A New Way To Travel

I have come to discover that there exists two rather distinct classes of people. The “Haves”, and the “Have Nots”. There are those who fly by the seat of their pants, who sort of go through life in a constant laissez faire state of mind, we’ll call them the “Haves”. And then there are those who obsess over every minute detail, creating a paul that hovers over them like Pig Pen’s ever-present cloud. We’ll call them the “Have Nots”. I confess, rather unwittingly, to being the latter.

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To me, deadlines are a mandate. Meeting schedules, work appointments, even social events, have a stated commencement date and time. A time that is not as much a time for targeting arrival, but rather a time wherein you should abjectly have been in your appointed position, 30 minutes prior to said commencement. This is not the time set for establishing an on-time arrival, but more so the beginning of the period establishing tardiness.

As an example then, workers starting their day at 8AM, should be in their ready position by, say 7:30. Making adequate provisions for traffic, the unplanned flat, or the long line at the coffee shop. Mind you, this is my take. The position of the Have Nots. Many others out there, the Haves, find that walking through the door at 8, constitutes an on time arrival. Somehow there is no consideration of the time required to get to their desk, drop off the jacket, say hello to Jane at the next cube, etc., etc., etc.

But I admit there exists this other side to the coin, and as I have observed them, I find that these are the travelers I envy. The Haves saunter to the ticketing kiosk to obtain their boarding pass, completely at ease, seemingly unaware they have only minutes to spare. They don’t own a watch, and wouldn’t understand it’s purpose anyway. The Have Nots rush to be the first to board, pacing as other zones ahead of them get the nod to proceed. The Haves instead head off for coffee as Final Boarding call is announced. They live a life free of stress, totally enjoying each breath and the life it brings them. They are my example I desire to be.Departure Lounge

A recent trip to the Caribbean had gone on unscheduled for far too long. Uncertainty on several fronts left us waiting far too long to pull the travel trigger. Tickets that were normally booked many months in advance, were eventually purchased well under the advantageous 21-day window. While it did have a noticeable impact on the wallet, I survived nonetheless.

But never has there been a Have Not traveler, less prepared for the actual day of departure. My bags were packed in less than 30 minutes of elapsed time, and not until approaching midnight of the night before. Parts of which were not actually completed until shortly before heading to the airport. Products we were to take along to an awaiting client were not assembled until the morning of departure, and one connecting flight was even booked while sitting in the Departure Lounge of our initial flight.

I have learned that deep cleansing breaths help, and calling on the name of a higher power can have a calming effect too! This Have Not is seeing the value of a life less fettered. Soaring at 30,000 feet, and winding my way toward a tropical destination, I found myself wondering. Can a Have Not actually become converted?

I am making it my objective to travel this trip as a Have! To roll with the flow, to bob and weave with the trade winds of non-conformity. Waking at the break of noon, showing up for breakfast as they are beginning to shut off service, and to to consider dinner options only as I am driving Restaurant Row. Is it possible? Can a Have Not change his stripes. I am unsure at this writing. But I declare a desire to learn how the other half lives. So tell us, how do you roll, are you a Have, or a Have Not?  As for me… Serenity now!

Live the Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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Saba – The Unspoiled Queen

Our decision to use St. Maarten as our vacation hub has always been largely based upon its close proximity to neighboring islands.  This geographical arrangement makes for a handy retreat to slightly more remote beaches when on St. Maarten the cruise ships come calling.  But head to an island without beaches?  What could possibly be the allure?  We would soon learn a wonderful lesson in eating crow!

SabaApt
Credit – www.skipharper.com

The Dutch island of Saba, weighing in at a scant 5 sq. mi. of land area, lies just 28 miles SE of St. Maarten.  There are two distinctly different means whereby one can reach this quaint retreat.  Winair offers a short 20 minute flight five times daily, and there are two boating excursions offering 1 hour 20 minute rides aboard competing Vomit Comets.  For obvious reasons, we chose the former rather then the latter.

The flight was quick, and exhilarating.  The approach takes a heading directly towards a rocky face, before suddenly dropping to a smooth landing along an ancient lava flow.  A  breeze through the terminal’s Immigration booth and we were off to explore the highest point within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[rule]

Mount Scenery, 2,855 ft., and 1,064 steps.  But who’s counting!
saba 2
The climb up Mt. Scenery is a hike well worth its promotion.  A rainforest so dense and arid it brings to mind the tales of Bilbo Baggins in his heroic quest.
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saba 3

We began the morning with a quick breakfast at Scout’s Place, and even found it a welcome reward following our epic climb.
[rule] saba 1

 

The island is dotted with scenes that feel a world apart from the beaches and shopping of most Caribbean tourist destinations.

[rule] saba 5  
saba 4

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windwardside
                                                                  Windwardside from Mt. Scenery

Windwardside is a picturesque town that plays well the part of post card and picture puzzle subject.

Be sure to check out the islands celebrated art and gift reputation.  The handcrafts of the ladies of the island is well known, as they still create their own hand made lace.  These pieces each create a beautiful and delicate finish to any table.  One of our favorite stops was the studio of glass artist Jo Bean.  Jo makes stunning hot glass creations unlike anything we had seen before.  The colors were so brilliant and her effusing personality was a perfect punctuation to our day on Saba.

An island without a beach, what could possibly be the attraction?  We found the answer to be its people, its quaint villages, its stunning scenery, its bars and restaurants, its thriving art community…

We encourage you, take the diversion off the beaten path and visit Saba, The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.  But we also encourage you, take the plane, not the Vomit Comet!

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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2013 Photo Contest Winners

The votes are cast, and the ballots have been counted, in the 2013 Warm Faces, Warm Places Photo Contest!

What was a close contest for a number of days, turned into a landslide win, and an unforeseen display of sportsmanship.  For a good part of the contest, two entries went head to head as voters weighed in on one of two images leading the pack.  We then received word from Sandra Nall that she was going to be taking her focus off the contest, and would be unable to continue recruiting votes.

Sandra learned that her husband had a serious health concern that would require her immediate attention.  We can all understand that her focus and her priorities surely should have been on her loved one.

When her closest competitor, Andrea Gerhoff, learned of Sandra’s concerns, she immediately sent a message to us through our Facebook page, making a very unusual request.

Andrea, by now leading and with a comfortable margin, asked that we take all her votes, and re-assign them to Sandra, thereby forfeiting the win.  Andrea reasoned “This contest is just for fun, and I would really like to know that someone going through a rough time could benefit from it, as maybe it would help cheer her up in this time of need.”

We couldn’t agree more Andrea!  Our fans truly are the best! Thank you Andrea for your genuine spirit of kindness. For our part, My Island Art will be awarding prizes to both ladies. If you haven’t already done so, please drop a line here or on our Facebook Page to let Andrea know how much we appreciate her kindness, and be sure to lift up Sandra and her family in prayers. I know they are appreciated.

Here are the winning images:

Image No. 1, Andrea Gerhoff, Islamorado, Florida Keys
Image No. 1, Andrea Gerhoff, Islamorado, Florida Keys
Image No. 5, Sandra Nall, Fanning Island
Image No. 5, Sandra Nall, Fanning Island

Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks to Andrea for the true spirit of friendly competition!  Keep watching our blog and our facebook page for more contests in the future

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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2013 Photo Contest Finalists

We have our Finalists in the Warm Faces, Warm Places Photo Contest!

We always look forward to this contest, as we get to see some beautiful images, of some of the Caribbeans finest beaches.  This year was no exception, and it certainly made for a tough challenge to pare the entries down to a manageable list of 5 finalists.  But we have succeeded!

But we have made our best effort, and we offer below our Top 5!  To get to the Grand Prize winner we now need your involvement.  Simply Vote for your favorite picture by leaving a comment below with the # of the picture you are voting for, or you can vote on our Facebook Page by “liking” the photo you want to win.

The photo with the most Facebook “Likes” and blog votes by midnight (EST) on 12/25/11, will win a custom Island Art Jewelry Box with the winning image!!

Good luck to all of our finalists!  Now get to work, and get those votes coming…

Image No. 1, Andrea Gerhoff, Islamorado, Florida Keys
Image No. 1, Andrea Gerhoff, Islamorado, Florida Keys
Image No. 2, Christina Saull, St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados
Image No. 2, Christina Saull, St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados
Image No. 3, Tina Simons, Plancencia, Belize
Image No. 3, Tina Simons, Plancencia, Belize
Image No. 4, Tom Pelton
Image No. 4, Tom Pelton
Image No. 5, Sandra Nall, Fanning Island
Image No. 5, Sandra Nall, Fanning Island

Voting ends at midnight on March 25.  So all finalists, get recruiting!  It’s in your hands now!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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Warm Faces, Warm Places Contest #2

Its time to revisit one of our most popular contests to date.  As you know we love beaches.  And if we can’t be at the beach, we love seeing warm tropical images.  It helps us to dream a bit, and we love to plan for future trips.  As the weather in our home port has turned a “Whiter Shade of Pale”, we’re ready for a little something to help warm our frosty little flip flop toes.  So, we’re kicking off the 2nd WARM FACES, WARM PLACES contest to reward all our great fans for following along with our island escapades.

Starting today, we’re asking you to send us your best island or beach scene photographs.  The rules are simple, send us your best photograph via FB post, tweet, or email, shoot you can even send it via carrier pigeon if you want.  Just get it here by the end of the day Thursday March 14.   And please, it must be your own photographic work.  We’re trusting you on this one!   We will then select our 5 favorite images and post them on our FB page & our blog.  The winner will be chosen by fan voting of the top 5 images submitted! The image that earns the most likes and comments will win a custom Island Art Keepsake Box featuring their winning photograph!!!

Past Contest Winner
Past Contest Winner

So, here’s everything you need to know!

1.  Send your favorite, best, most memorable beach picture you have to us via,

  • Facebook – post your picture to our Facebook page
  • Twitter – Tweet your beach scenes to @MyIslandArtJeff
  • Email your pic to info@myislandart.com

2.  Then check our Facebook page & blog on March 15th to see if your picture made the finals.

3.  If your picture made the top 5, send all your family and friends to our Facebook page to like or comment on your picture to gain votes.

4.  Lastly, check our Facebook page and our blog on March 26th to see if you won!!

The Winner will receive a custom Island Art Jewelry Box valued at over $45!!

So start digging through your pictures, or get the camera out and get busy.  Send in those pictures of your favorite Warm Faces and Warm Places.   We can’t wait to see all the beautiful places you’ve been.

Good luck and think warm!!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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St. Kitts Heritage -Brimstone Hill

 

“Captain, 50 guns approaching at 12 o’clock!”

“Man the guns, prepare a warning sounding.  Fire!”

Walking around the concourse of the historic Brimstone Hill, I did a quick Princess Bride pirouette as I sliced my imaginary cutlass through the air and shouted the above script to my embarrassed bride, who was now seeking a quick retreat back to our car.

Keeping A Watchful Eye
Keeping A Watchful Eye

As an avid fan of the early warring history of the Caribbean Islands, in St. Kitts I was now in my element.  Situated almost 800 feet above the water below, is the Brimstone Hill Fortress.  Over 100 years in the making (1690 – 1790), this restored fortress is a shining reflection of a bygone era.  Cannons still point out to sea from nearly every angle of the prominent Fort George Citadel.

St. Kitts (St. Christopher), is the first Caribbean island to be permanently settled by both the English and the French, who shared the island between 1627 and 1713.  Both nations then used this example as a springboard for English and French colonialism throughout the world.

Infantry Officers Quarters
Infantry Officers Quarters

 

 

 

 

As such, St. Kitts played a valuable role in the establishment and history of the Caribbean.  Last year they celebrated their 7th annual History and Heritage Week.  Activities included a heritage hike, treasure hunts in Nevis and St. Kitts, a concert at Brimstone Hill, a food fair and a culture pageant.

 

Earning a Healthy Respect
Earning a Healthy Respect

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1986), the Brimstone Hill National Park is a wealth of history and of the accounting of this island’s historic past.  Touring the entire Park gives you a glimpse into life as these islands developed.  Notably featured are the Prince of Wales Bastion, a lower level firing position which enabled them to defend their anchorage, the Infantry Officers Quarters, and the aforementioned Fort George Citadel, which now houses the Fort George Museum.

 

Fort George Citadel
Fort George Citadel

An Orientation Centre and Gift Shop help to complete the experience and inform the visitor.  And certainly not to be overlooked are the stunning vistas which greet you at every turn.  This truly is a phot-op of the grandest designs.

St. Kitts has much to offer.  Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and spectacular tropical weather.  But take our advice when on St. Kitts, grab your favorite wench, and spend a morning at Brimstone Hill.  You’ll never see Captain Jack Sparrow the same again!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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The Real Blessing of Travel

I have had the good fortune of traveling to a good many cultures and climates in my brief time on this big blue marble.  I’ve seen the Rocky Mountains of the western US, and traveled its beaches from coast to coast.  I’ve tasted beaches and ruins from throughout the Caribbean and the Cote d’Azur, and marveled in the history of some of Europe’s greatest cities.  However, when asked, what is the one thing we love most about our travels, we always come back to the realization that the greatest pleasure in travel is in the friendships we develop along the way.

Such was a chance meeting in our recent travels this past summer.  Little did we know that a photo contest we ran in December would pay such lasting benefits to us.  You may recall our Warm Faces, Warm Places Photo Contest,  that featured a prize of a new jewelry box featuring the winning photo.  The contest ended on December 24, and the winning image

Bridget’s Winning Photo on the Finished Product

was this stunning picture taken of Megans Bay in St. Thomas.  As it turns out the photographer, Bridget Skjordahl, lives on a quiet hillside overlooking this familiar beach.  In fact, Bridget has the terrible misfortune of having to view this beach from her home every day!  As they say, it’s tough work, but someone has to do it.

As we began to plan our June buying/sales trip,  we began to target St. Thomas as a destination for this tour.  It was to be our first trip to the island, but I assure you, it will not be our last.  During the planning stages I reached out to Bridget for advice and insights, and found her to be a wealth of information and a most willing guide.

As we finalized our plans, we agreed to meet up while on island, and upon our arrival, Bridget quickly set about arranging a time to meet for an evening together.  We quickly accepted and were supremely rewarded!  Having people on the “inside” is a huge benefit.  Membership truly does have privileges!

They invited us to an evening out and dinner at Banana Tree Grille, on the grounds of historic Bluebeard’s Castle, and overlooking the beautiful harbor of Charlotte Amalie.

View of Charlotte Amalie from Banana Tree Grille…Seriously Stunning!

Meeting her husband Marty, a pilot for Seaborne Airlines, was a another great pleasure.  Finally I’ve met someone who is as supremely Type A as I.  It’s nice to meet a kindred spirit.  They filled the evening telling us of their move from corporate life in middle America, to true island spirits.  By evening’s end, I was ready to toss my return ticket and start my own House Hunters International.

Large Silver Carnival Inspired Red & Gold Tribal Hoop Earrings

And, as an added bonus, as it turns out, Bridget is an artist in her own right. Bridget produces her own line of handmade custom jewelry, created in the islands.  Please take a moment to check out her Facebook Page at B. Skjordahl Studio Handmade Art Jewelry.

She gave us a couple gifts to remember her by, and we are thrilled to see them as our new island friends.  You can see more of her unique creations in her Etsy store at Paradise Made Jewelry.  Quite aptly named we think, given the stunning beach she overlooks from her island home.

We love the words Bridget uses describe her works and her passion,

Handmade Limited Edition Sterling Silver Sea Shell Pendant Necklace

“I live to experience and share everyday love, joy, and beauty through a multitude of methods and media. Every piece of art you find here is my answer to the call, to express my interpretation of these values, through the lens of the paradise in which I live.

Staying true to expressing my heart is paramount. Each day is a new day, unencumbered by yesterday or tomorrow.”  Now that is the true spirit and appreciation of Paradise!  We envy her for her little corner of Paradise, but most of all we are thankful for her genuine spirit of friendship and open arms.

This, my dear friends, is the true blessing of travel.  The people and the open welcoming hearts we encounter.  As we left our evening together, we couldn’t help but ask, “Could this be our future home?”  Well only time will tell, but it certainly has the gears turning, and we know that wherever we travel next, we can only hope it is a Paradise filled with friends like Bridget and Marty.

Perhaps you will see us again in ‘our’ little corner of Paradise.  Time will tell, but keep the lights on just in case!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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A Caribbean Bucket List!

To some we have had the good fortune of sampling a good variety of Caribbean Islands.  Still others will say we have but touched the tip of the iceberg.  But after over 30 island landings, we are finding that the more we travel to new and exciting island destinations, the more we feel the strong siren call of the diverse island vibes.

We have previously ticked the boxes of St. Maarten/St. Martin, Saba, St. Kitts

Climbing Saba’s surreal Mt. Scenery

Anguilla, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Bart’s, St. Thomas, St. John, and a host of small relatively unnamed cayes and islets.  We love that each has it’s own personality and distinct character.  From mountainous Saba which has no beach at all:

 

 

Shoal Bay Anguilla

 

To the utterly flat Anguilla and its stunning picturesque shores:

 

 

From St. Barth’s, playground of the elite:

St. Barth’s infamous Eden Rock
via Access St. Barth

To the simple and wholesome surroundings of St. Kitts:

Historic Brimstone Hill, St. Kitts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But even all this has left us with a pretty extensive Bucket List of islands we absolutely “have” to get to.  Barbados remains very high on our list, as is Grenada, and the islands of the Turks and Caicos.  With so many islands, and so little time, we figure we’d better get busy.  Help us fill out our Bucket List for the seasons ahead.  Which islands hold your favorite memories?  This time we invite you, to… Tell Us Where To Go!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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Week in Review – From the Blogosphere #1

The world wide web has become a virtual hotbed of fantastic travel writing.  And with so much great writing available almost daily, we thought it a good idea to start a new feature.  We’ll try and grab a few snippits of some of our favorites from the week that was and feature them here.  While not totally comprehensive, it shall serve as a brief compilation of our favorite blogs from this past week.

We follow several bloggers who write about their travels and experiences throughout the Caribbean.  Highlights, lowlights, travel recommendations, and a few Dos and Don’ts.  Perhaps you’ll pick up on a few of our favorites and join us as we learn more about the world beyond our shores.  Here are a few highlights from the week that was!

Our friend Ryan at the Caribbean Escape Blog started us off with this little musical interlude.  Island Style By John Cruz with Jack Johnson & Jackson Browne!

Island Style By John Cruz ,Jack Johnson, & Jackson Browne

Wendy over at Irie Time posted a great photo essay featuring her favorite Beach Bars.
Enjoy our Favorite Beach Bars!

My Irie Time!

Patrick Bennett from Uncommon Caribbean wrote a great post about the August Monday celebration in Anguilla.  Makes us ready to pack our bags!

August Monday On Anguilla from Uncommon Caribbean

Many of us will remember the nerves and excitement of our first flight as a moment frozen in time.  Elizabeth Seward details her memories and tells us How Travel Helped Her Grow.

And this beautiful pictorial just in from Jules on the Water featuring the Colors of St. Martin.

Jules on the Water

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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What’s In Your Bag?

Ever thought to yourself, as you zipped up the suitcase and toss it in the car heading to the airport, “I wonder if it’s okay to pack ____ in my carry-on bag”? Take a moment to review this handy cheat sheet from the folks at Travel Insurance Guide.  You just might be surprised.  but better now than later!

What’s In Your Bag?
Compiled by: Travel Insurance Guide

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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