Lessons from That Old House

There’s been a great deal of drama (and a fair share of comedy) in my neighborhood this week. We’ve had news crews camped out and helicopters circling overhead. Residents have set up lawn chairs to watch the story progress. Or not progress, as it turned out. And it’s all because of what everyone’s calling “that old house.”

It seems the Wills family sold some property they owned in a commercial corridor. On that property was an old farmhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To save the family home, they decided to move it onto a residential lot they own about a mile away.

map routes for kirby farm house move

As you can see from the map, there were two possible options. The blue route would take them down a wide, heavily traveled road and would likely require the temporary removal of two sets of traffic signals. The gray route would take them through a subdivision with wide streets. The chose the gray route to minimize “inconvenience.”

The map shows it to be a 3-minute trip either way by car (21 minutes walking, unless you’re me and then it takes about 18 minutes), but naturally you expect it to take longer when you’re hauling a house. A couple hours? A half-day, at most. NO ONE expected it to take three days.

Getting started was the first problem the movers encountered. That old house was adjacent to some railroad tracks, and for a short time, the house was stuck ON the tracks.

Once they cleared it and made the wide turn into the subdivision, the truck’s axle broke and the truck and house were left to block the street overnight. Thus ended Day 1.

The house moved about two blocks on day 2. I’m not sure who measured everything (it wasn’t me), but apparently trees, mailboxes, fire hydrants and streetlights were not taken into account. As the house inched (literally!) along, every obstacle had to be considered and cleared. This sometimes required chainsaws and jackhammers.

The house did suffer a bit of damage when the crew cleared the limbs of a threatening oak tree but seemed to miss noticing the stately magnolia on the other side of the street. Fortunately, the damage can be repaired. At the end of Day 2, the house approached a fire hydrant, too big an obstacle to be cleared that day.

On Day 3, that old house finally affected me. As it finally(!) approached its new home, it was stuck while utility crews temporarily removed some power lines that had also apparently gone unnoticed in the planning phase. Since I had no electricity, I moseyed over to check things out personally.

that old house blocking the road

Yep, it was stuck. As I stood there watching the house going nowhere, it occurred to me that there were lessons to be learned from its journey.

  • Planning is important in any endeavor. Anticipate the obstacles before you begin.
  • No matter how much you plan, there will still be surprises. Be prepared for them.
  • Some obstacles are so large, it’s tempting to abandon the journey. Continue. Always.
  • Sometimes you can get so focused on one obstacle, you miss another one completely. Both the big picture and the small picture are important.
  • No matter which route you take on a journey, someone is going to be inconvenienced. Life isn’t always convenient.
  • Some journeys take a lot longer than anticipated. Be prepared to wait.
  • Some progress is measured in miles, some in inches. It’s all still progress.
  • Even when you arrive at your destination, the journey isn’t over. Keep your bags packed.

At around 5 last night, the house was on the lot. It’s still on the truck because there are repairs and fine tuning that must happen before it’s set into place. The project took longer than anticipated, but the house got to where it needed to be…eventually.

As will we all. :)

“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
― Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Weirdest Vacation Story Yet

Finally, I’m home again. It feels good…but sad, too. I had such a fun weekend with my friends!

Y’all know I can’t have a normal vacation. A car crashes into a restaurant in which I’m eating, cops bang on my hotel room door demanding to be admitted, a freak spring snowstorm occurs–my travels always seem to have something odd about them.

This was no different.

After meeting up with my friends on Wednesday and then spending Thursday finalizing details and setting up our meeting room, I was more than ready for a good night’s sleep. I only managed about three hours because my room phone rang at 4 a.m. The police (yes, again!), advising that my car had been vandalized and asking that I come to the lobby and bring my identification. I, of course, peeked out the window to be sure that there was a police car outside (there was) and also tried to see my vandalized car. Not possible at 4:00 a.m. in a dark parking lot.

So, after brushing my teeth (but not my hair, for some reason) and finding some pants to put on, I stumbled to the lobby, where I learned that some jackass had gotten mad at his girlfriend and slashed her tires, the tires of two cars in her neighborhood, and then took out most of the tires on the eastern edge of the hotel parking lot. He got all four of mine. The police knew who did it, but they weren’t sure they could prove it.

car with flat tires on wrecker

Needless to say, there wasn’t any going back to sleep. All I could think of was the expense of buying 4 new tires on top of the expense of the vacation itself. At some point it occurred to me to check my insurance company’s website and sure enough, my comprehensive policy covered vandalism! All wasn’t lost after all!

In even better news, when I went out to the parking lot to take daylight pictures, I saw that four police cars had returned and the officers were surrounding a man seated on the ground in handcuffs. Yep, it was the tire-slashin’ jackass. The police had heard he was in the area and caught him crossing the scene of the crime. He tried to run, then resisted arrest, then got tasered. All that happened before I got there, and they wouldn’t taser him again so I could watch. They wouldn’t let me do it either.

Best news: the hotel cameras clearly show him to be the perp, and they were charging him later that day. When he gets out of jail (which will probably be about a month, knowing the court system), he’ll be facing a bunch of lawsuits from insurance companies. Considering he was out wandering around on a traditional workday, I’m thinking he doesn’t have very deep pockets.

In the end, all worked out well for me. I was only out my small deductible and the time required to get everything resolved. That took most of Friday daytime, but it got done and I was free to enjoy visiting with my friends. And all things considered, I’d rather my tires get slashed than the guy’s girlfriend or anyone else he encountered.

But I’d still taser him if I had the chance.

Other than that bit of drama, it was a great vacation. I’m spending today and the weekend regrouping and catching up, so I can be ready for a brand new week without nearly as many commitments hanging over my head. Maybe I can even get back to discussing “weighty” issues. After all the excess calories I had over the weekend, I’ll need to! :)

Happy Traveler

Greetings from northern Virginia! Yep, I’m traveling again, but this time it’s purely for fun. And am I ever having fun! cue: boring vacation photos

I left home at 6 a.m. Sunday and stopped at Burgess Falls State Park in Cookeville, TN. I’ve visited and passed this area more times than I can count, but finally took time to check out this park I’ve heard so much about.

Burgess Falls is a series of falls actually. The first falls:


The trail up is not only NOT paved, it’s not a particularly “clean” trail:

Burgess Falls trail

In addition to a million (or so) tree roots and a rain-slick, slippery-leaf trail to navigate, there are rocks jutting up in inappropriate places. Well, I guess it’s appropriate if you’re into the natural state. :) For someone not known for grace and coordination, the obstacles were a little unnerving at times.

About a half-mile of hiking later, the middle falls:

Burgess Falls middle falls

I immediately forgave Mother Nature for the tree roots and rocks. These falls were magnificent. I could’ve stared at them for hours, but I had a little bit more hiking to do, not to mention another 300 miles to drive.

Unfortunately, the last bit of hiking was almost straight up, with lots of this going on:

Burgess Falls steps

I will NEVER again feel like a gym geek for hauling my bench step into the gym with me. The hundreds (thousands?) of step-ups paid off in how easily I was able to climb. And climb and climb. Even if my quads had been screaming bloody murder, seeing the big falls would have made it worthwhile. Oh my word:

Burgess Falls big falls top

There’s an observation deck for standing and gawking, which I did for quite a while. As I was reluctantly turning to leave, I spotted this sign:

Burgess Falls trail sign very strenuous hike

Y’all know me. I hike my subdivision and Target. Paved greenbelts. Beaches. Not trails (well, there was that one time) and certainly not “very strenuous” trails.

Burgess Falls big falls

Oh yes I did! I didn’t make it ALL the way down. I was by myself and there was some boulder clambering required to get to the very bottom, so I satisfied myself with stopping at the halfway point. I’ll go to the bottom when there are others there to call for a rescue team. :)

After making my way back UP the cliff to the top (I see were they get the “very” in “very strenuous”), I reluctantly backtracked to my car. Along the way, I encountered the worst obstacles of all: hordes of other people! It was after noon by that point, and people were flocking to the trail. And, of course, I’d meet them at some juncture of the path that was intended for one person to walk on. Lots of twisting and side-stepping involved. More good core work. :)

So. That was an exciting start to the trip! Next stop: Abingdon, VA and The Virginia Creeper Trail.

trailhead virginia creeper

This trail is about 34-35 miles long and is really popular among cyclists. I hope to ride it some day, but with only a short time available, had hoped to walk in a couple miles for a good leg stretch and mind-clearing.

abingdon mud and main street

Thanks to overnight rains, the cinder path was more cinder-ish, if you know what I mean, and I was wearing my new Asics. As you know, these shoes don’t do mud, so I returned to my natural habitat and hiked the sidewalks of downtown Abingdon which was quite an enjoyable experience in its own right.

Yesterday was a wash-out, literally. I had planned to tour Staunton, VA all morning, but pouring rain shortened that excursion. Lovely city that I hope to explore more fully on my trip up here.

staunton va

Lots to see and do here if you’re not soggy. I’m eager to go back on a sunny day.

That wouldn’t be today. More steady rain moving through and I get to cross the Capitol Beltway in it. This is the third time I’ve had to cross Washington in a torrential downpour. I must remember to make a potty stop before I get into the city. :)

I’ll be meeting friends later today (so!excited!) and gearing up for a weekend of fun before setting off for home on Monday. I hope you’re having a splendid AND DRY week and that you’ll have a marvelous weekend!