Posted by Kerry McFall July 6, 2016
When we set out on our Vagabond Summer Adventure, I mentioned on Facebook that I felt like we should be playing the theme song to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I just listened to that little ditty on YouTube, and I’m pleased with the analogy. We are definitely in ”Merrily, Merrily on our way to Nowhere At All!“ mode. (The back story: we were surprised by a generous offer for renting our house via AirBnB for the entire summer. That inspired us to try house-and-pet-sitting via TrustedHousesitters.com and gradually work our way down to San Diego to visit our kids.)
After visiting my Mom long enough to drive each other crazy (Stomping Grounds), we hit the road and began winding our way through the Redwoods, stopping at places like Confusion Hill (seriously, it’s a place!) where we purchased ‘Elusive Chipalope’ postcards.
My mother pointed out when I called a few days later that she’s pretty sure chipmunks don’t grow antlers, although the postcard photo did look very real, and how DO they do that?
Continuing south, we visited a dear friend in a small town which shall not be named on the Pt. Reyes’ Peninsula, where residents took down all the road signs so no one could figure out how to get there. Really, they did – we saw one hanging proudly over the bar in the (only) restaurant. It’s a great little town, and I see why they don’t want to be overrun by all those tacky tourists. Plus, they have whales!
Next we spent a few days in Sonoma with my Aunt Hazel, who calls me by both my first and middle names at all times, making me feel like I’m eight years old again and wondering what I did this time to be in trouble… At age 91, she is still the Supreme Commander of her Domain, and gets around quite well with her walker. It was hot in Sonoma, much to the locals’ dismay, but I found a shady bench and managed to sketch the Old Barracks, circa 1830’s, during a re-enactment event about the “Bear Flag Revolt”. My concept of California history at that stage is based mostly on Zorro movies featuring Antonio (sigh) Banderas, but I’m guessing the fiesta flags weren’t flying when the soldiers were in residence.
Now beginning Week Four, we have embarked on our house-sitting/pet-sitting gigs, and we find ourselves in Richmond, California. Richmond is a major contender for the Nowhere in Particular designation. You can’t really tell when you’ve arrived, although you do notice that you’ve come to the end of a very Big Bridge. The fact that the festive banners beside San Pablo Avenue (the main drag) begin to mostly say “El Cerrito” is a clue that perhaps you’re out of Richmond already. We keep winding up in Berkeley, because Berkeley happens when the El Cerrito banners end, so right now I mostly have Berkeley sketches…
We originally signed up to care for two chickens at our current spot, but they partied with a raccoon a couple of nights before we arrived… Turns out that a dog named Sculley and a parrot also live here, but Sculley already had plans for Doggie Summer Camp with friends. The parrot decided to take pity on us to keep us from being lonely, so we’re getting acquainted with Manilo the Mini-Parrot (I call him Mojito for short, and also because I can never remember his real name), whose best (and apparently only) trick is bobbing up and down on a stick while doing can-can style kicks with one foot. Think Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing… no, make that the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz!