The Mountains Were Calling, So We Answered

We made it to North Carolina in early April and have been busy working on settling into our new home. The drive down from Maryland was pretty casual. It was the first time, aside from picking up Homie Roam-o from storage, that we drove in tandem (Andy in the RV, and Stevie and I

in the Jeep following behind). As we left our former home behind and chased the Blue Ridge Mountains, I kept thinking that I’d never tire of these views. So far, I haven’t. Every time I see Tryon peak (the first peak of the Blue Ridge) from our north facing windows, or when I pull back the curtains on the two massive windows in our bedroom, or when I glimpse the blue silhouette of the mountains in the distance, or when I stand on our little bridge overlooking Skyuka Creek, I am taken aback by how beautiful it all is. We were lucky to see the area literally blossom to life this spring. We have been delighted at all of the blooming plants, trees, and shrubs on our property. Living in this house is what I imagine it might feel like to live tree house. I’m incredibly happy to be here, and I feel very lucky that we even found this place.

I’m going to shift back to the drive down to NC for a moment. We planned to split it into two legs and stay overnight at Brothers Craft Brewery, a Harvest Host location. However, we arrived at the brewery much earlier than we anticipated. Rather than stay, Andy went inside and filled our growler. He also purchased some bottled beer for later. We put everything in the fridge, had lunch, and then decided to press on. We arrived just before sunset. Thinking about it now, it seems so long ago.

The roofers just finished putting on our new roof the day after we arrived. So, between the roof and the wood floors having just been refinished, we had quite a bit of dust to clean up to do. Much of our first few days involved cleaning all of the hard surfaces and unpacking the RV. Once the cubes arrived, we were busy unloading and unpacking. We emptied everything out of both in less than 4-hours. It was pretty amazing that nothing broke or shifted in transit. I thought that it was scary to watch the forklift pick the cubes up in Maryland, but that was nothing compared to watching them fork the cubes up our long, steep, and twisty driveway. The driver was a professional though and had no problem. He did comment that our cubes were in the top 10 heaviest he’s ever lifted. We had to laugh; there was 800 lbs. of free weights and plates divided between the two, not to mention the rest of our gym equipment.

Planning the Our Move

Digressing a bit more, for those who may be interested in how we planned such a significant move, I thought I would give a little bit of insight into that process. Between late January and the end of March, we were immersed in packing, strategizing the logistics of our move, visiting with friends to say ‘see you later’, and organizing all of our personal effects and household goods. We made a big push to downsize what we had. I have moved a lot in my life, but this was the first time I seriously downsized.

Photo credit: NASA

Here a few things I learned along the way:

  • Remember, “when eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” I love elephants; I’m in no way advocating any harm to them. This quote, attributed to Army General Creighton Abrams Jr., simply means to start small when approaching a big project. When looking at your home as a whole, the task of downsizing and/or moving seems pretty daunting. I’ll admit that I had a bad habit of bouncing from room to room and declaring that it was all too much to deal with and that I just couldn’t do it. However, if you break it down into sections, and chip away at it, I promise that it’ll all get done.
  • Assess what you plan to keep from each room and make a list. If you’re moving, get measurements of each room and make sure that things will fit where you intend to place them.
  • Designate one spot in the house to place all of the items to be sold/donated and organize them into sections that work best for your needs.
  • If you’re using a donation service like Greendrop, schedule a pick-up day well in advance. It’s better to overestimate how big of a donation they’ll be picking up because you can always ping them ahead of time and tell them it’ll be fewer boxes.
  • For items like clothing, books, shoes, and toys, look for drop-off bins locally. There’s no need to drive around hoping to spot one, look online. You can search by zip code for bins through charities like Planet Aid. Be aware that the bins tend to fill up quickly in suburban/urban areas. I avoided dropping off items on weekends if I could, and instead tried to go in the middle of the week after the bins had been emptied.
  • Join a local ‘Buy Nothing’ group on Facebook. This was my favorite and most satisfying way to offload items in good condition that we no longer needed. Think of Door-Dash, but in reverse. You simply list an item in your group (according to the rules of the page), and folks chime in if they’re interested. It’s up to you whether you drop the item off to them, you meet somewhere, or if they pick it up at your house. It felt really good to give things directly to individuals within my community who had an immediate need for something.
  • When packing, rather than simply labeling a box ‘KITCHEN’ or ‘MASTER BATHROOM”, itemize a list on the outside of the box like, “KITCHEN: pint glasses, coffee mugs, and glass measuring cups.” It made unpacking so much easier, and we could prioritize what was unpacked first by our needs.
  • Buy a roll of saran wrap for packing. Andy picked up a 2-pack of from Costco. I scoffed at the time, but it really came in handy for protecting paintings and furniture, for keeping small rugs rolled up, grouping small items together, and in wrapping cords.
  • Save packing materials in advance (boxes, bags, paper, bubble wrap, etc.). We started about 5 months prior to moving. You can imagine how many Amazon boxes that amounted to, but it meant that we didn’t need to purchase as much packing paper, bubble wrap, or moving boxes. It was also incredibly helpful for boxing up items for pick-ups and donations.

The House & Our Town

We’ve been playing a game of catch-up, as the previous owners didn’t perform much in the way of maintenance over the last 6-years. I hope we can do this property justice and bring it back to its former glory (without all of the wallpaper). If you’re interested in seeing pictures of our 70’s rancher, click here to view pictures of the house from 2015 when the second owners sold it, and here to see the 2020 listing photos, and lastly here for the album where I’ll be documenting home improvements. In addition, pictures of day-to-day events, RV trips, and moving/house related things, pictures and videos are posted on my Instagram account here. I’m too impatient at the moment to upload them to the blog.

The past 6-weeks have been full of cleaning, organizing, shopping for things we need, meeting contractors, making repairs, weeding, replacing light fixtures and outlets, meeting new people, running to the transfer station (trash & recycling drop-off), planning modifications, running to the hardware store and Tractor Supply, getting our library cards, scheduling our DMV appointments (they’re running 6-weeks out!), observing nature (I have a running log of all of the animals we have seen on our property), and checking out local restaurants (see list below) and sights.

Also, thanks to my tenacity, we now have the very first mailbox ever on this road. I’m pretty much best friends with our mail carrier, who is the sweetest person. I really can’t get over just how nice everyone is. I don’t want to say that moving here was a culture shock because the ways in which it differs from Maryland have been refreshing, but it is a much different world down here. People are really open and friendly. If you’re out walking, it’s nothing for someone to go out of their way just to greet you and introduce themselves. When I heard that Tryon calls itself the “friendliest town in the south,” I kind of laughed. How nice can they be? Well… surprisingly nice!

As a personal side project, to understand our new home better, I began digging into local history and learning about the first two owners of our house (we’re the fourth owners). I’ve learned quite a bit by checking out reference books from the library and reading online. With the help of Nextdoor, I have connected with some interesting folks along the way. Andy and I met with a local legend, writer, and historian. At 91-years young, he was able to tell us a lot about our property, the surrounding area, and even one set of owners of our house. According to tax records, our parcel was split off from a much larger property behind us in 1979. Our neighbor’s property has a long, interesting history that we are still learning about. Their land also backs to Howard Gap, which is historically significant. All of Tryon was at one time Cherokee hunting ground until the early 1700s.

Restaurants

  • Huckelberry’s Restaurant – we enjoyed outdoor dining and live music here, as well as some of the best shrimp & grits and scallops that we’ve ever had.
  • Iron Key Brewing Co. – an old prison repurposed into a brewery; the solitary stout is my favorite and the cheese curds are a must try! We also recently enjoyed playing trivia here, and came in 4th place out of 14 teams.
  • The Tryon Bottle – has a little bit for everyone with an impressive wine and craft beer selection, as well as incredibly yummy treats from their bakery.
  • Mountain View BBQ – wings, brisket, pulled pork, all the meats! Enough said.
  • Openroad Coffee Roastery – a nice place to relax with a cup of coffee; there’s also an outdoor seating area and drive-thru.
  • Lavendar Bistro – we both had excellent meals here, and were able to enjoy the nice weather at one of their outdoor tables.
  • Green River BBQ – the BBQ and their sides were excellent. This place is dog friendly, and Stevie’s first time at a BBQ joint (she approves of the smoked turkey). We sat under a covered patio outside.

Now What?

We have a number of big projects that we’re currently working on. It has been difficult trying to get contractors to commit to starting a job. Everyone is slammed with work, and of course lumber prices compound that frustration. Our big projects include: replacing the breaker box, enclosing the carport, removing decades of wax from the tile flooring in the kitchen and hallway next to the master bedroom and den, radon remediation, possibly replacing our septic system and most definitely having it pumped, designing the kitchen refresh, finishing our gym area by adding flooring that arrives this week, landscaping and planting, installing a flagstone patio out back, replacing a rotting landscape timbers, and replacing a number of light fixtures. Regarding the laundry and mudroom areas, we plan to remove the wallpaper, paint the walls, shelving, and cabinets, and replace the flooring.

Taking a Break

We took a much-needed break in early May since. We drove the RV about 2-hours away to Petersburg Campground in Appling, GA. I knew we needed to go just far enough away that we wouldn’t be tempted to come back to the house to work on projects, but not so far that we spent a full day traveling. Campendium didn’t lie in dubbing it one of the best campgrounds with water views. I think pretty much every site has a view of the lake. It was incredibly beautiful and relaxing. Despite some nasty thunderstorms that rolled through, we were able to kayak, walk, and bike. Hardly anyone was there, and it was exactly what we needed to recharge. We’re currently working on planning our next road trip to visit family and friends in Michigan.

How’s Stevie Mix Doing?

Stevie is in her element. It’s fairly clear now that she was never meant to be a suburban dog; she’s very much at home in the wilderness. Stevie loves watching nature from the many floor-to-ceiling windows. She always alerts us when our resident black rat snake is out sunning, or if there are any chipmunks, squirrels, or lizards out and about. Her main activities include morning security patrols, long walks, sleeping in the sun that the skylights cast in our living room, monitoring the backyard from her perch on the back of the sunroom couch, meeting locals, or telling the two horses across the way what’s what. We were quite surprised that she wasn’t the least bit stressed on the long drive to NC, or in living in a new place. She’s very much at ease and relaxed here.

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