Monday, August 31, 2009

August 29-30 Weekend in St. Thomas.

If you want to be technical, this probably could not qualify as a "weekend" in St. Thomas, as we arrived at 2 p.m. on Saturday and departed at 3 p.m. on Sunday. But we had fun while we were there! And golf was the ONLY non-revenue (employee travel pass) passenger to get on the flight from Atlanta to St. Thomas -- and in first class. Whew!

First, golf picked up our rental car -- a dinky little Toyota Yaris. The rental agent said she would love this little car because she's little -- well, she might have if (1) she'd been able to figure out how to open the hatchback, (2) it had had power windows and locks, and (3) it hadn't smelled like kitty pee. But it served its purpose and it did have air conditioning -- the weather was hot and humid while she was there.

Traffic was very crowded going though Charlotte Amalie. Maybe the cruise ship in port contributed to this (but how? Those people aren't driving cars! ??), but she was able to get to Hwy. 38 East and headed cross-island toward her condo at Sapphire Beach (where we stayed in June with her friend, Kathy). Of course, K-Mart was on the way, so she stopped and got five cartons of Mores for Larry and five Cartons of Marlboros for herself. Remember the cost of these at K-Mart in STT (airport-speak for St. Thomas) is $17.99 per carton (when Larry has made the same-day runs to STT to get them at the duty-free shop at the airport [because he didn't have time between arrival and same-day departure to get to K-Mart], the cartons at the airport are $26.95, which is a $10 savings [at least!] over Atlanta prices--but still $10 more than they are at K-Mart!) and she had coupons from Marlboro for $4 off per carton, so she was able to get her Marlboros at $13.99/carton. Unbelievable in terms of current U.S. prices! She also got a couple of litres of Bailey's Irish Cream and a litre of Lunazul tequila, which she and Larry think is better than Jose Cuervo, though slightly more expensive at $16.99/litre where JC is $14.99. But they can't find Lunazul in the U.S. She was delighted to return to her car and find it had not been broken into, even though the two bags she had brought were right out in the open on the back seat (remember she couldn't figure out how to open the hatch!). No problem for her after that stop in getting to Sapphire Village -- even the same gate guard as when she and Kathy were there. BUT the SV office isn't open on weekends! AAGGH!! How does she find out which unit she has and how to get in? The gate guard sent her down to the reception desk at Sapphire Beach Resort, and they did have her check-in information. And, would you believe, her unit was in the same building where we had stayed in June, so she knew exactly where to go! Two thumbs up for that.

While she was getting settled in, Kathy just happened to call her on her cell phone! golf was able to report on the differences in her current unit and the one in which we had stayed in June. E.g., this one had NO beach towels (the June one had about six), but this one had a hair dryer (June didn't), and a TV with satellite (in June, it was promised by the owner that it was supposed to be installed the day they moved in, or the next day -- and it never was), but golf wasn't planning on watching much TV anyway. Other comparisons: Kathy and golf were able to get an internet connection while on the balcony in June, golf could not pick up any wireless internet on this balcony and had to break down and pay $9.95 for 24 hours' worth of internet, but she needed it to communicate with Larry (at work that evening and at home Sunday morning) and to check availability for her return non-rev flight.

In the meantime, golf had realized she has nothing to eat or drink. She had been so lucky at K-Mart in getting the clerk to take her $4 coupons on the cartons of cigarettes, she'd forgotten to add Diet Cokes to her purchase. But she wasn't about to go back to K-Mart and fight the crowds that had been there, so she got back in the car and headed to the Food Market on the east end of the island past Red Hook. There she got a nice New York strip steak for dinner, some English muffins and butter for breakfast, but the only caffeine-free Diet Coke the store had was a 12-pack of cans. golf figured she probably wouldn't drink all 12 cans in less than 24 hours, but the 12-pack was $4.99, and a couple of big soda drinks at a fast-food joint would have been nearly that, so she decided she'd just get the 12-pack and leave whatever was left for the cleaning folks.

She got back to the condo around 5:00 and realized we needed a photo op while she still had good daylight. So I graciously agreed to pose for a few shots.

All this taken care of, golf still really wanted to go snorkeling, though STT gets dark by about 6:45. But she wanted to snorkel as much as she could while she was there, so she donned her swimsuit and headed down to Sapphire Beach, where she was able to snorkel for about 20 minutes before it started getting a little too twilight-y and she thought it was safer to head back to the condo.

Well, there she got involved in internet stuff, had a margarita (which got her pretty loopy on an empty stomach), and at that point wasn't hungry enough to broil the steak she had bought! So she had enough presence of mind to stick it in the freezer so she could at least take it home starting in frozen form (along with 3/4 of the butter, 1/4 of which she kept out for her English muffins for Sunday morning).

Oh, yes, I need to explain how she planned to get all this liquid back to the U.S.: She brought a virtually empty piece of luggage, filled with empty plastic liquor flasks and a huge clothes-packing "baggie" that she inflated to "fill" the empty bag. So she packed all ten cartons of cigarettes in this to-be-checked bag, along with filling the flasks with the two litres of Bailey's and the one litre of Lunazul. Gotta give her credit -- she can plan! And incidentally speaking of which, golf likes a really FLAT pillow and pillows at condos are always too thick for her -- so she had kept the little pillow given to passengers on the aircraft on the way down, so she had little flat pillow to sleep on that night!

I didn't have a problem . . . .

Because golf had crashed and burned by about 10 p.m. on Saturday night, she didn't have a problem getting up early on Sunday morning. She had to check out by 11 a.m., so she wanted to get in a snorkel before she had to clean up and pack everything for the return. And she did enjoy her snorkel!! She never found the squid she saw in June, but she did have a disposable underwater camera with her and got pictures of schools of tang, some butterfly fish, and, she thinks, a queen emperor fish. Can't post the pictures yet, as she had to send the film off for developing (boy, does she want an underwater case for her new Sony W220, but the underwater case costs more than she paid for the camera! She still has to figure out how she can get that case prior to the Sept. 14 trip to Maui . . . . .), and she's not sure how good the pictures will be -- the last time she took underwater pictures with one of these cameras, well, the pictures were very good. But hope springs eternal . . . . and all that.

I watched while she packed everything she could into the bag to be checked -- the flasks of booze, 10 cartons of cigarettes, the snorkel gear, and anything else she could fit in the bag. Larry had sent her an email to stop by K-Mart on her way to the airport and get more cigarettes. I need to explain here that golf needed to get enough cigarettes to, in essence, generate enough savings over what would be spent in Georgia for cigarettes and booze to pay for her trip (condo, rental car, internet, etc.) to STT to get these things and still have a little "profit" to justify the trip. To cut to the chase on that subject, totaling what she spent, the cigarettes and booze at home would have cost $140 more than she spent while in STT in accommodations, rental car, cigarettes, and booze. So it was for the most part, a successful foray, AND she got to have fun snorkeling!!
So that's enough for this report. I know you're getting tired of hearing about all their "coffin nails." But just to end with a little "hah"! Here's her "loot."

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