I had a wonderful day yesterday, a day of exploration, fun and firsts.
It was date day, also known as the "Get the HipCrip the Heck Out of the House Day," and so the HipHubby and I piled into the care, rolled the windows down, turned up the radio, and headed off to explore.
Our destination for the day was Frederiksted, the smaller of the two towns on island. Frederiksted is located on the west end of the island, just north of Sandy Point, the largest breeding ground for leatherback turtles in the world.
We had no real agenda for the day, so we made our first stop at the waterfront. Just north of Frederiksted, there’s a large family friendly area called Rainbow Beach. In addition to being a great place to swim and snorkel, Rainbow Beach also has a large playground with swings, slides, and monkeybars -- it’s one of those places where I really wish I wasn’t stuck in my wheelchair so I could run about and get silly with my husband. But since we couldn’t play on the toys, we sat in the shade, held hands and watched the seagulls. The water was so sparkly it looked like it was covered in diamonds.
As we sat, we noticed that there were a few people out on the pier, so we decided to go check it out. This pier isn’t your typical fishing pier -- it’s 1526 feet long, and was designed to moor two cruise ships at the same time. It’s also one of the most spectacular dive and snorkel sites on island because the new pier was built on top of the remains of the old pier, which was destroyed in 1989 when category 5 Hurricane Hugo leveled the island -- and the pilings from the old pier are slowly being absorbed by the coral reefs that abound on the clam west end of the island.
We had a chance to see firsthand why people flock to the pier to snorkel. The water there is dead calm and crystal clear -- we were easily able to see urchins and other small critters, including a small sand robin, on the sandy bottom, which we estimated was at least 15 feet below the surface. Then, as we walked along the right side of the pier, the most incredible thing happened -- a large blue sting ray came swimming along the edge of the pier, not more than three feet from the surface. The ray was at least five feel long from his snout to the tip of his tail, and he had a wing span of at least four feet. I just don’t have the words to describe his brilliant blue color or the incredibly graceful movements he made as he slowly cruised by us. It was awesome, and made me more determined than ever to find a way to get in that water!
The rest of our time on the pier was a mixed bag of good new and bad news. On the positive side, we learned that fishing was allowed -- all we needed to do was to get our own gear and head on over. One the down side, getting out to the end of the pier might be challenge -- the only handicapped access seemed to be through two gates that appeared to be kept locked. And even though there were ramps on both sides of the pier, they clearly weren’t there for crips to use because they lead directly to a small flight of stairs.
Even though we were unable to walk the full length of the pier, it still offered us a terrific vantage point from which to view some of the local attractions. Unfortunately, the photos we took of Sandy Point and Fort Frederiksted just don’t to justice to what a gorgeous day we had, nor how truly beautiful the scenery on our little island is.
On the way home, we stopped for ice cream at a little shop that I discovered the first day we landed on the island. All of the ice cream is hand made, and most are flavored with local tropical fruits. Let me tell you, pink ice cream plus a blue sting ray equals one perfect afternoon.