When I’m 64 …. then what? Robert Atkinson, author and professor of human development and director of Life Story Commons at the University of Southern Maine, figured that one out: go someplace beautiful! Which means, as he found, Go Where The Boomers Are.
As a way to celebrate my wife’s birthday — the one Paul McCartney had all the big questions about — we decided on a getaway to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one of the islands we had visited twenty years ago as part of a charter sailing adventure. We flew to St. Thomas, got our rental car, picked up a few groceries, and boarded the ferry for a beautiful sunset crossing.
After stops at the Cruz Bay overlook and the Trunk Bay overlook, we arrived at Cinnamon Bay Campground and settled into our “bunker”-style Beach View Cottage just after dark. It was hardly a cottage, with its two cement walls, two screen walls, and no running water. But it was quite reasonable, and we were inside the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, eager to explore more in the morning.
It is literally “camping in paradise.” A few short steps out of our front door landed us on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. With its shady palm trees and warm aqua water, we savored every moment.
Checking out the campground and other parts of the National Park, I couldn’t help but notice how most everyone we saw looked like baby boomers. But then, that’s probably the case anywhere these days. Pre-Thanksgiving was the perfect time to really enjoy everything this island has to offer.
For me, each day on the island had three segments: sunrises, water activities (with some hiking), and sunsets. Dawn over Cinnamon Bay, with its early morning moon high above, followed later by a spectacular sunset, and a double rainbow over Trunk Bay, were all special moments. Maho Bay, on the way to the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins, with its stunning views across to the British Virgin Islands, were not to miss. The hilly hairpin-curved road to the East End — driving on the left, of course — past a gorgeous overlook of Coral Bay, had its reward when we stopped at Sloop Jones Gallery and met a world-famous designer of hand-painted clothing, and his assistant from Maine who knew our neighbors.
On our last day on the island, we stopped at the National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay. My wife showed a photo she had taken of a very unusual spider to the Park Ranger, who, having just written a park brochure piece about it, identified it as a Golden Orb. She then asked my wife for a copy of the photo, as well.
This was my chance to verify my hunch, so I asked the Ranger if she had any idea just how many boomers do come to the Park. She said they didn’t have any hard data, but that her “rough guess” is that of all Park visitors, probably 65 – 70 percent are boomers.
As Laurence Rockefeller said when he donated the land for the Virgin Islands National Park in 1956, “This thing of beauty will be a joy forever.” We’ll be back for more, and next time not twenty years later.