Apr 25, 2022 10:49:15 PM

In The Beginning

It’s been five months since we packed our belongings and left the City of Charlotte in our rearview mirror. The hour and a half northwest relocation to the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains may not sound like that drastic of a change given the relative quickness with which we can return to the city, but we may as well have moved to another planet compared to the congestion and bustle of Charlotte. The slower change of pace is one of the things we were searching for, and it has lived up to our expectations immensely. The lack of sushi in small town America is one of the few pleasures we are feeling the loss of. Oh, and Target, if you are Kenia.

As an inaugural entry to this blog, we want to share a few of the reasons behind our decision to undertake such a drastic upheaval, an update on what we’re currently doing, and a snippet of what is on the horizon.

For starters, we began pondering an exit after becoming disillusioned with the growth currently affecting the Charlotte and surrounding areas. We’re not anti-social but the increases in traffic, crime, cost-of-living, and noise had us longing for something different. In 2019, we sold our house in the Lake Wylie area due to rapid expansion and moved to a home on three-acres in the town of Unionville. Within a few short months of arriving there, the field behind our home became a neighborhood. We had the great displeasure of a resident moving in behind us who built an outdoor patio complete with an incredibly loud sound system that cranked a playlist into our bedroom almost nightly. Commercial rezoning for a grocery store, hotel, gas station, and townhomes a stone’s throw away from us soon accompanied our neighbor’s nightly concerts, and we had to face the reality that we were again being pushed out. This reality was frustrating due to the amount of work we had undertaken to begin our small homesteading ambitions. We had invested sweat, blood, and money to clean up the brush in the woods, build a secure chicken house, begin perma-culturing (look this up if you don’t know what it is!!), and construct raised garden beds. In under two years, we were harvesting more eggs, fruits, and vegetables than we knew what to do with. Not to mention that our house was the perfect size for starting a family.

That start of our family provided the rest of the perspective we needed to accept it was time to get out. At the time, our jobs limited us to living within 45 miles of uptown Charlotte. When our son was born, we began paying closer attention to the quality-of-life issues within that 45-mile radius – the volume of traffic, the increases in crime, the quality of the school systems, and a general lack of accountability tied to all these issues. We needed out.

Thankfully, one positive aspect of the rapid expansion of the Charlotte area is that the real estate market flipped on its head in the time between our move into Unionville and the time that we began planning our complete exit. This opened some doors for us to explore plots of land that may not have been otherwise possible while considering leaving our careers.

We knew we wanted mountains and after a time of searching and several road trips between North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, we found ourselves at the foot of Stone Mountain State Park in Traphill, NC. The property: 23 acres of wooded mountain land. The house: one of two small cabins formerly used as short-term rentals by the prior owner. The area: quiet and not Charlotte. The vision for the future: limitless.

Fast forward five months. We have managed through the downsize in square footage, but we look forward to the day when we can begin building a true forever home on the land. We have begun carving out our own short-term rental market here in the mountains through the formation of Freedom Grove Lodging! Our first cabin rental, named The Lincoln (there’s a bit of a patriotic theme to this place) went live in January. Both cabins have been outfitted with new water filtration systems and AC/heat units. We are very close to the completion of a brand-new tent glamping site that will host guests in a unique wooded experience. We are in the approval process for permits so that we can construct a bathhouse and then flip our current storage cabin into another short-term rental. Our rental guests, up to this point, have all shared glowing reviews of their time with us – some have even liked it so much that they’ve had to be reminded of checkout times! Finally, our chickens are back with us, at last, and in a brand-new home of their own. Their ability to free range throughout over 20 acres of woods each day has already translated into an explosion of the number of eggs we are receiving, and we’ve taken to stocking up the rental cabin with fresh eggs for our guests’ breakfast.

We will continue to post regular updates of our new lives and the progress that is being made, and we look forward to sharing this place with you all!

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