Hurricane Omar Update #2 8:30 local time

The high winds have begun and the rain is coming in sideways. The power has also just went out this very minute. But my sprint wireless card appears to be functional. I had just started watching the US Soccer game too, so that is a bummer.

They issued a 6:00pm curfew and called in the national guard earlier today, but I doubt many folks would be out in this weather. Emily just lit a few candles and the kerosene lantern which should be bright enough to read by actually. The battery operated fan is now going too. We have also moved into the interior room with no windows.

It doesn’t appear that I will be able to get any storm photos this evening as it is pitch black outside. Forecast is to get worse over the next 4 hours and then hopefully be gone by early morning.

The photo is from late this afternoon. Tons of rain and more to come.

Welcome to the USVI – Courtesy of Hurricane Omar

Well I haven’t been here long but am already getting a Caribbean welcome from Hurricane Omar after only 2 weeks on the island. This hurricane kind of sprang up out of nowhere yesterday and pretty much caught everyone off-guard. On Monday I was thinking that we had a very easy hurricane season. Not anymore. A category 2 is bearing down on us. The eye is supposed to go directly over St. Croix around midnight. At this point we have decided to hunker down in our beach rental. We are going to see how things go this afternoon and may end up at one of Emily’s co-worker’s house later on. Not easy to find somebody that will take in 2 of us, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. Our one concern is the storm surge. Right now it is only estimated to be 1-3 feet on the south shore, so we should be ok. The storm is coming from the south and we are on the north shore facing northeast.
Current condition is very heavy rain with very light winds. The winds are supposed to pick-up through the afternoon.
I helped one of Emily’s friends put their hurricane shutters on early this morning. We went to the hardware store to pick up a gas can and it was a freaking zoo. All the gas stations were jam-packed too.
We are well stocked on food, water and ice. The gas is topped off in the car.
I figure I should have internet at least through early evening.
You can track the hurricane here if interested (it is updated every few hours):

We made it! We have moved to St. Croix.

Since Emily has been really slow at posting (yes it has been a year) I will go ahead and let everyone know we finally made it. Yes, it has been two plus years of planning and researching (of course we did other things during these two years) but we finally made it. We first arrived on August 17th. I have been back and forth several times to Dallas to get the dogs, figure out house stuff, and ship all the crap that we don’t need down here. We shipped our first car at the end of July and Berry from Flemmings Transport met us at the airport with it. That was nice. Expensive, but nice.

I arrived on Tuesday as my official move date. Emily has been here 6 weeks now. We are staying in a beachfront rental temporarily. Trying to rent something while off-island was a bit of a pain so we found a vacation rental that would give us a “decent” rate for a 3 month rental. I wouldn’t say it is perfect, but it is on the beach. It is definitely serviceable. There has been so much water in the air this week that it is literally dripping off the fan and puddling below. The temporary screens on the window are constantly wet. The waves have been enormous as well. I have no idea how high they were, but at Judith’s Fancy the other day I would wager that at a few spots they were reaching at least six feet. I could be way off but they looked really big to me.

Much has happened in the past year, but I will let Emily update you. Look for frequent posts and photos from here on out.

Tattoos in the Virgin Islands

I’m back. I am sure that once our plans really get moving towards our move, I will have more interesting things to write about, but since we are not really at that point yet, I just figured no one really wants to hear about my boring day to day activities. Anyway, I can explain at least a few weeks of my absence from posting new material. We are slowly remodeling our home in case we decide that we must sell it to move to St. Croix. Last winter, we tackled all the bedrooms and two of the bathrooms. A couple of months ago we started on the other third of the house – the office, laundry room and third bathroom. We totally redid the office which included new flooring, removing the paneling from the walls, new lighting and new furniture. In doing all this work, it was necessary to unplug “my” computer and move it to another room where it remained unplugged. So that’s where I was for about a month. Then I had my appendix taken out – nothing that would have really kept me from posting here, but I didn’t have very much exciting info to write about other than bodily functions.

So now I’m back, and I have learned some disturbing news. There are apparently not any tattoo shops on St. Croix. I know – it’s life threatening and upsetting news. Here’s the thing: I really like tattoos, and I have often said that if I didn’t have a “normal” job, I would have more tattoos, and they would certainly be more prominent. I have promised H after the last tattoo which was last summer (and rather large) that I would not get any more tattoos, but who knows? He might change his mind and want one himself.

Here’s what I have learned. There was a recent post on the moving forum where someone was inquiring about this very topic. The consensus was: no shops on St. Croix. Someone suggested that they might do tattoos at Ruel’s Risqué Wear. I looked them up in the VI phone book – they are listed under “Exotic Apparel”. Now I am not trying to imply that a shop that provides exotic apparel cannot also perform killer tattoo work, but I must admit I am skeptical. (they don’t sell exotic apparel on LA Ink, but Kat Von D does have a stripper pole – coincidence?) I have not always been tattooed in the nicest of shops – the shop where I got my first tattoo was down an alley in a sketchy part of town and a guy was passed out on a pool table – but my tastes have evolved. The artist who has done my last two pieces is extremely professional – he sets up a consultation where you discuss exactly what you want, he draws it up and you come back a week later – no drunken, late night decisions here.

I Googled “tattoos” and “Virgin Islands.” There were no hits for tattoo shops, but luckily you do get a description of the tattoos on the Virgin Islands’ Most Wanted. I looked in the phone book again – this time under “Tattoos”. There were two places listed, but they were both in St. Thomas. Jimmy Buffham’s Exotic (again with the “exotic”) Piercing and Tattoo had a really nice ad so I guess there is hope for the Virgin Islands. For now, I’m going to stick with Tim – my tattoo artist. That’s one of my tattoos pictured first on his tattoo portfolio. I’ll keep an open mind though and check out Ruel’s on our next visit. You never know what I might find there.

St. Croix Animal Rescue

The welfare of animals is a subject that is near and dear to our hearts. We don’t have any children so our 5 animals are really our babies. All three cats and one of our dogs were rescued. If H wouldn’t divorce me, and I had more room, I would rescue four more. When giving to charity, we almost always give donations to animal rights and rescue organizations. There are so many organizations here in Dallas that seem to perform miracles. One of those organizations is Operation Kindness. Operation Kindness is a no-kill shelter that is also extremely active in protecting animals. The group attends hearings and trials of those accused of animal cruelty, and I believe they have been instrumental in the increased sentences that some of these criminals have received.

From what I have been told, the attitude towards animals by some locals on St. Croix is very different from what we experience in Dallas. Animals are not treated as family members. Dogs are often tied up in yards for “protection”, and cats are allowed to freely roam having litter after litter of kittens. There was also a thread on the VI Moving Center a while back about two starving horses that were in a lot just off a public street. Apparently, people were afraid to report the neglect for fear of retaliation. The horses were eventually rescued although one of them did not survive.

I would like to see St. Croix become more like the States in terms of protecting animals. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Dallas is a utopia for animals. The reports of animal cruelty here are atrocious, but more people are becoming outraged by these reports and are effecting change.

In recent years, the Virgin Islands passed a bill making cruelty to animals a felony offense. Unfortunately, this bill took years to get passed and was vetoed twice by the former governor. This long fight speaks volumes about the attitude towards animals on the islands, but this law is definitely a step in the right direction.

Other positive steps on St. Croix are the efforts to educate children and the community about caring for animals. The St Croix Animal Welfare Center has two programs focused on this goal, the Adopt a Teacher program and Humane Education program. The idea behind these programs is to get children interested in caring for animals and making sure that they are properly treated. Hopefully, the children pass these ideas onto their families and neighbors and fewer animals are mistreated.

It would be wonderful if St. Croix could have a no-kill shelter like Operation Kindness, but sadly, the island is too small to currently accommodate the over-population of animals. According to the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center’s website, it is the “only organization on island dedicated to the humane treatment of the island’s abused and abandoned animals.” Since the Center is the only facility on island, it is very important for residents and visitors to support its programs.

One way that we have started to support St. Croix’s animal rescue efforts is by donating to Pets from Paradise. Their website is temporarily not functioning, but this link explains the idea behind the program. Basically, travelers to St. Croix can fly an animal back home with them to be adopted at a “sister shelter” in the states. This way the animals find a good home, and the population of animals on island is humanely reduced. Regrettably, Dallas does not have a sister shelter, but this sounded like such an incredible program that I still wanted to support it in some way. On our last trip down to St. Croix, I brought a pet carrier filled with animal toys, treats, and food. The carrier was counted as a checked bag so it didn’t cost me anything to bring it down with me. Then we took the items to the Pets from Paradise location. It made me so sad to see all of the sweet faces at the shelter, but I hope that these items made their lives more comfortable.

Running in the US Virgin Islands

One of the reasons that I am so excited about the property we chose on St. Croix is that it is in a gated community, and I will be able to safely run through the community (I hope!) On my last trip to St. Croix, I ran a short distance on the North Shore road just outside Carambola resort, and it was interesting to say the least. First of all, I was running on the opposite side of the road compared to what I am used to at home. I always run facing traffic, but that meant that I was running on the inside of some blind turns. It was a little nerve-racking. There are also hills all over St. Croix. We have what might be considered “incline changes” in Dallas, but nothing like the mountains that I experienced on this brief run on the island.

I started a marathon training class in Dallas today. It was a really great experience (despite the thunderstorm), but as I was leaving, I realized that there won’t be classes like this once we move to St. Croix. It’s a great program that is really well thought out, and involves several hundred people. In contrast, St. Croix’s running program is in its infancy from what I have read.

I hope that running is a hobby that I will be able to continue once we make the move to the island. I’ve already started doing some research on the Internet. One race that I found is called “8 Tuff Miles“. This race runs from west to east across St. John. I saw fliers for the race when we were on St. John last year. I’m sure the race must be beautiful as St. John was one of the most beautiful islands I’ve visited, but it has got some crazy hills! The race climbs from sea level to 999 feet at the midpoint and back down to sea level. Even if you’re not a runner, you’ve probably heard about Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon. I’ve never been to Boston (I’ve only done one marathon so far), but I’ve heard that it’s not the uphill that kills you, but the downhill that tears your legs to shreds. I’m sure I would have to do some serious training to run 8 Tuff Miles, but I am definitely intrigued, and as close as I will be to St. John, I am going to make running 8 Tuff Miles a goal of mine.

Another race that I will have to run after making the move is the St. Croix Marathon. It is supposed to be relatively flat ( ) and almost the entire marathon is along the water. Scenery is very important when running 26.2 miles – it’s good to have plenty of distractions. A big difference in this race compared to the last marathon I ran is the number of participants. The St. Croix Marathon is limited to 50 participants whereas the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego had over 20,000! Next year will only be the 6th year for the St. Croix Marathon so I am hoping that’s a sign that the island is generating more interest in running so that by the time that I am there, it will have some great events. In the meantime, I’ll have to find some hills in Dallas to get ready for the island.