Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…


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I need a helicopter…or more underwear

Before the Wards and we left on our trip to Tortola, I had several people tell me they couldn’t wait to see the blog. The thing is, I lost my “wanna” somewhere along the way. Put another way, like the old Jo Dee Messina song, “my give a damn’s busted.” It’s been nice to not spend each evening fretting about and writing and rewriting a blog post. That, plus the fact that Eddie and the Dave’s (they really should form a band) aren’t on this trip and they usually provide most of my material. Tres is doing his best to take up the slack but even he, as good as he is, can’t do the work of six men, men who are willing to start the day with an 8am Bloody Mary. However, the week is still young so hope springs eternal. 


Getting to the West end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands from Midland or Wichita Falls is no small feat. In fact, it’s a grueling all-day affair and involves planes, ferries and automobiles. It took over an hour for about 50 people to clear customs in Roadtown. I’ve gotten through customs in Miami with 3000 people in less time. Julia, bless her heart, and I mean that in the best way, not the Southern “well bless her heart” way, is stuck with the driving again and that is not an easy thing. I’m sure it is made more difficult by someone yelling “shit, Shit, SHIT!” with ever increasing volume from the backseat every 30 seconds. The road to our house is up a mountain, not paved, and we traveled it for the first time in the dark…in a Kia. We first missed the turnoff because it didn’t look like a road and even when we found the road, my mind was saying “this CANNOT be it.” It was.


But, the house, Blackbeard’s Hideaway on Steel Point, is beautiful and the view is spectacular. We were supposed to come here back in October of 2017 because three out of four of us were turning sixty. Category 5 Hurricane Irma took care of that in September. The Virgin Islands took a direct hit and the devastation was immense. Boats and docks were either sunk or thrown onshore or literally on top of buildings. The infrastructure was decimated, even roads were washed away. Businesses, buildings, homes, both large and small, were demolished. Nothing escaped Irma. Things were so bad that prisoners were released from jail because they didn’t know if the structures would make it…and almost everyone turned themselves back in within a week because they couldn’t find food or water. We have a good view of Frenchman’s Lookout, which our group visited in 2010 and again in 2015. It’s the only repeat destination we’ve had on our island trips and was magnificent. You can see pictures of it if you look in my blog archives. It is in ruins now and will not be rebuilt unless someone buys it. It is sad to see. 


Tortola is rebounding, but slowly. Even rebuilding seems to be on island time. The West end seems to be behind other parts of the island, but they are working on the boardwalk at Sopher’s Hole and many of the homes have been repaired. There are four houses, all owned by the same person, on Steel Point and all but one have been repaired, however, the third one was just finished two weeks ago, 21 months after the storm. The Soggy Dollar has brought Jost Van Dyke back better than before, of course, all they needed was about a dozen sheets of plywood to rebuild the bar. Nevertheless, it was good to see a thriving scene at our favorite place.


Yesterday we drove over to Cane Garden Bay, which doesn’t look very far on the map, but is about thirty switchbacks, a hundred “oh shits” and a half a dozen Lord’s Prayers away. That’s how I measure distance here. I don’t know how Julia does it. After the third 90 degree incline switchback, and I’m talking up not left or right, I would have thrown that little Kia in park, hoped the brakes held, and said “I’m done.” At the scene of the crash, they wouldn’t know if I wet myself before or after we fell off the mountain. Luckily for everyone involved I doubt I’m ever asked to drive on these treacherous roads since most people don’t want to ride with me on the flat plains of Texas.

 

Today we are not doing a thing except relaxing and enjoying the house and maybe a little snorkeling…ok, Tres is doing the snorkeling, we will be doing the relaxing.


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Chalk Sound or Bust

We had to be out of the house by 11:00 because another group was arriving at 3:00. It’s a popular place and I can see why. That left us with five hours to kill so we headed to Chalk Sound…again. And this time we found it! Of course, we had a new navigator so our odds went up astronomically (sorry Cheryl). It’s every bit as beautiful as I remember.

Julia found us a great restaurant, right on Chalk Sound, for lunch, Las Brisas, which turned out to be my favorite meal of the trip (coconut crusted snapper tacos). It would have been perfect except for the gale force winds whipping around the outdoor awning we were under.

We still got to the airport three hours early and there must have been a gajillion people leaving about the same time…and no air conditioning in the terminal. And Dallas customs was the biggest bunch of FUBAR I’ve seen in a while. Trying to get home is always the worst part of the trip. Luckily, we all made it through.

Thanks again to Julia for her hard work in making not only this trip happen but the previous seven. You rock! I love our whole group and feel blessed to be a part of it. Everyone brings their own special part to the group. Our trip was awesome, but no matter where I travel, I am always happy to get back to Texas, where I belong. Until next time…


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Byline by Keith…not.

Remember that extremely big pink pot of seafood that Dave ordered last night? Remember how I said we should have ordered one pot for the whole table? Well, I take that back. We hadn’t been back an hour before Dave got sick as a dog and stayed that way all night long and a good part of today. Gina was dosing him with so much stuff…Pepcid, Tums, meclizine, Benedryl, melatonin and who knows what else…I was almost as worried about the over medication as the food poisoning. Something must have worked because he finally emerged from his room about 2:30 and it looked like he was going to make it, so we’ve got that going for us.

Other than Dave being sick, it was totally laid back at the house so I don’t have much to report unless you want to hear about a walk on the beach and hanging out at the pool again. But, dear reader, you are in for a treat as I have a roving reporter, Keith, covering activities at Club Med. He, Tres and Cheryl discovered you could get a day pass for $79 and that included two boat trips out to snorkel and all the food and drink you could handle. I promised him a byline if he would report back, so I will leave the rest of the blog to him.

Keith reports: a big fat nothing. Keith kinda sucks as a roving reporter. Don’t quit your day job, Dude. Of course, with free drinks I don’t know what I expected. Here’s what I heard when they returned: drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…trapeze, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…snorkeling, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…Cheryl losing them for two hours, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…cute girls mistaking them for tycoons, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah. Keith did come up with a new slogan for Club Med and they really should jump on it: Enough twenty somethings to keep it interesting, enough 70 somethings to keep it real.Damn photo bomb...


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Highway to Hell (aka Be Careful What You Wish For )

It’s been hard to write a blog the last couple of days because we’ve been so laid back that it’s been hard to find something interesting to write about. We remedied that today. We dropped Tres and Joe at Sharkbites so that Tres could get another cup of “the best coffee in the world,” which he claims to have drunk there on our last trip to Turks and Caicos five years ago. We took the other three guys to the golf course for a round and the girls headed for Chaulk Sound.

Our first mistake was allowing Cheryl to navigate after “two” drinks. Did you know that if you refill your first drink it still counts as only having one drink? There are a lot of people who will be delighted to hear this news. By that standard, I’m still on my first drink. Anyway, we ended up going in the wrong direction, until we stopped and asked a utility worker if we were going the right way and he looked at us like we were crazy and pointed in the opposite direction. Not wanting to take just one local person’s word for it, we continued on in the wrong direction for several miles, until we hit water and were forced to turn around.

Once we were going the right direction, Cheryl decided that we should take the scenic route…and boy was it scenic. Upon reflection, the end of the paved road should have been our first clue that maybe we should turn around and go the less scenic route. Common sense did not win out and we ended up going cross country in a ten passenger van, expecting to pop a tire any moment. The road was so rough Cheryl was worried about losing her “headlight covers.” We had a swamp to one side and burned out bullet ridden cars on the other. I started composing a goodbye note to the kids just in case we didn’t make it out alive, which looked more likely by the minute. It was that kind of neighborhood.

Trash heavily littered both sides of the road, but on the bright side we might have found an icemaker to replace the broken one at the house. The last straw was a pair of abandoned platform high heel shoes among the trash that looked to be a very large size. Afraid that the body belonging to those size fifteens might be around there too, we turned around and skeedaddled…as much as you can skeedaddle going 5 miles per hour through potholes and over boulders.

As soon as we got back to pavement, Denise called Tres and told him we were on the way to Sharkbites and there had better be five pina coladas waiting when we got there. And there were. Also, Sharkbites was not where Tres got the best cup off coffee in the world. It might have been at a coffee shop around the corner…or it might not have even been on Turks and Caicos at all. Guess he’ll keep looking.

When the Dave, Eddie and Keith got back from golf, we headed for Da Conch Shack to celebrate making it through the day in one piece. To say the portions were large would be an understatement. Dave’s meal was, honest-to-God, served in a pink 5 1/2 quart Le Cruset dutch oven. We could have just ordered one of those for the whole table. It was all we could do to waddle back to the van afterwards. We never did make it to Chaulk Sound…at least not yet.


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We Ain’t Right

Today was massage day and that’s always a favorite with this group. Eight of us signed up and two masseuses with really strong thumbs showed up at 10:00. We set one up in the spare bedroom and the second was on the lower deck by the firepit. I chose the inside room because who wants to flash everyone on the beach, well, besides Tres? But that’s sort of a given. Everyone certainly had that dazed look of the relaxed when they were through.

Tres’ masseuse asked if there was a name for our group. It’s not the first time we’ve been asked. When I used to travel to the Sweet Potato Queen parade as part of a group, we would be in tiaras and hideous queen bee vests that we picked up at Cracker Barrel, and my friend Debi Weaver would always answer the inquiry with a story about us being a group of cloggers on our way to a competition. Pic12.jpgI’m not sure that this band of misfits could ever be mistaken for cloggers. So, if this bunch had a group name, what would it be? The Dirty Dozen would work most years but we’ve only got ten this year. The Hateful Eight + Two? Twister Ten? The conversation degenerated, as it always does, when Tres piped up that our group should simply be ”We Ain’t Right.” Ding, ding, ding. And we have a winner, and it will be appropriate no matter how many people attend.

We had good old Texas steak for dinner. It’s bought and frozen at home, wrapped up and added to someone’s luggage and always superior to what you can find on the island. We’re usually ready for some red meat by mid-week. After dinner we played a dice game called Hot Dice or Farkle. It was a fun way to end the evening even though half the participants didn’t know any more about the rules of the game at the end than they did at the beginning…and one of those people came from behind to win. We ain’t right.


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Delusions of Grandeur

This morning we took the ferry over to North Caicos and Middle Caicos. On the ride over I was reminded again how beautiful the water is here. It’s pretty from the house but it’s even better when you’re on it. The color can’t truly be captured in pictures. It’s almost otherworldly. Once on North Caicos our ten passenger van wouldn’t start, so we ended up with an eight-passenger Suburban and two people in the cargo hold. This crowd just rolls with the flow. Denise and Gina definitely took one for the team getting bounced around back there. It brought back memories of our first trip to Vigin Gorda when we had a 1990 Caravan for ten people.

The plan was to hit a few beach bars, have some lunch, walk some beaches and see the sights. That was the fun-filled day the brochure promised. We drove for what seemed forever without the benefit of road signs, shoulders or even scenery. Finally arriving at a beach bar on Middle Caicos we waited for about fifteen minutes while someone apparently went to wake up the bartender, who I believe might have also been the cook. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the establishment, and I use that term loosely, seemed to be out of half of the items on their menu. No lunch here. The killer view seemed to be about the only thing they had going for them. And the views we’re spectacular and very different than what you see on Providenciales. I hate to say it, or disparage two whole islands, but North and Middle Caicos turned out to be kind of a nothingburger. Maybe we just didn’t know the right places to go. After a vote, we decided to cut bait and try to catch the 1:30 ferry back to civilization. It was our last shot until 4:30 and we took it. I’d say the person that put together the brochure touting those two islands had delusions of grandeur. It might not have been our most successful excursion, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and the ferry ride alone was great reminder of what it’s like being out on this water and well worth the effort.

On the way home the subject of dinner came up. FYI, if Gina ever tells you she needs to make a quick stop at the grocery store “for like two things,” do not fall for it…she will come out 25 minutes later with $250 worth of stuff. Joe accompanied Gina and Denise inside and said that’s the most stressful thing he’s done since sitting for the CPA exam. To her credit, she seems to take whatever’s at hand and somehow turn it into a great meal.

The rest of the day was low key and relaxing and really that’s the perfect kind of day to have here on Turks.

 


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How Long Until We Get Some Cobbler?

This morning after breakfast on the upper deck of the house, I observed Tres running up and down the 53 steps again and again…up and down, up and down, up and down. I just assume he keeps forgetting what he came up here for because the alternative, that he is voluntarily exercising on vacation, is too horrible to consider. Only a psycho would do that, but this is Tres we’re talking about so anything is possible.

 

About noon we loaded up the van and headed for town. A little lunch, a few drinks and some shopping. That was our plan and how we found ourselves walking down the beach searching for a restaurant we went to five years ago. Telling someone that something is “just down the beach” is like telling someone at the Wynn in Vegas that the MGM is just “a little way up the Strip”…only you’re doing it barefoot in sand. I have to admit the beach was incredible, but that sand was damn hard to walk in.

 

 

By the time we walked back to the shopping area (or Wynn in my previous analogy), I had blisters on both feet. Julia traded shoes with me even though that meant her heels were hanging over the back of my sandals. If I’d had more to drink, I probably would have wept at her kindness and slobbered something along the lines of “I love you, man!” A woman that will trade shoes with you, especially when you don’t wear the same size, is a special kind of friend.


Back at the house we had more pool time, because there is always pool time. If we ever rented a house without a pool, which will never happen, but if we did, I swear we’d chip in and buy a kiddie pool to hang out in. It’s our favorite activity.

 

After dinner, Martha Feakin’ Stewart, a.k.a. Gina, threw together a cherry cobbler for dessert. Eddie wanted to turn in early, but he also wanted cobbler. The struggle is real, people. A nanosecond after dinner we heard, “How long until we get some cobbler?” There were six minutes left on the timer. The bookies in Vegas would have given the situation even odds. It was touch and go, but the cobbler won. It was the right decision.