Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oh Gil.

I know, I know.
I'm behind on posts. I have to finish out our British Virgin Island trip (oh I am naughty, drawing it out over 4 months time)! It is a nightmare trying to get the photos to upload and what is a travel post without photos??
So they're coming. Very very late.
I've obviously been overloaded at work, what which our busiest semester, Summer, nearly upon us. The new class begins May 11th.  And we are preparing for an audit this summer so I am basically doing 2 full-time jobs.

But I just had to pop in and say something about Jonathan Crombie's death.  I am so sad. Gil !!
Crombie played Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables.  He died April 15th of a brain hemorrhage.

He wasn't acting so much as Gil, he was Gil; he perfectly captured the spirit of the character from the books!

He was my first movie crush.  I loved Gil in the books and then seeing him on screen, oh...
Maybe he is the reason I love brown hair and brown eyes on men (and married one)!
That thatch of hair, that dimple, that smirk.
He had a soulful, searching, concerned gaze and so much expression in his eyes. 

He captured that irrepressible mischievous teenaged boy so well.  CARROTS!

And the way he said "I'm sorry Anne" with that strange twist of words that sounded like "So-ree."
They don't make people like Gil anymore, not even in books or movies.
Thank God we have Comrie's spirit captured for all time and posterity in the Green Gables series.
Which I now need to go watch again for the umpteenth time...

Remember when they kiss for the first time, on the bridge?? That moment built up forever and each time I watch it I fell as though I am bursting with glee and relief! And then I shout "ABOUT DAMN TIME!" 

We'll miss Jon, he was a kindred spirit.

Friday, March 20, 2015

You think you know someone...

Eli and I have been together for 10 years.  We know each other incredibly well, we grew up together! We know what that tone means, that look, which of the Rocky movies is the other's favorite, and have far too many inside jokes.

But then, the other night, a deep truth emerged that somehow we had gone without knowing all of these years.

And that truth is...
We both despise Russell Crowe!

This makes me love him even more.

--More yacht adventure posts to come! Just been swamped at work prepping for our audit.

Monday, March 2, 2015

clicky linky things

some of my recent finds from the internet:

Ayn Rand reviews children's movies
FUNNY. And educational.

West African peanut soup
Because I love all things peanut and this looks warming on a cold winter's afternoon.

A few good tips on managing jet lag

anyone lived in a pretty how town
one of my favorite cummings poems I have been reading a lot lately.

Kid Snippets: Food Allergies Funny Video
I know these Kid Snippets on YouTube are dumb/annoying, and I usually hate nonsensical stuff like this, but it's funny to hear what children say and the way their minds work, and then the work the adults contribute to match their mouths to the voiceovers.
That was the most confusing description ever.  Just watch it, you'll see. Filmed here in Utah!

 pretty spiked punch necklace
I want this.  It's pretty.

30 day Household Organization detox
Now if only I could actually get myself to do it... I WANT to, it's the follow-through that blows.

How to Find Out Who You Really Are by Anne Lamott
Interesting! I love Anne, so.

every book mentioned in Gilmore Girls

Laurent Durieux
I love love love this artwork! Those Hitchcock memorial movie posters are the greatest, especially the palette on the Psycho one (pictured below).

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ultimate Song Mash-Ups

A break from the British Virgin Island posts (yes, there are plenty more to come! I'm still working on them). 

Song mash-ups exist, we all know this.
But until a few weeks ago, I had no idea just how badass and prolific they were.
I like my mashups fun and gritty--usually a combination of a serious, somewhat dark song, and a current upbeat song.  It lifts the solemnity of the darker song and gives the lighter song a new dimension.

I can't stop listening to "Call me a Hole." It's too catchy and all that darkness infused with pop?
It's as addicting as sour patch kids.  This is a mash-up that has gotten a big following.
It literally makes me fist pump and want to hit up the club.  Even if it is 11am on a Sunday.
It is so fun to dance to!

Other favorite mash-ups:

Drop it like its black
This is just pure badassness. Snoop and AC/DC?? Boom.


" Rock This! " (Queen / Gwen Stefani / Beastie Boys / Nirvana / Michael Jackson & More) 

I usually like my mash-ups to just be 2 artists, but this one is like a moveable feast.

  Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up

This is just damn funny. Because when is Rick Astley not funny?


Take Me On The Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne vs. a-ha)

Another ridiculous mix.  Who thinks of these??!

Commander's Back In The USSR
This video makes me dizzy, but a great nutso mix from several genres.

Stayin' Alive In The Wall

Pink Floyd and the BeeGees are another unexpected but delightful combination.
The depth of "The Wall" with that hypnotic disco beat is sweet!!

  Super Jumper 

I love Abba, I love Van Halen, and this is another silly little pleasure.  Both bands are lighthearted, so the combination is like a donut with a cookie with a lollipop on it. Covered in Pop Rocks.

The Beatles vs Joan Jett vs Cypress Hill vs House of Pain vs RATM

Another big group mix, but I couldn't resist The Beatles & House of Pain combo.

Enter Toxman  

 This gives "Toxic" a hardcore edge.

 Ice Ice Shady

To end my list on a funny note! So ridiculous, so awesome.  Trippy to see Slim's raps come out of Vanilla's mouth.




BVIs Part 3: Bubbly Pool to Great Harbour & Soggy Dollar

I'm glad I am writing down all of my memories of this trip while they are fresh.
I kept a journal onboard of course.  The handwriting is a joke, both because I am depressingly out of the habit of scrawling pages at a time and due to the movement of the boat.  And living on the ocean--some pages are undecipherable as the ink met the salt water.

So this is my more detailed journal.  I can type faster with my 3 fingered hen-pecking faster than I can write (watching me type is a sight to behold and freaks people out every time. I literally do 80 words per minute using only 3 fingers. Yes, I am a freak. Respect.).

After leaving Cane Garden Bay we headed to the east side of Jost Van Dyke. Jost is the smallest of the 4 major islands in the British Virgin Islands.  There are a bunch of smaller islands and cays, but this is the smallest of the big ones and is in the north end of the whole archipelago.
The mood of Jost Van Dyke is laaaaaaaid baaaaaaaaack.  All the way.
It was glorious.
No one knows the origin of the island's name--no records of a person named Van Dyke.  There are old ruins of some sugar plantations here but it seems to have been more of a cotton center with about 87% of the island's population being slaves, as of the early 19th century.
Today Jost is called the "New York of the Caribbean Island" because it is the commercial center of the BVIs and has the best night life!

We tried our hand at anchoring for the first time in a little cove by Diamond Cay off of Jost.
We had been using mooring balls up until this point and both because we knew we'd be anchoring later in the trip, and because there were no mooring balls here, we decided to do several run-throughs in this abandoned cove.  Preferable to learning on-the-job as you're surrounded by expensive yachts!
To anchor you note the depth you are at and there is more hollering back and forth between the current captain at the wheel and the sailor at the bow feeding out the anchor chain (there is a switch, not manually).  It runs about a foot per second.  Then you throw the boat into reverse and see if the anchor holds.  There is also the anchor swing path you have to consider, especially when other boats are anchored near you.

We anchored successfully a few times and then hopped in our POS dinghy to go to the dock at Foxy's Taboo - a little pub that is one of the few signs of civilization in that area of the island.  We tied up and started walking.
Eli had heard about the Bubbly Pool in his research of the island and we thought it sounded so unique and fun that we added it to the itinerary.  Royce was feeling awful--his throat swelled up early on in the trip and he was miserable, but luckily he healed quick and was shipshape by the next day.  He stayed behind at Taboo--the hammock and an ice cold water was calling his name, so Eli, Grace, and I started our hike.

Walking along the large, shallow bay
To get to the Bubbly Pool, you are vaguely instructed to "follow the road behind Taboo."  Obviously the road goes 2 directions so we hazarded a guess and went to the right.  The only life we came across were the wild goats and a local who was taking an edger to some sand...? We had no idea what he was doing but he was too intent on his work to guide us so we kept trekking.  Soon we came to an enormous shallow bay--all of it was no more than a foot deep--and still no indication we were going the right way.  Bubbly Pool is supposed to be a giant tourist attraction and we were in the Caribbean during peak season, but we didn't run into anyone.  We passed the bay and came to a grove of trees that ran along a nasty brown inland sea pond and finally there was a blue arrow pointed on a tree! We took this as a good sign we were going the right direction.  The scramble through a low wooded area then turned into a climb up an exposed rock hill.  We then walked along the side of this small peak which felt desert-like, between the hot rocks and a few cacti here and there.
We were all marveling at the diversity of this hike--from sea to woods to desert! There were rocks painted with a warning about the "POISON TREES." They were both funny and ominous, with hand-drawn arrows pointing at these supposed "POISONOUS TREES" (there were multiple types of trees and we could not figure out which ones were poisonous)! Our favorite simply said
"DO NOT STAND UNDER POISON TREES" - good life advice for all of us.
We joked about it thoroughly and didn't leave the trail to investigate of course, but curious me looked it up later and poison trees is no joke! They are referring to the native Manchineel trees that killed Ponce de Leon and that Carib Indians used to tip their arrows with to kill enemies! People can be killed by being tied to the trunk of inhaling vapors, and the advice to not stand under them is because a drop of rain that touches the tree and then you will blister your skin.  These suckers are dangerous. They take the paint off of cars parked under them.  Columbus called the fruit "death apples" and the only animals that can eat the fruit are land crabs. No wonder they are the most poisonous tree in the world!

 As we walked Eli regaled us with the horror story of people that had been killed at the Bubbly Pool during high tide and reminded us how dangerous it can be if you go too far out past the small cove area.

The Bubbly Pool is a little protected cove.  It is like a small scale bay that is protected by big boulders that form a natural rock chute that sends big waves coming directly in from the ocean flying in, and creating white foamy bubbles as they enter this small protected cove.  Hence the name Bubbly Pool.
It is pretty calm during low tide, but if people get too close to the chute as it is pulling water outward, it can suck you out and you get bashed against the rocks and game over.  If you're lucky you might come out with a concussion but even rescuers have been killed.

These warnings were brought home when we arrived at the Bubbly Pool and were welcomes by a huge warning sign telling us that we could die and it would be our own fault, but by the way here is a life ring, just in case.

We were thrilled and astonished to see no one else was at the Bubbly Pool.  Ecstatic over our good luck at having this hidden gem to ourselves, we stripped down to our swimwear and jumped right in.
It didn't take long for Eli to discover that he could sit with his back to the chute and be shoved into the pool and its swirling bubbles if he timed it right.  I went to join him (this is a good place to wear water shoes, or you could end up with some cuts or slip easily!) and we had way too much fun being shoved around by the waves.  We were careful not to go past the edge of the chute, which I had become GD terrified of after hearing the stories about sure death. As I said before, we were at low tide so it was quite tame. A bunch of colorful little fish were swimming in the pool and crabs were crawling on the rocks! It was delightful.

We had a wonderful time splashing around in the clear waters! We headed back to Taboo, once again passing no one on the way, and collected Royce.  He had eaten one of Taboo's salads and said it was refreshing and had soothed his sore throat.  We took the dinghy back to our anchorage and then headed to Great Harbour.

Great Harbour (photo via: Evening Star)

Stingray I spotted in the harbor
Look at those reefs! We snagged our mooring ball, narrowly missing a lazy sea turtle in the process, and guess what I did?
Yep, into the water.  But not for long, because we wanted to explore the town! Eli, Grace, and I hopped into that terrible dinghy again and slowly buzzed up to the dock.  We were there in the early afternoon, so nothing was happening at the famous Foxy's but we made plans to return that night.  We found a delightful hammock that Eli decided to nap in while Grace and I wandered the main road (well, it was a dusty sandy path).  A wild dog followed us the entire time, for about an hour, as we traipsed around, despite that fact that we never fed or petted her! It was sweet.  She would wait for us as we went inside the little shops.
I was dying to try the local "honey chicken" and cornbread but they were closed for their afternoon naps when we got to the cafe.  I found a beachside swing that I had to check out, naturally.  They have a darling church painted bright yellow.  The water was a stunning turquoise color.  It really is a beautiful bay!

When we got back from our wandering, I wanted to do more wandering--on the water! I hopped in the kayak and Grace joined me for a spin through the moored boats and up to shore, where the turtles like to hang out by the sea grass in the shallows.
Soon enough we were being called back to the boat to hit up the famous (infamous?) Soggy Dollar Bar! We took the dinghy around the edge of the bay over the White Bay, where the bar resides.
There is no dock in White Bay, meaning once you moor or anchor your boat, you're either taking your dinghy/kayak and pulling it up on shore (you will get wet in the process), or just saying to hell with it and swimming up.  Hence the name of perhaps the most famous bar in the Caribbean, Soggy Dollar.  They have clothespins on a line hanging in the bar where they clip up money people have bought their cocktails with to let it dry before it goes in the register.

The Soggy Dollar is also famous for The Painkiller, the official cocktail of the BVIs.
This is where it was invented, so we held off on having any painkillers the whole trip so we could try the original! After this we had them a few more times but Soggy Dollar is definitely best.
The Painkiller is a creamy mix of Coco Lopez, pineapple and orange juice, and local dark rum.
They serve it in a plastic cup and pour in the ingredients over ice, mix it by pouring it into another large mixing cup (any cocktail ordered at the bar goes into this mixing cup--that's just how they do it in the BVIs!!) and then back into your cup.  Fresh nutmeg (it grows here!) is then ground over the top.  It tastes like Christmas in a cup.  It is sooooooo good!
Eli was disappointed because he thought the painkiller would be more like a spin on a mojito--clear liquors, refreshing, rather than creamy.  And he is not a huge coconut guy.
But I am one to be caught drinking coconut milk from the can while making curry and eating coconut oil by the spoonful, so I was in heaven!
We all walked barefoot down the lovely white beach (White Bay has been named very accurately) and admired the grey storm clouds inching toward the sun.
We went back for a second painkiller and to play their famous Ring Game, which all of us managed to secure within our first 5 minutes of trying!! It was a really fun challenge, and the best part was that it is played standing barefoot on a gorgeous beach with reggae playing and a swarm of people laughing.  This is no uppity bar with women who refuse to get their hair wet prancing around in high heels! Because of the lack of dock, everyone here is low maintenance and has the same goal in mind:

Soggy Dollar ! Woman on the far left is playing the ring game with her back turned.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BVIs Part II: The Caves to Soper's Hole to Cane Garden Bay

We left Kelly's Cove to swing around Norman Island to the caves, where pirate's treasure was discovered! There are rumors that more gold is stashed there, but we didn't find any (if we had, we would have bought a boat and moved to the Caribbean permanently)!

I was terrified at the prospect of giant, dark sea caves on the side of a cliff.  Who knows what is living in there, in the dark, ready to latch onto your leg???
I put on my fins, goggles, and grabbed my snorkel, and stood at the edge of our boat, gazing at those big black mouths on the caves, fidgeting with the plastic rim on my goggles, thinking up excuses.
Everyone was gathering their things and I was imagining all the God-awful shit that could go down, perched on the edge of the most beautiful water in the world.  Maybe it was the water that did it.  I proclaimed "screw it, I'm scared and I'm doing it anyway!" and dove in.
I took this photo and added the quote because it was waaaaay too applicable to this situation.

And damn, am I glad I went in those caves.  The snorkeling was incredible and going into a naturally formed sea cave was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  It was creepy and weird and with the absolute darkness enveloping you and the waves smashing against the end of the cave sounding like a dragon breathing, and not knowing where the end of the cave is---you get this adrenaline rush! It felt good to conquer my fears and I was laughing because I thought I was the only one being a nervous worrywart, expecting an albino shark to come out at us from the darkness (among other ridiculous imagined "what ifs") but the 4 of us were huddling together and Royce, Eli's dad, refused to hand over his waterproof flashlight because he wanted it for himself! At one point we were being pushed further into the darkness of the cave and were all gripping one another when Royce, who has a hysterical sense of humor and watches way too many horror flicks, screamed "OH GOD! GET OUT! GET OUT OF THE CAVE!" and we all started swimming like mad to escape and re-entered the sunshine in a fit of giggles.  We went into every single cave and seeing the wildlife and rocks inside was incredible.  We were also the only ones there, so we swam back to the boat with a badass swagger (badass swim swagger...?).  Everyone got back onboard and I took my time floating and playing out there free in the water, without a life jacket or flippers--just me! It felt so good!
Eli decided to join me and leapt in, and then Grace joined him, and it quickly evolved into a diving competition, with the obligatory belly flop from yours truly.  It was delightful, and this was only the beginning to our day! We soon started saying that "a snorkel before breakfast is the only way to start your day" and it rang true the whole trip.

Then it was time to put the sails up again for our expedition to Soper's Hole.
We had only taken the bare minimum of provisions from Tortola, and after 2 nights on the boat wanted to get more goods at Soper's Hole.  Soper's Hole is on the West end of Tortola and has been called the best, most picturesque marina in the BVIs, and it is absolutely true.

Honestly, I assumed that all of the islands would be the same thing--tropical and lush with palm trees, sandy beaches, and shacks selling coconutty rum drinks, and was stunned and delighted as I learned firsthand that each island is unique and they all really do have distinctive atmospheres!

I absolutely loved Soper's Hole and could have stayed there for days.  It feels like Disneyland!
You know the Main Street at Disneyland with the cute Victorian facades and brick path? That was Soper's Hole.  Only the facades weren't just facades--they are functioning buildings and homes and shops.  Eli and Royce camped out at Pusser's and ordered some jerk chicken and pineapple quesadillas, while Grace and I hit up the shops.  I bought a few gifts for friends back home, mostly locally made rum, hyacinth wine, and guava liqueur, and made friends with a sweet snoozing shop dog in a clothing store (I missed my puppy back at home so I had to pet every dog I saw, with the exception of the wild ones).
Pusser's is a restaurant/store that is all over the Virgin Islands.  The name comes from "Purser" because a ship's purser was in charge of making the food.  Pusser's has such good food! And their famous Painkiller in tin cups (that we came home with, of course).  They expanded and became so well known they started making their own famous grog and selling clothing and gifts.
Once we had our little post-swimming snack, we went to the market (in a turquoise and lavender wooden building!), making sure to stock up on sunscreen.  After Day 1 and how often we needed to apply, it became clear we would need 5 bottles to last the trip. 

We loaded our goods into the dinghy, and went back to the boat.
I love this form of travel--living on the boat, and mooring in harbors, then taking the dinghy up to the dock.  We had a terrible dinghy though.  The first night at Conch they were working on it and claimed it was good to go, but that thing has a top speed of 5 miles an hour.  We would watch others in their dinghies, holding more people, flying past us! Our dinghy was loud and dysfunctional and frequently died on us.  Eli was the only one who could make it work most of the time so he was the designated driver and I always hopped off the front to hold it and held others disembark, and when we would drive it at night I held up a little lantern so people could see us in the dark.  Oh the crazy times we had in that dumb dinghy!!!
Cane Garden Bay beach
So we took our goods back to the boat, including some ice, loaded up our icebox, and got some wings marinating.  We bought chicken wings and local jerk sauce and let those babies soak up the seasoning for the afternoon so we could grill them that night. 

Then off to Cane Garden Bay! This picturesque little bay is just over the mountain from Road Town on Tortola.
There is a big reef at the mouth of the bay that took some special navigating to get around. You have to enter during daylight as they only have 2 buoys marking the safe entrance that they do not light up at night.  Apparently the cruise ships stop in here around noon and swarm the place, so I was glad we arrived after and could feel more like locals on an uncrowded beach.

We took the dinghy to the dock and then nestled ourselves into a funky beach bar (and Eli was promptly offered weed) for some tropical drinks!

We didn't stay put for long though. Eli, Grace, and I took a wander down the beach, enjoying watching the pelicans swoop low over the water and then suddenly jam heir beaks into the water for fish.  I tried for 20 minutes and just could not satisfactorily capture this in action in a photo!

We saw a little naked girl running along in the water with a dog that she kept snuggling her face up to and we thought it was the sweetest thing ever.  Her dad was looking on and the three of us were cooing over "the cute little girl and her dog!" when, as we passed them, the dad let us know that it was not their dog--it was a wild street dog!
Wild dogs can be quite terrifying and dangerous (I speak from experience--I was attacked by a stret dog in Delphi, Greece) and I avoid them now, so we were stunned.  This child, who wasn't even 4 years old, was practically swinging from this dog's neck and he was running alongside her! It was very sweet.

We walked along and found a tire swing dangling over the beach that I made good use of and we were walking back when I realized I had left my flip flops somewhere.
My sand-colored flip flops. Whoopee.
As we were searching for them, I was walking just in where the surf came to the sand, keeping my feet cool, when my foot started stinging terribly. I looked down and realized I had stepped on a bee that I assume came in with the surf and was lying on the sand, and shoved the stinger right up in my foot when I stepped onto it.  I scrubbed the spot with some wet sand and we kept going, eventually finding my flip flops lying alone, abandoned on the beach (some locals that looked high as kites and were sitting nearby laughed as I went "OOH!" and ran to pick them up).

And what else did I do at Cane Garden Bay?
Went swimming, duh.
I dove in with my snorkel gear and Grace followed.  We spotted a sea turtle from a distance and there were some fat white fish hanging out under our keel, but diving off the boat we were in about 20 feet of water and didn't see much else.  So I swam and swam and swam.

That's something I really miss about this trip being over--
swimming my ass off and going to bed blissfully exhausted with that kind of unique ache you get from being in the water for hours.

Unfortunately, Grace did not have the same experience.  She was sleeping on deck again.
Cane Garden has a pretty big party scene, so they had a live band playing until early morning.  I drifted in and out but the music didn't bother me much and I finally fell asleep.
Grace said she was relieved when the music finally stopped, until some ambitious partiers returned to their boat (moored near us) and had an even louder after party!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

BVI Part 1: St. Thomas to Road Town to Kelly Cove

The day you have been impatiently awaiting has arrived.
Part 1 of our epic adventure in the British Virgin Islands!

Ok, maybe the former statement isn't true, maybe I am the only one who has been anxiously awaiting a free moment to blog about our trip, and finally said "SCREW IT, I'LL DO IT ON MY LUNCH BREAK!"
the latter statement is entirely true because this trip qualifies as an adventure, and thus far one of the greatest adventures of my life!

We took a red eye out of Salt Lake on a Wednesday night, January 14th.
We were jolly on the ride to the airport, jolly walking through the airport, and we were jolly right up until an alarm went off that proclaimed I had explosives on my body.
I was getting my customary pat down, it was nice and quiet at the airport, being about 10:30 at night, and when the TSA agent swiped her gloves from the pat down and scanned it, all of a sudden the machine started beeping and I glanced at it to see "EXPLOSIVES" flashing in red.  She instantly swept me off to a closer-sized interrogation room with a casual "we'll bring your wife back in a few" hollered over her shoulder at Eli, who was standing there with his luggage, confused.

The room they took me to had a metal table, a chair, and a box of paper hospital gowns.  I gulped hard when I saw those.

South Park episode on TSA - not too far off.  ;)

2 workers began interrogating me.  The typical stuff, you know, where are you travelling, do you travel often, who are you going with, are you affiliated with any terrorist groups foreign or domestic, how do you feel about jihadism.
I was trying to keep my sense of humor as they tore apart all of my bags and swiped my bikinis to scan for explosives.  They didn't think it was funny.  Then I had a "more thorough" patdown, which could be equated to a full body heavy-petting session with a prison bitch.  She was aaaaalllll up in my business and thought I had something in my bra besides my ladies.
"Nope, that's all me. I'm wearing a sports bra, so maybe it feels weird?" I said, laughing nervously (thinking please don't strip search me).  She responded "hmm...." and then gave me a nice little free mammogram.
They scanned their gloves and wipes 2 more times and I was set free.  Mystified, I asked them what could possibly have set the alarm off and she mentioned lawn fertilizer and I realized what an idiot I was for putting down gopher poison before we left.  No, I did not put it down with my bare hands, and I washed them 3 times after that, but there were traces evidently.

When I came out of the room I hardly recognized Eli because he was so pale.  I guess I had vanished for 20 minutes, and when he asked a TSA guy where I was, he was told off and given no answers. For all he knew, I was on my way to prison for trying to Molotov-cocktail the airport!
We met up with his dad and sister at the pub by our gate for a celebratory Mare-made-it-through-security-and-will-be-going-on-the-trip-after-all beer to settle my nerves.

NYC layover face.
Our tickets on the red eye were next to each other and we were thrilled to be the only 2 in our row, but the extra seat didn't do us a terrible amount of good, as neither of us could sleep. 
We swapped spots, we used our new inflatable pillows, we got extremely comfortable and tired, but it just didn't happen.  We landed in New York feeling groggy and miserable.  All I wanted was coffee and a donut, but because it was about 5am, not too much was open except, of course, the golden arches.  We had a nasty breakfast from ShatDonalds and then ordered a giant coffee from Peet's to share.  It was so damn hot I couldn't drink it during the layover.  It had to cool for 45 minutes and then our flight was called and we gulped it down and hopped on the flight to our final destination, St. Thomas in the British Virgin Islands!

Once again, no sleep on the plane, and now we were starting to get wired.  It always terrifies me to fly over the ocean, but soon enough there was that nearly-mythical crystal blue water! We touched down, they opened the door, and we departed the plane on metal stairs to a blast of humid, tropical hair.  We were all bundled in freezing Salt Lake gear--blue jeans and hoodies, and it became our goal to change as soon as possible.

We took a short van ride to the ferry and I ran into the bathroom to strip down and put on shorts and flip flops!  We began filling out the customs form while we waited for the ferry in a bar on top of the ferry stop with... Caribs! Eli and I fell in love with Carib beers during our honeymoon and after 3 years we were happy to introduce them to his sister, Grace.
When it was time to board the ferry, I spotted a sea turtle in the water! I adore them and took it as a good omen for a lovely trip, almost like his wizened little face was croaking "Welcome to the Virgin Islands!"
The ferry ride was so much fun.  Definitely more fun than any ferry ride should be.  A fast friend bought us a 6 pack of Caribs so the party continued on the ride, which took about an hour, from St. Thomas (US) to Tortola (British).  Grace and I were hanging off the side of the railing whooping whenever the ferry caught a wave and giggling at the sea spray hitting us in the face.
It definitely beat the buzz I got from the NYC coffee. 
We went from the Rocky Mountains and Salt Lake's inversion to 82 degrees and balmy sunshine! Abandoned sugar plantations dotting a green shoreline! The wind in our hair and the salt water on our lips! It was so blissful and we got to cruise by a lot of the islands we would be visiting later, which was a fun way to orient ourselves to the islands.

Eli on our new home for 10 days!
We arrived in Tortola and went through customs to officially enter British territory.  Then we hopped into a van and drove to our charter site, Conch Charters, where our sailboat awaited us.  We were thrilled to find out the boat was named "Rum Runner" and skipped across the dock to jump aboard and explore the boat, a mono keel 39 foot sailboat with 4 cabins and 2 heads.
Eli and I had our cabin at the bow and our own attached head, which seemed convenient and private at first, until it started to smell....!

We unpacked our goods and went for provisions in town.  We got an assortment of things but it is good to remember that the fewer things you have to refrigerate, the better (like peanut butter, jelly, canned tuna fish, bread, crackers).  The fridge is actually an icebox, so you just pack everything on ice and hope it lasts (it doesn't and you end up buying ice daily).  Of course the melting ice creates all of this water in the icebox and, unfortunately, the drain to ours that should pump the water out was broken.  It got disgusting.  We had to bail it out.  Which means chicken water with floating raw sausages in it running down your arm.  You'll hear all about that later!

We stocked our provisions on the boat and walked to Sharky's Restaurant.
Life in the BVIs has a slow pace, so it takes a longer time to get service/food to arrive than most Americans are used to.  We were famished and the enchiladas and fish n chips tasted sooooo good once they arrived.  We had some local rum (holy YUM) and juice from the complimentary bottle of rum the charter provided on the boat, gazed at the stars in wonder, and passed out.

The next morning a woman from Conch Charters walked us through the boat.  Obviously in advance you have to prove you are a certified captain and you have a crew, they do background checks, etc.  The walk through is to verify you know where everything is and how to work it (How to use the GPS, where the deck broom is, how to turn on the water, use the head, and light the stove).

And suddenly, we were off!!!
A Conch employee drove us out of the crowded dock (it took mad skill, yo) and his buddy picked him up in a dinghy.  So there we were, the 4 of us, on our own on our new home the Rum Runner.
We cranked up the stereo and threw the sails up!!! It was my first time sailing and there is a lot of shouting back and forth and then suddenly the wind catches them and they make beautiful cracking sounds and you're flying across the water!
I had such a What About Bob moment. I was crying out "I'm SAAAAAILING!!!"

With our main sail up
With main sail and Genoa up

We took off across the channel toward The Indians archipelago for some time in the water.
The Indians had great snorkeling and Eli and his dad went for a dive.  His dad, Royce, has a tradition of listening to "Space Oddity" before scuba diving (you can see the parallels), so there we were, sailing along and blasting David Bowie and all singing along! It was glorious and one of the moments from the trip that I frequently think back on and laugh.
Eli and I tried our hand at grabbing the mooring ball and completely rocked the shit out of it, and became the designated moorers for the remainder of the trip. Go Team!

Grace and I were snorkeling together and swam all the way around and through the rocks at the Indians, so named because they represent a headdress.
I witnessed perhaps the funniest moment of the trip when we went back to our boat, attached to a mooring ball, to see if there was another set of goggles. Grace was onboard looking and I was floating in the water.  A giant black bee, as big as a ping pong ball, was buzzing by Grace's head. She is terrified of bugs and I didn't want to alarm her so I just said "uh Grace, you might want to come back this way..." and she looked up and said "huh?" and I only got as far as "well there is a bee" when she saw or heard this giant thing buzzing next to her and started screaming hysterically and trying to get away from it, which is impossible on a small boat. She was shrieking "HELP ME MARE! HELP!" and decided getting into the water was the best escape, but in her panic mode slipped on the back of the boat and half-leapt and then landed right on the dinghy rope, her head bouncing off of the inflated dinghy and making a funny whumph sound.
She emerged from the ocean spluttering, afraid the bee had followed her, and looked at me in terror and I was laughing so hard I was crying into my goggles and couldn't speak.  The strange strangled scream she let out as she jumped/fell through the air was indescribable.  The whole scene was epic and it took me 10 minutes to recover from my laughter.  Once she realized she was okay she got the giggles too.  It was so funny and so fun to share with the guys when they surfaced.

On the bow at Kelly's Cove.  You can see the entrance to The Bight behind me.
We left the Indians and hopped over to Norman Island.  We got there early enough to secure one of the coveted mooring balls in the secluded and quiet Kelly's Cove.
Norman Island is named after a pirate and was the inspiration for Treasure Island, after a local fisherman seeking shelter in a storm ended up in a cave where the rushing waters knocked rocks and mud loose and gold treasure came spilling out.
There are no permanent residents of Norman Island (unless you count the wild goats).  Inside The Bight, the main harbor, there is a beach bar and gear rental, and Willie T's is the famous bar built on a boat in the harbor, and both of those just ship in workers that live elsewhere (most of them on Tortola, I gathered).  The Bight can get loud and rambunctious at night, and Kelly's Cove is a lovely little nook to escape it all.  We hopped in our rented kayak and tooled around a bit, and I spent some more time in the water, of course.  Eli joked that whenever we moored somewhere new, I was in the water within 15 minutes.
What can I say? I'm a mermaid!

We went to Willie T's bar that night and it was strangely quiet.  We enjoyed some rum runners (in honor of our boat of the same name!) and watched the horrifying slideshow playing on the TV at the bar, with disturbing escapades of previous visitors on display (including naked body shots, all assortment of nipple sucking, and even a woman giving a body shot from her hoo-hah).  This is the floating boat bar that women famously jump off of the upper level topless from.
After watching the slideshow we were all pretty grateful that it was quiet that night! My definition of "wild" is remarkably tame in comparison to Willie T's!

We went back to the boat and struggled to sleep in the heat, but eventually were rocked to sleep by the movement of the waves.

Up Next: The Caves!