Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Month: October 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Autumn Weekend at Lake Tahoe

One of the exciting things about our life as house and pet sitters, other than living in comfortable houses for free, being in the company of the most amazing dogs and experiencing different neighborhoods, is the opportunity we have to explore different areas of the United States. Wherever you live in this country, there are always a lot of places to go for a hike or impressive sites to discover within driving distance.

Lake Tahoe seen from the town of South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe seen from the town of South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, located on the border of California and Nevada is the third deepest lake in North America. It has a remarkable water clarity and is surrounded by boulders, sand and snow-capped mountains. To say it is picturesque is stating the obvious. Continue reading

Truro (Cape Cod), MA: September 24th – September 30th, 2016

“I’ve always wanted to visit Cape Cod,” I say to Mark, “I can’t believe I have never been there in all these years of our residence being in Massachusetts!”

“You are not missing much,” Mark replies, “It is busy, built-up, touristy and the beaches are fair compared to what we have been used to all these years.” He doesn’t mention that he has only been partway up the Cape.

“Well, I’d like to see it for myself one day and I think, with our plans of going to California in a month, we have to go soon, because who knows when we will be back on the East Coast,” I add.

“You can’t be serious,” Mark continues, clearly thinking I am losing my mind with all the plans we have coming up already, “We seriously do not have time for another excursion this month and we couldn’t afford a weekend on the Cape anyway.”

And that is the end of the discussion. He is right. It is the beginning of September and we have just wrapped up our four-and-a-half-month house sit in Heath. All our stuff is spread out in the room of our home base in Newburyport, where Mark’s parents are happy to have us around for a bit. We have doctor visits scheduled, errands to run, friends and family to catch up with and a five-day vacation to look forward to…

Every day, I get house sitting notifications in my inbox from the sites we have signed up and paid for. None of them look very interesting or promising, so I delete them. One day, when sitting in the waiting room of the oncology department at Dana Farber, a particular listing grabs my attention: a one-week house sit in Truro, Cape Cod, with one dog, the last week in September. Perfect! “Listen to this…” I read the description to Mark, “And, it is the last part of the month. We don’t have much planned then.”

“Sure,” he gives in, “Write them an email and we will see what comes of it. They will probably get a lot of applications, because it is on Cape Cod.”

Within 24 hours, I have written the owner, she replied, we had a conversation over Skype and Mark and I are “hired”! We were going to Cape Cod and hoped the weather would be as pleasant as it usually is that time of the year.

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Wordless Wednesday – Shine

I have decided to post photos of past travels in general and our eight year sailing adventure on SV Irie in particular for Wordless Wednesdays.  Also, I can’t manage “completely wordless”, but I’ll try my best at “almost wordless”. 🙂

I have archived thousands of photos over the years and can’t easily pick what to post, so I use the weekly prompt of the Daily Post to inspire my Wordless Wednesdays. This week’s Daily Post photography theme is “shine“.

This week’s theme is a toughie. I didn’t immediately recall a photo I could use, other than sunshine images.  And if there is one topic that sailors have heaps of photos of, it is sunsets. Yet, shine conjures up more than just sunshine. When I stumbled upon this photo, I knew it was the right candidate. 🙂

Motu Aito, Raiatea, French Polynesia

Motu Aito, Raiatea, French Polynesia

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Heath, MA: April 12th, 2016 – August 31st, 2016

Mark and I have been so incredibly busy the last month and a half that I am way behind with my “Completed House Sit” section. Today, I’ll summarize our four and a half month sit in Heath, MA over the spring and the summer.

A lifestyle of house and pet sitting offers a lot of diverse and interesting opportunities. It is a great way to meet new and interesting people, find out what you like (and don’t like) about a certain location, try out different types of houses and neighborhoods, get acquainted with all kinds of pets, breeds and behaviors, and discover the pros and cons about any situation. While we have enjoyed all of our sits, we have not found a place where we could live “forever”. And, while we have been pretty comfortable everywhere we stayed, we have also experienced firsthand the things we are less fond of.

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Driving across the USA – East to West via I-80

View near Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Utah

After four days of attending the Annapolis Boat Show as vendors, Mark and I left the East Coast on Columbus Day (Monday, October 10th) in an attempt to cross the country at a fast pace. We were pretty exhausted when we started our trip at 7am, but were assured that sitting on our bum would be the main activity for the week to come. Fortunately, the owners of our new house sit in Northern California managed to postpone their departure with a day, which gave us five days to cover 2800 miles/4500 km. Google Maps predicted that that would take about 40 hours in perfect conditions, but with road work, accidents and some traffic congestion, it took much longer. By the time the Annapolis Sailboat Show came to an end that Monday, we had already reached Chicago! We were very happy with our bonus day on the road, which made it possible to reach Rocklin, CA late afternoon on Friday.

Day 1: Annapolis, MD – Joliet, IL (730 miles/1175 km) Continue reading

Wordless Wednesday – Local

I have decided to post photos of past travels in general and our eight year sailing adventure on SV Irie in particular for Wordless Wednesdays.  Also, I can’t manage “completely wordless”, but I’ll try my best at “almost wordless”. 🙂

I have archived thousands of photos over the years and can’t easily pick what to post, so I use the weekly prompt of the Daily Post to inspire my Wordless Wednesdays. This week’s Daily Post photography theme is “local“.

Since Mark and I don’t own or rent a house, our location changes with every trip we make or house sit we take. Therefore what’s local to us depends on which place we call home for the time being. For over a decade we have been roaming about, by truck camper, by sailboat and by car. “Local” has been areas in Belgium, Mexico, Central America, Texas, Maryland, the Bahamas, the Caribbean islands, Panama, the Galapagos, most archipelagos of French Polynesia, New England, and now Northern California. Home is, literally, where we are. This website and my older It’s Irie website have an incredible amount of photos of our ever changing backyard. Here are a few of them:

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The Annapolis Sailboat Show as Vendors

Part of The Wirie team at the Annapolis Sailboat Show

Part of The Wirie team at the Annapolis Sailboat Show

What is that “Wirie business” I regularly mention on my blog, you might wonder. I don’t usually promote our products and try to keep my writing and our business separate, but since the second weekend of October was solely about that part of our lives and I have never explained The Wirie principles in a Roaming About blog, I figured I will give you a little bit of information about our “baby”, our business, what keeps us up at night and busy during the day… Continue reading

Wordless Wednesday – H2O

I have decided to post photos of past travels in general and our eight year sailing adventure on SV Irie in particular for Wordless Wednesdays.  Also, I can’t manage completely “wordless”, but I try my best at “almost wordless”. 🙂

Since I have archived thousands of photos over the years and can’t easily pick what to post, I use the weekly prompt of the Daily Post to inspire my Wordless Wednesdays. This week’s Daily Post photography theme is “H2O“.

Water = life. To most first world citizens, water is a wide-spread commodity, a convenience that does not require a lot of thought. When Mark and I were traveling the world on our sailboat, salt water was everywhere and fresh water was precious. Continue reading

Monthly Expenses – September 2016

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without being rich. Or even without owning/earning a lot of money. That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is car, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free and in comfort, wherever we end up. 🙂

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, oat milk for Mark and organic 2% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. I read somewhere that "dining out" is meant to happen in fancy places. Not in this list! But, I do like the term "dining out" better than "eating out", so I'm keeping it. The health category covers medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements. Utilities are always Skype-related, now that our internet is free and our phone costs are business-deductible.  You don't see health care costs, because Mark and I are eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts, since our income is  in the lowest bracket (for now). I still pay a small three-monthly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I will report on at the end of the year.

Here is an overview of our expenses in September, which are much higher than usual, because of all the travel and socializing we did and a short vacation we took. For once, we didn't mind spending lots of money, since we are "playing the credit card game": in order to earn 50,000 miles, we have to spend $4000 over three months. We are well on our way, based on this month!

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IWSG Monthly Writing Update – A Short One!

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing.  Since August, the IWSG would like to see a particular question answered in each blog post. This month that question is “How do you know your story is ready?”

This IWSG post will be one of the shortest I have ever written, for a very simple reason: I have not worked on my book at all during the month of September. Not a word written, not a page edited, not an exercise practiced. Nada. Nothing! The good thing is that I do not feel bad or guilty about it. Mark and I knew September would be a crazy month, what with moving out of the last house where we took care of Jenny, the dog, and the maple farm for five months, our five-day vacation in Acadia, spending some quality time at our home base in Newburyport seeing friends and family, running errands and going to doctor appointments, and an unexpected week-long house sit on Cape Cod. That concluded September!

Even writing a blog has not always been easy in September!

Even writing a blog has not always been easy in September!

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