Sunday, May 27, 2012

Moving to St Thomas, Leaving Stateside Edition - 5-8-12

After spending a nice 4 day break from our drive across country at my father's in Cedar Point, NC where we got the dogs their health certificate and of course our yellow lab got a hot spot from swimming. Good thing we have a vet right down the street there! We spent our days with the "hoodies", the neighbors with some great dinners and conversation.
Tuesday morning we packed up the Tacoma, and off to Miami, Florida, where we are going to catch our flight to St Thomas.
We spent the night in Jacksonville, Florida with our last Popeyes Chicken in the room!
The next day was spent getting the Tacoma off to port and to St Thomas.
We rented a mini van from Hertz and found a Wal Mart to switch everything over. I felt like a soccer mom.
Now off to the Port. All I had from Viking was directions to the Sea Star office. So I plugged that into the GPS and off we go right? Well no, we arrive at the gate with Shannon following me in the mini van and the security tells me we went to the wrong place. They took my driver license and stopped all lanes of traffic to turn us around and told us we need to find someone on the road and have them escort is in that has security clearance?  I was confused and went to another parking lot where they told us we had to go into the admin building and get an escort. So we go back to the building and oh yes they will assign us an escort. Problem is, it is 11:55 and they go on lunch. So off to Wendys and come back. We get back and they are "short staffed" today. 1:30 we get our escort. We get to the fenced Sea Star building and go in, well our escort was pissed and wanted Shannon to go in too (we never told them the dogs were in the van, lord knows what terrorist acts they may commit). The gal at the Sea Star desk says she has no clue that we were coming and we are not in their system even though I am looking at her screen and see our order. After multiple calls to Viking and they calling Sea Star corporate we are good to go.  Our escort has now left and Shannon went back to the van. I am with the lady to go over the condition report. After that I am going back to the office and who do I see, our escort. He yells at me, "where is your wife?!?!". I looked back at him and said, "I don't know maybe it is your day to watch her?". We are now free to go, into the mini van and drive down the flattest state to Miami!
We passed through Melbourne, Fl, where my father used to live. Took the Miami Turnpike (even though I don't know if that was any faster?) to maze of freeways of Miami. We stopped for our last Taco Bell to go for the room in some sketchy neighborhood. Checked in to our Red Roof Inn and got the dogs settled and began the process of asembling the crates for the morning flight.
Now the big day, April 26th. Shannon is a nervous wreck. We load up and off to the airport. We stopped at gate 2 and they told us we had to go to 5. Off to 5, and the porter tells us that they always do that because no one wants to deal with dogs. I load the luggage and get the dogs in their crates and take off to drop the van off. I get back and there are the dogs with Shannon going through the mounds of paperwork with AA customer service agent.
After getting approval with all their paperwork at the dog check in counter (Shannon spent months on what is required and the CSR even made a compliment that everything was in order, what would I do without Shannon?). Now they go to TSA back room to make sure we didn't hide a bomb on them. After they got patted down, back in their crates and off they went, Shannon was on the verge of tears. We now have to get going as we have 1 hour and ten minutes to get to our gate (one hour was spent on paperwork). We get to one TSA checkpoint and I am told by the non-English speaking security woman that my carry on is too big (well duh I had stuffed my belt and other items in the front pocket. So I get that all out and then she says we need to go to security gate 1. Off we go to 1 where there is also a huge line. We are now down to one hour. So here we are standing in line for over 30 minutes now, not moving, as there are two express lines where those who have a close flight are getting to cut the line? I tell Shannon we are going to miss our flight and the dogs are going to be in St Thomas without us. Shannon goes to the security woman to plea our case to cut the line, she didn't speak English, next thing I see is Shannon coming down the express line and yells to me, "Kennnnn, we have permission to cut the line!". Everyone around us knew our predicament and gave us the encouragement.
Now TSA, can I tell is the biggest joke? I really don't think anything they do stops terrorism, they are just another useless government entity. So after you disrobe and get your bags through the x-ray machine, there is the old pass through detector or you can get pushed over to the complete body scanner. I can see that there is now a 10 min line for the full body and no line for the old shcool. I can't believe it, I am getting chosen for the old school!!! Not so fast, I am asked if I had anything in my pockets, well yes, I have my bording pass. Nope off to the full body scanner! WTF? So I cut that line next Shannon.
We get through all that, get dressed again and I look up and see Shannon running down the gate area, with or without me! She is not going to miss that plane. I walked fast, and thank goodness they had just started boarding. WE MADE IT!!!
Shannon had assembled a picture of the dogs with a note to the captain of who they are and if he could tell us if they made it on the plane. She also attached a box of Peppridge Farms Milano cookies (we were at the grocery store in NC with my dad and I wanted to get a small box of cookies and gold fish, I was poo pooed with the gold fish and was told that they wouldn't like goldfish? Really? Who doesn't like gold fish?). Shannon came back from the flight deck and told me the captain had already seen the dogs (he mentioned he was going to take a picture for his daughter as he has two labs himself) and they were loaded. Time to buckle up and let's get this tube in the air! As we were pulling back, the flight attendant announced that Bristol and Bo Peep were on board joining us on our flight!
Five more planes in front of us and we can take off, I am hoping it doesn't get to much hotter. Yes, we are in the air, the last leg of our journey! As the beverage truck came by we both ordered a bloody mary. The FA never charge us? Then the head FA came back and asked if we wanted another drink, well yes, he brings back enough for 4 more drinks? Did we look stressed and exhausted? Just before landing they mentioned they made coffee and all had the cookies with coffee and how what manners Shannon had!
We land in St Thomas and I left Shannon with the task of watching the dogs come off the cargo belt (in STT the airport doesn't have jet ways, old fashioned stairs, so she could wait.). I ran off (had my complimentary shot of Cruzan Rum) and off to the snack bar to buy my $3.95 bottle of water for when the dogs come out as it was about 83 degrees and sunny. Shannon shows up, says they are off, but where are the dogs going to come out? I told her to go over to the curtain where the conveyor belt goes out and stick your head out and see where they are? She went over there and there they were in their own little trailer with the curtain closed (gotta love the culture here with repsect to dogs?). She told them to get them out!!! And here is next what we saw!
The look on Bo Peeps face! I will never forget it! Gave them some water. Get them on to the porter cart and now let's find a taxi (we tried renting a mini van but they were all sold out due to Carnival). Once again, no one wanted to help us. We finally had our taxi van! Well not so fast, once again culture comes into play. Bo Peep is loaded into the back of the van behind the seats and then the taxi driver and porter begin to pile bags on and around her!!! Shannon pulled some off to give her some air. Then poor Bristol, she was tilted (her head now smshed to the side of the crate) and shoved to first bench seat.
Finally after a 30 min cab ride we arrive! We were all exhausted and ready to relax!!!


  1. Can't thank you enough for posting this. My wife and I needed to do the same exact thing moving from the states, Nashville TN area, to St. Thomas.

    Your post helped us decide the best possible way and we followed in your footsteps. We drove from Nashville TN to Orlando FL and stopped for the night, and the next day we drove to Miami and caught an evening flight to help cover the 'heat restrictions'... it all went as smooth as possible considering what it takes to complete a move of this magnitude with 2 large black labs (Morgan & Buddy)

    And now 3 weeks after our move we are all settling in nicely.

    Again, we can't thank you enough for your story.. it was exactly what we needed.

  2. Do you mind if I ask how much it cost to fly the dogs? My boyfriend and I are considering move to USVI and we have two dogs, both are about 40-50lbs. not sure how we can get them there or how we can afford to!

  3. Hello,
    My husband and I want to come down to STT from the West Coast of the US to try living there for a few months and see what we think. We want to bring our 13 lb dog but it seems to be very difficult to find dog-friendly rentals even for small dogs. We had hoped to rent a condo but it seems most associations don't allow pets of any kind. Do you have any advice?
    Thank you!


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