Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Chapter 19 - Pets of 2016

Well folks, today is our 2nd anniversary as house sitters and we couldn't be happier with our decision to take a chance and hit the road back in 2014. There is no question we love the travel, the excitement and for sure all the new friends we have made, but our main mission is to care for their pets, and for that we are grateful. So in honor of all the beautiful animals we have had the privilege of serving, here is our tribute to "our" pets of 2016.

Santa Fe, NM


Marlboro, VT


Hull, MA



Point of Rocks, MD

Nutmeg, Rosie and Maggie Mae

Lake Oswego, OR


Vancouver, BC


Scottsdale, AZ



Panama City, FL


Beverly Hills, CA

Rooster and Lamont

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chapter 18 - Fall 2016

Panama City, FL

If you’re looking for white sand beaches, ridiculously gorgeous sunsets and flawless weather, then Panama City is the place to go. Nearly every evening of the 5 or so weeks we were there, we ate our dinner watching the sunset at either a nearby beach on the Gulf of Mexico, or on a dock overlooking East Bay.

Table for 2 please
Lizzie loves the sunsets

And, because Charli doesn’t believe in sleeping, many of our mornings started with sunrise coffees on the other side of East Bay.

By the way, if anybody is interested, I would be happy to send you a thousand or so sunrise/sunset pictures… you know, in case you’ve never seen one before.

I’ve always loved the Florida gulf coast and Panama City did not disappoint. From snorkeling in the nearby St. Andrews State Park or Cape San Blas peninsula, to jet-skiing with the dolphins by Shell Island, we had an amazing time.

Road Trip 2

After an extremely pleasant 6 weeks of caring for three of the sweetest animals ever (1 adorable yellow lab and 2 beautiful cats), the owners came back from their vacation and we had to leave. We didn’t want to leave but for some reason they decided they preferred to live in their house alone. Whatever.

Anyway, we had another house to get to in Scottsdale, AZ so another road trip was under way! A few highlights from this trip were:

A dolphin-watching tour in Pensacola Florida

Camping with the alligators in Sam Houston Jones State Park near Lake Charles, LA.
Yes, use caution while sleeping in a nylon tent next to alligators

and frolicking in White Sands National Monument by El Paso, TX.

She was having so much fun, I didn't have the heart to tell her that you're supposed to do jumping jacks standing up.

Scottsdale, AZ

Which leads us to here… house sitting a few yards from the 13th tee of the gorgeous Troon North Golf Course with these two lovable characters.
Even though we could literally walk 50 steps and be on the nicest golf course in Arizona, we won’t… because:
a. we don’t even know how to swing a golf stick

b. that should be good enough answer

Fortunately, there are many other awesome things to do around here, including our most favorite thing of all… hiking! And even though sweet little Moka can’t hike as far as we can, we don’t let that stop us.

The best part of hiking with Moka is how many people giggle when they walk past us.

They must think she is awfully cute.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chapter 17 – Summer 2016 - Part 2

Vancouver, BC
As mentioned in my last post, our next destination was the ever-beautiful hillside of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, North America, Earth (the official mailing address). But I must say, I was a bit disappointed when we got there and found NO mention of these guys. Nor did we hear any references to hosers, toques, or someone telling us to “take off eh.”

What we did find however, was a very friendly and socially diverse community of some of the nicest people we’ve ever met, an incredibly beautiful country/seaside and a seemingly endless supply of things to do and see.

With Rosie at the Gastown Steam Clock

The view from our deck in North Vancouver

Horseshoe Bay as seen from atop Bowen Lookout in West Vancouver

The remains of an ancient Stargate portal at English Bay Beach.
(the Canadians keep very quiet about this)

Chillin' with Ribbon
Not too shabby eh? I give Vancouver a hardy 5 stars! Or if you convert it... 6.7 Canadian stars.

Oh, one other thing I really liked about Vancouver. It was the only time we’ve ever had our Prius up to 100.

Evergreen, CO
No sooner had we spent our last water-colored dollar then it was time to hit the dusty trail for the rugged mountains of Colorado, and Evergreen was where we landed.

Living in a place like Evergreen takes a little getting used to, especially if you’re accustomed to oxygen. And being as how the house we were at sat at 7800 feet, just heading upstairs to bed required two rest stops along the way. But eventually we became acclimated, which is a Midwestern term for “able to breath,” and really enjoyed our stay.

This area of Colorado has everything John Denver told us it does… unbelievably beautiful mountains, abundant wildlife, impossible fields of wild flowers and endless sunshine on our shoulders. Every day we were treated to herds of elk, often roaming through our yard – including this magnificent creature!

What'chu lookin at!
Because this house sit had no pets, we were able to really get out and explore the vast expanses of the Colorado Front Range, which includes Golden, Boulder, Estes Park and of course Denver. Here are a few things we did and saw:

Insanely beautiful wildflowers on the way up to Devil's Thumb

A mountain meadow at the beginning of the Devil's Thumb hike
Us, literally chillin' (in August) at the top of Mount Evans
Baby deer in Evergreen Lake...
...and baby mountain goats at Waterton Canyon!
A crisp mountain Lake on the way up to Mount Evans summit

Road Trip to Florida
One of the aspects of house sitting that we enjoy a lot is the actual traveling between the cities. Whenever possible, we find national or state parks and set up our little red tent with the mesh ceiling (so we can see the stars), and rough it like the pioneers did hundreds of years ago. That is if you agree that “roughing it” includes a queen-sized air bed.

Here’s our trusty hotel-on-the-go that has provided shelter many times over the last two years.

Camping definitely has its benefits, such as being much cheaper than a hotel, and you are embedded right within the beautiful nature. But it also has its risks. For instance, in one campsite next to a bayou in Louisiana, Charli woke up to hear an alligator trying to attack a possum just across the yard! It was either that or my snoring, it’s hard to tell the difference. But that’s not nearly as creepy as the time we woke up to find this guy at the end our driveway!

And in case this picture isn’t clear… yes… this is a full-grown tarantula. And that same morning a ring-tailed cat (of the racoon family) chewed my sandals to shreds just outside our tent. See, I wasn’t kidding when I said we were roughing it like the pioneers.

Despite the deadly beasts at our campsites, the trip from Colorado to Florida was tons of fun.  The Rocky Mountain colors were epic,

the mountain rivers were refreshing,

Inks Lake State Park near Austin, TX

the food in Austin was unbelievable, and the street jazz in New Orleans was perfect!

And there you have it... some of our crazy antics from July through September. Of course nothing was quite as crazy as the night we tore up Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I understand they're still talking about it today.

TOTALLY unleashed
So cheers to all the new friends we've met along the way, and our old friends back home. We are having the time of our lives zig-zagging across the country like a couple of high school graduates taking a gap year... except ours is more like a gap decade. We may not know where we're headed just yet but it doesn't seem to matter, we're just having fun doing it. And as the bumper sticker on our car says, "Not all those who wander are lost... just us."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Chapter 16 - Summer 2016 Part 1

Funny thing, this full-time cross-country traveling. Before we began house sitting, a 3-hour drive somewhere would require a nap once we arrived. But Aunt Martha's house is 150 miles away! If we make this trip we're gonna need to get a hotel. Now, after crossing the U.S. for the 4th time in 18 months, we look at a drive from Minneapolis to St. Louis and say, Hey, that's only 9 hours. After we get there we should go out for dinner and a movie or something!

In my last post I noted that we would be staying in Point of Rocks, MD, which we did, and was as fabulous as one would expect. It was fabulous because it was nestled right smack in the middle of a very historic part of the country. For example, Harper's Ferry is only a few minutes away and has a fascinating, albeit very bloody, civil war history. And of course Washington, DC was only a short 45 minutes southeast of us, so we were able to hop down there a few times and knock off the big checklist items that everyone should see, including a beautiful afternoon in a duck boat on the Potomac!

Washington Memorial from Potomac River

And then, just like Lewis and Clark themselves, our expedition took us from Washington DC back here to Portland, with the exception that we didn't almost die of starvation or freeze to death in Montana... or need to wait 6 months before we could continue across the Rockies. But other than that it was exactly the same.

Lewis and Clark didn't have to deal with all that road construction
See?... just like them. Lewis and Clark had to battle the Missouri River upstream for 2500 miles, and we had to battle headwinds in our Prius. Same thing.

And then there's Portland... ahh, sweet, sweet Portland. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

In our journey as wanderers we keep a pros and cons checklist of things we like or dislike about a city. We do this because believe it or not, we actually do plan on owning a home again someday... we just don't know where. Or when. Or what. Although we have ruled out a yurt as an option. That being said, there are a few cities that stand out as potential future home-base candidates, and Portland is definitely one of them. What's so special about Portland you ask? Well let me tell you!

Top 10 Favorite Things About Portland:

1. A really cool downtown with all the "big city" kinds of things you'd ever want... great businesses, pubs, bookstores, parks, a world-class river walk and...

2. FOOD! OMG SO MUCH FOOD! Portland literally has a restaurant of one kind or another every six inches. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration but it does have a LOT of restaurants.

3. And not only regular restaurants, but food trucks galore. Whether you're smack in the center of downtown or in any of the surrounding neighborhoods or suburbs, you will find pods of these amazing food trucks and trailers everywhere. And the best part is they have food for every palate. And they're adorable.

4. Lots of chic little neighborhoods. For example, the renovated Alberta Main Street Arts District in NE Portland is packed with every kind of charming little shop you could ever imagine - for nearly a mile!

5. The weather is perfect. Well, except for the rainy days and the gray, damp winters... but when it's not those things it's pretty darn perfect.

6. There are NO bugs! And to clarify, when a person from Minnesota says there are no bugs he means that you can actually be outside on a nice summer evening and not be stabbed to death by mosquitoes. This point alone ranks very high on our "pros" list for any city we evaluate.

7. The area is freaking gorgeous. Whether you're right inside the city at the rose garden or Forest Park, hiking through any one of the hundreds of nearby trails, or simply just looking at a snow-capped peak on the horizon, the area around Portland is among the most beautiful in the country.

8. The hiking is amazing. Just a short drive from the city center will put you on any number of stunning trails in the area. One state park has you walking past 11 waterfalls alone, two of which you walk behind! And for those of you who desire buns of steel, there are endless hill, waterfall and mountain climbs to be had in every direction.

High above a lava field near Mount St. Helens
9. Mass transportation options galore. For someone like me who doesn't like to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, being able to take one of the many rail systems or multiple bus lines is a huge benefit. Charli and I have taken the train from the 'burbs to downtown Portland several times and it just makes everything nice and easy.

10. It's weird! Yes, the stereotype is true. Portland is weird in all kinds of ways. The people are weird, the shops are weird, the art is weird and the attitude is weird. Even the life-long friends we've made here are weird, but then that's only because they chose us as friends.

So what's next for the traveling Jeff and Charli show? Why Canada of course! That's right... in just a few days we will haul anchor from Portland and spend the next couple of weeks in beautiful North Vancouver, British Columbia. That is if they let us in. I always worry that we will accidentally leave an old banana under the seat or something, and then they will detain and interrogate us and dunk our heads in buckets of maple syrup until we confess that we put it there on purpose.

But then again what could be worse than the torture we've already endured from Canada...

Who, me?