Our First Return House Sit!
Not exactly Groundhog Day, but here we were back in Goleta. Familiar highways heading here, familiar turns to the block, driveway, picket fence, screen door, pets – after so much moving around this was rather comforting.
How fantastic to ease back into a familiar situation. We knew the animals, the chores, the house, and the area. Everything was comfortable except my commute.
Solvang – A Day Trip
One day we took a day trip up to Solvang since we hadn’t visited for a few years. If you’re driving east on the 246 from the 101, and the sun’s out, you’ll know you’re in Solvang when you slow down to 5 mph.
At night, it’s faster, but that’s because the town seems to shut down by 8:00 pm. Solvang is a Danish village: the restaurants, stores, hotels, and ornaments all follow that theme. Add in the statues of Hans C. Anderson and some mermaids, and there you have it.
It is a favorite stop for the RV folks but also day or weekend trips up from Los Angeles. Touristy? Yes, but there’s a pleasant mix of shops of all types, eateries: wine-tasting bars and a big casino quite close. It’s quite a relief from our large mall store culture.
Seasonal festivals and concerts in the town square bring large crowds all year long. We’ve enjoyed many a pleasant time looking through the shops and trying Danish delicacies or just walking around people watching. Kind of shifts you to another time and place.
Hills, Vineyards, and Back Roads
It’s surprising to see how much the wine-producing culture has taken root around town, in fact, all along that section of the coast. The Napa Valley, further north, is better known, but you can find excellent wines is this area as well.
You could do worse than driving through the hills nearby, and stopping now and again for wine tastings, though we never have.
We try to travel on back roads when possible and love to take 154 north out of Santa Barbara. You go through some impressive mountains and canyons and past Lake Cachuma. You come out of the hills a bit east of Solvang and enter from the back way and miss a lot of traffic that way.
Back to House Sitting
In case you don’t remember or are new to our blog, this house came with a cat and five chickens. Since a couple of months had passed since our first visit, the cat did not meow nearly as much hoping to get out into the neighborhood.
The chickens were all laying now, so we had five eggs a day – Hello frittatas! We ate every delicious golden egg they laid.
We thoroughly enjoyed our five days here, and the weather cooperated as well; we had warm and sunny spring days. Soon enough the house sit was over: time to clean-up, pack-up, drive off and check into another hotel.
Four nights in a row. “Remember when we used to have a stove?” Even Jim missed being able to cook in a kitchen. After that, we moved to our –
First Stay in Los Angeles Proper
For those who are not familiar with Los Angeles, it is enormous and spreads out forever and ever. During all the decades we each lived in Los Angeles, we hadn’t spent much time downtown.
We experienced a few other firsts during this house sit: a golden retriever, a short house sit (three days), trips to a dog park, a noisy bar across the street, and parking issues.
The host lived in a four-plex in a densely-populated neighborhood located near a major motion picture studio. Lots of stores and restaurants down the street, and tons of pedestrians and cars. Everything you might want is easy to find.
We had gotten used to suburban and even rural locations with long trips to good grocery stores. Here, one of our favorite restaurants was close; we had to go! Govinda’s, a vegetarian Indian buffet, yum!
A Terrific Golden Retriever
Oh, my goodness, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with this gentle, and well-trained dog. She was quiet and calm indoors and well-mannered when out walking. During walks, she stopped and sat down on every street corner and waited until given the signal to cross.
Two things got her excited: squirrels and some other dogs walking by the fenced-in yard.
If she saw a squirrel while out for a walk, she would stop, stare intensely and, depending on how close or how high in the trees, would tug on the leash as if to chase, only a tug, she never bolted.
When she was in the front yard, and a dog walked by she would spin and spin, always counter-clockwise and then go back to her favorite spot on the porch.
She was also quite a digger! There were holes all over the yard, big ones! At night, she happily slept in her dog bed in the bedroom with us.
During a visit with the homeowner before the start of the house sit, she took us to the dog park. We don’t take dogs to a dog park without the owner’s permission and only after establishing a strong relationship with the dog.
The Dog Park
This host encouraged us to make this part of the daily routine because her dog was well-behaved and loved being there. Boy, did she ever!
She was in with the big dogs of course; chasing tennis balls, digging, running with the pack, and saying hello to the many dog owners she knew. The dog park visits quickly became a favorite time for us, as well. It’s great that cities set up these parks, they make urban life so much better and easier for dogs and their owners.
It always amazed us how well the dogs got along. There were few arguments, (quickly over) even with dozens of dogs. We counted over 40 at one point on a Saturday morning. There are remarkable things about every house sit. For this one, it was the friendly, loving and polite girl, definitely a favorite!
Back to the Coast
I left Los Angeles a day early to go back up the coast to Goleta again for our third visit at the cat and chicken house, and our ninth house sit overall. Jim joined the following day.
This house sit was terrific as it occurred during spring break which meant I didn’t have to drive three hours a day to work; that’s why we took it! We had plenty of time to relax and take in the sights.
The garden was starting to come alive after laying dormant for the winter. Nothing ready to pick but things on the way. Same with the fruit trees in the yard: leaves, buds, even blossoms all around.
Want To Watch TV?
Oh, there is no TV. We are not big television or movie watchers; some, not too much. So far, most of the homes we’ve stayed in have great televisions with all the bells and whistles. A few haven’t had cable (tough life, eh!) others no broadcast channels, one – no television at all – right here.
When we got the urge, we piled on the bed or couch, arranged the pillows just right and ramped up the laptop with Rabbit TV or Crackle.
Of course, laptop speakers are for the birds, and we had to pause every few minutes so I could fill Jim in on the dialogue and plot. He’s learning lip-reading, but that still doesn’t cut it especially for British movies and actors. Do they get paid extra to mumble?
We bought some speakers that travel with us and we do use them from time to time.
We Have a Crazy Life
One thing we noticed after having three short house sits in a row; we started to get a bit disoriented. We would misplace items, search forever since we couldn’t remember where items were, and sometimes realized we were looking for things we’d found in the last kitchen.
You know you’ve been in a lot of homes when you can’t remember where the can opener is. With all the coming and going we just completely stopped unpacking our things.
At the end of this house sit, we had a few days before our next one began. So, we scheduled a drive up to Northern California for the day. Yes, we did. We had a house sit planned shortly, and we wanted to meet the homeowner.
The drive went without a hitch, and we had a special holiday dinner, spent time with a great couple, their two dogs, and saw a bit of the neighborhood. It was nuts, but it worked out.
We drove most of the way back the same day (five hours each way). We hit the wall in Bakersfield and got a hotel room.
For those who don’t already know, Bakersfield is not exactly a hot new destination city! You might get stuck there and try to make the best of your situation and then get out quick. That’s what we did!
Next morning, we drove five more hours to Temecula for two free nights at a Casino hotel, then back to Ojai for our next house sits. See, crazy!
What’s Next – A few house sitting tips
You know you want to!