This Ought To Be Easy
In the spring of 1998 we used our vacation and began our search for property. At this point we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for, but we knew we’d know it when we saw it. We were certain that we would find our ideal place in no time and be able to kick back and relax for the rest of the trip. Silly us, we should have known better - but then I’m getting ahead of myself.
We arrived in Tennessee to
stay in the log cabin B&B, at the farm where several days later we purchased
our first Alpacas. A realtor that the farm owner knew and recommended was
unavailable, but she connected us with another realtor at the same firm; and the
following day we were off to the races.
The first piece of property we were supposed to look at was raw acreage that backed up to a National Forest. That sounded pretty nice. We’d have our property and then be able to use the additional acreage of the National Forest for backpacking and Llama treks. We were then and still are considering having some Llamas. Did I mention that this was raw acreage? Raw - as in overgrown and totally undeveloped. Raw - a place that Tarzan could call home. We drove up and jumped out of the realtor’s SUV. She grabbed her machete, headed to the woods and started hacking a path through the waist to head high weeds. Yee haah! We had Annie Oakley for a realtor! Now this land may have had the potential of being very nice; but it was so overgrown that neither of us could visualize our dream there. Being a designer, Candace is a very visual person and can usually see stuff that I just can’t. But this place didn‘t work for either of us. We spent the rest of the day with "Annie" (not her real name but that’s how we will always remember her) and we looked at quite a few properties with no luck at all.
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again
After staying several days in the log cabin B&B, we purchased our first Alpacas - two suri females. We arranged to board them there and headed northeast towards Knoxville to attend the Rare Breed Livestock, Miniature, & Pet Expo. We specifically checked out the Alpacas and Llamas, as well as Great Pyrenees livestock guard dogs. Someone had given us the name of another realtor north of Knoxville so we took a half day off from the expo and drove up to meet her and see what kind of property was available. When we got there she had several printouts which she handed to us and then basically said "Go check these out and let me know what you think". Huh? Turns out she had to meet her fiancé for lunch! Well, I guess she really took us serious! Ha! Not to be defeated, we took her printouts and headed out. But out to where? The properties were out in the country and the directions we had were pretty lame. None of these places seemed to be on our map; and there weren’t exactly street signs everywhere. After chasing our tails for a few hours, we had enough and headed back to Knoxville.
And Again . . .
The following day we headed east towards North Carolina. On our way we gave it one more try and attempted to find some of the properties suggested by our missing-in-action realtor. Once again it was to no avail – we could not find any of these places! We did pass one pickup on a dirt road filled with guys that resembled the cast of "Deliverance". Common sense prevailed. We decided not to ask for directions and drove on.
Giving up on finding anything specific, we decided to just cruise through some towns along the way, see what we could see, and maybe pick up some real estate brochures. It quickly became very clear that we were not meant to find any property in this part of Tennessee. I can’t remember if we ever found any real estate brochures; but none of the towns that we drove through appealed to us at all. At this point we were starting to get a bit tired and frustrated. Apparently this wasn’t going to be as easy as we had thought.
And Again, And Again . . .
When we got to North Carolina things improved somewhat. For starters, the overall look and quality of the area improved. It was just nicer and cleaner. We checked into our B&B, got the name of the realtor they had used when purchasing their place and arranged to look at properties the next day. Now this B&B was incredible. It was a part of a total piece of property that had been split apart and sold piecemeal. If it had still been a total package and still for sale and affordable, that would have been the end of our hunt. This could have been our ideal place right there. Alas, it was not to be.
The next morning we met our realtor, which actually turned out to be a two-realtor team. Cool! People were taking us serious here, devoting two people to our cause. We went and checked out a bunch of properties. These were for the most part developed (acreage with a house and maybe a barn) as opposed to raw land. Still nothing was clicking. We knew we’d know it when we saw it; but we just weren’t seeing it. After a day of looking, we still had no success. The realtors gave us the name of yet another realtor in a town that was on our travel itinerary. We thanked them both and called it a day.
Llamas and Cabins And Pyrs, Oh My!
We talked to the owners of the B&B about our future plans, as we picked their brains for tips on their business. Turns out, they knew owners of another B&B about an hour away, and they had rental cabins and did Llama treks! They thought we should meet them and we wholeheartedly agreed. Our hosts gave them a call and arranged for us to stop by and visit. We headed out the next morning, traveling westward and backtracking a bit.
These folks gave us the grand tour of their place. We got to see their cabins (which were actually cottages) inside and out; and they gave us some great design tips and lots of do’s and don’ts for when we’re ready to build our cabins. We also got to meet their Llamas and Great Pyrenees dogs. They were very cordial, spending several hours of their day with us, talking about their B&B, cottage rentals and Llamas. It was enjoyable, relaxing, informative and very much appreciated.
The next day we headed northeast to another B&B. This B&B also did Llama treks - what I’ll call "city slicker" Llama treks. The owner's kids loaded up the Llamas with all of the goodies necessary for a gourmet feast. All of the guests then hiked in the woods on their property, taking turns leading the Llamas, following a path and weaving all around through the woods. We eventually ended up deep in the woods (or so it seemed) where we were served a wonderful dinner while sitting next to a gurgling stream. It was nice and cool, peaceful and relaxing. When it was time to go back to the B&B, we took the shortcut home. Amazingly, we were only a short distance from the house and barn. This gave us some ideas - maybe we didn’t need that National Forest land to do Llama treks after all. Hmmmmmmm.
Over The Creek And Through The Woods
That next morning we checked out of the B&B and drove to Asheville to meet another realtor. This gentleman was yet another stand-in for someone that had been recommended to us, as the recommended realtor was out of town. He had a small car that was great for the city, but almost proved not enough for some of the country properties we looked at. Where was Annie Oakley and her SUV when we needed her?
To get to one of the properties, we had to drive through a flowing creek. The realtor’s car bottomed out and we were beginning to think that we would have to get out and push! It sounded like he was going to drag his muffler off the bottom of the car; but we eventually broke free and made it to our appointment. This place was nice. In fact it was a Christmas tree farm, which was certainly different. Unfortunately it was way too remotely located - probably over an hour from civilization. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was clicking.
Running On Empty
Things were starting to run together and we were getting tired and wearing down. After yet another day of no-luck searching, we were still no closer to finding our ideal place. We traveled back westward and checked into an inn at our final destination. This was a nice stroke of luck on our part, as all of our previous stops had been at B&Bs. We had made our reservations months ahead of time and our timing could not have been better. The inn was a bit more quiet and private than a B&B and we were able to just hangout in our room and unwind without feeling anti-social. The inn had a great restaurant with a massive stone fireplace. We had a nice relaxing meal in front of the crackling fire and then went back to the room and crashed.
The next day we met with the realtor that our two-realtor team had recommended. We spent the whole day and most of the following morning looking at properties. This realtor was very knowledgeable and we liked the area a lot, but still found nothing that was "it". And then our time was up. It was all over and time to go home. This was the end of our vacation – our working vacation. We felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation.
We did have our two Alpacas and our business was born, so the trip wasn't a total loss. But after a week and a half of searching for property, we were still empty handed. We headed home to soul search and regroup, and at least for the moment, return to our more routine daily lives. Click here to read the continuation of "Our Story"