Harbor Tour of Portsmouth New Hampshire

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:27 pm, July 17th, 2010  

This past Thursday night I had the opportunity to go on a harbor tour/cruise of Portsmouth, New Hampshire along the harbor out to where it runs into the Atlantic Ocean.

Portsmouth harbor portsmouth new hampshire

Portsmouth New Hampshire harbor view

Portsmouth is a beautiful coastal city on the northern end of the New Hampshire seacoast. In the harbor view above you can see a new, waterfront condo project under construction and the white steeple of the Old North Church to the far right.

At only 17 miles long, the New Hampshire coastline is shorter than any other state that borders an ocean.

Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River, portsmouth nh

Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River connects Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine

Because Portsmouth is a working harbor with lots of large ship traffic in and out, two of the bridges over the river are drawbridges which raise every 30 minutes from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM to accommodate harbor ship traffic. In this photo the middle section of the bridge is starting to lift.

portsmouth nh harbor moran tugboat company

Moran Tugboat & towing company tugboats

The Piscataqua River is the third-fastest tidal river in North America and also very narrow by modern shipping standards. Local river pilots take the helm of in and outbound commercial vessels and guide them safely through the channel. These two large tugboats are operated by Moran Towing & Tugboats. Because the Piscataqua flows so fast these tugs only operate at “slack tide”, roughly four hours a day.when the incoming tides temporarily balance the outgoing river currents. Check out this Portsmouth harbor cam to watch river traffic live. The images refreshes every 10 seconds.

portsmouth naval shipyard portsmouth nh

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established in 1800

The Shipyard’s primary mission today is the overhaul, repair and modernization of Los Angeles-class submarines. The dry-docks have recently been enlarged and upgraded to accommodate the new and larger Virginia class submarine with the first due in for a tune up later this month.

USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909) is a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter based at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine and is the 5th Coast Guard Cutter to bear the name. She regularly patrols the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine to the Caribbean Sea

USCG Cutter Campbell based at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

The Campbell regularly patrols the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine south to the Caribbean Sea.

Portsmouth Naval Prison, Kittery ME

Portsmouth Naval Prison

This is Portsmouth Naval Prison which is curiously actually located in Kittery, Maine just across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth. The prison has been closed and abandoned since the 1970s as too expensive to rebuild or to tear down. Scenes from the movie “The Last Detail,” starring Jack Nicholson were filmed there.

new castle nh harbor smallest town in nh

New Castle, New Hampshire the smallest city in NH

This is some of the waterfront of New Castle, the smallest city in New Hampshire and the only one located entirely on islands. New Castle is also home to a US Coast Guard station and the historic Wentworth by the Sea hotel.

setting sun over portsmouth new hampshire

Setting sun over Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

portsmouth light at New Castle Coast Guard Stations setting sun over portsmouth new hampshire

The green light at right is Portsmouth Light on the New Castle Coast Guard Station grounds.

Portsmouth light was originally established before the Revolutionary War when American was still a British Colony.

In 1946 the current lighthouse keeper’s wife Connie wrote a book titled not surprisingly “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife” and described the view from the top of Portsmouth Light. “I looked down forty feet to the little white scallops of incoming tide washing over the rocks, caressing each one lovingly. …We could look up the Piscataqua River to Portsmouth, with its gleaming white belfry of North Church, a landmark for sailors, silhouetted against the sky. …At the center of the harbor was Whaleback Lighthouse, and ten miles out to sea from that was the lighthouse on White Island, part of the Isles of Shoals. Both sent their beams across the water.”

Lighthouse keepers were or often became, a little ‘different’ from the rest of us. Imagine your job was taking care of Whaleback Lighthouse on an uninhabited, rocky small island day in and day out.

One lighthouse keeper was reported to use the top of his light to shoot passing ducks. He also had a small dingy that he used to row to shore occasionally where he would borrow a resident’s car to visit the local grocery store.

Whaleback island lighthouse entrance to portsmouth harbor

Whaleback Island lighthouse marks the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor

Whaleback Island is actually part of  a  jagged ledge known as Whaleback. This ledge is completely underwater at high tide and is a continuation of the southern portion of Gerrish Island in Maine.  The little dots you see in the water are buoys for lobster traps.

whaleback island lighthouse at darkness falls and a light fog starts to roll in

Whaleback Island at twilight as a light fog starts rolling in.

By the way, this is a working light house; the reason it appears dark in the photos is that the light only flashes on and off every few seconds but trust me, you do not have any problem seeing it when its light flashes. Whaleback light gives 2 white flashes every 10 seconds and during foggy weather, 2 blasts on its foghorn every 10 seconds. Click here to hear the Whaleback Light fog horn. It’s not too loud so it won’t blast you out of your seat. ;)

portsmouth nh harbor at night

Portsmouth Harbor at night is a beautiful sight too.

We got back to the dock around 10:00 PM after a great tour of Portsmouth Harbor. If you ever in the area I recommend a harbor tour as a ‘must do’ part of your visit.

Biking the Cade Cove loop road in the Great Smoky Mountains

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 11:10 am, May 24th, 2010  

UPDATE May 22, 2010: Made a trip around the Cove on the newly paved loop road. Spectacular! Those of you that remember the old crumbling and patched road there before won’t believe the difference. Still the same scenic beauty but a much better roadbed to enjoy it from now.

Original post follows:

One of the many great things about living in the Knoxville, Tennessee area is it’s close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There are many very scenic and beautiful sections of the park but one of my special favorites is Cades Cove. Going from Knoxville through Maryville and Townsend to the Cove is about a 40 mile drive but because of the narrow, windy roads in the park allow about an hour for the drive one way.

“The Cove” as it’s known to local folks was originally a pioneer settlement first homesteaded by John and Luraney Oliver around 1818. The Olivers and their descendants lived in the Cove until the Park was established in 1934.

Cades Cove is a very special place to me. The “Cove” as the local folks know it, is an oasis of peace and tranquility in an all too “hustle & bustle” world. Spending a few hours here amid the surrounding green mountains in the meadows and woodlands are like a relaxing ‘mini vacation’. I always come out the other side of the loop road a happier, more tranquil person than when I started off.

A lot of the original buildings have been preserved by the national park service to illustrate how life was back in those days. One of the very enjoyable things you can do in the Cove is to ride your bike around the 11 mile loop road that circles this scenic valley.

Cades Cove great smoky mountains national park knoxville tennessee

This past Saturday I took my bike up to the Cove and set off about 8:00 am to ride the loop. I got a bit later start than usual and there were lots of other bikers either on the road already or getting ready to go. There are also usually quite a few walkers and some runners as well; no exception today.

It’s a great ride with several pretty good pulls up hills that get your heart pumping. Since it’s getting pretty close to fall I saw several bears up in Oak trees stuffing themselves with Acorns in preparation for going into hibernation soon.

cades cove gsmnp knoxville tennessee

This looked to be a pretty young bear. He was busy stuffing food into his mouth and oblivious to everyone below his tree watching and taking pictures.

The Cove also abounds with lots of deer and it’s not unusual to see as many as 100 or more during your tour. Other game include big flocks of wild turkey like the one pictured below, black bear, wild boar, and multitudes of small game and birds of all sorts.

Cades Cove 002 wild turkey in great smoky mountains national park

Wild turkey in Cades Cove

Wildlife in Cades Cove are very used to visitors and it’s usually easy to get some terrific photos of the plentiful bear, deer, wild turkey, and other wildlife.

One cautionary note; these are wild animals and there are no bars between you and them like in the zoo. This is also their home; you are the visitor so please respect them, don’t try to get too close, and above all else DO NOT try to feed them or touch them. It is against the law and the park rangers will cite you or arrest you on the spot if they see you. It also does harm to the animals by teaching them to go to humans for food instead of finding it on their own as nature intended.

Here’s another shot of some Cades Cove deer having breakfast. This photo is from a previous visit.

cades cove gsmnp knoxville tennessee

If you’re visiting, the Cades Store has a bike rental for you. $4.00 an hour for coaster bikes and $6.00 for geared models. I highly recommend the geared models for an extra two bucks unless your name is Lance Armstrong.

Riding the loop road takes anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on your fitness level and how much sightseeing you do along the way. I recommend taking your time and enjoying all the Cove has to offer.

If your time is short there are also two roads, Hyatt and Sparks Lanes, you can cut through the middle of the Cove and finish much quicker.

From early May until late September the Cove loop road is closed to vehicles on Wednesday and Saturdays until 10:00 am. I strongly suggest planning your ride during these times especially on Wednesdays if you can arrange your schedule.

Cades Cove is a very, very popular destination and the loop road is typically clogged with vehicles especially during the summer and a bear sighting brings all traffic to a halt.

We usually try to hit the road on Wednesdays just at first light. That’s the time the most animals are out feeding and the crowds are almost nonexistent then.

Enjoy your ride, take along plenty of water, stop and enjoy the views often; I guarantee it’s a ride you will remember for years to come.

Quick, easy, and delicious Carrot Cake recipe

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 8:41 am, April 1st, 2010  
Carrot Cake
Image via Wikipedia

An old family friend named Jean gave me this terrific Carrot Cake recipe many years ago. I’ve made it lots of times and it’s always delicious as well as quick and easy. Quick, easy, and delicious meet all 3 of my food preparation criteria.

Give one a try for Easter; you’ll be a star with the folks that eat a piece.

Jean’s Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups of self rising flour
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup of chopped pecans (I often substitute Black Walnuts)
  • 3 Cups of fresh grated carrots, firmly packed

Mix all ingredients in order listing and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes

Cream cheese frosting

  • One 16 ounce box powdered sugar
  • 1 large block cream cheese softened
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter or margarine (butter is best)
  • 2 Tablespoons of pure Vanilla Extract

Mix thoroughly and spread on cooled cake, reserve a few nuts to sprinkle on top for garnish.

carrot cake compliments of knoxville realtor jim lee

Try this delicious Carrot Cake recipe for Easter

Give this one a try soon, I promise this will be the easiest carrot cake you’ve ever made and one of the best tasting.

Happy Easter

By the way, if you need a new yard to hide your Easter eggs in, try KnoxvilleHomeSearcher.com to see all the greater Knoxville area listings for sale.

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Knox County real estate transfers for the week of May 10th

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 12:19 pm, May 10th, 2009  
Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.
Image via Wikipedia

The past week looks a bit worse than the week before with the volume of transfers down to 78 from the previous weeks 138.

Real estate transfers for the week of May 10th

only 78 Knox County Real estate transfers recorded for the week of May 10th

This market has created the proverbial “Perfect Storm” for home buyers. Lots of home for sale (Today there are 5,124 active single family and condominium homes for sale just in Knox County) and 78 recorded transactions last week so it’s very clearly a strong buyer’s market.

Financing remains in the sub 5% range for most price ranges with some great 100% financing available for buyers able to use the Tennessee Housing Development Authority (THDA) program.

Those smart folks at THDA have a new program that actually lends you up to the 3..5% of your down payment (which coincidentally happens to be the minimum down for FHA financing) at 0% for up to a year and you can repay them when you file your taxes and collect that $8,000 tax credit the federal government is offering for qualified buyers that have not owned a home in the past 3 years.  Regular conventional buyers also can qualify for the 8K tax credit as well.

All you need is a minimum 620 credit score and a debt to income ratio below 45%; call me if you’re interested and I’ll explain how it works; easy for most people to qualify.

Here’s a few listings you can buy right now that fit into this program’s guidelines.

This charming Cape Cod styled home is priced at only $129,900. Ask about $0 down financing and a principal and interest payment under $600 a month!

This charming Cape Cod styled home is priced at only $129,900. Ask about $0 down financing and a principal and interest payment under $600 a month!

This excellent basement rancher is priced at only $149,900 with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a two car garage.

This excellent basement rancher is priced at only $149,900 with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a two car garage.

This charming older home was listed for $84,900 and not surprisingly just sold.

This charming older home was listed for $84,900 and not surprisingly just sold.

Visit www.KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com to see over 5,000 Knox County homes for sale as well as other nearby areas such as Maryville, Oak Ridge, Loudon County, and many others.

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Thanksgiving turkey leftover recipes

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 2:52 pm, November 30th, 2008  
Thanksgiving turkey, just out of the oven

Image by Kitty Sonnenschein via Flickr

If you still have Thanksgiving turkey left over here are 2 quick and easy recipes to deliciously get rid of it.

One of my favorites I fixed last night.

Grilled Turkey Rubens, serves 2

4 slices rye bread

1/2 cup sauerkraut

2 slices of Swiss cheese

1,000 island dressing


Butter or apply spread to outside of rye bread, place one slice butter side down in skillet.

layer on some turkey, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.

Butter other side of bread and place on top with butter side facing up.

Grilled until toasted on one side, turn over and toast other side.

Enjoy, grilled turkey Rubens are delicious especially with a crisp pickle and some chips.

Crunchy Turkey Salad, serves 2

coarsely chop cooked turkey, from 1/2 cup to 1 cup

Mix in a coarsely chopped tart apple like Granny Smith

Throw in a handful of nuts, pecan or walnuts work best.

Fold in some low fat mayo to taste.

You can either use this on a sandwich, by itself, or put a big spoon on top of some torn salad greens.

Both the Reuben and turkey salad recipes are very easy to prepare and both are very tasty.

www.KnoxvilleHomeCenter.com is another great recipe to help you find a new home, no mixing, stirring, or cooking necessary.

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Who else wants their Knoxville or Farragut Tennessee home sold fast?

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 3:21 pm, June 26th, 2008  

If your Knoxville or Farragut Tennessee home is on the market for sale and not selling here’s some things you can do to change that and help it to sell quickly.

  • dress your knoxville home for success with great curb appealCheck your home’s curb appeal. Go out your front door, walk across the street, and take a hard look at the view potential buyers see when they drive by. Are your lawn and shrubs neatly trimmed? A touch of seasonal flowers visible? Garage doors down and all bikes, big wheels, and toys put away? The first thing buyers have to do to buy your house is be attracted to it. Good curb appeal sets the stage for a positive visit. You might also check any online photos, especially the first one people see.
  • Check your price. What have similar homes to yours sold for in the past few months? What price range are pending sales of homes similar to yours in? Hows your market absorption rate right now? This is a very strange market we’re in all across the country and you need to know what the situation is locally; in your town, in your area, in your neighborhood. Make sure your house is priced competitively.
  • Have your home professionally “staged” inside. Staging is part art form, part science. Successful staging is much more than interior decorating; it’s literally setting a stage to make your home look like a model home. Declutter and put away personal “stuff” that detract buyers from looking at the actual house. Refresh tired and outdated paint colors. ‘Lean out’ over crowded rooms and consider renting a storage locker to store excess furniture and large possessions that take up floor space.
  • Instead of dropping the price, consider offering some incentives for potential buyers. Paying some or all of their closing costs is a tried and true inducement. Try and think of some unusual incentives such as paying their moving expenses. What buyer wouldn’t be attracted to the notion of not having to lift a finger on moving in day but rather directing free movers where to locate their heavy furniture.
  • Offer an incentive to local Realtors. Money works well. ;-). Adding 1% to the fee a buyer’s agent can earn is a small portion of your sales price but it can attract more agents to push your house to their buyers. Let’s face it, money is a powerful motivator.

None, or even all, of these things are guaranteed to make your house sell but I think most would agree that the more you tilt the odds in your favor the better your chances of a sale become.

Visit Knoxville Home Center for 40 free tips to make your home sell faster and for more money. You can also request a free copy of my 52 page eBook titled “450 Ideas To Help Your Home Sell FASTER!”. Just click the “Free Stuff” link for this and more selling ideas.

Who is buying Knoxville & Farragut homes in 2008?

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:02 am, February 29th, 2008  

Not surprisingly it’s the same people that were buying them last year; there’s just not as many this year.

Married couples still make up the overwhelming majority of the Knoxville area buying market and that group is trending toward younger, first time buyers.

No surprise there either. With interest rates so attractive right now many buyers are discovering they can buy a home and end up with a payment several hundred dollars less than they’re currently paying in rent.

Now is a great time to buy a Knoxville or Farragut Tennessee home

Coming in second in buyers that buy are single women; a trend that has remained constant for the past several years. Single women buy about 20% of Knoxville’s homes.

Single guys aren’t doing that well; only 9% of the buyer group are the guys. One has to wonder if they’re spending their money on the single women. ;-)

Minorities are buying Knoxville area homes as well.

African-Americans make up 7 percent of the home-buying populace; Hispanics and Latinos are 6 percent, and Asians and Pacific Islanders are 5 percent.

With the recent chaos and resulting clampdowns in mortgage guidelines, investors are not in the market now in such large numbers as before. Also, low down payment loans and jumbo loans are getting tougher to qualify for.

If you’re a Knoxville couple, single, minority, or a combination, and you are looking for a new home, KnoxvilleMLS.com is a great place to begin your search.

I also have a free “Homebuyer’s Toolkit” published by the Real Estate Buyers Agents Council (REBAC) that I would be glad to give you. It’s packed full of valuable information for homebuyers such as:

  • Deciding to Buy a Home 

  • Locating and Buying a Home

  • Making the Best Deal

  • Moving In 

  • Home Buyer’s Glossary of Terms

  • What a Real Estate Buyer’s Representative is… and Why You Should Use One

  • Finding a Neighborhood for You

  • Making An Offer  

  • Tax Tips for Buyers

  • How to Start Packing Prior to your Move

  • Resources 

Please call or email me with any real estate questions and to view any homes of interest.

As an “Accredited Buyer Representative” (ABR), I’m well qualified to represent you in your new home purchase and ensure you get the best house for your money.

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