A Travellerspoint blog

First Steps on the Beach


"The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Few Steps on the Beach”
-Confucius, as misquoted by Matt Clark

My trip has officially begun! I made it to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) without event. St. Thomas succeeded in making a good first impression on me at the airport. St. Thomas does away with the long customs lines and surly officials who are only there to feign passport checks. Instead, an attractive woman greets visitors with offerings of free Cruzan Rum, the signature spirit of the island. I didn't have any but I have to give St. Thomas credit where credit is due.


I am getting settled into a studio apartment which is part of the Two Sandals by the Sea bed and breakfast (http://www.twosandals.com). I have a private bathroom and share a kitchen. The balcony in front of my room offers a fair view of the American Yacht Harbor. I chose this area because it is close to my sailing school, has several restaurants, and is right next to the ferry service to St. John. I was going to try to get by without a rental car, but that isn’t going to work out. Taxi service is not cheap or convenient. The narrow and winding roads are dangerous for pedestrians at night as DUI laws are not enforced here.


I started my first day with breakfast near the St. Thomas Yacht Club.

I spent the rest of the day sourcing a few provisions and catching up on some rest. The highlight of the day was a walk through a nearby beach known as Secret Harbor. Living up to its name, the beach is small, quiet, and off the beaten path. A small resort restaurant gives the beach just enough kick. I recommend their mahi-mahi spinach salad with mango vinaigrette. I see myself spending a good chunk of time reading and studying here over the next month.


I am already meeting fellow travelers and have dinner plans at St. John for tomorrow night. The place is known to attract a few A-list celebrities so I will try to take a picture if I see one. It just might lead me to a new career path as a paparazzi photographer. :)

Posted by clarkmw78 20:34 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (6)

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"

Semisonic- "Closing Time"

Thanks for checking out my travel blog. My trip officially starts in St Thomas, USVI on January 2, 2013. I won't be posting much until then. I encourage you to sign up to receive a notification email from this blog when I post. Just click the "Subscribe" button to the right.

I quoted the above song lyrics because they hit home with me with where I am in life right now. (No Kim, I am not having a mid-life crisis.) For the past four and a half years I have worked in conflict zones as both a military officer and a civilian advisor with the State Department. I am moving on in life, and I am going to celebrate my new beginning by traveling the world for the next 18 months. It won't be all play though. I will be working on a graduate degree in data science/predictive analytics through Northwestern University while I travel.

Many people ask me how I got it in my head to do all this traveling. Travel is a longtime hobby of mine, and I have always had a loose bucket list of places I wanted to visit in the back of my mind. Once I realized I could do all my graduate coursework over the internet the rest just fell into place.

I have an uncanny ability to wind up in odd situations when I travel, and started this blog to share my misadventures with the world. My friend Katie thinks of me as one of those "It's always the quiet ones" guys with stories you'd least expect from him. This blog allows me to share these stories with friends, family, and those affable US government security clearance investigators. I hope to bring you a few bursts of laughter at my expense while slipping in the occasional tidbit of knowledge about our world along the way.

Below is my general itinerary. I am keeping the dates flexible in case I want to stay longer in some magical place, or if I have to get out of dodge because local police have mistaken me for someone else.

Jan 2, 2013 - Feb 2, 2013 St Thomas, USVI
I will be renting an apartment in the Red Hook area near the beach. I am learing how to sail at Fairwinds Sailing School. If I don't wreck the boat I will be certified to rent small sailboats on my own.

Feb 2- April 1: Costa Rica
I will be spending most of my time in small beach towns on the Pacific coast. I am going to check out the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Arenal Volcano area as well. Because I am not one to learn from previous mistakes I will probably take surfing lessons again. I will post pictures of monstrous, three-foot waves tossing me around.

April 1- May 15: Colombia
I am going to travel through Panama and make a foray into Colombia. I am thinking of a week in Bogota, followed by a few weeks of sailing in Cartagena. I may drop into Venezuela for a few days and see how our buddy Hugo is doing.

May 15 - 25: Atlanta

May 25 - July 3: Spain
I will start with a week in the Madrid area, head to the Basque area in the northwest for a week, and then spend a week on a bike trip north of Barcelona near the Pyrenees mountains. I will spend the rest of the time enjoying the Balearic island of Mallorca.

July 4 - 22: Croatia
I will join a Contiki tour sailing tour up and down the Croatian coast and spend a few days lounging in Hvar.

July 23 - 26: Quick trip to Paris to visit my friend Keri. The "really thin pancakes" are on her because of that cable incident. I hear a lot of fashion trends begin in Paris so I am going to try and spark a jorts trend for my friend Deanie.

July 27 - Aug 15 : Sailing with a tour in a small boat from Athens to Mykonos and Santorini.

Aug 16 - Sept 8: Turkey
I will spend a week or so at a Club Med in Bemer, Turkey. Then I will work my way up the Turkish coast to Istanbul, or Constantinople for you traditionalist types.

Sept 7 - 14: Romania
I will hike with a guided tour through the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania. Hopefully I won't have to do the "Time Warp" too many times.

Sept 15 - 30: Ukraine
I will start in Yalta, swing through Odessa, and spend some time in Kiev.

Oct 1 - 21: Germany
I lived in Germany as a kid and I am going back to visit old friends as well as check out some historical sites.

Oct 21 - 31: Atlanta

Nov 1 - Dec 20: Argentina and Chile
I will spend a few weeks in Buenos Aires, travel through Patagonia, and check out Chile.

Dec 20 - Jan 2, 2014: Atlanta

Jan 3 - March 2014: Southeast Asia
I still have to work out the details, but I see myself spending most of the time in Vietnam and Bali, Indonesia.

April - June 2014: Shanghai, China

July through August: Hitch the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Moscow and St Petersberg. Swing through Baltic and Scandinavian states.

September 2014: Return to Atlanta, finish my degree, find a job, and become a "real" adult.

Posted by clarkmw78 22:24 Comments (1)

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