by: Matt Simerson
Tuesday 28 Nov 23

St. John Trip Log

St. John travel info and Kincer home photo album.

Jan 10th

Travel Details:
GRR -> ORD - typical flight
ORD -> San Juan, PR - typical flight
San Juan -> St. Thomas - island hopper (25 minutes)
Cab from Airport to Red Hook Ferry (40 minutes)
Ferry Ride to Cruz Bay, St. John (20 minutes)
Cab from Cruz Bay to house (45-55 minutes)

The seaside home is lovely. The entire upstairs is an elegantly furnished master suite that begs you to kick back, relax, and enjoy yourself. For that matter, the entire house is very tastefully decorated and enticing. The kitchen has a nice complement of modern appliances, uncommon in island living. There is a grill, microwave, hot tub, hammock, DVD player, harp, telescope, and most everything you'd hope for in a vacation home. The place is ready to entertain, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and spacious decks.

The bedroom has four large overhead fans to keep the air in the room moving. We can't speak for them dog days of summer but there was no need for the air conditioning during our stay. The remarkably persistent trade winds kept the sun from becoming intolerable. We left the windows open and slept with the lullaby of the ocean filling our ears as the waves rolled and crashed on the shore below us.

Jan 11th

We slept in. It was hard work, because the morning sun shines in the large patio doors to the master suite deck. I awoke around 6:30 and fought my way back to sleep. Around 9:00, I could no longer keep up the battle and got up.

After puttering around all morning, we finally explored the scenic route into town, scoping out which bays where the most protected from the wind. It's not as enjoyable to snorkel in rough water.

We went into town to visit the supermarket to buy food for the week. Be prepared to do everything here on "island time". Although it's only a 25 minute drive into Cruz Bay, it took us over an hour. You just never know when you'll have to wait for a cement truck to stop blocking the road, etc. Keep this in mind the day you are heading back to the airport.

We completed the day by soaking up the stars while taking a dip in the outdoor hot tub.

Jan 12th

There are many places to swim, snorkel, and scuba dive. We set off to explore a couple of them. We started with a snorkel trip around Little Lameshur bay. Barely three minutes into the water we stopped and watched an octopus engulfing a conch shell. It was obvious that we found it's home as there was quite a little pile of shells beneath his perch.

On that snorkel we also spotted a huge lobster, shrimp, an enormous grouper, many species of fish, and very large barracuda. We're pretty sure it was a large mommy because we saw babies in the area. She was also quite docile, letting me dive to within a foot of her. Normally barracudas do not let me get that close.

We then moseyed over to Salt Pond and went for a dive there. We saw three turtles, a sting ray, french angel fish, a couple of little yellow polka dotted nudibranchs displayed on purple fan coral, and many other fish species. Salt Pond is pretty nice for snorkeling and you can expect to see quite a few people on the beach.

After spending 4 hours in the water snorkeling, we headed back. The SPF 45 Water Babies did it's job admirably and our back sides were only slightly pink. The water was a bit chilly so after getting home we climbed into the hot tub where Jen's purple lips regained their color.

Jan 13th

Rain and wind. The clouds rolled in and it rained off and on all day. Since our backs were nicely pinked from snorkeling, we needed to pink up our front sides so when the rain stopped, we'd run out and sun for a bit. Then the rain would start and we'd run back in, wait a while, and then sun again. It took nearly all morning and through the midday to get my belly side pink.

Jen's belly went a little too far and actually burned. Ouch. The chilled Aloe Vera in the refrigerator came in handy as soothing relief for warm pink skin.

Jan 14th

Another cloudy, windy, rainy morning.

By mid-day the clouds abated but the winds were still high so we headed up to the protected Francis Bay and snorkeled there. The waters were quite calm and visibility was about 25 feet. We saw multitudes of small fish, squid, hawksbill turtles, anemones, soft coral, etc. It seemed like a nursery for small sea life in that bay.

Jan 15th

Both of us woke up with colds. We spent the day feeling miserable, achy and stuffed up. So we stayed home and watched movies. We definitely did some damage to the Kleenex supply during this visit!

Jan 16th

This morning we still felt under the weather and had no real desire to get cold and wet. For breakfast, Matt decided to use up the remaining bananas. He sauteed them into a butter rum banana topping similar to Bananas Foster which he served over pancakes. It was quite the breakfast feast.

Afterwards we lazed away the day watching movies, reading, writing, and enjoying the view from our cozy castle.

Later that day we polished off the last of the mangoes. They were at the peak of ripeness, juicy and full of flavor. Mangoes are definitely one of my (Jen) favorite fruits!

Jan 17th

Today was the first day the ocean was truly calm and tranquil. Our little corner of the world was serene, with the morning light softly shining on the ocean and the surrounding islands. We made a delicious pancake breakfast topped with a sauteed apple concoction. Matt is quite the chef when it comes to perfecting large pancakes. The meal was scrumptious.

After our leisurely morning, we drove and hiked out to Watermelon Bay and snorkeled around the cay. There were plenty of small fish and colorful soft coral formations waving gently in the current among the multitude of fish. There is a large variety of marine life there including sea stars. The only distraction was the intermittent stinging on your skin by some invisible critter which we blame on microscopic jellyfish. All we could tell was the the upper couple of inches of the water contained a lot of 'debris'.

That evening we went out for drinks and appetizers at the Shipwreck Landing in Coral Bay. We enjoyed our fruity drinks with blackened shrimp. Blackened can mean a variety of things but here it meant full of spicy flavors but not extremely hot (picante). They were excellent, but a 5 shrimp appetizer proved insufficient so we had to convince the waitress to fill a dinner plate worth for us. Yummy!

Jan 18th

Our last day:

8:00AM Wake up
9:30AM Leave house
10:00AM Ferry to St. Thomas - the ferry runs on the hour. We planned for the 11:00AM ferry but got into town early and the 10:00 ferry had been delayed so we caught it.
12:50AM Since we got to St. Thomas early, we were able to catch the earlier 12:50 flight to Puerto Rico. We got into San Juan in time to catch the early flight to Chicago but there were no extra seats.
4:22PM Took our scheduled 4:22PM flight to Chicago.
9:00PM flight to GRR canceled due to weather.
10:30PM Tried in vain to find a car in Chicago to rent.
11:30PM Hired a cab with 3 other passengers and rode to GRR in snowstorm.
6:00AM Arrived in Grand Rapids
8:00AM Arrived home

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