Home Away From Homeless (part 1)

condo

So we had this great, yet small, condo (1,000 sq. ft. +/-) situated at the front door of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, our long desired retirement location. 

After much prayer and angst we decided to sell it to find something with a bit more room and a lot more autonomy (a unhappy association with our many investor neighbors was also a huge consideration).  In this decision, we failed to take into account the recent fire in Gatlinburg, which resulted in the shortage of available homes to purchase at our price point…DUH!

SIDE NOTE OF ADVICE:  If you buy a condo in a resort area, make sure that there are a large number of owner-residents onsite. We had a poor experience living in a condo community owned mostly by investors. Investors and homeowners are two different creatures…one treats it like home the other treats it like monthly income.

Pictured below are two examples of the devastating fire that swept through our beautiful park and the upper neighborhoods of Gatlinburg.

We had made plans, prior to selling, for a visit family and friends, out of state, and to go on a cruise out of New Orleans with close friends. Therefore, not being successful in finding a home to buy, in a timely manner, we packed everything and put it all into storage in time to head to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

First stop, Orange Beach for Mardi Gras with friends. Sweet husband’s 70th birthday fell on Mardi Gras this year and his youngest daughter gave birth to her first child that very day.

Did you know that south Alabama has a replica of the Stonehenge, called “Bama-Henge”?

Above Bama-Henge

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Second stop, Biloxi, MS for a Yellowstone Employee Reunion. Wonderful friends we had made in 2015 who lived and worked with us at Grant Village.  Two fun-filled days of catching up.

YS Reunion

Prior to this trip and because housing prices were on the rise daily in Pigeon Forge, we decided to move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (for many reasons, much too long and an unnecessary rabbit trail for this post).  WE placed an offer on a house and started the painful mortgage process…UGH! So while on the coast, we went to tour the house in Long Beach, MS we were purchasing…yep, made the offer sight unseen.  (This purchase has another chapter to it to follow in Part 3).

From there we drove to my youngest daughter’s home south of Baton Rouge for a long needed visit with a cruise sandwiched in the middle of our visit there.

Cruise blog and pictures to follow in Part 2

WE HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON

In mid-January we drove from California to Louisiana in five days.  We then rested with sweet daughter and her sweet family for a week; catching up on many, much-needed hugs.

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From Louisiana we drove to Orlando (by way for Orange Beach, AL to visit long-time friends) to attend sister-in-law’s retirement event.

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From Orlando we drove to Tennessee by way of Atlanta where we spent the night and had dinner with our adopted daughter, Michelle.

Michelle

Between Atlanta and east Tennessee, we stopped to stretch our legs in Toccoa Falls, Georgia — a must see, for sure!

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In Tennessee we had snow/ice for three weeks holding up the moving, settling in portion of our life.  We spend most of that time on the rehab of the condo, since we couldn’t get our stuff out of storage.  We had to sleep on the couch for two weeks.

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We have been setting up a base in East Tennessee since early February.  We have moved into a small condo and completely refurbished it.  It would be totally finished by now had I not gotten vertigo in mid-March (I’m better, but not quite 100%).  Sweet husband has basically had the balance of the work on his shoulders since then.  We had friends from Virginia drive down for a week to help with the heavy moving and installing.  I have family an hour from here who have also stepped in to lend a much-needed hand.  We have taken a few days off to rest, recuperate and visit with our friends in this beautiful part of the country.  (pictures of our friend/family helpers and much-needed time off above).

It is our goal to be “Living in our minivan” again this summer, so getting organized and well is our only goal.  We are proud to report we have found a church and met a couple of nice locals.  Onward and upward.

Below are pictures of the almost finished/organized base of operations.

LR bedroom kitchen

As time allows, I will get back on this blog to show you this beautiful National Park.  Next weekend is the Dogwood Trail and Art Festival in Knoxville.  This is one of the oldest festivals in our nation.  We plan to go, if that happens, I will post pictures.