23 July 2015
Last weekend, while the owners were here with their family for a week, they allowed us to get away for a long weekend of some R&R. We decided to spend it on St John Island USVI since Sharon hadn’t had the opportunity to see that beautiful island in it’s entirety.
We found a small cottage on AirBNB at the last minute and booked it. It was on the south side of STJ about 4 miles outside of Cruz Bay overlooking Fish Bay and near Reef Bay.
Coincidentally, some friends back on St Thomas had some of their friends from Florida visiting and they were coming to STJ on Friday to show them around and then hang out at Francis Bay for the day. They invited us to join them. This is our second time to Francis Bay. We went back in September with these same friends, who we had only recently met. This link should take you to some photos from that day – they are on our Facebook page. If you compare the first visit to this visit, look at how green it was last year and how dry this year. Only 5″ of rain since 01 Mar 15. Dry as a bone.
Here are a few photos from the latest visit to Francis Bay. Our friends had not arrived yet.
On Saturday, we decided to check out Coral Bay and the East End. For the record, STJ is 60% National Park and very mountainous. We were traveling in the villa’s 1993 Dodge Dakota – a 22 year old truck. It’s a great villa truck. But it is tired. So tired that by the time we got out to the East End and returned to Coral Bay and stopped to get some ice, the right front brake caliper over heated and froze up leaving us with a truck that would not roll. We’re looking at a bad day.
Luckily, a shopkeeper contacted her local mechanic and he came right away – Jack is his name. We were able to drive the truck to his home/shop less than a mile away. It’s about noon when we get to his shop. We are not in a very populated area with conveniences like an auto parts store. Jack determines it is a frozen caliper caused by all the braking and heat over the mountains. Suggest we replace both. We agree. So what do we do for the next 4-6 hours until the parts come and Jack can fix the issue? Jack volunteers to take us where we were headed – Salt Pond Bay.
Jack drives us the 3.5 miles to the Bay and says just hitch a ride back when we’re done and let him know. We didn’t get any photos – we weren’t in a photo taking mood. But we did love the place and it was beautiful and interesting. There is a real salt pond there and folks haul salt out of there. In fact, Jack said he and his wife (a local catering chef in Coral Bay) brought out about 250 lbs a few weeks prior. But it isn’t easy – you probably have to walk a mile from the parking area to the salt pond. All uphill on the way out. Learn more about Salt Pond Bay here. Learn more about harvesting salt at the salt pond here.
We were able to hitch a ride back to Coral Bay to the bar where Jack told us to wait and call him. The bar was called Aqua Bistro – appeared to be one of the nicest places in Coral Bay. We called Jack and he said he was still waiting on the parts. About an hour later he called and said he was coming to get us. When we got into the car, he said he had bad news and worse news. Not what we wanted to hear.
Bottom line, wrong parts came from St Thomas. Luckily, Jack was able to get the caliper open with some brut force and the truck was rolling fine. Jack said it may work forever or it could freeze again – but said just go easy on the brakes on the way back to Cruz Bay. Because it was a Saturday + Jack had to pay someone to go to St Thomas, the bill for his work was $230. We gladly paid to get on the road again and back to the cottage. Thank you Jack!
Just another exciting day in paradise.
We had some excellent food in St John, both breakfast and dinners. Best breakfast place was Jake’s; right in the middle of Cruz Bay. Hint: they are big – so share. Best dinner was Virgin Fire; a relatively new restaurant in popular Mongoose Junction complex – highly recommend. Here are a few more photos.
Bye-bye, St John. We will miss you. You are lovely!