More Adventures in Sonoma

A Few Changes!

We had a referral from a homeowner in Sonoma and set up a house sit with one older dog. A few weeks before the start, the homeowner informed us about two new kittens. Great, we thought. We hadn’t taken care of any kittens yet.

Then, right before our scheduled visit, she informed us she’d had to put her dog down, and we’d only have the two kittens. That was a sad change but still…those kittens! We stopped in for a visit a few days before starting and met them: sweet, small, white, friendly and playful, one a little more playful and larger.

When we arrived for the sit, we learned she’d had to put the other kitten to sleep. So, we ended up house sitting not only without the pet initially agreed to but for a different species! It was the second time for us that shortly before our stay a pet died. That is surely part of living with pets, but this was unusual for us and very hard for our host.

The feline we stayed with was such fun to watch; his antics were intoxicating, as was his playfulness. It was entertaining to see his tiny attention span kick in and then vanish in the blink of an eye. Easily distracted? That would be an understatement. Here he is thoroughly engrossed in a toy. Better take that picture quickly. He’s off to the ball before you know it.

San Francisco, Here We Come

This stay was on the short side, just over a week and apart from hanging with the kitten, we had another homeowner to visit in San Francisco since we had a very short gap in our schedule. This time we were headed to a home on the west side, near the beach and Golden Gate Park. Quite a different scene from our last visit to the downtown, high-rise area. 

After an enjoyable visit with the owners and a bit of time getting to know the two dogs, we went to explore the west-side of San Francisco. We took the time to go into a few parks along the Bay and were surprised by the many military fortifications, long since vacated by soldiers.

Beach Time

Things look very different on the west side of the area. On the east side, things are very built-up, congested even. On the west side, we didn’t see a single high-rise, and there’s much more of the natural shoreline evident: the hills and cliffs, the trees and rocks. The area is much more rugged as it’s exposed directly to the ocean: storms and cold wind imposing a harsh existence on all the plants and trees. There is little of the colorful foliage you see in most of the city.

Down at the water line, you see beaches, but they are far from inviting: rocky and cold, strong ocean currents only a few feet away.

We both loved these trees; they are so majestic. Of course, it was quite cold there, and we were not appropriately dressed, so our tour was short.

Back at home with the little kitten, we found him hiding in our luggage, a favorite game of his.

Jim just happened to have his phone ready at the right moment!

This guy was a barrel of laughs and such fun!

Now For An Outing!

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is north of Sonoma surrounded by vineyards and wineries. Why does it always happen this way? We park and head out for the trail. All good so far. Then just as the trail goes into the hills, we see another parking lot. Darn? Could have clipped a mile off the hike and gone further on the trail. Oh well.

We soon came to a small stream and realized we either had to wade through it or backtrack to some other trail. There weren’t any big rocks to step on, and since it was a lovely sunny spring morning, we thought nothing of taking off our shoes and socks and wading across. In fact, it looked rather inviting.

Here we are with the palest skin on the mountain and the most tender feet.

Jim went first, and while he did utter a few guttural sounds, he said it wasn’t that bad. A little rocky and tough on the toes is all. 

Next Up, My Turn

Well, I took two steps and went into panic mode. It was fascinating to experience that level of panic so quickly. That water was so cold that my feet were instantly burning. Several thoughts went quickly by – turn around, oh, my god this is cold, the rocks hurt so I can’t go quickly, etc. We didn’t add the photo of my face during that panic!

I did make it across, and after our feet warmed up and dried off, we got our shoes back on and continued walking. About 100 feet past the stream, we saw this sign. You put the sign on that side of the hike! We knew right then we’d be taking that way on the return trip. I wasn’t crossing that stream again. Wet crossing indeed! 

The trail soon took us up into the hills, and we found a lovely vista, even a pleasant picnic area with benches placed just right for a good look around the canyon.

Then back down along the other part of the path to the stream farther down and quite a bit larger. A new footbridge took us over the stream into the camping area. Looking up at the hills we saw fascinating rock formations; they almost looked like shelters carved out by fellow humanoids long ago.

After finding our car, we began driving out and noticed another small parking lot along the road but out of the actual park. This led to a trail along yet another stream and through a rare stand of redwoods, maybe thirty feet from the road. A pleasant surprise.

Time to Move

Before we knew it, it was time for clean-up and saying goodbye to the little kitty. We were headed for another house sit just south of town. The owner of the two white doggies is friends with the kitten owner. We rolled in and said hello to the four-legged fellows, old friends by now as this was a return stay for us.

We all settled in and had a grand time together for about a week. As long as we didn’t ask the Westie to take a long walk, all was right with the world.

They were good at lounging, as you can see.

Quarryhill Botanical Garden

This private Garden, just west of Sonoma, had caught our eye before or at least their sign had. A lot of the enjoyment of traveling depends on timing. Timing wasn’t so much in our favor here. 

The gardens were still barren from the winter weather. Spring had come but hadn’t convinced the plants to get blooming yet. Pretty as the place was, we had a quick walk and put on the list for a visit another time, later in the spring.

We did see a bunch of flowers but mostly all the same species. These two were the highlights for me. Tons of bright orange berries, I have no idea what they are, other than colorful.

Back at the house, these shots of the dogs show just how comfortable they can get, snuggled deep in the sofa pillows. They are quite content this way, staying in the house, passing the time away.

He did that himself! We did not bury him, he burrowed. What a guy.

Jack London State Park

Who hasn’t read or heard of Jack London’s wonderful books or wondered, perhaps, what kind of place he might have chosen to live in, to write in? Well, just go south of Sonoma to this park and find out all about him. He bought the place in the early 1900’s and died 100 years before we visited.

The park tells the story of his fierce love of nature and determination to keep the beauty in place. For us, the park revealed quickly its graceful planning and careful tending over the years, a real testament to its namesake. You would do well to check it out if you’re ever nearby.  

Here are a few photos the park, mostly around the main cottage. Next time we go there we intend to hit the trails which go further than we’ve ever been able to.

Our stay with the pups soon ended, and we took our leave. We only had a three-mile drive to our next home, though. We’ll pick up the thread in the next post.

What’s Nexttwo houses and four cats

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