As of this month, Mark and I have been house sitting full-time for two years. It all started with a wonderful dog named Zyla in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and the positive experiences of this new lifestyle continued ever-after, bringing us to our current sit in the mountains of Colorado. More about that later, as I have been trying to catch up on all the adventures we had in Santa Fe, New Mexico, finishing that period with a summary of our one-month house sit there.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned briefly how stressful our life as house and pet sitters can be. Besides not knowing where we will lay our heads to rest in the future, keeping a constant eye on new listings, communicating with home owners, arranging Skype interviews, and patiently waiting for the verdict, sometimes unexpected developments occur. Like when we left Northern California mid-August to undertake yet another long road trip of 1200 miles from Sebastopol, CA to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our next house sit. We had planned three days for this, to avoid repeating the craziness of driving Zesty back from Arkansas in July, having a restricted amount of time while needing to work along the way. Three days should do it, we figured: two long ones and then, on Friday, a shorter trip and catching up on work stuff before departure.
On the morning of day two, however, the result of prior miscommunications had us awake with a start: the home owners expected us to arrive in Santa Fe that very day, at 5pm, instead of the following one. What??? We felt as bad as they were worried and did not want to disappoint. Plus, we think it is mutually beneficial to meet the owners before they take off. We were strangers to them, after all. There was only one viable solution: start driving until we got there. After 13 hours in our slow van (we don’t exceed 65mph) with as little stops as possible, we made it to our new home by 8pm. The owners were happy and relieved; we were exhausted and hungry. On hindsight, getting there a day earlier than planned was perfect, since both Mark and I had a heavy work load that Friday, which would have been impossible to deal with on the road.
And that’s how our otherwise fantastic house sit in Santa Fe started. Mark and I had never spent any time in New Mexico and we decided to make the most of our weekends. It was also our first and only house sit without pets, which – while we missed the furry company – had some advantages. Many of the National Parks we visited did not allow dogs and some of the hikes we chose, would have been too tough for doggy paws or too hot for doggy tongues, let alone being able to take a four-legged friend on a tram up a mountain!
The adobe house we stayed at was comfortable and cool – we never needed the air-conditioning – with nice views of the mountains. Taking care of the indoor plants and yard with a sprinkler system was relatively easy, adding up to about 20 minutes a day. We lucked out with the weather, not only allowing us some interesting excursions over the weekends, but also sufficient time to work on camper projects, almost daily.
In the previous blogs, I have reported on the day and weekend trips we took in the area. This meant that we did not really do the town, Santa Fe, justice. We drove through it often, en route to other places or to do our grocery shopping, but only visited once. One late afternoon, we strolled through town for an hour or two, to get a first impression of the sights and atmosphere. We never managed to return for a second impression.
Not having dogs to attend to was good and bad. Since we did not go for scheduled daily walks, we spent more time behind our computers. Productive, but we had little exercise during the week, besides picking up the mail at the end of the driveway, or going for a walk in the neighborhood. There were a few trails and a green space we ventured into once in a while. We never tired from high desert living, where the sunsets were spectacular every evening and the few thunder storms we observed packed a punch! We both hope to be back soon.
Best feature(s): Roomy, one floor adobe house with tiled floors, location, views, temperatures in the low 80s (upper 20s Celsius).
Best gadget(s): Water cooker, coasters everywhere for our glasses of water and cups of tea, TV.
Surprise(s): Owners donate to NPR and therefore have a perk of getting 2 for 1 entrees at participating restaurants. They lent us the card, but because we were on a very tight budget during this particular house sit (the initial months of being camper van owners are expensive!), we only used it once for a tasty Mexican dinner out.
Downside(s): The house is located right next to a road creating traffic noise. The fresh water was very hard – no leathering with soap, a filter is needed for drinking water and the shower required wiping down after each use. The hot tub was shut off for the summer.
The owners’ review of us for this house sit can be read here.