Monday, December 20, 2010

Ladies and gents, he made it!

Yes, that's right. Mason turned the big 60 today. He celebrated by eating chicken fried steak and eggs for breakfast, digging ditches in Karen's front yard for hours, then downing a couple margaritas with dinner. Now it's beers while watching the Vikings. I expect he'll be dead by morning. Seriously, no one else lives for each day like Mason. Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tomorrow's the big day

We're in the final countdown to owning our own little shack in the woods. Mason's been busy researching electrical systems for living off the grid, and I've already devoured one book on Tennessee (in glorious Zone 7) gardening.  We'll head up to the cabin tomorrow after we close, but don't think we'll stay the night. On Wednesday it's back to Texas.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Screw this land hunt, we're going home ...

But ... home is now Soddy Daisy, TN. Or more exactly 0 Young Road, Flat Top Mountain, Hamilton County. ... That's right, our NEW CABIN doesn't even have an address, unless you count Map 31, Parcel 109.02. Yes, friends and foes, we've taken the serious plunge. Sealed a deal today for the cute little cabin with no electricity or running water (but it's soon to come, no frets!!). We close and take possession either Monday or Tuesday (whoever said rural life moves slowly?).

Here are the details: a 900 sq. ft cabin, with a bedroom on the main floor but also a loft bedroom. The main floor consists of a kitchen, living room and unique spiral staircase up to the loft. The kitchen will take a complete remodel. We're already planning a long galley butcherwood countertop with a farmhouse sink under the window, and a massive granite/soapstone island, complete with a stovetop and bar stool dining area. ... The bathroom has a great (gravity-feed) clawfoot tub (with shower to come), but the room itself will take some major work before I'd let strangers see it. We plan to bump out the bathroom wall a bit, tile it and replace the sink and toilet. Mason has already been assigned the first toilet-cleaning effort. Don't ask.

Before we do all that, we have to have a water well drilled 250 feet down inside the mountain (don't worry, they say they do it all the time). And we'll invest in a propane-run generator (and battery bank) for electricity, as well as a propane-run fridge and stove.  Internet and TV will have to come via either satellite or cell phone -- need to research that further.

There's a great wood stove in the living room, so that will keep us warm in the not-so-cold winter months (there are propane wall heaters, too, if needed). And summer nights will be spent on the front or back porch, or in front of the great front-yard firepit. (Dino: Get this, the cabin comes with a great grill, so let the ribfest resume!!)

Alas, the place is incredibly rustic right now. When we're done with it  (plans include a 2-story guesthouse and an outdoor yoga area, and of course, gardens galore!!), it will be RUSTIC CHIC. Then maybe the dentist who just bought the 5 acres next door will hire us to do his place!!!

Yes, yes, we're nuts. But happy nuts. ... Hold the snail mail until we can get a post office box. No mail trucks would make it down the 2 miles of dirt road to the new place. And besides, there's no real address there. Even the Cabrio will be sold; we're thinking a second pickup might be more practical.

And bonus: It's only 30 minutes to town and every amenity you could think of (except for family and friends, of course).

The Great Land Hunt has ended, but the blog will continue, so stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No power ... and none coming

With a realtor's warning like that, who would even go look at the property? Yup, that's right: Us! And guess what? We really like it!! OK, it's a super rustic cabin on just five acres. No running water. No electricity. No heat (and certainly no A/C)! But it's quite private (it backs up to 1,000 acres of timber company land), has good southern exposure (for Nan's gardening), no mobile homes in the area, and for an added bonus: only one Confederate flag was spotted (seriously, that's really good for around here). There's a 12-acre lake a half-mile down the road for our summer swimming pleasure (ahem: "Residents Only"! Sooo exclusive.) Care to see the place?

Today's hunt goes off the grid

We're going to go check out a 900 sq. ft. shack with no electricity and a rainwater collection system. Nancy would be so proud!! (The only thing that has us worried about this one is there are two on the same street and they refer to a "community" setting. Hmmmm.) Also, we see the Unabomber's shack is up for sale, but  sadly, it's too pricey for us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

North, south, now north again...

This arctic blast is pissing us off, and the land hunt has become exhausting. We really need a vacation from it all. So yesterday we came up with the plan to head to a Florida beach campground to drink beers in the sand and warm up for a few days.

So, this morning we're off to ... Chattanooga, TN.

So much for plans.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Moving south

Tonight's update is brought to you from Greenville, S.C., where somehow we managed to stumble upon the only Trader Joe's in the state.  It's a good day!! Saw two potential homesites today. Mason's hopes are up (this one house on acreage we saw has PLENTY of potential); Nan's still struggling (it's straight out of the pre-Beverly Hills "Beverly Hillbillies," fergawdsake). Karen, you got any more remodeling projects we can come back to do while I stall on a decision?

Meanwhile, for anyone who has traveled in the South, here's some Waffle House breakfast memories:

Friday, December 3, 2010

High times

This was Day 3 of driving around the Asheville area, hunting down property. We really like this area: the people are friendly, the mountains are beautiful and the wild rhododendrons grow more than 10 feet tall! Amazing!! However, we’re finding that most of the undeveloped property is HIGH up in the mountains, which really isn’t what we want…

The poor little Cabrio was tackling some seriously steep, switchback gravel roads today (don’t worry, Mom, we always stop once we see the numerous “no trespassing” signs). The landscape is always very entertaining: One minute you see a shack out of “Deliverance” with goats in the front yard (along with a whole lot of other unidentifiable items strewn about), and the next minute you hit a gated community with houses out of Home & Garden. At least fewer Confederate flags have been flying since we crossed the border into the “North.” Also, DAMN are there a lot of houses out here in the rural land. Overpopulation is ruining everything good!!

We've decided we’re looking for a bit more pasture or rolling hills… something we can transform with years of gardening. Not sure if we can find it, though, unless we REALLY head out for the boonies. (Ken, there’s hope: A boat is still Plan B.)

So alas, we’re not quite sure where to head next. We might go back a bit south again to northern South Carolina, or we may concentrate on the region just southeast of Asheville, or we may head toward the coastline. Wherever we head, at least we’ll be in clean clothes, as we tap out this update from the Laundromat. Oh yes, it’s a glamorous life.