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Author Topic: Cruising toward retirement  (Read 2566 times)

ponymare

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Cruising toward retirement
« on: September 01, 2016, 08:00:24 am »

I've never felt the need to chronicle my life since it probably isn't too interesting to others, but this new phase has recently prompted much introspection. Since others seem to be headed, more or less, in the same direction, I decided this would be a good place to record this new journey, however fast or slow it turns out to be! 

For one thing, there is no date written in stone, for this event to occur.  I could actually have retired last summer but the need to eat and receive medical care - and, yes, the fear of the unknown, has me frozen in my tracks! :P

Hubby says he will never be able to retire and family ties keep us in the 'Sip for at least a few more years.  But I am anticipating the last chick leaving the nest  after college and that other obligations will eventually be fulfilled. So... on that note, I convinced my husband to invest in a new future with me.  I decided that if we had to keep working, we should at least be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor and be working TOWARDS a new goal. 

And since we haven't saved great pots of money and don't anticipate winning the lottery, we decided to build our new dream a little corner at the time.  We started by deciding where we could envision ourselves living in the future, influenced by factors such as weather (which was very important to my outdoor loving husband) and taxes (which are boring but inevitable). 

Since we still have all of our family living in the south, we decided to try to move as far NORTH in the south as we could comfortably drive in a day.  We  had been hearing stories of Big South Fork ever since we bought our first horse in 1998, so we decided to look around in the Cumberland Plateau.  Our first introduction to the Plateau was actually in 2010.  Much earlier, we had made plans to go to Eastfork in 2005, but when Hurricane Katrina hit, diesel became hard to come by in our state and I decided to postpone our trip. So we didn't make it to the Plateau until June of 2010, and then it was to a different area . We stayed at Fall Creek Falls State Park and we loved the area, but were still just dipping our toes in the water to see what was out there.  The weather was beautiful and there were other great attributes as well, but we were still not quite ready to commit to anything.  However, the lower humidity and beautiful rock formations were intriguing, so when we took a family trip to Chattanooga later that same summer, we decided to drive toward Jamestown while the children headed back home.  At this point, we were really calling it more of a research trip for horse camping, but we did explore a few land for sale signs as well as horse camps.  We actually talked to a realtor on the phone but since we still weren't totally committed to the idea, we didn't want to waste their time and fuel on our "pipe dreams."

But we loved the area and kept returning to the idea and toying with it.  Finally, in 2014, I could sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel with the children, and we had gotten to that point  I  mentioned about wanting to at least be working towards something.  So we planned a trip to Cookeville (about an hour from Jamestown) and made an appointment to look at some properties in Fentress County.  While we were there we also looked around the Cookeville area and also in nearby Monterrey.  I immediately fell in love with Cookeville and loved all the beautiful State Parks in the area.  We were also impressed by all the gorgeous lakes and noted that the Caney Fork River looked like an excellent place to take our kayaks.

Our realtor was a great horsewoman and also very knowledgeable about the area. She asked the right questions and was able to help us narrow down exactly what we did and DIDN'T want.  And in what order.  With these things in mind, we looked at several places.  Our first  requirement was some open pasture  that we didn't have to clear and we found this to be the toughest obstacle. With our meager budget, the cheapest land was usually deeply wooded.  Our property at home is deeply wooded with only about 3 acres in pasture. But the best land was more expensive there than in our rural home.  The first place we looked at was breathtaking. Although it wasn't as pretty in July, because the mountains were hazier, we could see the potential in the picture taken in the fall.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:50:14 am by ponymare »
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ponymare

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Buying a dream
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2016, 08:17:50 am »

We really wanted more acreage but this place was a little over 4 acres and closer to town (my requirement, NOT the husband's). I don't really like to drive and I'm especially not comfortable on twisting, winding roads.  This property was sort of midway between Big South Fork and  Eastfork.  We looked at several other properties but this one just called to me.  We left for home, mulling over all of the possibilities and still wondering if we could find more acreage in our price range. 

In August we went back to TN, this time staying in Monterrey. We headed back to Jamestown to look at still more properties, but none seemed quite right.  I still liked the very first property we had looked at, so we went and looked at it again, as well as some other properties in the development.  After talking to potential neighbors in the area, we decided that this development was where we wanted to be and narrowed it down to two properties.  One had more acreage, but the other one had the incredible view of the mountains that I daydreamed of seeing from my future porch or deck. Eventually, the mountain view won.   ;D

We closed on the property in September of 2014 and went back in October of 2014 to do a little exploring.  This time we stayed in Crossville, which is also a delightful town. 

I took this picture of our property while there.  I was madly in love, although we were quite scared as well!
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ponymare

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Surprise Bluff
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2016, 08:57:32 am »

When we went back to explore the land in October, we came around from the backside of the property and discovered our very own little bluff.  In the fall, there is a little runoff fall. Such a peaceful place.  We were in heaven!! There is another small creek on this edge of our property.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:55:12 am by ponymare »
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ponymare

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First ride on the property
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2016, 09:42:55 am »

Okay, I  have a confession to make.  We never rode the first trail before we bought our property.  Crazy, I know.  But you see, the thing is that we loved this area even BEFORE we rode the first trail.  We loved the parks. We loved the waterfalls, We loved the rock formations. We loved the weather. Well, you get it. We loved it all.  And we did hike a trail or two that showed us a glimpse of what the horse trails could be.

But we finally managed to bring the horses for our next trip, which was April of 2015.  And I guess we were pretty stoked by then because we came back in May of 2015 to enjoy the trails some more.  Our first ride was actually in the development, which has a couple of small exercise trails for afternoon jaunts when you don't feel like going anywhere else.  We actually rode across our property which was quite exciting to us!  We also rode out from Bandy Creek and later to Charit Creek and other trails in the area.  In May the mountain laurel was blooming and it was beautiful!  White Oak Creek along the O&W was also another favorite ride.  We hope to explore many more in the future.  We  just have to carve out the time to do it while we continue to work.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:30:51 am by ponymare »
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ponymare

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What's next?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2016, 11:10:54 am »

So now we had this really cool place to ride and explore.  What should our next move be?  Well, of course, we wanted to stay on our property, right?  We had been relying on the hospitality of neighbors and while it's great to have good neighbors, we knew we needed to eventually use this land we had bought!  Questions, questions, questions.  What was the right option for us?  A travel trailer?  A living quarters trailer?  Of course the purchase of land usually requires further purchases.  Would a travel trailer be more useful because it could be used more places?  And what kind of living quarters would we have to buy to be able to be self sufficient on our land? And most importantly, that we could also pull with the truck we already had.  DH said  he would rather have an LQ, which was really the best option for us since I am not comfortable towing anything (nor do I want to be, no matter how many people tell me I should or I  must).  With suggestions from friends on GHS, I determined that I would need the larger refrigerator and lots of storage and a separate sink for the bathroom.  And a shower was non-negotiable! We also found that the size of the refrigerator determined the bare minimum short wall. We had previously owned a camper with a slide so DH said he'd really like to have a slide if possible.  We just had to find out if it was possible.

We made a few preliminary forays to look at trailers. The ones closest to us didn't have what we required, of course, or if they did they were too costly.   At one point we went to a conversion company in AL in order to decide if we wanted to buy a shell and do it our way, but we decided that would cost just as much if not more.  We drove about as far as you could go south in AL to a well known dealer there, but still didn't know exactly what we wanted or could afford.  We did have an idea what we COULDN'T afford! :-\

Claudia Quinton had been telling us about her friend who was a dealer and that he would deal with us fairly so I began sending him long, rambling e-mails about what we did and didn't want, and he responded very graciously to this obviously crazy lady who didn't have a clue about what she wanted or needed.  When I finally persuaded DH to drive all the way to KY (just as far in the other direction from the other dealer we  had been to), I decided to ask about trading in our 2004 steel 4 horse slant load CM to see if I could get anywhere close to what we wanted for it.  I sent the dealer pictures of it and he told us he really couldn't give us an accurate amount for trade until he saw the trailer, so we headed to KY  towing our empty trailer behind us.  And are so glad we did because we got a great trade in value for it and were told it was much higher than he expected it to be because our trailer was in such great shape.  While there we found what we thought we were looking for, but wanted to get one like it with mangers.  So we headed home with our empty trailer and planned to order one.  But since it was a narrower trailer (with the slide out making it seem larger in the LQ part) I decided the mangers might just be something else I would worry about.  The horses were used to and comfortable with the trailer width but I didn't want to throw other impediments into the mix. They probably would have been fine, but I just didn't need something else to worry about.  And the narrower storage didn't really seem worth the extra price.  So we headed back to pick up the trailer we had originally looked at, once again towing our CM trailer behind us.

Once the switch was made, we headed to Jamestown for the weekend to immediately try it on for size.  SUCCESS!!   We loved it and it was just like Baby Bear's chair - just right.  Since we were just there for the weekend, we didn't get to give it a thorough test drive, but were there to catch a beautiful sunrise on our property.  We were staying close by so we just hopped in the truck and drove there!  Now the dream was getting closer to reality, at least, by September 2015.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 10:01:53 am by ponymare »
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ponymare

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Oh yeah, the trailer!
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2016, 11:29:03 am »

We got a 3 horse slant load Lakota Charger with a 6 ft. slide.  We looked at the space of the narrower one with the slide versus the 8 ft. with no slide and this one won, hands down.  It also had lots of storage and one of the closets was cleverly positioned so that it blocked the light from the den into the sleeping compartment (a great feature for us late night readers with early-to-bed mates) and also helped me feel more secure while climbing up to the bed.  With the fridge on one side of the steps and the cubby on the other, I felt more confident climbing up and down the steps. The pocket door to the bathroom is also a handy feature as it doesn't take up any space.

We have found that it's like most people say.  Your overflow goes into that extra stall, so it's really not that useful to have a walk through door! :P

We are still learning about it as we don't get to travel that often but already we have used it without the horses. Once, right after we bought it, when we went to Desoto State Park in AL. And just recently in Vicksburg, while visiting David's home town when there were more people at the house than bathrooms.  ;D
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ponymare

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A few more trailer pics
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2016, 11:47:49 am »

A few more pictures of the interior of the trailer.  It's so compact and livable.
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ponymare

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Hammocks R Us
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2016, 11:52:24 am »

Not a very good view of the horse compartment but when we set it up for the first time, we strung our ENO hammock up in the back to test it out!  ;D
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:33:16 am by ponymare »
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ponymare

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The All Important Shower
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2016, 12:04:12 pm »

We are trying to get used to taking showers in the space capsule.  I've decided there's a fine art to taking a shower without bumping into the levers and getting shocked by hot or cold water streaming down your back!  But I guess if you use the push button to turn the shower head off and on you won't have that problem. At least, that's what my husband points out, But I am not coordinated enough to handle the shower head and all my beauty products at one time!!
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 10:06:03 pm by ponymare »
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ponymare

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Survey Says...
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2016, 12:28:39 pm »

So, we have the trailer. Check. The land. Check. Now all we need is a place to put the trailer on the land.  I started nudging my husband in this direction this spring (2016). It takes a while to get him moving some times.  I tried to get him to picture OUR trailer on OUR land and casually mentioned that I'd like to be on our own place by October since that is such a peak time, it's hard to find a place to park a trailer.  We missed spring riding in BSF due to family obligations so by June we were itching to go back.  We first thought of trying to do a little riding, although we figured much more would get done if we left the horses at home.  But when a friend suggested that our horses could keep her horse company, we went ahead and hauled them with us for their first trip to BSF in the new trailer.  We had taken them on shorter camping trips but only on a few.  We ended up not riding a lick, but the horses didn't care as they were munching on green pastures. We had thought to maybe take a short ride on Saturday before we left town, but alas, I stepped in a stump hole on Thursday and twisted my ankle.  :-[

First things first, though.  We needed a driveway and camper pad.  He was able to borrow a tractor for the work and got busy getting it ready for the dirt and gravel.  We were so excited because we were able to get our E911 Address and it finally felt like we were actually almost home!  He even taught me how to do a little surveying so I have added to my list of skills.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:34:57 am by ponymare »
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ponymare

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Driveway to heaven
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2016, 12:41:51 pm »

I posted about a million pictures on Facebook of our modern day pioneer journey. So many that the boys told me that 70 pictures of a tractor was a little much.  I am trying to curb my enthusiasm, but it's hard work. :P

I tried to pick out fewer pictures to tell the story but I probably will still post too many.  I was as excited as a kid at Christmas.

As I said, first things first.  Scraping off the top soil, 7 loads of fill dirt, and picking up debris  out of the dirt took up part of the week.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 12:54:53 pm by ponymare »
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ponymare

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Dirty job
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2016, 12:47:49 pm »

It was  a dirty job but when you  have no money and a little muscle, it can be done.  Also an argument for starting on your dream a little earlier!  My husband was the muscle. I did what I could but after I got pretty burned one day, he was always shooing me back to the shade.  I learned I like his Aussie hat a lot but would like it in a straw version if possible!
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 10:13:40 pm by ponymare »
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ponymare

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It's a long, long road
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2016, 12:53:47 pm »

Finally after fussing over it and spreading the dirt and shooting grades (I think that's what they are called) he was semi-satisfied.  He admitted that he just made it the minimum width to start to save money, but probably could and would widen it later.  But it's a start y'all. ;D
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 10:14:31 pm by ponymare »
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ponymare

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Rocky road, please
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2016, 01:01:23 pm »

Now it was time for the gravel and crusher run. Now we're getting somewhere!  I love it when a plan comes together!
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ponymare

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Let there be light!
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2016, 01:18:44 pm »

In July we headed back to the Ponderosa to work on the next project which was getting an assortment of RV hookups assembled.  The land has underground power so we just had to get our RV meter and line run to the power source.  He purchased a meter base and box and and shopped for pipe and gadgets and thingamabobs while I trailed around uselessly behind him but wielded the credit card.  We all have our talents you know. ;)

He put the boards together off site to take advantage of power tools, then we hoisted the finished product into the truck bed and took it to the property.  He had brought his little finish mower to mow a path to where he wanted the electricity to go and after installing the RV meter box we rented a trencher to put in the pipe to carry the electricity to the transformer.  We learned at least one thing while digging this trench.  The next trencher he rents will have tracks instead of wheels.  He had to muscle that trencher around and it took every ounce of his weight at times.  He could literally hang from the handles of that thing and not be able to pick up the front end of it.  But he eventually got the job done with the encouragement of one of our new neighbors who is literally worth his weight in gold!

« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 10:16:05 pm by ponymare »
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