The Underground House

People often ask me how we found our property in Virginia. It is in such a beautifully unspoiled area that is a bit remote. I find my best description of it is 1952. Until the interstate came through in the 1970’s, the only way in or out was up and over steep mountain passes. With the interstate came two tunnels whose gaping mouths into the base of the bowl of mountains that make up part of the Jefferson National Forest, made it possible to enter and exit Bland, VA with ease and speed. A lot of travelers pass through Bland now who, prior to the tunnels, would probably never have known it existed. There was one exception, a nuclear scientist who became convinced in the sixties that the probability of a nuclear war was rather high. He researched areas in the United States that he deemed to have the highest likelihood of survival should such an attack happen, as well as having unobstructed skies with which the planets and stars could be clearly observed. This saucer of Bland nestled in the deep lap of the mountains was his answer. He bought some land on the great Wolf Creek, built an underground house, observatory, wind mill for power, a walled garden, some underground storage facilities for his crops and wine, (yes he even made his own wine). And there he lived for a while, completely off the grid. Then, after a few peaceful years, he changed his mind and moved on. It passed into the hands of the people who had the adjoining property and a lodge-style home and then they decided to return to their home and family in Florida. The entire property was put on the market and we happened to pick up a real estate brochure with the listing. I was intrigued with the underground house and my husband was equally entranced by the other house. We looked at it twice, but could not reach an agreement with the sellers. Time passed. Out of the blue several months later, the real estate agent called to say she had the perfect property for us and she was right! It spoke to us in ways that far surpassed mere curiosity. It’s views were incomparable and the wildlife was abundant. We saw a black bear on our very first visit. It’s only a few minutes from the interstate, but seems as though it could be miles from anywhere. We still don’t have traffic lights or traffic jams, unless someone’s cows get out. The stars are magnificent, life is simple there. It is a place we always give thanks for and whose gifts to us never fail to amaze and delight. Our cabin is small, but we have the necessities. We tell people we put our money into the land, not into the house. The land can’t be changed; the house can. But for now, it’s perfect, a nest of sleigh beds and modern conveniences in the kitchen and bathroom. The television is tiny and tucked into an armoire. Who wants to watch tv when there is so much natural beauty around? We tried to watch the Kentucky Derby, but five black bears were playing down the hill from the cabin and we found them more interesting, slipping off to snap a few pictures at a safe distance.

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