Virgin Islands park critic changes tune

Trailmap The St. John 'Trail Bandit' has some kind words for the latest National Park Superintendent, Mark Hardgrove.

Bob Garrison, an inveterate hiker, had been saddened to have watched the VI park 'decay' over the years.  "It is too bad that there are so many employees who can get away with doing as little as possible," he told St. John's Gerry Singer. But in an interview, he added he is 'pleased and encouraged' by the changes that Mark Hardgrove has made. "A number of old trails have been officially reopened."

This is a generous attitude, given that a few years ago when Garrison drew up his own, comprehensive map of the island's many hiking trails, Park officials told him he had no right to do so.  That didn't stop him.

"The map that the NPS (National Park service) gives our has never been worth much," Garrison told Singer.  So, in 2006, he refined an original map he made and two years later, and drew a map which is available at the Park headquarters building.

On his Web site, Garrison sells a trail map for $2. (Come on! Buy a dozen.)  The maps can also be downloaded from his Web site.  In addition, he offers a version of which you can load into a Garmin GPS.

Free fun at the Park

NPWeek2010It'll be "No Fee" Saturday at Trunk Bay this weekend.  Dropping the $4 charge for a day is part of the Virgin Islands National Park celebration of National Park Week.

Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove spoke to the St. John Rotary, updating the members about activities at the Park.  He said North Shore Road repaving is progressing nicely; as far as Trunk Bay now.  He also said Caneel Bay Resort is in negotiations to renew its lease to operate facilities at some of the Park's beaches for another 40 years, according to Rotary's Bob Schlesinger.

Hardgrove said revenue from things like Trunk Bay's regular beach access fee charge are helping finance almost $2.3 million worth of work including repairing masonry at crumbling ruins.

St. John archeologist’s other talent

Ken Wild is best known as the archeologist in residence at the Virgin Islands National Park.  He's been pawing the ground, literally, at Cinnamon Bay and in the Park since 1995.  That's when he and his wife and daughter arrived.

In a profile published by the St. John Source, Wild's other interest was revealed, although it's hardly been a secret.  He's a painter.  And a good one.  Good enough that his works are on display in many villas as well as available for purchase at the Michael Banzhaf Gallery.

Wild often does his painting on the beach.  "It's my way of relaxing," he told the Source.  "I like painting outside because I like the way the light hits the canvas."

He is a fascinating guy, which we found out first-hand when we joined him on a Friends of the Park cruise around the north shore of the island.  Wild is as comfortable on the water, pointing out ruins on lnd, as he is supervising students sifting for artifacts at Cinnamon Bay.  When you;re at the Park, make it a point to find him.  He'll be happy to tell you about plans for a new archeological museum at Cinnamon, too.

St. John? There’s an App for that

Beaches Want to know where to find a great dinner or a casual lunch in Cruz Bay? There's an App for that.

 My Virgin Islands, a 99-cent program, is available from the Apple iTunes store (download here). It offers information about restaurants, villas and resort, things to do, sights to see, and airline information. The App also covers St. Thomas and St. Croix

"My VI is like having your own travel guide and traveling companion 24/7," says CrucianPoint.

Granted the app just got released and the information's a little sparse.  But, like most things St. John, more data will soon come.  Business listings are free, however there is a $65 charge for accompanying photos.

There's no denying the convenience of carrying detailed travel information on the iPhone.  That, by itself, will drive usage, which will only result it becoming more robust and useful.

Cool idea.  CrucianPoint.com


No coin for Park coming soon

SARI_375x180_SARI-aerial If you read this week that the US Mint is beginning a 10-year project to issue 25-cent coins to memorialize national parks, don't get your hopes up for St. John.  There is none planned for the Virgin islands National Park.

There will be a Virgin Islands coin, but it will cite the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve on St. Croix.

The 1,015 acre Salt River reserve was created in 1992. The area has a blend of sea and land holds some of the largest remaining mangrove forests in the Virgin Islands, as well as coral reefs and a submarine canyon.

The Salt River quarter coin is schedule for release in 2020.