Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Completed House Sits: Rollinsville, Colorado – September 16th to October 14th, 2017

On September 16th, Mark and I left our previous house sit in Santa Fe, New Mexico early in the morning for a decent drive to northern Colorado. While taking care of a pet-less home for one month provided us with more flexibility, we were both looking forward to furry company again. Arriving in Rollinsville, 40 minutes west (and up) of Boulder, we were immediately greeted by Oscar, a big and fluffy Golden Retriever. At eight years old, he is a ball of energy with a very high cuddle factor. The owners gave us a warm welcome as well, quite appreciated in the chilly air of our new home at 8500ft of elevation.

The contrast with New Mexico was grand – temperature, scenery and activity-wise. Our new neighborhood was very picturesque. After unloading Zesty, the camper van, we spent the next 24 hours with Oscar and his “parents”, getting to know them, the area, the schedule and the house. Then, we settled for a month in the mountains.

Week 1:

Beautiful surroundings

Oscar’s schedule required three walks a day. I would usually take him for an off-leash stroll around a couple of hilly blocks in the morning, Mark and I exercised him (and ourselves) for an hour or longer in the afternoon, and after dinner, Mark walked him down to the post office, to pick up the mail. Sometimes, I joined them.

When our schedule and the weather allowed, we took Oscar further afield. Otherwise, we remained in the neighborhood, where certain trails brought us further up in the mountains, or into the meadows and valleys.

Our first full weekend, the weather didn’t agree with us for a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, the one bigger excursion we had “planned.” Instead, I researched which place within an hour and a half drive had the best weather that Saturday, we loaded Oscar in the van, and took off to Denver, where we explored the town and met up with a friend in a pleasant 70 degrees (21°C).

Week 2:

Rain and fog

“Fall in Colorado is splendid! It is the best time of the year for a visit. The leaves turn, the crowds are absent and the weather is pleasant.” We heard and read this statement a lot and liked every word of it. Imagine our surprise when, one week into our four-week sit, rain fell out of the sky in buckets and it froze at night. Luckily, we realized the water in our camper would freeze and the lines crack, so we emptied the tank. We were mostly home-bound, except for our muddy walks in the neighborhood and briefly venturing into Boulder.

Week 3:

A dusting of snow

When a dusting of snow covered the camper, mountain tops, forest floor and trees, I had mixed feelings. It sure was pretty and we knew it would melt; it was only September after all. But, how were we ever going to make it to the National Park? As luck would have it, the sun came back for a few days and the mercury reached a whopping 50 degrees (10°C). The new high-altitude pump we ordered for our heater, so it would work here and during our upcoming trip, arrived Friday afternoon and we installed it during a freak wind and snow storm. We explored some trails in the area with Oscar during the week and set out for our weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday morning. I wrote about that experience in a previous post.

We made it back home from our weekend trip to Rocky Mountain NP right in time for…

Week 4:

A lot of snow!

Our last week in Rollinsville started with a very white view. Five inches of snow blanketed everything, even the roads and the driveway. Our boots sank in deeply and the wind was icy when we took Oscar for walks. He was happy in the snow, shoveled it with his nose and rolled around in it. I was happy with my two hats, winter coat, and three layers of long sleeves underneath. In our attempt to secure a warm sit over the winter, we had obviously underestimated autumn, despite it being a rare one in Colorado. Every morning started with a wood fire in the living room to warm the house up. We did go through quite a bit of wood to stay comfortable and plans to hike certain areas in the surrounding mountains had to be abandoned. The last days of our house sit, the sun happily returned.

The area we stayed in was very beautiful under a blue sky, the house was comfortable and Oscar was an adorable pup, but, when the owners returned and we had a chance to catch up, Mark and I were ready to head to warmer climes and live in Zesty, the Westy, for a 10-day adventure in Utah.

View of the valley from our neighborhood

Best feature(s): The area is a hiker’s paradise with views that are hard to match.

Best gadget(s): An electric wine opener that did the job in seconds, an efficient Bullet blender for our fruit shakes, a wood stove that warmed us up and distributed moist air from a pot full of water on top.

Starting a fire, keeping it going, and restocking the wood were a daily occurrence for three of our four weeks in Rollinsville, CO.

Surprise(s): The owners took us out for dinner on the first night and left us a bottle of wine. And, they brought back useful gifts from Portugal (a bottle of wine and a jar of marmalade). Thank you!!

Downside(s): That has to be the freezing weather, of which nobody is in control. When Oscar was playing with and carrying his ball, he had a harder time listening.

The owners’ review of us for this house sit can be read on the top of this page.

Have you experienced snow yet where you live? Which season do you prefer and why? If you have a dog, does he/she likes snow?

31 Comments

  1. You’ll be happy to know that we have yet to experience snow where we live 😉. Rollinsville looks lovely and Oscar is adorable… but the snow… oh my! I love reading your reviews and the reviews you receive from the homeowners. I’m sure Oscar gave you a five tail wag review too!

    • I am happy to learn that San Diego and snow do not go together! 🙂 Oscar does like to wag his tail, but that has usually has to do with his ball or food. Or, snow. 🙂 I’m sure he had a good time when we were there.

  2. The snow is coming and it’s supposed to be heavier than normal this year but, thank goodness, it’s not here yet! I would struggle with snow in autumn – it’s such a beautiful and short season that it feels wrong for winter to encroach on autumn’s splendor.

    I’m with Janis – love seeing your reviews and reading the reviews of the homeowners.

    • You phrase our idea about snow perfectly well, Karen. Autumn is too soon. And, we didn’t expect it. Otherwise, we would not have been in such shock!! (Or we might have declined the sit.) I hope the snow stays absent for a little bit longer in your neck of the woods. Reviews make the whole experience a bit more personal. For us, and for Roaming About readers.

  3. Oscar seems like a lovely dog! Great pictures. I can’t handle the thought of changing recipes at altitude, let alone the affect on pumps…and then having to think about freezing lines…it’s all very complicated!

    • Here is a new fun fact about higher altitudes, Lucy, one that we now have experience with and that has been proven by two people: you lose weight, without doing anything! Yep. We were so surprised (and in already skinny Mark’s case worried) about this that we looked it up. Apparently, you are less hungry at high altitudes and therefore, you eat less without feeling hungry! The negative: since we have been back at sea level, I am constantly hungry and back to eating extra portions for dinner and more snacks. 🙁 But, it was good to be skinny, energetic and fit in New Mexico and Colorado!

  4. What a wonderful way of having adventures and seeing the world. I looked at the House-sit reviews – you are clearly top dogs.

    • I love your terminology, Hilary! 🙂 We truly love this lifestyle that offers us the best of both worlds: comfort and adventure in almost equal proportions.

  5. Congratulations on another outstanding, 5-star review, Liesbet. If we ever need a home/pet-sitter, you and Mark are the first ones that we will call!
    BTW – I could not believe all of that snow. Brrrr!!!

    • Thanks, Donna. I hope we can keep it up, or I will have to remove that link at the end of my “completed house sits” posts. 🙂 I am hoping to give blog readers (and potential house sitters and home owners) an insight look from the owners’ point of view that way.

  6. Well done Liesbet on another 5 star review. Love the group photo, though I think someone was photobombing it by the smirk on his face 🙂 Isn’t it lovely when we housesitters’ get spoilt!!

    • Thanks, Suz. I’m sure you and the squire belong in the 5-star review category as well. I love to be spoiled! Not required, but very pleasurable and appreciated indeed. 🙂

  7. Liesbet, that is such a gorgeous part of the country. My oldest son went to school in Boulder and I loved visiting him there. Your photos are fabulous. Particularly like the one of Mark on top of the mountain. Oscar also looks like he is having a blast.

    What incredible reviews every house sit gives you!! You are both obviously very good at this and super thoughtful and caring. Impressive!

    Peta

    • Boulder seems like such a fantastic place for a student, Peta. And, enjoyable for parents to visit. It must have become even more popular, based on the amount of young people we saw in and around town, especially when hiking the Flatirons. Thanks for the compliment on the reviews. We do love what we do and are happy to finally put our “excessive” sense of responsibility to good use. 🙂 It was never my intention to “rave” about the reviews and all these praises from other bloggers are wonderful, but make me feel a bit self-conscious or arrogant.

  8. An electric wine opener – never heard of such a thing, sounds pretty cool 🙂 I don’t think I would have enjoyed the snow. It’s pretty to look at, but after a while the novelty wears off and it’s just cold and messy.

    • You are correct about that snow, Ellen! And, I love how you always pick up on the important facts in blog posts, like the wine opener. 🙂 You are a woman with priorities and a good sense of humor. I love it!

  9. I’m so disappointed your weather was not typical Colorado fall perfection. I’ve always made a point of going to see our son in September or October, and it’s always exquisite at that time. Maybe it’s because I didn’t go this year?! (A reverse weather curse, because I usually bring the worst of the elements with me!) In any case, it looks like you made the best of it, with a very sweet looking dog and a nice place to stay. All these pet and house owners are certainly lucky to have you two looking after their treasures!

    • Thanks! It is probably a good thing you had to skip Colorado this fall, Lexie. Next year, it will be gorgeous as always. And, we won’t be there, which might have been the problem, actually. Just like when we were in California last spring and it was the coldest and wettest one in years. 🙂 On the sunny days, we truly enjoyed the surroundings, explorations and hikes, so not everything was lost. And, once the fire was cracking and crackling, that had its charm as well.

  10. What a wonderful place to stay (apart from the snow of course. That doesn’t look fun!)

  11. I don’t envy the snow, though I’m sure we’ll probably see our share before all is said and done. Oscar looks like he is positively grinning! Happy pup! Your home owners are lucky to have you both! ~ Lynn

    • Thanks, Lynn. He is a happy sweetheart and we had a good time together. We might be back in the future, but only during the summer months. 🙂

  12. Your photos and article are amazing and informative as always, Liesbet! Amazing pics of the snow-covered Zesty and Oscar’s snowy roll! I would love to visit that part of the country, perhaps in three years when my daughter moves to the Denver area for work. Hope to see you in the desert in a few days 🙂

    • Denver would be a cool place to work for your daughter and for you to visit. It is such an outdoorsy state that you will love it! Especially when taking a break from the Sacramento summers. 🙂 The scenery will keep your camera happy as well…

  13. Sounds like you meet some really nice people and pets in your line of work, as well as experience some beautiful places.

    I hate the cold too, and it’s already begun up here. Ugh.

    • We are indeed meeting some amazing creatures while house sitting, of the furry and of the human kind! I would call this more a line of lifestyle instead of a line of work. 🙂 Unfortunately, our line of work is not very exciting. I can imagine it is getting really cold up where you are, J.H.!

  14. Wow Liesbet, you practically had all seasons in one month. That snow made me shiver, but glad you got a little more warmth in in Utah. Your photos are fabulous. What a rich experience to be able to see the world traveling around with Westy. 🙂

    • After living in the tropics for a decade, you would think we’d be happy to experience all the seasons again… Nope! We prefer warmth and sunshine. And, we did find some of that in Utah. Unfortunately, our travels with Zesty the Westy are on hold for three months now. But, our current house sit in San Diego is a fantastic alternative. 🙂

  15. No snow, yet, in the UK, but I have been reading lots of reports that the UK is in for a hard winter with both December and January being particularly cold and snowy. Toby, our oldest dog, loves the snow, but Austin, who is just nine months old, has yet to experience it. I hope he does this winter.
    That was a beautiful place you housesat, Liesbet. I could almost smell the clean fresh air.

    • The air was, indeed, very clean and crisp. And thin. 🙂 I’d love to see some photos on your blog about Toby and Austin interacting with the snow this winter. Snow will be pretty, but it being freezing cold outside is another story. Let’s hope it won’t be too bad or heating costs – and pollution – will go up.

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