Sunday, January 6, 2008

Looking Ahead

One of our goals for the quick trip to Cattail over the holiday was to measure the property to see if we can fit a five bedroom house on it. We’ve found a floor plan that we like, and Susan has added two guest rooms and another bath to it. We also looked at existing homes along our hikes there, to see what kinds of finishes we liked. The property, it turns out, is more than large enough for a one story home with an enclosed garage, five bedrooms, a great room, etc. We’d even be able to keep the woods above Cabin 4 intact to act as a buffer to any noise from the Community Hall.

Click here to see the design we have in mind, keeping in mind that the finish will probably be wood, with a green or brown metal roof. The design will be flipped, so that the garage is on the upstream side. The right side (downstream side) of the house will have two more bedrooms, a multipurpose room, another porch facing downstream, and accompanying baths.

The pictures above show a finish we like, the vertical board and batten wood, plus narrow horizontal stones for the foundation covering. Judging from the lay of our land, we’ll need some crawl space type foundation that will be low on the upstream end and a little taller on the downstream end – this would be faced with stone on the front and painted stucco on the stream side and downstream side probably. Our goal is to make the house large and weather tight – comfortable for a large crowd all year around. But we want to be conscious about energy use too, and we want to blend into the scenery. So, any suggestions are welcome!

As we think about retiring, we think less and less about exotic travel and more and more about time with our extended families. We see ourselves doing a lot of reading, hiking every day both around Cattail (see the pictures below from our big hike New Year’s Day) and along some of the wonderful trails that criss-cross the Blue Ridge and the Smokies, taking up Asian cooking as a hobby, and entertaining family and friends!

Cattail in the Snow

We came prepared for snow, and were surprised the first afternoon we got out to Cattail to find the weather balmy, which was nice for measuring the property. However, when we returned the next day for a serious hike, it was very cold and windy. We hiked up to the five-boled tree (on the way to the mica mine), and on the return trip it started to snow heavily, giving us a wonderful winter view of the cabins (see the picture in this blog’s header) and the creek when we returned. The picture above is the famous view upstream from the breezeway, and the first picture below is of Charlie Rathbone’s old house across the creek just below the Bathtub. The 2nd picture below is of Cabin 2 and Cabin 1. We were really thrilled to be able to see the cabins while it was snowing heavily, as this gave us a good feel of what it will be like to live at Cattail in the winter.

The Nu-Wray Inn

A highlight of our winter trip to Cattail was our three-night stay at the historic Nu-Wray Inn in Burnsville. Susan and I believe we once stayed there one Christmas before we had kids, and all of us have eaten many family style meals there over the years, but this was the first time we just settled in and really nurtured ourselves. WE played scrabble in front of the fireplace one night, and read and did computer things (on their nice wireless network) in one of the 2nd floor lounges. As you can see, the Inn was fully decorated for the holidays.

We also sat in our comfortable room and watched plenty of bowl games and drank good Asheville beer.

During the day, of course, we hiked out at Cattail and visited Louise, who is in great shaped by the way – we think she is 79. In the evenings we had several great meals at the Hilltop Inn, and also enjoyed a good meal at the China Garden just down the hill from the movie theater. The Appalachian Coffee House, across the street from the Hilltop, had some of the best chicken noodle soup for lunch I’ve ever had – the secret was home-made noodles!

The Nu-Wray Inn still serves family style meals, on Thursdays, with reservations. We also learned that Elvis Presley stayed there in 1969, and that Christopher Reeves lived there when he worked at the Parkway Playhouse! The Inn is apparently owned now by a British man who lives in South Carolina and is run by a Burnsville woman named “Wanda,” who is a real go getter and fixed us up with muffins and sandwiches to take on our hikes. The place was quiet, clean, and comfortable, as well as reasonably priced.

Cumberland Falls

Because we are in the process of retirement planning, Susan and I decided to make a quick trip to Cattail after Christmas to measure the property in anticipation of building a year-around home there in four or five years. Our plan is to move from North Manchester into a new home at Cattail that would be large enough to host the English Wellers as well as the American Wellers and the Pfitzers in a grand and comfortable scale. But more on that in another post.

Because both of us had a very lengthy Christmas break, this year, we decided to spend two days driving down to Cattail, stopping along the way the spend a night in the old lodge at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky and to do some serious walking there.

Below are some pictures of the lodge, which is lovely and has good food, as well as a few of the famous falls. This is a lovely and wild area of Kentucky, with lots of great hiking trails throughout the park, many of which provide great views of the stunning bluffs along the Cumberland River. Although the falls, which are the largest in the US south of Niagara and east of the Rockies, are impressive, Susan said they don’t look like much more than a showerhead compared to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where she visited with her mom this past summer!