In the space of a little more than a month, we experienced nearby fires threatening evacuation from Sonoma multiple times. The smoke caused by those fires caused some of the worst air quality in the world in all the areas around us for several weeks. Add in a heat wave on top of a worldwide pandemic.
On top of all that, I had one of those big round numbered birthdays. Those decade birthdays can be a bit tough, but they are better than not getting to have another birthday. Let's just say though, that if you have to get old, it should at least be thrilling. Times were indeed unique and thrilling, but in a very odd way.
The counter balance to all of that has been our good fortune to meet quite a lot of truly awesome people in Sonoma on the pickleball courts. Ky slaved over the German chocolate cake (yum, my favorite) that he picked up at the wonderful local Scandia Bakery. He put together a little socially distanced birthday party for me, attended by our sweet new friends at Sunrise Park Pickleball Courts in Rohnert Park. To protect their reputations I won't post the video of the singing of the Happy Birthday song ;-) Let's just chalk it up to bad acoustics in the park.
You are all a special dear group of people,
including those who didn't make it in to the photos!
As full time nomads, we don't have much need or space for stuff. When Ky inquired about what I wanted for a birthday gift, I asked for monthly pickleball lessons from pros. He was happy to agree since it meant no increase in what he has to pack in our Toyota 4Runner every time we move!
What originally seemed like another hitch in our time in Sonoma turned out to be another fun adventure. Due to several work projects going on at the home where we were sitting, and the very poor air quality around us, the homeowners' generously offered us a couple of days getaway to a hotel in Bodega Bay. It was nice to get to some cleaner air, and Bodega Bay is seriously glorious.
If you are looking for an awesome hike, Bodega Head fits the bill perfectly. And don't forget to pick up some clam chowder. I would have to say the chowder at the small restaurant called Fisherman's Cove is probably the very best I have ever eaten. Next door at Spud Point Crab Company it is supposed to be even better, but it's hard to believe. They have longer lines though, so ...?
After we returned, we didn't have much longer before our pet sit for two of our favorite cats, Finn and Haley, was nearing an end. We were very sad to leave them. Our plans had been to head north to Bend, OR and then to Woodinville, WA to celebrate my birthday with two dear friends and see two family members. All that changed when Oregon's fire situation and air quality became as bad as California's and as well as a couple of other timing issues.
On the bright side, we had gotten a notification from our favorite pet sitting site about an opportunity to pet sit for two other kitties. They live in Portola Valley just about 1.5 hours south of Sonoma. It is a very posh area, and according to Wikipedia and the Census Bureau it is the wealthiest town in America. Accordingly, it also has some of the highest priced real estate in the nation.
The pet sitting profile had been intriguing. The couple was looking for sitters for 2 1/2 cats. What...? I wanted the 1/2 cat to be the front half, if I had the choice.
We quickly sent off a message to offer our help. It is important to throw your name in to the hat quickly, especially for very desirable locations. The pet/home owners are likely to get a large number of applicants. These days it is important that everyone is on the same page about Coronavirus safety. Once both sides were comfortable with the situation, we all felt very good about arranging the sit. Our flexibility and love of change came in handy once again.
Here's the affiliate link to the pet sitting site we have been using for over three years - it's the best!
It was a pleasure to meet the couple who are kindred travelers. Nathalie is 50% French and 50% English, and Mark is Belgian. We had such a great time chatting over dinner about experiences traveling and living in other parts of the world.
The couple has two full time cats and the intriguing half cat, Chubs. Fortunately, he was a whole cat, not just the front part, which would have just been weird. Chubs has adopted another family and spends at least half the time in the other home. We very briefly saw him when he deigned to come by the house on our introduction to the animal family. We were warned that we might never see him the rest of the week. Their prediction came true. But then, there were the other two whole cats... completely adorable!
Tinki (short for Tinkerbell) was a beautiful tortoiseshell, which almost always means female. She was extremely vocal (as we women can be sometimes), letting us know, early in the morning, that she wanted to go outside. That wasn't happening too early though. There tend to be critters in the heavily wooded area, that would be happy to have a cat snack just her size first thing in the morning. Otherwise, Tinki was a bit shy and skittish. She would relax in our arms when we picked her up, and her purring let us know that she enjoyed the petting. She rarely came looking for snuggles though.
Nutty, who we nicknamed Fluffy, is a purebred calico Maine Coon who weighed in at a whopping 16.5 pounds. That is very big even the among the largest of the domesticated breeds of cats. The breed is known for also having wonderful personalities and she was true to that distinction. Nutty was quite photogenic and a bit of a camera ham too. She was clearly anxious to go outside early each morning, but she never uttered a meow. Both cats would be in and out throughout the day for pets and snacks.
On a couple of evenings, Nutty caused us a bit of anxiety. Just like a teenager who doesn't make curfew, she sashayed in quite late. We never want to lose a pet on our watch. When she didn't come in with the usual food dish banging routine, it was a bit worrisome. She sauntered in acting as if nothing at all was amiss. Just like a teenager!
There is a great cat debate over inside only versus inside/outside rules. We don't judge at all, and we abide by the pet owners' choices. There are definitely pros and cons to both positions and the personality and disposition of the cats, as well as the owners, play such a huge part in the decisions.
We also got to care for their 2 pet fish, our first time pet sitting for aquatic species. Can you see something a bit unusual in the picture?
The week flew by! We had the opportunity to play pickleball in a couple of locations, and we had our first birthday gift pickleball pro lesson at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto. Ky decided that he wants the same gift for his upcoming birthday so he joined in. There will be another whole post about the amazing Caden Nuhoff in my next pickleball blog.