Green Musings of an Eco Resort

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Big Maho Pavilion walkways

I know we seem to be posting quite a bit on our crushed glass and concrete projects lately, but we have one more interesting development last week:

Once the Maho Pavilion area is opened to the public our glass & concrete counter tops will be on display, which we're looking forward to seeing. We'll also have a lot of our glass being used (but not seen) within the concrete walkways surrounding the pavilion area. All of our clear bottles collected on camp during the season get washed, scraped, crushed and melted to create works of art. All of our colored bottled and pretty much anything else glass gets crushed and put in it's own separate pile. Understandably this pile of crushed glass gets pretty big over the course of a season at Maho (thanks for drinking all that beer!). The National Park asked us if we'd be willing to use some of the crushed glass as fill for their concrete walkways, which we were more than happy to help with. Scooping crushed glass is quite a bit of work, considering each shovel full weighs about 8 pounds! While it's hard to estimate how many bottles or how many pounds of bottles were used for this project, we're working on it. We do know it was just about all the colored glass we collected for the season, and it feels great not to be putting it all in the landfill! (St. John doesn't recycle glass). Pictured below are two of our volunteers this summer, taking a break while standing on the forms and glass that has been distributed before the concrete pour. Pictured above is the same section, after the concrete pour.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maho Tree

Pictured below is the popular Maho Tree, appropriately found at Little Maho Beach here at Maho Bay Camps. If you're sitting in the shade on the beach here at Maho, you're probably under one of the many trees like this one at Little Maho:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

hiking to Waterlemon

A favorite walking trail for many staying at Maho would have to be the walk to Waterlemon (not watermelon!) beach & Cay along the water. It's a trail/walk that is easy for families to enjoy with kids, as well as couples looking for a leisurely morning or afternoon activity. Leaving from the main pavilion at Maho, it's about a 20 minute walk down the driveway, along the road, and out to the parking lot area at Annaberg. The trail out to Waterlemon starts at the end of the road, and follows the rocky shore about a mile or so out to the tiny beach at Waterlemon. From the beach you have the choice of jumping in the water and snorkeling out and around the Cay, or continuing up the trail above the bay to explore the ruins. Those looking for more of a hike can follow the trail to Brown Bay or even all the way to Coral Bay via the Johnny Horn.

Last night upon returning from the ruins above Waterlemon Cay I couldn't help but notice how much trash was on the beach, trail, and among the trees surrounding the area. As luck would have it I found a trash bag as part of the beach trash, and decided to pick up all the other trash. All totaled I was able to find 31 ziplock bags in the area! There were a few other items like a water bottle and energy bar wrappers, but generally speaking the majority of trash I found was some sort of ziplock bag. Why? I think it's a perfect combination of beach goers packing a lunch for the day, and the surrounding critters awaiting the arrival and abandonment of said lunch on the beach each day. I'm convinced it's mainly the work of those sneaky little mongoose hiding in the bushes with those beady little eyes scoping out the next available cooler to raid. The Waterlemon Cay mongoose are nobody's fool: when given the choice of searching for insects and crabs for lunch or grabbing a bag of crackers & cheese what do you think they do? Each bag I found was full of bite & tear marks, so it looks like the mongoose haven't perfected the proper opening of a ziplock bag yet. The next time you visit the beach make sure you're cooler is secured! We have plenty of intelligent mongoose, donkeys and birds that think the lunch you've packed for the day is for them to enjoy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the bump out effect

Certain times of the year give us plenty of that wet stuff that falls from the sky, what we call "liquid sunshine" on St. John. Keeping ourselves and everything we own dry when living or vacationing in a tent can become a challenge during a downpour. Fortunately most of our tent cottages have been around long enough that we fully understand where to put the most protection (roll-downs in front of screens). Our latest challenge has been getting the water from the small tent roofs to drain properly, and not into the tent through screens or onto wood that will eventually rot. The latest trial has been our "bump outs" pictured below, keeping the water off the screen & wood and hopefully out of the tent. Now if it would only rain!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

what we do in the summer, part 1

Many guests, as well as friends and family, are curious as to what it is we do in the summer. Maho Bay Camps is unique from other vacation spots on St. John in that we don't close for part of the year, our tent cottages are available to rent throughout the summer and fall. While lots of jobs are seasonal at Maho to reflect the time of year we have the most guests, many of us are here through the summer and fall. Vacationing here during our "season" vs. August is quite different, especially when comparing the number of tents booked.

So what do we do with all those empty tents? Two major projects this time of year would be making plenty of repairs and preparing each tent for our hurricane season.

Although it appears we're creating a massive skylight in the tent pictured below, it's actually getting a complete makeover: You can see the wood in the foreground right was in desperate need of replacement, along with plenty of other similar areas. New supports to help stabilize the tent, along with new screens and "Stanley cloth" - the white areas pictured below. Last will be the new roof!

If you're planning on being here for your vacation in the next couple of months don't be surprised if you see our maintenance crew working on a tent like this one. We promise the tent you'll be in will have a roof :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More counter tops

Just a couple days ago we mentioned how guests staying in our Harmony units may notice new sink counter tops. Starting soon you won't have to stay with us to check out our new crushed glass & concrete counter tops. The new pavilion being constructed at Big Maho will feature the above counter top, and its big: this one weighs about 450lbs! It took 6 people just to load it into the truck when we moved it from camp to Big Maho.

The estimate for how many glass beer bottles went into this one counter? about 1,000! If we figure to have used about 100lbs of concrete it would leave us with about 350lbs of glass. If we then figure about 3 beer bottles per pound of glass we get roughly 1,000 bottles! That's a heck of a lot of glass bottles not going into the trash (St. John doesn't recycle any glass).

The two counter tops sitting just behind the big piece on the rack each weigh a bit less than the big one, but if you combined all three it would be roughly 1,000lbs of glass, or about 3,000 beer bottles.

As a side note: when we delivered the counter tops today the workers were painting the outside shutters on the main building (notice the red shutter in the picture). However, that doesn't mean they're putting the final touches on the whole project, not even close! My own estimate is about 2 or 3 more months.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harmony Studios & counter tops

Those of you that have stayed with us before and are planning a stay with us in Harmony Studios this winter may notice something a little different in your units this year.

"building" on the theme of using as many crushed glass bottles as we can around Maho and St. John, our latest project includes making counter tops like the one pictured above. The process of collecting glass, crushing the glass, creating a mold, mixing the cement with crushed glass, pouring, curing, and finally sanding/polishing the final result takes a great deal of time, but the final result speaks for itself!

You may notice a few pieces of glass within the counter top that don't exactly look like crushed glass; our talented glass blowers have created many different unique "pulled glass" pieces that have then been sliced like bread and carefully placed in the cement before it hardens. And of course the soap dish was made here as well!

If you're curious what it is we're working on directly across from the glass studio then come ask us, we're probably working on a counter top like the one above.