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A Home on Isaac’s Creek: Views Galore, Up for Grabs

ISAAC’S CREEK — Ever dreamed of getting away from all the noise you don’t want to hear and the people you don’t want to see?

Don’t want the persistent cell phone calls with their obnoxious pop song ring tones and the text messages buzzing their constant arrival like malevolent mosquitoes and the blaring radios rattling your brain cells and the dumpsters clanging onto concrete pads and the honking car horns and the clattering keyboards and the clack- and-rumble, clack-and-rumble of the neighbor’s stupid 11-year-old on his skateboard at 8 a.m. on Saturday and the annoying  beagle sitting on top of his dog house and baying at the moon on Sunday night when you gotta get up to work at 5 a.m. on Monday?

Don’t want to see the boss who piles on the paperwork at 3 p.m. on Friday or the salvation peddlers on their bikes ringing the doorbell during the football game or the mailman with his bad news at noon, or the lawn maintenance guys with the roaring mowers and snarling edgers? Don’t even want, sometimes, to see or hear – dare you say what you sometimes think, deep down – the kids and grandkids?

Ever dreamed escaping to that kind of place, an idyllic get-away where all you have to hear is the water lapping on the shore, the otters frolicking and the gulls laughing high above, where the only people who even remotely intrude on your solitary reverie are the occasional fishermen, silhouetted against the sun, soundlessly slinging cast nets or tossing out lines?


Lali and John Rumke take in the view from their deck.

Well, Lali and John Rumke will sell you that dream. It’s on a peninsula without a name – unless you count the one they gave it, Tranquil Island – near Intracoastal Waterway Marker #13, between Jerry Bay and Isaac’s Creek, a tributary of Adams Creek in Down East Carteret County. They dreamed it, made it 70 percent real and now they’ve got to let it go.

The house, a 2,600-square-foot beauty, is nestled in a protected area of the peninsula, on a 21-acre tract of marsh and maritime forest. You can have it – through Eddy Myers Real Estate in Carteret County – for less than $400,000. About all you have to do is finish the interior, and the equipment and the wood to do that are already on site, brought over by barge.


Home could be just a fifteen-minute boat ride away.

“When we retired (from IBM in Raleigh), we got an old boat and just went all along the coast, starting at the Virginia line, looking at places. When we saw a ‘for sale’ sign here, we knew this was it,” John said a couple Saturdays ago, after a 15-minute boat ride from the couple’s mainland house in the West Back Creek area off Merrimon Road. “We got to work on it and we love it. It’s hard to let it go, but we have to,” added Lali.

John, 71, has had some health issues, and it’s just not safe for him to live out his retirement in a dream so isolated, even if it’s akin to paradise. All they want, he said, is what they’ve put into it. Well, that, and they want whoever buys it to love it and appreciate it like they do, and not carve it up and ruin the pristine beauty. The buyer could be a retiree or it could be an environmental group or foundation; the latter could use the house as an education center or as a headquarters for overnight or longer visits for nature studies.

Whoever buys it will get a house that John and Lali designed themselves, one that displays expert woodworking – the wall boards are all one piece, all the way to the 16-foot-high ceiling – and a keen appreciation of how to live not merely in nature, but with it.

The house, because of the setting and its orientation, is warm in the winter, mostly blocked from the prevailing northerly winds, and cool in hot weather. A four-foot overhang, a part of the roof, not supported by posts, blocks the most direct sun and keeps out rain, and the window system and the location and style of the windows creates natural air conditioning. There are ceiling fans, and there’s a wood stove that Lali and John say will heat the whole structure, because the floor plan is so open, but they designed the floor for solar heating elements, and the house is designed for installation of the needed panels. They used block and tackle to get the 400-pound stove into the house.

They didn’t put in the solar system, they say, only because they didn’t know if the buyer would want it. It also would likely be a good spot for wind power. Those who want fossil fuel could put in a gas tank; the Rumkes use a generator. But there’s little chance of ever getting electric lines to the house, because it’s unlikely the powers-that-be will ever allow them to be buried under the federally maintained Intracoastal Waterway, which requires periodic dredging.

The house gets its address – Carteret County demanded one – from the fact that the nearest navigation marker is ICW Marker 13. Your address would be 13 Isaac’s Creek Lane. The county added the “lane,” even though there’s nothing of the sort anywhere nearby.

“They wanted an address for 9-1-1,” Lali said. “We kind of went, huh? But we gave them one, and they added the ‘lane.’”


The deck and the dock on Isaac’s Creek.

The plumbing works, with a big septic tank handling the waste. It took 30 tons of stone to construct the leach field. The dock is in great shape, and house sits on 92 pilings, high enough that it hasn’t flooded even when their property in West Back Creek has been inundated. The roof is at a 6-12 pitch, perfect, John said, to withstand hurricane winds. If you’re into jogging, there’s a deck around the whole house; you can get your exercise without touching the ground.

John and Lali estimate the house is 70 percent complete; the buyer would need to put in the cabinets and finish the kitchen and the walls. John estimates that after buying the house, a purchaser could finish it for $30-50,000, depending on whether the solar system goes in.

John and Lali say they’ve had some offers on the property, but mostly from those who would use it for hunting – there are bears and even a black leopard in the vicinity – and they don’t want to sell it for that purpose. Nor do they want to break it into parcels for more intense development.

“We just want someone who will enjoy finishing it and who will love it and appreciate it,” Lali said. “People thought we were crazy when we started this, but they don’t think that after they’ve seen how gorgeous it is. “You can watch the sun come up over the water in the morning and then walk a little way and see it set over the ICW.”


About the Author

Brad Rich

Brad Rich is a reporter for the Carteret County News-Times in Morehead City. He has written about fishery and environmental issues along the central North Carolina coast for 35 years. He lives in Hubert with his wife, Gwen.