It's been about two decades since Theodore Peng and his cousin Benny Hung first started playing basketball at the neighborhood park next to their grandfather's Blossom Valley home when they were kids. Peng is now a medical student in San Francisco, and Hung lives five hours away in Pasadena, but the two continue to meet up on the court at Varsity Park for a game whenever they're both in the neighborhood visiting their 97-year-old grandfather.
The cousins still consider Blossom Valley home.
"I loved growing up here, said Peng, pointing out that the hoop with the chain net is the same one after all these years.
Hung, who spends every Thanksgiving in the neighborhood with his extended family, said the area still has a rural feel and many families who have lived there for generations.
"This is a close-knit community with continuity. I think residents here want to keep it a welcoming area," he said. "We still see some classic cars from the 1960s and 1970s here. It always makes me feel great when I hear older people talk about what happened here in the past."
Brad Ashmore, a resident since 1987, echoes Hung and Peng's sentiments. He, too, spent much time at Varsity Park as a father when his children were young. He considers the playground a key reason why Blossom Valley residents have formed such strong neighborhood bonds.
The adults make friends with one another while the children play together at the park, he explained.
Blossom Valley is comprised of four smaller neighborhoods -- Springer Meadows, Varsity Park, Blossom Valley Estates, and Gest Ranch -- all built on orchard land in the 1950s. The area is nestled on either side of Cuesta Drive, between Springer Road and Miramonte Avenue, and shares a border with the City of Los Altos as well as schools with a Los Altos address.
It was the area's colorful flowers, 1950s Ranch-style homes, proximity to three neighborhood parks, an outdoor shopping center and major freeways, and access to those top-rated schools that prompted Christine Hung (no relation to Benny Hung) to move there in 1991. She's been there ever since.
"Blossom Valley is one of the few Mountain View neighborhoods with Los Altos schools," she said. "It's very family friendly and considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Mountain View."
These days, she said, there are more families with young children, a more ethnically diverse population and many of the ranch homes have been renovated, but the neighborhood character has changed little. It's still a quiet, family-friendly enclave that echoes those earlier days.
"Most of the changes are positive, except for the traffic congestion and escalating home prices," Christine said.
The neighborhood's family-centric feel manifests itself at Blossom Valley Shopping Center. Besides the usual Safeway, CVS, and Starbucks, the plaza has a plethora of family-oriented businesses including an academy of music and dance for children, a karate studio, and an after-school learning center, as well as a pet food store and a pet-care center.
Hung and Peng said they would like to return to the neighborhood one day to start their own families.
"It would be ideal to raise my future children here," Peng said.
LOCATION: between Springer road and Miramonte Avenue, Marilyn and Lincoln drives.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Children's House of Los Altos, 770 Berry Ave.; Little Acorn School, 1667 Miramonte Ave.; St. Timothy's Nursery School, 2094 Grant Road
FIRE STATION: No. 2, 160 Cuesta Drive
PARKS: Varsity Park, Duke Way and Jefferson Drive; Cuesta Park, Cuesta Drive
POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS (nearby): St. Joseph Catholic School, 1120 Miramonte Ave.; St. Francis High School, 1855 Miramonte Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: (Eligibility for school districts depends on resident's address) Los Altos School District -- Springer Elementary School, Blach Intermediate School; Mtn. View-Whistman School District -- Bubb Elementary School, Graham Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Los Altos or Mountain View high schools
SHOPPING: Blossom Valley Shopping Center, Miramonte Avenue and Cuesta Drive; Rancho Shopping Center, Foothill Expressway and Springer Road; Grant Road Plaza Shopping Center, Grant Road and Phyllis Avenue