Gun shots rang out at 2 o’clock in the morning. We were sound asleep but they sounded like they were just outside out bedroom windows. There were three shots and they sounded very loud – like a shotgun. The shots were rapid and then complete silence. We wondered if we had heard firecrackers instead of gunfire. Our dog would not settle down. Brenda got up and let it out the back door but it wanted back inside almost instantly. We went back to sleep.
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.
About 4 o’clock in the morning bright lights flooded out bedroom and someone shouted, “We are inside. It’s alright.” I don’t know which happened first. The shout came from outside our bedroom windows. That was a good thing. At least the person wasn’t in our house. We leaped out of bed, pulled on some clothes and stepped out back into the lights. Several police officers stopped us at in the yard. There had been a shooting reported and they were investigating.
Two people were dead as well as a pit-bull guard dog. They lived in the upstairs of a garage that sat just behind our house. They had a sticker on their door, “These premises are guarded by a 12 gage shotgun three nights a week. You guess the nights.” Someone had.
A low crime rate was one of the reasons we had chosen to put a down payment on a house in this town just one week earlier. We were in the “waiting for closing stage” when the deaths came. It was a drug deal gone bad. We knew the victims and the shooter. The victims were students that had dropped out of college for a semester or two and were into trucks, pit-bulls, and guns. They liked to go four-wheeling. I guess they also liked to do some drugs. The shooter was an off campus friend; IQ in the low seventies. Two mutual ‘friends’ had put him up to being the trigger man. It was a mess.
Our choice of a place in which to retire came into question. This was supposed to be one of the best places in America in which to retire. We loved it but the shooting put a few doubts into our minds.
We were living in a campus ghetto area in Bellingham, Washington. We had sat off from Alaska on a year quest for a possible better place in which to retire. Bellingham was our first stop and impressed us so much that we never looked any further. We put the shooting down to bad timing on our part and bad deeds by some of our neighbors. We breathed a little sigh of relieve knowing our new home purchase was at least in a different neighborhood. (Only latter did we learn that the infamous Ted Bundy had killed one of his victims just a block away from our new home.)
Twenty two years have passed since our purchase. The reason I write this is because we have visited many town during that time and still remain convinced that Bellingham was the best choice for us. A lot of things go into making a decision about where one wants to live. For us it was: a temperate climate – not hot and not cold. We wanted a university in the town and we wanted it on the west coast, close to mountains and salt water, close to a big city (Seattle and Vancouver in this case), not so small that we would know everyone and not so big that we couldn’t feel like part of the community. We still think it was a good decision for the very same reasons.
We just returned from visiting three other highly rated towns on the retirement scale: Corvallis, Ashland, and Bend, Oregon. They each have a lot going for them when it comes to good living. I’m sure we could be happy in all of them. The one major factor that took them off our list was the summer time temperatures. They can get hot. We have found ourselves passing through them while on road trips over the years and 100 degree temperatures registered on the thermometer. If hot weather is your thing, or if you don’t mind it, then those would all be worth looking at for your leisure years.
Portland and Eugene are two other Oregon towns that rank high in desirable places to live studies or surveys. They are great communities and would be prime prospects for anyone who is considering a move to the Pacific Northwest. We have spent a few weeks in each of these towns and can attest to their desirability. It would be pretty easy to move to either.
But as for us, we are not moving. We have yet to visit a place that offers us a seemingly better place to live. We have visited a lot of good places, but none better. And as for the gunfire at night; it have never been repeated