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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Shifting Attitude in the Search

~Thursday, April 27 to Thursday, May 4, 2023

Day 1,048 to 1,055

Since our last “chat” with you, we’ve moved on to campground #2 in the Asheville area……..Lake Powhatan Recreation Area, about 30 minutes north of Brevard. Getting into our very private, stunningly beautiful campsite was a bit challenging where we had deep gutters flanking either side of the driveway, with a slight upward slope and entering on the passenger side. We thought this site warranted communicating a little bit differently than our usual methods.

Normally, Jeff’s watching the side mirrors for my direction, but we thought we’d try using the phones this time around. And what were those walkie-talkies for? I guess those would come in handy in areas there was no service. And let me tell you, using the phones was the best thing ever. It’s so much easier for Jeff to simply LISTEN to my directions as opposed to SEEING them. Or maybe he’d prefer to tune me out all together. 🤔🤣All in all, we made it into our space on the first try. 👏

Staying in Asheville fits well into our plans of touring the surrounding areas for the next few weeks before heading to our daughter’s place in Mahomet, IL. In the meantime, we wait on pins and needles for that phone call that says “we’re heading to the hospital” as we await the arrival of our first granddaughter. The doctor thinks Hannah could deliver about a month early which would put Sofia’s arrival in mid May. Our other 2 grandchildren were a bit early as well, so this comes as no surprise. In any case, we’re ready at the drop of a hat if need be.

I swear, there’s not one bad campground when you’re in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The setting specifically in the Pisgah National Forest is absolutely gorgeous. Being a West Coast girl, the various mountain regions in the east were a little confusing to me up until now, so let me clarify a few things for you as well. The Appalachian Mountains run from Georgia to New York and are comprised of 33 mountain subranges, 2 of which are in North Carolina……the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains. The biggest draw for us being in the Blue Ridge area aside from its beauty, is that it’s west enough from hurricane force winds and rising sea levels and an altitude that makes for cooler, less humid weather. And yes, there are fewer mosquitos.

About a ¼ mile hike from our campground loop is Powhatan Lake, small, but beautiful. The surroundings include mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls and slopes mixed with conifers and hardwoods. We hope to get out there and do some exploring when time warrants it. Though the temperatures are very cool for late April/May, the trees don’t seem to be having a problem filling in the forest with its varied shades of green. It’s a little foreign to us to see such a healthy, lush forest, but then again, it shouldn’t be surprising with the amount of rain they get year ‘round. And there’s no shortage of trails here. It is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise with trailheads around every turn. Can’t wait to explore some of them.

As many of you know, the Carolinas and everything in the South tend to lean more to the “right” politically, though Asheville, like most bigger cities, leans more liberal. And the ethnic diversity is next to nil with a predominance of white (about 75%) and an African-American population of about 11% with the remainder being Hispanic and Asian. Quite a change from our ethnically diverse California. As we’ve continued getting to know the area, we’ve met some very nice people along the way. For instance, while at a laundromat in Brevard, I met a retired couple, Mitzi, Barry and their dog Mazy who own a mountain vacation rental in the same town. They only reinforced what we like so much about the Brevard area, saying they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Another couple we met was on our arrival to Lake Powhatan, Doug and Lynn, from Northern Georgia. They too, own a Lance trailer, theirs being a ‘16 Lance 1985 model. They were definitely intrigued with our trailer being that we have the second slide and the second awning. We told them we couldn’t imagine being in anything smaller being full-timers. After exchanging our Lance stories, they were nice enough to invite us over to their campsite for a little acoustic guitar entertainment by him and the campground host.

About mid-week I was feeling a little run down with that scratchy throat feeling you get right before it goes into a full-blown cold; nothing that a few zinc tablets couldn’t handle. It worked! And now to get on with our touring. Even though it’s nearly 2 hours northeast of Asheville, we decided to give the town of Boone a lookover. It was on this trek that we realized just how hilly and windy all the roads are with exception of the highways. Great fun for a sports car, but not so much when driving a big pickup. And poor Sadie. She would probably prefer to stay at home than deal with this kind of driving. She’s never gotten car sick, knock on wood. But it does make us think about a suitable property that has good road access. O.k., so back to Boone. We had heard a lot about it so we just had to check it out. The drive alone was worth the miles…..absolutely spectacular, especially the Lynnville Valley with its deep green pastures lined with white fencing surrounded by native hardwoods. The horses and cows sure seem to have a good life here. And we’d never seen so many Christmas tree farms concentrated in one area, oh so healthy looking! Once we ended our gradual climb to 3,333 feet, we entered the town of Boone, named after the American pioneer/explorer, Daniel Boone.

The charming town offers plenty between dining, shopping and outdoor recreation. But it’s the Appalachian State University that dominates the town of 18,000 people, in this stunning Blue Ridge setting. Home to around 17,000 students, the school is known for its commitment to environmental education and its championship football team. In the end, we agreed that it wouldn’t be a place we’d live due to its distance from Asheville, but without a doubt a place to revisit one day.

The same day, we drove to the town of Banner Elk, mainly to see a listing titled “Dream Forest Estates' ' where the drive was anything but dreamy. After the steep climb to the backwoods, we came to the driveway with an old rickety sign at its entrance that read the aforementioned name. As we proceeded on the short muddy driveway to find only ONE house, we knew right then and there this wasn’t worth pursuing. We barely had enough room to turn the truck around. But we did get a glimpse of the cabin/house which was very nice. Had it been in the town of Brevard, we would have definitely asked for a tour. Wondering who in their right mind would live so high up in the mountains, so isolated, we found the house went into contract the very next day. There was another property that piqued our interest, but we couldn’t justify the extra 80 miles to do just a drive-by. It’s not on the market until May 5th.

Another recommendation for us to seek out was the Lake Lure area. So a few days later we took the hour-long drive to this desirable location which deemed itself more as a vacation area than a place to live, at least in our mind. It is beautiful, but has very little in the way of restaurants, stores, etc. which we’d prefer to have in closer proximity to wherever we were going to live. Asheville would be about 45 minutes away. The long, slender lake is deemed as one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in the country, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Dotting the lake are many pontoon boats awaiting their summer revival. Though it was a bit “sleepy” on our visit day, you could tell the town was preparing for those warmer summer days. We can only imagine how lively this place would be with its sandy beach, unlimited outdoor activities and numerous festivals.

One of Lake Lure’s prized gems that we stumbled on was the Flowering Bridge. Opened since 2013, this former 155-foot highway bridge was transformed into a gorgeous garden, strictly run by volunteers.

It was very apparent a lot of love and care went into planting every tree, shrub and flowering plant, mixed in with gorgeous planters and whimsical sculptures. One of those sculptures also served a purpose…..the Chimney Swift Tower.

Evidently, the Chimney Swift birds are having a hard time finding a place to nest and roost naturally, as the number of hollowed out trees is dwindling due to development. Instead they have sought nighttime shelters in chimneys which pose a problem with their slick metal caps or lining. Having seen a decline in their population, these towers are popping up in many places to revitalize their numbers. I also made note of the most fragrant

rose I’d ever smelled called the “New Dawn Climber”.

Another lure to the area is Chimney Rock SP with a 500-million-year-old towering monolith. To reach the top of Chimney Rock, you take a 3-mile winding road to a large parking area, then climb 500 steps to the “chimney” where an American flag stands at the forefront of the stunning views of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge. Definitely on our list of must-do’s one day.

On the day we toured Lake Lure, we also had my mom’s move on the brain. It was THE big moving day for her and a goodbye to being a California resident for good. I guess leaving behind her home of nearly 20 years wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be for her. But I think having the time to process this next move gradually made it easier to accept. Having her “squad” in her corner certainly helped. But that’s what family does. You rally to make things happen. What a blessing it was to have my sister, her husband Tim, their son Jarod, and our son Shane to help with the final steps.

An added bonus was having our dear family friend Brenda, as her agent, to make sure the transition was seamless. And it was. On moving day, there was just one glitch which fell on the movers. As my mom went to check all the closets after they had left, she discovered her vacuums and rug shampooers still in the hall closet, forcing the movers to make the hour-long trek back to her place, which in turn delayed my mom and my sister from leaving at their planned time. By early afternoon, they were on the road to Oregon, with plans to stop overnight in Medford before getting to her VRBO location in Wilsonville. There she will wait until her moving truck arrives sometime over the weekend (we hope). At least she’s on a beautiful horse property. Hopefully Bella’s not barking too crazily, having never seen a horse before.

As far as tasks, we are compiling a list of our plans along with questions for our financial advisor, tax guy, and attorney. We want to make sure our retirement plan works with what we want to put into a home. Always good to have all your ducks in a row before hitting the “go” button. Since my mom’s move, we also had to change our physical address. We decided it was important in terms of healthcare, etc. to keep our mailing address in California, so we are having our mail sent to our son Shane, in Napa. Of course he was obliging, though having switched everything over to paperless should alleviate the amount of paper coming through.

We were so happy to finally get our Sadie girl into the vet. I had found a clinic in Asheville that got great reviews……West Asheville Family Vet. Recently remodeled, we loved the clinic itself. But it was the staff that was top notch. Vet tech Laray and Dr. Conch were awesome. We discussed Sadie’s toe issue, wondering if she broke or pulled something. The doctor’s feeling was that since she’s not limping or has sensitivity to that area, to just keep an eye on it. Besides, they really can’t do anything for a broken toe, though she really didn’t feel that’s what it was. I appreciated the fact that they weren’t trying to make extra money by pushing for x-rays that would have only shown bone anyway. Since she didn’t feel that was the issue, it would have been money not well spent. We also talked about adding joint supplements to her daily routine now that she’s considered to be an “old lady”. Of course I’m totally in denial about that, based on her physicality. She is slowing down a bit in stamina, but once she runs, she runs!

Each day is of course spent looking endlessly at our phones or laptops to make sure we don’t miss a thing in the way of homes. We see things beginning to ramp up, and prices starting to dip which was the scenario we were always hoping for. But over a week’s time, we’re in a bit of a funk in not finding anything remotely interesting, in our price range, and in the location we want. It’s a bit paralyzing as we hit a “stalled” moment with so much unknown……..1️⃣ no reservations beyond this one, 2️⃣not knowing exactly when Hannah will be delivering the little one, and 3️⃣ the uncertainty or doubt settling in our minds a bit, wondering if we’ll find anything at all before winter. Despite the last 3 years having been nothing short of amazing, we’re so ready to settle into a more permanent situation. Having our days full of the “next thing” basically coming to a halt is where we’ve sort of blown it. At least we’re realizing that keeping the energy and momentum is important, despite what the outlook may be. It’s time to snap out of it and move forward with making reservations, and continuing to tour as we have been, not allowing the unknown to paralyze us. Stay tuned for how we move forward……..

Sorry folks….it looks like I didn’t hold to my promise of a shorter blog post this time around.

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