Follow Your Dream… Follow Your Passion…(and maybe follow a little professional advice along the way)

You climb the narrow rope ladder and stand on a tiny platform perched some 40’ high. One word “HUP” and off you step harnessing the power of gravity and your body to begin swinging in a long elegant arc while holding on to a 4” weighted bar.

During my time doing trapeze, I’ve watched people freeze after climbing to the top, fear paralyzing them from stepping off and swinging out. Then there are the folks who take the plunge and swing, but fear pops up again and they can’t release the bar. Long after the trapeze comes to a halt they have to be coaxed to let go and drop into the safety of the net.

For me, the first time I stepped off the “board” and began my first swing all I could think was “ I am going to be doing this A LOT”. My first experience on a trapeze rig was on the piers by the West Side Highway of Manhattan. As I was “flying” the summer breeze blew over my skin, the shimmering evening skyline of lower Manhattan unfolded before me and I felt an absolute balance of thrill and peace.

Yes, it became my passion. I would go back, spend way too much money (trapeze is not cheap) and fly until the callouses on my hands would break and bleed. Patiently and happily repeating the same steps over and over till a new “trick” was mastered.

Once a guy who was getting ready to take his first “flight” asked me, “how is it, does it hurt”? I said, “not at all, it is incredible”. His girlfriend immediately piped up, “I‘m not sure that you should trust her, she is bleeding”. Side note, I was learning a new trick and had released at the wrong time sending me forcefully sliding and scraping my back against the net. Truth is, in following my joy -bleeding, sore muscles, a reduced bank account – none of it could diminish my experience and happiness.

Trout fishing seems to be another activity that can inspire abiding and deep passion (we are having an entire Trout Tales festival for it right here in our beautiful Catskills)! To me, I hear “icy cold water, pre-dawn departures, standing in quiet and solitude” and it doesn’t catch me. So I set out to understand a bit of the lure of fly-fishing.  

What I learned is that like many other pursuits that engage one completely, there are many elements that come into play. It may start off with simply the excitement of catching a fish but then the journey leads you to a spiritual commune with nature. A quest where great attention to the most minute details comes into play and you have the opportunity to witness how nature works on one’s soul. Always there seems to be a focus on the here and now without projections into the past or future. To the passionate fly-fisherman this can lure him in despite the hardships of loading up gear in the pre-dawn darkness, suffering numb feet from the cold and spending considerable amounts on the right gear!

Nowadays, my personal passion, has evolved with time, life and geography. I am immersed in cooking, gardening and yoga. I have the good fortune to live in the beautiful Catskill Mountains nestled on the side of a mountain. I am no longer “flying” over the Manhattan skyline but rather exploring the exquisite majesty of the peaks, valleys, farm houses, waterfalls, streams and wildlife of our area.

These days I work as a broker/owner for the Catskill Dream Team in Margaretville NY and my days are spent helping people with yet another passion (and a very important one) finding their dream retreat! Few things inspire more passion in folks that finding the perfect place to escape the chaos of urban life, a haven to raise their children, to spend time with friends and a place to call home.

For every person, what feels right is different. Some yearn for a historic farmhouse with a big old barn and rolling fields, others delight in a rustic cabin with a stone fireplace and miles-long mountain views, others want a turn-key townhouse with no maintenance where they drop their stuff and hit the ski slopes and yes – others are looking for the perfect parcal of vacant land with peace and quiet to pitch their Teepee.

Yes, you heard me right. Teepees! Just check out the beautiful one that is available in beautiful Bovina on Airbnb

Whether you want to put up a glam Teepee, or build a hand-peeled rustic log cabin, pop up a tiny (and mobile home) or build your dream forever house… there are a few tips to buying vacant land. Here are a few of our favs:

1. Location Location Location: Few things are more important. Not only for potential resale value but also for your enjoyment and ease of building. Go take a fun drive – explore and find out what makes your heart sing. Talk to people in the area! Find your dream spot and speak to a professional real estate agent!

2. Perc test (it’s a thing)! Whether you are popping up a teepee or building a 3000 sq ft contemporary home you need to know that you have the ability to install a functioning septic system. This requires a percolation test conducted by a licensed company. In the Watershed Area of the Catskills there are many resources available to homeowners. A licensed real estate professional can guide you to what is available.

3. Electrical service: You found that mountaintop location with 360 degree views. Yay! Chances are you are at a decent elevation with lots of privacy. Unfortunately these remote locations often come with some distance from an electrical pole! Research where the nearest pole is and do due diligence to find out what the cost of bringing electric to your building location might be.

4. Deed restrictions, HOA Rules, Zoning, Easements OH MY! This is a category so big and so important that you simply have to remember “caveat emptor” or buyer beware. Start by gathering all the documents you can. Then engage your real estate agent to give you their perspective and explain how these issues might effect your rights and your enjoyment of the property. But the most important thing is to consult your lawyer and have them carefully review all restrictions and provide you with sound legal counsel.

5. Water is life! In the Catskills most of us (unless we are in a village with municipal service) have a well. Make sure that you can have access to good water. Find out how deep your well needs to be and what costs that will entail.

6. Surveys: When you look at a plat (property boundaries on a map) they often do not clearly line up. This is why a professional survey is key. A survey will determine the exact boundaries and provide visible markers at the corner boundaries. Sometimes an old and antiquated survey may exist. It still is a good idea to have it redone or re-certified. Some banks may require this in order to obtain financing.

7. Road frontage and Access: Sounds like a no-brainer right? In urban areas this often is not an issue but look carefully – especially in the rural market. In some cases access is not available via a town-maintained road and you must enter into a situation with a private road. Private roads mean that the owner (or owners) must maintain access at their own expense. Also there are legal restrictions about how much road frontage you must have in order to install a driveway.

8. Find a professional real estate agent: Do your homework and find an agent who understands your needs and how you want to develop the property. A great place to start is by asking friends for suggestions. Also reading reviews online is another great resource.

All in all – finding the right house is not that different than catching the right fish!

1. Trust in the right teacher/partner/coach
2. Do what you need to do to get ready for success
3. Count on a bit of discipline and a bit of luck
4. Results are memorable and fulfilling

All of us at the Catskill Dream Team love calling this area our home! We are passionate about the Catskills and we love sharing our experience. The best part of our job is helping you find your dream home (or the perfect place to pitch your teepee) and your perfect antidote to the stresses of city life.

From Peggy Bellar, Co-Broker at Catskill Dream Team, a Catskills Trout Tales Founding Partner.