Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Snug Harbor

Housesitting nirvana.
Yesterday morning, a storm with a severe wind advisory descended on Washington. Winds made the windows shriek. We jumped from bed. Time to feed the dog, pack, and clean the house. Our two-week Seaview, Washington house sit was over. The owners were returning in a few hours.

Our next house sit, in Seattle, wouldn't start for a few days. We planned to drive up the Olympic Peninsula, exploring beaches, trails, little towns. But no way, not with this storm. We'd hunker down for a few days, probably at a hotel or BnB in nearby Astoria.

Cape Disappointment State Park...not a disappointing nearby hike.
I stuffed the sheets in the washing machine and cleaned up the kitchen while Dave vacuumed every nook and cranny of the sweet Victorian. It's fun to know homeowners will return to a super clean house, the animals fed and happy. Bill and Sherry--a doctor and a nurse--had been in Nigeria on a medical mission. They'd worked long days in 100-plus heat. They were likely to appreciate a comfortable return.

The good news was that we hadn't burned down the house. One afternoon, a neighbor had alerted us to weird, white smoke shooting out of the chimney. A chimney fire. For a few tense hours we monitored it. Fortunately, it self-extinguished without the help of the fire department, whom we had on speed dial. By email, Bill had been apologetic. I said don't worry about it. There were other sources of heat. And we loved being here.

Willapa National Refuge
Why? Let me count the ways. Near the beach. Incredible nature hikes. A great bakery (not to be understated after more than a year in S.E. Asia, where we craved American baked goods). Amazing seafood. There's a little cannery a few blocks away where we bought a case of smoked tuna, infused with pepper and lemon.

Seriously delicious fish-and-chips, tuna melt, fish tacos.
During our stay, I got together with an old high school buddy who lives nearby. And my friend Anne (who lives in Portland) visited for a couple of days. I always like to ask the owners if they are okay with visitors, and they usually are. In fact, Bill had been quite enthusiastic about it, saying he hoped we'd enjoy the area.

With poet/artist Anne Paris Jennings. It had been 9 years!

And now it was time to go. While Dave packed the car, I took Freckles for a walk to the nearby beach. The wind was whipping but the sky was blue. Rain wouldn't roll in for an hour or two.

pure love
Ah, Freckles. Rescued from a puppy mill and so full of love. Our last walk. There are lots of firsts and lasts in nomadic life. Everything changes, and nomads don't suffer the illusion of stasis.

The waves were massive. This storm meant business. We didn't know where we'd be spending the night. And our Subaru had developed a bit of a leak in the back, not a big problem unless you were driving through a downpour with your car packed.

You can drive on the beaches here.
I ached a little for the cozy sweetness of the house. And a small part of me was excited, as always, about the unknown of the "next thing."

Bill and Sherry arrived on time. Freckles and Robbie were happy to see them, which always makes leaving the animals easier.

Robbie, a Scottish fold
As we talked, they told us they've been to more than 90 countries! So often the people we housesit for are part of our traveling tribe. When they asked where we were headed next, we explained how the storm had put a kink in our plans.

"Well, why don't you stay here a few more days?" They said. In unison! They didn't need to consult in private. They spontaneously, simultaneously offered up their generosity. Turned out, they had come only to pick up the animals then head back to their main residence, a few hours north.

Dave and I looked at each other. He held the car key in his hand. Our packed Subaru was snug in the dry garage.

"Really?"

"Sure," they said. "Stay as long as you want. We won't be back here until the end of next week."

A run to the grocery store later, we pulled our stuff out of the car and reinstalled it in the house. That was a first. So here we are for a few more days while the storm blows through, snug in the generosity of people who quickly transform from strangers into friends.

Willapa National Refuge
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