Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Pool is Open!

The pool is open!  It was 66 degrees when we opened it, but thanks to the solar cover and very high temps, it is up to almost 80 already!  The kids were in when it was 66, but that's too cold for me!  

It HAS been hot.  After a very cool spring, we had temps that shot into the 90's for a couple of days. This week will be highs in the 80's until a major cooling over the weekend.

This is my poor toe!  I did something I have never done before; I fell into the pool while trying to roll up the pool cover!  I was teetering on the edge, trying to regain my balance, then realized I was going to fail.  The next thing I knew, I was floundering in the pool.

I got out and laughed hysterically at myself.  It wasn't until later that I realized I'd banged my toe on the concrete as I went over.  Oh well. It looks way worse than it feels.  

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Amazing Underwater Pictures

We bought a camera and an underwater camera case. And then Kevin proceeded to take an amazing number of incredibly beautiful pictures both in the air, and in the waters of St. Croix.

Brain coral

View from our front patio

Christmas tree worms

Turtle!  A big one (like 5 feet across)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Hike

Exactly a week ago today, I woke up in our little cottage by the sea. The air conditioning was comfortable, the waves were rippling against the beach, and life was very very good.

The previous few days I had been rather lazy. Kevin was snorkeling more than I was, and I felt like we should tackle something a little more energetic.

So we decided to go for a hike to the Annaly tidal pools.  I have always liked tidal pools, where marine life excitedly deals with changes in water depth, usually without quite as much wave disruption as farther out at sea.

We ate breakfast, filled our water bottle, grabbed a few snacks, and drove off.  We found the trailhead relatively easily.

Now I was just plain stupid.  I was envisioning a ... a really nice trail.  Like, a wide trail, with gravel or, better yet, boardwalk. 

Instead, we were confronted with a really narrow trail, which started through tall grass.  A young man who pointed us in the right direction eyed me dubiously and said, "That's quite a hike."

Why oh why didn't we just turn tail and run right then and there?

But no, we marched off.  And the trail was up hills and down hills, over roots and under branches.  It was hot. Very hot.  It was sticky. Very sticky. 

It was a very tiring walk of 2.7 miles.

One way.

So once we got to the tidal pools, we faced the long hike back.

The tidal pools themselves were, frankly, not that wonderful!  There were some tidal pools and they had fish and crabs, but we saw those right outside our cottage door on the beach!  There was absolutely NO need to torture ourselves so!

The waves crashing on the beach were, admittedly rather neat.  Much higher waves than near our cottage.

Finally, after an hour of exploring (and procrastinating) we started back.

It was really really really tiring. I was really really really tired. I about fell over at more than one point but the reality was, I couldn't just stop!  We had to make it to the car.

My muscles and my brain argued about it but in the end, we made it back.

5.4 miles round trip.  Ugh.

Kevin took me home and I curled up in a fetal position on the bed.

Never again.

Monday, May 14, 2018

St. Croix Airport

A sensible, organized woman would blog starting at the beginning of the week in St. Croix and move forward. But not me.  I'm going to start with our last day on St. Croix and get to the other stuff later.

First, a couple of pictures to show I really was there.  The first pic is from the front patio of our cottage by the sea. The second pic is of me on the patio of the cottage by the sea.

It was awesome.

  But this is a complaining post, I hope in a funny way because I'm aiming for funny.

  We had to check out of our cottage by noon on Saturday.  Our flight didn't leave until 4:10 p.m.  So we didn't head straight to the airport because we aren't nuts.  There is nothing more boring and irritating then sitting in an airport for hours on end!

Instead we walked around Fredericksted, the nearby town, then went for a leisurely drive along one of the coasts, then parked the car near the beach for awhile to enjoy the last whiffs of ocean breezes.

Finally we left, filled the gas tank of the rental car, dropped it off, and were taken by airport shuttle to the airport. We got there around 2:30 p.m.  It is a little airport so that gave us almost 2 hours.  Which should have been more then plenty.

But it wasn't.

First we stood in line for awhile to get to one of those automatic screens which allow you to have your boarding passes generated.  We also paid for one suitcase to be put into the underbelly of the plane. That's the way it worked on American Airlines with our tickets -- we paid $25 per big suitcase.

Then we stood in line for a ridiculous amount of time to hand over our suitcase to the ticket agents.

Then we got into the security line.

Which was insanely long. Just, like, insanely, crazily long.  There were three flights leaving in a short amount of time, which is unusual I guess?

We stood and stood and stood. Time went by. The line inched forward.

After a long long time, we made it to the customs agents. Yes, customs.  We were on St. Croix, an American something. Not a state but a protectorate or something -- anyway, it is an American land area and we are Americans. We still had to go through customs and the customs agent (when we finally got to him) rather sneered at our driver's licenses.  He wanted a passport.  He grudgingly took the licenses, but then spent 5 minutes slowly checking things out to apparently be certain we were legitimate.

Finally, we were released.

Then things got really weird.  The next thing on the agenda was to FIND OUR SUITCASE. The one that we just had paid for to be put into the underbelly of the plane! For reasons I cannot fathom, they make you stand in line to hand it over, then it appears on the other side of customs where you take it again!

Then we were herded over to another line where our suitcase and various carry-ons were sent through a conveyor belt to CHECK FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.

Yes, there is great fear that someone will carry fruits and vegetables to the main land and release some invasive insect species.  I realize that's a potential issue but why didn't they take care of this after taking our suitcase?  Why did we have to pick it back up and walk it through ourselves?

Time was really getting on now. People around us were stressed because everyone was running late.

We got into the really serious security line now, the one where we remove shoes and belts and things are checked for explosives.  We dropped off our suitcase again now at another place.  (It did make it to Dayton with us, which surprised me a bit.)

The security line was really slow. The frazzled airport personnel were pulling people out of line who were running really late for an even earlier flight.

Finally, finally, we got to the security conveyor belt.  We didn't have to take off our shoes and belts because we are officially TSA pre-check approved for some reason.  I don't know why but probably it is because Kevin works for the government?

I have never, in all my life, been through a security line where they were so fussy.  We were supposed to take all food out of our backpacks. Why, just why?  So we're frantically pulling things out and putting them in bins. We are now officially late for the plane, but so is half the plane so the plane is waiting.

We get through the sensor which checks our bodies for dangerous substances.  (I had to go through three times as my sunglasses were setting it off -- took me awhile to figure that out.)

We got to the other side and waited for my belly pack, our two carry-ons, and Kevin's backpack to go through the x-ray conveyor thingie.

And then, just when we thought we were finally home free and could get on the plane, Kevin's bag was flagged as dangerous!

So I gathered my stuff and went out into the waiting area.  The plane is now totally boarding.  Kevin was patted down for dangerous weaponry, then told to sit down. Because something in his bag had caused a major ALERT on their security screens.  Like a red screen, with an ALERT on it.

Can you guess what it was?

Wait for it.

Granola bars.

Yes, indeed, granola bars.

MY granola bars, to be specific.

So Kevin sat and waited for a long time and finally an agent or two or three had him carefully extract a granola bar and OPEN it, and they looked at it and said...

"Ok, you're fine.  You can go."

We were the last people on the plane. THE LAST.

The St. Croix airport security line is a nightmare.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Kevin and I are just back from a week long trip to St. Croix.  Kevin's mom and my parents helped watch the kids while we were gone.

I'll post details of the trip later but today I got to see the kids for the first time in more than a week.

And I realized again -- I always know this, but yeah, need the reminder -- that being a mother is a huge blessing. I am not perhaps a "natural mother" in the sense that I didn't gravitate to young children when I was an older teen and young adult.  I didn't even want to get married or have children until I was 26 :-). 

22 years later, I'm a mom to 9.  God has a huge sense of humor, I think!

So Happy Mother's Day to you moms out there. It is not an easy job, but most things in life aren't easy.  It is a noble job, a purposeful job.  Being single would have been purposeful as well, but the Lord had this plan for my life, that I would marry in my late 20's, give up my potentially high powered career, and serve as wife and mother to my family.

I could not be more blessed.