Friday, March 20, 2015

Randoms - March 2015

Once the weather report is over on the 10pm news we normally flip channels for a bit, or if it was Monday Dave would torture Holly with "Love It or List It" (they never list it). Now, we've settled in on a post-news favorite: Cops or Cops Reloaded (the remastered edition). The show's concept remains highly entertaining even after 25 years since its inception. The overlooked aspects of the show are the level of compassion often displayed by the officers in warranted situations and how difficult their jobs truly are. Check out Cops on Spike TV or Country Music TV for Cops Reloaded.

One night we discovered the show Food Fortunes. It was good, but won't replace Cops in the same time slot. Food Fortunes is a knock-off of Shark Tank on Food Network. Aspiring moguls present their food items or kitchen gadgets to a panel of four financiers and a studio audience. The audience samples the product and votes whether they would buy the item or not if available in stores. Then the panel decides if they want to consider making an investment. At the end of the show they go through the investment rounds. The episode we watched featured spaghetti sauce, plastic plates, a ravioli maker, and cricket crackers (exactly what it sounds like).

We recorded the recent round of TMC's Treasures from the Disney Vault but have only watched two items: I Captured the King of the Leprechauns (a Disneyland tv show episode where Walt gives away most of the plot to Darby O'Gill and the Little People) and the short Babes in the Woods. Babes is worth the watch because it's one of the first cartoons in color, has a scary-fun storyline, and a lot going on from an animation standpoint:

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We are almost 60 days out from our May Memorial Day Weekend trip to Walt Disney World. It's not our favorite weekend to hit The World but we are keeping vacation days to a minimum for use later in the year. On the plus side we are hitting a Star Wars Weekend and we will be there during the Magic Kingdom 24 hour event (5% chance we'll attend the event).

Sixty days out means we can book Fastpasses through My Magic+. Unfortunately Disney has not released the Star Wars event schedule, which includes Fastpass eligible presentations, so we will be booking blind and end up grossly disappointed when we have to shift things around.

We have a split stay this trip: A few night at The Boardwalk (convenient for Star Wars access at The Studios) and a couple nights at The Polynesian. Disney is opening their Vacation Club (DVC timeshare) rooms at this resort and we lucked into getting a few nights here. We imagine we won't get this lucky again. We've always wanted to stay here, but we weren't willing to pay the high price. The flexibility of DVC is making this a reality. We are looking forward to seeing the renovations, the over-the-water bungalows, and the new Trader Sam's bar.

One event that was open to book, but we were closed out of, was the Star Wars Galactic Dine-in Breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine-In.  At this event you get a photo opp with Boba Fett and Darth Vader together, a fixed breakfast menu with several entree options, and other walk-around characters to visit with while you watch a special Star Wars film package. If you are very vigilant you may catch a canceled reservation when checking the website, or you can farm out the work. Holly found the Disney Dining Buddy, a service that checks specific Disney Dining Reservations for you. She entered our request into an online form and paid them a few bucks. A day later she got a text notice that a reservation was available. She then went on Disney's site and secured our breakfast.  Very handy!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Epic Anegada Post - 2015

A few weeks ago we returned from our second trip to Anegada, a small island that is part of the British Virgin Islands.  The good thing about a second trip here is you are likely to take less pictures.   Things don't change that much since there's really not a lot of development on the island.  There were two new restaurants, a bar re-opened, and one of the hotels started setting up 7 safari-style tents on the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.

Check out some of our posts from last year to see some pictures and get our general descriptions of the locations:

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Anegada overview
Cow Wreck Beach
Loblolly Beach

Last year's video:




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Getting There

What a mess.   We originally were booked to fly out on a Saturday morning to Charlotte, then change planes to San Juan, and then change planes again in San Juan to fly to Tortola.  We would stay overnight on Tortola and take a small (9-seat) plane to Anegada the next day.   The flight schedule kept shifting, which always messed up our connections.  We ended up flying from Chicago to Miami on Friday, staying overnight by the MIA airport, getting an early flight to San Juan, and then flying over to Tortola.

We spent the Tortola day at the Tamarind Club, a small hotel on the East End that had a great bar and restaurant.   Lots of fun!

The next morning we got to the airport before 7:30am as instructed for our 8am flight to Anegada.  At 8am no one was at the VI Airlink desk.  We of course start panicking.  Luckily, the lady at another airline desk told us they were never on time.  A few minutes later a woman with a VI Link shirt comes over carrying a toddler on her hip. She hands us a slip of paper and tells us to proceed to security.  We go through security with a hand-written credit card slip as our boarding pass.  That's not the most bizarre thing.   She came and got us on the other side to escort us to the plane, which was an easy walk from the door.  However, we had to get into her car, with the kid in the backseat (no car seat), and ride over to the plane.

Our flight lasted about 10-15 minutes and we lucked out with a clear day for some great views.   One nice thing about the flight is the cost is not that much more than the price of the ferry from Road Town.  We have more scenes from the flight in the video.  Our flight back was a little worse.  We had to land at Virgin Gorda first and go through a few rainstorms.




Getting Around

We rent a car for the entire time we are on Anegada.  We use D&H Jeep Rentals.  The "D" stands for Dean and he is full service.  When he heard the plane fly over his house he got in the car to head to the airport.  He showed up about 4 minutes after we landed.  We rode with him to his office and filled out the paperwork.  we were given the car we rode over in, a Subaru with the driver side on the right.   On Anegada they drive on the left.  At first Dave thought this would be too weird, but it's the same configuration as a boat so it wasn't hard to get used to.  The car was actually from Japan with a lady's voice giving us some kind of notice in Japanese each time we started.  The radio was Japanese format so the FM bands did not match up with the bands we use on this side of the globe.  We relied on AM, which most of the time meant church music.

Staying and Playing



We stayed at Neptune's Treasure, which is on the south side of the island near the anchorage and ferry dock.  Neptune's is a small 9-unit family-run hotel that has a great bar scene and full service kitchen and bakery.  We received a very pleasant room on the second floor that overlooked the bar and the anchorage.  Usually we would walk along the beach that Neptune's Treasure sits on, but there was a massive invasion of seaweed that made sitting by the beach unpleasant let-alone walking through it.

This was early in the trip.  By the end of the week all that sand was covered in weeds.


Remember there's not too many activities offered on the island.  Diving, snorkeling, sail boarding, and kite surfing are available, but we did none of that nonsense.  We almost rented paddleboards... Our typical days started with a car ride either to Cow Wreck or Loblolly.

If we went to Cow Wreck the first thing we'd do is read our books for a while then get in the water with some beers until lunch.  Then we'd eat at the Cow Wreck Beach Bar (ALWAYS the fish burger.  They make a great fish sandwich with either broiled or fried flounder - either way it fantastic), go back to the chairs and read some more until around 4pm.  Our next stop would either be the Anegada Beach Club for Bushwackers, Anegada Reef Hotel for their fun Happy Hour, or our hotel for sunset and Happy Hour.











The water color would change from a light blue to a green as the sun changed position 


We brought these floats from home and hauled them around in our car.  We left them for the kids that belonged to the owners of Cow Wreck Beach Bar.

On a cloudy morning we took a three-mile walk from Cow Wreck towards Keel Point.  We did not run into another person.

Found this weird trash thing along our walk




Around 3:30 the cows come home


We prefer Cow Wreck to Loblolly because Cow Wreck has less rocks and the water is typically calmer.  Loblolly was also a bit of a further drive for us.  Since it's a little farther, you get fewer people at Loblolly.  By fewer, we mean a dozen people at one time in one place.  Since there are three bars on Loblolly people tend to spread out more.  The most popular place is Big Bamboo.   Great menu with lobster, shrimp, and BBQ items.  Crazy Richard, a hippy that comes down for 5 months from Traverse City, Michigan and sleeps under a bush, juggles for tips and will burn your name into driftwood with a magnifying glass.  This tends to draw a crowd.  The staff here (like at most places) is fun and friendly.  Flash of Beauty is the other lunch spot on this beach.  Our favorite feature there is the honor bar/fridge.   Say hello when you arrive and let them know you are going to take beers during the day, pay-up at the end.   Most of the places will run day-tabs for guests.  The final bar, which we think is named Potter's II, just opened up a few weeks ago to serve beverages only.

Loblolly Beach from Flash of Beauty


A crowded morning





By Big Bamboo



Holly makes fun of Dave for using the pole......
But the results are this...



Big Bamboo keeps their lobsters in traps and grabs what they need throughout the day

Small lobster.

We would spend a lot of time walking Loblolly in the morning exploring the rocks near the beach where tiny fish were trapped in their crevices and unusual mollusks hung onto the rocks.  We found a treasure trove of sea glass and collected quite a bit during two treasure hunts.


Happy Hours

Bushwacker
Around 4pm we usually are ready to stop lazing around the beach to start lazing around a bar.  Most restaurants want you seated and eating no later than 7:30 so you had to pack it in at some point.  We typically would grab Happy Hour drinks at Anegada Beach Club, mainly because they had awesome bushwhackers and reliable wi-fi (we know of only 4 wi-fi spots on the island).  Another favorite was the Anegada Reef Hotel.  Since they were close to the ferry dock a lot of people would stop there before heading on the ferry or onto their boats.  It was always lively and they played good soca music.

We also enjoyed our hotel's happy hour.   We would either sit near the water or at the bar.  Mark, the owner, often told stories about growing up on Anegada in the early seventies.
Took this on a cloudy night from Neptune's.  Instrgraming the photo gave it a nice quality.
Potter's was the home of the nightlife on the island.  After we had dinner there one night we moved to the bar and watched as the new bartender from Anegada Beach Club was moonlighting (or this is his full-time job) as a DJ playing a mix of reggae, current hits, and wedding favorites.  It was fun to watch a French teenager get excited about winning a bottle of rum in the limbo contest.

We visited Pomato Point Restaurant twice for drinks, but mostly to go sit on the beach outside their doors and take in the west-side view of sunset.  The first visit there were eight others on the beach.  The second visit, just us.





Dining

Last year we ate most of our meals at our hotel, Neptune's Treasures.   It was easy and most of the menus around the island are very similar.  Big lobster, several fish entrees, shrimp, and other various island favorites can be found everywhere.   This year we went to three places!!!  We ate two meals at our hotel, one meal at Potter's by the Sea (they are known for their Lobster Alfredo), and five at The Wonky Dog.  Yes, The Wonky Dog is our new favorite place.  The owners are super fun and friendly and the food was fantastic.  The Wonky Dog is not the typical Anegada restaurant because its chef-owner Peter is actually an honest-to-goodness trained chef.   Culinary treats!  We had everything from jerk chicken pizza, to cracked conch, to lobster, to bacon corn ice cream.   Goodness all over.   Their multi-course Valentine's menu was fantastic and featured an optional wine pairings.  Oh, and dinner is served at tables on the sand near the water.  After dinner one night we were the last ones left and ended up having some champagne and singing karaoke (yeah we don't do that usually).   Really fun.






Anegada is definitely not for everyone.  It's a pain in the neck to get to.  There aren't big resorts, chain restaurants, or many activities or sites to see.   Visitors have to be comfortable with a very relaxed pace, rigid dining hours, and limited selections for groceries and other sundries.   If you can handle all that along with beautiful beaches, minimal crowds, friendly people, and great food it may be a place worth visiting.  We will be back.

Here's this year's video.  We focus a bit on driving around the island so you see more than just the beaches: