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Archive for the 'Lake Martin Living' Category

Hey Lake Martin Fishermen – Live Bait For Sale!

Kowaliga live bait and tackle - croppedLake Martin live bait fishermen have a new spot to buy bait.  Kowaliga Live Bait And Tackle is open for business.  The new store on Kowaliga Road (aka Highway 63) is south of Kowaliga Bridge.  In fact, it’s just south of my office, a tad north of the intersection with Highway 229.

The other day while driving to my office, I saw their sign, and I was so surprised that I chuckled.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I can’t remember the last time a new bait shop opened on Lake Martin.

Then, I was surprised that I was surprised.  Why not a new live bait shop?  Lake Martin has 700 miles of shoreline spread over 40,000 acres, and great fishing.  So why isn’t the live bait industry thriving right now?

When I was growing up on Lake Martin, if you wanted to fish, most of Lake Martin fishing real estatethe time you used bait.  You could stop by any old fillin station and at the very least they would sell crickets and worms.  It was commonplace.  In these days of clean, sparkly, mega-marts that sell hamburgers, haircuts, sub sandwiches, and also gas, the live bait selection has suffered.  You really have to hunt around to find it.  And even then, it’s hard to find the OSHA-defying oily tubs packed with minnows, and the stench, activity, and din of a room full of crickets.  To me, surviving a trip to the bait shop was half the fun of fishing.

Lake Martin is changing.  Is it just me, or are there really fewer live bait fishermen out there today?  The fish are still there.  Are they only being pursued by the plastic worm wielders and buzz bait boys?  Or are the fishermen being replaced by boaters?  I don’t fish as much as I used to; work is my excuse.  I’m looking forward to fishing a lot more this summer with my sons.

Lake Martin real estate cricketIncidentally, isn’t it also a sign of the times that the live bait guy has protected his business by forming an LLC?  Really – an actual legal entity was formed for the purposes, I assume, of “sellin crickets, worms, & minners.”  I applaud Kowaliga Live Bait And Tackle, and wish them the best of luck.  The next time my boys are at the cabin, our first trip will be to this new live bait guy.

If you have a tip on where else to find good bait – leave a comment / reply to this post and let us all know where to go…

Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge

Lake Martin The Ridge LogoRussell Lands has developed neighborhoods on Lake Martin for over thirty years, but its newest, The Ridge, is vastly different from any one it has done before.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in The Ridge area, CLICK HERE to go to my Ridge Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Russell Lands has gated communities like Willow Point, and the Ridge is near to its other developments of Windermere, Windermere West, and Windover.  But The Ridge is a totally new animal.  Here are 5 Things That Make The Ridge Different:

1.  Heavy emphasis on selling through approved builders – Russell Lands started this Lake Martin trend a few years ago with Phase I of The Ridge, and continues it with Phase III.  They sell a certain number of lots to “approved” builders, who build spec houses and then turn around and sell them for the builders.  In prior developments, they sold almost 100% to the end homeowner.  The use of approved builders gives them much greater control over the quality of the homes.  They also get a lot of design consistency on the look of the homes by also having “approved” architects.  I think this also drives up the price so that their initial offering lot price to homeowners is pretty high.  As far as I can figure there is no real “pre-construction” pricing.

2.  The Ridge Marina – Russell Lands owns plenty of marinas around Lake Martin, but The Ridge Marina is the only one that is inside the gates of one of their developments.  It is a safe bet to say that The Ridge Marina is one of the largest marinas Ridge marina stack storage - smallon the lake.  The marina is close to Chimney Rock by water.  They sell gas, they have a huge line of boats that they sell, and also sell boating and skiing accessories.  Another big part of their business is boat storage.  You can rent a wet slip (a parking spot at a dock), but they are more expensive and rare than dry storage.  Dry storage is where they stack your boat on a huge rack inside their warehouse.  When you are ready to go, they come pick it off the rack with a forklift and put it in the water.  No matter how many times I see that it still makes me nervous.  They are adding on to the dry storage.  A company official was quoted as saying the The Ridge Marina will have the “biggest dry storage east of the Mississippi.”  That’s big, friends.

Lake Martin The Ridge Club3. The Ridge Club – Russell Lands is currently building a 9,000 square foot clubhouse called The Ridge Club.  While Willow Point has its Golf and Country Club, Willow Point residents are not necessarily members of the club, and vice versa.  In the Ridge, however, part of the homeowner association dues pays for membership to The Ridge Club.  Planned amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields, children’s play center, workout / cardio center, and a bar and grill.  From what I hear they have commercial lots set aside for possible restaurants, etc.  See the construction progress photos on the left.  It looks like it will be as nice as promised.

4.  Off water activities- Usually, in Lake Martin new construction developments, merely token emphasis is placed on off-water lots and properties.  At The Ridge, Russell Lands attempts to offer something to do off of the water, and (I assume) by association, raise Ridge club drawing - smallthe value of off-water residential lots.  They have designed sidewalks all through the Ridge, which is very different for the lake.  They also have cut in extensive walking trails through the woods around The Ridge.  I hear that the ultimate plan is to be able to walk, run, or bike on trails from The Ridge to Willow Point.  Look at a Lake Martin map to appreciate how huge of an area that is.  They also have plans for a town center located on highway 63, close to Windermere Road, that will have kitschy shops, a high end grocery store, and a gourmet restaurant.  (I will post more news as they confirm the details.)

5.  Marketing and Events – Russell Lands has promoted The Ridge like no other Lake Martin development.  If you haven’t received at least 3 mailers on it, you should have your feelings hurt, because they sent them to everyone in the area that pays taxes and has a pulse.  They also have been all over the home design type magazines.  Their homes have had multiple spotlights in Southern Living Magazine, and had tons of other regional media attention and write ups.  They also have really played up the Spring and Summer Tour of Homes.  This spring they have even tied the events in with a boat show at The Ridge Marina.  I have to hand it to them, it works. In the past ten years Lake Martin has gone from a regional treasure to getting attention on a national level.  This was due in large part to Russell Lands’ tirele$$ promotions.

If you wonder how long this will last, check the map.  They are selling Phase III now, with (I guess) a couple more phases left up the sleeve for The Ridge.  Then it’s on to the next big thing.  Does anyone have a guess on where the next one will be?  Comment below!

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4 Great Lunch Meals Around Lake Martin

Lake Martin LunchtimeIt’s lunchtime on Lake Martin – where should we eat?  When I was growing up on Lake Martin, there weren’t many restaurants around the Lake, much less on the water.  Families had to pack their on provisions and make do.  You drove to the cabin, unpacked everything, and lived on ribbon sandwiches, chicken salad, hamburgers, and BBQ.

Today we have many places to eat, with more on the horizon.  I eat a lot of lunches around Lake Martin, so let me suggest four great lunch orders, in no particular order:

Lake Martin Cotton's Pig1.     Cotton’s BBQ – a couple of miles south of Kowaliga Bridge on highway 63.  In my humble opinion they have the best Q the closest to Lake Martin.  When I am really hungry I go for a double cheese with a BBQ sandwich and polish it off with a slice of egg custard pie.  Otherwise I go for the sandwich with fries.  I absolutely love good BBQ, but I detest bad BBQCotton’s passes every time.

Lake Martin Oskar's Catfish2.     Oskar’s – when in Lake Martin’s Blue Creek area, it’s a great spot.  I have tried almost everything on the menu, it’s hard to go wrong here.  If I’m in a big hurry I do the lunch veggie special.  Also I love the catfish fillet sandwich – but I get it blackened – not fried, with no sauce and no onions.  Oskar’s is a rare find in that they actually know how to cook fish correctly – juicy and hot yet not overdone.  Lots of restaurants, most of which charge quadruple their prices, could learn from Oskar’s.

3.     Kowaliga – You can call it Sinclair’s on the Lake or Cecil’s at Kowaliga or whatever, but it will always be Kowaliga Lake Martin Onion splitto me.  The name has changed over the years, but the best lunch order has not.  Order the same thing we have been getting since they were in that old building with the carpet hanging from the rafters.  Forgo the fancy stuff and order a plate of onion rings.  Wash it down with a cold beverage and soak in the ambiance.  If you’re really hungry get a burger.  The rings and the view are the best on Lake Martin.  You won’t be disappointed.  In the springtime they are only open for lunch Friday through Sunday, so you may want to call to make sure they are open.

Lake Martin Chuck's Pizza4.  Chuck’s – another Blue Creek gem.  Your order?  What else?  Pizza.  It’s very good, even by city folks’ standards.  Great atmosphere, too.  They sometimes have a band there, and it’s perfect for people watching.  Tip – call ahead from your boat to place your order if you want to grab and go.
 
Bonus meal – it’s a couple of miles north of highway 280 in Alex City, but Sho’ Nuff BBQ is worth a look if you are in the area.  Order the Sho’ Nuff Baked Potato.  It sounds weird but trust me, it will hit the spot.

 Can you think of a great lunch meal that I have left out?  Leave a reply, and share it with everyone else, too!

Jazz Fest 2007 Lineup Finalized

The Lake Martin area is in for another musical treat – the Jazz Fest has finalized its lineup for 2007 (all times Central PM):

Friday,  June 8, 2007 at the Strand Park in downtown Alex City

6:00 – 7:00  – The Robin Hill Band – local Alex City band

7:30 – 9:00 –  Kelley Hunt – Roots R&B / Americana singer / songwriter / piano player

9:30 – 11:00  – Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen –
                             “Jon Cleary is the ninth wonder in the world.” – Bonnie Raitt

Saturday, June 9, 2007 at the Lake Martin Amphitheater

6:00 – 7:00 – Wes Jeans – a powerful young guitar slinger; a player that drops the unsuspecting jaw of Blues lovers everywhere; a player some have said “is destined to be a Texas legend – a truly genuine Texas Blues Player”..

7:30 – 9:00 – The Lee Boys – Sacred steel is a type of music described as an inspired, unique form of Gospel music with a hard-driving, blues-based beat. The musical genre is rooted in Gospel, but infused with rhythm and blues, jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop, country and ideas from other nations.

9:30 – 11:00 – Edwin McCain – Blending equal parts folk, soul and rock, platinum-selling singer/songwriter Edwin McCain has signed with Vanguard Records.

Both events are free and open to the public.  There is a $10 parking fee for Saturday night.  For more details, read my previous Jazz Fest post.

See you there!

 

Lake Martin A Top 12 US Vacation Home Market

lake martin real estate award wall street journalThe Lake Martin real estate market was honored again on November 9, 2006, by the Wall Street Journal’s RealEstateJournal.com, by being named a Top 12 Vacation Home market in the United States.

Regional and even national accolades are becoming common for Lake Martin.  In other words, the news is getting out.  I usually don’t pay much attention to such press, but this one really got my attention.  Not that I don’t agree, I honestly believe we have a national treasure in our backyard.  I can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want a place on Lake Martin.  I guess what really got my attention was the source: THE Wall Street Journal – the Beacon of Capitalism, the paper divinely scribed by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand itself.  I love it.  I could read it with my hair on fire, as they say.   So when they honored the lake – I noticed – and so did millions of other readers.

Economists and writers can study and parse data all they want, but they are merely confirming what we all know to be Nerdtrue.  That is, while Lake Martin real estate prices have certainly risen in the last five years, on a national level we are still a relative bargain.  And here’s a more important fact but you can’t graph it – Lake Martin is one heck of a beautiful place.  I grew up on the lake, and therefore have talked to a lot of people about their families’ experiences here.  Maybe I have only met the happy ones, but I have never met a single person that said “you know I really regret buying that place on Lake Martin.”  Plenty have said “man, the biggest mistake I made was selling (or letting mama / daddy sell) that lake place.”  Nobody ever quotes their Return On Asset or their Debt To Equity Ratio of their lake home.  They talk about memories, fun, water, boats, fish and sun.

If you don’t like to hear all of that stuff, I’ll return to the hard facts of the Journal article.  Sure, Lake Martin has beautiful water, great views, peaceful mornings, fun nights – a rich, memory making Petri dish.  So do a lot of places in the nation.  But what we do have – that most don’t – are low property prices relative to the rest of the country.  I know it sounds crazy to the folks who have watched the prices rise – but the Journal’s statisticians looked and found that the property prices in Dadeville, Alabama – one of the towns close to Lake Martin – had really low property prices for second homes relative to local income and other economic factors.  In other words, they found that chances are slim that we are experiencing a dreaded B-word in real estate prices. I agree with them.  I also agree that there are certain segments of the market that have a lot of supply or are overpriced or both.  But, when compared as a whole to the rest of the nation’s vacation markets, we’re still a bargain – and a memory maker to boot.

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Ricky Bobby And NASCAR Coming To Lake Martin?

No vacancy Lake MartinIs it true that one of the events that affects Lake Martin area hotels is a NASCAR race?  Absolutely.  A recent article in the Alexander City Outlook points out that area hotels are jam packed with race fans whenever the track at Talladega is running.  The spring and fall races are so big that they top even Auburn football games in terms of economic impact.

How can this be?  The Talladega Superspeedway is only about 45 minutes from Alexander City.  When a NASCAR race is at Talladega hotels and restaurants in a 150 mile radius are affected.  Talladega has a capacity of about 143,000 official seats and allows hordes to crowd the infield.  People also camp outside the track for days.  It is crazy.

Ricky Bobby Lake martinNeedless to say, that craziness means dollars to cities nearby, and the Lake Martin area is no exception.  So, if you are reserving rooms around the Lake, you may want to avoid the weekends of  April 29 and October 7, 2007.  If you plan to cruise around the hotels looking for NASCAR celebrities, don’t bother.  Ricky Bobby and all of the other big hairy American winning machines fly home after the race.

Top 5 Shortcuts To Lake Martin

Lake Martin al Holding mapLooking for the fastest directions to Lake Martin? Or maybe a better way to get there from here? We all have our tried and true routes, but recent road work has opened up a few new ways to get to the fun faster. Also included are a few well worn trails, so take a look – maybe it will give you more time on the water!

  1. 1. From Montgomery / Atlanta to Blue Creek / Stillwaters / County Road 34 – Now the fastest way to get to the east side of Lake Martin is to take Interstate 85 to the Tuskegee exit (#32) and take Alabama Highway 49 North. This route is back in action since they have fixed the bridge over Sougahatchee Creek. It is windy and wicked but the best way to get to everything east of Chuck’s Marina. West of Chuck’s to Martin Dam, it’s a toss up between this way and taking AL highway 229 at the Tallassee exit.

2. From Birmingham to Parker Creek / Real Island – unless you are in the Oakachoy Slough (in which case take 280 into Alex City & Elkahatchee Road) – then the best way to get from Birmingham to this side of Lake Martin is to take highway 280 to Alabama Highway 9 South in Kellyton. From Highway 9, take either Coosa 20, Coosa 2, or Highway 259 to Coosa 24.

3. From Auburn – If you are heading to the south end of Lake Martin, take Shug Jordan Parkway to North Donahue to due west on Lee County 72, to west on Alabama Highway 50. If you are headed to the north (Alex City) end of the lake, take 280 west.

4. Highway 229 from Tallassee to Little Kowaliga – If you are heading on north 229 from Tallassee and are headed to Little Kowaliga, there’s no need to follow 229 to 63 and then go south to Elmore County 80. Take a left on Elmore County 357 aka Deer Track Road. Take a left on 407 (East Cotton Road). Continue on 407 as you cross Highway 63. 407 will T into Elmore County Road 80 at Mt. Hebron. That one will save you 10 minutes.

5. From Coosa 2 to Parker Island Road / Coosa 24 / The Needles Eye – I saved the best for last. For anyone lake martin Car in mudtrying to get from the Real Island / Parker Creek Marina area to the Needles Eye area, you know that getting around that slough takes forever. But – the shortcut is a dirt road that is on Coosa 2 about 1 mile west of where Elmore 55 intersects it. This road runs north and south between Coosa 2 and Coosa 24. It crosses the headwaters of Parker Creek, so it can be muddy. I’m sorry I don’t know the name of the road, but … isn’t that the case with all of the best shortcuts?

Know another great shortcut or cut through? Let me hear about it! I am already compiling another list for my next post. Don’t worry, you’ll get the credit.

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Jazz Fest 2007 at the Lake Martin Amphitheater

Lake Martin Jazz fest band The Jazz Fest– the Lake Martin area annual music festival that is free to the public – has been scheduled for Friday June 8th and Saturday June 9th, 2007.  Mark your calendars and plan to be in the area, because, as always, some great bands will be on hand to entertain you.

The music on Friday night will be held under the stars in downtown Alex CitySaturday night it will be at the Lake Martin Amphitheater just south of the Kowaliga Bridge on AL Highway 63.  I’m giving you plenty of notice so that you Lake Martin Jazz Fest Drumswon’t miss the biggest area concert event of the year.  It’s a BYOB event, so you won’t get stuck buying a 12 ounce cup of beer for $12, but it is also BYO common sense, so please drink responsibly.Lake Martin trumpet

Just because the admission is free doesn’t mean that the music stinks. In fact the Jazz Fest has a reputation for booking folks just before they make it big.  I am on the Jazz Fest Committee this year and you can be assured that this year will be no exception.  I will post the lineup here as soon as they have it booked.  Last year they had bands like Tinsley Ellis, the Subdudes, Marc Broussard, and the Deadstring Brothers in the lineup.

In prior years such names as Los Lonely Boys, The Derek Trucks Band, bluesman Taj Mahal, Bela Fleck and the FlecktonesDickey Betts, the Radiators, and Dr. John have made the event a must do for anyone in the Lake Martin area.

If you would like to help the event remain free (read … donate and become a sponsor) you can either go through the contacts on the Jazz Fest web site or you can contact me.  If you just want to enjoy the music, great, I will see you there!

BONUS TIPThe Derek Trucks Band– is scheduled to play again at the Lake Martin Derek trucks at Lake MartinAmphitheater on Memorial Day weekend, Sunday May 27, 2007.  Gates open at 4:30 PM, but you’ll have to pay to see this show.  I’ll post ticket details as soon as they come available.

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Lake Martin Links You Can’t Live Without

Here are some great websites for the Lake Martin area that you may find useful:

LakeMartin.com– a great site for what’s going on now.

Utilities:

1. Cable TV / Cable Access Internet

  • Charter serves Tallapoosa County
  • ComLink Inc serves Elmore County by Kowaliga 800-722-2805

2. Land Line Phone / DSL Internet

  • Windstream serves the Eclectic and Kowaliga Areas
  • BellSouth (soon to be AT&T) serves pretty much everywhere else

3. Power – Alabama Power serves everything (Hey – what’s the use of building Lake Martin if you can’t serve all of the power to the area?)

4. Water –

5. Trash / Waste Removal