November 28, 2012

A Tour of Our Home

This one's going to be long, but you don't want to miss it. If you've got time now, grab a cup of tea (or whatever strikes your fancy at the moment), sit back and enjoy. If your in a rush, come back later today when you have time for a lengthy visit!

 I was going to post pictures last week and give you a tour of our new home. However, with the holiday, I just didn't get to it. I'm sure you can all understand. But I've had several people asking me for pictures of the place, and I told them to be watching for the post. So I'd better follow through with the promise!

When we started house hunting, we had a short list of "must haves" for the new place.
We were determined to find exactly what we needed no matter how long it took. And we were prepared for it to take a L.O.N.G. time because we knew our needs were a little out of the ordinary.

We knew our new place needed:
- most importantly to have room for the truck to get in and out, as well as a place for Malcolm to keep his tools.
- some acreage (the more the sweeter) for our horses and farming hobbies.
-to be within a reasonable price range, something not too easy to come by if your wanting acreage too.
-to be close to our family in Chattanooga. Also not so easy to do if your wanting acreage as well.

We did a lot of internet hunting before we ever went to Chattanooga to look in person, and we found some pieces that interested us, but each one was going to need some tweaking, and nothing was going to be any closer to my parents than 45 miles. It's that hard to get acreage in the right price range that close to Chattanooga.

And then we got to Tennessee in September and took a week off to go look at the properties we were interested in , as well as some Dad had heard about, and each one got vetoed for various reasons. One was just too far from Mom and Dad. Another one was too much money for what it was. The next one, and the next one, and the next one you couldn't get the truck in without major ground moving/tree cutting work. And by Friday, we'd exhausted our list and our motivation. We had found a place we liked. It was going to be an exhausting awesome long term (3+ years) project to get it livable, but it came with 56 acres(!) and was only 25 miles from my parents. We had decided that was the place, because we like a project, we had a lot of fun renovating our little farmhouse in Georgia years ago, and, well, being as we live in the truck anyway, we could live in a camper or something until the house was ready, and shoot! 56 acres! Need I say more?
 We actually did put an offer in on that one, and thought we had it in the bag. The realtor had assured us it was ours. He just had to get the owners to sign on it. And he procrastinated by one day, just enough time for another offer to come in. We had a one day bidding war, and in the end the other people got it, and I hope they are happy with it. It will be a really neat place! I pray they aren't going to make it a neighborhood!

So on Saturday night, a day after exhausting our list of hopefuls and having just found out we'd lost the only one we were even slightly interested in, we weren't feeling too good about the whole situation, and we knew we needed to get back to work on Monday. But we were also feeling pressured to find something even though we had promised ourselves we weren't going to rush into anything and we were going to take our time and find the PERFECT place.

It's been said for ages that when God closes a door, he opens another one, and it is so true. We'd had our heart set on that 56 acre project. It would have been, eventually, beyond what we'd thought of possibly having, after a lot of time and money invested. And after that, it was hard to think of anything else even coming close to being as good. But God sees beyond what we see. He sees what's better!

So that Saturday evening, when Malcolm called me into Mom's living room to look at a house Dad had found on CraigsList, I wasn't feeling much like looking. But I was also trying to keep my spirits up and trying to lift Malcolm's too, so I went to look.

How we missed it in all our internet searching I don't know. It was listed on all our websites we'd been using to look and had been on the market for almost a year! It was within our price range. It was, from all appearances on the computer screen, practically perfect in every way. It was, honestly, a little too good to be true, and made one wonder...."what's the catch?"

And so on Sunday, after lunch, we set out to do a drive by, just to see if this place really existed.

And on Monday, after taking a look at the inside of the house and walking the property, we put an offer in on it.

And on Tuesday we had a contract for a closing in October.

We moved in a few weeks ago. I still pinch myself nearly every morning to make sure I didn't dream this all up.

I didn't.

It sits nestled into a secluded valley only 20 miles from my parents house. It feels like you drive quite a ways out into the country. It is so quiet and peaceful and yet just 10 minutes from every convenience you could dream of.

Down a two lane highway that meanders along the banks of Chickamauga Lake and the Tennessee River...
...you turn onto a tree shaded one lane road...
...and arrive at Redbud Farm.
picture taken in September when we were viewing the property

The house was built in 1915. We know very little of it's history, but I'm making it one of my projects to find out. One of the benefits of my home town is that, as large as it's gotten, it's still one of those places where you always know someone who knows someone, and it turns out my cousin used to work with the guy whose grandparents farmed this land and lived in this house. So I have a contact already!
We're thinking of calling it Redbud farm because of this tree that grows next to the house.
None of us have ever, EVER, seen a redbed get this big! It has to be ancient, by redbud standards. I almost wonder if it's as old as the house. You should have seen it with leaves in September! Amazing! And I can't WAIT till spring when it's covered in those dark pink blossoms that redbuds are famous for! Can you picture it in your mind? Don't worry! You'll get to see pictures!
There are redbud sprouts coming up all over the place, and I remarked to Mom, as she and I were walking around the yards and noting which shrubs and plants were there, that "well at least we know the place will grow redbuds." to which she replied, "Redbud Farm!" And the name stuck.
There are a number of barns and outbuildings. A creek babbles it's way through part of the front of the property. Year round water for the horses and whatever other animals join us in the years to come. An answer to prayer because now my dad doesn't have to go over there during our absence to water our critters for us! And behind the house and buildings, there is a gently rising hill that is covered in thick green grass, that in September was taller than Malcolm's head because no one had cut it this year! There are at least 5 walnut trees, and in the back yard this massive pecan tree. I'm in love!
There are 10 acres in all, and though that's small by some western standards, in Tennessee that's enough for us to be a farm, and so we are! Very happily! Those ten acres are holding a passel of dreams and possibilities for us. So many dreams that are going to come true on that ground!
I'll give you a tour of the barns and property in another post, but for this time, I promised those folks a look inside the house, and so lets get to it.
I just have to say, I am still, even after a month and a half of happy home ownership, absolutely amazed that in the past 97 years no one ruined this house! Someone (or multiple someones), bless their souls and love them, loved this house and maintained it enough to so that it didn't fall into disrepair beyond saving. And then a few years ago, another angel of a someone bought it and renovated it. RENOVATED! not remodeled! The first time I stepped through the front door, I thought I could have walked into one of those historical home tours. Praise God for people who love history and old farm houses!
the front living room as you enter from the front door
It's been updated beatifully. The walls may not have originally been sheet rocked, but now that they are, the paint colors that were chosen are complimentary to the age of the house. Care was taken in selection of light fixtures (I still want to know where they got them because I love their choices, and I've never seen anything like some of them!), and the original floors are still in place.
this one's kind of dark, but gives a feel for how large the room actually is, something I find odd in a house this old. The rooms are huge, relatively speaking!
There was love and care in that renovation project. Care to make updates that didn't clash with the ambiance, and care to preserve what could be preserved. One of the original fireplaces and mantels, now equipped with gas logs.
From the front living room, you can head down the hallway that passes through the center of the house...

...or you can turn to your right and enter the other front room. We're still debating what this room's original purpose was. We're leaning towards office or parlor. But now it serves as the guest bedroom.
And no sheet rock here. Original tongue-in-groove pine board walls, floor and ceiling! Makes for a dark room, but a lovely one. And some brightly colored quilts and rugs will snap the gloom right out of the room.
This room has two doorways. One goes out to the front living room, where we just left, and the other goes into the other living room. Guess we'll call it the den.
note not one, but TWO closets flanking each side of the doorway. Another unusual feature for a house of this period.
The other living room, or den, is where most of my library has landed. It's also where your most likely to find the girls, if they aren't shadowing you.
"Why is that you ask?" says Carlie Jean.
 "Do we really need to explain?" says Paris.
Because this room houses the second fire place in the house, now equipped with a very effect wood burning stove. Plus it's just got that cozy cabin feel to it with the woodwork. Plus, (and this is the biggy!) it's the only carpeted room, and the girls LOVE carpet!

From this room, you have three options other than the way we came in. You can go left into the hallway, right into the laundry room and then exit the house, or...
... straight ahead and into the kitchen.
Nooks and crannies abound, which I love! I wasn't digging the black and white linoleum, but it's growing on me quickly. The light fixture in the kitchen is awesome and unique, as is the one in the breakfast nook...
....which sits at one end of the kitchen and looks out onto that lovely redbud tree, and now several of my bird feeders.
I have only one complaint about this kitchen, but it's nothing that can't be fixed. And so it's my "think on it" project and it involves the lack of counter space, and this wall.
I'm wondering about getting an antique stove. But the more practical solution would be to get some kind of table of counter. We'll see what happens. In the mean time this wall looks really bland and barren, all except for that awesome built in cupboard. It's one of two and I just adore them! I've always loved built ins!
The other door leaving the kitchen leads into that central hallway you saw from the front room, but now your at the back of the house. Right outside the kitchen door is a doorway to underneath the stairs, and the most awesome storage space ever! If I lack counter space in the kitchen, the house has made it up to me by providing abounding storage space, which is something Malcolm and I have never ever had! It's awesome!
And heading back down the hall towards the front of the house, brings you to the two other bed rooms. We think perhaps it was originally one large room. Or maybe it was two rooms. Hard to tell. We're calling it the master suite because they are smallish, and so we're using them both as our bedroom.
Enters the third and final fireplace of the house, complete with original mantel. This one is non-functioning. We're toying with the idea of putting in gas logs.  Functioning or not, the colors are lovely!
Note the little cupboard above the mantel. It has two shelves in it and is about 6 inches deep. Interesting.
In fact, there are two more similar cupboards in the den, one on each side of the door, and so high on the wall you have to have a ladder of chair to climb on. They are deeper and one contains an old straw hat and a newspaper scrap from 1920. They are clearly original to the house, and also very mystifying. Never really seen anything like them before.
And back out in the hallway, is the stairs to the attic.

A little over 800 square feet of fairly easily finishable living space but right now completely awesome storage!
previous owners stuff. Not ours. It's much more cluttered now as we stacked boxes here and have been unpacking from that point. Made the rest of the house much more livable!

There are dormer windows on three sides, and even if we finished it, we'd still have TONS of storage! Each dormer has attic space on the sides that have been closed in to create 4 massive closets, one in each corner. I'm thinking what an awesome space this will be for Malcolm and me! We want to lay some carpet and bring up our wood pellet stove. He has set up his gun reloading stuff in one corner. I can just see my sewing space in one of those dormer window alcoves, and a  table for working puzzles under another window, a comfy sofa and chair for relaxing...just loads of possibilities. And the girls can lay by the stove while Malcolm works on his guns and I quilt. It will be so cozy!
There are so many different little features, small details, that add so much charm to this house, right down to the doorknobs.
And no matter which window you look out, there is a lovely a view that gives the feeling of being secluded and very far out in the country....
out the back (the pool is probably going by by in the spring. Anyone in the market for one?

the master bedroom windows look out onto the screened in porch and across into the soybean fields of the farm that borders us on two sides
out the front windows and from my porch swing I can enjoy the views of a wooded forest

from the other side of the house I can the barns and look down to the creek there at the far end of that small pasture
....even though we have neighbors. No one is right on our doorstep. No where near that! We can only actually see one of the houses clearly and it is still set back down the road a ways from our house. We've met our three closest neighbors, and another neighbor that lives down the road. All amazingly nice, helpful, and generous people. We feel so blessed and fortunate. One always wonders and worries abit about having good neighbors (or nightmare neighbors) when moving to a new place! It just adds to the "too good to be true" question that seems to linger about the place in my mind.
The porch wraps around three sides of the house. I've dreamed of, and longed for an old farmhouse for years and years and years. And if I ever expected that dream to come true, I thought surely it would be dilapidated and in need of lots of work. So to get handed one that is so old, and already "fixed" and landscaped beautifully, and nearly perfect in every sense of the word, at least nearly perfect according to the standards of those years I've spent dreaming....well I can't help but wonder if I'm still dreaming.
But then we ended up going  past the house for Thanksgiving weekend, and I walked in the door and all our stuff was there in that dream house, and our horses were there to greet us, and our mail had been delivered to that address. So I guess it really is a real place! And I really do live there!

November 20, 2012

Scenes from South Dakota

On a frosty Autumn morning in South Dakota, you might see...



....on US81 from Watertown to Yankton.

November 18, 2012

Crossing the Rockies in Colorado

It felt good to be back behind the wheel this week. Not to say that I don't wish I was home, because there's always something I'm wishing I were home to do. But it felt good to be back at work too, being productive in other ways. And quite honestly, after the last few months of our lives being suddenly turned upside down, it was really nice to just do something "normal" and know that when we take off for our next break, we'll just be going home for a break, and not heading home to a giant chore. The clouds have cleared from over our heads and I'm glad life can just get back to normal now. No more stress, no more tension, no more chaos. Just living!

We left Chattanooga on Tuesday and took a short load down to north central Alabama. By short, I mean we drove 90 miles to deliver. That's really short for us. It was a "get me there" load, a time filler to get us down to the "real" load, which was chicken meal from Hanceville, AL to Flagstaff, AZ.

It's always a bit of a trial to start back to work with an all night run. We drove straight through to Arizona, arriving about 6 hours before our appointment. We used that time to take a much needed nap and get a decent meal because we knew as soon as we were loaded that evening, we had a long night drive to get to our next load.

I slept while Malcolm unloaded the trailer, drove north about 70 miles, and washed the trailer out. We parked for a couple hours there, and then I got up at 3:00am to finish the drive to our destination.

There are a number of routes across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. All of them are scenic. You won't be disappointed no matter which way you go. If your in a hurry to get from point A to point B, then probably I-70 is your route to go, though even it has its slow going moments. Your going to have to count on twists and turns, ups and downs. Your crossing a huge mountain range after all!

We actually don't cross the Rocky Mountains that often. Our loads don't seem to take us that way much. We generally stay out of western Colorado. But on occasion we do have a trip that takes us there and it's usually kind of fun to get somewhere off our beaten path. Of the handful of times we've crossed, we seem to use US160 the most. And that was the case on Friday morning. It's on my list of "must drive" road trips for anyone who wants to know.

When I started early Friday morning, we were still in northern Arizona on US160. I followed it almost to the border where it cut north into Utah, but I kept heading east on a short cut, jumping across the northwest corner of New Mexico. At Farmington, NM we headed north, into Colorado, and caught back up with 160 just outside of Durango, CO at dawn.
Perfect timing! I had hoped to have sunlight to enjoy the scenery. God went ahead and gifted me with a dramatic sunrise to get me started.
We would spend our morning traveling US160 from Durango to Monte Vista, where we would be loading for our weekend trip. If you ever get the chance to drive this route, please take it! Trust me! It's worth it!

There was quite a bit of cloud cover on Friday morning, which worked with the mountains to keep the sun blocked, making photography a little difficult. You'll miss out on some fantastic scenery in this post because of that. Guess you'll just have to go see it for yourself!
From Durango, we headed east, passing through the San Juan National Forest.
Near Pagossa Springs, the road encountered the San Juan River and followed it into town. The temperature was down in the 20's and in town the hot springs were steaming. Unfortunately my camera couldn't get focused on them, so I had to stick with mountain vistas instead of hot spring steam.

East of Pagossa Springs we entered the San Juan Mountains. It seemed with each turn in the road, the snowy peaks just got more impressive.

At the base of Wolf Creek Pass it was neat to look up the mountain and see the road passing back and forth across the facade of the mountain as it climbed to the summit.
Half way up the western side of the pass, there is an impressive view of the valley below. I've seen it once in fall and it was amazing with all the Aspens all golden and the afternoon light making the valley floor glow. I've seen it once in summer when everything was green and fresh. And now I've seen it in early winter with it's first blanketing of snow.
Wolf Creek Pass, at it's summit, is 10,850 feet. I suspect it's quite an adventure to go over during the dead of winter, though I imagine it's well maintained since it's one of the main routes across the mountains.
I spent some time craning my neck trying to get a second glimpse of that spectacular view, but we were headed the wrong direction, and even though the road was twisting, it wouldn't quite twist enough. So I had to get creative to get a second look.
Over the pass and headed down the other side. On the eastern side, it's not quite as open as it was on the west. The mountains are more pressed in on each other and the road and river just slip between them.
It was also considerably more snowy on this side of the pass and onward. Each turn in the road revealed another great rock wall and snow covered shoulder. I think the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains must be the cause of the name.
It was during this part of the drive that we followed the course of the Rio Grande for a bit before it left the highway to head south through New Mexico and then on to the Mexican border. It was kind of strange to see that river up here in the mountains when I've always thought of it as the desert river that I see in El Paso.

Eventually the mountain passes opened up into a huge valley. It's so large at first I thought we were finished with the mountains, but then off on the horizon, I spotted the blue outline of a distant range. And then, looking around, I realized we were surrounded by ranges.
I didn't get a picture to truly depict the effect. There are moments when you have to look closely to see that it truly is a valley and not the beginning of the plains.

We had reached our destination of Monte Vista, an appropriate name for this town, as the Spanish translation for Monte Vista is "mountain view," which is has, in every direction.

We loaded canola seed. I think it's the first time we've hauled this. And then we had lunch in town and went to bed for some more sleep, just a couple hours. In the late afternoon we got back up to drive a few hours, crossing that distant range I'd seen earlier in the day across the valley from us, and headed at last out onto the great plains of eastern Colorado.
That was our little jaunt across the Colorado Rockies this week. I enjoyed it very much, as I'm sure you can tell. But it was also really nice to be back out on the plains. As you well know by now, I have a slight obsessive love for the grasslands. Yesterday we finished crossing eastern Colorado, cut across northwestern Kansas, and went up into Nebraska. Today we headed north out of Grand Island, NE and will cross the Dakotas, ending our day in the very northeastern corner of North Dakota where we deliver in the morning. 

Our first week out after our lengthy break is behind us now. It will be interesting to see what the next week brings us. We seem to have started a tradition of working through Thanksgiving, and since everything closes for the weekend, that usually means we get LOTS of time to kill on our weekend load. It gives us the chance to get some rest, and have some play time too. And it's fun to celebrate the holiday in differnt places. Last year we had Thanksgiving dinner at Cracker Barrel in Kingman, AZ. Wonder where we'll be this year?