Good News…MikesNotAtWork is Going Away

Hey Everyone,

MikesNotAtWork.com is going away.

The obvious question is “why is this good news?” Well, Alisa and I have decided that it’s time to combine our blogs and the result is The Carpe Diem Couple. Check out the first post here.

IMPORTANT: You must subscribe to the new blog to continue getting email updates. Simply click the “Sign up for email updates” link on the new site.

Thank you for reading MikesNotAtWork. Alisa and I really look forward to continue writing and staying in touch at TheCarpeDiemCouple.com!

Until next time (at TheCarpeDiemCouple.com),
Mike

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St. John Reminiscing

Hey Everyone,

From this post’s title, it’s obvious that we have left St. John and are now back in New York (we’ve actually been back for over 2 weeks). It was very sad leaving our island paradise, but it’s been really nice seeing family and friends.

I thought this would be a good time to recap my top 5 favorite things about St. John, as well as some of things that I won’t miss so much (aka “Not-So-Favorite Things”):

Favorite Thing #5: Tie Between The Beaches, The Views and Hiking in Virgin Islands National Park
Regarding hiking, I won’t go into too much detail here as there are plenty of details in my Hiking post. As for the beaches and views, I’ll let pictures do the talking here (and you can also check out my Watersports post):


Trunk Bay


Rocky on a hike (Johnny Horn Trail)


Alisa’s parents (aka Mom & Dad) catching a smooch


Awesome view of Maho Bay and Francis Bay


Enjoying the view during a hike


Great view of Alisa’s Favorite Spot at Great Lameshur Bay


Valley view during the Maria Hope Trail

And here are some amazing views from our balcony:

Not-So-Favorite Thing: No Gym
This is a strange one…I loved working out outside and using the beach as my gym, however, it is fun to be able to go into a gym and do some heavy lifting again. I may only be saying that because I know that I only have the gym access for the next month, however, it’s been fun so far. I have to admit, however, that I am excited to see the workouts I can create in different places all over Australia (and of course get back into hiking)

Favorite Thing #4: Tie Between Happy Hour and No Open Container Laws
Regarding Happy Hour, this is a no-brainer…$1 well drinks and beers from 3-7pm every day and $3 U-Call-Its from 3-6pm (meaning literally any concoction you can create for just 3 bucks…such as my “Top Shelf Long Island Iced Teas” – a lethal goblet of Patron tequila, Aged Mt. Gay rum, Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin and some triple sec). As for no Open Container Laws, I have been the not-so-proud recipient of two open container violations in New York in the past (yes, I had to go to court for them) and absolutely love not having to worry about walking down the street with a cold beer. Coming back from a year where there were no open container laws and VERY lax drinking regulations is an unwelcome reality!

Favorite Thing #3: Not Dreading the End of the Weekend
I have a post about bartending at The Lime Inn coming soon, so I’ll save my details and pictures until then, but the major point here is that I worked a 14 hour double shift on Mondays in St. John and never cared at all on Sunday nights (something I cannot say about Sunday nights when I knew that there was a full week of work at JetBlue coming up).

Not-So-Favorite Thing: Slow Internet
The irony with this is that now we don’t need fast internet to stream Hulu and Netflix, since we have cable at our disposal, however, it’s still really nice to not have to worry about whether or not the internet will be super slow (or even work at all) at any given time. The last 3 months, Alisa was doing a “hard reset” of our modem almost every day.

Favorite Thing #2: Living in a “Small Town”
Living on a tiny island has taught me that I really like small towns. I like walking around town and waving hi to people I know, or walking into a bar and greeting ten people by name. I don’t know where Alisa and I will settle, but I definitely see it being somewhere without a hell of a lot of people. Spending this last week in NYC (and in many subways) has made me appreciate a small town even more.


Beautiful Cruz Bay (our town)

Not-So-Favorite Thing: Being Away from Friends and Family
The good thing about St. John is that it was close enough that we had a TON of visitors (read that post here). The bad thing is that we still missed holidays and other major events with friends and family. This will be even worse in Australia, but a reality of living a traveler’s life. At least there’s Facebook and Skype, right? It’s not much on the surface, but think back to the days of postcards…I’ll take video chat over that any day!

Favorite Thing #1: Our Friends!
It’s weird…you spend so much time with people day after day for months, and then just like that you don’t see them. This is another reality of being a traveler, but I wouldn’t trade our memories of Sunday Fundays, hikes, boat trips, happy hours, drunken movie nights, snorkeling, spear fishing and so much more for anything. I know that St. John would have been great with just Alisa, Rocky, and I on the beautiful island, however, it’s the friends we made that truly made it an AMAZING experience. Some shout outs to the people I spent the most time with: Sean, Ashton, Kelsea (check out her blog and travel adventures here: followmissmatter.com), Julia, Cyndal, and Chelsea, Tyler and the entire Lime Inn crew!

Ashton, Sean and I

As you can tell, St. John will always hold a special place in our hearts. But I’m sure we’ll be back some day.

St. John friends – Can you say Reunion Trip?!?

Until next time,
Mike

A Legendary Tradition Was Born…Sunday Funday

Hey Everyone,

It’s official, Alisa and I have left St. John and are now back in New York. It was very sad leaving our island paradise (and still is), but it’s been really nice seeing family (and we’ll be seeing lots of friends this upcoming week).

Reminiscing about St. John makes me think about the good friends we made, which also makes me think about one of the greatest traditions we had…Sunday Funday!

Although our Sunday Funday tradition only started on May 27th, 2012…9 months into our year in St. John, they are truly some of my best memories of St. John. After helping to organize Ashton’s Birthday Booze Cruise that day, this amazing tradition was born (and I became honorary “Sunday Funday Chairman,” a post that I was happy to hold since I love organizing fun events). Here is a recap of those Sundays (just a note that I may be missing some and not all are official “Facebook-Sanctioned Events”):

Sunday 5/27/12 – Ashton’s Birthday Booze Cruise Aboard “Bad Kitty”

The crew at our first stop – Virgin Gorda


Yes, Ashton’s birthday = Jameson to the face

Sunday 6/17/12 – Red Hook Pub Crawl

Stop #1 – Duffy’s Love Shack


Stop #2 – Island Time Pub


Stop #3 – Caribbean Saloon (and “Candy Corn Shots”)


Stop #4 – Big Bambooz (and Flip Cup, of course)


Stop #5 – Chinese Food Dinner (no better way to end a Pub Crawl)

Sunday 6/24/12 – Beach/BBQ Day at Hawksnest Beach


Ashton and I enjoying some Caribbean sun


Hey Sean, what are you planning with those cups?


A feast on the beach

Sunday 7/1/12 – St. John Carnival (check out the previous post here for tons of pics and also check out our “World’s Greatest Festivals” TV Demo here)

Sunday 7/15/12 Dinghy Day

The boys (and Cyndal)


Big shocker…Ashton with a bottle of Jame-O

Sunday 7/22/12 – Rhumblines All-U-Can-Drink Brunch and Cinnamon Beach

Talk about a Sunday Brunch Crew!

Sunday 7/29/12 – Movie Day: The Dark Knight Rises

Awesome group for a pre-movie lunch at Kokopelli


Look at the excitement on Sean’s face (too bad the movie was a real snoozefest)

Sunday 8/12/12 – Joe’s Apartments “Block Party”

The Flip Cup Tourney Finals. Let’s see who wins the coveted tournament bracket


Come on, you saw that coming (sorry Ashton)


Rocking out in our parking lot

Sunday 8/19/12 – Jost Van Dyke on Marc’s Boat

“Captain Mike” (okay I really wasn’t doing much)


Me, Sean, and the real Captain, Marc (on beautiful White Bay, Jost Van Dyke)


Who’s that random chick in the back??

Sunday 8/25/12 – The Lime Inn End-Of-Season Beach Party

Just 5 of the hundred or so other people chilling at Maho Bay…celebrating a great year at The Lime Inn

As you can see, we had a blast Sunday after Sunday with great friends. Hopefully the “Sunday Funday Crew” can reunite in the not-too-distant future and continue making some amazing (although somewhat blurry) memories.

Until next time,
Mike

Hiking on St. John – A Summary of Awesomeness

Hey Everyone,

Alisa, Rocky, and I recently completed every hiking trail on St. John. Well, at least every trail listed in Gerald Singer’s book “Off The Beaten Track,” as you can see here:

(*The only trails that I couldn’t do are the Caneel Bay Trails, only because they don’t allow the public inside – which I think is a terrible policy. Alisa got to hike those trails as a tour guide for VI EcoTours)

St. John is over 60% National Park (Official link and Wikipedia link). This means that you can find great trails in almost any direction, however, the park is only 23 square miles, meaning that it is fairly easy to experience every trail if you have an extended stay on St. John. By comparison, Grand Canyon National Park is 1,900 square miles, Yellowstone National Park is 3,500 square miles, and Kakadu (the largest national park in Australia) is 7,600 square miles. You can fit 330 VI National Parks into Kakadu, and that’s just one of 500 National Parks in Australia…jeez.

Regardless, I have had an amazing year here exploring all that the park has to offer, often with Alisa and almost ALWAYS with my best little bud Rocky. Here is my list of the “Best Hiking Trails” in the Virgin Islands National Park:

Best Overall Hike: The Caneel Hill – Margaret Hill – Caneel Resort – Honeymoon Beach – Lind Point Loop
-This is a perfect hike and starts right from town (walk past Mongoose Junction and catch the spur trailhead right there). This hike is a great mix of challenging incline, amazing 360 views (from the overlook at the of top Caneel Hill you can see St. Thomas, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola and even St. Croix on a clear day), lots of shade, and a pleasant, peaceful environment to hike through.

Rocky at the Top of Caneel Hill


Alisa’s Favorite View (hiking up Margaret Hill)

Most Challenging Hike: The Hawksnest – Gibney Bay – Denis Bay Scramble
-Alisa, Rocky and I love scrambles but even Rocky couldn’t come along for this one. It’s long, challenging and hot! Start at Hawknest and walk to the right on the beach. Start climbing the rocks just like when you were a kid. Walk across Gibney and then climb all the way to Denis Beach.

Alisa Loves Scrambling!


We did it!

Most-Challenging-Yet-Most-Fun-Hike (and my FAVORITE HIKE): The Fish Bay Gut Hike
-This is a rock scramble/bouldering hike through some of the most amazing scenery. It’s challenging and a great workout, and Rocky absolutely loves this one! You can take a right at the fork (during the trail) and head up the Battery Gut, however, we always enjoy the Fish Bay Gut more. If you’re feeling real adventurous you can continue up the waterfall and keep hiking ALL the way up the gut (just watch out for the families of spiders, which Alisa could definitely do without).


Alisa, Julia and Rocky


Family time at the top of a cliff


Julia helping Rocky over a big jump


Sean and Ashton sweating out some booze

Best Generic Hike: Reef Bay and Petroglyph Hike
-This is “generic” because almost anyone and everyone who hikes on St. John checks out this trail. It is the most highly promoted trail by the National Park Service (they lead their guided hikes here), and with good reason. The terrain is beautiful and there is a lot to see (including spiders on this one too). Near the bottom you take the spur trail to see the ancient Taino petroglyphs (similar to hieroglyphics). If you’re feeling adventurous you can take a left just before the petroglyphs to find a hidden waterfall/resting area above the petroglyph area. At the bottom of the trail you can tour an ancient sugar mill, filled with hermit crabs and bats (look up at the roof). For extended hikes you can either continue to Lameshur or start all the way at Maho Bay and take the Maria Hope trail (which ends at the beginning of the Reef Bay Trail). One negative…this trail all downhill first, which means all uphill on the way back. Not my ideal way to do a hike but unavoidable on this one.

(The waterfall only rages like this during hurricane season)


Reef Bay Sugar Mill


Sean, Rocky and I at the “secret waterfall”


Alisa striking a pose (and Rocky impatiently waiting at the head of the pack)

Best Long Hike: Reef Bay Coastal Walk – Reef Bay – Lameshur Hike
-Drive on the South Shore past Fish Bay and into Reef Bay. Hike down and start the coastal walk. Once you reach the Reef Bay trail, make a left and take the trail until you can make a right onto Lameshur. If you make it all the way to the ruins at Little Lameshur bay it will be an 8 mile roundtrip hike through varied terrain and environments. The halfway point has a great resting spot under a nice shady tree.


Alisa’s Favorite Spot overlooking Great Lameshur Bay


Reef Bay in the distance

Best View: Ram Head
-This is a hot, exposed hike but not too long in distance. As you get closer to the peak you can get some incredible wind gusts from the west. Once at the peak you can look over the edge (if heights don’t scare you) and enjoy some incredible panoramas. The only other view I would put on the same level is from the observation tower at the top of Caneel Hill (mentioned in the hike above).
Alisa at the top of Ram Head


Sean, Kelsea, Rocky and I


That’s Sean and I at the top of the peak next to Ram Head

__________

Considering it’s taken me the better part of a year to hit every corner of the park, you can imagine the intimidation of only having a year in Australia and its hundreds (yes, hundreds) of national park. However, forget about that intimidation…I am excited as hell!

Here are two miscellaneous, fun hiking pics I wanted to include:

“Machete Sean” – We tried to blaze a trail up Mary’s point but the thorns got too thick…


“Waterlogged Alisa” – After the Brown Bay Scramble the only way out was through the water. Rocky’s grip on Alisa shows how much he was NOT liking this!

Three final points to close…
1. have to thank Alisa for getting tougher and tougher as the year has gone by. She went from being freaked out when a plant touched her leg to scrambling across crazy rock expanses!

Scrambling across Yawzi Point (next to Little Lameshur Bay)


Queen of the hill! (taken on the Brown Bay Scramble)

2.Thank you to Bella, our awesome Jeep, for taking us to all different hiking trails around the island. We sold her just a few hours ago to our friend Cyndal and hope that she has just as much fun with Bella as we did!


Alisa with Bella right after we bought her


Rocky is one of his favorite positions…catching some wind!


Cyndal and Bella

3. And lastly, a HUGE shout out to my hiking buddy, Rocky. He loved to hike whenever and wherever and always kept me company. I don’t know what I’ll do without him in Australia but you can be sure I’ll think about him on every hike that I do. It kills me to think about not having him with me but am thankful for the countless memories with him hiking the crap out of this island! For a 6 pound Yorkie, he is the MOST BADASS HIKING DOG ON EARTH!!!!

Rocky posing for his picture


Chillin’ on the rocks during the Lind Point Scramble


Soaking up the view on the Cinnamon Bay Trail


Resting near the ruins next to Little Lameshur Bay


The cutest motherfucker EVER!


Father and Son…enjoying yet another awesome St. John hike

I’ll try to get more videos up on Facebook, but for now here’s one of Rocky running up some Rocks.

Until next time,
Mike

Two More Bucket List Items Down…Learn to Sail and Learn to Windsurf!

Hey Everyone,

Two days ago was my last day working at Cinnamon Bay Watersports (technically called “Wind N Surfing Adventures“). It was perfect timing to close the shop, as Hurricane Isaac was drawing nearer (although it never materialized too badly down here).

I use the term “working” loosely. Over the course of the past year, I managed to work out an informal barter deal with the guys at the shop. Originally I was actually going to work there, but then I realized that I couldn’t devote the time needed. So the new plan was that I would come by roughly once a week to help out with whatever was needed; and in exchange I would get to play with the gear (and as it turns out, get lessons as well). In essence I was the big, dumb guy who knew nothing but could lift heavy things…a title I definitely didn’t mind since it allowed me to be there!


Awesome panorama of Cinnamon Bay (taken from the Cinnamon Bay Trail)

Although I only spent about one day a week there, spending time at the Watersports Shop was one of the highlights of my time in St. John. Every time I went there I was somewhat nervous about what the day would bring, but every single time I left the beach I was in a great mood after having an awesome day. It also allowed me to cross off two items on my Bucket List:

Learn to Sail

Learn to Windsurf






(Full disclosure – I am still a beginner at both sports, but definitely know a LOT more than I did before!)

This experience has also given me a huge…wait for it…
*LIFE LESSON – If you have the time and dedication, you don’t have to spend a fortune to do/learn amazing things. It would have cost me thousands of dollars in sailing and windsurfing lessons, plus rental fees, but by bartering my time and working hard I essentially got this for free (and met some awesome people along the way).

So what is on your bucket list that you can’t seem to find the time or money to do? Is there a creative way that you can make it happen? Don’t let more time pass if there is a way that you can do it now!

To close, I need to give a huge thanks to Kendall Cornejo, Ollie Shanklin, and the entire Cinnamon Bay Watersports Crew (Dax, Mickey, and Thais come to mind). Particular shout outs to Ollie for hooking me up with the gig in the first place and Kendall for absolutely everything else…including teaching me these sports. I am even more excited now to hone my sailing and windsurfing skills and of course learn more new sports…surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing definitely come to mind when I think about Australia (and New Zealand).

Until next time,
Mike

The World Premiere of “World’s Greatest Festivals” and “World’s Coolest Jobs”

Hey Everyone,

As you can see on My Bucket List, I have listed “Film a TV Show Demo and Get It Produced.” After a chance encounter back in May, I decided that Alisa and I need to at least try to make this a reality.

It was then that I was bartending at the front bar at The Lime Inn. A guy came in during happy hour and since it was just the two of us there, we struck up a conversation. It turns out that he was Greg Aiello and he is the host of a TV show called “Motion” on the Live Well Network. His job is to travel the country and film his show as he explores different National Parks. As you can imagine, he was here in St. John to film an episode in the Virgin Islands National Park. As an avid hiker and lover of National Parks (having been to 10 and counting), I was fascinated (although not quite as jealous of Greg as I am of Zane Lamprey, who gets to travel the world and drink with locals…a dream job indeed).

Alisa and I have had two ideas for shows, even before I met Greg, and both based on our experiences of quitting Corporate America and beginning to travel the world. It was simply this chance encounter that lit a fire to make these ideas a reality. Especially after Greg told me that a lot of new(er) networks are seriously looking for new and exciting shows.

So after that, Alisa and I bought a microphone for her HD camera, wrote two scripts, and got to work…

Please click below and enjoy the World Premiere of :
“World’s Greatest Festivals”

and “World’s Coolest Jobs”

So what did you think? PLEASE email me, comment on Facebook, or leave a comment on this blog (below) to let us know what you think. Also, please let us know if you know anyone in “the business” who may be interested in producing either or both of the shows and we can reach out to them and send a query letter (or feel free to just go ahead and show them these demos directly).  Clearly Alisa and I think that it would be an amazing experience to travel around the world filming these shows (and now we have the time and freedom to do so), but we also believe that these can be exciting and inspiring shows that everyone would truly enjoy.

Thanks so much and we hope to hear from you!

Lastly, huge thanks to Bradford Leonard, all our friends who were cool with us shoving a camera and mic in their faces during Carnival, and everyone else involved in these demos!

Until next time,
Mike

The “Messeroff St. John B&B” is Now Closed

Hey Everyone,

Our very last visitors are here right now – Shelley, my friend from JetBlue (and our very first visitor) and her boyfriend Marc.


$3 U-Call-It Happy Hour at Joe’s Rum Hut

We’re having a great time and doing the usual…beach, happy hour, dinner, hiking (with Rocky of course), and catching up on old times.

I thought this would be a great time to look back on all of our visitors here and thank all of them for coming and experiencing our new lifestyle with us. First, shout outs to the last several visitors who have yet to get in my blog:


Phil and Kate Fort
(Causing trouble at Trunk Bay)


Kirstin and Jason Frazell (Big surprise that I’m using a happy hour pic)


James Hafele (I thought I give the thumbs up!)


Dad and Janice (At the Bordeaux Mountain Overlook)


My sister Amy (Yes, Alisa and Amy are playing nude Photo Hunt at Castaways)

…and to everyone who came before them:
-Monique and Alessandro – Check out their post here
-My cousin Talia
-My Mom and her friend Wendy – Their post (along with everyone below) is here
-My sister Cara
-My Aunt Julie, Uncle Bruce and cousins Samantha & Lindsay
-My Aunt Lauren, Uncle Danny and cousins Mallory & Brooke
-Jamie & Matt Schweitzer
-Mom & Dad (Alisa’s parents)

Being here for a full year we have had 28 visitors, not including 3 guests who actually did pay to stay with us (through AirBnB.com). So that’s 31 guests at our little slice of paradise. We have enjoyed hosting ALL of you and spending time with you here.

As they say…when one door closes another opens. So who is coming to visit us in Australia?!?

Until next time,
Mike