Since this was a short house sit, I am writing our experiences as a “Completed House Sit” post.
A couple of months ago, Mark and I came across this one-week house sit in Fairfax while living in Rocklin, CA. While the assignment was much shorter than we prefer, Fairfax is an attractive, up-scale town about an hour north of San Francisco, there were a cute dog and chickens involved and the owners happily selected us as their sitters. Then, about a month later, we received the devastating news that 10-year-old dog Xander had unexpectedly passed away (from the same symptoms as our dog Darwin in 2010). We were shocked about the sad event, but considered the impact and how we would feel if this had happened on our watch. It is the nightmare of every pet sitter! The owners still preferred our involvement, to take care of their seven chickens and have a presence in the house. We obliged.
Without a “real pet” to attend to, this was one of our easiest house sits, once we climbed the narrow road in our Prius, snaking up to the top of the hill, where the comfortable, renovated home was located. In the mornings, we filled the bird feeders with sugar-water, which was much appreciated by the flock of hummingbirds that frequented the yard and the porch. One evening, during a storm, we counted over 20 at once!
We visited the chickens a few times a day. They were surprisingly soft and social, but, unfortunately, do not lay any eggs this time of the year. We put out food and changed their water in the mornings, brought some of our compost down for a change in diet and swung by to give them love and attention. I really enjoyed petting them. If we were around the whole day, we would let them out of their enclosure to run free. They voluntarily returned to their roost before sunset.
Other responsibilities involved picking up the mail daily, setting out the garbage, compost and recyclables once a week and keeping the house tidy – just what you do when you live a life on land. The owners being tasteful artists meant that there were a lot of gorgeous paintings, creative photographs and interesting books scattered about the house. One of the owners is a writer and her little studio in the yard had a lot of appeal to me. She had a fascinating library in there and it was my hope to lock myself up and don’t come out one day. Since Mark and I are so busy with our jobs and projects, it took me until 3pm the last day, before I entered the cute ex-playhouse for a submersion into fascinating literature. A one-week house sit is way too short!
It rained a lot while we were in Fairfax, which made us a little stir-crazy at times. One afternoon, we decided to walk down the hill to the center of town and walk back up for exercise. This way of traveling revealed a lot of greenery and waterfalls all around us. We also met friends for sushi in town one evening and drove up to Sebastopol, an hour and a half away, to meet the owners of our next long-term house and dog sit. Time flew.
Since we only had one weekend in the area, we needed to make the best of it. We arrived on a Saturday and after settling in and organizing our stuff, Mark and I walked out the front door in the afternoon and followed the last part of the road up the hill. It turned into a trail, winding through the forest and ascending towards a flat and open area at the top. We made a loop hike with nice views and returned home after a couple of hours. It was so nice to just start hiking without needing a car to get there! Being in nature so effortlessly provided a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively, after three months in the suburbs.
On Sunday, we did use our car and drove to Point Reyes National Seashore. We had a late start because of things out of our control and once in the park (free entrance), we needed to use shuttle buses ($7 per person) to reach the most popular sites. This meant waiting in line and not being totally free to decide where and when to go, but winter is high season here, because of the migration of the gray whales and the presence of many elephant seals. During the week, it is still possible to visit the park everywhere in your own car. We had a nice time watching wildlife, descending and ascending hundreds of steps to the lighthouse and exploring a bit near the Lifeboat Station. There is a whole section of the park we had to skip, so we hope to be back one day for some more hiking and beach walking.
(Little known fact: Drakes Bay, where Point Reyes National Seashore is located, was one of the few anchorages Mark, Darwin, Kali and I visited in 2005, when we had our first boat, a monohull called “F/Our Choice/s”.)
Best feature(s): The location of our temporary home. It allowed us to walk some great trails just outside the door! The presence of this many hummingbirds was special as well. And we developed a new appreciation for chickens.
Best gadget(s): Modern appliances. There were some automated systems that tricked us, but we got used to them, as well as the intricate lighting options.
Surprise(s): A cozy, comfortable studio with a wealth of books and character.
Downside(s): No eggs from the chickens, bad weather and the wooden box with Xander’s ashes. 🙁
To conclude this post, here is a video of some of the elephant seals we encountered at Point Reyes: