This is us...Greg and Belinda. We were married here at Serenity Hill Cabin in
August of 2003 during a break in our work schedule. We didn't realize when we
bought a vacation home that all of our vacations would be to work around the
cabin, but that's pretty much what we do. But, we really do enjoy it.
I work swing-shift in a northwest Indiana steel mill. Belinda works 2nd shift
making cereal and cake-mix boxes and stuff. Whenever we go to the grocery store,
we evaluate boxes. We don't actually buy Fruit Roll-Ups or Quaker Oats
products very often, but she's always picking them up and showing me the
defects...things she would never let hit the store shelves. I've become quite
the box expert myself, although it hasn't really helped me much in my personal
or business life. On the other hand, I don't go around showing her what I think
is good or bad quality steel, but then, we don't have many retail steel stores in our
How we ended up with Serenity Hill Cabin is kind of a long story. It started
when we rented a run-down shack on Kentucky Lake with another couple. (It
didn't quite look the same as it did in the brochure!) Anyway, the girls
were ready to leave upon arrival, but stuck it out until the end of the week.
Then, they didn't want to leave. It was at this point we knew we would someday
own a house on the lake. We thought it would be on Kentucky Lake. But somehow we
ended up on the other side of the state, on Douglas Lake. Here's our story:
The Search for Serenity Hill Cabin
Do you believe
in fate? I didn't really...until my wife, Belinda, and I started looking for
vacation property. There were too many signs to chalk up to just coincidence. We searched for two years. Every spare minute
we had went into finding our perfect vacation home. Several times, we
drove 500 miles to look at 3 or 4 places, then turn right around and head back
home. It was exhausting!
Something's REALLY Weird!
On July 22nd, 2000 -- after climbing up and down hills from sun up to sun down the
previous two days in 90 degree heat -- we headed back home to Indiana. It was a
beautiful morning and I had gotten a good night's sleep. But after only two
hours of driving, I told Belinda I wanted to lay down in the back (Toyota
4-Runner) and take a nap. I had never done this before, so she thought that was
kind of weird in itself. But what was really weird was that she
said "ok" and let me do it!
Who IS this Woman?
I've known her
for 30 years, and this just wasn't like her. My wife would have said, "I'll drive, but stay up here and talk to
me", or "You just got up! Here...have some coffee"...something like that. But this woman just said "ok", so I laid down and fell asleep in the
Oh my God!...
was my wife and THAT was what she was screaming, as she held my
head down with her hand (How sweet...she was trying to protect me. Or...she
didn't want me to look up and complain about her driving!). I raised my head anyway and
soon realized we were hydroplaning from one side of I-75 to the other.
Evidently, this beautiful morning had turned into quite a downpour.
actually doing a pretty good job, but it soon became obvious we were out of
control and were going the hit the north/south, concrete divider pretty hard. We
ended up on top -- straddling the 3' tall divider for about 20 yards (teetering
between our lane and oncoming traffic, according to the driver of the mini-van
behind us) -- then fell back into the northbound lanes.
We came down
at kind of a weird angle, and when we did, I could feel the truck start to roll
over. I was on my knees in the back and still facing the front. She was sideways
in the drivers seat, facing the passenger window, but she was looking right at
me (No, we weren't wearing seat belts...don't get me started!).
seemed like it was happening in slow motion. I instinctively put my arms out like I was
going to do cartwheels. She saw me and put her arms out in front of her and we
rolled over 3 times (tumbling like we were in a dryer) before landing upright on
the wheels -- 3 wheels, actually. The other wheel was still rolling along the
concrete divider as I looked up to see where we were at.
about 10 yards off the side of the highway. We were lucky. It was raining so
hard, if we had landed on the highway, we would have been hit for sure -- and
someone else could have been injured or killed. It had rained 6 inches in 2 hours. I broke my
little toe and Belinda hurt her arm. Someone was watching out for us that day!
The End of the Dream?..
Almost a year
had passed and no mention was made of Tennessee. If it was raining, we stayed
home. If we went somewhere and got caught in the rain, we argued about how fast
to drive. We ended up driving like old folks. (Well...we are old folks...but
not that old! You know, where you drive 30 in a 55. No offense, Grandma! Didn't
mean to call you out!;-)
still having nightmares -- seeing the window shatter and the pavement coming at
her -- but I was itching to get back to Tennessee. I started bringing it up again
and we would end up fighting.
agreed to resume the search if I promised to stop driving and get a room if it
started raining. I swore I would and we left that Friday at midnight when I got
off of work. Within about 20 minutes it started to rain.
Well, yes I
did. But THIS wasn't rain...it was just barely
sprinkling! I was still rationalizing (ok, arguing) at the halfway
point. In the meantime, the wind had picked up and a constant barrage of
lightening was illuminating dark, ominous clouds. Then all of a sudden...
BAM!!!...We Were Struck by Lightening...
At least we think we were. We don't know how else to describe it. We were blinded
by a flash of light and nearly deafened by the simultaneous crack of thunder -- and it felt like the truck was pushed straight down about 3" into the pavement.
Yup...NOW it was raining!
I pulled off
the side of the road and we argued for the next 45 minutes (well, she argued...I
didn't have a leg to stand on.) Anyway, while she was lettin' me have it, it cleared
up! So...what do we do now? Do we continue on, or turn around and go back? I
knew that if we turned around, that would be the end of it. We would quit
searching. But the decision was hers. It had been a rough two years and I
couldn't blame her a bit for wanting to call it quits. But she
decided that since we were half-way there, we might as well finish out the trip.
What are the Chances?
We figured we
had made about 18 - 20 trips to Tennessee
by this time and had looked at hundreds of lots, homes, trailers, dumps, etc.
Nothing was quite right...not within our price range, anyway. Not that we're
cheap, mind you, but a lot of what we saw was way over-priced. We
couldn't even afford some of the dumps!
trip started out no different than the rest. Lots and homes, and a lot more homes and
a lot more
lots. Up hill and down, while reading maps and popping Dramamine. After a couple
of days of this, we were ready to give up.
On the way
back to the motel, we decided to check out this resort I had found on the
Internet that had a rental cabin for sale. It was called Paradise Landing
Resort. We were met there by the resort owner
(Joe) and he showed us Cabin 10. Nice cabin...lousy name. And about 40' away
from Cabin 10 was
Cabin 11, and both were located in the back of a cove. You could see the main
channel of Douglas Lake, but it was a limited view across a road and through
another cove. It was about the best deal we had seen so far, but Belinda had her
heart set on the main channel. So, she asked Joe if he had anything
The Right Place
at the Right Time
is lot 26" he said, rather hesitantly. (It almost
sounded like he wasn't authorized to sell it -- and he wasn't! But that's
another story.) He continued, "The owner just got married and his new
wife doesn't want to
live in Tennessee." So, off we went to look at lot 26.
There were no
signs of civilization on the little peninsula leading to lot 26, except for the
fact that lot 25 had been clear-cut. Here, the main channel of Douglas Lake was
fully exposed. It was awesome and Belinda instantly fell in love...but,
it wasn't for sale. To the right about 60 yards and up another 40 (or so) was
When we got to
the top, we looked toward the lake and saw...TREES! We couldn't
see the lake at all, and Belinda was having a hard time envisioning it. But I
could picture it, and I was
starting to get excited. This was a really unique piece of land! I began checking out a little knoll toward the edge of
the lot while Joe tried to convince Belinda the lake view would be the same as
lot 25. That's when I saw it...something you couldn't see from lot 25...MOUNTAINS!There they were just plain as day! Mountains on one side, lake on the
other. Now, all we had to do was convince Belinda there was an awesome lake view
from here and we'd be in business.
It only took a
few minutes and she began to get excited, too. Even though we had previously bid
on two other properties over the past two years (they were rejected, thank
goodness!) this was the first time we had gotten this excited. We bought it on
Oh-oh, Here it Comes...
remorse...BIG time! Yeah, I know -- sounds pretty silly to hunt for a place for
two years and then freak out when you finally buy it. But that's what we did.
All the way home we kept second-guessing our decision. And the one, single word
that seemed to crop up over and over was... "sacrifice".
We would have
to sacrifice this, and sacrifice that. Do we really need cable TV?
No. Do we really need cell phones? Not really. Do we really need chocolate candy
and ice cream? Well, YES! We couldn't give it all up. We were depressed!
It's a Sign!
We got home on
Sunday. Monday, on my way to work, I passed the church on the corner two blocks
from our house. There's a sign in the yard that someone in the congregation
updates about every two weeks with a Bible verse or some other inspirational
phrase. Here's the sign (opens in a new window)
Did you see
it? It says, "BOTH SACRIFICE AND
PARADISE WERE IN THE PLANS THAT HE MADE". (Now if that's
not a sign, I don't know what is!) We had talked all the way home about the
sacrifices that would have to be made to purchase that lot in Paradise Landing
Resort. I had passed this church at least 10
times a week for the past 15 years and have read every message ever displayed
during that time, and this is the first time I could ever recall seeing
"sacrifice" or "paradise" used, let alone both at the same time!
Coincidence? It could be. But we knew we would never
second-guess our decision to buy this property again...or would we?
One Year to the Day! Another Sign? Or Something more Ominous?
On July, 22nd, 2001, we signed the deed to the property. This was exactly
one year to the day that we rolled our SUV in Kentucky. We
didn't plan it that way...it's just the way it worked out. Another coincidence? Another
sign? Or was this something else?
God has a Strange Sense of Humor! Ha Ha...real funny, God!
We left the
lawyers office and began the long drive home to Indiana. It was a gorgeous
day! The sun was shining brightly and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
We were just
starting down Jellico Mountain
(heading into Kentucky) when, out of nowhere, it started raining like crazy! Ten
seconds earlier, the sun was shining -- and now we could barely see to drive! It
was just so...I don't know the word I'm looking for...weird! I guess...
As you can
imagine, Belinda was starting to panic. She's screaming at me to pull
over. I was going about 60 mph and semis were flying past, splashing water on
the windshield and making it all that much harder to see. Living in the
snow belt (13 miles southeast of Lake Michigan), I learned you don't just stop driving in the middle of a
white-out -- and you hope the drivers in front of you don't stop, either! But,
does that apply here? I don't know, but I didn't like our chances sitting on the
side of the road with traffic blasting by at 80 mph!
looking to climb out the window...crawl under the seat...something -- but I
couldn't pull over. I just tried to stay within site of the
vehicle ahead of us. We were still doing about 50 mph, and I kept my eyes glued
to the taillights in front of me. It was about that time she spotted the sign
that said, "Jellico - 1 mile". (Let me tell ya, that one mile felt like ten!)
We exited the
expressway and immediately came to a stop sign, and, as we did, it stopped
that! We lingered at the stop sign a little longer than normal as both of us breathed
a sigh of relief. The sun was starting to shine again, and as I looked in the
rear view mirror I began to laugh. (This was probably not a smart thing to do,
since Belinda probably still had enough adrenaline rushing through her veins to
rip my head off!)
behind us sat a carload of soaking-wet, twenty-somethings, waiting for their
convertible top to come up and shield them from the elements -- which, by this
time was a bright, shining sun! They were laughing, we were laughing, and I'd
almost bet, God was laughing, too!
Wow, that was a
long story, eh? Thanks for sticking it out. You're a real trooper! Have a look
around our website, and if you have any questions, please call me (Greg) at
219-363-9280, or enter your comments in the comment box on the "Rates and
road trips to TN since we have owned the cabin have been relatively uneventful.
And that's just fine with us!)
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