Water, Water, Everywhere –
If you don’t see something often, it can be impressive when you do. At this house sit (near Sacramento) the impressive thing was water.
There were ponds, rivers, lakes, standing water in the fields, and an incredible rainstorm. The drought affected this area too but compared to dry Los Angeles it seemed like a rain forest.
I (Jim) took several bike rides to Folsom Lake, a reservoir fed by the Sierra Mountains. Like all lakes in California, the shoreline revealed a significant drop from normal levels. Even so, it is a huge lake with miles of shoreline and speed boats zooming all around.
The American River runs south of the lake and into Sacramento. A bike/hike trail followed along the river, past the spillway, past Folsom prison (remember the old Johnny Cash song?) and through gorges carved by the river.
Much further south, the river flattened to more of a lake as it came into the city. No question, this was the best biking trail so far.
Speaking of Water
One afternoon a terrific rain storm came through, something not seen for months: it took the breath away. Heavy rain for hours, punctuated by lightning strikes and thunder, close by – the kind that shakes the ground.
The dogs didn’t like it so much and huddled inside. I stayed out on the patio and took it all in. It was spectacular, even though we lost power for several hours.
Many of the nearby houses had ponds in their front yards, some with fountains, all with waterfowl. Most of the dog walks included watching ducks, and other birds take off and land in the ponds.
Los Angeles sticks a straw in here and sucks water out all day long, aka the aqueduct. Locals will tell you of drought conditions. But if your own local is Los Angeles you have a different take on the matter. Water and California – you could write a book. Many have.
More Bicycle Rides
This house sit was three weeks long and allowed time to explore the area, which I did mostly on my bike. To the north, were hills and winding roads. Towards the west, was the town with lots of parks, stores, and the library. To the south, mostly a residential area with schools and golf courses.
I went mostly to the east where the traffic was light, through lots of farms and orchards and then to my favorite ride to Folsom Lake, which I did many times.
One weekend, the professional racing tour came to town; bikers were everywhere. Me on my old, slow clunker with $5000 bikes flying past on a popular trail for warm up rides. Well, they were warming up; I was already exhausted. They weren’t racing, but you wouldn’t know it by comparison with me.
One Terrific House
We had visited this house about a month before the house sit, (on a one-day trip from Goleta). Since our visit happened to be on Easter Sunday, it was a special menu, and oh, so yummy! We both instantly liked the homeowners, terrific people who were looking forward to their trip to Hawaii.
The home was in a semi-rural area on the edge of a town, northeast of Sacramento, with three-acre parcels and many horse properties. There were magnificent trees all around, and horses everywhere.
A Spectacular Yard
There were wild turkeys too, by the dozens flying up on the roof and all over the fields, just like the last house sit in the area. A comfortable, quiet, and beautiful home and yard with orchards and garden.
The street made a loop in from the main road and measured exactly one mile. It was a popular route for the local walkers, with or without dogs. Easy to see why: a quiet road going past horse properties, ponds with lots of ducks and swans, barns, even a few goats. Huge oak trees lined the street and gave the area a rural feeling.
The Girls – Two Cocker Spaniels
They were both merry souls, a mature lady and a one-year-old. They loved mealtime, morning, and night, with a unique mix of dry and wet food. Whenever preparations began, they would come and wait, full of excitement. Then they hit it hard and fast, and it was over quickly.
They were quiet most of the time, sometimes hours without a sound. During the day, they often slept sitting on the top cushion of living room sofas which afforded a full view of the yard – to see if they needed to bark at anything. They were rarely more than six feet apart.
What a Pair!
Other times they would bark loudly at creatures in the yard, their noses pressed against the living room windows. Dogs walking with their owners on the street, turkeys walking through the yard, squirrels, all would set them to barking.
They loved running around the backyard with its orchards and garden plots. Lots of digging after gophers, sometimes digging down a foot. They would go after the turkeys sometimes but never got close. The girls could run quite fast, but turkeys, long legs and all, would outrun them easily, and if not, just start flying.
The older one stayed close by, inside and out, rarely pulling on the leash during walks. The younger one was always at the end of her leash, sniffing, digging, running back and forth. Though they would sometimes walk side by side, many times they were going off in opposite directions.
More Dog Antics
They loved chasing a laser light indoors. Red or green, if you moved it back and forth through the hallway, they would chase the light endlessly, just as the owners said. Excellent inside exercise for the wet days.
Once it got dark, they curled up for the evening: one in her bed and the other atop a recliner in the den. After a quick late-night trip outside, they curled up on the bed. Great sleepers, they didn’t stir until I got up in the morning.
This was a lucky house sit; great hosts, great dogs, great house. I couldn’t ask for more gracious treatment; clear written instructions, a fridge filled with food purchased specially for me, and sincere appreciation upon their return for taking care of their home and pets. A high watermark, pun intended. Oh, and a great vacuum and an ingenious pooper scooper. Now those are tools this house sitter truly appreciates!
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