Major Music Fest Coming to St. John

country fest

Hey everyone, happy Friday! We’ve got some fun news to start off the weekend. For those of you who follow us on Facebook, you may have seen our post on this. But for those of you who don’t, here are the details…

There’s a pretty major music festival in the works for next year. It’s called the Love City Country Music Festival and it’s happening on May 14, 15 and 16.

According to the organizers, there will be 14 bands … four stages … and 22 beaches. They decided to hold the three day festival in May because of reduced flights and cheaper off season accommodations – smart thinking!

Now I don’t know about all of you, but I certainly hope Love City Country Music Festival plans to bring a certain country star who happens to be in love with our fabulous little island to this event. Only time will tell I guess…

In the meantime, start booking your flights and look for accommodations. Click here and here to read our stories on how to find the best airfare. And click here to visit our Island Information page, which contains a ton of info on accommodations.


Good News From the East End!

hansen 2

So lately we’ve had a lot of negative news about the East End – beaches being blocked, barbed wire being put up, trespassing signs, etc. Well we’re happy today to tell you about some good news coming out of the East End.

One group of property owners along Hansen Bay beach are opening up their land for public use. Most notably, they’ve invited Captain Peter of Angels Rest to anchor offshore. (Not sure what Angels Rest is? Click here to read about our Easter jaunt on the floating bar.) This stretch of beach along Hansen Bay will now be Angels Rest’s primary destination. Here’s what Captain Peter said about it on his Facebook page:

“(The owners of that stretch of beach) are so nice to me and are planning to make a fun beach to visit,” Captain Peter wrote. “They will be offering a lot of beach toys, such as paddleboards, kayaks, tri sailboats … There will also be a snack shop, cabanas and lots of free parking. And of course, Angels Rest bar (will be) a little closer to the beach.”

We reached out to the property owners Tuesday, and they are super excited to open their beach to the community.

“We want to enhance the community idea, to welcome businesses to a beautiful place,” one of the property owners said Tuesday. (She asked to keep her name out of today’s story, and we happily obliged.)” That is very difficult to do here on St. John, especially with the North Shore being mostly National Park. We’re opening up the shoreline as it should be opened, to those people who want to participate in that beach. We want to help the community. We are very community oriented.”

While they could not confirm Captain Peter’s statement about a possible snack shack, they did say they are welcoming Angels Rest with open arms. The owners are working on installing signs to let people know that Angels Rest is in the area and also to direct them where to park (across the street from the beach).

They did stress, however, that they do not want the beach to get overrun. They simply want people to come out, experience the beach and enjoy themselves while being respectful of the neighbors of course. They’ve also asked that all visitors pick up after themselves.

I’m not sure about you all, but I think this is amazing news! Kudos to these ladies!!


Another Blocked Beach on East End

Blocked Beaches

I’m not sure what’s going on over on the East End, but something’s definitely been brewing over there lately.

As you probably recall, there’s been some major drama over at Hansen Bay beach over the past two months. The land owner, Mr. Ashton, blocked off beach access from the public by installing fencing and barbed wire. Well officials visited the property a few days after our first story ran and the owner removed the fencing and barbed wire … temporarily. We’ll get back to that in a bit.

So now it turns out that a second area that the public has used to access the beach is blocked on the East End. The property is at the end of Route 10 on your right-hand side (if driving East) just before the dumpsters. See for yourself…

Before the fencing:

Image taken in March 2014
Image taken in March 2014

After the fencing:

Image taken in May 2014
Image taken in May 2014

According to property records, the land is owned by the Sullivan family. And from what we’ve been told, the Sullivans have decided that they no longer want to allow people use this area as a right of way to get to the beach. (Click here to see how you can look up St. John property records online.)

Now back to the Hansen Bay issue…

We were so excited to drive by the beach a few weeks back and see that the barbed wire and fencing had been removed. Well it turns out that some of this has since reappeared and that people are being told to keep off the beach. Here are a few recent comments from our readers:

Bruce, Posted April 30:

“We are very close to Hansen Bay and pass it twice a day. Whoever has been “privatizing” the bay has re-fortified the wire and plastic fencing and added a picnic table. The “No Trespassing ” signs are back up and it is a complete eyesore. This is not someone’s “private kitchen” as the post above suggests, so you can’t compare them. The person who claims ownership should publicly post a copy of the documents of ownership.”

Karen, Posted May 1:

“We saw the same thing as above poster this past Tuesday. The beach is an eye sore. There was scrap metal and garbage on the beach (probably intentional to keep people away) in addition to the picnic table. There are cots set up in the structure. We thought about snorkeling anyway, but decided against it. We heard from a local that they believe it is a squatter on the land.”

Emilio, Posted May 18:

“Again….The PUBLIC ACCESS to the Hansen Bay Beach has been blocked. Check it out. I asked politely if I could still use the beach and was told only by boat access.”

Just for the record my loyal NOSJ readers, all beaches on St. John are public. How you access them is a different story … clearly.

A Whimsical Side of St. John

explore dream discover

Like many people, Ali Norton always wanted to live a free and independent lifestyle. After a little soul searching, she found herself settled on our beloved island of St. John where, for the past 10 years, she’s created whimsical art that is sure to make you smile.

Ali focuses on creating artwork that brings the vivid colors and tranquility of paradise into the homes of her both travelers and locals alike. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, anyone who loves St. John will certainly see its beauty, and Ali hopes that through her art people can keep a piece of this beauty with them always.

See for yourself:

Ali Norton 2

Ali Norton Main

Ali sells her paintings and mixed media pieces at Hibiscus Jazz, a quaint little boutique tucked next to Chateau Bordeaux on Centerline Road. In addition to her paintings and mixed media items – many of which she creates right on site – the boutique also sells other artist’s works and touristy items. Nearly all of the items sold at the boutique are made in the USA, Ali said.

Ali Norton 3

Ali Norton 1

The next time you’re on Centerline Road, make it a point to stop by Ali’s shop and say hello. Be sure to bring home one of her amazing items. We did!

Ali is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also find her on the web at www.AliNortonArt.com

On the Market: Sweeping Views of Coral Bay Harbor

20140109130523017627000000

Think you have what it takes to build on island? Looking to build your dream home? Then you may want to check out this parcel that recently hit the market…

Located in the Seagrape Hill neighborhood high above Coral Bay, this .30 acre parcel has panoramic views of Coral Bay Harbor, as well as gorgeous valley views. It’s situated on a gentle downhill slope making this an easy build.

The lot is access by paved roads and has utilities in place. It can be yours for only $149,000.

Want more information? Contact Tammy at 340 Real Estate Co. at [email protected]

Donkeys!

Well first off and most importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! Now I can’t believe that I, being the donkey-loving girl that I am, missed World Donkey Day last Thursday. (Thank you again to Colleen Becker for for letting me know about this spectacular holiday!)

So today, we’re not only going to pay homage to all of the wonderful moms out there, but we’re also going to celebrate the fabulous little creatures on St. John that simply make us all smile – the donkeys.

Thanks to all of you who sent us pics! Here are some of them:

The rare eight-legged donkey…

Image courtesy of Lynne Littlechild
Image courtesy of Lynne Littlechild

I shouldn’t have had that last drink at St. John Brewers last night…

Image courtesy of Karyn Alexander
Image courtesy of Karyn Alexander

Budget cuts…

Image courtesy of Andrew Sherrill
Image courtesy of Andrew Sherrill

This really is 8 tuff miles…

Image courtesy of Laura Henderson
Image courtesy of Laura Henderson

How can you not love these faces…

Image courtesy of Larry Nix
Image courtesy of Larry Nix
Image courtesy of Marc Premselaar
Image courtesy of Marc Premselaar

Now that’s a good looking groom…

Image courtesy of Amber Mayo
Image courtesy of Amber Mayo

Darn windows…

Image courtesy of Joe Sarianides
Image courtesy of Joe Sarianides

And saving the best for last courtesy of Mr. Steve Simonsen…

Image courtesy of Steve Simonsen
Image courtesy of Steve Simonsen

Happening Tonight!

woodys shirt 2

Back in 1994, one of the island’s best bars poured its first drink … tonight, it’s time to celebrate!

The folks over at Woody’s are holding one heck of a party tonight and we hope you all can make it! Stop by between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and help celebrate Woody’s 20th anniversary.

The party will feature live music and DJ Adonnis. There’ll also be a pretty cool raffle, and all proceeds will benefit the St. John Cancer Fund.

Coors Light will be simultaneously celebrating its 25th year on island, so there will be $2 Coors Lights all night. There will also be $3 Fireball shots,  and $3 Parrot Bay and Captain Morgan drinks.

Life on a Rock: Going Home.

roccos final

So this week we introduced you to Carol and David Rocco, a Midwestern couple who moved to the island for one year. We initially intended on running one story about their yearlong adventure, but we were so captivated by the couple and especially by Carol’s writing that we decided it was worth more than just one post.

Today we cap off their story as they prepare to leave the island. But before we do, we asked Carol a couple of simple questions about their journey. Here’s what she had to say:

Would you recommend that anyone else do this?
Island life is not for everyone. I have found that there are 3 kinds of people who aren’t happy here: 1) Those who did not have a realistic expectation of what they were getting into, 2) Those who get here and think they can change the system, and 3) those without a sense of humor. This may be a U.S. territory but it’s not America. For those considering a move, read everything you can find on the subject and talk to people who have already done it. That’s one of the things I love about the STJ expat community — most of them are happy to share what they know and lend a hand to open-minded newcomers. We have met people here that have changed our lives and will remain lifelong friends.

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat.

And here is Carol’s last post in its entirety:

Arrested Development

The countdown app on my iPhone says we depart for America in 1 day, 23 hours, 9 minutes and 14 seconds … but who’s counting.

Our last days are filled with the things we love the most about the islands ~ roaming barefoot along the sandy streets of Great Harbour (Jost Van Dyke), hiking the trails, sitting under the leaning palm on Salomon, camping out at the Beach Bar awaiting the most spectacular sunset on earth, laughing with dear friends ~ and you know me, I’m snapping up pictures like paparazzi stalking Lindsay Lohan.

I could sugarcoat the story and tell you everything’s perfect but that negates the purpose of sharing the reality of the roller coaster ride. Truth is, emotions have been on red alert this week largely because we haven’t sold our two high dollar items: the boat and the vehicle. Did I mention we leave in 1 day, 23 hours, 9 minutes and 14 seconds? Given that every little detail fell so beautifully into place to get us here, I am thoroughly confused by the about-face. In fact, I am not the least bit amused.

While contemplating the Universe’s stalling tactics this morning, I get a message in my inbox:

No matter what happens or doesn’t happen this week, Carol, this entire week will already be looked back upon with the greatest fondness because of the miracles you’ve already performed, which will become more and more evident as time passes.

That’s how I see it now, The Universe.

I’m convinced that the Universe speaks directly to me so if you got the same message, don’t tell me (www.tut.com).

Life on a Rock: Full Circle

roccos second pic

Yesterday we introduced you to Carol and David Rocco, a couple from Missouri who decided to take a leap of faith and move to St. John for one year. Here’s part two of their story:

Rock Fever – September 24, 2013

Rock Fever – temporary claustrophobia and restlessness caused by living on an island

The fever is alive and well. And I have it.

How can anyone living in ‘paradise’ have moments or hours or days of restlessness? Good question. I can only describe just a few of the annoyances crowding my thoughts of late …

  • I’m going to toss a spike strip in front of the truck driver who blows his horn for a good quarter of a mile up the hill 18 times a day.
  • Could I get more than one bag of groceries for less than a hundred dollars?
  • Keep raining so it will fill the cistern and I can let the shower run for one full minute.
  • Stop raining! The dishes won’t even dry!
  • I dream of a mouth-watering pizza … delivered …
  • Oh how I miss the smell of a mall … even the offensive, mucus-inflammatory odor pouring out the doors of Hollister.
  • Is it happy hour yet?

I realize slow season is the calm before the storm, but at this moment I would welcome a hurricane. I haven’t crawled into a dry bed for three nights anyway.

P.S. To concerned family and friends: No worries. My antidepressant is still effective and there’s no need to alert AA. Rock fever is a normal and temporary condition of living in paradise. I feel better already.

Six Months in St. John: What I’ve Learned – December 17, 2013

We left America six months ago for an island adventure – and what an adventure it is!

Notes to Self:

  • You don’t need much to live here. You don’t need much to live in America either … you just thought you did.
  • This isn’t South Beach. No one cares about your designer clothing, expensive jewelry and shoes with bling. Those things will get ruined anyway. You’ll be glad you brought the weatherproof, functional (boring) handbag.
  • You will not live in a big house with air conditioning and all the luxuries you’re used to (unless you win the lottery, so start playing). You will, however, have a magnificent view while ‘suffering’ with less.
  • 450 square feet isn’t so bad. On the bright side, it will take only 30 minutes to clean house.
  • Do not bring anything you’d rather not replace. Your favorite pirate shirt will mold. Your most comfortable flip flops will fall apart. The metal embellishments on your pink bikini will rust. And you will replace computers and cameras at an astonishing rate.
  • After spending $60 on an appetizer and two drinks at a fancy restaurant, you will decide the $10 burger meal at Woody’s is a pretty good deal.
  • You will consume drinks at approximately 3 times the normal rate to avoid the immediacy at which ice melts in the tropics.
  • Choose ‘dry days’ and stick to it. Your liver will thank you.
  • Lizards are your friends. Scorpions are not.
  • You will live in Mayberry. The guy you dissed yesterday may end up being your landlord or employer or bartender or mechanic.
  • Want to be happy here? Then embrace island culture. This includes greeting everyone with a Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night or the all-inclusive Good Day before uttering another word. Get comfortable with island time – the more of a hurry you’re in, the slower they’ll move. West Indians love music so when the gal on the taxi sings as if there’s a talent scout lurking, just sing along.
  • Try new things, sample new dishes, go new places. That is why you moved here, right?

Bittersweet – March 21, 2014

Warm weather, beautiful beaches, a small town where everybody knows your name – what’s not to love? As our one-year sabbatical comes to an end, we are often asked why we are returning to America. Why not park under a palm tree and live in paradise forever?

Leaving St. John will be bittersweet. There are so many things we love about living here aside from the obvious beauty and laid back lifestyle.

For instance:

  • We are judged by who we are, not by what (or who) we wear, who we know or how far we’ve climbed on an imaginary career ladder.

  • We have fewer aches and pains. A more consistent barometric pressure and warm weather is good for the bones. Our stash of antibiotics has remained virtually untouched.

  • We are far removed from mainstream media. Who cares about the latest iPhone release, or that Kim Kardashian named her baby North or South … instead, tell me what time the local parade begins and if the island’s second gas station will ever be finished.

However, living here and visiting are very different experiences. While on vacation, you climb into a fluffy, comfy king-sized bed in an air-conditioned multi-million dollar villa with panoramic views. We sleep in a lumpy, humid bed exactly four steps away from a toilet. But not before checking under the bed for iguanas.

Another misconception is that we are eating fresh fruit, vegetables and mahi every day. Not so. We shop at the grocery store just like you. Ciguatera, a toxic disease affecting reef fish in the area, prevents us from fishing anywhere near the shoreline. As for produce, St. John’s soil is equivalent to a desert so even most roadside vendors import.

Simply said, it is very expensive to live here. Most people work multiple jobs – with no benefits (which are rarer than a watermelon for less than $19.99). We could stay if we worked far more for far less. But that was never our intent.

I once overheard someone say {paraphrasing}, ”There are times when I think: I CANNOT believe I live here! … and other times when I think: I can’t believe I live HERE!” So true!

The rudimentary aspects of the islands are precisely why many people come here, including us. Escaping the daily grind has been good for the soul. We often hear people say, “You’re so lucky!” It has nothing to do with luck. It is a conscious decision.

Whatever your dreams are, pursue them. Don’t wait for someday. You will never have ‘enough’ money and the time will never be just right.

You just might run out of time.

Time’s Up – March 8, 2014

This experience has accomplished exactly what I had hoped — it changed me. My perspective, my attitude, my goals. I always had a wandering spirit; I just never had the guts to step outside of my comfort zone. Learning to live with less has been the shallow part of my transformation. Immersing myself in a vastly different culture in which I am the minority has provided the greatest insight. I use the term culture broadly: race, language, values, background, opinions … I am now much more open-minded, non-judgmental and tolerant. I am surprised by how liberated this makes me feel – obviously my ingrained belief system was stunting my growth.

I also realized how much I used to live in fear — fear of losing a good job, fear of something bad happening to the people I love, fear of not having enough money, fear of change. Uncertainty breeds vulnerability. I am learning to welcome vulnerability as a necessary ingredient of legitimate growth.

We return to America on May 1, starting with a family visit in Florida followed by a month-long journey back to Missouri. The old Carol would be anxious. After all, we are returning without a blueprint. However, the new Carol is learning to trust. And whaddya know … the Universe has already begun to provide.

Full Circle – April 22, 2014

214 hours …

I’m watching imaginary sand trickle through an imaginary hourglass timer – only I cannot turn it over or lay it on its side to delay the passage of time. Our last days are spent resurrecting the wonder and awe we felt when we first moved to St. John, while deliberately ignoring the countdown.

The transmission went out in our vehicle here in the ninth inning. We are now afoot just like our first days on island. Full circle.

Our walls are bare and supplies sparse. Just like our first few weeks. Full circle.

We are hypnotized by the sea, moved by scenic overlooks, and silenced by the sunset. Just like when we arrived. Full circle.

Our blog reaches more than 1,200 subscribers, many we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting. We often hear from followers who have been inspired to make a change or take a risk simply by witnessing our journey. Jimmy and Bridgette from Tennessee let us know we are living their dream. We were thrilled to finally meet them during their visit to St. John last month. Now it’s their turn. They will be moving into our apartment shortly after we leave and begin their own journey.

Full circle, wouldn’t you say?

May the island be as good to them as it has been to us.

Soggy Dollar Webcam is Back!

Hey everyone, happy Saturday!

We’re so happy you that after months of being down, the Soggy Dollar Bar’s webcam is back up and running, and we just added it to our webcam page so you can check it out everyday.

Click the image below to see it … PS: It gets better as the day goes on 😉

soggy dollar webcam

Click here to see all of our webcams. Enjoy!