RIPLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Staying at Ranson Hollows in Jackson County is like having an entire park to yourself.
Situated on 450 acres of picturesque land, guests who rent the chalet and cabin have access to hiking paths, fishing ponds, ATV trails and breathtaking views in the quiet of nature.
Bo Ranson, who grew up there, is happy to share the serenity.
"People once said 'Why do you live in the middle of nowhere?' Now people pay me to stay here," said Ranson, 55. "When you've got stuff, it isn't fun unless you share it. We're booked for this year and have nine weddings booked for next year. We are now taking reservations for 2015."
His regular job is president of Land & Resource Management Inc. He runs Ranson Hollows with help from his wife, Terri, 55, and their daughter, Ceason, 32. Their son, Colton, 26, lives in Montana.
Terri is a nurse practitioner at Charleston Area Medical Center. Ceason, who earned a law degree from West Virginia University, works as a title abstractor.
A maintenance staff keeps Ranson Hollows' large tracts of land manicured. One section is loaned to a cattle farmer who clears some land for the hay.
The original 100 acres has been in the family since the early 1960s.
As adjoining farms came up for sale, the Ransons purchased them until the size of the land grew to 450 acres. Each tract of land came with a house that is now occupied by a relative.
"I have three brothers, a niece and two nephews who live here," he said. "There are seven family houses."
Houses on the family compound are spaced so far apart that everyone is ensured of privacy, including those who rent the cabin and chalet.
The cabin and chalet are rented as one unit to ensure the solitude of guests.
The three-bedroom chalet and one-bedroom cabin are situated at the end of a hollow near a pond stocked with fish.
The cabin is rustic with one bedroom containing a double and single bed and a large open room with sectional sofa, fishing paraphernalia and a kitchen area featuring a camp stove and running water.
The adjoining bathroom is entered from outside and is equipped with a claw foot tub and a toilet that composts.
The charming chalet is an A-frame with three levels. The first floor includes a sunroom, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room.
The second level has a great room with gas fireplace, tall windows that flood the area with light and doors that open onto a large deck overlooking the land.
There is a bedroom with a king-sized bed and a bathroom with a shower. The loft area has two full-sized beds and a walk-in closet.
The cabin sleeps four to six people while the chalet accommodates another six to eight.
The rental fee for both is $200 a night or $1,200 for the week. A two-night minimum is required.
Since they began renting four years ago, some groups have returned each year. Visitors love the solitude and seeing the turkeys, deer, squirrels and a variety of birds.
"We've had quite a few returnees and had to turn two away this year," he said. "We try to keep groups below 12. We are pet-friendly. Some people bring their dogs."
Bo and his wife have a log home at the top of the mountain with a hot tub room, outdoor fireplace and view of the countryside.
As he and Ceason recently took guests on a tour of the land in a four-seat ATV, he pointed out maple trees that he taps for syrup, a vacant 1930s homestead once occupied by a man named Clarence Sayre and an ancient cemetery with only one readable headstone: Virginia Bush, 1845-1889.
Meanwhile, Ceason Ranson lives in a brick house near the bright red barn and pavilion where weddings and various gatherings are held.
"We just had our 10th wedding," she said. "May, June and October are the main months. Each wedding has something distinctive."
The buildings are rented for everything from bridal showers to reunions.
The pavilion has folding tables and chairs. The barn has long benches built by the Amish that can be folded and stored for those who wish to have a barn dance.
Renters choose their own caterers and are free to bring their own beverages. The farm does not have a liquor license.
Ranson Hollows is located off Coleman Branch Road in Ripley.
Visit www.ransonhollows.com for more information, search for "Ranson Hollows" on Facebook or call 304-372-2407.
Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, http://www.charlestondailymail.com