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The Island That Feels Like My Mountain

A trip to St. John reveals why I love the mountains...


I own a vacation rental business. When you’re in the business of selling vacations, you seldom think about what it means to take a vacation yourself. Oh, I go places for vacation. But mostly when I get wherever I’m going, I find myself looking around, watching the staff, checking the décor, looking for things out of place, all of the things I do at my own place to make sure things are as perfect as they can be for my guests. This is never to look for problems, mind you. It’s just that if vacationing is your job, it’s hard to unwind when it comes time to unwind.


Meet MoonCottage St. John....


Except when I go to Brian’s place. Brian owns Mooncottage on St. John’s Island in the US Virgin Islands. I’ve been there three times now, and I know I’ll be there many more times to come. The first time, I looked at everything through the eyes of an owner. I spent some time giggling at some of the things that happened during my stay that would – and have – sent my own guests into a tail spin. The refrigerator was broken when I got there. I couldn’t exactly figure out the lights. There were some centipedes that made their way into the house. Bob, Brian’s version of my beloved Kathy, set all of those things right as quickly as he could. But even if he couldn’t have, it didn’t matter to me. This place felt familiar to me. Like home.


A Little Smaller Than My Mountain, But Just As Majestic....


I’m not sure why the familiarity was there. There’s little on this island that resembles my North Carolina mountain. But then I stumbled on Brian’s book, and it hit me immediately why I love it here, and why it reminds me of Sky Ridge. Just like Sky Ridge is mine, Mooncottage is Brian’s baby. I flipped through page after page of the story of Mooncottage and exactly how it came to be. Picture after picture of the whole process, and I could relate to every single one. I loved seeing how Brian climbed a tree to catch sight of a vision that existed only in his mind. I love how he kept that tree, and it grows through the cottage today. I could totally relate to the story of how he camped out during construction, and even though he didn’t mention it in the book, I know the camp out was more than just overseeing the construction. It was because he didn’t want to leave. I loved getting to know his construction crew, and I compared every adjective he used for them to my own crew who lovingly helped me craft my yurts. And I absolutely loved – and could completely relate – to the picture that said it all. Brian, who also writes books about reducing stress through laughter, took a picture of the final resting place of his sanity and his wallet!

I Feel Your Pain, Brian. And I'm Right There With You....


Truth be told, staying at Mooncottage is probably too expensive for me. My cell phone doesn’t work there, which makes it hard to attend to my own customers’ needs. It takes a while to get there. But none of that matters. Besides my own mountain, Brian’s life work in this amazing cottage will always be my favorite place in the world. It’s worth every penny, every obstacle. And not because everything is exactly perfect (though it’s incredibly close). It’s worth it to be able to spend time in a space that was so lovingly created, so painstakingly fretted over that you know its owner happily surrendered all his money and his sanity to share his passion with others. I hope people feel the same at Sky Ridge. I hope they can feel the passion I’ve poured into my mountain, instead of noticing the little things that inevitably go wrong in even the nicest of places when they stay.


So, thank you, Brian. Thank you for sharing Mooncottage with me. Thank you for giving me a kindred space to relax and remember why it is I do what I do on my own mountain.



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