During our pet sit in Sonoma, Ca, we had been through almost a month of smoke and fire evacuations happening all around us. We had packed our bags and supplies for "our" two cats multiple times in anticipation of having to leave at a moments notice. Fortunately we never had to evacuate.
Pet sitting always brings new excitement for us, but this sit had created a different kind of adventure. The heat wave and unexpected lightning storms in early August, caused some of the largest wildfires in California history. The smoke from the fires being battled statewide created scenes like this one not only in nearby towns, but as far away as Europe.
Vineyard Park, Yountville, CA - Smoky Ashy Pickleball Courts in September 2020
The smoke in the skies and the ash on the courts in Yountville were thick. We didn't stay out for long, and no one else was there (of course), but we swept away enough ash from one court to hit the ball around a bit. The nearby vineyard and small park would normally make this an exceptionally great place to play.
We moved on to another pet sit after six weeks with a small sigh of relief, happy to leave the smoke. When the Sonoma pet owners decided to stay away longer to avoid fire season, we were asked if we wanted to return to Sonoma for a second round of pet sitting. It was a questionable proposition, and we wondered about the sanity of going back.
Fire season had not even officially begun in California when the state began to burn this year. Surprisingly, it was a pretty easy decision to return to Sonoma. We love the cats, Finn & Hailey, and we wanted to have another shot at experiencing the Sonoma area, hopefully this time without smoke. We made arrangements with the owners that if the area was affected again by fire or terrible air quality that we would evacuate and deliver the cats to them. Fortunately conditions improved and we were able to enjoy the beauty of the area.
Being back in Sonoma also gave us another chance to take a pickleball lesson with someone who had come highly recommended by area players.
Adam MacKinnon is from Edinburgh, Scotland, so he has a great accent. He is a professional pickleball coach with Level 2 accreditation from the IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association) and is also a paid member of PCI (Pickleball Coaching International) and CoachMe Pickleball. With these credentials he clearly demonstrates both thorough training and skilled ability to teach. He's now a 5.0 level player himself, who had just started to play Senior Pro events before the pandemic began. He has won a gold medal at every tournament he's played since fall 2017 (his last 12 tournaments), including Mens 4.5 19+ with then 15-year-old son, Theo, at the 2019 National Championships and the Tournament of Champions. Interestingly, they were the oldest and youngest players in the bracket at both events.
Teaching pickleball is Adam's full time profession. A person can be a gifted player, but that does not mean that they are good teachers. When you find someone like Adam that has both the gift for playing and who can teach well, they are worth their weight in pickleball paddles. And that's the same as gold isn't it?
Adam MacKinnon - Pickleball Instructor in Sonoma County, CA