One of my recent field trips took me 45 minutes north of downtown to a place called Sharps Chapel. Located in Union County, just north of Maynardville off Highway 33, it's a place I'd never thought to visit until friends undertook an extreme relocation from urban Knoxville to that rural community. They've been inviting me out to see their new, old digs for two years, but it took a driving tour with Union County historian Bonnie Peters to get me out there. Now I wonder why I waited so long.
My friends Dave Whaley and Tomica Miller were fixtures in the Old North Knoxville neighborhood for years. So was the bed and breakfast they operated - The Brimer House Inn. Their inn was a popular destination, but Dave discovered he preferred restoration work over changing sheets and dealing with the sometimes maddening behavior of their paying house guests. So he and Tomica began driving country roads looking for land and plotting their escape to a peaceful, rural setting.
The story of how they found their current project sounds like a combination of serendipity and fate.