Moon rising over Bearwallow Mountain. © Ralph Grizzle

I was lucky to latch on to such a lovely plot of land. The Baldwins have owned farmland in Fairview for four generations, but the owner, ready to retire, decided to parcel off the farm.

I saw 2.5 acres go up on Zillow and called my realtor friend Dan to say, let’s jump on this. Glad I did. The views are what makes this site so special. When Dan and I pulled up on the property, there was no doubt in either of our minds. The lay of the land, the views. I could picture myself with a morning cup of coffee, sitting out in an Adirondack chair, admiring the view.

In August 2021, I finalized the purchase what was then called Baldwin Farms Tract 6. Since I love camper vans, the obvious thing to me was to first make this land available to other camper van travelers – and to have a place for Tamera and I to camp. First, though, I needed a driveway put in.

Grading for a new drive. © Ralph Grizzle

What I soon discovered was that the price for putting in a drive ranged all over the place, from a high of $15,000 to a low of around $5,000. The crew that did my work did a great job in fulfilling the vision, minimal disturbance of the land with a circular drive at the end for camper vans to maneuver.

I listed a camping site on Hipcamp, and welcomed my first guests in December 2021. They pulled up in a Winnebago Revel. I was in my Boldt. Both Mercedes. I asked if they’d like to visit a local brewery. Five minutes later, we were at Turgua Brewing, one of my favorites in Western North Carolina. Phil, the owner, is an ornithologist. Most of his beers are named for birds. A nice touch.

My first guests at BearWallow Moon ???? in December. My van (top) and theirs. © Ralph Grizzle

Tamera and I wanted to come up with a name for the property. What would we call this parcel of land? We thought about the aspects of the land that appealed to us. Of course, the views were paramount.

One September evening before the driveway was installed, we took our camping chairs and a bottle of wine out to the property, sitting there admiring the sky changing color as the sun set behind us. As the sky darkened, I noticed what appeared to be headlights on the mountaintop, right where Bearwallow sits. It wasn’t headlights. It was the full moon. Stunning.

Seems that there are many business out here with the name moon. There’s Daymoon Coffeebar. Daymoon is coffee, scratch-made baked goods, smoothies and tea. “Do you hear this music anywhere else in town?” Daymoon’s Facebook page asks. “We doubt it. Do you get better service anywhere? We sincerely hope not.” We have to agree. This is one of our favorite coffee shops in Western North Carolina.

There’s also New Moon Marketplace, an eclectic antique store. It seemed obvious to us that the moon should play a starring role in our title. We brainstormed several ideas using the word moon, and there was no question that we had it when we stumbled upon Bearwallow Moon. Made perfect sense. The name was born out of our experience on that September night.

The new name needed a logo, and we knew exactly who could do that for us: Wandering Arts & Crafts. We’ve always loved local artist Melinda Irby’s work, and we were pleased when she said she’d be happy to draw up something for us.

With the driveway installed, I decided to purchase a new travel trailer, a sweet little vintage trailer. Tamera and I had looked at this trailer before, and we loved the concept. A brand new trailer, with modern amenities, yet done up in retro style. Plus, I had sold one of my three rental camper vans and needed to park those funds in a new venture.

Decorating the trailer was fun. We tried to stick to the bear theme, shopping at Mast General Store and with other local artists. We are fans of local artist Lori Portka and her themes worked well in the vintage trailer. My favorite piece of Lori’s work hangs right over the vintage trailer’s bed.

Lori Portka's Black Bear Woodprint over the bed. © Ralph Grizzle

Next phase: dealing with Buncombe County to get all the necessary permits – and pay the necessary fees, so that I can put in electricity, septic and well. Because the county is so behind in doing site visits, I hired a soil scientist to help me figure out how to best use the land. Steve Melin was brilliant and reasonably priced. Steve helped me choose sites for the vintage trailer, camper vans and for tiny houses that I plan to develop. As of this writing, I am still waiting on the county to get back to me.

Testing the soil. Good soil, I am told. © Ralph Grizzle

This is not the first big project I’ve taken on. My house on Broadway Street in Asheville was a mammoth undertaking. It was literally falling into the ground, badly neglected and decaying. $200,000 later it has been restored to its former glory. Luckily, it has recouped all of that in AirBnB revenue over the past five years. See what it looks like today on AirBnB.

I hope to post more as we develop Bearwallow Mountain. Follow along here.

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