The end of the year is a good time for reflection. In the past, Mark and I would do so by recalling the islands visited, the people met, or the countries explored. The last two years, we look back at the house sits we fulfilled; new places we discovered in the US and animals we took care of. To give this review of 2017 a bit more depth, I am combining Donna’s and Peta’s idea of breaking the post down in months and Janis’ end-of-the-year focus by incorporating what I am grateful for.
January 2017 – Hospitality of others
In the beginning of the year, Mark and I finished a three-month dog sit with Herk in the Sacramento area, California. After that, we faced a short gap between house sits. Thanks to the home owner, who let us stay a few extra days, and a blogging friend offering up her guest room, we did not become homeless. Friends happily hosted us at other times during the month as well, keeping our accommodation free. During our 2+ years of house and pet sitting, Mark and I never paid for a hotel room.
February 2017 – The warmth of Southern California
Mark and I lived and traveled in the tropics for over a decade, before moving (back) to the US. Our first winter, house sitting, was spent in New England. While it was a mild one, we vowed to do better in the future. We drove across the country to accommodate our warm-blooded bodies and ended up in Northern California. That happened in October 2016. Better, for sure, but still a tad chilly. And wet. The silver lining about that episode was that the Californian drought was finally over. To warm up, we jumped on the chance of a three-week house sit in Costa Mesa, Southern California, with Jaxx. While often foggy, the sunny, blue-sky days were embraced as no other!
March 2017 – The company of a well-behaved, sweet dog
Our two-month house sit in Sebastopol, Northern California, in the spring of 2017 will forever remain one of our favorites. Not only was the house artistic and comfy and the area very desirable, but our temporary dog, Lola, stole our hearts. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent with this spunky, sweet, soft, smart and adorable creature. Asked back by the owners to take care of her and their home again this coming spring, we declined. Our fond memories of Lola made it a tough decision.
April 2017 – Sharing our adventures with family
My cousin Griet and her husband Wim used to visit us frequently on our sailboat in the tropics. They loved their vacations in the Caribbean and South Pacific, and we loved our time with them. What would they do now, after we sold Irie? Come visit us in the US, of course. Being with family members we call friends, and sharing sights, views, experiences, meals, drinks and conversations together is something that makes me very happy.
May 2017 – A home country
Everybody has a home country, right? Why would I be grateful for mine? Well, if you have been roaming about for 15 years, it is nice to return to some familiarity – family, old-time friends, the house you grew up in. As my parents are planning to move in the near future (and I will really end up “on the street”), my trip to Belgium last spring was extra busy and emotional. I needed to “get rid” of most of my belongings. All that remains are my photo albums, souvenirs from 25 years of international travel and diaries. Any takers with extra storage? 😊 My childhood home might disappear, but my native country and family will always be there.
June 2017 – A short break (in Budapest)
Whenever I mention that Mark and I have never been on a real vacation – you know, the kind where you prepare and plan for a holiday in an exotic location, look forward to it, pack your bags with sun, fun and adventure in mind, jump on a plane together and land in a new place full of anticipation with no worries whatsoever – people look at me in disbelief. We haven’t even been on a honeymoon yet, after ten years of marriage. Believe me, living on the road or the water is not the same. The reason traditional vacations have been non-existent for us? Running our own business and not being able/willing to spend a lot of money on travel. That being said, we came pretty close to a break without worries in June, when we took a city trip to Budapest, Hungary. It was nice!
July 2017 – A camper!
The biggest change in our current lives has been purchasing Zesty, the camper van, in Arkansas. We picked him up after an arduous Amtrak train ride and became the proud owners of a home on wheels. The practical and promising facts of RV ownership: no worries about gaps between house sits anymore, and this is the first step to a new long-term adventure whenever the time is right.
August 2017 – Discovering a new state
In the middle of August, we took care of a home without pets for a month in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Exploring this fascinating new-to-us state every weekend was intriguing, satisfying and exercise-rich. If it fits in our plans (the near future will hopefully tell), we’d love to return for a two-month sit this spring.
September 2017 – Mobility
With our focus on attempting to not be cold in winter, Mark and I totally underestimated fall. While usually a very enjoyable season in Colorado, the autumn of 2017 brought floods of rain, heaps of snow and freezing temperatures. Luckily, we knew it was only temporarily. Zesty, while unexpectedly needing to be winterized, would bring us to warmer climes after a month.
October 2017 – Real travel and adventure
Our 12-day trip through some of Utah’s national parks in October was the highlight of my year. This is what I live for: travel and discovery; nature, beauty and freedom. The photos of my blog post about that trip speak volumes. Let’s hope 2018 will bring more of that. While a house and pet setting lifestyle might sound adventurous, for us, it is about as mellow and settled as we have lived in… forever. We do enjoy it immensely, but are getting itchy feet again.
November 2017 – A warm home base
November in San Diego, California. We succeeded in securing a mild-weather winter sit for three months. Time to unwind, be comfortable, explore some of the city’s highlights and write. It was a productive and satisfying month. If only we could go back to it…
December 2017 – Flexibility
The last month of the year turned out to be quite turbulent. A family health emergency had us worried, stressed, frustrated, helpless and perplexed at what to do. Plans came, went, and changed over the holiday season, resulting last-minute in a wonderful Christmas Day with friends and a long weekend trip to the desert to welcome 2018. Hurrah for flexibility!
The New Year, unfortunately, starts with a trip back East to take care of Mark’s parents. His mom had a stroke and surgery, and will hopefully be on the road to recovery soon. Pleasant temperatures are exchanged for frigidity – outside, and inside the hospital.
Mark and I wish you all a happy, inspiring, active, adventurous, loving, cozy and – most importantly – a healthy 2018!!