Friday, January 30, 2015

Chapter 3 - Beauty and the Beasts

I don't think there is a single definition of "house sitting" that describes all engagements, but based on what we've seen in the ads, 90% of them involve animals in one form or another... either pets, chickens, horses and yes, even ostriches.

In the house we're at here in Connecticut, we have the pleasure of taking care of Mickey and Henry... two of the sweetest dogs we've ever met who LOVE to go for rides in the car and walks in the woods.

AND, as if THEY aren't fun enough, we also have the pleasure of watching two adorable and VERY entertaining African grey parrots. Meet Tu-Tu and Koo-Koo

These birds have an amazing ability to mimic any sound or phrase, which is an endless source of amusement for us every day.  For example if I ask Charli a question, before I can even get it out of my mouth one of them will say "what?" so realistically human that I actually repeat the question.  I fall for it almost every time.  Well I used to.  I'm no bird brain after all.

Or when Koo-Koo decides he wants attention, he will let out a huge fart sound (usually timed when one of us bends over) and then laugh exactly the way Charil does... which of course only makes us laugh, which only delights Koo-Koo even more, and the routine goes on and on and on.   I'm quite certain we're going to have to apologize to the owners when they return, who will be forever left with Charli's high pitched laugh for years to come.

So these are the "beasts" per the title of the post. As far as the "beauty" part goes well let me just say that this part of Connecticut is stunning.  Every day Charli and I head out to one of the hundreds of trails that surround this area and every day we are in awe.  There are endless places to hike along the Appalachian Trail or Housatonic River.  Here's a picture I took just this morning in Macedonia Brook State Park, just 10 minutes from our house.

In addition to rivers, there are covered bridges


mountain lakes

and canopied trails

And then there is Kent itself, where we live, which is one of the most charming little New England towns we've ever seen.  Every business is a converted colonial style house and no "commercial chain" types of businesses are allowed.  So basically it's like walking around in a model diorama.

So yeah, this whole house sitting thing is working out pretty slick so far.  We love the pets, we love the area and we love the idea of seeing the country in intimate detail by getting to know the towns we live in. It's really quite spectacular.

And speaking of seeing things... make sure to tune in for the next installment: Chapter 4 - Day Trippin!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chapter 2 - The Maiden Voyage

In my last post I mentioned what inspired us to ditch everything we own and hit the road, besides the popular belief that we are experiencing a midlife crisis. Which we're not.  I think.

But today I'm going to start by talking about one of the key things that is making this new lifestyle even possible for us... telecommuting.

For most of the last decade my jobs have allowed me to work remotely from home, which is an amazing perk to have.  Except that it shouldn't be amazing!  It SHOULD be the norm, but that's a different topic for a different day.  The important thing is that as long as I have an internet connection I can do my job, which allows me the freedom to do it pretty much anywhere in the world (i.e. Hawaii, Las Vegas, in the passenger seat heading down Route 66)... provided I work during CST hours that is.

So, once the last of our kids had moved out there was really nothing preventing Charli and me from hauling anchor and moving on.  Which is where I left off with my previous post.

Dec 13, 2014
Since then, here's what we've been to: 

A slow ride to Vegas

Because our son Brandon wanted our living room couches, we decided to wrap them up, put them in our utility trailer and hand them off to him in Las Vegas where we all met up for Christmas. However, because this trailer had little baby wheels, I had to keep the speed down to 60 mph the entire 1600 miles, which also meant that I needed to stay off the interstates and take only state and county highways.

A fun side note... while driving through Colorado, we spent an entire day creeping down a 2-lane road in a raging blizzard at 30 mph, until we finally gave up and got a room in La Junta because we (and our Prius) just couldn't take it anymore.

A  very Vegas Christmas

Rosie and Charli at Red Rock Canyon
Why Christmas in Las Vegas?  Simple... it was a convenient meeting spot for our boys to drive to since one lives in Phoenix and the other in southern CA, and Rosie had to fly in from Hawaii anyway so it didn't matter where she ended up.  And to make it even more special, our bonus son DJ drove all the way out to Las Vegas by himself to make our family Christmas complete.

So yeah, we did the nightlife thing and it was awesome. Cirque du
Soleil's Mystère was beyond amazing and the magic of downtown Vegas did not disappoint.  But it was the day trips out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservatory, Valley of Fire State Park and Hoover Dam/Lake Mead that really made it special.

Here we hiked for miles, found ancient native American petroglyphs, toured the inside of Hoover Dam and even walked on the dried up bed on part of Lake Mead. These are the things that balance out the neon and make the Las Vegas area a truly amazing place to visit.


Finally after 2 wonderful weeks with all our children, including our boys' wonderful girlfriends, it was time to turn the car around and head out to Connecticut to start our 3 month house sitting gig in South Kent.  But along the 4 day journey we also had the opportunity to meet up with many friends and family!

First we stopped in St. Louis where we spent an evening with Charli's dad, brother and sister-in-law. Then the next day we had lunch in Indianapolis with Ray, my very best friend who used to live next door to us in St. Cloud for many years. On the third night we met up with Brenda and Lauren in Akron, OH... old friends from waaaay back, who we actually met the first time 24 years ago in our prenatal birthing class!

Finally on our last day on the road we had lunch with my good blogging buddy Kathy and her niece at a cool restaurant in Pennsylvania!

Which leads us to here and now... at a beautiful house nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires on the Housatonic River, just a few miles from the Appalachian trail. A dream come true for house sitting types like us.

Coming up next: Chapter 3 - Beauty and the Beasts

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chapter 1 - How We Sold Everything We Owned and Hit the Road

It all started back in March of 2013 when Charli and I decided to take a little 4000 mile road trip to see our kids... one in Phoenix and the other in Oceanside, CA. During this 2 week venture I was able to work in the passenger seat while Charli drove during the day, thanks to the magic of a wireless jetpack.

It was this trip where we first learned that we really liked road tripping together and decided that doing it more often would be awesome. We even joked about just selling all our stuff and living on the road full time.  Ha ha ha.

A few months later we ended up in Hawaii, house sitting for some friends of mine for a few weeks while they returned to the mainland for their daughter's graduation. 

It was here where we realized that house sitting was the coolest thing since sliced mangoes and  "theoretically" there was no reason we couldn't simply just sell everything we owned and do this full time!  Then of course after realizing just how impossible this would be, we laughed at ourselves for being daring enough to at least fantasize about it.  Ha ha ha.

But something happened... we couldn't stop thinking about it. Maybe it was a sting from an exotic tropical sea creature... but the itch wouldn't go away.

Finally, after more than a year of saying "why not?" to each other a hundred thousand times, on Sept 7, 2014 we just said "eff it - let do this!" and put the old homestead up for sale.

Of course now we had to figure out how to shed ourselves of 25 years worth of... well, everything. After raising 3 kids and accumulating a house and garage full of "things," it was no small effort to downsize everything we owned to fit into the back of a Prius.  Huge garage sales, enormous garbage pickups and countless cars full of donations later we were finally down to bare bones... just the furnishings in our house necessary to stage it for sale.

And then this happened on Nov 29, 2014

Fortunately for us the new owners decided they wanted to keep most of our furnishings and appliances, so we didn't have to have any more sales (whew)!  A few weeks later the final arrangements were done and we were ready to hit the road... just in time to meet our kids in Las Vegas for Christmas.

And here we go on Dec 13!

Coming up next: Chapter II - The Maiden Voyage