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Archive for the 'Lake Martin Area Info' Category

Paddle Boarding At Lake Martin

Have you ever ridden on a paddle board, on Lake Martin or elsewhere?

I haven’t, but I seem to be among a dwindling minority.

This blog post was inspired by a recent announcement by my friends at Lake Martin Dock Company.  They posted on their Facebook page that they are now a dealer for Bote Boards – a stand up paddle board company out of Destin.  Bote Boards look cool to me because several of their models are designed for fishing.  There are little holes or slots in the top of the board in which you insert a stand.  As a fly fisherman, this makes me want one to try out the paddle and fish thing.  Have fun while getting a workout!

Stand up paddling is supposed to be great exercise, especially for the core.  I first heard about stand up paddling (SUP) from the Paddle Board race that Yolo put on with Bay Pine Marina.  Ever since I read this article I have wanted to try it out.

PhotobucketHow about it? Has anyone out there tried fishing from a paddle board on Lake Martin yet? 

What about the ultimate combination: on a paddle board, hooking into a big striper, while fly fishing, on the lake?  Anyone? Anyone?

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New Birding Trail Opens In Lake Martin Area

Piedmont Birding Trail At Horseshoe Bend Park  - 06 - Version 2The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail officially opened on November 17 with a nice ceremony held at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail is the central Alabama version of the popular birding trails like the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and the North Alabama Birding Trail.

What is a birding trail?

A birding trail is a collection of locations where bird lovers and other folks can go to observe some of Alabama’s renowned diversity of bird species.  The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail is organized into three “loops.”

The Lake Martin Loop, obviously, is the part of the trail that will be closest to Lake Martin. Some of the observation points are directly on the water of the lake, such as the DARE Park and the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail head.  Others will take you off the water, but to nonetheless interesting spots like Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

The new trail has already earned some attention.  Deborah Storey covered it in this Hunstville Times article.

Piedmont Birding Trail At Horseshoe Bend Park  - 25For what it is worth, I think this is an outstanding idea and brilliant marketing on the part of the various Chambers of Commerce that worked together to get this done.  I congratulate the Alexander City Chamber for taking the lead on it.  Even if you are not a “birder” – you should realize that birding related tourism is a really big business, and Alabama is a mecca.

Furthermore, it offers yet another thing to do off of the water for people who love Lake Martin.  Fall is the time of year that I think gives you the best chance to hike, bike, and explore the area around the lake.

Speaking of things to do, how many of you have never been to Horseshoe Bend National Military Park?  Why not? It is only about 10 miles off of highway 280 between Dadeville and Alex City.  The dedication ceremony gave me a perfect excuse to tour through it again. When I was growing up, we had oodles of school trips out there.  As a child, I never appreciated the sheer beauty of that park, nor did I grasp the historical significance of a battle that shaped the destinies of millions of acres of land, entire nations of native Americans, and at least one President.  (Hint: check a $5 bill).

After my tour the other day, I was really getting my nature, my history, and my local pride groove on.  I went wild in the Park’s gift shop, buying several (my wife rolled her eyes) books about The Battle, this area’s history, and nature.  My fellow nerds will please note I added them to my Lake Martin Voice Library.  Check them out, they are excellent reads.

To see my other pictures of the opening of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, and Horseshoe Bend Park in general, please see:

Flickr Photo Set by Lake Martin Voice
Piedmont Birding Trail At Horseshoe Bend Park  - 46

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My Barber Gives Cuts And Google Earth Tips

As a Lake Martin realtor, I am often guilty of a one track mind.  I constantly bend every experience, every encounter in my life back to Lake Martin real estate.  I admit it.  So forgive me if you think this is stretching, but..

The other day I was early for my haircut appointment.  My barber had another gentleman in the chair, snipping away.  It’s a one chair “salon,” so I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.

It was about Google Earth.

What?  Yes.

El barbero, or master hair cutter (I think of him as the guy who has the misfortune of dealing with my ‘fro once a month), was trading Google Earth tips with his patron.

He is in his mid 50s.  The customer is 70.

They were going back and forth with nuggets of wisdom about the online mapping service.  I was listening pretty hard as I am a Google Earth newbie.  They were talking about how easy it is to create custom maps, spots, and the like.

If they wouldn’t have thought me creepy, I would have videoed it on my iPhone.

It just goes to show you that this whole “internet” thing isn’t just for young people, unless you define young as under 80.  These results are typical.

A Thank You Note To YouTube

2011, in my mind, will be the year that I should write YouTube a thank you note.  I do a lot of online marketing on Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Flickr, and the like.  But my videos on Youtube are a huge blessing and are, pound for pound, the best return on my efforts aside from this blog.

“That’s great, John,” you may say.  “But the only people watching videos on YouTube are kids.”

Wrong.

We at Lake Martin Voice Realty have uploaded so many videos about Lake Martin real estate, area events, restaurants, marinas, etc., that we have had almost 86,000 views of them at this writing.  Phenomenal, and we have you to thank.  We have uploaded over 200 of them.  My average video length is about 3 minutes so that is 258,000 minutes that people have spent watching.  Amazing and humbling.

86,000 – that is more than a couple of national real estate brands have.  Check me out and see if I am wrong.  Go to the YouTube channels of any national brand and see how many views they have.  Then compare it to ours, and keep in mind that we (currently) have two agents doing all of this.

When you get that many views, YouTube starts courting you and asking you to put ads on your videos.  They also give you perks like being able to see your demographics.

Check out the age range of who is watching my videos:

Observe that over 60% of my video views come from people that are 45 and older. Amazingly, more views come from people 55 and older than do those who are younger than 35.

And that’s a good thing.  This is proof positive that I am hitting the sweet spot, demographically.  Well, I take that back.  The ultimate proof is when I hear from buyers that call me and say, “hey, I saw one of your videos on…” or a seller that says “I love your video home tours.”

Thank you, I still need your help

I thank the Lord, and also you, dear reader and viewer, for the eye popping numbers.  But I still need some help from you.

What do you like to watch or read about?

I have noticed that my highest read blog posts and most highly watched videos are on subjects that were originally suggested by readers.  So please, please, keep those suggestions coming.  Please contact me through this form or directly at [email protected] or [email protected]

Also – how can I increase my female viewership on YouTube?

Thanks!

 

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Tornado Recovery Action Council To Meet At Children’s Harbor

The Tornado Recovery Action Council comes to the Lake Martin area with a meeting at Children’s Harbor.  The meeting is on Monday, September 26, 2011, at 6:30 PM.

Their stated purpose is: “building a better Alabama and preparing for future disasters.”

They want to hear feedback from people in the Lake Martin area who were affected by the April 2011 tornado.

For more information about this meeting, please contact the TRAC directly through their website: TRACalabama.org

Here is their flyer:

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Uncle Nick’s Smokehouse – New Q And Brew At Lake Martin

Uncle Nick’s Smokehouse is the newest of Lake Martin’s waterfront restaurants.  Its main gig is barbeque – offered lots of different ways, but it also has many non Q items on the menu.

They opened earlier this summer, so my “new” description might not be all that accurate.  Sorry, but it has been a (blessedly) busy buyer summer and I am just now getting time to upload all of these video and photos.

Nick’s menu ranges all over the BBQ spectrum.  They offer brisket, chicken, and turkey dishes, though the focus seems to be more on pork.  At least when I have been there I have had mostly the pork dishes. I have had the BBQ turkey sandwich, the BBQ pork sandwich, and, while they were good, they weren’t my favorite. My favorite thing I have eaten at Nick’s so far are the BBQ potato skins.  I don’t see them on the online menu I linked above, but trust me, they are awesome. I had the pork ones, and liberally applied their Carolina and Alabama sauces. Yum.

As of yet I haven’t tried any of their non Q items like steak or burgers or shrimp, but I have heard good reports from other folks.

Ambiance

Waterfront.  Need I say more?  No, but I will. You can dine alfresco – in riva al lago. If you don’t like that, I have concerns about your salvation. Inside is nice, too. They have plenty of room, nice tables, and a nice bar area. I would say that it’s a little more upscale feeling than nearby Oskar’s and Niffer’s.

Location

One of the many cool things about Lake Martin is the fact that we have many waterfront restaurants like Sinclair’s at Kowaliga, Chucks, and Harbor Docks Anchor Bay. Uncle Nick’s Smokehouse now joins that group.  If you’ve never tried it, you should.  There is something about arriving by boat that makes the food better, the sweet tea sweeter.  If you are going to Nick’s by boat, please note that they are located on the east side of the Blue Creek Bridge, aka the Highway 49 Bridge.

Blue Creek Bridge is kind of low, so take care to note if your boat will make it under.  At full summer pool of 490, you definitely will not make it under the bridge in boats like sport cruisers, fixed roof pontoon boats, T top fishing boats, or ski boats with fixed wakeboard towers.  If you have a smaller boat with a droppable bimini top, or if it’s less than full pool, you might be OK.  Just check it out beforehand and be careful.

If you are coming by car, no worries. It is the latest proof that the Blue Creek area of Lake Martin is becoming known for its restaurants.

Uncle Nick’s Strengths

Uncle Nick’s Smokehouse has several strengths which I think will give it staying power. Forget good food and a great waterfront location, although it has both. Other restaurants in this same location have had both, and not lasted.

I have been impressed by Nick’s management. They are professional. They are serious. They know what they are doing. Here are some examples:

Social Media – they have embraced social media marketing. For the last couple of years I have tried my best to help local businesses understand and take advantage of social media marketing. Nick’s gets it.

I see Nick’s reaching out and interacting with the Lake Martin community on Twitter and Facebook. I see they have started a blog. They are not waiting for you to walk in the door. They are reaching out to meet their potential customers on the web. I like it.

Synergy – This word is a tired MBA cliche. But Nick’s is living it by working with their sister company, Creekside Lodge and Conference Center.  They share a parking lot, and cross promote each other very well.  Indeed, I had some buyers in town from Florida last month and I recommended Creekside to them. They stayed there and ended up eating a couple of meals at Nick’s because it was such a short walk.  They enjoyed their entire Lake Martin experience and they recommend both.

We at Lake Martin Voice Realty welcome Uncle Nick’s Smokehouse to Lake Martin and look forward to many more delicious meals there!

 

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LakeMartinVoice Unearths Ode to Window Unit

If you read LakeMartinVoice for its brainy real estate analysis, this post may leave you scratching your head.  But, by popular demand, I’ve been asked to re-submit a 2008 literary attempt I penned, “An Ode in Praise of the Window Unit.” I don’t typically recycle old material, but this one might strike a chord with a few of you. 

(I’m reposting my intro to the piece, too.)

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(2008) Lake Magazine has a section called “My Lake Martin” where (apparently) they allow just about anybody to submit an article about the lake. They were kind enough to print one I submitted.

I was inspired to write an ode about a window unit air conditioner that we used to have in our cabin. Judging by its girth and sound, it had to have been made in the 1940s. Its brand name was “Kelvinator.” That’s what we called it, as in “it’s hot in here, turn on the Kelvinator.” When things are around that long, they deserve individual respect.

It’s kind of like how we refer to one of the couches as “The Herculon” as in q: “where is mainsail?” a: “stuffed behind The Herculon” or q: “why are you sweating so bad?” a:”it’s The Herculon – laying on it makes me sweat.”

Anyway,I digress.

Lake Martin cabins and window units are inseparable in my mind.

Here it is

An Ode In Praise of the Window Unit

My Lake Martin is a realm ruled by the window unit air conditioner.

Like polyester, it is a reminder of that which once was a point of pride, and is now no longer en vogue.

Oh, woe, and lastima to those who have nay slept below your frigid roar, o humble window unit!! While now your presence draws scorn from some and mockery from the rest, I weep in melancholy for the children of centralized systems who will never know your utility and hypnotic effects.

When the lake melted the zinc oxide from our noses and allowed sunrays to redden our skin, it was you, dear window unit that blew icicles to ease our suffering. You erased our memory such that we were burned the next day and the next.

When our parents were tired of hearing our noise, they declared it “nap time” – and shoved all us kids into one room. You alone watched over us with your rhythmic rumbling machinations. If we didn’t fall asleep, like a favorite uncle you made more noise than we so that the parents never noticed.

We feared you, mighty window unit – where once you were asbestosly insulated, through service your wiring became loose, exposed, menacingly copper, always one mere spark from setting the cabin in irreversible deathly flames, yet we needed you to survive a scorching August.

Lest you take an undignified backwards fall out of your perch and into the yard, we propped you up with an old board wedged into the ground, yet you never complained. Simpering Whines were foreign to you whose hazardous lead innards percolated and spewed pre-war freon. To you, brave window unit, fretting over the ozone layer was for sissies, you had kids to keep cool.

Just as God and Alabama Power mysteriously raised the lake as azaleas are reborn, so too, you were a mystery, our beloved window unit. Each spring when we first plugged you into that Tesla coil of a socket , we wondered if you could breathe once again. Not as lovely as the dogwood, yet as reliable, you awakened decade after decade despite our lack of routine maintenance. You always shook off the leaves and dead lizards to toe the line one more time.

Window unit – Thy name was Kelvinator.

Forgive us for tossing thy corpse into the woods sans pomp or due praise.

You deserved better.

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Git Your Gumbo On At Large Times

Lake Martin has a new Cajun / Creole restaurant!

Large Times is located at 35 Kowaliga Road (aka Highway 63) in downtown Eclectic.  For those of you who don’t know where downtown Eclectic is, it’s about 10 miles south of the Kowaliga Bridge (which is also highway 63).

A couple of weeks ago, I filmed this video of Owner / Chef Mark Moody at his new location.  We welcome him to the Lake Martin area, and are really excited that we now have a restaurant that is specializing in creole and cajun food.

I went there with fellow Lake Martin Voice Realty agent John Christenberry, who is pretty able at the ladle himself.  We had the beans and rice, and John, has been known to stir his roux for hours, gave it a thumbs up.

Large Times is set up for lunch right now.  Mr. Moody will have a couple dishes like gumbo or shrimp etouffee made, plus red beans and rice, and you can choose which you want of the three.  It was really good and also fast since they serve you up as soon as you order.  Click here for Large Times’ menu.

Mark told us that they also do a lot of take out business for people headed to Lake Martin. They can call ahead and order whatever they want by the quart.  Large Times fixes it up, with side items like bread, and people swing by there and grab it on the way to the lake. I think it’s a great idea to serve on Friday night so you don’t have to cook right out of the gate.  Or, you can keep it over and it would make a great Saturday lunch.  Either way, you’re a winner.

We would like to welcome Large Times to the Lake Martin restaurant scene and wish them all the best. If you are visiting the lake and want to mix in some Cajun and Creole cuisine to your palette, we highly recommend them.

To contact Large Times, see:

Large Times Website

Their phone: 334-782-3512

Social Media:

Large Times on Facebook

Large Times on Twitter

Large Times on Yelp

Large Times on Urban Spoon

 

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Find Lake Martin Farms And Markets On Yelp

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Main Street's Downtown Farmer's Market in Alex City

The Lake Martin area has a lot of great farms and farmers’ markets.  Many times these hidden gems don’t even have websites, much less a marketing machine to let the average visitor know they are there.

It’s a shame, too, because so many of these places epitomize the recent trend back to healthy, locally sourced, “farm to fork” food in restaurants and on the table.  Before the last couple of years, there was no way for the casual fan to help educate everyone else and share local hot spots with friends.

Enter Yelp.com

For those who haven’t heard about it, Yelp is a location based review service.  If you have a smart phone, you can access Yelp through an app as you are driving around.  If you are home or otherwise on a computer, access it via its website, Yelp.com.

Yelp lets you search for all kinds of local businesses – restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, retailers, even real estate brokerages like mine – they’re all there.  You can get details of the business’s location, hours, phone number, etc. But all of these are second to its most powerful feature – customer reviews.

You can also “check in” to places while you’re there, which leads to friendly competition among your fellow consumers and maybe even freebies from the business.

Yelp also lets users create lists, and this is what I am using to pinpoint local farms, food sources, and farmers’ markets around Lake Martin.

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Oakview Farms is just south of Lake Martin. www.oakviewfarms.com

Click Here for my Local Farms / Farmers Market List on Yelp

As I drive around the lake, I will add these farms to my list, or take pictures and enter these farms if they’re not already on Yelp.  See – that’s another cool thing. If their business is not already on Yelp, you can take pictures, add tips, add them to Yelp, and draft a review, all on the fly.

So the next time you are hankering for some U Pick Blueberries, or organic eggs, or looking for wheat to grind, whip out your smart phone and check Yelp.  Check FourSquare, too. You don’t have a smart phone? Don’t worry.  Odds are, someone in your car does.

Have you found a farm or local produce grower in the Lake Martin area that’s not on my list?

Let me know!  I would love to add them!

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Tallapoosa River Basin State of the Watershed Conference June 22, 2011

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I think that anyone who loves Lake Martin, for long enough, will begin to have concerns about where its water comes from and the quality thereof.  Lake Martin is fed by the Tallapoosa River.  I only recently learned this:  a river’s watershed is the area of land where every single trickle, creek and stream flows into that river.  So you can imagine that the Tallpoosa River watershed is a huge area of land that covers much of east-central Alabama and then goes into Georgia.

If you would like to learn more about the Tallapoosa River Watershed, I think the best way to do so is to attend the Tallapoosa River Basin State of the Watershed Conference .  It’s being held on June 22nd at Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

This is a collection of scientists – many of whom come from Auburn – that includes biologists from the State of Alabama as well as ones from private industry.  They do a lot better job of describing the event, so I will post their website and comments below.  But, let me say that before attending this conference, even though I have grown up on Lake Martin, I had never heard of the Tallapoosa Darter.  That’s just one nugget of information you may learn.

Screen shot 2011-05-23 at 10.48.25 AMHere’s a quote from Mona Scruggs, Conference Coordinator:

“We want to make sure that folks in the Tallapoosa Basin don’t miss this opportunity to learn about recent accomplishments and opportunities in their area. It may be of particular interest to your readers that there will be a special panel discussion about the recent designation of Outstanding Alabama Water for the section of the Tallapoosa River and the Treasured Alabama Lake classification for Lake Martin which will include input from local Economic Development and Real Estate experts.”

So, to learn more, check out the links below:

Tallapoosa River Basin State of the Watershed Conference Website

Tallapoosa River Basin State of the Watershed Conference Registration

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Lake Martin Homes for Fifty Cents on the Dollar?

A Lake Martin Foreclosure Update

If a cliche gets repeated enough, it becomes empty and loses all meaning.  Every male whitetail that we see on the side of the road – especially during hunting season – is an 8 point buck.  I’ve never heard different – “Dude,  I was driving home last night and I saw this huge 8 point.”  Never a 6.  Or “I’m not sure.”

Almost every police briefing I’ve ever seen opens with “At this time” and repeats it several times. “At this time we are searching,” or “At this time we are asking,”  or “At this time we have in custody.”  Of course it is at this time.

Screen shot 2011-05-09 at 12.30.39 PM“(So and so is) here for the right reasons” – you hear this a lot during recruiting season. Coaches are always so happy because every single player that committed did so “for the right reasons.”  All their coaching staff is there “for the right reasons.” Consider the opposite – how helpful would it be to announce that you plan to NOT recruit kids who want to be there for the WRONG reasons. You also hear it a lot on these silly reality shows like the Bachelor.  I am sure that you, dear intellectual reader, do not stoop to watch such drivel, so I will let you know that I have heard that every single bachelor since Season One is in earnest search for ladies who are “here for the right reasons.”

That’s a long intro to get to Lake Martin foreclosures.

I bring in these cliches at this time for the right reasons.

Twice this week I have heard a Lake Martin foreclosure cliche.  Buyers often ask:

Aren’t Lake Martin foreclosures selling for fifty cents on the dollar?”

(I could riff on the minutiae of this forever.  It’s never expressed as fifty percent of anything. Or half of anything.  It’s always fifty cents on the dollar.  And never 53 cents.  Never 47 cents.)

Screen shot 2011-05-10 at 2.43.03 PMSo can you buy a Lake Martin waterfront home for half price?  My answer is: “Yes and no.” It depends on what you are calculating. Fifty percent of current listing price? Fifty percent of the original listing price? Or fifty percent of what the builder hoped it would sell for in 2007?”

I hear,  “Well,  I know for a fact my cousin bought a home in Tallahassee last year,  and he told me it sold for fifty cents on the dollar.”

Pause the conversation – let me say here that I cannot blame a buyer one bit for wanting an extremely good deal. If my cousin told me this, or if I saw it on the Today show, I would get my hopes up too.

My job as a responsible Lake Martin real estate agent is to help buyers gather accurate information.  I don’t ask these questions to cross examine or doubt them, but to examine the information from which they are making assumptions.  Once I start asking questions, if they are working with a real world example of their cousin (instead of just the Today show), the more questions I ask, the more realistic it gets. “Well, he bought his foreclosure in Mediumburg for 150,000 and I know that’s different than Lake Martin.  Well, yes, the listing price from the bank was only $200,000.  But three years before that, the builder was asking $300,000.”

OK – I see.  In a certain manner, I can see the fifty cents on the dollar with that example.  Furthermore, I can point to many examples like that with Lake Martin foreclosures on waterfront homes.  But, if a waterfront home has already been foreclosed upon, it is pretty rare to sell for fifty percent of the current listing price.

I suppose I could, if I wanted, advertise similar deals going on in the Lake Martin real estate: Lake homes for 50% off! I would have to put in real tiny print “As compared to the wishful thinking listing price of 2007.”

(I can think of several bank stocks that I used to own that I wish still would sell for what they did in 2007.)

That’s why, whether I am helping buyers or sellers, I try to help them concentrate on today’s prices.  Today’s situation.  Forget yesterday.  It doesn’t matter if you are trying to buy a foreclosure, or competing to sell against one.  It’s all the same.Screen shot 2011-05-10 at 2.36.57 PM

Buyers want a good deal.  Same as always.  Sellers want the best deal for their home.  Same as always.

The Lake Martin real estate market is still seeing some new foreclosures on waterfront homes, condos, and lots.  There hasn’t been a flood, or a second wave, or anything like that.  Taken as a percent of market, we still don’t have as many foreclosures as compared to the rest of the nation.

The foreclosures, short sales, and conventional sellers that we do have on Lake Martin are enough to effect the market, though.  Supply and demand.

Would You Like Our List Of Lake Martin Foreclosures?

Click here and fill out the form.

Do you own a waterfront home, lot, or condo on Lake Martin, and are wondering what it might be worth? Contact us here or at 334 221 5862 and we can work you up a free, no hassle, no obligation Comparable Market Analysis.

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