Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kenny Chesney Donates Portion of Life on a Rock to the Friends of the Virgin Islands Park

Kenny Chesney's new album, Life on a Rock was released today and the songs are great, especially the song It's That Time of Day, Adios to Jost, and when you leave Jost it captures the feeling! Snorkeling on St John today and we will be on Jost tomorrow.

In addition a great album, Chesney announced he will be giving to the Friends of the Virgin Islands Park, here is the release:

Friends of the US Virgin Islands National Park to Benefit from 4/30 Release

            Nashville: Kenny Chesney didn't know what he'd found the first time he went to the Virgin Islands for a video shoot. But over the next 15 years, he found a harbor in the craziness, friends he would have far beyond stardom and a place that grounded him in the beauty of the ocean, the shore and the national parks. Over time, all that would inspire him to write a lot of songs for himself and his friends; now a handful of those songs have become Life On A Rock, which arrives April 30.

               Given the powerful role the various islands in the Caribbean have played in his life, the singer/songwriter wanted to do something to honor on all that. To that end, Chesney will donate a portion of the proceeds of the sales of Life On A Rock to the Friends of the US Virgin Islands National Park to insure the legacy of nature for coming generations.

               "As the world becomes more developed, protecting these wild places is going to become harder - and the cost of maintaining them needs to be covered," Chesney explains. "It's easy to forget, or not understand when it's a line item on a piece of paper, just one more expense. But if you've ever seen the trees, the oceans from a ridge, the way it all tangles together, you realize how important making sure lands like this exist for the people who come after us is...

               "For me, Life On A Rock comes from this place, so I want to give something back, so it's there for others. Let them find the peace and the awe that I did for so many years. And I like that the music can be connected with protecting something so important."

               The Friends of the US Virgin Island was founded 25 years ago, with the sole intent of protecting and preserving the natural habitat in the US Virgin Islands. The organization has been responsible for creating and maintaining accessible trails, beach restoration, coral reef research, various educational projects including ranger-in-training camps and hands-on learning for school children, ship mooring, archeological preservation and underwater explorations, as well as general staffing, volunteers and maintenance. "It also includes cultural preservation with relics from the Pre-Colombian Amerindian Civilization, remains of colonial sugar plantations and reminders of African Slave and Substistence Culture during the 100 years after Empanicaption.*

               "Our national parks are one of those things you might not think about." Chesney explains. "But once they're gone, you can't get them back, so protecting and maintaining them is so important. I know: I've spent hours in these parks, on these trails and beaches. Over the years, they've been a big part of my time away from the road, and I think they're a great sanctuary for all of us. To me, to connect these songs with something so special is both an honor and a chance to call awareness to the Friends of the Park."

Friday, April 26, 2013

One Year Anniversary of "Living On a Rock"!

Do you remember where you were a year ago today?

I do, I was flying with the dogs from Miami to St Thomas, after driving across country from Reno, Nevada.

Here is the adventure here, Moving to St Thomas.

Wow, how time flies by?

So, although I really moved down to St Thomas in September of 2011, I was flying back and forth to here from Reno.  I guess I consider living here full time when I have my wife and my dogs living here with me and don't go back to Reno.

I still can't believe it has been a year already, sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am really living a dream in paradise.

Here are some highlights and low lights of the past year and of living here! Bad first:

  • Bristol, our dog dying. 
  • WAPA our power company here.
  • Working at the Marriott
  • Higher cost of living
  • Grocery Shopping here - Prices and sometimes they have what you need sometimes they don't. 
  • Kmart and Plaza Extra
  • The trench in all the roads for the new fiber optic system. 
  • Gunshots at night
  • Terrible and slow drivers
  • traffic on waterfront
  • garbage on the side of the roads
  • BVI customs
  • cruise ships
  • No Taco Bell
  • Terrible steaks
  • Adults who act like they are still in Middle School with drama. 
  • The government, example: my real estate broker's license
  • Cuban Tree Frogs laying eggs in the pool
  • Shitty soil, everything I planted is dead
  • Pie Whole
  • Independent Boat Yard
  • Fat Turtle
Good now!

  • Chukar, our new lab from a shelter in North Carolina
  • Our boat, The Louly II, there are not many weekends we have missed going out on her. 
  • Our view from our patio of  Jost and down islands, why go out to a bar or restaurant when we have one of the nicest views on St Thomas.
  • Losing 25 lbs
  • Jost Van Dyke and The Soggy Dollar Bar
  • Perpetual Summer always warm, never too hot, ocean is good temp year round and beautiful water
  • Sunrises, sunsets
  • Cheap Liquor
  • Pizza = Pizza Amore - Best pie outside of NJ, Island Time Pub - Best Value with a view and great owner
  • Compass Point Marina and Caribbean Petroleum - Stress free docking
  • Reggae Music
  • Kenny Chesney's new album, Life on a Rock
  • Lizards and Iguana's
  • Hummingbirds
  • Fishing for Tuna, Mahi and Wahoo
  • Dish TV
  • Hermit Crabs
  • Fresh coconuts from our palm tree
  • Our Water System installed by Larry the Water Guy
  • An airport with good flights to more cities than Reno
  • Stay light out 12 hours a day all year
  • Price Smart and Home Depot - A taste of stateside
  • my wife Shannon
  • Our Toyota 4 Runner and Tacoma
  • Cafe Roma
  • Home made sushi from fresh caught fish
  • Tyler from Double Header
  • Uncle Lee
  • All the friends I met down here
  • Kirk and Cara
  • Sportsbook.com - my sports bookie away from the casinos
  • A frozen Taco Bell 5 layer burrito and Costco steaks flown in 
  • St John
  • Red Hook
  • Special Events - King of the Wing, Cinco de Mayo, St Patrick's Day, Chili Cookoff, NYE on Jost, St  John Carnival 
  • Our Pool  -  even though it is chalking again
  • Our large cistern
  • Days at Christmas Cove
  • Tortoises
  • Bo Peep
  • Giant Flootie
  • green foliage year round
  • Vessup with the dogs
  • Yacht Haven Grande music night
  • Snorkeling
  • Feral Chickens
  • Ghost on STJ
  • Easy to make $ if you have a work ethic and somewhat of a brain. 
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Nice neighbors
  • beeping horn whilst driving to let you in 
  • Driving on the Left
I guess I could keep going, but after brain storming, seeing the good outweighs the bad, I think we will be staying another year :)  

So let me know, what were you doing a year ago?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Real Estate Brokerage, America's Caribbean Realty Is Finally a Reality!

Well, this past Tuesday, I received an email from the Department of Licensing stating that they have approved my Real Estate Brokerage!

It has been a long haul with the whole process started back in January of 2012.

The main delay was that the rules here were that I had to take a national and territory broker exam. Well the company that they had administering the exams here pulled out of the territory. The only alternative until they had a new testing company was to get a temporary 6 month salesman license, with one caveat, you had to work under the supervision of another broker.

Working for another broker can be difficult as I had been used to making a 100% commission and down here they want 50-60% splits. So I decided to wait it out, hoping they would have another testing company brought in and did not mind taking some time off after shutting down my old brokerage where I was working 7 days a week.

July rolls around and this retired life was getting a little boring. So I met with one of senators here to see if anything could be done. Nope.

In the meantime, Shannon got so bored she went a got a job at a Economic Development Corporation here going back into finance. She started in August. After a few weeks of losing my best friend I was going stir crazy so I had a friend who worked at the Marriott Vacation Club here selling timeshares. He really liked it, so I thought I would give it a whirl, and we needed health insurance as you cannot get individual health insurance here unless you own a company or an employer can give it to you.

I was hired by the Marriott in mid-September. Went to two weeks of boot camp training in Orlando and came back to sell timeshares!

Selling timeshares is commission only and when a company has too many salesman on board, you opportunity to take a tour is slim, especially if you are new.  So now instead of sitting at home, I was sitting in an office all day. Yes, I did sell some timeshares, but this type of real estate was not my style! I knew I needed to get back into normal real estate sales, so I applied for my 6 month license back in September and would hang that license with Kirk Boeger and Cara Hinton of Real Solutions.  Thanks you guys for giving me a home for a while!

In December, I learned they had hired PSI exams, the same company I had taken all of my Nevada exams (yes and even shows that I passed the national broker exam back in 2006, but yet have to take it again?). They would be offering the exams starting in January. I knew with island time this means February or March.

I was right, Feb 15th would be first exam. Shannon was hired on as a full time employee on February 1st and with the exam coming soon along with Bristol, our dog, being sick, I resigned at the Marriott.

February 15th comes and I am ready to register with PSI online. I log on and it tells me that the licensing division needs to first approve me to take the exam! That whole process took another 3 weeks to get my name on the list and transmitted to PSI, after many phone calls and emails, it was official, I could register for the exam! Exam taken in March, it was at the ACE flight center, which is just a single wide trailer.  I was lucky as they only have two computers and mine was not the one that wasn't working. Needless to say I passed both exams. When you leave the testing center it says to wait for two weeks before you hear from licensing. Yikes, another two weeks?  Well at least this gives me time to work on my logo and website.

Two weeks goes by and I contact the licensing.  They tell me they don't have the exam results yet. I call PSI and they tell me those were transmitted that night that I took the exam. More emails, more calls. I go into the licensing office and I get my Professional Broker License but now I have to wait another two weeks to get my business license when the Real Estate Commission meets again on April 23rd. What is another 2 weeks, right?

Well after lunch on the 23rd I got an email, "you have been approved".

Finally, I am pleased to announce the opening of America's Caribbean Realty!  I am here for all your US Virgin Islands real estate needs!

You can reach me at 340-514-5671 or visit our website at www.americascaribbeanrealty.com

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Night Out in St John!

One of the many things to do here in St Thomas for a quick get away is to head over to St John for a night out.

This last Saturday we went over to Red Hook and caught the ferry to St John. The ferry takes you over to Cruz Bay and runs every hour until midnight going to STJ and coming back to STT the last one is at 11 PM. Cost is $6 each way and you can buy round trip tickets.

We boarded the 6 PM ferry for a nice ride over to St John.  It is always nice to have someone else to drive the boat sometimes!

We arrived there in about 20 minutes and headed over to the bars that line the beach over in St John. Most have happy hours until 7 PM. We went to the Beach Bar for some cold beers!

Stopped by to say hi to some friends at the High Tide Bar.

<Special Note Here - No sooner than I write this blog post, the following Sunday on 4-21-13, Cafe Roma burned down! John, the owner says he is going to rebuild. Stay tuned for when they will re-open, in the meantime I am going to be at a loss for good Italian food!>

Then off to dinner at Cafe Roma. This little place, one block behind JJ's Texas Coast. Go up the stairs and there is the nice place (and even has A/C). This place has become our favorite place to go for Italian since Romano's closed on St Thomas. They have great pasta dishes at great prices. This place has good wine for the price, probably the cheapest I have seen on both islands at a restaurant  I have not yet had their pizza but I hear it is good. We sat at the bar and I had the Fettechini Ala Roma and Shannon had the Penne Primavera Marinara. Of course we shared along with a bottle of Montes Merlot. As always they give you such large portions, we had plenty of left overs for another meal! This is one of the great things about Cafe Roma, leftovers, as many restaurants here serve small portions. Our bill with tip was only $83, a good value for the Virgin Islands!  They do not take reservations and are only open for dinner.  Here is their website, Cafe Roma. If you get a chance, say hi to the owner, John!

After a great dinner, it is off to The Barefoot Cowboy Bar for some country music and a cocktail.

11 PM comes quick, back to the dock for the last ferry back!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sailboats, Why Would You Ever Have a Single Hull When You Could Have a Catamaran?

Many of our weekends are spent on our boat relaxing at one of the many anchorages around these islands. I enjoy people and boat watching.

There is one mystery I still do not understand.  Why would you have a single hull sailboat when you can have a catamaran sailboat?

Here are my observations*

  • Bow Area  - On a single hull on the bow no one really ever hangs out on the bow of the boat. On a cat there is usually a trampoline area between the two hulls and seems people hang out there?
  • Rear Outside Area - Single hull sailboat - To me the outside area that everyone hangs out in is in the "tent" area.  Looking like a 5'x5' area that most have a tent over. Cat has a nice large deck area, sliders to the cabin and with two sets of ladders going in to the sea (single hull go through the hassle of hanging a rope type ladder over the side?). 
  • Living area - Single hull sailboat has tiny windows and door in rear and hatch up front, are't you hot in that cabin and isn't as dark as a cave in there? Cat - Sliders in the back with big windows all around. 
  • Engines - Single hull sailboat, one motor. Cat  - 2 motors
  • Sailing on the Water - Single hull sailboat tilts so much to one side, you see every one it seems like hanging on for dear life and I can't imagine that your personal belongings down in the cave cabin stay in there place for long? Cat - nice and stable on the water and everyone looks relaxed and spread out from just the 5x5 rear area. 
Ok, so there you have my observations, now can a sailor tell me what the advantages and disadvantages are? 

* Author owns a power cat and is very biased to catamaran design. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

More On the New Kenny Chesney Album, "Life On a Rock"

Kenny Chesney's new album is due out April 30th.

One of the new songs is already out, "Lindy", which talks about a St John local he knew in 2006.

Here is some info from a recent private party on the new album from Country Countdown's website.

The arrangements, the melodies, the instrumentation  the singing on the album all reflect Kenny’s longtime association with the Virgin Islands, the lifestyle there, and the people he’s met while living there.  The next song on the album was inspired by one of those people, a man named Lindy.  “I wrote this song in 2006.  I wrote it without a timetable, no expectations, no boundaries, no formula or format.  When I wrote it, I never envisioned playing them.  ‘Lindy’ is another brush stroke in my life.  I never had a conversation with Lindy.  But you could tell when you looked in his eyes, he was a good person.  The thing I loved about him was he loved music.  I was walking past a church one day, looked in, and Lindy was playing piano.  I didn’t know he could play piano.  Even though he lived a different life from me, we had a lot in common.”

There is more info on Lindy found here on the On St John Blog: First Article, Second Article.

Another song is "Happy on the Hey Now", which was written for an icon in St John who worked at Woody's and La Tapa restaraunts, who died before her time at 35.

The last song on the album obviously was the most important one for Kenny.  It’s a song he wrote called “Happy On The Hey Now.”  As Kenny explained, “The Hey Now is a boat.  We had a lot of fun on it.  This song is grounded in ways I didn’t see coming.  Kristi was part of a circle of friends that defined my life.  She didn’t care who I was or what I did.  Kristi was good at life.  She died before her time.  I wasn’t going to put this song on the album, because it’s so personal.  This song made me rethink everything.  I love what I do, and I’m happiest when I’m on stage.  But these songs started to push me towards an artistic shift.  This record was what my soul needed.”

Here is some info on the Hey Now and a picture

Here is some info on Kristi Hansen and her memorial fund. I never met her, but reading about her, it sounds like she was a special person and  lived here for all the same reasons most of us do, full of life, great friends and great times! 

Sometimes, I have to pinch myself that I actually live here, and if someone like Kenny Chesney wrote two albums about this place, then you know it is special?  His other album, "Be As You Are" was inspirational to us to make the move to live here. 

April 30th can't come any sooner!