Spring break for the girls was the last week of March. Craig visited from Colorado for the first few days. We enjoyed some of our favorite DC activities. We walked around monuments and memorials, did two hikes along the Potomac River, had coffee at our favorite cafe at the National Cathedral, and spent some quiet time at home cooking and trying to play Craig's mandolin. He is an avid rock hound, with his own mining claim and he crafts beautiful jewelry, so he also spent some quality time at the Natural History Museum and other museums on his own. It was a wonderful visit.
The consensus from all our visitors is that Washington, DC is a gorgeous and fascinating city. People are always surprised that our neighborhood in Bethesda is so wooded and beautiful, yet minutes from the city. We agree. Of course it has strong downsides driven by population density, most notably the abhorrent cost of living, traffic, and high density of jerks. But it is a great place to visit! (Or, I can now say in hindsight, to come live for a year or two sabbatical). We certainly look forward to coming back for visits after our move and I hope that my work will bring me back from time to time.
On Tuesday of Spring Break, we drove the girls two hours north to Gramma Vicki and Steve's house, enjoyed brunch, and then left the girls for four days of spoiling and fun and Craig and I drove to the airport. Craig returned to Colorado and I flew to Portland for a 72-hour, whirlwind house hunting and general reconnaissance trip.
I'd been studying the Portland housing market religiously for three months, which had me mentally prepared for the brutal reality of the housing market for buyers. As just one example, one of my new coworkers in Portland just finally went under contract to buy a house, on her 13th offer, having been outbid on her first twelve offers. She paid $76K over asking price! So I went in with tempered hopes to see all the houses that met my search criteria of size, price, and location, to get to know neighborhoods, to visit a private school that serves children with hearing loss, to visit my new office, and to find apartments that offered month-to-month leases in the probably event that I would not find a house to buy before we move
My sister joined me from her sleepy island home in British Columbia. This was the first time we were together without kids since before her 10-year-old son was born. She offers great insights on things like home buying, schools, and neighborhoods, and the trip was even more fun to have sister time. We stayed with Arlene, who is the mom of my dear Boise friend, Diane, and she was a wonderful, laid-back host.
On our first day, we met my realtor and saw 13 houses, which comprised everything on the market that met my criteria. The very first house we saw was wonderful in every way, and all others were either not nearly as nice (for as much money) or comparably nice but more expensive. Most were simply nowhere near as nice. I immediately knew I'd found our perfect house. However, I also knew that there were already 3 offers on it, and the sellers were out of town from Tuesday through Friday and so offers would continue to collect for three more days. That night we crafted my offer, and I finalized a letter that I'd written to introduce myself as a potential buyer. The letter was pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) and I gave them a juicy offer. I felt comfortable that my offer was justified in terms of market value and it felt like a strong offer. Then I waited.
The next few days I visited my new office and met new colleagues (all around awesome) and we visited the private school (also awesome, but poor location and I desperately want/need to get away from paying private school tuition). We toured more neighborhoods (let it be said, I love Portland). We ate tons of great food and drank plenty of great coffee and a cocktail or two. And I checked out some apartments and summer camp options. It was busy! I was going about 100 mph the whole time and I wore out my poor sister.
I took the red eye flight home on Friday night at 11 pm. We expected to hear on my house offer on Friday evening. I'd told my realtor that if I didn't get the house, she could text me the news so she didn't have to deal with my initial disappointment, and that I'd call her back. At 6 pm, my phone rang and my realtor's name popped up. Oh my gosh! The phone was ringing! I got the house! Apparently, in addition to my strong offer, they said they absolutely loved my letter and wanted to see me raise my girls in their house. (A few happy tears may have been shed).
Since then, the details with buying the house have all proceeded smoothly, and all major hurdles have been cleared. So I'm convinced it is, in fact, ours. My realtor has met the sellers and describes them as "probably the nicest people I have ever met." Our home has plenty of space for us and, a dream come true, space for guests. The contractor-owner has remodeled the kitchen and both bathrooms and beautifully landscaped the yard in the past 5 years. There's 12 different kinds of perennial fruits growing in the yard (including hops, we are growing hops, that is just so... Portland!) A couple weeks ago, the owners planted veggies in the vegetable garden for us to enjoy this summer.
Home, sweet, sweet home:
Our view. The Willamette River is 2 blocks away, Over 150 acres of wilderness, riverfront parks are within 3 blocks, and I hear that on a sunny day, you can see Mount Hood.
Part of our yard. It's not a 2-car garage. It's a 1-car, 1-raft garage. I'm in a bit of disbelief that this will be ours.
Since the Portland trip, I've been swamped with work, move planning, fun, and Deb came for a visit last weekend. Our apartment is stacked with boxes and will be in disaster mode for the next month.
I am happy. So so happy!
I took this photo the day after I returned from my Portland trip - Easter Sunday with cherry blossoms in DC, enjoying family, nature, spring, adventures, and new beginnings.