St. John Trails: Rustenberg

St. John Virgin Islands Trails: Rustenberg
Rustenberg Horsemill Wall
Rustenberg Trail Map

Estate Rustenberg Ruins
For those of you who would like to experience a St. John Off the Beaten Track experience, but would rather not exert themselves too much, a visit to the Rustenberg ruins would be an ideal choice. It’s a short walk along a level trail shaded by aromatic bay rum trees. The ruins are extensive and beautiful in their natural surroundings.

To get there, park across from the Cinnamon Bay trailhead on Centerline Road and walk up the road west, towards Cruz Bay, where you should find the trailhead, which may be more or less obvious depending on climatic conditions. Another alternative is to enter the forest about 50 yards or so and walk uphill until you reach the trail on the ridge and go left on the trail until you get to the ruins.

See more Rustenberg photos

St. John Film Society Press Release

Queen of the Sun

What the Bees are Telling Us
Directed by Taggart Siegel:  83 minutes,  Documentary

Free Film, Presented by the St. John Film Societey

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 7:30 pm
St. John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay

This full length feature documentary is a a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis. Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva.

This film takes us on a pilgrimage around the world, 10,000 years of beekeeping is unveiled, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices. The film goes on to reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.

Join Mr. Smalls and other St. John bee keepers and learn about these wonderful insects that provide us with sweet honey and more.

Read more about the film on the website: http://www.queenofthesun.com

St. John Live Music Schedule Monday 4/30

High Tide – Mikey P- 8:00 – 11:00 – 714-6169
La Tapa – Samba Combo – 6:30 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Maho Bay Camp – Open Mic with Lauren – 6:30
Ocean Grill – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304

Weekly Schedule

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Denis Bay

Denis Bay St. John US Virgin Islands
Denis Bay

The old pilings seen in the above image used to support a dock in the days when Denis Bay was home to the Deep Sea Fishing Club.

The club was available to the general public with hotel services and conveniences for $22.00 per week with all meals included. It was described by Desmond Holdbridge in his book Escape to the Tropics, written in 1937 as “a quaint institution, now non-existent, where no fishing was ever done.”

The Deep Sea Fishing Club was owned by a group of St. Thomas businessmen who purchased the approximately 100-acre parcel sold for $1,250 in 1937.

See more Denis Bay photos

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St. John Ruins: Fredriksdal

Old Stone Bridge

Fredriksdal and the Old Stone Bridge
The following photos were taken at the Fredriksdal ruins, easily accessible by a trail through the thorny sweet limes right off the main road in the Annaberg Area. The old stone bridge (above) can be found at the end of a short trail on the other side of the road.

History
Fredriksdal was named for Frederick Von Moth who lived on St. Thomas. He purchased the property from Reimert Sødtmann, magistrate of St. John in the early 1730s. (Sødtmann and his stepdaughter were among the first victims of the slave rebellion in 1733.) Von Moth was commander of the civil guard on St. Thomas and later became governor of St. Croix.

The grand entrance and stairway of the Fredriksdal Ruins are the remains of the estate house, which served as living quarters for the owners of Annaberg Plantation and are visible from the road. There are extensive ruins extending back into the bush. They include the remains of an oven, a well, a horsemill and other old structures and walls.

St. John Trail: Fredriksdal
Looking up through the well tower on the old Fredriksdal Estate

Fredricksdal ruins St John Virgin Islands
Stone stairway once leading to the Fredriksdal great house

Fredriksdal ruins st john usvi
Well tower at Fredriksdal ruins

St. John Live Music – Thursday April 19

Banana Deck – Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels – 6:00 – 9:00 – 693-5055
Castaways – Dance Party – 11:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Just Mike – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Inner Vision – 8:00-11:00 – 714-6169
Island Blues – Ike – 7:00 – 10:00 – 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Mark Wallace – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Slammin – 7:00 – 10:00
Skinny Legs – Lauren – 6:00 – 9:00 – 779-4982

See Weekly Schedule

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Garden at Gibney Beach

St. John Flora: Cacao tree, Theobroma cacao
Chocolate Fruit

The Cacao tree, Theobroma cacao is the tree from which chocolate is derived by grinding up and roasting the seeds inside the fruit. I once wrote, “the Cacao trees found growing alongside the Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail may be the only ones on the island,” but I found two more growing at Teri Gibney’s garden at Hawksnest Bay. And what a beautiful garden it is! Nestled within an old Bay Rum forest are all sorts of tropical fruit trees, egg fruit, coffee, mango, avocado, star fruit, aki, cocoa, jackfruit, bananas, pineapples and more. In addition there are flowers and orchids and palms all easily accessed along shaded rock-lined paths.

St. John Flora: Jackfruit
Jackfruit

An impressive tropical fruit tree in Trei’s garden is the jackfruit, (Artocarpus heterophyllus) which produces the largest tree-borne fruit in the world weighing up to 80 pounds and reaching sizes as large as three feet long and 20 inches  in diameter.

St. John Flowers: Lobster Claw
Lobster Claw: a species of genus Heliconia

Orchid at Gibney Beach St. John
White Orchid

St. John Weather
Isolated showers. Sunny, with a high near 86. East northeast wind around 15 mph. Water temperature 82. Sunset 6:36 pm

St. John Live Music – Tuesday April 17

Castaways – Karaoke Night – 9:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Michael Beason – 8:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Erin Hart – 6:00 – 9:00 – 714-6169
Island Blues – Karaoke & Open Mic – 8:00 – 11:00 – 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Greg Kinslow – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan  – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:30
Spyglass – T-Bird – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

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Elkhorn Coral at Hawksnest Bay

Elkhorn coral at Hawksnest Bay

Elkhorn coral is an important reef builder. Large and relatively fast growing, they create habitats for many other reef dwelling species. Healthy elkhorns are getting harder and harder to find these days as many succumb to coral bleaching and other diseases, leaving them grey rock-like skeletons. On the reef located just off the Hawksnest Bay beach, however, there’s one after the other of healthy, colorful specimens, easy to get to for snorkelers of all levels of ability.

Video taken at Hawksnest Bay reef April 13, 1012

Travel Picks: Top 10 scenic workouts
“…the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) have compiled a list of the “Top 10 Most Scenic Workouts.”…
Their number three pick was: “Snorkeling in St. John, US Virgin Islands” read article

St. John Live Music – Saturday April 14

Beach Bar – I.R.E – 9:00 – 777-4220
Castaways – Dance Party – 11:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Guitarist James Milne – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
Morgan’s Mango – Luba – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-3304
Rhumblines – Lauren – 7:00 – 10:00
Shipwreck Landing – Mike Miknut – 6:00 – 9:30
Skinny Legs – Hot Club of Coral Bay – 6:30 – 9:30 – 779-4982
Spyglass – James Cobb – 5:00 – 8:00 -776-1100

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St. John Stories: The Queen’s First Step at Soper’s Hole, BVI

West End Tortola
West End Tortola, circa 1967
Photo of West End Customs 2001

My first visit to West End (Sopers Hole) was in the 1970s. I was tied up along the seawall at Charlotte Amalie and approached by an agent from St. Thomas Dairies who hired me to deliver a load of milk to West End on Tortola. For some reason they couldn’t do it themselves that day, presumably due to one of the many contingencies that was, and still is, likely to occur here in the islands.

Arriving at customs at West End, I noticed a monument dedicated to the arrival of the Queen of England on her first visit to Tortola. A brass plaque read something like “where the Queen first stepped foot on the BVI.” Interestingly enough, the dedication was located far enough away from the edge of the dock that the Queen would have to have a have taken a mighty leap to set her royal foot down that far away from whatever vessel she was on that tied up to the dock.

Commenting on this to a BVI local, it was explained that the original monument was indeed erected at the exact spot where the Queen actually stepped foot. (see above photo) In actual practice, however, this was an inconvenient place for the monument as it interfered with the loading and offloading of cargo on the dock.

It was in response to this difficulty the dedication was moved away from the loading area, explaining the British monarch’s seemingly extraordinary disembarkation at Soper’s Hole on the island of Tortola, BVI.

St. John Live Music – Friday April 13

Aqua Bistro – Steve Sloan – 5:30 – 8:30 – 776-5336
Beach Bar – Jon Beninghof Band – 9:00 – 777-4220
Castaways – Mikey P – 9:00 – 777-3316
Cinnamon Bay – Eddie Bruce Drum Circle – 6:30 – 8:00
Cruz Bay Prime – James Cobb – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693 -8000
Driftwood Dave’s – John W Lee -7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
Island Blues – Slammin – 776 6800
Morgan’s Mango – Lauren – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – T-Bird – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304
Rhumblines – Erin Hart – 7:00 – 10:00
Spyglass – James – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

See Weekly Schedule

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Frangipani Caterpillar Mystery

St. John Fauna: Frangipani Caterpillar
Frangipani Caterpillar

I’m at a loss to explain the relationship between the farngipani caterpillar and this particular native frangipani tree I have growing right beneath my deck.

Normally the tree blooms, producing new leaves and flowers. At this point the frangipani caterpillar hatches from eggs laid on the underside of the leaves and then proceeds to eat all the leaves and flowers. Their excrement fertilizes the tree and the cycle continues.

On this tree, however, the caterpillars emerge as soon as the tree starts to sprout new leaves. The sprouts are devoured and the leaves and flowers never emerge. (I provided the above photo for those who doubt me.) I have been here about ten years and I’ve only seen the tree flower once. Apparently the symbiotic relationship is still working. I estimate the tree to be at least 70 years old, evidenced by a rusted piece of wire fencing that had grown into the trunk and now sticks out on both sides of the tree, indicating that this was a mature tree when Chocolate Hole was still used for grazing animals. The abnormal relationship with the caterpillar hasn’t killed it yet, but I’m at a loss to understand how. For instance, if the caterpillar lays it’s eggs on the underside of the leaves, and there are no leaves allowed to grow, where do the new caterpillars come from? And how does the tree photosynthesize without leaves?

At any rate, I’ll be studying this tree further and taking more photos which I’ll share.

St. John Live Music – Thursday April 12

Castaways – Karaoke Night – 9:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Michael Beason – 8:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Erin Hart – 6:00 – 9:00 – 714-6169
Island Blues – Karaoke & Open Mic – 8:00 – 11:00 – 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Greg Kinslow – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan – 6:00 – 9:30 -693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:30
Spyglass – T-Bird – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

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Carval Rock, US Virgin Islands


Carval Rockmaninoff

The story goes like this:
Once upon a time, back in the early days of Caribbean colonialism, the captain of a British warship, patrolling at night mistook what is now known as Carval Rock for an actual Spanish caravelle. The captain ordered his men to fire upon the ship, which in the light of dawn proved to be, not the sailing ship with two or three masts and lateen sails used by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries, but a big unsinkable rock. It is also part of the story that cannonballs can be found in the vicinity of the rock testifying to the night long battle.

 

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Turpentine Tree on Whistling Cay

St. Thomas US Virgin Islands: Rain Squall
Rain Squall Over St. Thomas

Turpentine Tree on Whistling CayLife is tenacious. This turpentine tree has taken root in what appears to be solid rock, its roots reaching down into crevices and cracks searching for what little soil and even less moisture is available.

Perched high atop Whistling Cay it has undoubtedly been buffeted by high winds and strong squalls. Nonetheless it survives and grows into a mature tree.

Another turpentine on the island with its trunk twisted reflecting the results of it’s harsh environment.

St. John Live Music – Monday April 9
High Tide
– Mikey P – 8:00 – 11:00 – 714-6169
La Tapa – Samba Combo – 6:30 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Maho Bay Camp – Open Mic with Lauren – 6:30
Ocean Grill – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304
See Weekly Schedule

St. John Weather
Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. Water temperature 83 degrees. Sunset 6:34 pm

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St. John Sea Creatures: Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle on the reef off Salt Pond Bay

No More discount for St. John Residents at St. John Gourmet and Dolphin Markets
St. John Gourmet and Dolphin markets have eliminated their 10% local’s discount on sales more that $50. They now offer, however, a 15% discount for Westin Guests. I feel dissed! Meanwhile Starfish Market prices are through the roof, way more than Dolphin and St. John Gourmet, no local’s discount notwithstanding. I guess it’s, plan your week’s shopping needs, and shop on St. Thomas. Normally I would prefer to support St. John businesses, but what’s a local to do?

No Blues Fest Blues Fest
Today – Coral Bay, St. John
The St. John Blues Festival will not be happening this year, but there will be the “No Blues Fest Blues Fest” instead, with local bands preforming at the Tall Ship and Shipwreck Landing parking lot today between 1:00 and 5:00 pm. A shuttle service will be available from the Coral Bay triangle.

St. John Live Music Schedule Saturday April 7

Beach Bar – I.R.E – 9:00 – 777-4220
Castaways – Dance Party – 11:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Guitarist James Milne – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
Morgan’s Mango – Luba  – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-3304
Rhumblines – Lauren – 7:00 – 10:00
Shipwreck Landing – Mike Miknut – 6:00 – 9:30
Skinny Legs – Hot Club of Coral Bay  – 6:30 – 9:30 – 779-4982
Spyglass – James Cobb – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

See Weekly Schedule

St. John Weather
Today: Isolated showers. Sunny, with a high near 84. East wind between 7 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%. Water Temperature 83 degrees. Sunset 6:34 pm

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