The Connell farm

This house was built in 1886, and served as the homestead for my grandparent’s farm in Hillsboro, Oregon. My great-grandfather built the house from nothing, and my grandfather was born in the back bedroom of the first floor. This was a century farm, in our family for over 100 years, and that was something my grandpa was incredibly proud of, though when raising his family he decided there was no good future in farming and made sure his kids found other things to do. We visited in June 2014, assuming the house was simply unused, expecting to take a couple of photos outside, and found some family of the current owners removing the last of the fixtures before having it demolished. They were very gracious, inviting us in for a look around, so we were able to get a few last photos of the place.


My family took a road trip in 1976 from Indiana to Oregon, staying several days visiting my grandparents at this house. It was still a working farm then, grandpa working the large parcel left after selling off half of the farm to pay for my dad, his brother, and sister to attend college. By our next visit in 1980, they had retired, sold the farm, and moved to a house in town. On that visit, we flew past the newly erupted Mt. St. Helens and my dad hosed ash off their roof. In 1976, i stayed in the small bedroom at the top of the stairs and listened to the wind-up Edison 78 player before drifting off to sleep. It’s almost a given that places you visited as a child look much smaller when re-visited as an adult, but the farm house was much larger than i remembered. Probably because i couldn’t take it all in as an 8 year-old, and partly because i could see all the rooms this time, and appreciate it as the owner of an old house myself.

We all remembered that the farm house had a distinctive smell to it; the accumulation of decades of my grandmother’s cooking and my grandfather’s cigars. That smell was long gone on this last visit, but many of the details of the house were still intact. It’s a big place with wood floors and big windows, covered in some rooms by linoleum laid in the 1930s and still in good shape. It was a building that grew over time and looked it, with odd chains of rooms and even walk-in closets, and a heating system that my uncle Tom called ridiculous. When he left home for college, my dad took his room because it was right above the heater in the living room, making it the warmest bedroom in the house.


My dad died this past January, and i couldn’t help but wonder how he’d have seen the place for one last visit. My uncle got choked up showing us the room where his dad had been born, and laughed showing us the floor grate where he would sneak peeks at the christmas tree set up in the living room below. Three generations of people lived and loved and grew up there.

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The house itself was in great shape and could be fixed up without too much trouble, but there are no renters for a large house outside of a Portland bedroom community, so that last bit of land will be cleared and farmed. It had probably been 20 years since i saw it last, so this was a lucky stop; it’ll likely be gone forever next time we visit.

I’ve been (almost) everywhere, man

These are the states i’ve visited so far:



This is generated from – the states are color coded with green for places i’ve lived or spent at least several weeks visiting, blue for those i’ve visited up to a couple of weeks, amber and read for short visits and just passing through. Time magazine has a short quiz that’s supposed to show your best personality fit among the states (I belong in Oregon).

An interesting thing about the map for me is how it reflects that most of the traveling i’ve done was by car. I imagine people who have mostly traveled by plane would have lots of blue color in a few states, but otherwise blank. A lot of my colors in the west were started when we took a road trip the summer i turned 8, driving from Indiana to Oregon with stops at Yellowstone and the redwoods, looping back through Nevada (us kids being denied use of the bathrooms in the Reno casinos on our way through), the whole trip in the Chevy van my dad had customized with a bed in the back, with bench seat and table for playing cards. Three speed on the tree, thermos of coffee by his seat.

The map would be a lot less red to the east and south if i hadn’t taken a road trip with my mom to visit my aunt and uncle in Boston, or the college road trip to Florida and New Orleans.

There were other trips out west, and yet Montana would still only be pink if not for the extra 3 days my brother and i spent in Bozeman getting the transmission of his truck rebuilt so we could continue on our way to visit my dad in Oregon.

When visiting family recently, i found out that one of my second cousins hadn’t ever left her home state. My kids could fill in a fair number of those states too, between car trips and our train trip from St. Paul to Portland. We never traveled a ton when i was a kid outside of that first adventure, and i don’t expect i’ll exactly be able to take mine around the world either. But i’m happy they’ve at least gotten a taste of it, and that i could help plant the idea that the world is bigger than our back yard.

(not included: Germany and Japan)

Peelander Z

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