[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at SecondShelters.com and CandysDirt.com!]

Amy: If you are a real estate junkie like many of us at CandysDirt.com and SecondShelters.com, then you know there is nothing more thrilling than finding the find of all finds. Such is the case with our best of 2018 pick for Splurge vs. Steal. Who knew you could own postcard-perfect views of Lake Shasta at this price? The original post ran in August of 2018. Enjoy!

Splurge vs. Steal Resort Edition: Lake Shasta, California

For those looking for a lake home on the West Coast, “Lake Shasta” as it’s commonly known, is tough to beat for the price. As California’s largest reservoir, it offers incredible outdoor recreation with 370 miles of shoreline and crystal blue waters for fishing, boating, and epic water-skiing. Located in the state’s northeast corner, the Shasta Cascade region is a place where you can explore volcanoes, hike through lush forests, and fish on blue-ribbon, trout-filled rivers — offering something for everyone. The best part? We located two Lake Shasta retreats for under $1 million and spill all the details in our latest Splurge vs. Steal.

Which one would you choose? The furnished Tahoe-style splurge or the forested summer home steal? Be sure to let us know in the comments! (more…)

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The sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia this weekend in West Texas throws yet another Texas ranch property into the spotlight: Cibolo Creek Ranch, owned by Houston billionaire and Washington D.C. insider John Poindexter.

Poindexter says he invited Scalia, age 79, to his ranch this weekend as a guest along with about three dozen others. One of Scalia’s sons was to come but cancelled at the last minute. Poindexter says Justice Scalia was animated and engaged during dinner Friday night, but did retire early at 9 p.m. saying it had been a long week, and he was tired.

Poindexter tried to awaken Scalia about 8:30 the next morning, but the Justices’ door was locked and he did not answer.

Three hours later, Poindexter returned to the ranch after an outing. He and a Scalia friend from Washington got into the room, and discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled, indicating that perhaps he had died shortly after retiring the night before.

“He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap,” he said.

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Established in 1857 by Milton Faver, known as the first Texas cattle baron west of the Pecos, Cibolo Creek Ranch is now a five-star resort, a rugged oasis of a retreat, once a grouping of real life forts where Indian attacks were fended off. One of the more artistic forts remaining is  “El Fortin de Cibolo.” Many millionaires and celebrities have visited the 30,000 acres near the Chinati Mountains including Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Tommy Lee Jones. One of the Dixie Chicks, Emily Erwin, was married there. Rooms run $350 to $700 per night. Cibolo Creek Ranch was bought by Poindexter in 1988 when it was not in the best of shape. He meticulously renovated three of the forts into a luxury, 33-room resort with a pool, dining room, horseback riding facilities, hunting and private airstrip. The atmosphere is comfortable luxury — lots of sinkable leather chairs and sofas, luxurious rooms with a ranch theme. Located about 30 miles south of Marfa, most guests fly in by private plane to the airstrip or fly to Midland and drive 3.5 hours to the remote ranch near Shafter and Marfa.

Poindexter was profiled in this 2006 Texas Monthly story by John Spong, when he was trying to buy 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park. He was described by Spong as a rather “stiff dude” who has never married (“It wasn’t that I didn’t like the ladies enough; it’s that I liked them too much.”) – ha!: (more…)