In truth, the second scouting trip seemed more like “due diligence,” rather than a real reconnoitering for a relocation spot. We were already leaning heavily to Colorado, but felt like we needed to at least look somewhere else. After all, when Lucas was looking to change colleges, he was heavily sold on one in Colorado — until we went to Asheville.
So, Brevard, about 50 miles from Asheville caught my eye when I saw it on a list of “best retirement places.” The climate looked to be moderate, there was a college in town and several more nearby, recreation galore up in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, and, again, great proximity to Asheville.
We startled Lucas by telling him we’d be flying to Atlanta and then driving. “I figured you guys would be driving the whole way — you’re such road warriors.” Not sure how he got that impression — maybe it was all those trips out to Big Bend, New Mexico, and Colorado. Or maybe it was that time we drove to Alaska and back…But, this time, we were already a bit road-weary and in a bit more of a hurry, so we opted for the flight + 170-mile drive travel combo to get us there.
The drive took us on winding roads climbing through wooded hills as we wandered northeastward out of Georgia. The closer we got to getting there, the closer the trees and hills hugged the road, enveloping us in fading colors of fall. Sara commented how the roads were reminding her of New England country roads.
We hit Brevard and found a charming little downtown area. We were arriving the week after Halloween, a major holiday there in Transylvania County, and many ghouls and ghosts still decorated the street corners and shops. We’d booked a room in The Inn at Brevard, in a historic old mansion walking distance from downtown, so we settled in and strolled around to see the sights.
We were quite enchanted but not quite convinced. From the start of the visit, the whole town had more of the feeling of a retreat or resort town rather than where we would want to live permanently, a feeling reminiscent of Paonia, but on a larger scale.
I’d also noted a sharp divide in the houses in our price range I found on line: specifically between gated communities and regular housing. Several houses looked to be well-appointed and quite gorgeous, surrounded by woods but still part of a vibrant community, as evidenced by the many amenities listed…followed by the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) fees, a whopping $245 per MONTH. Even putting aside the fact that I despise the concept of gated communities, those HOA fees alone meant we would essentially be paying rent to live in our own house — um, no, thank you!
So we decided to check out the handful of houses in our price range not in a gated community. There were some that looked mildly promising, and were only a mile or two from downtown, which would be plus for us — if that mile or two had been more pedestrian or bicycle-friendly. But between the major highway feeding into town and the winding, narrow 2-lane country roads, they looked less than inviting for anything other than automotive traffic.
And the houses we spotted looked a little funky. Not outlandishly funky, mind you, but not really what we were expecting either. And then there was the last one we looked out, a little further out a winding road. As the GPS indicated we were approaching the address, we spotted a driveway merging with the road at a reverse oblique angle. We had to make 2 cuts to make the turn and then we saw it: the 50-yard straight driveway climbing the hillside at about a 20° angle, looking for all intents and purposes like a ski slope. We ascended the slope slowly, shaking our heads as we reached the house at the top. “No no no no,” Sara said. “Can you imagine trying to go up — or come down — that driveway in icy conditions? and then make the turn onto the road? Oh nononononono…”
See, Sara’s reactions about the roads reminding her of New England was not a nostalgic yearning. Not at all. Having lived in Texas for 27 years, she’s grown used to having a big sky visible most of the time, and when the trees and hills and roads are so tight together, they blot out the sky. Again, our son, Lucas, had kinda predicted this ahead of time. “I know you guys, and you’ve got more of that western vibe, like Colorado, than the eastern vibe, like here.”
We decided to enjoy the rest of our time in Brevard but it no longer figured in contention.
To be continued…