Virgin Islands: Friday, October 10
We woke up pretty soon after the sun rose. We went up and checked in, where we found that the store has limited hours, the restaurant was not open, and that most of the activities (e.g. renting kayaks or sail boats) was not running.
They said that there was a complimentary breakfast in the store, but it turns out that you actually had to pay for it. (We also found that just about everything on St. John was about twice as expensive on the mainland.) The breakfast fixings were a bit meager, consisting of basically a bagel with cream cheese, a Danish, and/or an apple. Still, it was a welcome thing after the lack of dinner the previous night.
We found out that we could order a dinner (fish or chicken) for that night, but we needed to show up by 5:00 to pick it up.
As for planning the day, we figured that we would spend the day doing things around Cinnamon Bay, and then the next day rent a Jeep, so that we could see more of the island. This pretty much meant that we were going to hike up the hill to the Centerline Road, and then back down again. It would have been tempting to go down the other side to Reef Bay, where we could have seen some petroglyphs, but we thought that going up the hill twice would be a bit much for Michael.
Having no other real options, we bought a second set of bagels for lunch.
After packing up my camel-back, we set off. To our surprise and pleasure, just across the street there were the ruins of an old sugar mill. So we spent some time wandering through and taking pictures. At one point, I was changing filters on my camera, and I noticed a little spattering of water on it. I was wondering if I was sweating that much, but it turns out that it was a tiny shower. It quickly ended, however.
The beginning of the trail climbs very steeply, which was a bit taxing, but then the grade mellowed. It was very jungle-like, with very different vegetation than up north. Towards the end, Michael was eager to get the road, either so that he could eat lunch, or so that we would stop hiking, it wasnít clear which.
One thing that fascinated Michael for the whole trip were the geckos. He was looking for them (and finding them) constantly. He was actually quite adept at finding things in nature. He also found a fair number of millipedes.
When we got to the top of the ridge, i.e. Centerline Road, we wandered along its length a bit until we found a concrete wall around a drainage pipe, that gave us something to sit on while eating lunch.
The road was fairly narrow with no sidewalks, so we pretty much tried to get off the road onto the grass on the side whenever traffic came by. The road was hilly and windy, although without the sharp switch-backs that the coastal road had. One interesting truck that came by had a trailer full of telephone poles. I guess it was too long to stay in its lane on the curves, so it would honk itís horn at every turn.
Our plan was to head down a fairly impassible (to cars) dirt road rather than down the trail, so that we would have a loop rather retracing our steps. So after we finished eating, we hiked along the road for maybe a quarter mile until we came across the dirt road.
At that point, we had a decision to make. From the mile markers, we were only about 3-1/2 miles from Cruz Bay. We were thinking that perhaps I should walk to Cruz Bay and pick up a Jeep that day, rather than the next morning, so that we could get an early start. We werenít too keen on splitting up, but in the end, that is what we did. Amy and Mike went down the dirt road, while I continued on to Cruz Bay.
Along the way, I found a small heard of wild goats walking down the street, as well as occasional chickens, and one slightly aggressive dog that got my adrenaline up a bit.
I asked directions twice, but you pretty much just go straight and you end up in downtown Cruz Bay (what little downtown there is). At one point I passed a hiking trail off to the side that said that among other places, it went to Cruz Bay, but I didnít dare take it.
Iím guessing that it took me just over an hour to get there.
Once in Cruz Bay, I wandered around a bit trying to find a place to rent Jeeps. The first place I tried didnít have any available. The second place I tried had lots of vehicles, but they were a bit more expensive, and I didnít get the warmest fuzzies. Then I tried a third place that seemed a bit more professional.
I was debating between the basic Jeep (seats four with next to no luggage space) versus a larger one. The small one might pose a problem for getting our luggage to the dock on Monday, but it would be easier to maneuver through the small streets, and it would be more ďjeep-likeĒ and hence more fun for Mike. It ended up being moot, however, as the only one they had available was the basic jeep.
I rented it until Monday, and then drove off. The tank was only 1/4 full, so my first stop was to go through town to one of the few gas stations and put some gas in it. I didnít want to fill it too much, so I only put $20 in. All the while I was driving, I had to keep reminding myself to stay on the left side of the road. Then I drove to Cinnamon Bay, finding the switch-backs to be as ďinterestingĒ as I had guessed.
I was rather hot and thirsty, and I was looking forward to getting some juice in the store at the camp ground. I got there just after 3:30, and that was when I discovered that the store closed at 3:30. So I didnít get my drink.
In hindsight, I should have gotten something (and probably something for Amy and Mike) in Cruz Bay and brought it back with me, but since I wasnít used to driving on the left, didnít know the city, and didnít know where any stores were, I didnít do that.
I walked down to our cabin, where no one was home. But the door was unlocked, and Amyís hiking things were there, so apparently (and as expected), they beat me back. I walked across the dirt road to the beach where I found Michael playing in the water trapped in a small pool on the beach, and Amy in the water.
I went back to the cabin, changed into my swim wear, and returned. Amy claimed that the water was warm, although I had my doubts (I tend to prefer spa-temperature water). To my surprise, the water was warm enough. It was a bit cool as I entered, but once I was in, the water was fine.
The beach dropped quickly, and once we were past the breaking waves, we could just stand around up to our necks and do some bobbing when big waves came by.
I found out that Amy and Mike had found the ruins of a sugar mill a short distance down the road, which they had explored before continuing down the road. This was a different mill from the one just outside of the camp ground, and as I later saw, it was somewhat better maintained.
There were big, puffy, white clouds just above the trees. As the sun was setting, it cast a rainbow *in* one of the clouds. I had never seen such a thing before.
We were enjoying ourselves, so we were a bit late getting changed for dinner. It was probably around 5:10 when we started hiking up to the registration area to claim our meals. But halfway there, the maintenance guy drove up in a small truck. It seems that we had been expected at 4:30, and that as we werenít there at 5:00 and the staff wanted to go home, he was delivering them to our cabin.
So we took them to the table outside our cabin. We didnít feel like drinking just plain water with our meal, so I hiked up to the registration area for some sodas. The store was closed, but they had a soda machine. The maintenance guy told me that it wasnít working, but I tried it anyways to be sure. It ate my dollar and gave me no sodas, so I guess it was indeed broken. When I returned to the cabin, I was not surprised to find the picnic table empty. Amy and Mike had retreated to the table inside, to get away from the mosquitoes.
The meal was surprisingly good. The fish (in some sort of tomato-y sauce) was firm with good flavor, and there was rice and beans, along with a salad.
We went for a walk after dinner, and we found some feral donkeys having dinner from the chopped palm fronds and coconuts. Then we uploaded the pictures from the cameras, visited the toilet facilities, and went to bed.
Having the jeep, and thus an effective way to get around, coupled with the enjoyable time in the water left me in a much better frame of mind than the previous night.