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A Slow Return to Normalcy…

Hello everyone and happy Sunday! I am so sorry that I’ve been absent for a bit, but we’ve been dealing with some stuff over here at the Explore STJ household. I’ve always been brutally honest with you all, so here’s what’s been happening.

On December 22nd, I flew up to Connecticut to spend the holidays with my family. My son and his father were already up in Connecticut. (We have a small house there.) Less than 36 hours after landing, I learned that the woman who was babysitting Dalton was exposed to Covid and tested positive. (I tested negative upon landing that Tuesday.) She never told us she was exposed, and she never told us she felt the need to get tested. She watched Dalton for three more days while awaiting her test results. Pretty infuriating.

About six hours after she notified us that she was positive, Dalton started showing signs of Covid. Within hours, he struggled to breathe. When we should have been eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival, we watched Dalton gasp for air. He tested positive the next day.

Dalton on Christmas Eve in CT

Dalton’s father and I started showing symptoms that weekend as well. Covid is a strange thing, I’ve learned, because the symptoms can vary so drastically. Dalton and his father both had coughs and had issues breathing at times. Dalton had a high fever as well. I’ve been lucky in that my breathing has remained fine. Instead, I’ve had some pretty intense stomach pain and zero appetite.

Dalton’s father tested positive the same day Dalton did. I tested positive a few days later. Since then, both Dalton’s father and I have lost our sense of smell and our taste has been affected too. As of today, Sunday, January 3rd, all three of us feel great.

So we’ve essentially been living the quarantine life up here in Connecticut since Christmas. Instacart is a pretty amazing thing, I’ve learned! 🙂 We were supposed to fly home yesterday, but had to postpone that until we are cleared to travel by the CT Department of Health. Dalton’s last day of quarantine is today; Mike and I have two more days to go. The bright side: Connecticut is expecting a few inches of snow today, so that should be fun to see.

I am so excited to return to the island with my family, and I am excited to resume my island tours. I am also excited to announce that Mike and I, along with our good friend Dan, are launching a new restaurant delivery service upon our return called STJ To Go. It will be very similar to Uber Eats in that you can order your meal and beverages online through STJToGo.com and we will deliver it right to your doorstep. I am super, super excited about this! We launched a Facebook page, so please go over and give us a like. You can find it at www.Facebook.com/STJToGo

Well, that’s all I have to share today. If you feel safe coming to the island in the near future, I would love to show you around! And if you are waiting for the vaccine to travel or simply waiting for things to feel a little more normal, I totally get it. We will be waiting for you when you decide the time is right for you. Happy New Year everyone. xoxo

30 Seconds of Salomon…

Well folks, it’s been one heck of a year. I don’t know about you, but I am beyond over 2020 at this point. I miss the days when I could freely hug my guests, when I could see my parents and family members without worry. And you know what I miss more than I thought I would? Sitting at a bar. How silly is that??! I never realized how much I enjoyed sitting at the bar over at High Tide or Banana Deck, for example, while chatting it up with some of my favorite bartenders. Normal life soon come, I hope…

One nice thing about this island is that we have the ability to escape. It may be for a moment or perhaps even a few hours, but we have the ability to take a hike in the woods only to come upon some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. We have the ability to float in the healing waters of the Caribbean. For that I am beyond grateful.

I know that many of you reading this are somewhere in the states where the weather is likely getting cooler, forcing you inside your homes. So I am going to start to bring more of the island to all of you. I want to share the beauty of this island even more so now, a time when I understand how much it is needed.

Last week I hiked down to Salomon beach. It was another stunning day here on island, and I took a little video for all of you. I hope you enjoy it.

 

A Minute of Relaxation…

Hello everyone! It’s been awhile since I posted a blog entry, so I thought today would be the perfect time to spread some love, kindness and overall beauty. But in doing so, I cannot ignore the ginormous purple elephant in the room… Election Day. I obviously prefer one candidate over the other, but as a US Virgin Islands resident, I do not have the right to vote for president. So I do not have a horse in today’s race. What I do hope, regardless of who wins today, tomorrow or whenever the results are finalized, is that everyone is kind and spreads love. Because that is what the world needs right now.

Ok, my preaching is over… lol 🙂

I hiked over to Honeymoon last week, and I took a little video for you all. It was one of those days when it’s hard to believe just how beautiful St. John is. But rather than take my word for it, please see for yourself. It was a little windy this day, but beautiful nonetheless. Enjoy!

And for those of you who are curious about what’s currently happening on island, I wrote a little update that will be published on News of St. John today. Click here to read it!

Looking to see the island with me? I would love to show you around! Please email me at jenn@explorestj.com or call/text 203-376-3786 for more information on my island tours. Can’t make it to the island? No problem! I am now creating virtual tours too! Please reach out to me for more details.

Thanks all, and have a wonderful day!

Three Years.

Hawksnest Bay, August 2020

In a way, it feels like it was yesterday. And in a way, it feels like it was a lifetime ago. So much has changed since Irma, which was three years ago today. The island has changed. The world has changed. People have changed. Some of that is good. And some of that, in my opinion, is not so good.

It’s strange, ironic, perhaps even eery (forgive me, I’m out of practice so I can’t find the word I am looking for here) that the island is closed to tourists today much like it was back in 2017 when Irma hit. It wasn’t officially closed to tourists back then like it is today, but I can’t imagine too many people were itching to get on a flight on Sept. 6, 2017, other than to help out with the aftermath.

Michael Barry, the owner of Sun Dog Cafe, posed a question to St. John residents on his Facebook page yesterday. He asked: “Fellow St. Johnians: what’s worse– Irmaria or Covid?”

That question garnered 98 responses as of this morning. The responses were varied, although all had a common theme. Both events – the dual Irma/Maria storms in 2017 and Covid here in 2020 – have been tough on the island and its residents, who overwhelmingly rely on tourism for income.

I responded and said I felt Covid has been worse personally. With Irma, I feel the island knew what it needed to do to recover and for us to feel normal again – restore power, rebuild homes and businesses, clean up, etc. With Covid, we do not know when life will feel normal again, when the island will feel normal again. And of course my feelings of normalcy very well may differ than my friends across the island.

We’re nearly six months into Covid on the island and so much uncertainty remains. After Irma and Maria, life seemed pretty good six months later. Everyone had power. So many homes and businesses had been fixed by then. I actually wrote on the six-month anniversary that the island was “buzzing.” It’s anything but buzzing today, and that truly sucks. (Pardon my language folks, but that’s the way I feel these days.)

A friend who works at Yale-New Haven Hospital text me in late January. He told me to be cautious about giving tours to any visitors coming in from China or anywhere in that part of the world. He said they found a weird new virus out there and that I should be careful. I didn’t think much of it at the time, as most of our visitors are from the States, but thinking back, I had no clue then how that “weird new virus” would come to affect all of us.

I leave the island every summer to spend time with family and friends up in Connecticut. I left a little earlier than usual this year due to Covid, and it looks like I will be staying up here a little bit longer due to Covid. I would do anything to wake up tomorrow and be able to return to the life I love. But sadly, that’s not happening thanks to this virus. So instead, I plan to hop in the car today and drive up to Kennebunkport, Maine where I will see some friends who used to live on island. And then I will drive down to Newport, Rhode Island and perhaps even Cape Cod and see some more island friends who’ve been displaced due to the virus. I can’t wait to give them all a big squeeze… with a mask on of course. 🙂

We cannot control Covid, but we can control how we treat one another. Just like in the aftermaths of the storms, Covid has brought out a lot of ugly in people. This is happening, from what I see, mostly on social media where people can cowardly hide behind a screen when spewing their hate. In the days, weeks and months after Irma, there was so much love. Love amongst each other on the island. Love coming in from every direction in the states. The love certainly outweighed the hate. We need more of that happening now. We need more love in the world. We may not all agree on what’s happening in society, the severity of this virus or whatnot, but we can all agree that love is important and we need to demonstrate that more.

I am completely rambling at this point, but these are the thoughts that are running through my head. Covid sucks. I hate wearing a mask, but I’m going to do it to protect everyone else. I miss giving island tours. I miss bringing you all out to my friend Ash’s beautiful beach on the East End. I miss sitting at the bar at Beach Bar and High Tide and having a Corona or Pinot Grigio with friends. I miss splashing around with Dalton at Maho and Jumbie. I hate that he can’t go up and hug strangers because that’s what he loves to do. I simply miss life the way it use to be.

Someday Covid will be a distant memory, one that feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. I look forward to that day, and I look forward giving you all a big hug on the island when we are able to again.

Love and miss you all…

-Jenn

Just Wanted to Say Hi!

Peter Bay entrance
I don’t know about you, but I love the entrance to Peter Bay!

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! I just realized that it’s been nearly a month since my first Explore STJ blog post. So I thought that warranted a second one!

I do not have too much to chat about today other than I miss you all, I hope you are all staying safe during these crazy times and I hope to see you all soon!! As you have likely read on News of St. John, the island is shut down once again in an effort to control the spread. At the moment, all non-essential businesses are closed, restaurants can only offer take out or delivery, and guests are currently not allowed to check in to any accommodation. Hopefully these measures help stop the spread, so we can get back to business as usual.

The island is currently under a tropical storm warning. I flew to the states earlier this week, so like many of you, I will be glued to the internet and Weather Channel until this thing passes. Praying that it passes with minimal wind, but fills up those cisterns!

What a year this has been, right??!! I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for life to feel normal again. I had originally planned to resume my island tours (after my summer hiatus) on October 1st. Fingers crossed that I am still able to do so! It’s so hard to plan what we are doing next week, let alone later this year. I truly hope that I get the opportunity to see many of you this winter season. If you are interested in booking a tour, please feel free to send me an email at jenn@explorestj.com. And if you don’t want to book a tour, but just want to say hi, I’d love to hear from you!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am working on something that I think is pretty exciting. I am hoping to be able to share it with all of you as early as next week! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful day, and I hope you are doing well wherever in the world you may be. 🙂

-Jenn

 

We’re Back!

Hello everyone! I’ve missed you so much! As most of you probably know, I sold News of St. John earlier this year, so I haven’t been writing much other than the occasional story for the new owners. And you know what? I miss connecting with all of you! So yesterday, after drinking wine at an outdoor restaurant in Connecticut, I decided to start writing again. They say some of the best decisions come after a cocktail or two, right?? lol

This Explore STJ blog will be nothing like News of St. John. My days blogging about the island happenings are over, although I had an amazing run. 🙂 Instead, I plan to simply chat with all of you and let you know what I’ve been up to, where I am in the world (which is pretty much between St. John and Connecticut considering my good ole’ passport doesn’t work in too many places these days … ugh!), what current projects I’m working on, etc. I hope you all enjoy it, and I hope I don’t bore you all too much!

(For those of you who want to know about the goings on of the island, be sure to check out NewsofStJohn.com for the latest info. I know I do!)

So at the moment, I’ve put all of my island tours on hold for the next month-ish. I had always planned on spending a good deal of time in Connecticut this summer, and, truthfully, this pandemic led me to spend a little more time up here than I originally anticipated. And that’s ok. 🙂 Dalton turned two earlier this month and is having a blast playing with his cousins and is absolutely loving being able to see Papa and Mama News of St. John all the time. I am excited to say that I have plans to fly south very soon. Oh wait… I guess we need to rename them to Papa and Mama Explore STJ now, don’t we??!! Ha!

I know there are so many of you who wish you could visit the island right now, but can’t due to Covid or a myriad of reasons. So you know what? I am working to bring the island to you. Stay tuned friends!

Love and miss you all! -Jenn xoxo