next port.  Knowing that Wednesday tends to be a high volume of cruise ships, we booked our table, which paid off with us seeing three leave that evening.




Dressed Up



This is one of the restaurants where we will try to dress up before we go.  From a sign by the hostess stand, flip flops are not allowed, but we figured they let that slide because it was just on the kids.  We also went early, so, we could walk around the grounds before our reservation.




I love this one!



The lush, well-maintained grounds are an ideal spot for photos.  Havana Blue is situated on the top level of one of the buildings adjacent to the Marriot Frenchman’s Reef.  By this time, the kids were struggling to smile in all of the pictures.




Reminds me of our prom photo!



You don’t have to be as dressed up as we were, but Havana Blue is a bit on the pricey side, so, it is definitely “an special occasion” to go.




The grounds of the Morning Star Beach Club



The Grounds

We strolled around the grounds looking at the diverse vegetation.  That is one of the best reasons to come to St. Thomas.  You could spend a lifetime exploring all the different species of plants and trees.

Joaquin even pointed out a strange rock.  He said, “Look!  It is a rock that plays music.”  We all chuckled.  Then we decided to take a peek at their beach.  Another great asset of the islands, no beach is off limits.  They are all public beaches.  If you are not a guest of the resort, you cannot use the chairs, the towels, nor the swimming pool.



I see the water!



As we approached the beach, we saw the first of the cruise ships sailing south.  We just stood in amazement as that huge ship slowly floated out of sight.  We observed several other ships pass by, which were just dwarfed in comparison.



A cruise ship leaving port.





They are so huge



Then we could smell the rich aroma of food, which meant, it was time for dinner!!  We made our way back towards Havana Blue.



Havana Blue upstairs



Havana Blue is very modern and the decor minimal to encourage conversation.  As the evening progresses, their blue lights give a watery glow over the entire restaurant.



The restaurant



They have a large cocktail and drink menu.  Sharing with our kids, my mom ordered a passionfruit smoothie while I had a BlueBerrytini with Graham cracker crusted rim.  It tasted just like a blueberry pie.  Then we ordered one appetizer so the kids could survive.



The Food



With help from our wonderful server, I chose the Mahi Mahi featured in the picture above, which is art itself.  (Although, I thought I would serve our frozen tilapia with Potato Buds at home in a similar style in the future.)  Everyone made excellent choices including the kids.  I would like to point out that Havana Blue does have a wonderful Kids’ Menu as well.



The Dessert



So, you know the saying, “Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.”  Well, that saying is completely true.  All of our cares slipped away as we savored diablo choco fondate with coffee ice cream, tempura Latin rice pudding, Strawberry tres leches shortcake, and the biggest most outrageous banana spilt.




More Dessert



We did eat dinner first, I promise!



Banana Split



The banana split was so decadent, it is worth mentioning twice.  The bananas were bruleed just like in a creme brulee making that the talk of the evening.  Then they topped it off with coconut ice cream and homemade whip cream.




The View



So, with our bellies about to burst, we leaned back and enjoyed another breathtaking Caribbean sunset with the sound of the gentle surf in the background.  This was a great way to spend a Wednesday night.




It doesn't get much better.

The coffee shop

Nana was scheduled to be here all week.  Tuesday, she and I got the kids up and took them to school.  Then it was time to eat and shop!!!  We went to Barefoot Buddha, a coffee shop across the street from Havensite.



There we had two of the best lattes that we have ever had.  We just visited like we were back in Red River.  We didn’t have any reason to rush, so, we just enjoyed each other’s company and listened to the tranquil music playing in the background.

The views while you are shopping.


Then we walked across the street to start our shopping.  We looked in several stores.  We had fun in one of them since I had some cash to burn from the sale of one of my paintings in Red River.  My mom didn’t really have much to buy, so, we spent quite a bit of time strolling along the waterfront.

More views


Glancing at my watch, we realized it was time to drop off our treasures and grab the bathing suits and pick up the kids.  We had decided that we wanted to take the kids to Magen’s Bay right after school.

Swimsuits on and Ready to Go


The cool surf and the soft sand was like going to a spa for our tired feet.  Jonathan was working, but he would have the next day off with us.  The kids splashed, my mom worked on her tan, and I just sat there soaking it all in.

More sunblockAww....Magen's


This was going to be a really fun week!!!

One of my new outfits

The entrance

Obviously built for the tourists.

With all the wonderful choices in St. Thomas, we had to decide what to do with our Sunday.  First, we drove up to the famous Mountain Top, which is a huge tourist attraction.

Oh, no, Joaquin, don't look behind you!!



Beautiful picture



Mountain Top is obviously a great photo opportunity for the entire family with picturesque views.  In the distance you can see a couple of the British Virgin Islands as well.






The Crew

Mountain Top is also home to the biggest souvenir shop and one of the best views in town.  You can order one of their famous banana daiquiris, supposedly invented there, while you gaze at the splendor of the island and sea.

A Buyer's Paradise

Secret Harbour


Then we cruised over to Secret Harbour.  After lathering up with sun block, we leapt into the turquoise blue waters.  Nana saw how much the kids have improved on their swimming.  I told her all the details of the stories of our move.  And Jonathan poured the drinks.

Wash up, Joaquin, your hands and your feet.



We ate lunch at the Sunset Grille along the beach.  We enjoyed jalapeno poppers, burgers, pizza, painkillers, and raspberry smoothies.  Then we rolled ourselves back down to the water.  The kids played, we relaxed, and the sun just kept on shining.

I like this photo!

As we were leaving, we noticed the restaurant setting up for their display of the Super Bowl.  We would have stayed, but we had other plans.  We had been invited by our neighbors to their Super Bowl party, which was so……..neighborly!

The Caribbean way to watch the Super Bowl

Now, I know why they call it "The Sunset Grille"


Their home is just a few feet away from ours.  They told us that they had plenty of food, which they did!  Cheese and crackers, chips and dip, chicken wings, BBQ sliders, crab dip, and potato salad were covering their coffee table.  While waiting for the game to start, we visited with their friends, and our kids played with the daughter of one of the couples.  It was a nice way to end the day.

Me and My Mom

Saturday morning is always the best because the kids do not have school, so, we sleep in, and we usually go to the beach.  This Saturday was even better.  My mom was coming on the 4:40PM flight from Atlanta.

The snow in Denver


Her journey originally started on Thursday morning in our hometown of, Red River, NM.  She had to leave at six in the morning to drive to Denver because there was a huge snowstorm settling in the area.

Nana had to dig out her car.


Her flight was on Saturday morning at six.  We were nervous, including her, if the flight would even take off that day.  On Friday, the Denver International Airport reported 600 flights canceled, but my mom’s flight did depart slightly off schedule. She barely made the connection in Atlanta because of the plane being deiced in Denver.

The Best Western


While she was experiencing snow and ice, we got up and packed up some sandwiches and headed to Lindbergh Bay which is the beach located at the airport.  Named Lindbergh Bay, because Charles Lindbergh landed at a nearby field in 1928 while flying from Paris on the Spirit of St. Louis.

Plenty of Space

See what I mean?


The beach doesn’t seem to be very popular among the locals because we haven’t heard anyone mention it, but it is awfully convenient when you are waiting for someone to land at the airport.  There are several hotel/resorts located there including the Best Western.  It is a bit noisy when the planes are leaving and arriving.



Then it was time.  We parked and went to pick up my mom, lovingly called Nana by our kids.  We all hugged and kissed and wept with each other when we saw her. We drove on the waterfront, so she could see the harbor.  Then we decided to eat at………  Fat Turtle.  I know we will have a wonderful time while she is here.

YEAH! She is here!

Wednesday was pre-planned to be a day of exercise and adventure.  After dropping off the kids for school (poor them), Jonathan and I set out to explore.  We did the normal routine of going to the post office and grabbing a quick bite at McDonald’s.  Then we headed west.


The west end of the island is less populated and quieter than the south, north, and east side.  I said to Jonathan, “You do know where we are going, right?”

Botany Bay


“No, but if we just keep going west, we will reach our destination.”


“Oh, okay!!?”

The path to Mermaid's Chair


He was right.  The black road led us to Botany Bay.  This 367 acre, secluded and gated area was a preserve at one point, but now has lots that sell in the million dollar range.  We saw one of the villas from the beach called Siren’s song which rents for $10,000 a week and is for sale for just under four million.  Not bad considering the views and privacy.  Haha.

A building site with a cruise ship on the horizon.



We parked before the gate and had to hike in the one mile to the Mermaid’s Chair.  Although we weren’t really “hikin’ it” because it was on paved roads until the very end.  Jonathan and I made three wrong turns in our hike, which made for a memory and extra calorie loss.

What goes down, must come up!


As you descend, you are surrounded by lush foliage, chirping birds, and salty breezes.  When we reached the area just before the end, there was a nice overlook before the concrete stairs that led you to the bottom.

Tree along path


Pink and Orange Blossoms



Mermaid's Chair in distance

It does have a sign so you know where you are! haha



We were there.  The Mermaid’s Chair.  This is a sandbar that runs from the island to another small island called Little St. Thomas.  I know, really creative.  This is where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet.  On the south, the Caribbean sea and on the north, the Atlantic.







We dropped our backpack and immediately started soaking in the scenery.  The surf came barreling in beating against the black rocks that gutted out in every direction.  We wandered over to one area that had beach chairs and a kayak that are left there by current homeowners.  It also had a small pool created by nature.

Exploring Time

Small pool area

Hold on!

That should be a good spot.


We climbed and leapt from rock to rock to reach a nice viewing spot.  From there, we sat to gaze on God’s beauty.  How different the world is here.  Just miles and miles of blue turquoise water.


That is the real color.


Then we had to “crab walk” down the slick rock face to continue our exploration.  We walked almost every inch of the beach, which connects the two islands.  During that we discovered a sand crab, cactus, and a plethora of rocks and shells.  Joaquin would love that!!!

Pretty steep

Careful Honey!!!

Don't Jump!

While we were there, we were trying to get good angles on the photos, but we had to be careful because of the cliffs.  I told Jonathan, as he was nearing the edge, “If you fall off and break your legs, just remember how long it  took to hike in, and I have a bad back right now!!!”  He just chuckled.

Oh, oh, oh...... Picture by Jonathan of cliff

Picture taken from Little St. Thomas, looking back

Can you find the sand crab?

This beach is a bit rocky, so, would not be a good choice if you were wanting the soft sand experience.  The waters are a little rough as well, but the beach is off the beaten path.  There were six cruise ships in port that day, and we were the only ones at the Mermaid’s Chair the whole time we were there.

Great shell and rock collecting

Strange where these can grow.



Since this was just a scouting trip, we decided to make our return.  That was the hard part.  The hike is only one mile, but is one mile uphill the whole way back.  Because of that, you MUST pack water.  We had read other people’s articles on this hike, so, we knew how important that would be.

Siren's Song, the 6000 sq. ft. villa, looms in the background.

So, mark the Mermaid’s Chair as a must if you love exploring, adventure, views, quiet, hiking, outdoors, and sweat!  We made it out alive and went to eat lunch and enjoy the rest the day had to offer.  We would love to go back and pack a picnic lunch and take the kids.

FUN, FUN, FUN.....