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 was incredibly happy to see us again. After we arrived, she did not leave our sides for an hour, constantly wagging her tail and nudging for more pets. It was very cute and heart-warming. The home owners had invited us over for the husband’s birthday dinner, so we were off to a good start! They left the same evening, confident that we would take good care of their amazing home-built house and love their dog to bits.
While our spring here had been unusually wet and chilly (hurrah for the end of the Californian drought), these summer weeks were very pleasant during the day, but by 6pm, it really cooled down. We opened windows and doors to allow some heat inside the house. Still, changing clothes was necessary every day: long and thick garments in the mornings and evenings, and shorts and T-shirts for a few hours during the afternoon. Northern California appears colder than I thought or remembered. Being around the Bay Area and San Francisco brought wind, fog and 50 – 60 degrees F (10-15°C), whereas inland the sun delivered an enjoyable 78°F (25°C) or more.
Three weeks is not a long time to house and pet sit in one area, but since we had been here before, the transition was smooth and we remembered our way around and where everything was located in the grocery stores. 😊 Despite being exhausted from our road trip, picking up our new camper Zesty in Arkansas, we immediately dedicated ourselves to a work schedule during the week. Like last time, we walked Lola a good hour a day, in the neighborhood or at a regional park nearby.
During the weekends, we returned to recreational areas we liked – like Lola’s favorite beach at Pinnacle Gulch, or Mount Taylor Regional Park near Santa Rosa.
The first weekend, the three of us drove to San Jose in our Prius to pick up the camper, which had undergone some maintenance at a garage. On the way back, in two cars, we stopped at the Marin Headlands for a foggy walk. That was after getting stuck in San Francisco traffic (due to tourists cueing for a viewpoint on the highway) for over two hours. Summer time is busier than spring time, for sure. The Bay Area has become very popular and crowded and these traffic jams made us look forward to leaving for a different state.
One weekend, we decided to explore a new-to-us part of the area: the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), also called the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. It has a wealth of trails and unpaved roads (138 miles of them), dogs are allowed (on leash), entrance is free and the scenery is gorgeous. Lola, Mark and I walked some of the trails, gazed at three reservoirs and circumnavigated one of them. The region reminded me a bit of Lake Tahoe. We lucked out with the last parking spot in Natalie Coffin Greene Park, near Phoenix Lake, but recommend parking at the Lake Lagunitas parking lot if you decide to visit this pretty destination. The lots are bigger, you skip the steep hike to get there and a variety of trails can be picked up in the vicinity of the lakes. Next time!
In general this three-week house sit was similar to the two-month one in March and April of this year – the house was roomy and comfy, a soak in the hot tub revealed starry skies at night, we used the owners’ free movie pass once a week, we snuggled, walked and played hours with Lola and took her with us everywhere, we did the dishes by hand, a cleaning team took care of the house before we left… – except for four relevant differences.
- The yard offered fresh vegetables and apples to our hearts’ content and on the neighborhood walks with Lola, we happily picked ripe peaches, plums and hundreds of blackberries. Yum!
- Besides being extremely busy with our business The Wirie, we now had a camper to fix, equip, clean and organize – it took hours every day, and lots of money.
- We sold our fantastic little Prius after being very happy owners for almost two years. We posted it on Craig’s List the evening we arrived in Sebastopol (without photos, since we still needed to clean it) and had a buyer and a $500 deposit within 24 hours. We managed to keep the car for a week longer, until our Zesty was parked in the shady driveway.
- Because it was summer, Peacetown Sebastopol was happening! This festival took place every Wednesday, with free concerts in Ives Park. So, in the middle of every week, we packed up a salad for dinner, a bottle of wine, a picnic blanket and a dog to enjoy the music, the outdoors and the atmosphere.
I usually end my “completed house sits” posts with an overview of the good, the bad and the ugly, but, since this is a repeat sit, I will not repeat those insights. You can read them here, in my previous post about this place. Our time in Sebastopol flew by way too quickly again, but we enjoyed all of it. Now, the question is: will we return for two months next spring? Time will tell…