Updated: Sep 23
Hmmm... where to begin. It has been quite awhile. Yesterday morning we played pickleball on the six beautiful new courts in Rohnert Park, CA. Since my last pickleball post after returning early from South America in mid-March, we like everyone else have been working diligently to stay healthy. As you can see I'm still flying my drone :-)
We were thankful that the pickleball courts in Phoenix never closed down so that we could keep getting vitamin D and exercise. From our first times back on the courts in Phoenix in March, playing has progressed in stages. Ky and I first played alone and did drills and played lots of skinny singles. Then we met another couple who were also being very cautious. After talking through the fence a few times we began to play with just them. Gradually we began to play with other people. We have adapted as necessary and required. We started with bleach water on the courts for the balls, sanitizer for our hands, distancing, and soap and water in the back of our vehicle to wash well after the games.
We've shuffled around a bit, as nomads must. We just have to scratch the itch of travel - safely of course. We spent over a month in Chandler, AZ, in a community called Sunbird. While it was beautiful and in a fantastic location, it was a bit of a tease. They had lots of amenities including great pickleball courts, but sadly everything was closed until about 3 days before we left. It will be worth a return when life is back to more normal.
When the heat started ramping up in May, we headed to a furnished home we own in Flagstaff, AZ. It is normally rented out, but the timing was fortuitous that the renters needed to move. The timing could not have been better.
We were very happy to have our own place again, but it was such a busy time. It had been rented out for an extended time so there was much work to be done. We spent long hours every day doing repairs, maintenance projects and upgrades. We went to bed exhausted every night. We enjoy projects though, which we normally don't have a lot of when traveling, so they were good days.
Of course, there was still time for pickleball! The Bushmaster community park was literally just opening back up when we arrived in May. The players were slow to come back, but come back they did. By the end of June, there was a lively thriving group of fun loving, quick footed picklers on the courts who were coronavirus conscientious.
There are a couple of other options for places to play in Flagstaff as well, and we had to try those out too. Photos of more places are available at www.hoverhigher.com. In fact, one of the most unusual venues where we have ever been invited to play was in a roofing contractor's warehouse. What a great place to work - the employees love that perk!
It was such a pleasure to make new friends in Chandler and Flagstaff, even while we were socially distancing. Sometimes meeting people we really enjoy makes it leaving harder when we move on. With these folks though, it's easier to go in a way, because we know we'll be back.
We are still taking precautions with maintaining 6' or more of separation when chatting, we sanitize our hands and the balls after each game, and wipe down our gear after the session ends, We wear masks in communities that require it for going to and from our vehicles. There has only been one community that required masks to be worn even while playing. We didn't stay long as it was too hot and muggy and difficult to breathe while exercising.
There is no shortage of socially distanced activities in Flagstaff, especially in the summer. Hiking and biking are two of our favorite things to do. We found that during the more tightly observed coronavirus period, we led a bit more balanced life. We did a much wider variety of activities when pickleball was limited. We really might want to remember that!
We have actually done a bit of pet sitting during the last few months as well. With good communication and knowing the precautions that the homeowners were taking for our safety, and what we would do for theirs, we agreed to go to Castle Pines, CO. We cared for two awesome Goldendoodles, Morgan and Murphy. It broke our hearts that we had to put a cone of shame on one for a wound on her paw that she had gotten before we arrived. She just couldn't leave it alone. Fortunately it had healed quite a lot before we left.
We did another sit for two amazing cats, Ninja & Cato, on our way back to AZ. One cat, Ninja, truly thought he was a dog. He gets to have walks on a leash in the neighborhood! Their owners installed the best cat environment I have ever seen. The living room is graced with a climbing wall, complete with a hammock. Both cats loved it, but Ninja had a special trick using it. We could shoot rubber bands up on to one of the shelves and Ninja would dash to it, grab it in his mouth and bring it down and drop it at our feet, expecting "again", just as a dog would. They satisfied our feline "itch" since we hadn't kept cats since Colombia.
After that sit, we returned to Flagstaff. We were happy to stay there, but when another pet sitting opportunity came up for a month in Sonoma, CA, we were ready to hit the road. After all our hard work, the house was in the best condition that it has probably been in since we bought it 15 years ago. It rented quickly.
Another long road trip delivered us to two adorable cats, Finn and Haley. Finn is a mature elderly fellow who needed some wound care for his chin. He is the most snuggly kitty ever, and Ky and I both enjoy having him lounge on us for long periods. I have nicknamed him sweet potato since he's orange and kind of round in the middle.
Haley is just a hoot and she constantly keeps us amused wither her antics. She is the fastest cat I have ever seen. She is a natural hunter, and we have witnessed her prowess. The toll so far (that we have seen) is two birds (one which we rescued, and boy was Haley unhappy about that), one lizard, and one exceptionally large mouse.
The beautiful lizard was laid at my flip flops. I picked it up with a paper towel by the tail and came to realize that it had been playing dead and was still quite alive and uninjured. The lizard had only been a play toy for Haley, who lost interest in it when it ceased moving. The next day, Haley flashed by on the porch to show me her mouse prize, but she didn't stick around with it. She wasn't taking any chance that we might try to give the mouse a reprieve like we had for the bird.
We arrived in Sonoma to a few strange phenomena. Shortly after settling in, an unusual heat wave started. I promise, we didn't bring it with us! Then we had two days of really intense electrical storms that started hundreds of fires in communities surrounding us. It was reported that 10,849 lightning strikes over 72 hours, ignited a good portion of the 367 known fires across the state.
We planned and prepared for the worst and waited to see if we would be among those evacuated from their homes. The fires grew daily even as multitudes of firefighters battled the flames. We are so grateful for the service of these true heroes!
We were fortunate not be be told that we needed to pack up the cats and get out. The smoke and poor air quality has been unfortunate, but it is nothing compared to what other communities around us have suffered. Sonoma is right between two of the hardest hit areas. The way the winds have generally been blowing, we have been spared the worst of it. Today as I'm writing this, it is one of our worst smoke days, so we have stayed in and had a rest day.
In between caring for pets, the house, playing pickleball, doing a bit of hiking and biking, I somehow found time to add three art galleries to my websites. Please check them out and see if you recognize any of the courts, pets or landscapes. If you see photos of your pets and you would rather them not be included in the gallery, please let me know and I'll gladly remove them.
It would mean so much to me to get feedback on my work in the comments or privately. Likes, comments and subscriptions all help other people find me with improved SEO. Sharing my blogs or website with others is also really helpful. Thanks in advance!
Thank you also to those who keep encouraging me to write. I love doing it. In fact, I'm almost finished writing a book as well, so that has also kept me pretty busy. I'm fortunate to have a husband that puts up with all my different interests. Ky is the best!
Please dear friends, continue to stay safe and healthy. I'm looking so forward to seeing some of you soon!