A “grove” summer is marked with blackberry stains. Empty streets. Fresh farmer’s market strawberries. The hum of worn bike tires. The sound of neighbor kids playing soccer just beyond the backyard, arguing in Spanish.
When I tell people I spent the summer in Forest Grove, a frequent response is, “Oh… I’m sorry.” For some reason, grove summers are often looked down upon, dismissed even.
But the grove takes on a different ambiance without students. It is eerie and at first a little unsettling, yet my grove summer became a place of meditation and self-discovery. What I have come to find and what few seem to realize is that there is so much undiscovered beauty in the grove and the surrounding area. Sometimes you have to do a little searching.
Over the course of the summer, I compiled a list of 8 random, hidden, and overlooked places around Forest Grove. I urge all to realize the beauty of the grove and discover their own unusual, underrated, and overlooked places.
Forest View Cemetery – Perched just on the edge of town, the graveyard is the best place in Forest Grove to view the sunset. At the farthest end of the graveyard, blackberries thrive and if you are lucky, a white cat will make an appearance to either chase down its dinner or say hi. In the purple twilight hours, bats and owls come out. It is the ultimate escape from the town.
Unger Farms – Unger Farms is nestled in the rural farm land of Cornelius, but it is only a thirteen-minute drive from Pacific. Their Berry Cafe overlooks a reservoir of water and all their farmland. I ate a sweet panini filled with berries and dipped it in chocolate sauce. Incredible. Not only do you have fresh, delicious food, but you get to pair the food with the beauty of where it was grown.
The World’s Tallest Barber Pole – Ha, just kidding. I do not know why people make such a big deal about the barber pole. Also, why is it on every list of the top things to see in Forest Grove? It is literally a pole. That is it.
Simmer and Slurp – This is not an ad. I am just passionate about Simmer and Slurp’s soup and sandwiches. They are some of the best in the grove. It tastes fresh and homemade. Also, if you show Boxer ID, you get a Pacific discount.
Thatcher Park Trail – Next to the Thatcher Park soccer field is a short, forested trail that provides a moment of reprieve and solitude for any seeking it. All along the trail are benches and even though it’s next to a public area, you can completely immerse yourself in the forest and get away from life.
Heidi’s Trash to Treasures – Imagine a small house, reminiscent of a hoarder’s, filled to the brim with old mugs, jewelry, furniture, bikes and any other object imaginable. Empty and half-filled corona bottles littered the counter. Every usable space is crammed with, well, trash. There is no order. It is complete chaos. Yet more than likely, you will find something at Heidi’s that you did not know you needed. Heidi also has a whole arsenal $1 stickers. She will not divulge where she gets the stickers, yet the stickers alone are enough to make a visit.
26th Avenue – Take a walk down 26th avenue during twilight on a clear night and it is understandable why it made this list. My friends swear that there is something different about that street compared to other streets in the grove. Maybe it is the way the telephone wires crisscross above the road or the way the trees crowd into the edges of the horizon. It could be the odd assortment of quaint and dusty homes. Regardless, 26th avenue is eerie and different.
Rimsky Korsakoffee House – This coffee house is in Portland, yet I discovered it during my grove summer. It counts. My first encounter with Rimsky Korsakoffee House was at 12 a.m. when I walked into a heated conversation between their violently old piano player and three middle aged men. The pianist was explaining her divorce papers. Leaving the coffee house, the same group of middle aged men cryptically told me to go back inside and see the bathroom. They refused to tell me why I needed to see it, but I am glad I went back. Trust me, it is something you want to see.