Well, we have been here a month and a half and the time has flown by.
I keep thinking there isn't much to report but there are little adventures
that may entertain those who have too much time on their hands. So here
is my log. Unfortunately I am writing this after the fact so it lacks accuracy
and detail. We have probably looked at over 50 properties. Here is a summary
of the most interesting ones.
Also check out my portfolio website: I Like It Design.com.
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We expected to take 3 and a half days to get to Missouri. We had already
rented a house sight unseen in Columbia. We chose Columbia because it
is near Danny's friend Jean, and is relatively central in the state.
We liked it the first time we went through. It's big enough without being
too big and it is a college town.
We left California on August 30 relatively early in the morning. My car
and Danny's truck packed with the left-overs from the house and our necessities.
Plus a dog on each front seat. We drove the interstate the whole way. We
stopped in Wendover, Utah the first night. About 624 miles for the day.
The second night we stopped in Sidney, Nebraska for approx. another 650
miles. The third night we were going to stop in St. Joseph but we waited
too long to make a reservation and there was no room at the inn. So we
continued on all the way to Columbia. We made close to 800 miles that day.
Since the landlord was not expecting us until the next day, we stayed at
the Motel 6 that night. Trip was fairly uneventful but very tiring. I learned
how useful Redbull can be. The most fun we had was trying to set our cruise
control at exactly the same pace as the other.
We moved into the house the next day. It is a duplex just outside the city
limits. We can't complain. The owner is very nice. It is on a dead-end
street with other duplexes and single-family houses. We've met a few
of the neighbors. The gals across the street have a chihuahua named Pancho.
The other side of the duplex had been rented but the people weren't there
yet. In the duplex on one side of us lives the landlord in one half and
another of his tenants in the other half. She has a pitbull named Blitz
who has a gimpy leg. He seems to be friendly but I'm glad his leg slows
On the other side is another duplex with a gal who owns an old golden
retriever. We haven't met either of them but the old guy has stolen several
of the tennis balls that the dogs leave out there. Next to them are a
young couple who have three hunting dogs tied up in the backyard. As
far as we can tell they only go out to feed them. Jake broke his chain
and got away last week and was gone for a couple days. We were rooting
for him to find a better home but he apparently came back. The couple
are also party-ers. They and the barking dogs wake us up often.
Our first priority was to set up the computer and TV. Danny got the DirecTV
setup first thing. Then he went to the WalMart and bought a couple of lounge
chairs so we would have something to sit on while watching TV. The cardboard
boxes make fine tables. The phone on the other hand hadn't been turned
on. Since it was a three-day weekend, we couldn't do anything about it
until Tuesday. This also meant no internet access until then. I felt so
out of touch. There is no AT&T available here. We have to use CenturyTel.
Although the people I talk to are very nice, the quality of the service
is pretty bad. The fact that I have to call them up twice a week should
tell you something. They keep neglecting to tell me important little details.
It took almost a week to get the DSL to work and I am still having problems.
As far as our other furnishings, we used an air mattress for a bed for
a couple weeks but decided to buy a new bed before our backs completely
gave out. We got a Sleep Number bed. Danny is a 60 and I am a 30. This
means he keeps rolling off of his hill into my canyon.
On Wednesday, Danny flew back to drive the truck and trailer here. He stopped
at about the same spots as we did on the first trip. He actually made
better time and arrived at 1:00 p.m. the third day. The trailer is sitting
next to Jean's driveway. It really classes up the joint. Jean and her
family have quite a few acres around where she lives. She has a nice
set-up with the house set back in the trees and a nice acres pond in
view of the house. She has three nice horses and they put up a nice horse
barn. She has been very helpful since we have been here and she is a
good cook and and we drop in to get fed from time-to-time.
While he was gone I contacted a realtor who drove me around all day. We
drove by 6 properties and put on about 200 miles. Since we are looking
for acreage, and looking all over the state, we have been putting quite
a few miles. None of the properties this poor guy showed me were what
I was looking for. I have quite a list of requirements. Every other day
I get discouraged that we will never be able to find it. As we look at
each property, we hone down the most important points. Number one has been
to find a house that is not right next to a road. 99% of what we look
at is right on the road. Busy blacktop highway or dusty gravel road.
I don't understand it.
The second day, I contacted another realtor who basically gave me the same
list as the first guy. He did give me one that looked interesting. It
was not far from Columbia, It has an old farmhouse that needed a lot
of work. It is on 28 acres, sit back on the property and has a large
pond in front of the house. Plus a number of old outbuildings. It was
fascinating. But it was right next to the interstate and too pricey.
I just sold a house next to the freeway. I don't want another one.
When Danny had recovered from his trek, we went to look at a 70 acre property
we were excited about, that had been used as a Bed & Breakfast. It
was owned and operated by the Amish. We liked the land but the house
was disappointing. Another thing we have discovered is that a lot of
the old farmhouses have low ceilings. Plus the remodeling done around
here is pretty cheap. Vinyl replacement window. Vinyl siding, Vinyl tub
surrounds. It if comes in vinyl, people put it on the house. This one
was no exception. The floor plan was confusing. Lots of little rooms.
Not really any original architectural features to speak of.
Around this time we noticed the next door neighbors car--with California
license plates! They are from Redding. Living here temporarily while they
look for a house.
Although we didn't totally rule it out the Bed & Breakfast, we knew
we had to keep looking. We went to see another one that I thought looked
great in the listing in Stover. It has 60 acres. The house does sit back
on the property and has lots of outbuildings. It looked like the pond
was huge in the pictures. In reality it was pretty small. The house was
an older ranch with low ceilings and no character. Worst of all was the
busy highway running in front of it.
We started seeing a lot of ads for auctions and looked into those. We found
one in Excello, that was auctioning 9 acres with a nice log home and
outbuildings plus the 95 acre adjoining tract separately. This one was
contingent on the approval of the owners so we knew it wouldn't go cheap
but we thought it was worth a shot and figured we would learn something
from attending the auction.
And pigs fly!
We got married! We needed to get it done before the end of the year, so
we went and got our license in Columbia. They didn't have an open date
until November so we found a Justice of the Peace in Fayette to perform
the ceremony. Danny's friend Jean and a friend of hers that was visiting
took a trip over there. We had a nice lunch. Giggled through the ceremony,
took a couple pictures in front of the courthouse and drove home. We
celebrated by drinking beer and watching TV. We've been celebrating the
same way every night since (and before, for that matter). The county
seats in most counties are set up the same way with a courthouse square
and stores surrounding them. Some are in better shape than others. Most
of the very smallest towns have become quite dilapidated as people travel
to bigger towns for their needs. The way we judge the size of a town
is whether or not it has a WalMart. Columbia has three!
More than a fixer
While waiting for the Sept 25 auction we found another in Thomas Hill.
It had three tracts. One with the house on it and 35 acres, and two other
tracts that were land only. The house was an uninteresting older ranch.
But it did have a very nice walk-out basement. Most interesting were
the old derelict buildings that were on the property. The old home looked
like it may have once been cute but it was rapidly deteriorating.
I am drawn to such buildings. There are tons of these old homesteads
falling apart everywhere we look. Most are too far gone to save but my
heart reaches out to save them all.
Danny didn't care for this one. The auction
was on Oct 12 but we missed it.
203 acres feels like almost enough. This is only a part of it.
We checked another auction with 203 beautiful acres near Chillicothe (Northwest).
This is the first thing we both got really excited about. It had an older
ranch house in one corner (on the road), and a double-wide set in front
of two huge ponds in the middle of the property. We figured we could
keep about 120 acres and sell the rest and then build if we could get
it for the right price. Most of the property was in CRP, which is Conservation
Reserve Program. The government pays you to not use your land. It gives
the land an opportunity to recover after too much crop or animal useage
and provides wildlife habitat. We planned to go to the auction.
The house in Jameson has great trim but needs work.
We found a realtor's website that had several other listings in the same
part of the state. We drove by one that really looked interesting in
Jameson. It has an old house that looks like it needs some attention.
We got someone to come over and show it to us. It is 77.5 acres, has
3 ponds and one large metal garage. It also has a lot of old rusty junk
all over the property. Although the house is in very bad condition, it
has fantastic mouldings, original wood windows, and great old hardware--just
a lot of character.
View of the pond
We have spent most of our free time, since then, determining what it
would cost to fix it up and how we would remodel it. The big problem
is it is over-priced. For us to afford to fix it we would really have
to underbid his asking price.
The town of Jameson is pretty small. It has a post office and a lot
of empty storefronts. The county seat of Gallatin is the closest town
with any stores. It is too small for a WalMart though.
Driving home from house hunting, the sky was so dramatic I snapped this
photo. The weather has been in the upper 80s since we got here. I don't
find it to be too humid but if we had to exert ourselves at all, it would
be hell. I've actually been cold because Danny has the air conditioning
going full blast in the car and house. I have to get outside just to
warm up a little.
Like god peaking through the heavens
The day of the Excello auction started out rainy. It was our first good
rain since we got here. We were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. Fortunately
there were a lot of overhangs to stand under. While the rain poured down
on the items for sale, through the lightning and thunder, the auctioneer
started with the antique and household items. Things went very quickly
and very cheaply. There was a nice floor lamp that I bid on. I wasn't
really prepared to bid on anything and my heart was beating a mile-a-minute.
I quit at $100 and it went for $105.
Mirror from auction
I also bid on an old mirror and
actually won it for $10. More my budget. I've been trying to figure out
if it is worth something ever since. Everyone seemed to know each other--A
lot of regular players. When we left the property hadn't sold. People
weren't bidding much and I don't think the owner's accepted any of the
bids. It was way over our budget. We didn't even try to bid on it.
At this point, although we had two good prospects, we still needed to check
out the southern part of the state. We had driven through in May and
liked what we saw. The most interesting listing the we had seen was sold.
It had an old quarry lake on it, plus a pond in view of the house. So
we found some other listings and drove down for an overnight trip.
The first day we went to see two properties in the Collins area. The first
was another that had what looked like an interesting house in the pictures.
In reality, it was another that had no original character remaining. It
has been poorly remodeled over the years and the property had not be kept
The second house was more interesting. It was on 43 acres in Weaubleu
(pronounced wablow). Set back on the property. This was an older house
that had been nicely remodeled and some of the old character remained.
The main house had been attached to an old mill and some remnants remained.
Not enough for my taste. It had nice old wood floors and the remodel and
well done but I am not looking for something that is already done. There
are several things I would have done differently. One more thing people
do our here that I don't understand, is acoustic tile ceilings. This one
had some of it in the connection between the old house and mill. This property
had a nice older but functional barn and nice land and pond. It would be
fine if we were looking for something that is already done.
Classic red barn in Weableau
The next day we looked at some listings in the Houston area. Another interesting
aspect of Missouri is the number cities I would associate with other states
and countries. Aside from Houston, you will find Paris, Mexico,Troy, Warsaw,
Salem, Vienna, Gainsville, Buffalo, Stockton, Nevada, West Plains, Lebanon--We
were really hoping to find a place in California so we would feel as home.
One had a nice view across the road. It had a nice pond and some outbuildings
plus the foundation of the old homesite. Biggest problem, it was a manufactured
home (double-wide). This is another thing that you find a lot of. Double-wides,
ranches and earth-berm homes are very common.
House in Vibirnum
The most interesting that day was in Vibirnum. It was definitely an older
home but again poorly remodeled and appeared to have a bad foundation.
The spring-fed pond was amazing. It reminded me of dreams I have had about
looking into ponds. Plus, it had a nice live water stream going through
the property and was nice and secluded. I still think about this one often.
After we got home we just killed time waiting for the Oct. 8 auction for
the 203 acres.
I'm sure we looked at stuff this week but neither of us can recall what.
We did go back to drive by the Jameson house again. We stopped in Gallatin,
the county seat to see if we could find any historic information about
the house or property. We were talking to the librarian about it and
she said her mother lived on the other side of the property. Small world!
She called her mother for us. Her mother said the house had looked the
same since she was a little girl in 1935. She told us a little about
the family who lived there then and we found their names in one of the
We had our first good thunderstorm. It started as we were driving home
from Jean's. The lightning struck every 20 seconds. Nothing was very
close, but when we got home we opened the shades and lay in the dark
to watch the show.
All I got was this chair
Auction day! I was very excited about the possibility of owning this piece
of property but reluctant to let go of the Jameson house. Danny had been
hoping for rain on the chance that it would deter potential bidders.
He got his wish with the rain and again we were unprepared but this time
we bought an umbrella at WalMart on the way. We were in shorts again
butthe temperatures droped and I got pretty cold. We brought
the dogs who loved running around in the mud. We had to wait while all
other junk (and it was mostly junk) sitting out in the rain, was sold
off first. I was trying to resist buying anything but ended buying a
metal pation chair for $1.50.
The bidding jumped up past our high bid
before we even had a change to bid and sold for about $400,000. Certainly
the property was worth that and more but it was way beyond our budget.
I felt pretty let down but it opened the option to concentrate on the Jameson
Farmhouse in Stoutsville
While Danny has been calculating how much it would cost to fix the Jameson
house, we have been looking at a few more listings that we found. Everywhere
we look we find another realtor with listings we have not seen elsewhere.
We found a couple this week that were okay. One is near Mark Twain Lake
in the Northeast corner of the state in Stoutsville. Here, Danny would
probably have to find work in Illinois. It has 40 acres, an older farmhouse
that wasn't in bad shape (for once). It had potential. It is on a secluded
road and set back. It had 9 acres in corn this year. It has a great old
barn in pretty bad shape but so picturesque.
Another one we looked at that day was in Kirksville which is North of
Columbia about 1-1/2 hours. It has an older ranch house that was kinda
cute. It had a bunch of outbuildings and two good ponds.
At this point we wanted to take a better look at the Jameson house. We
made an appointment for Wednesday. We figured we would probably make a
bid on it if the foundation looked as good as we thought it was.
|click on any image for a larger view in a new window.
||Check out the double rainbow
We went out and visited the Jameson house again. The weather that morning
threatened thunderstorms and tornados. The sky was unlike anything I have
ever seen in California. It felt like an auspicious omen. I took lots of
measurements and pictures. We placed a bid on the house for $180,000, well
under the asking price of $250,000. He was pricing it at approx. $2000
per acres. The going price is generally $1300-$1700 per acre for pasture.
The owner came back with a counter-offer of $240,000. We realized that perhaps
he wasn't very motivated to sell. We countered at $200,000 but at this point
decided that we weren't going to get the property. We started looking for
more listings and found a couple more to look at.
We went to look at three listings near Macon. The first one in New Cambria
was really nice. The house was close to the road but it was a local-traffic
blacktop, so it was quiet and not dusty (like a gravel road). It has 80 acreas
and two ponds. It has an older pole barn. Most of the property is being leased
out for cattle. The house is really "quaint". Built in 1953, it has not been
remodeled but has been well-maintained. It also has a full basement and a
great view. This is the best deal we have seen yet at $159,900.
We saw another property near Anabel that has 120 acres for 250,000. It has
an old house with great architectural details but the house is almost unlivable.
Our humble home in New Cambria
The realtor we chose to put an offer on the Jameson house, wanted to show us
a listing near her. It was an older farmhouse on 35 acres in Hale. Similar
to the Anabel house, it has some great architetural details but the foundation
was in BAD shape. Considering this one would be a ton of work, a long way
away for any big city, and only on 35 acres, we decided not to pursue it.
After looking a 50+ listings in a month and a half, we decided the New Cambria
house was a great deal and put in a bid for the asking price with no contingencies.
They accepted our offer so we will be closing in 30 days and moving in. I'm
going to miss looking at farms and old houses but it will be great to get settled.
Look to chapter 2 for more about this house and our further adventures in Missouri
as they develop.