04 October 2019
Ah, yes - the vacation that wasn't. How did that happen? By way of making a short story long I will tell you.
In November of 2014 Betsy and I made the decision to move from Morgantown to Wheeling. There were a number of things which factored into this decision and you can read about them here if you so desire.
Suffice it to say, the move to Wheeling was not a good one and it did not work out for us. I think of that time in Wheeling as "5 years of social isolation" and we ended up spending most of our 6 month summer stints in Wheeling out of the area and even going so far as to staying in motels and Airbnbs in Morgantown so we could visit friends and be in our old familiar surroundings.
Betsy and I occasionally teased/joked with each other about moving back to Morgantown but we never seriously discussed it. Then this past April we had a heart to heart about our future in Wheeling and what it looked like. To put it bluntly - the future looked bleak and with that conclusion we made the decision to start looking for a place in Morgantown as soon as we got back from Tucson.
Knowing house hunting and then moving would take all our time, attention and effort we cancelled all our vacation plans.
No visiting Tim and Maureen in Southport SC, or Bob and Carol in Jasper TN or the Williamson Clan in Shocquohocan and last but not least my brother Wayne in a Beckley "rest home".
No Naked Ladies at Brookgreen Gardens
No Sleeping Bear Dunes in the Lower
No wild beaches and fabulous forests in the Yooper
No hiking the Black River in Wisconsin
No wolfing down cheese curds and drinking beer in Chippewa Falls
No cycling on the 120 mile Paul Bunyan Rail-Trail
So having cleared our schedule of all other summer activities and distractions we turned our full attention to finding a new home.
Our return from Tucson was on Wednesday April 17th.
The very next day we drove down to Morgantown and stated looking at places.
Within 4 days we had a house under contract.
When we told people about what must have seemed like a hasty decision we could certainly understand why they would think that. But within that few days of house hunting Betsy and I missed 3 places we would have made an offer on. We simply were not quick enough to compete with all the other people who were looking in the same neighborhoods at the same price range.
So we started looking at houses that were our second choices. We were not happy with any of them and felt like this was going to be an exercise in futility.
During this process we met realtor Gunjan Gupta who came highly recommended by Kathryn who we had met on several occasions over the years and who we knew was a real estate investor. When we started house hunting Kathryn gave us a run down on the market in Morgantown. Basically houses in 1st Ward where we were looking were selling like hot cakes and anything under 180k was not on the market long. We would really have to be on top of things to land a place.
Talk about stressed out! That was us.
OK. Now what? Well, we got lucky (sorta). Another local real estate investor and son of a good friend of ours got wind we were looking for a place. He mentioned he had just seen a place for sale on one of his neighborhood walks and mentioned it to his mom. Knowing a bit about us he thought the location and lot would suit us.
When we heard about the place we high-tailed it down to Morgantown to see it "in the flesh" - we had already seen photos on various realty web sites and it looked promising.
After looking the place over (from the outside only) we felt we had better arrange a viewing as quickly as possible. We contacted Gunjan Gupta and asked if we could see it the next day - Easter Sunday. She said she could arrange that but we should know there was already an offer on the house. Our hearts sank! It had only been on the market two days!! We said we would offer full price sight unseen. Gunjan, being the wise professional she is said we should look at the place first and then we could be sure.
So the next day we met with Gunjan and looked the place over. There were definite problems with the place:
It needed re roofing - badly.
It needed exterior paint.
It need new windows (fogged).
And there were lots of other things as well.
To make a long story a wee bit shorter we told Gunjan we would offer full price and hopefully this would make us the top offer. However, Gunjan told us if the owner and the other person who had made an offer had started to negotiate we were out of the running unless they could not come to terms.
Knowing this the three of us made a bee line to Gunjan's office to fill out the required paperwork.
I am not sure when we found out but we did get our offer in before the owner started things moving with the other offer. WHEW!
Now it was a waiting game. But on June 7th we closed on 18 Huntington Ave and moved in. By "moved in" I mean living with nothing more than a couple of folding tables and some lawn chairs.
I should mention - we still had to sell the place in Wheeling and the realtor there wanted the furniture left in place for staging to help sell the place.
Also we had contracted to have the Wheeling place painted. This was delayed for several weeks because of rainy weather. This delayed getting it listed and we were fearful it would not sell before we went to Tucson for the winter.
In the meantime Betsy and I made many, many trips to Wheeling to bring back personal items and to cut the grass, weed, mulch, interior painting, cleaning, etc.
It got old real fast.
Two months of this and then we finally got an offer on the Wheeling house. The only offer we had in two months. It was less than we had hoped for but we accepted it. And on September the 9th we closed on the Wheeling house. Another WHEW!
The move was grueling and exhausting and frustrating and depressing but it is over and done with.
We have both been concentrating on getting our place here in Morgantown livable and the way we want it.
When we finally did get the furniture moved down to Morgantown it was not long before Betsy worked her magic and made if feel homey, comfortable and welcoming. It has been an adjustment since there was not room for all our Wheeling furniture and we left some pieces behind and donated the rest to local charities. Even with all the paring down it has been a challenge finding a place for everything. Especially things like all my damn tools! And the wheel barrow and the kayaks and the trikes and the two wheel bike. Eeeeeeeeek! With no garage it was quite a puzzle as to were these thing would find their homes. But we have managed.
And what about 18 Huntington (Betsy's "cabin in the woods") which was built in 1930? I have become fond of telling people the previous owners spared every expense when it came to repairs and remodeling. Betsy has taken to calling the place the "house of quirks". Indeed. Quirky it is and the quirks still keep showing up and we keep fixing/correcting them.
I mentioned Betsy's "cabin in the woods". The house is on 3 lots which measures up to about 125'x 185'. About one third is wooded thus the "cabin in the woods" moniker. Very different from 163 S Park in Wheeling and more like our old place on Hornbeck Road.
The siting for 18 Huntington is also something new for us. The place in Wheeling was like a shadeless inferno all summer. 18 Huntington is perched on a hill top and faces north-east and so gets much less direct sun. This makes it cooler and shadier - nice on a hot day.
The woods has helped our bird list also. In Wheeling we had about 10 species. At 18 Huntington we have casually observed 30 species since June 7th.
1. Bald Eagle (05Sept2019 5:00pmish)
2. Blue Jay
4. Carolina Wren
5. Cat Bird
6. Chimney Swift
8. Downey Woodpecker
10. Great Crested Flycatcher
11. House Finch
12. House Sparrow
13. House Wren
14. Indigo Bunting
16. Night Hawk
17. Nut Hatch
19. Pileated Woodpecker
20. R.T. Hummingbird
21. Red-bellied Woodpecker
23. Scarlet Tanager
24. Song Sparrow
28. Wood Peewee
29. Wood Thrush
30. Yellow Throated Warbler
So now at long last it is time to head back to Tucson for the winter months and forget all about cleaning, moving, ditch digging and all the rest.
Tomorrow we fly back to our beloved Sonoran Desert and will then attempt to make up for some of our vacation time we lost over the summer.
Soon we will be seeing our other bird buddies - the denizens of the Sonoran Desert and surrounding Sky Islands and we will be enjoying scenery such as this.
Hike with John and Janet at the Golder Ranch area in the Catalina Mountains.
Sunrise at the Breiding hacienda.
On the way to Tunnel Springs in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Our back yard in the Tucson Mountains.
Mike and Betsy