One of my goals in finding retirement housing has been a good view. We don’t spend much time on water, but enjoy seeing water from my favorite chair in front of the picture window in the living room. I don’t want to climb mountains anymore, but both of us enjoy seeing them in their different shapes and moods.
When my wife and I were searching for a retirement area inside or outside of Alaska, we were drawn to places with good views. After searching up and down the coast of Northwest America from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the sand dunes of the Oregon Coast, we finally focused on and purchased a home on Whidbey Island. It had great views of the shipping lanes into Seattle, as well as the backdrop of the Olympic mountains. The end of the story is that one time, while traveling from that home near Coupeville to Everett, I sat in a ferry line for three hours. I got a good book read, but I also decided to sell the house and live somewhere where I didn’t have to depend on ferries to travel to Seattle.
Now that we live in Stanwood, we still have traffic issues on Highway I-5, but have not yet sat three hours in backed up traffic. One hour, but not three hours. This is a matter of luck, because there have been even longer waits due to serious accidents. One has to plan ahead when traveling on the I-5 corridor.
We would have enjoyed a home with a view of Mt. Rainier or Mt. Baker, but we have enjoyed the Olympic mountains now for nearly ten years. Part of this obsession seems to relate to the fact that most of our Alaskan parsonages, while close to terrific views, rarely had such views from the living room windows. One exception would have been the Douglas parsonage, but we never lived there. But it did have a view. We were already comfortably settled in the Juneau parsonage. Perhaps, if I had known what was ahead, I would have urged us to reconsider our negative decision on living there. Too late now.
Side story: We rented the Douglas parsonage and saved the rent money to upgrade the parsonage for our successors. It is okay that none of them ever thanked me. At the time, it was just added to the issues of disagreement with a portion of the leadership of the Douglas Church. When a renter complained that there was no heat for the second floor bedroom, I passed that word on to the trustees and all I remember is that some expressed anger, suggesting that either the renter or yours truly was lying. “Why,” said one, “we have had several pastors live there with children and they never once complained.” So I embarked on a research project and checked with former pastors. All of them agreed that it had been a problem, but obviously, none of them had complained. Perhaps, they knew better than to complain. I not only complained on behalf of the renters, I thought it was taken care of. Having visited there recently, it probably need more work. Not my problem anymore.
Back to the general theme. Consistently, church leaders built parsonages as cheaply as possible and that doesn’t include view property. The one that bugged me the most was Sitka. Knock-out view and trees blocked it. A cooperative neighbor gave me permission to cut some branches and we got a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Edgecumbe from our living room window.
At Stanwood, the parsonage was built on the flood plane with zero view. The neighborhood is now zoned as commercial. Selling it would have been very controversial, as some members who built it with their own hands would have been personally insulted. I tried to find a willing buyer at a high-end price, but there were no takers.
Now I think I will go to the living room of our current home and enjoy the view of the Olympics. When we move to a retirement home, we will again return to no mountain views.
And given my current views of the subject of life after death, there may be no views in my future.