Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cleaning Up St. Croix

This weekend the island has undergone a major spring cleaning. Hundreds of volunteers came out to pick up roadside litter as part of an effort sponsored by the St. Croix Environmental Association, St. Croix Foundation and The VI Waste Management Authority.

This is all in preparation for next week's Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, when world-class athletes swim, bike and run around the island in order to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. St. Croix is considered one of the most beautiful courses in the sport, and the island takes great pride in this distinction. Click here for a map of the entire St. Croix course.

So when the call for volunteers went out, Bob and I signed on to clean the 1.5 mile stretch (or 3 miles round trip) from Route 80 to the entrance to Salt River Marina.
Along the way we found many, many beer bottles, tires and other debris. Other people had already collected a lot of stuff along the section some weeks ago, which definitely made our job easier.

We picked up nothing terribly interesting. Just plain old garbage.  We completely filled up nine 39-gallon green bags, which we left dispersed along the entire section.

We picked up from 6am to 10am. We started at sunrise to avoid some of the heat and traffic. Some people were very supportive of our efforts, giving us high-fives (on the elbows, since our gloves were filthy!) and stopping to chat. Others honked and waved.

We finished hungry and tired, and so treated ourselves to a big breakfast at the new IHOP in Sunny Isle.

Our names went on the waiting list as Barack and Michelle, after we refused the card for Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (my least favorite actor).

The breakfast sampler didn't disappoint.

Luckily, it rained during the meal and not during the litter pickup.

It was good to see clean roads awaiting the athletes next week.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

An Afternoon Hike in Salt River Bay

Sunday afternoon we joined Olasee Davis and the St. Croix Hiking Association on a hike at the Salt River Natural Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.
Salt River Bay has probably seen more action throughout history than all the rest of St. Croix. There's evidence of settlements by the Igneri people during their migration from South America around AD650, and later settlements by the Arawaks, the Taino and the Caribs.

Columbus's men got into a scuffle here with the Kalinago people in 1493. Two men died of their arrow wounds, and so Columbus named the eastern tip, "Cape of the Arrow."

By 1663, Salt River Bay was a European settlement with governmental buildings, parks, and stables. The area later became a sugar plantation, and now it is a park and a preserve.

Join us on this little hike as we take a tour through history:

Piles of stone mark the sites of archeological finds.
This is the view East towards Christiansted
A ship wreck off the Cape of the Arrow.
Grapetree bushes and succulents thrive here.
Including the Aloe, which old-time Crucians used for home remedies.
Lots of coral along the northern shore.

Our guide Olasee demonstrating how his grandmother used this coral as an egg beater.
Facing west Salt River Bay, where the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has an underwater research lab located near the deep submarine canyon known as "The Wall."
Rounding the corner towards Triton Bay
Hiking along Salt Pond
A mini forest of baby mangroves growing up in Salt Pond.
In the 1960s the area around Salt Pond was dredged and filled. Land developers began construction of this hotel, but it was soon abandoned.
Their dreams of making big money went down with the structure as it began to slowly sink because the fill on which it was built turned out to be unstable.

The place lies derelict while the Park Service decides whether to destroy it or restore it.

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