Timberline, 21-22 August
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 24, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I was up at Timberline for the past two days. The weather was ideal (70s during the day and high 40s at night). I mountain biked the Olson Tower trail with my wife. It was fabulous--especially the big descent on the way home.

I also hiked the Pointy Knob trail off the Canaan Loop Road--another good hike.

I saw a number of interesting birds on that trail and in the Wildlife Refuge: broad wing hawk, goldfinches, black throated green warblers, cedar waxwings, black capped chickadees, dark-eyed juncos, a bobolink, and a red tailed hawk.

With regard to skiing, I noticed that Timberline is installing some new fixed snow guns (airless fan guns) on Cross Roads. The slopes are still kind of beat up from the ATV race, and sadly, we have another one next week, but what can you do.

MR Bears Restaurant has changed ownership. It's now called Cayotes. I ran into the new owner and he told me that he's really upgrading the menu. There will be salmon, trout, duck, and numerous new vegetarian entrees on the menu plus old favorites like steak, and burgers. He plans to stay open until 11 pm on Friday night for everyone who drives up late and wants a nice hot meal, or a cold beer before turning in for the night. Andy, you can only have one.

PS I forgot to mention that some of the trees are changing in color. It's not dramatic but subtle.
andy
August 24, 2004
Member since 03/6/2004
175 posts
Was up at timberline a month ago..crossed the sods right before dark.The change in atmosphere from the coastal plains of se NC was energizing.Checked on some spruce trees i have planted on my prop just south of canaan vly & saw that out of a hundred I'm down to about 12.There was one red spruce that was growing great.I was not sure it would make it at 3000'.I planted it last march & i think the cool summer kept it alive.Went to timberline pub & had more than 1 john!Decided to be responible & crash in my van at the parking lot.Woke up to about 15 deer at daybreak...need some preditors..those deer ate about 80 of my spruce trees!Can we have just 1 mtn lion?1 pack of wolves?Anyway to make a long story short went there to start the process of building a home.The builders are in HOG HEAVEN & are getting rediculus fees.105 to $120 a square foot! They were trying to tell me that the plywood was going to cost $39 a sheet(12.34 a sheet of osb at lowes in nc) I think that 3 years ago i could have built my house for $100,000 now we are talking double that! I am going to feel like the dude in the commercial where he is in debt up to his eyeballs!
bawalker
August 24, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
This is a question for those who live back up in CV or have homes up there. This is also more of an inquisitive question rather than one I plan to act on in the near future.

Personally I would love to purchase property up there, and maybe build a vacation home, although I despise subdivisions, housing lots, etc. I want property where I can own like 10 acres, sit in the middle and pee off the back steps with only the tree's and wildlife to know my secret. Yup I'm a WV IT snowboarding redneck in so many words who just is not that will live in subdivisions, be told how to run my property, etc. Not that I'm an irresponsible slob that has trucks on blocks in the front yard. It's just that I'm leary to conforming to those 'things' in life like a subdivision.

ANYWAY.... is there any property up in the CV/Dry Fork/Davis/Harmon area where a farm is up for sale and I could walk in and buy it without a realtior... or without one trying to anal rape me in fee's, where I can build my own house, etc?
tgd
August 24, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
Realtors have things pretty well locked up tight there. Best bet is to start picking up some local papers like the Parsons Advocate and searching for FSBOs.
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 25, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Andy:

I've heard the going rate to build a Northface style home is about $250,000. The local realtors, however, will have a better idea of prices than me.

Baywalker,

With the prospect of a new ski mountain or two in the Laneville/Harman/Dryfork area, land values have gone up tremendously in the past few years. Land speculators are buying every farm they can get their hands on--several just sold this summer. Sorry to say but you've probably missed the boat on this idea.

Before you buy land in WV, be sure to check on issues such as water, access roads (are they plowed in the winter and maintained in the summer), garbage (where's the nearest landfill and what are its hours), underground issues (are you sitting on an abandoned coal mine). In short, buying outside of a development is complex stuff. It's easy to get burned in these types of deals. If you buy a remote farm and do not occupy it, will you have probems with squaters, thieves, ect. This is one reason I settled on a condo--maintenance, security, basic ammenities (water, electric, phone, cable), etc.
RyanC
August 25, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
bawalker,

I purchased a condo simply because
1) it was the most affordable way into the valley and

2) i don't want to have to mow the lawn and be respnsible for all that maintenance I'd either have to do myself or pay to have done. Life is just too short to deal with all that crap (work, work, work, and more work). Condo dues aren't cheap, but w/ the exception of your unit's HVAC system, appliances, etc., you're covered. So for someone like me on a modest (at least in Baltimore/Washington terms) income, it's much more economical.

3) Access: most of the condo developments in the valley are accessible without AWD or an SUV. I went up to my place several times DURING snowfalls from 1-2 feet and never got stuck (it was tricky, though) in my front-wheel drive car. Just carry a shovel!

The building costs and price of lots in any resort area that attracts people from the DC area is insane. If you don't want a condo, why not buy a lot about 20-30 mins. from Canaan Valley (think Parsons, Terra Alta- 40 min. from DCL and CV!!, Elkins, etc.)? And, if all you want is a small house, you can have a 700-800 sq ft cabin built turn-key from $60-80k. The area realtors and builders simply advertise the most profitable items (read: trophy homes), but if you contact an independent local builder that's not affiliated with one of the high-end developments and tell them your budget, I know you can have a small, basic, but nice place built for $60-80k (maybe less) turn-key, on your lot of course.
RyanC
August 25, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
bawalker,

PS, there are a few owners in my condo dev. that are selling, send me a PM and i'll put you in touch with the RE/prop mgt people that I work with up there if you're interested...
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 25, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Warning about condos:

In rural America, a condo is essentially a "vertical trailer." In other words, it's not a great investment. As a Northwoods owner since 2001, I've seen house prices double at Timberline and my condo price go up only by about 30 percent. If you factor all the assesments (roof, insurance, siding, etc) into the equation and look at rising maintenance costs, the equation gets pretty ugly.

If you can afford a house (including all the expenses), it's a much better investment.

There's a good strand on the downside of ski condos on Epic:

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=17937

Fortunately, WV does not have the same tax policies as VT, but what people are saying about rising costs (energy, cleaning, maintenance) and relatively flat rental income is ABSOLUTELY true in the Mid-Atlantic.

PS With all that said, I still love my place and would not sell it for all the tea in China. NOTHING beats having your own place right on a ski slope. It's the ultimate convenience and luxury--kind of like a lifetime upgrade to business class (reserved parking upslope, your own lodge and food, your own ski locker, a change of clothes whenever you need it, your own bathroom and shower, the list goes on and on).
rmcva
August 25, 2004
Member since 01/28/2004
187 posts
After some serious consideration, my wife and I decided to buy a house in Elkins and we're set to close next Thursday. Basically we wanted a place near the resorts and Elkins is about halfway between Canaan Valley (32 miles) and SnowShoe (48 miles). We're buyin in town so we'll have less problems with the roads, have public water and sewer, and a few other areas to eat and shop. Our purchase is a large single family home coverted into a separate upstairs living area and one downstairs. Upstairs has its own exterior entrance and we'll use the downstairs. The rent we collect from the upstairs renters will basically pay our payment so as long as we have a renter - it will be a cheap place to stay. Our biggest concern on the condos was the additional condo fees which we heard could get pretty expensive. However the convenience of a resort condo would really be nice.
bawalker
August 25, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
To the contrary I actually like doing those things. Having grown up on a WV modest salary (which makes your DC salaries look rich to us), I find fun in mowing the lawn, keeping things kept up, and living in a very rural setting where it's me vs the elements. When I spendt over half my time growing up at my grandmas in the mountains of the Lost River area (long before the developers came there) it was growing up virtually in the midst of nothing.

We have national forrest on one side of our property keeping it quiet, have well over 40 acres that is field, wooded, and stream areas. Only 2 neighbors even remotely close although we still couldn't see their homes due to tree coverage. During the winter when snowfall came if we didn't shovel or help our parents/uncle-aunt shovel, no one went anywhere. The road to the property is sorta steep, rocky, with ruts. Heck the road back to MPC is in better condition.

Anyway thats eventually what I'd like to own back in the CV area. If it snows, I'll get the John Deer out with the bucket and clean out the road, or maybe a 4-wheeler with a blade. I plan on building my own home or helping to because I've got first hand experience helping build two homes already from the ground up.

I'd just like to have an area similiar to the way I grew up but that is 1.5 hours closer than my 1.5 hour drive to Timberline now. lol I wonder if the mountain is for sale? Seriously though I refuse to pay fees, I refuse to conform myself to keeping my grass mowed so that it's no higher than a 1 3/4" rule (I actually saw a place like that once), and refuse to live a life through someone elses eyes and rules. If my grass doesn't get mowed all summer, the snow will cover it. lol All I need to do is find property later on in life, and by saving costs of building the house my self I can wave more dollar bills at someone to sell and have a nice weekend summer place.

I guess I'm strange, I'm like this barefoot, back woods, can tough it out WV redneck, but if my DSL goes down for more than an hour I panic like a girl. Go figure that one.
bawalker
August 25, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
johnfmh - If I'm up at Timberline again this year and there is more of those storms that rolls in on the evenings or even if there is another late spring snow like this past year, I'm gonna find your condo and pitch a tent in the yard just to be the first one on the slopes the next day.
jonjon
August 25, 2004
Member since 04/2/2004
70 posts
Another suggestion is buying a house in the town of Davis. As the price of real estate has sky-rocketed in the valley, the demand is starting to leap over Canaan Mountain into Davis. I know of two houses on Thomas Avenue that have recently been purchased by Northern Virginia residents as their vacation home. You can get a nice 3 bedroom, 1500 -2000 square foot home for around $100,000 fully renovated, and much less for a fixer-upper. No HOA fees, and a nice town lot to take care of. Draw-back is a 10 mile drive to the slopes, but if you are looking for nice accomodations at a very reasonable price, it still exists . . . for now.
tgd
August 25, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
I'm a big advocate of property in old Timberline. We've owned a (small) house there for the past 2 years and really love the place. Yes there is a HOA, with fees (around $800 annually); however, it has its advantages:

1) 24X7 security with gated access - don't underestimate the value of this perk, especially when buying a piece of property you may only occupy 50 days or less a year. Someone else mentioned it here, but if you buy property out in the boonies (sp?) eventually locals will figure out when you are not there and clean you out. I have no reservations about my wife and daughter spending a week up there by themselves. Also, the guards at Timberline have been really helpful to us - we've hired a few of them for side jobs, gotten to know and trust them to check on our place when we're away (this also helps with getting homeowner's insurance BTW). Finally, we can call the guardhouse Friday evenings during ski season to get a true on-the-ground weather report - complete with route recommendations based on current conditions.
2) They have their own plows and graders. With the exception of blizzards - our road is plowed every couple hours during a storm.
3) Convenient trash removal, annual spring cleanup week with community dumpster and large object removal.
4) Reliable power - no power outages at our place since last summer!
5) No hunting on the property.
6) Excellent private access to Dolly Sods and the wildlife reserve.
7) Convenient ski access - maybe not slopeside, but I can be in the parking lot at Timberline within 2 minutes of leaving my house.

These benefits are worth the HOA fees to us. In addition, I believe the HOA actually enhances the value of our property. Since we bought there, I have seen property values in Old Timberline soar even higher than the rest of the Valley. Check out Canaan Realty's, Timberline Realty's, and Mountaintop Realty's websites - houses in old Timberline go pretty fast when they are listed. Prices have stabilized recently, though things are pretty high right now.

So far the HOA has not given us any trouble with improving our property. They have their review process, but they have not been at all arbitrary, unreasonable, or unfair as I've heard from horror stories about HOAs in the DC suburbs.
bawalker
August 25, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Let me jump off the topic a little bit. What computer businesses are there up there in the stretch between Davis to Harmon? Are there any computer shops in town, are they reputible? Any services that drives to your home to fix the PC on site?

I'm wondering because I'd like to possibly look at that as expansion area and considering there *IS* alot of homes up there, I don't see why I couldn't have the same success that I do now by showing up, fixing the PC right there in the house. Heck strike up good skiing convo while doing it.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 26, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Baywalker:

I don't know of any computer stores in the area but someone may be running a cottage industry. I know that Canaan Cable does some web work and also sets up cable modem service for people in the area.

I second the recommendation to look at Davis: its access to restaurants and the grocery store is nice, and the long-time residents will look after your property.

Speaking of theft, we had almost no theft when I purchased my condo in 2001. Since then, theft is on the rise. Northwood's HOA has suffered from firewood theft and illegal dumping in its compactor. My friend, a permanent resident of the area, just had $2,000 worth of power stools stolen from a construction site he was working at.

Basically, as more people move into the area, the area is beginning to suffer from increased crime. It pales by comparison to DC, but it is still annoying to say the least. I was shocked on Saturday to see that the Tucker County Sherrif's dept. was running speed traps on the Timberline Rd. With the tax base increasing, it's probably time for Davis to think about hiring a permanent police officer again.
tgd
August 26, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
bawalker: I can't recall seeing any computer services from Harman all the way through to Thomas. PC services could be a decent business. My feeling is that the economy in the area is changing to favor businesses that cater more to second home owner vs. vacationers. It seems to me that more people buying in the area are not looking at renting their property but rather using it for themselves. That's what we do. The rental equation just didn't work out favorably - especially when you factor in a management company like Canaan Realty will want 1/3 of the income. Your computer business might do ok, especially if you can install home networks, broadband links, and such.
tgd
August 26, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
Speedtraps on Timberline Road? That's a new one, thanks for the warning.
warren
August 26, 2004
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
Brad,
Quote:

I guess I'm strange, I'm like this barefoot, back woods, can tough it out WV redneck, but if my DSL goes down for more than an hour I panic like a girl. Go figure that one.




I know what you mean about the broadband. lol
I can tolerate a lot of annoyances but if my cable modem is out, arrggh

-Warren-
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 26, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Re renting, it's still ver popular. Only 5 owners at Northwoods (including myself) do not rent.

The 35 percent take by a Real Estate management company is the norm in resort areas. Canaan Realty handles cleaning, maintenance, and is always on call if there is a problem. Managing a condo rental at a ski resort is more akin to managing a hotel room than a traditional year long permanent rental. For that, it really helps to have a management company deal with all the hassles. Do you want to drive four hours after each rental to clean and inventory the unit? Do you want to handle deposits and credit card transactions? Reservations? etc.... There's more to property management than most people think.
bawalker
August 26, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
For now, the property party is on the back burner. Maybe it won't happen in the CV area, but somewhere here in the appalachian mountains of WV I want to eventually buy up thousands upon thousands of acres of land to just keep it as is. Rent it to farmers for low cost rent and for their upkeep of it, allow select hunters on the property and follow the principle that have long time locals to help manage it.

The idea of expanding computer services to the area hit me this past winter when I heard someone on the slopes who was vacationing in the area complain about their computer not working. It got me thinking and looking on the drive home that there is nothing between Davis to Harmon computer shop wise.

Service wise I handle just about everything. I do a vast majority of the simple stuff like virus/trojan/spyware removal, driver updates and hardware upgrades. I even also do data recovery after data has been deleted or formatted, PC lessons, home networking for cable/dsl access, wireless setup to ensure optimal encryption, etc. Just about any thing of that nature can be done on site right at the location of the home.

While that isn't everything I do in business, it's a large part and to me goes along way to being able to sit down and talk with the client while working on their system. Rather than having them drop it off at a shop and making them another faceless and almost nameless paying customer. That is just too cold for me.

Plus considering Corridor H slowly moving along in progress, I would like to get the leg up on any computer service in the area... or at least get my name out amongst people back that way so when the TLine drive for me goes from 1.5 hrs to 45 min, I can spend more time working with more customers, and working with businesses in Davis as their IT consultant and more.
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