My name is halfmoon**, and I’m addicted to real estate. Looking at prospective purchases, plotting out potential improvements and costs…these are crack to me. When DH and I began to cast our eyes around for remote property to buy, I was happy as a pig in mud. DH was skeptical.
We had spent a fair amount of time playing around on the east side of the state, which in comparison to Seattle is warmer in summer, sunnier, drier (not a high bar) and far less populated. Real estate is/was also relatively cheap. Snowy winters seemed like an interesting challenge in contrast to relentless rain. DH remembered camping with his son and a passel of puppies there in winter, when starting a campfire involved no more than hitting sticks on the ground to dislodge the dry snow and lighting them. In Western Washington, lighting a piece of wood outdoors in winter involves a lot of combustible fluids and bad words.
So off we went to survey the landscape. We dropped into a few real estate offices to pick up listings and encountered our first taste of this different culture. Realtors didn’t want to bother showing properties in most cases; the places were far apart, cheaply priced (so limited commission) and often hard to navigate. Everyone seemed to be semi-retired or not very motivated. We were given rough parcel maps with directions like “Look for a broken tamarack snag by the creek, then head uphill.” Really.
The search consumed my brain. So many possibilities! I nagged DH to go back every week on our days off. We looked at 80 acres without a single tree but a great view; 60 acres at the end of a 4-mile goat track (never call this a road) whose only water source came down illegally through several properties by overland plastic pipe; places surrounded by wary pot growers or boasting broken-down trailers and sad livestock plucking every last green shoot from the barren hillsides.
I’ve never seen so much innovative augmentation of trailers. We met a couple whose cabin burned down in the middle of the night (wood stove had been sited on a big tree trunk on the corner of the cabin), leaving them standing outside in their pajamas with not a thing to salvage. They constructed a shell building around their travel trailer from which it could NEVER be liberated. That’s commitment. They had a woodstove in the outer enclosure and used that as their living room. Another family had dug an underground passage from their small trailer to an outbuilding where the kids slept.
(For some reason, this reminds me of a couple we met in the mountains of Idaho. The husband had built a nice two-story house to enclose a huge steam engine he’d restored. He’d also dug a fallout shelter into the hillside stocked with every imaginable staple. Meanwhile, he and his wife were living in an old school bus with no plumbing and one solar panel for power.)
Slowly, we grew discouraged. Nothing grabbed us and said, THIS IS YOUR FUTURE. Returning from yet another fruitless trip, we decided to detour through an area we’d always loved just to cheer ourselves up. As we traveled through the narrow, wild valley ringed with mountains, we said: this is where we want to live. Why haven't we looked here?