Monday, September 10, 2012

House Sitting in Aptos

For the second summer in a row, we've had the pleasure of house sitting for an old friend of ours who is traveling in Italy with her Vespa club. She has a cozy beach house perched on the cliffs, overlooking Monterey Bay. The reason for house sitting, besides watering her wild beach garden, is acting as surrogate food providers and boring play things to her two cats, Lexi and Sophie.

The house is in a reverse configuration, with the bedrooms and bathroom down stairs and the kitchen, living space and ocean facing deck on the second floor. The views from the living room and deck stretch from Pleasure Point in Capitola to the north, uninterrupted to Pacific Grove to the south. While we've had our share of fog, overcast and even some rain since arriving, the past two days have been spectacularly clear, sunny  and warm. Rising before the sun and putting on the coffee while checking for the ubiquitous pods of dolphin patrolling just outside the gentle surf line measures the start of our day.

Once brewed, it's a pleasant repast to take a cup of coffee out to the Adirondack chairs on the deck, along with the binoculars and check out the activity on the water. Judging from the sea bird activity the sardine and anchovy schools must be making a come back in the bay. There have been vast flocks of petrels and sheerwaters, punctuated by seagulls and pelicans that have been seen making a churning maelstrom of the surface water as they dive for bait.

The sea otter population in Monterey Bay while having made a slow come back from near extinction due to the fur trade, still number less than  3,500 (population range from Pigeon Point, San Mateo County in the north to Gaviota State Park, north of Santa Barbara in the south) according to the last study in 2010 and had been experiencing an unexplained two year decline in numbers. It's a treat to see them floating on their backs just off shore.

An interesting sea otter relationship we see frequently is having the scavenging seagull trailing his sea otter buddy just off his rear paws
(Image courtesy of Tanglewing Blog) . We're pretty certain the seagull profits from this relationship by availing itself of any lost food scraps generated by the hard working otter. Unless the gull is providing a more visible and slower moving shark target, it's not clear that this represents any type of symbiotic relationship for the sea otter.

While we've been here, we've had the pleasure of seeing a number of old friends. In addition to Gay Ann, a friend since high-school, whose house we're enjoying, we've also visited with several other people. Dennis, my old college room mate was surfing at 41st Avenue and came over with another high-school friend, Mike, with whom I traveled overland throughout Mexico and Central America in 1972. Dennis lives in the east bay and has his own dental practice, while Mike lives on his boat here in Santa Cruz and works with a local boatwright making Olympic dinghys. We had lunch with another old high school friend (who is also named Mike) who is living here in Santa Cruz with his wife. He graciously gave us a mini-tour of the area and we're scheduled for a custom tour of Santa Cruz proper later in the week. Sunday night we were treated to dinner at Colin and Sharon's house (cruising friends on s/v Mamabird an Island Packet 38)who we first met at the anchorage in Chacala in 2008. Both are incredibly energetic and entertaining people. Colin continues to impress (and please) us with his culinary skills. We hope to touch bases with both of them once more this week before heading up to wine country.

We'll be enjoying another week here at the beach before heading to wine country for another house sitting gig. This will be in the Valley of the Moon, right in the heart of wine country where our responsibilities will be split between the garden and a playful pooch. We hope to have time to do some wine tasting before heading south and make our preparations to return to Citla.


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Wow, two house sitting gigs ... nice! Looks like a beautiful place, and having the bedrooms on the bottom for better views from the living room is genius! Enjoy!

Neophyte Cruiser said...
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Neophyte Cruiser said...

We have been enjoying it! If we could figure out how to house sit all summer long, we'd seriously consider selling ours and spending our time between the boat in the winter and an itinerant summer vacation in other peoples homes. We were happy to hear your hurricane damage was limited.

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...

What a LIFE!!

Who? Me? Envious?! Oh, no, not a bit. (HA!)

Sounds like you've been having a wonderful time ~ have fun you two, and safe travels. xo~m

Neophyte Cruiser said...

Thanks, Sis. As mentioned above, this would be a great way to live if we could schedule house sitting without a break. Way cheaper than living in our own house!