Shopping for Neighborhoods

Dear Liza,

It looks like our house in Salinas is going to sell very soon! This is the closing of one door in our lives and the opening of another…very exciting!

Of course, since we will want to buy a house up here in Portland, we need to learn about all the neighborhoods. We know Laurelhurst, Glencoe, Sunnyside, and Kerns. They are close to Laurelhurst Park and all the things we love about this neighborhood…shops, restaurants, pinball, and friendly people. But the houses here cost a little bit more than we want to pay.

Fernhill Park.jpg
Lovely Fernhill Park

So yesterday, we drove north to look at other neighborhoods. First we went to Fernhill Park in the Concordia neighborhood, about 5 miles northeast of our own Laurelhurst neighborhood. The park itself is good. It has a nice, wide-open part, with picnic tables, climbing toys, and baseball diamonds, and there is another section with tall fir trees, which feels like a forest. There were happy families, kids and dogs enjoying the winter sunshine.

But the neighborhood didn’t feel like us. Parts of it had no sidewalks, and were very suburban, almost country-like. There was also quite a lot of noise from the airport. I know the people who live there must love it, but it isn’t what we are looking for.

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View of Mt. St. Helens in Washington from Fernhill Park

So we went elsewhere. We drove west to the Peninsula Rose Garden Park that Grandpa Nelson and I explored and loved weeks ago. Then, we had been looking at the park. Now we looked at the neighborhood. The houses are mostly from about 1910, and are well kept. The only drawback is that there aren’t a lot of shops, coffee places, or markets close by. We have realized that the ability to get what we need without driving is important to us, and are making that a priority in our search.

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Arbor Lodge Coffee

Just west of the 5 freeway, we found the pleasant Arbor Lodge Coffee shop for our mid-morning snack. It is friendly, has nifty art of the walls, and great coffee. It is also just around the corner from Arbor Lodge Park. We we went there.

gator in Arbor Lodge Park.jpg
Silly Gator in Arbor Lodge Park

Arbor Lodge Park is in a family oriented neighborhood, and just across the street is Chief Joseph Elementary School. The park has baseball diamonds, a soccer area, climbing toys, and a unique structure that is part water-toy, part sculpture garden, and part hill. The whimsy and variety make this a really fun park, even for us big people. The neighborhood is close to the yellow line train to get into town and has grocery stores and other nice shops. This could work.

Next along the line was Columbia Park. It feels a lot like our own Laurelhurst, but is on flat ground, so it misses the wild feel a bit. However, the thick grove of firs make for a nice bit of wilderness.

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Crow’s nest in Columbia Park

We were ready to head home, but Grandpa Nelson wanted to show Auntie Bridgett the St. John’s Bridge because it is so pretty. We drove up into St. Johns, crossed the bridge, and drove through downtown and home. The view of the city shows us a lot of what we love about this place, and Mt, Hood was shining white with snow!

mt. Hood from St. John's neighborhood
         Mt Hood                                  Photo credit: Bridgett Spicer

Once we got home and had our feet up, Grandpa Nelson was looking at the map of where we had been. “Why didn’t we go see Alberta Park?” he asked. We looked at the map, and sure enough, between Fernhill and Arbor Lodge, further south than either of them, was Alberta Park. We had just driven past without noticing. Oh, well. A project for another day.

Love,

Grandma Judy