The Evolution of My Island Ride

I hate boring cars. I want my wheels to make a statement about who I am – and that statement better be loud.

*click for image credit

Before moving to the islands, my last car in California was a bright red 1966 convertible Ford Mustang, and one of the hardest parts of moving here was parting with my baby. I still miss her. Yes, she had a few minor dings from that pillar in the parking garage, but we were bitchen and defined each other by California standards.

Once on my rock, I had an urgent need to be cool. Finding the right car to enhance my coolness factor was vital to my plan. But after five long days of searching, I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I was forced to return my rental car and in an act of desperation, I bought a 2WD Ford Explorer, also known as “The Exploder”. It looked like hell, was good for nothing, couldn’t do hills, and once, as I was rushing to the airport, it died on me in the middle of the road. I missed my flight that day, but have never missed that car.

After that, I hurriedly bought a replacement car without really taking into consideration what it would say about me – only taking into consideration whether or not I could make the payments (which actually says a lot about me). I ended up with a horrendous GMC Envoy, the kind where the roof in the back opens and you have a pretend pick-up. My neighbor dubbed it “The Pope Mobile” because it looked like the cars he stood in and waved to the masses from while on the go.

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The thing just needed some dents. If you must have a new car in the islands, it’s imperative to your mental health that you hurry up and put a dent in it – no sense stressing about the inevitable. There are two kinds of drivers here: those that have dented the car and those who are going to dent the car. I prefer to be the first kind.

“The Pope Mobile” got its first dent in true island fashion. A big-ass cow wandered up my driveway one morning, circled my land yacht while my dogs barked, then attempted to squeeze herself out the other side between a stone wall and my beast of a car. Relief washed over me. The monster left behind the biggest dent I’ve ever seen on the driver’s side – a dent better than my best. My new car finally had the character I craved and an excellent story, no less.

But soon the stupid car started giving me problems (again, in true island fashion), so I decided to get my cool back and went with a new four door island pick-up that I figured would suit me just fine. I drove into the dealership in my pope mobile and drove out a few hours later in a Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Comfort and function – the new me. I was mighty proud of my decision-making prowess until I came to realize that my new truck made me the default go-to person for just about everything. Because that’s what happens when you have a truck. I was now a furniture mover, a luggage driver, and, worst of all, a trash man. Suddenly, I found myself stuck taking everyone’s garbage to the dumpsters day in and day out.

“Do you mind if I just put this in your truck and you can dump it when you drive by a dumpster?”

Yeah, sure. I just LOVE dumping your trash, said no one ever. Once, a friend even called me to come and pick up a pig that had just been hit by a car. The uses for trucks on an island are apparently limitless.

Seven years later, I am still driving my pick-up, now complete with a bunch of dings and dents covering its body and the remnants of everyone’s trash crusting the bed. But the problem is, I’ve changed. I’m a different person now than I was seven years ago when I bought my island truck, and I figure it’s about time I get something else that will better define the new me. So imagine my delight when I came across this gem for sale on my rock:

Laurie's blue hearse_WWLOR


Swoon! If this Caribbean-blue hearse isn’t the definition of cool, I don’t know what is. It’s used, and it’s perfect, and I want it more than anything. This car needs me!

In my excitement of discovering this “must have” and given the fact that my husband never says no to me, I decided to send him a pic of it while he was away on business. That’s how I get my new dogs and thought it just might work with my new hearse…

Me: “Isn’t it awesome?!  I’m going to buy it and fix it up.”

Him: “Absolutely not. Under no circumstances is that thing to be parked at our house.”

Excuse me, what? Did I read that correctly? Was he really saying no to me? I tried another tack…

Me: “But I have a great idea for a new business: tacos!” (My husband makes great tacos.) “We can park it outside the bars when they close and sell tacos by the dozens. We’ll call it “Death by Tacos” and make a killing! All of my friends think it’s a great idea.”

Him: “Your friends are humoring you.”

Me: “Seriously!”

Him: “I suppose we can roll out a coffin, put in a built-in grill, lift the lid, and have a taco fixins bar…”

Boy did I fall for that one. He then crushed my dreams further with a few more jokes, the punchline of all of them adding up to “there’s no way in Hell”.

Me: “That hearse will be mine if it’s the last thing I do.”

Him: “That might be the case.”

Days later, friends told me they saw my hearse parked in the back of the service station with the keys left in it.

Me: “It’s abandoned! How can you say no when it’s free?”

Him: “NO WAY. Seriously.”

He’s afraid people will think I’m weird. But the way I see it, they already do. Why not give them the whole package?

*click for image credit

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Laurie Damron

About Laurie Damron

Laurie is an island girl who has been residing on St John since 2002. Considering a permanent move, Laurie and her husband came to St. John on a vacation to look at houses and job opportunities. While he was looking at houses, she was looking at jobs, and the Westin resort hired her on the spot and said she needed to back within 2 months to start her job. She actually wasn’t even sure what the job was they hired her for. In her enthusiasm, she had neglected to ask what the job might be. Apparently minor details never cross her mind. Two months later, Laurie moved into the house they purchased, and her husband caught up nearly a year later after selling and moving them out of their California home.

Laurie found out that her job would be working with the bell staff, and she spent months acclimating to the hot sun hauling luggage up and down steps and across the multi-acre resort, in and out of hotel rooms, safari trucks, boats, and golf carts wearing long pants and wallowing in "swamp ass". She later traded in that job for many others including working on a luxury day charter wallowing in "boat butt" and finally found her true calling volunteering for the Animal Care Center and thus working at the local vet's office where she gets to be with dogs all day. When she goes home at night, she gets to play with more dogs as she now has 5 island dogs, though her husband is close to cutting her off.

She loves her island home and loves that she can leave her home not looking her best on any given morning to run errands, grab her mail, visit with friends and no one cares. Whether necessary or not, Laurie gets a pedicure once a year. She makes it a point to not remove her toenail polish instead enjoying watching how long it takes for the color to grow out.

Laurie used to swim every day and has made it her goal to get back into the routine and prepare for a sprint triathlon on her next birthday. In her spare time, she and her theme-park-designer husband have created a company called Amora, the Essence of St. John, which makes and sells bamboo reed room diffusers, Island AirSprays, and colorful lip butters in tasty island flavors like painkiller, bushwhacker, and many other island scents and flavors.

Laurie’s dream is to someday meet the people of Shark Tank and have them offer her a deal so she can retire and "lime it" on the Caribbean rock she calls home.

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16 thoughts on “The Evolution of My Island Ride

  1. Thank you for making me LOL this morning. I can appreciate this because we live in Montserrat 3-4 months out of the year and have an old Rav4, complete with a dent or two! Loved your cow story also…..We have friends in Montserrat that had a bull dent the hood of their car when they approached two loose bulls fighting in the middle of the road one night! Loved your selling tacos approach, brilliant! 🙂

  2. I actually know that hearse – it was parked in SubBase St Thomas for over a year at a body shop with a for sale sign, I met more than a few folks here who told me how cool it was and that they wanted it but none of them ever did it. I saw it had finally been taken over to STJ and was for sale on Craigslist.

    You should take the plunge, hopefully not the last thing you ever do but it would become a St John icon and converting it to a roadside Taco Truck is a great idea but probably not at the expense of your relationship – it is usually the guy in the house who wants to buy some dream car project and fill up the driveway and I absolutely applaud your car sense!

    • Thank you for seeing my vision. It would have made a great business. I think it is the coolest ride on island. I have no idea why my very creative husband cannot connect the dots.

  3. To Funny!!! I just sold my Exploder!!!! I think I remember seeing that Hurst in sub~base w/a for sale sign for the longest time ~ glad it got a good home!!

    • I wish I was the owner but I couldn’t win the argument. Also the white one has been permanently parked up the street from me. I drive by it everyday. Just not fair.

  4. Oh My Cheezballs would the Taco Hearse have been a GREAT idea. For the name, I might go with that old trope: “The only things that are certain are Death and Tacos.” Long, yes, but also pretty certain.

    Brilliant slice of life (pun intended?)

    • Omg. You just nailed the tag line. I love it. I think it was one of my best ideas ever. Thank you for agreeing that it would have been a winner. Someday……

  5. Bahahaha! That’s how I get my new dogs too! But often when my husband gets home he somehow finds a home for the “foster dog.” I never have any luck finding good homes for them… But, I suppose that is mostly because I never look for one. Three Cruzan Coconut Retrievers at my house now. I’ve lost count of how many there would be if my husband wasn’t so good at finding good homes. 😉

    • Carey – hahaha. Your husband is smart. Mine finally cut me off at 5, but the last one I found a home for and he told me NO WAY – he’s mine. You guys need to come to St John and have your husband help us find homes for the dogs. 🙂

    • Hahah – that is how most of our dialogues go. I want something – he says no – makes fun of me – I take it like a man – and then I get my way. I hate that I didn’t this time. It’s not over until I am driving my hearse.

  6. Ha! Laurie – you are responsible for a complete loss of productivity this morning. Sitting at a desk in our SJU Headquarters office, while reading…
    Me: “That hearse will be mine if it’s the last thing I do.”
    Him: “That might be the case.”

    I lost it and laughed until I had tears in my eyes. The lads wanted to know what was so funny. We read the whole story aloud and had to stop a couple of times for a sidebar or two and to catch our collective breath. Thanks for the break.

    PS – Piper misses you all.

  7. Hello Pipers Parents….I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Sadly I’m still not enjoying my new ride. Someday…….. Hugs to Piper – we miss him too. 🙂

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