Monthly Archives: March 2007

Vacation Final Analysis

Obviously getting sick put a pretty big damper on the whole trip.   I couldn’t enjoy just about anything.

That said I’m pretty sure that we’ll do a Windjammer cruise again.   It had serious potential and, what things we did do, were quite fun.   I think if I had been feeling better than I was, I would have had a fantastic time.   It’s probably a trip better taken with a group of friends.

Tortola was a significant let down I think it’s probably fine for the sailing & cruising crowd, but as a destination in itself, no thanks.

Fort Recovery, on Tortola, was total disappointment over priced and lacking facilities & services.     I would not recommend them at all.   My gut feeling is that the owner runs the place to cater to her family & friends.

Next time I think we’re going to stay with a more traditional resort property or major name hotel.   We are NOT going rely on web site advertisements again.

Clean Optics Redux

Back in October, I wrote about having forgot to clean the filter on my camera … well, it turns out that the stain on my filter wasn’t actually causing the spot on my pictures.

There was actually a stain on the filter… but the spot on the pictures was actually being caused something on my cameras CCD sensor.

I didn’t realize what the problem was until I took pictures with different lenses.

I took the camera to Wolf Camera (where I purchased it) to get it fixed. Hopefully all I have to do is pay the $65 cleaning fee.

Update 4/25: Sadly, Wolf hasn’t finished the cleaning … I’m getting kind of antsy, as there have been a number of nice days I would have liked to go out and taken pictures. I called today to check on the status, but they couldn’t tell me much. The guy who normally deals with repairs & such is out.

Going home

Time to leave to be honest, I’m looking forward to it. I’m usually ready to go home at the end of a vacation, but this time it’s quite different I’m not really looking to return anytime soon.

We got our stuff loaded into the car and go to the office to check out. We get billed for the dinner and few breakfasts we had and phone usage. There was no notice of a phone charge for local calls, so both Ginny and I assumed that local calls were free. I indicated this and the owner cut the phone charge in half. If we had more time to argue, I would have worked it down to zero, but we didn’t.

Got on the road to the airport stopped to put gas in the car and headed out. Traffic going the other way was terrible, but not too bad going in our direction. Roads were as bad as always.

We arrived at the airport, parked the car, took pictures of the car (just in case there was a problem), and checked in. We then found out that, because we did not reconfirm our reservations 2 days ago, our reservations had been canceled. Um, what? Pardon me, but if I paid for a reservation, there is no way in hell they should be canceling my reservation until I don’t show up for the flight. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Luckily, the gate agent was able to rebook us on both flights.

The flight from Tortola to San Juan was uneventful got through customs & immigration without any problems, although they did inspect my camera bag.

After a few tries, was able to call a cab. Their stupid VRU system wasn’t working quite right.

There were a few messages on my cell phone voicemail … including one from Dad, telling me that my mail server was down. Two messages from local numbers that turned out to be voicemail systems … but no name on the announce message. Wrong numbers maybe?

We got home and I found the IDE Mirroring adapter on my main server had glitched … for some reason it thought one of the drives in the mirrored pair failed. I swapped the drive and resynchronized the drive, which got me up; again … but the drive that was indicated as failed tested out to be fine.

I really have to investigate this … maybe the mirroring adapter is more trouble than it’s worth?

Lazy Day / Rainy Day

Neither Ginny nor I was really up to doing anything adventurous today we were considering going out to “Marina Cay , but decided that it was probably way too commercialized to be fun.

We ended up relaxing in the room.   Good thing too, as it started to rain REALLY hard around 2pm.   It rained so hard, the water was dripping down inside the doors and from the roof.

Ginny called Avis and asked how we should return the car to the airport she was told that we should just leave the car in the long term parking, unlocked, with the keys in the glove box.   Ok, if they say so.

Gotta get packed up today we need to get a fairly early start although not TOO early.   If we leave at 8:30, I figure we should be able to get gas and get to the airport in plenty of time.

We still have some pasta left, so we’re going to cook that for dinner shame to waste it, and it saves some money.

Health wise, I’m feeling much better than I did before but I still have a bit of a cough.   Ginny still has a cough, but it’s not as bad as it was.

Rainy day

Weather is looking pretty sketchy, so we’re just going to drive around town to see what’s to see today. Ginny wants to go out by the airport to see “Aragorn Studios and I would like to scope out the airport to see where we will return the car.

Had lunch at a local cyber café I had a chicken roti pretty tasty. Kind of like a West Indian burrito.

Aragorn Studios is a art collective place lots of different artists, some working on stuff, and some just selling.

My only big gripe is that all the vendors had a 5% surcharge for credit cards. I ended up paying cash.

Leaving, we tried to find the airport Avis location with no luck. Kind of odd, I know that Hertz, National, and Thrifty had booths in the lobby of the airport building.

On the way home we decided to make our own dinner, so we stopped at the Rite Way again and picked up stuff for pasta & garlic bread.

Before dinner I took my laptop out to check mail & stuff. I managed to catch Riley on the webcam as he sitting on the table. I tried to get his attention by changing the way the lights blinked on the cam. Changing a setting might have caused a slight click, as he turned his head quickly when I did. Not entirely sure though. He looks normal though, so that’s a good thing.

Patouche Sailing cruise

This is probably the best day of the whole trip.

We signed up to do a snorkel trip with Patouche charters. They were one of the few places that returned our calls AND would take credit cards.

Fay and Shane were a good crew, took us to nice places, and pointed out the best places to go. Fay was from Maryland, out here to get her captains papers. Shane was from the Dominican Republic (I think).

The boat wasn’t big, but neither were the number of guests. There were four other people besides Ginny and I: A married couple from Florida and a couple of guys from New York.

They had plenty of things to drink, and some tasty snacks. They didn’t push the alcohol, which was nice.

We did 2 snorkel stops, had lunch, and did another snorkel stop. Lunch was quiche, unfortunately, so I had to pass. The pasta salad was pretty good though. We have GOT to remember to tell people about my lactose intolerance.

The two guys from New York were also staying at Fort Recovery, so we gave them a lift back. We stopped at the Rite Way grocery store to pick up stuff for dinner just sandwich stuff.

Smugglers Cove beach

Today we decided to check out one of the local snorkeling beaches. Smugglers Cove was listed as a good spot, so we pull out the map and start driving.

The drive was, shall we say, interesting? It went from lousy local roads, to dirt roads, to rocky roads.

We did finally get there and it was fairly nice. We didn’t snorkel, as the water was a bit rough. But we bobbed around in the water, which was relaxing.

Bought lunch from a beach vendor grilled fish & rice with a tangy sauce. Not bad actually. The guy used his car for electricity.

Had dinner at Fort Recovery’s “Restaurant food wasn’t bad, but the service left something to be desired.

I decided to load the pictures from my camera on to my computer and I discovered that the ‘stain’ that I thought I had on my filter was actually on the cameras sensor.

This basically means that all the pictures I took that have a bright background in the upper right hand corner are going to show a spot.

I’m going to have to take the camera in to Wolf to see if they can get it repaired. I hope it’s still under warranty. I’m pretty sure it has a 1 year warranty.

Tortola

Woke up at the normal time but the boat was strangely quiet. Half the passengers were gone. They had to get up at 4:30am to get transferred to the airport for a 7am flight.

We decided to wait until most of the people who had deadlines were gone, so we just relaxed on board.

Around 11:30, we loaded our stuff onto the launch, said our farewells to the crew, and headed for shore.

A bit of talk with the guy at the local taxi stand determined that the Avis location we needed wasn’t as close as we thought it would be. We were told that it was walk-able, but a very long walk. A $4 cab ride, however, wasn’t unreasonable.

We got taken to a local car dealership that doubled as the Avis location. Unloaded the cab and checked into pick up the car. Not a very efficient or professional looking operation. The rental form was written out by hand. We were told to return the car with the same amount of gas that we took it out with. After we started I noticed that the tank was only half full. I had expected them to fill the tank at least.

A few items about driving in the British Virgin Islands

  1. Driving on the left had side isn’t that hard to get used to. I did it in Scotland, and then I was on the other side of the card.
  2. There are very few speed limit signs those they do have do not specify if the speed posted is in kph or mph.
  3. The car is left had drive, just like in the US, but the speedometer is scaled in kph not mph. I suspect it’s manufactured for the European market.
  4. The roads are VERY narrow and in very poor repair. The road to Hana on Maui is far better than the roads on Tortola.

We arrived at Fort Recovery and find that it’s not at all what it’s cracked up to be.

The room is fairly nice, but not $300/night nice. On Maui, during the high season, this kind of place would go for $150/night. That’s WITH an ocean view and direct access to the beach.

The beach is small and kind of dismal looking.

Wifi only works near their office, not in the room.

Had dinner at The Jolly Roger Inn which is run by a couple of guys from New York. It specialized in “Pan Asian, SOHO, and Tribeca cuisine. I didn’t even know SOHO and Tribeca were cuisines.

Finding the place was a challenge as it was at the end of a very dark and forbidding road (actually, all the roads are dark & forbidding at night). The food was pretty good, but the service was kind of slow. I suspect this is going to be a pattern.

Norman Island

I’m feeling a bit better now so we went to the beach to play in the water and do a little snorkeling.

Spent some time in the water, saw some mildly interesting looking fish.   We spent the rest of the time lazing around on the beach.

The crew brought lunch out to the beach, which was nice.   The food that Windjammer serves is pretty darn good, considering what they have to work with.