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Locals will be enjoying some fairly substantial discounts at two St. John supermarkets.

It seems that the owner of the Dolphin Market has bought out his partner at the St. John Market and will be aggressively courting local business. To do this he plans to keep his stores well stocked and offer discounts to locals.

Starting today at the Dolphin Market in Cruz Bay, locals will receive a 10% discount on purchases of more than $25.00 and a 20% discount for those who spend $50.00 or more. You’ll have to identify yourself as a local and ask for the discount. The same discount will go into effect at the St. John Market located at the Greenleaf Commons shopping plaza across from the Westin beginning next week. According to the owner these discounts will be permanent.

Good T’ing!

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St John Virgin Islands: Fungi Passage

Fungi Passage

The passage between Whistling Cay and Mary Point on St. John is called the Fungi Passage. Virgin Islands National Park Ranger Denise George once offered to tell me the origin of the name. She said that no matter how hard the wind blows,  how big the ground sea or how strong the tide, the Fungi Passage is always calm. She also explained that fungi is a Virgin Islands staple dish made from okra and cornmeal, often served with fish, like in “fish ‘n’ fungi.”

“In the Virgin Islands,” Denise said, “a good fungi, like the waters in the Fungi Passage, is always very smooth.”

Denise likes to make stories and this one is a good one so lets just say that maybe she’s right.

The island just to the north of the Fungi Passage is Great Thatch one of the British Virgin Islands and the passage between it and St. John is called the Narrows. In the photograph you can see the opening into that stretch of water notorious for a strong winds and currents.

The big island further to the north is Jost Van Dyke, also in the British Virgin Islands. The bay on the east is the main town, Great Harbor and the one on the west behind the four masted schooner under full sail is White Bay.

The photograph was taken from the overlook on Centerline Road at about 9:00 AM on Sunday.

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As promised here are some more photos of the overlooks recently cleared by Jeff Chabot and his crew of intrepid volunteers. From those of us who hike the trails of St. John:

THANK YOU!!!

St. John Trails: Caneel Hill Overlook

View from the Bench on Caneel Hill

The Caneel Hill Bench

St. John Trails: Caneel hill Bench

View from the Caneel Hill bench

Hikers following the Caneel Hill Trail beginning from the National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay or from the Caneel Hill Spur will arrive at a wooden bench just before they reach the summit of Caneel Hill. There is now a view from this very welcomed resting spot that at least for the view to the north goes, rivals the view from the viewing tower at the summit. This thanks to the hard work and dedication of the trail crew from the Appalachian Mountain Club.

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St. John Blues Festival 2010St. John Blues Festival

“The hottest blues festival on the coolest Caribbean island”

Wednesday – March 17th through Sunday – March 21st

The main show is Saturday evening March 20th – 7:00 PM in the Coral Bay Ball Field

STARRING

The Deanna Bogart Band – The Ford Blues Band – EG Kight
JP Soars & The Red Hots – JT Lauritsen – Shakura S’Aida
Billy Gibson – The Ty Curtis Band – Washboard Jo

TICKETS PURCHASED IN ADVANCE ARE $25 (TICKETS PURCHASED AT THE SHOW ARE $30)

TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE

On St. John at:
Connections – Cruz Bay
Connections – Coral Bay
Chelsea Drugs – The Marketplace

On St. Thomas at:
Chelsea Drugs – Red Hook

Food & Beverage Service Available all evening long
So bring a blanket, bring a chair, but please be cool………..no coolers

$5 Safari taxi rides all night from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay Ball Field & back to Cruz Bay

Special 1:00 AM Passenger Ferry from Cruz Bay to Red Hook

For additional information go to stjohnbluesfestival.com
or contact Steve Simon at 340-643-6475 or at
stevesimonlive@yahoo.com

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I woke up yesterday morning to a heavy squall, thunder and lightning. I was looking forward to taking my son, Jacob, to the big Just Play happening at the Sprauve School ballpark. I was hoping that the weather would improve and wondering if the event would be canceled.

Meanwhile the organizer of the event, Dean Doeling, was probably also hoping that the weather would improve, but there was no way that he was going to consider cancellation. Like the US Post Office motto, “neither rain, sleet, snow or gloom of night” was going to keep Just Play from happening.

The weather did improve and Jacob and I made it down to the ball field just in time for the singing of the National Anthems and the Virgin Islands March.

As it turned out, despite the muddy field, the first annual Just Play event was a resounding success. It was just plain fun! You could see it on the faces of everyone there, not only the kids, but also the organizers and volunteers, were having a blast.

The kids were separated into age groups for competitions like the 50 Yard Dash, Football Throw, Soccer Kick For Accuracy, Obstacle Course, Dodge Ball, Tug Of War, Relay Soccer Race and  Kick Ball.

In addition to the games there was music, demonstrations, prizes, free gifts, food and drinks.

Just Play was organized and supported by Sport for Social Change, Nike, the St. John Community Foundation, the Virgin Islands Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation as well as by several local businesses.

The youth (of all ages) of St. John will be looking forward to next years replay.

Way to go, Dean! Thank you!

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The Maria Hope Road opens up a lot of hiking possibilities for those who wish to hike between St. John’s north shore and the mountain ridge area (Centerline Road). It’s also a beautiful trail running down the Maho Bay Valley in a tropical forest environment of beautiful trees like bay rum, guavaberry, hog plum and West Indian locust (Stinking Toe Tree). There’s also some nice overlooks with views of West End Tortola and Big and Little Maho Bays.

Maria Hope Road Images

Maho Bay View

Maho Bay View

Tortola View

Tortola View

Hog Plum

Hog Plum

Bay Rum Stand

Bay Rum Stand

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Sunrise Over Chocolate Hole

Sunrise Over Chocolate Hole

Last night was flashing lightning and booming thunder, shaking the house, but leaving a spectacular sunrise.

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Erika Rainbow

Erika Rainbow

Erika had even lost her tropical storm status as she passed way to our south as a mere tropical depression. Yesterday was cloudy, windy with occasional squalls. This morning the skies are still cloudy.

Just before sunset an approaching squall gave us this spectacular double rainbow.

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St. John US Virgin Islands
Press Relase

Steve Simon Presents:

Bluzapalooza

Bluzapalooza

BLUZAPALOOZA V

The Pizza & Pyramid Tour
October 21 through November 1, 2010

Starring Zac Harmon with Special Guests Deanna Bogart, Terry “Harmonica” Bean and Steve Simon, this 10 day tour includes a show at the U.S. Naval Base in Sicily, Italy and then on to Cairo, Egypt for command performances at the Pyramids, The  Cairo Opera House and the Cairo – American University.

For further information contact Steve Simon at 340-643-6475 or at stevesimonlive@yahoo.com
Check out www.myspace.com/bluzapalooza

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The Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park have just completed their project of a handicap accessible boardwalk running along the salt pond at Francis Bay. It’s really a great thing, not just for the handicapped, but also for the general public and the environment.

Now people in wheelchairs can have the opportunity to go “off road” on St. John, to experience the mangrove forest and salt pond environment and to be able to engage in bird watching, safely and comfortably.

The boardwalk, which runs above ground eases the problem that often plagued this particular section of the trail, which was that after strong rains the trail would become flooded and  muddy. The elevation of the boardwalk is also sound environmentally as it allows wildlife to be able to pass underneath naturally, unrestricted by the trail.

An early morning trail walk
Wanting to check out the new project, I took a walk on the trail early in the morning. I parked the car near the stone building at the intersection of the Leinster Bay Road and the Maho Bay Campground access road and began my walk.

The Francis Bay Trail is probably the easiest trail  walk on St. John. It’s only a little more than a quarter mile long, there’s only one small hill to climb and the trail itself is in excellent condition, cleared and smoothed.

At the top of the trail’s only hill are two benches where you can sit and observe the activity in the salt pond below. There’s also a great view of the St. John coast and the islands and cays looking to the west. The trail descends from there to the beach at Francis Bay. Here you’ll come across some tall tamarind trees and the footing for what must have been a dock sometime ago. You can access the beach from here or continue along the trail which now runs through the mangrove forest right alongside the Francis Bay Salt Pond.

After about twenty yards or so you’ll come across a wooden bench strategically placed to observe the pond. Continuing along the trail you come to the new boardwalk, which runs from there to where the trail exits near the Francis Bay Beach. The boardwalk includes a bench  and a pier that juts out into the pond from where you can have an excellent view of the birds and ducks and crabs that frequent this environment.

So if you suffer from a handicap that limits your ability to walk, if you like bird watching, if you want to experience a salt pond or would just like to see some of the off the beaten track areas of St. John with a minimum of exertion, this is the trail for you.

An old residence on the trail

an old residence on the trail

Benches on hilltop overlooking the pond

benches on hilltop overlooking the pond

a nicely cleared mostly level trail

a nicely cleared mostly level trail

Francis Bay Beach

Francis Bay Beach

Bench overlooking the Francis Bay Salt Pond

bench overlooking the Francis Bay Salt Pond

Handicap access boardwalk

handicap access boardwalk

Handicap access bench

handicap access bench

handicap access pier

handicap access pier

doves at pond

doves at pond

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Brought to you by Gerald Singer, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)