Friday, February 18, 2011

No, Seriously, We ARE Part of the United States!

Have you ever read the fine print on any TV ad? Yeah, me neither. Until one time last year when I saw a GREAT deal on a K-Mart commercial only to go in and find the item nowhere NEAR the price it was on TV. Thoroughly confused I went to find the flier, which is just a black and white copy by the way, only to see that no such deal existed. WTH? After that I really started paying attention to the fine print on ad, coupons, etc. Know what? With the exception of a FEW ads that state things are available to stores in the contiguous 48 states (Taco Bell!), most single places OUT specifically- Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska, DC, etc. yet not ONE lists that the USVI is excluded. Still, however, we never get the deals or can use coupons. Boo.

Along the same lines, we don't get to participate in any sort of 'meal deals'. Subway's $5 Footlong? Yeah, after 5PM with the purchase of a 21 oz drink. Dominos 3 for $8.88? Not a chance but we CAN get a large 3 topping for the bargain price of $12.99! We don't even have the dollar menu at McDonald's :( and the prices are bordering on airport prices.

We also have quite an issue with online ordering. In the states I took it for granted I could just pick 'IL' in the drop down box and move on with my order. While there are a LOT of stores that make it super-easy (eBay, Old Navy, Victoria's Secret) there are several places that make it next to impossible! For example, Apple. They just refuse to ship here. Um, hello? USPS delivers here. So does FedEx, DHL and UPS. You just can't do it ground! We have a zip code for goodness sakes! Recently, I went on to update our mailing address on our checking account, IRA, etc. since the post office is no longer forwarding our things. Well, there was no VI option under states so I tried to change the country from US to US Virgin Islands but it didn't exist. Now I KNOW it does because our savings account has been changed for MONTHS! WTH?

And then there's just people that have NO idea they are in the US. I actually had a table a few months ago that proves this to a tee. They were your average couple in their late 20's, looked pretty well-to-do. Their bill was $12, they gave me a $20, I gave them $8 back. They looked disappointed so I asked what was wrong. Apparently they were hoping to get change in 'St. Thomian' money. What? Really? I tried really hard to not saying anything too sarcastic back so I just replied, 'Um, I did. I gave you dollars. You're in the US.' I found that to be most appropriate for the situation, right? Today I had a table say they were surprised to see so many Americans working here. Again, even the West Indians are American!

I guess it's kind of like the Facts of Life: you take the good, you take the bad. And I believe that the good we get to experience here outweighs the bad. Most of the time, at least :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's It Like? Well It Doesn't Suck!

One of the questions I get asked most down here is, 'What is it like to live here?' I'm a huge fan of how our friend, Lance, answers: 'Well, it doesn't suck!' That couldn't be more true! I usually also add something along of the lines of how growing up in the Midwest, and not around water, makes me appreciate it down even more. I still find myself amazed, day after day, how beautiful of a place this is. And the day I don't? Well, then I guess that's the day it's time for me to come home.

So WHY is it so beautiful? Well, I think I'll just let the pictures do (most of) the talking!

Rainbows a-plenty! In my life before moving here, I'd seen a handful of rainbows. Now, I can't even begin to count how many I've seen and caught on camera. Here are a few of my favorites. Fun fact: The first one was taken by me from work at the same time took a picture of one happening on the golf course (pictured).

The view of Trunk Bay on St. John from above....

... and from on the beach!

Crystal clear waters in Watermelon Cay on St. John, we spent our anniversary here hiking and snorkeling.

Drunk Bay on St. John (not to be confused with Trunk Bay). One of the coolest places because people go there to build 'themselves' out of rocks. Unfortunately, a lot of them (including the Byrne, Andersen and Dolendi families) were wiped out in Hurricane Earl.

The view from Drake's Seat of Magen's Bay on St. Thomas. THE beach to go to if you're getting off a ship. I've made the mistake of going when there are 5 ships in- never again.

View of Botany Bay from a boat. This was taken the day of the 2010 Chili Cook-Off when Murray, Jonathon, Lauren and I went around the ENTIRE island. So cool to do!

Lindquist- one of my favorite beaches on St. Thomas. No services- not even a bathroom- which means very few tourists :)

Tim's Home Away From Home: The Golf Course!

View from #13 Fairway

View of the course from my friend, Julie's, pool.

Waves crashing at the green on 13 (left) and before the tee box on 14

View of 14 from the water, again taken on the day we made the trek around the island!

This was my going away sunrise before leaving for my flight home in August. Kind if makes it easy to come back, huh? Hard to believe Hurricane Earl hit just 3 days later!

A couple of beautiful sunsets live from Paradise Point! I'm so lucky to have such a great view from my 'office'!

Another sunrise from my deck, not too shabby.
I could post hundreds, no thousands, of pictures to justify just how pretty it is but I think I get charged by megabyte so that's no good! Hope this helped put a smile on the face of some of you who are under snow vs. wanting to reach through the computer and hit me. Cheers!

Oh the Things I've NEVER Done!

So we've been on St. Thomas for nearly 15 months now and, yes Mom, I KNOW it's 6-9 months longer than we had planned :) I'm sorry! It occured to me awhile back that there are things I used to do on a regular basis in the states that I have yet to do here!

Washed My Car: neither Tim or I have washed our cars in the 15 months we have owned them. I guess, to be fair, Tim has only had the Wrangler for 5 months but he never washed the Escort either. It's not that we don't HAVE car washes, I just don't know exactly how they work. It isn't your typical drive-thru automatic wash- rather people (workers?) bring their own cleaning supplies and vaccuums. No idea how much it costs either! I have been there to use the automatic vaccuums on the INSIDE of my car- lots and lots of sand gets transported in the Cherokee. It rains often enough that the outside hasn't really needed it. Although recently I parked under a tree and, what must have been, a very full bird went to town. No amount of rain has fixed it yet so I guess I may have to break down and give it a rinse.

Dry Cleaning/Tailoring: I used to go to the dry cleaners so often the little Asian lady knew my car and we were on the Christmas card list. Seriously. Granted, I know both of our wardrobes have been, ahem, downgraded shall we say? However, not an item?? I guess we really didn't bring anything down that is dry clean only! I do have a dress from Vegas night that is quite sticky from sitting in a drink.... As for tailoring? Well, I'm not exactly buying business suits or nice pants. No one really needs to adjust anything on my $9 shorts from Old!

Haircuts: In all honesty, I got my first island haircut just a few weeks ago but, when I thought of this topic, I had not. It wasn't any reason in particular that kept me away from a haircut. I had one when I was in Chicago in June and in St. Louis in September. I guess it just kind of slipped my mind, fairly easy to do when you throw it in a ponytail everyday! However, things grow FAST - hair, nails, etc. and my hair was the longest it had been since high school! Julie from Erica's Salon in Frenchtown cut my hair and I can now check 'haircut' of the things I've never done list. Tim still hasn't. He's easy though- he trusts me enough to trim up a straight(ish) line in the back then he just shaves it all over. To be a boy!

Been to the Movies: Apparently it's the coldest place on the island: socks and a sweatshirt are required. I wouldn't know- we've never gone! We do Netflix and have never been BIG movie people so I don't feel deprived. In fact, I think we can count on my two hands how many times in the 8 1/2 years we've been together the number of times we've been to the movies.

I'm sure there are other things I haven't done but they don't pop into my mind because, well, obviously it's not a big deal!