Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chapter 6 - Moving On

I remember when I was 16, sitting in the basement with my friend and making big talk about how as soon as I graduated we were going to jump in his car and move to California, just like that. We didn't need a plan, we'd figure it out when we got there.  It was an exhilarating feeling, the thought of a new adventure with endless possibilities.  There didn't seem to be any reason we couldn't do it, and succeed!

But somehow things didn't work out that way.  By the time I graduated I had a job, college plans and, oh yeah... no money saved.

Fast forward to one year ago, me and Charli sitting in our living room and having this conversation. "So, whatta ya say we sell everything we own and hit the road? We can travel all over the country and live in other people's houses."  "Alright, let's do it!"

Ok, it was a little more detailed than that, but that was the gist of it. The point is, I experienced almost the exact same emotions that moment as when I was a kid... excitement, adventure and possibilities, but this time with butterflies, uncertainties and responsibilities sprinkled in for flavor. Nonetheless we did it. We made a decision and pulled the trigger and did it. And here we are today.

The cool thing is, this WAS the right decision. Right now we are finishing up a 3-month house sit in Connecticut and having a blast. In addition to the day trips I wrote about in my last post, we also had the opportunity to do these other amazing things during this time:
  • Tour the Vanderbilt Mansion and home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the Hudson River
  • See the original site of Woodstock
  • Eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in NYC
  • Walk the Poughkeepsie Bridge
  • See all the major sites in Boston, walk the Freedom Trail, and visit Harvard University.  We even took a trolley tour of the entire city, featuring this animated driver:
  • Visit Bridgeport, CT on the Long Island Sound and stop by the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT
  • Spend a day with Betty Ton and her wonderful family! Betty was one of my very first blog friends back in 2005.
  • Spend a day with Dale Snyder, an old friend from back in 1979 in Duluth, and the drummer of the first "professional" band I was ever in... Sleeper 
  •  Visit Lover's Leap State Park in New Milford, CT

So as you can see from this and previous posts, we've taken full advantage of this amazing opportunity to live here in Connecticut for the past 3 months. But now this time has come to an end and in one more week we pack up the car and hit the road again.

From here we head to the west coast for our next gig in Orangevale, CA, but not before stopping to visit nearly every family member we have. Here is our itinerary (click to enlarge).

Washington DC - lunch with Charli's niece
Durham, NC - dinner with my nephew and his wife
Athens, GA - a few days with Charli's sister and her family
Prestonsburg, KY - a night with Charli's other sister and her family
St. Louis, MO - a night with Charli's dad and her brother
Duluth, MN - a week with my entire family including my parents, brothers and sister and their families
St. Cloud, MN - a few days back in our hometown with everyone we've ever known over the last 20 years
Phoenix, AZ - a few days with our son Brandon
Oceanside, CA - a few days with our other son Austin
Orangevale, CA - our May house sitting gig
Ridgway, CO - our June house sitting gig

So yeah, I think it's safe to say we have a very exciting trip ahead of us!  Stay tuned as we continue to share our stories along the way.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Chapter 5 - Day Trippin... The Big Apple

One of the reasons we were drawn to this gypsy lifestyle of living on the road was because it afforded us the opportunity to see the good old U.S. of A. in intimate detail.  What better way can you explore this country's rich regional wonders than by living right smack in the middle of them for extended periods of time?!

But because we have the responsibility of caring for people's pets, we can't just take off for days at a time and hope the animals don't get into trouble while we are gone, like by throwing a huge kegger for example. You just can't trust them like that. Instead, we see our sites by taking little day trips to the surrounding areas... sometimes with the pets, other times without (the exception being when we spent the weekend in NYC with some friends and we hired a friend of the owners to house sit for us).

A big benefit of site seeing through day trips is the lack of stress about the visits. For example, when you're on vacation for say, 7 days back-to-back, you feel an obligation to cram as many things into each day as possible so you don't leave anything on the table when you have to return home.  Here, we simply pick one nearby destination or event, visit for a few hours and head back home. Easy peasy! Not once have we felt disappointed that we didn't get our visit's worth.

A favorite day trip for us has been New York City. Just a short train ride in and BAM!... Manhattan! Just like that.  You hop in a metal tube in rural western CT and emerge in another dimension. Ok, Grand Central Station... but same thing.

Here are some of the things we've seen over the 5 times we've visited, including the extended weekend with our pals.

Homage to John Lennon

Strawberry Fields Monument
The Dakota, Lennon's apartment building

Times Square!
Me and Charli in the Kiss Cam!
Neon City

Staten Island Ferry
A gray and foggy day
 Rockefeller Center


From the Top of the Rock

Central Park



Other things we did that are not shown here were the incredibly powerful 911 Memorial Museum (allow yourselves no less than 6 hours if you go), the Brooklyn Bridge, St. Patrick's Cathedral, numerous subway adventures, and of course the best restaurants we've ever experienced, including one of the most important items from my personal bucket list... a slice of authentic NYC pie from Gino's Pizza, on E 83rd and 1st.

Mushroom and cheese... SO good!
Yeah, you could say we like NYC a little bit. Ok a LOT! In fact, we are constantly watching for house sitting gigs right in Manhattan, which have come up several times already, but unfortunately didn't fit our schedule.

So there you have it.... a little snapshot of the opportunities we've been afforded through house sitting. Stay tuned for the next post where I'll show you other day trips we've taken around Connecticut!