All of the houses we planned to visit in La pine were on at least 1 acre of land. We wanted some room to spread out, live more privately and, most importantly, NOT feel like we were still in suburbia.
The first house we visited was a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch that looked remarkably like many of the other homes we had passed by in the neighborhood. It was red on the outside and varying shades of plum and tan on the inside. It had a weird floor plan, with lots of unusable space in an entryway and then no real room for a full living room. The kitchen had vaulted ceilings, the bedroom had almost no closet and the whole floor plan flowed like a river that had been diverted too many times. Even though it was still occupied, and nicely decorated, we said, “no thank you” very quickly and were back on our way. I guess, looking back, there was really nothing wrong with the house at all. It was perfect….we did not want perfect though, we did not want to keep up with the Jones’ or have someone else make the decorating decisions for us. We wanted our cabin, unique, rustic, a diamond in the rough.
So back on the bumpy, muddy road we went. The second house we visited was a manufactured home that was on over 10 acres and was selling for a very reasonable price. When we pulled up to the obviously neglected house, I was instantly disinterested, but we decided to have a look inside just to make sure. 10 acres is 10 acres after all. The house was a large double wide and while not in perfect shape, it was not TOO terrible on the inside. we wondered from large dirty room to large dirty room. I tried my best to say something positive with each new discovery. “My that’s a big window”, “I sure could see myself being able to cook a large meal in this kitchen!”…blah, blah, blah. This house was not occupied, so we were able to open drawers and peek in cabinets without feeling like criminals. The last room we walked into was the master bedroom, where we got quite a surprise. There was a bed in the room, recently made up with a sleeping bag and a few extra comforters. La pine gets VERY cold in the winter and this house had no heat… I peeked into the master bathroom and suddenly felt like I was being watched, so we quickly decided it was time to leave. Nancy hopped outside and made a slightly panicked phone call to the Realtor who was listing the home and off we went
The third house was another interesting one. It had originally been built when the neighborhood had planned for a cul de sac to follow. But the economy in Central Oregon crashed in the late 90’s and the cul de sac never came to fruition. as a result, this house now sat on a flag lot behind a number of other homes and after making our way down the awkward driveway, we found ourselves facing the back of the house. No driveway or road had been installed to circle around to the front, so instead, the main entry to the house was through the laundry room! We nicknamed this house “big blue” because the previous owners had painted it an alarming shade of electric blue. Once inside, we had a really nice surprise. This house was HUGE! it had 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a den and a full family room as well as an ample living and dining area. It had new carpet throughout. When you walked to the front of the house, there was a big porch, reminiscent of the Walton’s and a view of a large grassy field, where the street and other houses were originally meant to be. Also unoccupied, we toured this house a bit more slowly. There were cabinets everywhere…my brain started to crunch ideas….there were TWO master bedroom suites….crunch crunch….there were patched holes in the walls everywhere…..and the ceiling….and there were STILL holes in two doors…loud crunch. I asked Nancy what had happened, and she did not know but told me the previous owner had agreed to repair everything before the sale was final…..no, I thought..crunch… This house was TOO big and TOO fake and perhaps TOO filled with someone else’s latent anger. Everything was carpeted, and I was sure that if we pulled the carpeting up, we would find chip board and maybe serious water damage. Plus, let’s get serious here, who wants to keep their laundry room “guest ready” all the times!
After that, I know we visited at least one other manufactured home, I remember the kitchen but in truth , it was all a blur once we stumbled upon the house of our dreams.
We were just about to give the search up when my husband said, “what about the house with the dogs?” Nancy seemed to know what he meant and quickly checked the listings. Yes, she had it and we could go there next. All I had seen about this house was a grainy photo from the outside and a picture of two dogs behind a gate. The one thing that made it worth visiting, my husband reminded me, was that the map showed the property butting right up against La Pine State Park. If this house were worth it, we could have a 6000 acre back yard and that, in an of itself, made visiting worthwhile.
As we drove to the property. Nancy reminded us that this house was short sale. I let my husband absorb that statement, having no idea myself what it meant and watched intently out the window as we pulled up through a slushy yard and parked right outside the front door of a small gray house with two garages.