The evening Mark and I arrived at our current house sit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the owner pointed at a blotch on the mountain side to the northwest. As a cluster of lights started to come on in the distance, he said, with importance in his voice, “That is the infamous site of Los Alamos.” The generation growing up in the 60s might raise an eyebrow of recognition right now – my parents did, all the way in Belgium, when I told them about it – but I gave him a blank stare. Mark nodded his head. The man looked at me and poked, “You know, where they built the atomic bombs that ended the war.” I knew about that world and history-altering event, of course, but still had never heard of Los Alamos. We had to check out what the fuss was all about.
The day after Mark and I did our hot hikes in Bandelier National Monument, we woke up to a beautiful morning and had our Sunday breakfast in the camper. I was feeling better, but we decided on taking it easy that day. The downhill drive to Los Alamos town was short and the parking lot in front of the visitor center empty.
Where are all the other tourists?
A few sites are scattered around the heart of the sleepy town. We walked by all of them, reading the historic signs and the brochure we picked up at the visitor center. We were surprised by the time range of the historic artifacts (from the ancestral pueblo site of the 1200s to the statue of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie R. Groves, erected in 2011) in this small area and by the lack of visitors. Continue reading
Mark and I have been extremely busy this year and, to be honest, our alternative lifestyle doesn’t help. I often wonder whether it wouldn’t be healthier for us to settle somewhere indefinitely, while we attend to our full-time but low-paying careers. It would certainly cause less stress. But, then we might as well get “real” jobs… On the other hand, doing these house and pet sits all over the United States, allows us to explore certain regions in depth, turning the weekends into mini-vacations.
We are currently caring for a comfortable adobe home with plants, but no pets, near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Continue reading
Mark and I have been house and pet sitting for almost two years and this was the first time we returned to a home and a dog we took care of previously. We have often been asked by home owners to come back, but never have, either because the climate was too cold for our liking, the period too short or we found ourselves on the other side of the country. Some of you might remember sweet Lola and the heaps of activities Sonoma County in California has to offer from my earlier blogs, so it is probably no surprise that we agreed to do this repeat sit for three weeks. And, it fit our short-term plans.
Lola’s perch inside
Lola’s perch outside
Family of deer in the yard
Tired after a long hike
Acorns are fun toys…
Lola was incredibly happy to see us again. Continue reading
With all the commotion and craziness of the last two weeks, I haven’t had time yet to report on our three-week house sit with Stella and Tucker in Oakland, California. Compared to our first sit in the city of Oakland last February, this one was very enjoyable and repeatable! The area and the house are desirable, the dogs fun and the owners friendly, helpful, communicative and appreciative. The only thing these two sits had in common (other than being in the same city) was – surprisingly – the size and layout of the smallish home, with the difference that this one was well-organized, clean, airy, bright and cozy.
But, enough about the comparisons. Continue reading
“Hi, I’m Mark and these two are Kali, the white one, and Darwin, the gray one.” I looked up from petting the wagging fur balls that had run up to me on my way out to the camper. It is so funny how Americans always introduce themselves immediately, as if names are the most important thing during a conversation. Europeans could talk for hours before exchanging names, as I had realized more than once during my backpacking years. My eyes met those of a tall and skinny short-haired man in the doorway. “Hello. I’m Liesbet. My boyfriend Karl and I are staying with Nick for a week to visit San Francisco. Our camper is parked in front of the house.” “Camper? Why are you living in a camper?” I told him exactly why and shared my lifetime travel goals with the excitement I always feel when elaborating on my passion. Before I realized it, an hour had passed. I excused myself, ran towards our home on wheels, grabbed the CD of my favorite Belgian band dEUS and rushed back to Nick’s place. “Where have you been?” Karl asked. “Talking to a neighbor, the one with the fluffy dogs,” I answered, handing the disc over to Nick, who is an amateur disc jockey, interested in all kinds of music.
The weeks had flown by and my relationship with Mark intensified. He would leave the door to his apartment open while at work, so Karl and I could walk his dogs, together with our dog Caesar. And, I could snuggle with Kali and Darwin as much as I wanted. Today, I am not leaving, however. I am here to stay, to move in. To cuddle Kali and Darwin forever. What will Mark say about all this?
This is an excerpt of the memoir I am working on. Mark and I met in an area of Oakland called Rockridge, in November 2004. He loved living there and I enjoyed it as much, when I tossed my existing life with Karl and Caesar through the camper windows and decided to stay – unbeknownst to Mark. Continue reading
Each time Mark and I complete a house sit (or a few weeks later :-)), I write a little overview of our experiences. Our conclusions of previous sits in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and California can be read here. I am almost a month late with this one – blame the extremely busy times we have had on the East Coast visiting friends, family, doctors and dealing with a bunch of unexpected developments in combination with our usual jobs – but I think most of you will still remember sweet Lola from Sebastopol!
Lola loves balls
Comfy in the car
Pinnacle Gulch Walk
Taylor Mountain hike
Pinnacle Gulch Beach
Not so sure about those cows
Pinnacle Gulch Beach
Mark and I have been living in Sebastopol, California for over two months with precious Lola. As we are packing up and ready to leave the area, I figure it is about time to write a blog about a random day in our lives here as house sitters. I post this feature every time we do a long-term sit, like at the artist-inspired home with parrots and dogs in Kent, CT, the maple farm with Jenny in Heath, MA and our first stay in Northern California, with Herk in the suburbs of Rocklin, CA. And, just for fun, I also wrote about it during our short time in the biggest retirement community of the world, called The Villages, in Florida.
Our days probably look pretty much the same as other forty-somethings with full-time jobs and no children, except for the fact that we don’t have to commute and we fill gaps, late afternoons, evenings and weekends with doggy love and devotion. 🙂 By now, once we are settled in a new place, our routine is pretty straightforward.
You guys coming for our walk?
The yard before spring arrived
Mark and I never go on vacations. We do travel a lot between places with our car, but the last time we had a real holiday together, as in taking a plane to a destination solely for sightseeing or vacationing, was back in… never actually. For me, it must have been when I was still living in Belgium, working as a teacher, before 2003. If you don’t count the city trip I did with my mom to St. Petersburg, Russia a year and a half ago. Yes, we do fly to the East Coast or Belgium once in a while to visit friends and family and we went on a five-day camping trip in 2015, but it is not the same. I hear some of you scoff, when silently mumbling something like “How about those eight years you were sailing in the Caribbean and the South Pacific?” or “What about that yearlong of gallivanting by RV in Central America?” Again: not the same. Leading a certain lifestyle, when working many hours a day at our computers does not equal vacation. 🙂
There are three reasons we never buy a plane ticket to go have fun in a new country. Continue reading
While this past weekend the weather was not as enjoyable as the previous one, Mark, Lola and I still had a nice time together. At least that’s what she told her loved ones in Mexico with the following letter. I couldn’t have phrased it better myself! 🙂
“Hi mom and dad,
I hope you are having a good time in Mexico. While I miss you a lot, I am happy to have remained in my own comfy house. I can lay in my favorite spots, play with my favorite toys, stroll in my favorite yard, bark at my favorite deer, and each time we come back from a car ride or a walk, I am so happy to be home. Sometimes, I don’t even want to leave, because I like it here so much. Last week, when it was so warm, I lagged behind on walks and panted a lot. I can’t believe that these two drag me out into the hills every day! Well, it is kind of nice, but sometimes, I just want to nap.
Grabbing balls at the dog park