St Thomas Day 1
Ok, it's time to get this vacation started
The day we had been waiting for has finally come. Today we would start our long journey to make it to St Thomas and I hated that it was going to take 2 days to finally arrive, but it was the only way to get us there (2 days, 3 planes, 2 long!). No one wants to take a few days to start their vacation...I'm a "I want it now" type of girl.
So I had originally booked us a flight at a somewhat "reasonable" time out of Columbus (6:30am) <---not really ideal for our family, but it's what they had available. However, Southwest changed our flight to even earlier. I have no idea why. So, I decided to look for later flights a few weeks before leaving and found one heading out at 12:50pm instead. That was a little more manageable with 2 kids in tow...wait, I'm sorry, 2 "teens" in tow that would probably be up all night giggling and excited for vacation.
Everything was packed the night before and ready to head out to the car (hoping an
extra person and extra luggage would fit in my little sports cars...yikes).
It's always such a hassle to try to figure out what to pack in what luggage with the
repeated steps of pack, close, weigh, open, pack more, close, weigh, open, remove
some because it's too heavy, and weigh again. Southwest allows 50 pounds but Spirit only allows 40 pounds
without extra charges. That extra 10 pounds really does make a big difference. So, we were attempting to pack light this time around...including food!
We headed to bed at some unreasonable time and I let my ex DIL know when we would be leaving in the morning so that she could plan when she was going to be arriving to stay at my house and take care of our husky tribe (did I mention we have 4 huskies that are very needy?) Then off to bed we went (at least we, meaning the adults, did for sure) were I would have nightmares about weighing suitcases and being told my vacation was cancelled because our luggage weighed too much!
I was up at the crack of dawn (6:30am) because I knew I needed to weigh the luggage a few more times just to make sure that nothing had changed somehow over night and to confirm we were still under 40 pounds. Yep, good to go. I woke the girls up around 8:30am, hubby started the process of trying to fit all the luggage into the car (thank goodness he has been practicing playing Tetris on his phone lately and was able to figure out what piece of luggage went where), said goodbye to our pack of wolves, and headed out for some breakfast by 9:45am. I mean after all, we were not in a hurry for our now afternoon flight.
Now if you read the last review, you'll know that I talked about how Sakari is growing up and how sad I was. She's not my little girl, but becoming her own person. She's in those teenage years with a mind of her own. She has been begging for a long time to cut her hair off and I warned you all...you were not going to recognize her this time around. Yes, this has been a very hard decision for me to allow her to do this. She's had extremely long hair since she was little and has never cut it. It was signifying that she was growing up. That she's getting closer and closer to becoming an adult...something I have not been willing to deal with on so many levels. She's my baby, the youngest of 4 kids, and my special child that came along when I was much older.
So prior to vacation, I finally agreed to let her do whatever she wanted. I was scared. I cried. I got over it and love it. We no longer have to spend hours of blow drying her hair and fixing it the night before school and redoing it in the morning. It's a simple wash and go style now. So, I'll share her transformation real quick. (Some newbies on here may be wondering what this has to do with my vacation report, but most of you have known her since she first started traveling at 3 years old and have followed her while growing up...and that is the reason why).
Before and after pics:
Look at that smile on her face during the chop-chop!
Yes, I'm keeping it forever! I told her if she changes her mind, we'd always be able to use it as extensions!
When it was all done and over with...her end results made her extremely happy and that's all we want for our children is to be happy. She dyed the back of it black and the front blonde. It's so easy to take care of and she loves it. Big change for momma, but I'm used to it now.
This is a video she made of her transformation (obviously she had it planned since she was able to get the before in there as well). LOL
We parked the car and headed to the bus shuttle, which was already waiting for us, and then over for the short ride to the airport.
We checked in at the airport and there really wasn't anyone there. I figured by the time we arrived, the airport would be backed up but it wasn't. It reminded me of traveling during COVID when it started and no one was traveling. There wasn't but a few people in line at security. Sakari always ask me if she has to remove her shoes. Yep! You are a big girl now, get used to it.
We waited for a little while, our plane arrived, and then it was time to get on the plane. We ended up with a boarding pass of A24 since we are A-listers and part of the special clan, but since Kiera is a newbie and has to sign in 24 hours ahead of time, she ended up with B12. No biggie, she would just board with us.
And away we go.....
It has always been a ritual for Sakari to touch the plane for good luck when we board. She is passing this ritual along to Kiera now.
When we got on, to our surprise, the plane was filled already! We ended up having to go all the way to the back of the plane to be able to find seats where we could sit in 2 rows together.
Up in the air we went and it was time for a movie and snacks
Of course Sakari and Kiera were busy drawing on their ipads.
It was a 2 1/2 hour flight to Fort Lauderdale, which would be our final destination for the day. I knew we were getting close when I started seeing blue water and beaches.
Off the plane to collect our luggage and the girls were getting a little too comfortable waiting.
Finally our brightly colored you-can't-miss luggage was arriving...
Once out of the airport, I called for our shuttle to head to the hotel.
I was told by the person that answered the phone they would have the driver there in around 30 minutes, which is fine because it's quite a long walk to the end of the airport where they have you wait for hotel pick ups.
To my surprise, the shuttle was pulling up within 15 minutes. We were the only people going there and the driver didn't wait around for anyone else.
Now we booked Rhodeway Inn for several reasons: price, close to the airport, and had a pool to keep the girls busy for the day and we weren't planning on doing anything but needing a place to sleep anyhow. It's not normally a place I would pick but I was trying to be a little frugal since we were paying for a hotel there and a hotel back...and the hotel back was not a "cheapie"
When we checked in, we thought it looked like a decent place to stay, it looked clean, the employee that helped check us in was very OVERLY nice but yet would ask the same questions over and over to the point I was getting a little annoyed with him. He was very forgetful and seemed very confused at times. I was trying to inquire about the shuttle to the airport in the morning and asked him how many hours should we arrive before our flight due to going "out of the country". He told me we should be there at least 3 hours ahead of time to be safe. That would put us around 4am needing to leave. He said they have a shuttle at 5am and I informed him that wouldn't work since we needed to leave at 4am. He ask several times if I wanted him to schedule us for the shuttle....um....ok, let's try this again....we have to leave here at 4am. "Ok maam, we have a shuttle we can schedule you to the airport that leaves at 5am". #BIGGESTFACEPALMPLANT Like he was just irritating me at this point because I repeated myself a good 4-5 times.
I did feel like the hotel had several cheesy things in the lobby, which reminded me of back in the day. I even found they had some metal wall decor hanging up and I had to laugh because I have (had) the same thing in my house for years above my bed before we remodeled and got rid of all the brown in our home and went with gray instead. I still have this sitting in my basement. Maybe it's a sign that it was dated as well?
They gave us our room keys and a map of the place. Of course they put us on the top (second) floor of the building and ALL the way at the end. Just my luck. They would also inform us that they only had 1 elevator going up there. Wait, what? Ok, I'm rethinking my booking here at this point. What type of hotel only has 1 elevator?
Once we get up to the room, we find a bag hanging on our door with our room number. There's food inside of it. Hmmm, did the last person check out before they got their food? Did it get delivered to the wrong door? I was so confused.
Once inside the room, it was decent enough and definitely acceptable to stay in so at least it wasn't a let down.
The kids immediately wanted to go check out the pool and go swimming. We headed down to see what it was like only to find out IT WAS CLOSED!!! Like not just closed, but CLOSED....for days and wasn't reopening until Thursday. Kiera said "well, we can just swim then". No, we will be in St Thomas by then...unless you want to stay here instead? That was a hard NO from both the girls.
On the back of the map showing us how to get to our room was a "welcome letter"....notice about the pool. Had I known this, I would have cancelled and went somewhere else, even if it was more money. What am I supposed to do with 2 bored teens now?
Well the one thing that we could all agree on was to go eat. We hadn't ate since this morning and everyone was hungry. There really wasn't much within walking distance from what I could see when I looked around, but they did have a restaurant, Marina 84, on the premises. On the way to the restaurant, I stopped by the front desk to inquire about the pool and express my distraught over not being told it would be closed. However, the shift had changed and the guy at the front desk was very rude.
I had the hangover Cheeseburger, the hubby had the Beef Sliders, and both girls had the Chicken Fettuccine Alredo.
Quite honestly, the food was good but expensive IMO and the service was slow. The waitress didn't evecome back to see if we needed drink refills or anything. The bill came to a whooping $86+ plus tip. I'm not used to buying for 4 people. It definitely makes a difference on your bill.
On our way back to our room, we decided to walk in the courtyard and found some interesting things (other than the pool being closed).
I feel like these were some signs left over from Valentines Day that they forgot to put away lol
The hubby was determined to find something for the kids to do so once again, we stopped by the front desk to inquire what was around and if they had any shuttles to take us anywhere. They informed us they had a shuttle that could take us to the mall for $80!!! Say what? Are you crazy??? If we wanted to go to the beach, which was only around 5 miles away, then it would cost us $25/pp!!! These people are nuts! The hubby said we could Uber there are back for about 1/4th of that price so we declined. The guy was really rude about it too. I wasn't liking his vibe.
Back to our room and we got to enjoy the lovely view of....the parking lot, which seemed to be a place that people were using as a storage for motorhomes and such. So, no action back here to watch.
I really didn't want to spend more money at a mall or going to a beach honestly. We would have plenty of beach time in St Thomas and I picked this place to save money AND for them to swim here.
So, we just took showers, watched some tv, Sakari and Kiera did a drawing on their ipad and we decided to head to bed around 9:30pm. We had to get up at 3am to be ready to head to the airport at 4am.
I pre-booked my Uber so that we would make sure to have a ride and wouldn't be waiting. We had no time to spare for our morning flight and I had no clue what the airport was going to be like.
UP NEXT...OUR FLIGHT TO ST THOMAS AND FIRST DAY IN PARADISE