A Spectacular House Sit Comes Our Way

sunset with giant cactus in foreground

Ever heard of Alamo, Ca?

Neither had we! It’s a small city just south of Walnut Creek inland from Oakland. For this house sit, the homeowner contacted us. After a conversation with us and a call to the homeowner in Dallas, she was sold, and that’s all she wrote. 

small tree-lined street

We started in the afternoon after driving down from Sonoma. It’s terrific to go from one house directly to the next one with no break. We’ve been to some fantastic places and even others on mountain tops. But whoa! This place stands out. 

a narrow and steep driveway

Our New Abode

The house was built on the top of a knoll, looking southeast. Turn up to the left, and you see Mount Diablo. Look down to the right, the local high school. Straight ahead, hills in all shapes and sizes extending in all directions, pleasantly filled with mountain homes among the forests.

You could only tell how many houses there were at night when the lights came on. Dense forest hid most of the neighbors during the day. Less visible, at least from the house, the town, shopping areas and golf courses. 

view of a valley

The high school presented all sorts of entertainment: marching bands, playing during Friday night football games, practicing other times. Drum corps pounding rhythms into the hills. There were concerts in the gym on Saturday nights, but we could hear them faintly. Big lights and PA systems blaring most evenings. Far enough away that it was fun to see.

large cactus plants in a yard overlooking a valley

The Spectacular Setting!

The driveway was very steep with the first few runs either scary (in the car) or exhausting on foot, walking the dog. Lots of horse properties around there, and also sheep, chickens, and beehives. A nice rural feel to the area, houses spread out just about right. But in 10 minutes you could be in high-end shops and restaurants.

We were far enough away from city lights (after the high school field lights went out) that every night brought a show of stars and the waxing moon.  large cactus plant in a yard overlooking a valley

Tons of oak trees all around along with pine, spruce, etc. This is one of the few times we wished for a rowdy rain storm just to see it from up so high. We never wanted to leave, we both enjoyed being there so much. We did go out to get food, but only after we ran out of essentials.

large cactus plant in a yard overlooking a valley

As you can see from all the photos, the yard was a highlight as well. I had a lot of fun taking all these photographs! Many of the cactus plants were large and striking. Spending time here gave me a new appreciation for the ‘species.’

a large cactus plant in a yard

See what I mean by large, it was taller than me! I loved the patterns in the ‘leaves’ although they are a bit difficult to see in the photos.

a large cactus plant in a yard

I think the one above was my favorite. It had such lovely geometrical perfection.

a large cactus plant in a yard

A Terrific Dog!

Our only charge at this house was a ten-year-old German Short-haired Pointer. He was a sweet guy with a few quirks like helping himself to anything left out on the counters. We mean anything – food, pencils, pens, books, toothbrushes, phone chargers!

The kitchen was off limits for him, and we were warned not to leave anything out there either because he WOULD get it. 

German Short-Haired Pointer playing

He slept in a crate, and the first night he was unhappy with us at bedtime! Well, maybe not miserable but he got real stubborn. He happily went into the room with his crate, but then sat down on the floor and wouldn’t get any closer, in fact, he wouldn’t budge. 

We tried everything, but he just lay there like a toddler throwing a tantrum and made his body very heavy. Eventually, Jim got him in, and he slept all night peacefully. After a few days that bedtime thing got easier and easier. We wonder if he was playing us as substitute teachers.

German Short-Haired Pointer playing

He was quite the talker when inside and repeatedly tried to get us to understand that he loved his ‘treats’ and needed more than a few a day. His dessert after dinner was half a carrot and if we forgot, no problem: he wouldn’t. He would stand in the doorway to the kitchen and bark until we figured it out. 

German Short-Haired Pointer playing

The Morning Routine

He slept in for quite a while each morning, and before letting him out, we had to check the large yard for deer. You guessed it; he’s caught one before! When the coast was clear, he ran outside and methodically searched his dominion for quite a while, running all around the perimeter. 

Walking this fellow was a trip: he was always ready to go. By then he had already done loops around the hilltop, so he wasn’t restless, just ready to go. Here’s how it went: a quick run up the driveway, a stroll down the lane past neighboring houses, him always on the look out for deer, squirrels, etc. Then down the steep driveway, me, at half-speed, slowing him down.

German Short-Haired Pointer standing

Then down to the street. Which way today? Right, to the south and past dozens of houses on the way to the high school? Or, straight ahead, over the bridge to the trail up into the hills? I never had to decide as he always had something in mind.

He never slowed down; I never got him tired walking. It always went the other way. After a few days I could keep up with him, but he was always in the lead.

His is a hunting breed, and he showed it by being extremely attentive to movement overhead or in the bushes, near or far. He didn’t miss much no matter the speed. He would stop on a dime and look precisely at whatever moved. Then back to sniffing and walking.

I said he never slowed down or got tired on the walks, but we did find him like this after one particularly long venture into the hills. Angela took this picture: I was sprawled out on the couch. We both got tired that time. What a great guy, we loved him!

That toy on his head in the photo above was his favorite toy. We played fetch with it quite a bit. Take a look. What a great guy, we loved him!

 

We Had to Go…

To be honest, we did take a few short journeys while caring for this happy fellow. Only for a couple of hours but we had to get to the top of Mount Diablo, it was right there!

Valley views from the top of Mt Diablo State Park

Okay, from the house it looked like a rather short drive and not very high. We found out it is 3,489 feet high, the tallest mountain for miles and miles. 

The homeowner had informed us that we shouldn’t go on a cloudy day and that the drive was a bit gnarly. Well, we figured it couldn’t be that bad and what does it matter if the sun is shining. So off we set.

Valley views from the top of Mt Diablo State Park

This Way and That Way

We had to go south then north, then wind around and around the slow road up to the top. We mean slow, narrow and on the scary side at least for me as I looked down over the edge. The sides of the mountain were steep; there were no guard rails and not many landing spots. We saw some brave souls, as old as Jim, biking up the mountain road. Wow!

Valley views from the top of Mt Diablo State Park

We were rewarded once we reached the summit, oh what a view. However, the homeowner was right about the clear day views! On a clear day, even the Golden Gate Bridge is visible. This wasn’t. Still, plenty to see even though it was cold and foggy.

Mt Diablo State Park observatory

The old fort/observatory at the top was abandoned by everyone else. Why does this always happen to us? The wind was cold and wiping around and had us headed out fairly soon. There is an entrance from the west that heads for Walnut Creek. We stayed with the southern route back home.

Valley views from the top of Mt Diablo State Park

Before we knew it – it was time to go. We both loved our stay here. The neighboring area was spectacular, the house and property were stunning, and the pet was adorable and entertaining!

red cactus rosettes

What’s NextThree dogs near Sonoma

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