Spring in Southern Missouri

Last week, we travelled to our new “neck of the woods” to start our collection of storage facilities (okay, I am being sarcastic. And click here to see a video of the typical traffic in our new neighborhood.)

As I mentioned in my previous post we met with Jim (our one and only builder, thank God) and the two brothers he likes to work with, the Mills brothers: Andrew and Alan. These two guys will be the ones who do the “land work” – dozing and leveling both our drive way and our barn area and RV parking. In addition, they will be doing our septic work, but I am not sure when that will happen. They are truly a one stop shop!

First things first!

In talking with Andrew and Alan, we discovered that they need permission from the utilities that exist underground (the phone company) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MO-DOT). I assumed that we would use the existing driveway at the top of the hill, but that the driveway also exists in a location on the highway that is at a hairpin curve with a steep drop to the east. Bryan and the Mills didn’t think it would be approved by MO-DOT. So, (in the hopes that there are no stupid questions) I asked, how can we get approved by MO-DOT? The answer is more complicated than it seems.

Call them, but they need a street address. 

  1. How do I get a street address (no home has ever existed on this parcel of land)?
    1. Go to the post office to talk to the post master there.
      1. Answer 1: We’ll ask the carrier, once he returns from his route to call you, and he’ll assign it.
      2. Answer 2: But we’re in the middle of computerizing the addressing system (tied into the 9-1-1 system) so that everyone can have access (to 9-1-1) so you may need to go to the county clerk’s office.

We went to have lunch and waited for the postman to finish his route. At 2, we decided to head over to the county seat and the county clerk’s office, just in case. 

The conversation at the county clerk’s went like this: 

“Hi, we’re the Snows, Bryan and Dawn. We purchased a parcel off of 142 last year and we want to start to build. We were told that we don’t need any permits for the building, is that correct?” “Yes, ma’am.”

“But we do need permission from MO-DOT for our driveway. But we do not have an address to tell them where along the highway we are! That’s why we are here.” “Your postal carrier will probably assign you an address, but it may be in the ‘9-1-1 region,’ so let me check. …. oh, yes, here you are. Is this correct?” (She showed me her computer.)

“Yes.”

“… yes, I have your address here, but the system isn’t exact right now, so I need to put in a ticket to make sure its correct. Let me see, you don’t have a residence on it yet? Oh, then, you cannot get the address….” 

My head nearly came off. I took a breath, laughed and said, “Okay, we want to build a house on the parcel we bought, we need no permits as such, but we need to get water, electric and septic. In order to get those things we need to put in a driveway and level the appropriate areas. In order to get a drive way we need approval from MO-DOT but they need an address, but you are telling me you cannot do that because we have no house?” 

It was as if the light went off (again, because it seems as if she understood what we wanted at first.) 

“oh, yes! You want to build. There has never been a house on that parcel?”

“no.” 

“Okay. I’ll call you next week with your address.”

 

Catch up with me

 Background

During the process of getting our current house on the market, a friend recommended that I start a blog on all our activities. Well, I already have this site, so, I will transform this more commercial photography blog into an experiential blog describing our triumphs and frustrations in the process of building our house.

But before I jump in with our current activities (and there are some doozies), I must catch you up.

In 2009, the year I quit USAA and Bryan retired, we spent a month hunting for an acreage on which we could build our retirement house and observatory. So, naturally, it had to be located in a dark site AND it had to feed my artistic soul. No dry desert for me, no way. We spent that month in Kentucky, as we had never been there and it was beautiful. 

Bryan and LaNita at Lauren’s HEB management school graduation.

When we returned, we realized LaNita (Bryan’s mom) would be by herself with no one really to care for her in her golden years as the rest of the family were all working more than they should! So, we put the dream on hold until the time was better.

In the summer of 2010, LaNita had lost too much weight living by herself, so I forced her to move in with us that fall. The next 2 years were up and down for sure, but we were both so glad that we had waited and that we could care and love her in her final months.

Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2010, my small business of commercial/personal photography took off and we really never decided to go and seriously look for property again. We were both on the board of directors of the International Panoramic Photographers Association and that took us to many places between 2010 through 2014. We spent time in the great Northwest, and all along the California coast, New Mexico, Arizona and Tennessee. In all those places, we looked at the places convenient to our different IAPP trips and loved seeing so much of this country.

Two years ago, we took another trip, but this time overseas, to Italy, my dream place. I would live there in a heartbeat… but that is a different story. And at that time, Bryan asked me to think about retiring. My business was really changing and I was finding it difficult to change with the new requests coming my way. Shortly, after we returned, someone in my family became deathly ill and I decided enough was enough and said no more. By setting aside my business, I was able to be with my family through to a successful outcome. (All is better now although it was touch and go for several months, thank you.)

When we got the all clear from the doctors, I asked Bryan, “what are we waiting for?”

Inertia

Mind you, we were very comfortable in our 3400+ sq foot house. It’s a lot of house to care for, and we loved every inch of it. This is the one that burned down in 2002 and we rebuilt in 2003. So, it is loaded with well loved, personal touches along with the remembered pain and angst of all the challenges that we did NOT ask for. 

But in 2015, the time was right. Lauren (our daughter) seemed to be self sufficient and everyone was healthy then and is now (knock wood). So after the Italy trip, we really thought about how to find that perfect place for our sunset.

Bryan found a website called DarkSiteFinder.com and we cross-referenced that with Zillow.com. We looked around the Sherman area 2 or 3 times. Even had an agent take us around in the North Texas country side, specifically, Telephone, TX. Last year, we did fall in love with a 30 acre place in Annona, TX. But, this placed suffered the same as all the places in TX, the owners were very proud of the houses on these beautiful parcels, but the houses themselves were virtually all “tear-downs”. The Annona place was affordable at just over $2K an acre which was the going rate in the area, but the house was plain weird. The house was not worth the additional money they wanted. As an example: They had an upstairs with no stairway. The interior way to get upstairs was a ladder. Really, a ladder. Okay – no. 

We became very upset, and stopped our search for a while. Inertia had set in and we were so comfortable, but really not doing what we wanted to be doing! Last fall, our agent of choice had told us that it was a sellers’ market and we should get back to it. Knowing Bryan as I do, and knowing that I need a deadline to accomplish anything, I thought, let’s look on Zillow again. Maybe we would find a place that would spur us to get our house on the market. Sure enough, Bryan found an affordable place that was more acres than I thought we could afford and was situated in a beautiful part of the Ozarks Plateau in southern Missouri. Rivers surround it, close to Mark Twain National forest and DARK.

We found the place on a Friday afternoon and I asked Bryan what was he doing the following week. He grinned at me and said, “Going to Missouri.”

 

So, our adventure begins.