Well, I never would have guessed I’d be living here in West Virginia.
Really. I was too cool (obviously!), and West Virginia is, well, ah, let’s see… how do I put this… it has some stigmas attached to it, and some of them are true.
Two decades ago, I wasn’t in the mountain cabin rental business. I was a guide. I was just stopping by West Virginia for Gauley Season, on my way to guide the Bio Bio in Chile. What happened was, see, I met this woman, and… well, that’s really another story.
But I’ll say this: after two years of showing her all the cool places someone might want to live like Chile, Costa Rica, Montana, Utah, and Arizona, she wanted to move back to the New River Gorge!
I was a carpenter/odd jobs guy to make ends meet in between raft guiding seasons. One day, there was an ad in the paper for a house and two acres for $12,000! It looked like we could fix it up and sell it, or rent it to raft guides. How can you go wrong for $12,000? Seriously!
My father-in-law, ever willing to see me work harder, gladly put up the money. Partway through the tear out (we took it down to the studs, pulled out the wiring, and gutted the plumbing too) we saw a brochure for Mill Creek Cabin rentals. I can remember thinking, if we furnish it and fix it up nice we could rent this old farm house to just about anyone!
After talking to the raft companies to see if there was any demand for those types of rentals, we decide to fix it up and rent it nightly to rafters visiting the New River. We knew right away we wanted to do more, and two years later, a house and 20 acres became available just around the corner. The land was laid out perfectly for my vision of providing a secluded little place for people to relax, surrounded by mother nature.
Now, I’m the first to admit that I was never a very good carpenter. But I was lucky to have some very good ones help me. The one who helped (?!) most was Whitey. Whitey is as close as I’ve ever seen to a “master” carpenter. He once said to another carpenter working on the job after seeing me up and down a ladder in the same spot for the better part of the day, “You know, I believe Geoff will keep %$#@ing it up until he gets it right”.
I was too much of a perfectionist, and nowhere near enough skill. Story of my life, right? Anyway, I was very happy to have Whitey, and Craig, and lots of lots of others make my ideas take shape. The first two cabins where designed on the proverbial bar napkin over a few beers, and went up with the help of great guys like them. They were ready to go at the beginning of our third year in the cabin rental biz.
That’s how things started. But I had no idea what was coming next.
(TO BE CONTINUED…)