a quick insta-overview of the islands
i have to preface the recap of this trip by telling this:
since the beginning of the summer, amber and i planned on beelining it to the virgin islands as soon as she graduated in august, but this trip ended up being much more spontaneous that we anticipated. all thanks to the wily world of standby travel.
you see, i was on a trip in idaho and canada the entire week of amber's final exams at FSU. i flew back to ohio that saturday, and planned on resting a couple days before flying to st thomas with her that following monday or tuesday. because after over 15 hours of travel (spokane to phoenix to DC to akron), i got back to ohio late saturday night.
sunday morning, mom and i slept in, had a leisurely brunch, and i casually checked flights for the next day to st thomas via charlotte (the only city that has usairways flights to st thomas). then i realized, flights from charlotte to st thomas were open on monday, but flights getting to charlotte monday were full... so amber and i talked on the phone (she was in tallahassee), explored our options for meeting up in the charlotte airport and flying to st thomas together, and came to the conclusion that we needed to fly out of our respective cities THAT evening (sunday), spend the night in the charlotte airport, and catch the early monday flight to the island... SERIOUSLY.
i was still groggy from the 3 flights across the country the previous day AND i hadn't even thought about unpacking from the previous trip yet, but i somehow managed to get off the phone with amber, unpack my idaho/canada clothes, and pack everything i'd need for a few weeks in st thomas... all in less than an hour. can you tell i really was determined to go?
the problem is, although amber was a shoe-in to get on her flight from tallahassee to charlotte that night, my two possible flights leaving ohio were looking pretty full. sure enough, i went to the airport and sat and waited to hear my fate about the first flight, only to hear that it was full and would be leaving without me. amber and i had to discuss what our game plan would be if i didn't make the next flight, because if she made hers, she'd be staying the night in the charlotte airport alone.
then i waited 2 more hours for the final evening flight, which filled up as i was sitting there (according to the usairways website, which i refreshed about a million times on my iphone as the flight was boarding). but somehow, after all the paying passengers boarded the plane and it came time to tell standbys that their luck had run out, my name was called and i was handed a ticket for the very last seat on the plane...
i could not believe it.
and experiences like these are what make me ADORE standby travel. because it's about being really spontaneous, taking borderline irresponsible chances, practicing tons of patience, and letting the airline gods completely control your travel fate. sure i don't ever have concrete plans or the convenience of an actual seat assignment until after everyone else has boarded the plane, but you'll never see a happier person on a flight than a standby passenger who was this close to being stranded in a city entirely unfamiliar to them, with nowhere to stay.
of course i would've had a place to stay in ohio had i not made that flight, but then amber would've had to stay the night in charlotte alone and i wouldn't have been able to go to st thomas at all that week. you should've seen the smile on my face when i took my window seat on the wing. just in time to watch the sun set from 30,000 feet. it was the perfect precursor to an extremely impromptu don't-know-where-we'll-go-the-next-hour sort of trip. and call me crazy, but those are my favorite kind. :)
1. anxiously waiting in the akron airport, realizing how much i travel by all the tags on my bag
+ feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, watching the sunset from the wing.
2. slumber party in the charlotte airport: a new friend also on overnight layover, on his way to LA
+ amber in our cozy space in the D terminal. there were trees and rocking chairs to boot.
3. the perfect little sun rising in charlotte (i didn't sleep very much)
+ amber and i sitting together on our flight to st thomas! finally!
4. amber admiring the view at havana blue for our first meal on the island
+ our first glimpse of the first beach we went to, called secret harbor
5. the view from downtown charlotte amalie
+ brunch in the harbor
6. we made a lot of fun new friends on the island. this guy was one of the less attractive.
+ amber and another little friend on the beach
7. the unbelievably blue water at sapphire beach
+ the prettiest sunset at magen's bay
8. the sight of these cruise ships will soon be a very happy thing (when i'm working)
+ small boats in sapphire bay, rocking in the waves of angry little isaac
9. leaving st thomas: flying to puerto rico in a sea plane (then onto the states)
+ the wee plane in puerto rico
standby caused us some serious problems leaving st thomas, too. so we had to stay an extra 5 days and then take a flight to puerto rico in order to get another one to the states. luckily, i was able to fly into orlando just in time for a dear friend's wedding. and i've been in florida for the week visiting with my big brother and best friend christine. it's been lovely.