Happy New Year, St. John

Looks like Westin Resort had a gala New Year's Eve party.  Lots of food and dancing and schmoozing.  And, capped by fireworks over Great Cruz Bay.

Up on the hill, photographer Bob Schlesinger was on
watch for the Inquiring Iguana

Bright and early New Year's morn, Bob
sent these stunning pictures.  Click on 'em to see bigger

Bob Schlesinger, www.TropicalFocus.com, "Extraordinary images with an island flair!"


BOB_0568a BOB_0570a

St. John’s cloudy farewell to 2009

View A quick look at the St. John Brewer's web cam isn't encouraging.

Looks like skies will stay cloudy on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  The chance of rain today is better than even money. 

So, if you were to head to a beach this weekend, chances are it wouldn't be so beautiful.

But thanks to Chase and Maria, a couple who toured the island with their video camera, you can sit here and visit three beaches, Coral Bay and Miss Lucy's.  Their user name at YouTube is Marchasia.  It appears they uploaded these videos just a day or two ago – well before the rains and the heavy surf began.

St. John grocery plans online shopping

If things go according to plan, grocery shopping could get a lot easier for locals and visitors. 

The co-owner of the new St. John Gourmet Market, across the street from the entrance to the Westin Resort, hopes to launch a Web site with online shopping soon.  In a profile article about the business, the St. John Source said Jim Overton, "anticipates visitors heading to their vacation villa … will place their orders via the Internet so they can pick up their already boxed order on their way."

It sounds like Overton, and a partner who also owns Cruz Bay's Dolphin Market, are focused on delivering quality and a broad selection of food.  That includes organic vegetables and milk.  He also plans a deli counter and prepared foods to go, reminiscent of the wonderful deli/market that used to be across the road in Palm Plaza.

The Source story doesn't say the Gourmet Market is competitively priced.  The government's monthly market basket surveys usually give the low price crown to Dolphin.  But the St. John Talk blog says Gourmet's prices are excellent. "Maybe I should keep it to myself, but the produce is really good and approaches Stateside prices," writes Howard.  (Read the post here.)

St. John Gourmet Market is open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Surf’s up, WAY up!

Picture-16If you're a surfer, chances are you'd call Tuesday a 'bitchin' day, because the surf is going to be UP. 

Waves as tall as 22-feet are expected offshore thanks to a huge swell out in the Atlantic and moving west.

For St. John, and the other Virgins, this means lots of crashing waves along the coastlines.  Erosion is probable and, in some spots, so too will be flooding.  So, day sails and swimming maybe should be postponed.

But it's going to be another Christmas Day for transplanted surfer dudes. You can bet they'll be out along the north shore.  But the island's Steve Simonsen isn't sticking around. He's heading to Tortola where he expects lots of surfers. And he'll have his fantastic photography skills ready.

He's already set up a Web page for shots at http://homepage.mac.com/ssimonsen/TortolaSurfingDecember292009/.  Check the page later Tuesday for what promises to be some amazing stuff.

The image on this page is from a series Steve did on Tortola in 2007. 

VP and wife island-bound

Politico reports, "The Bidens are leaving Monday for the U.S. Virgin Islands “for a
holiday vacation with their family."  They'll be on (an) island for about a week, says the White House.

Caneel Bay Resort has been a favorite kick back spot for Democrats for several decades.

USATODAY quotes the St. John Source saying the couple is already in the Caribbean, staying a house on Water Island.  OOPS … A reader points out the USAT story is from LAST year!

Santa arrives on St. John

Figuring the beach and sun and 84 degrees of St. John is better than the weather at the North Pole, Santa paid a call to the island Christmas morning.Simonsensanta2

Photo courtesy of Steve Simonsen, the island's world-class photographer.

Friends online auction raises $16K

Kismet The first (annual?) online auction to benefit the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park drew bids totaling $16,535.  The sale featured a villa rental, day sails, original art and island-made jewelry.

The two-week event proved to be a holiday feast for bargain hunters.  The total value of the 31 donated items was $26,000.  But the final bids were about 70%. The average sale was at a discount of 30%.

The biggest bargain was a weekend at Kismet, which bills itself as "One of the world's most beautiful villas." They haven't seen Blue Tang, I guess. 🙂 

Owners of the property above Maria Bluff put a value of $5,000 on the offered "heavenly weekend."  The highest of the five bids was $1,935, 60% off.

Other items sold to benefit the Friends included a $300 certificate for Cactus Blue, the new Mexican restaurant in Cruz Bay.  It went for $300.  Three nights at Caneel drew a bid of $1,750, above the $1,500 stated value.  A diamond Petroglyph pendant on 14 karat gold chain, from R&I Patton, sold for $1,725.

Caneel parking now $10

Caneel It's official.

Pia, a frequent contributor to the Virgin-Islands-On-Line forum, posted a picture of the sign which announces Caneel's new parking policy. 

If you spend $10 in the wonderful beach side bar, you get the parking fee back as a credit.  And I dare anyone to be at the Caneel bar and not spend $10. Lunch there is a highlight of every trip to the island.

The fee doesn't seem to be bothering many folks.  CypressGirl from Houston commented, "I don't have a problem with that charge at all. For non-guests, that seems fair. At least I have a choice….I can walk, sweat, carry a ton of crap, get bug bites, and sweat some more…..or pay 10. No brainer to me."

CaliforniaGirl agreed, "Their house, their rules. No problem."

“Red Hook ferry,” tickets please

The first step toward an accountable ticketing and records system has been taken at the Red Hook ferry terminal. 

Machine-generated tickets are being sold for the ride across the Sound to Cruz Bay.  Then they are scanned at the entrance to the dock.  Eventually, turnstiles will be installed and they will get the tickets after scanning.  For now, it's a human collecting the billets.

According to a report of the ticketimng system's pilot phrase, the St. John Source said St. John's two ferry companies formed a new company to handle the system.  Ticket sellers and scanners will, this means, work for the new company and not the ferry operators, as is now the case.

The Public Service Commission welcomes the ticketing system. The Source quoted Keithley Joseph, a PSC Director, saying data from the ticket system will help the Commission when it considers fare hike requests from the ferry companies.

Christmas lights on St. John

ChristmaslightsOne picture is worth a thousand words, as island photographer Bob Schlesinger often proves.

"Probably the largest light show on St. John is back on in Cruz Bay," Bob posted on his Facebook page.

Roseanne Perkins commented that she recognizes the house.  It's in Centerline Road, just before Pastory as you come up the hill out of Cruz Bay.  Note that Santa is on the second floor porch, waving.