Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Completed House Sits: Sebastopol, CA – July 23rd to August 15th, 2017

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…

40 Comments

  1. What a fabulous time and so lovely to see Lola’s happy face again too! ☺💜 xxx

  2. I was also surprised by how cold northern California gets in the evening, even during the summer. Looks beautiful, though. And that fruit–wow! That must have been amazing.

    • We thoroughly enjoyed nature’s bounties during this sit. Yeah… cold and our bodies, not a good combination. We’ve now tried New England and Northern California over the summer and the winter, and, it is time to find house sits elsewhere. 🙂

  3. Hi Liesbet,
    You have such a relaxed, authentic writing style. I feel as if I’m there, enjoying your time with Lola, your new excursions, and especially all that great fruit!
    I’m glad you’ve completed your transition from your Prius to Zesty.I imagine that all of those hours and dollars committed to cleaning, organizing, and stocking your new baby have helped the three of you to bond. Where to now? Is it New Mexico?

    • I’m happy with your comment about the relaxing writing style, Karen, as I feel all but relaxed these days. 🙂 Despite it all, we still love Zesty, and each other, but we do look forward to more enjoyment in the form of quiet time and excursions. Yep, we are in Santa Fe, New Mexico, right now and while the weather has been cloudy, the sites are beckoning!!

  4. I love seeing Lola again! That picture of her with her head lolling on a wood armrest on the leather armchair almost looks staged – she is adorable. I’m going to try and dream up a Houston housesit for you … you need some warmth!

    • Warmth… yes, please! 🙂 No complaints right now, though, as we are comfortably house sitting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. What an exciting state, once we can pull away from our computers!

  5. If you don’t return, I will! 😛

  6. Liesbet, I truly do not believe that there are better pet/sitters than you and Mark ANYWHERE! Lola looks so happy and content in every single photo!

  7. I think the answer is yes – how can you resist Lola?

  8. Always happy to hear your positive reviews of Northern California! That Bay area can be cold all year round, except during the golden months of September-mid-November. Lola is a lucky dog and appeared content in the photos. Also glad to hear Zesty is working out for you guys!!

    • Zesty can be testy, but with Mark and I as his new, meticulous owners, he is looking better every day. 🙂 We do love California, but it is quite expensive and we are ready for some new territories…

  9. I bet Lola was thrilled to see you back again! Northern California is beautiful, but it can get a little chilly. I don’t blame you for searching out warmer places for the fall and winter. I am looking forward to learning more about your latest sit in Santa Fe – what a beautiful area!

    • It was incredible to see Lola again, Janis. Her wagging tail was matched by our hugs and smiles. 🙂 Santa Fe truly is a beautiful and wonderful area. We are putting the weekends to good use! More about that soon.

  10. Wow! What a bonanza with all that free fruit to pick. We get blackberries, but not peaches or plums we can pick for free. A great tour of Northern California, and the photography was excellent, Liesbet. Lola looked really happy to see you two again. I bet when it came to saying goodbye, it was tough on all three of you. Still, I’m sure there will another time.

    • We will have to see about that other time, Hugh. As we move further and further away from California again, it will be harder to cover the distance back. Lola is the big trigger there! The berries grow along the road side – free for all – and the stone fruit hangs in batches over the farm fences – we are allowed to pick them for immediate use when we walk by.

      • My goodness, you’re so lucky being allowed to pick that farm fence hanging fruit. If we did that here in the UK, we could get into trouble. Still, it beats letting food go to waste, which is often the case in the UK.

        • Exactly! And, that’s what I told my husband when he was reprimanding me for taking two overripe plums once. There is so incredibly much that goes to waste!! Every tree we passed had piles of rotten fruit underneath it.

  11. Yes I remember Lola! And she certainly remembered you: how lovely after such a long time. Love those photos of the Tamalpais Watershed. I do enjoy following you on your travels Liesbet!

    • Thanks, Denzil. There is so much to see in this world and country and we are only touching the thinnest surface while house and pet sitting. In the near future, full-time travel might be on the horizon again. 🙂

  12. Nice that you found a new area to explore, Liesbet. Crowding on the roads has become such a problem and can ruin an outing to a popular spot.

    • Crowded roads seem to be a problem everywhere, Jo. More people, more cars. But, I think the bigger issue is not the more people, but the dependency on more than one car per household and going everywhere in a car. Public transportation could be so much better in the US, especially to get outside of the cities.

  13. I can see why you would go back. It seems like a lovely area. 🙂

    • Sonoma County and the wine regions of Northern California are visually attractive, Misha, and while we would love to return, the attraction of “undiscovered” areas might prevail. 🙂

  14. So happy you got to explore Mt. Tam and some of its trails. I always love exploring that area of Marin county when I am in northern California. Also see you spotted some deer during your stay (love that photo)!

  15. Now this looked like a fabulous time. The photos are beautiful Liesbet. And isn’t it remarkable that Lola recognized you. You’re like family now. 🙂

  16. Great to see adorable, lovable Lola again! I do hope that you see her again in the spring. Sounds and looks like a lovely three weeks. I hope you have stopped bleeding money on Zesty The Westy

    • The initial months of a “new” home on wheels (or hulls) are always expensive. Things need to be fixed, improved, exchanged or maintained. You know what I mean… 🙂 September might be a little bit better, but I hope that by October we are down to just fuel and regular maintenance on Zesty.

      As for next spring… it might be a toss-up between Sebastopol, CA or Santa Fe, NM.

  17. Lola must have been beside herself with delight at your return. i can see that if the timing and location works out, a repeat house sit you have loved would be far less energy drawing.

    • Correct! Repeat house sits are easy, fun and provide some security and familiarity that we sometimes crave. We will see what happens. Spring is a long time away! 🙂

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