ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Opening Our Resort

It is funny how occasionally, the things that we need the most are right before our eyes. It is even more interesting that the experiences leading us to that place and time do not allow us to see them. When I learned that dandelions are good for the liver, I had been living under a toxic cloud for nearly a decade. It did not change the healing properties of the plant that I was unaware, but it did change the way I lived amongst the environment forever. I have studied herbal healing and medicinal plants for decades, but I am still learning specific attributes that are important in members of the plant kingdom that I have either not paid close attention to, forgotten, just never needed, or did not know that I, or people I have helped could benefit from before. Research into most fields often reveal that the more we learn, the more there is to learn. Perhaps it should not be surprising then, that the answers we seek are often right before our eyes. One of the quirks of our perception is that we are blind to most of what surrounds us. In my Theories of Aesthetic Perception  class, one of the points that is important is that we are constantly sorting, sifting and winnowing the reality that we confront, as much for self-preservation as anything. There is no way to take in the totality of experience, so we dump 99.9% of what our senses provide to us in the dust bin of ignorance. We cling desperately to the things we deem important and the rest is just chaff, left wherever it has fallen.

We, my wife Nancy and I, purchased a rental property across the street from our home a decade ago. It is currently being transformed. We are remodeling and furnishing the two apartments, making space for an Air B&B. Our experiences have allowed us to envision the B&B concept with a few valuable twists. One place that we like to stay calls itself a B no B, a bit more like a motel for people who can make their own breakfast or find their own way in the world. Those who want to keep to themselves, or who have special dietary needs, find that this sort of place is perfect. As hosts, we can be across the street and out of guest's hair during their stay. However, if our desired, we can provide many extras as needed or by request. We offer those who stay with us ECO-Tours, equipment rentals and guide services. Even if all that is desired is a campfire to sit around in the evening, we can arrange for that as well. In the past, our perceptions were limited by prior experiences, but now we are looking more closely at what exists right across the street from where we live.

Perhaps the history of the place, or our own experiences limited what we could see as possible there, but that is not unusual. The constraints on what we can see are never visible, until they are shattered. We purchased the property with one thing in the forefront of our minds, it sounds funny now, but the people living there were terrible neighbors and we wanted them to be gone. We had the eviction notice drawn up ahead of time so that after closing on the property, we could deliver it immediately. It may be the first time in history that a person getting evicted was happy to have to leave. The woman who was renting there actually hugged me for kicking her out!

Of the three adults who had signed the lease, only one remained. This older lady told me that the other two were in prison. The families of those two, plus a friend of the older woman had decided to make that place the home base of their activities and a permanent place to crash or drop off their children whenever they needed a break from them or were in town. I guess that officially, it wasn't considered a child care center, because most of the children were related, but to the neighbors, seeing six to ten children running around at any one time made us wonder. This was not, however the problem. What was bad were the dozen police calls to the property every few moons. Waking up in the middle of the night to one hassle or another and having to hear the ugly details of lives out of balance was too much for Nancy and I to bear.

The details of owning a rental property were far from our minds when we bought the place. The thought of gaining peace of mind pushed out all other perceptions, so we bought it. Since then, there has only been one long-term tenant in the lower and perhaps half a dozen renters upstairs. One by one, each of the neighbors has gone out of the way to thank us for buying the property and for that we feel pretty happy, but our perceptions being limited had led us to only see the place in a certain way. Within the past couple years we started hearing about home share programs, couch surfing websites and air B&B. Some of our friends and family have traveled using these online resources and had a great time of it, many staying in other folks spare bedrooms or coming and going from entire homes left vacant by their owners. Then, we found out that one of our friends opens her home to guests nearby and we had a few long talks with her about what she was doing through Air B&B. She loves it and by reading her reviews on the website, her guests do too!

We are currently working feverishly to ready the upper apartment for our first guest, who will be arriving in the coming week. Onsite we already have dozens of edible landscape plants at least the same number of healing herbs and garden beds that are managed with an eye toward permaculture and sustainability. We are adjacent to over 160 acres that will never be developed and directly across the street from the property is the East River which is a great place to canoe. There is also a walking trail/parkway along the river bank for recreation. As many things in nature show, great things often grow from tiny beginnings. ECO-Tours has organically grown from a group of three into a network of folks who can plant hundreds of trees in a single day. There is no reason to believe that our modest beginnings with space for four guests could grow into a Summer Camp/Resort that can accommodate hundreds of ECO-Tourists. The greatest oaks start from a single acorn.

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