Last day housesitting in NC mountains

LOCATION: Black Mountain, North Carolina

WEATHER: Like spring! Sunny. High 60

We enjoyed the last sightings of the cardinals from our deck at our housesit..

We are sad to say goodbye to our charges – dog Abby and Maine Coon cat Kevin, who likes to sit on my lap while I’m reading. Somewhat trapped here….

Our homeowners are arriving later this afternoon. It has been a very nice 2-week assignment.

We couldn’t find any reasonably priced hotel in Asheville, probably due to the New Year’s weekend, so planned to stay overnight in Black Mountain, about 20 miles from Asheville. We said good-bye to our daughter Meredith. There was a water main breakage in the section of town where she works, Biltmore Village, and they were out of water for about 3 days. She had to deal with irate hotel customers angry that they were paying about $700/night for a hotel room, and couldn’t flush the toilet, take a shower, or eat/drink anywhere near the hotel as everything was closed. It was a mess.

We went on to Black Mountain, another cute mountain town. We went to the Ale House there, and shared a pimiento cheese brulee for dinner. Southern, with a twist!

Now we will head to the airport to Charlotte. We will fly to McAllen via Houston, arriving about 11:00 PM.

Quiet post-Christmas

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Overcast. High in 50s

Nice, quiet day – good for reading. I finally finished a biography that our book club is discussing in January. It was slow going. Then, I started and finished a great Louise Penny book. It takes place in rural Quebec, and it is fun to identify with the area.

Our dog Abby and cat Kevin watched the squirrels sneaking food out of the bird feeders…

Kevin lives a rough life–not! He sleeps a lot! He found a nice, warm place in front of the fireplace to lounge…

I did a little work on the computer – looking for housesitting assignments for spring. I applied to 2 in Seattle. We’d like to spend some time there, and our daughter Alexis wants to join us there. I also applied to one in Fredericksburg, which is in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. It would be great if we could combine an assignment there with an RV trip around Texas. We’ll see.

DINNER: Since we won’t be here too much longer, it it time to eat leftovers! I made pasta in a cream sauce (my easy method using cream cheese) along with smoked salmon, lemon juice, and capers left from Christmas dinner salad. Side was lettuce using the yogurt/vinaigrette dressing from yesterday. I use a tiny bit of horseradish and some pickle juice to give it a kick.

Merry Christmas!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Clear and mild. High about 50

We awoke to this drop-dead beautiful sunrise over the mountains…This is the view from our bedroom:

This has been a very stress-free Christmas season. We didn’t buy any gifts, and weren’t around for any parties.

But, we did hang stockings on the mantel in front of the fireplace. (Later we found that Santa had placed oranges inside!)

Our daughter worked from 7am-3pm at the hotel. I brought her back here for Christmas dinner. She told us tales about customers not demonstrating the Christmas spirit!

DINNER: We enjoyed Christmas dinner at about 4:00. Our chef daughter did the cooking. We had debated the menu for quite awhile, not wanting anything too traditional. Also – not wanting something big with lots of leftovers. So, we settled on seared scallops. Very good. Then, Brussels sprouts baked with goat cheese and bacon as a delicious side. Asparagus grilled on the grill were terrific (compliments of George). Then, the best part was a salad made with smoked salmon, capers, and a yogurt/dill vinaigrette.

Twas the Night Before Christmas….

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Perfect – wintry and sunny..

We and the animals lounged around the house this morning. Kevin, the Maine Coon cat, seemingly devies gravity in his favorite hanging-out place, perched precariously on the top of the couch…

The animals spent the morning much like this, interspersed with spurts of energy chasing each other around.

Then, George and I headed out for a short road trip to Waynesville, through the mountains, about 25 miles from here. Our Nova Scotia friends had told us about a cool brewpub there that we wanted to check out. We followed the Smoky Mountain National Byway near the National Park.

Waynesville is another delightful mountain town. The downtown is very vibrant, and the shops and sidewalks were filled with shoppers. Always so heartening to see. We stopped in at the Boojum Brewery, named after a famous boojum (like a bigfoot) who supposedly lived near here, and who liked beer.

We shared a bean burger and a cup of homemade mushroom soup, then strolled the streets of Waynesville, window-shopping.

Back home, I checked out the hot tub in the backyard. Some pervert caught a photo of me….

DINNER: Grilled steak with a side of cheesy broccoli/potato mash.

Shopping at Biltmore Village

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Sunny. Highs about 50

Today was a girl day. George stayed home, and I drove in to Asheville to see our daughter. After haircuts, we went to Biltmore Village. This area was built in the 1890s, as homes for the employees who staffed the next-door Biltmore Estate owned by the Vanderbilts.

Most of the buildings have been converted to shops and restaurants…

A beautiful church and park frame the neighborhood

Even the McDonald’s has the Village “look”

We had lunch at the Corner Kitchen, once a cozy home in the neighborhood

I looked up its history, and read that Obama ate here once while visiting Asheville.

Finally, I dropped our daughter Meredith off to start her evening shift at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in the Village

I did our grocery shopping for Christmas dinner – not too crazy, then came back home. George had been relaxing and enjoying Netflix all day.

DINNER: An invention….fake crab (surimi) sauteed with onions and garlic. Served with a cream sauce made of cream cheese, with sides of rice and peas.

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Cold, crisp and a bit of snow

We awoke to a winter wonderland….The car was covered with snow and light snow was falling all around us.

I went in to Asheville to do some shopping while George held the fort. It was much warmer, with no snow there. We are at 2200 foot elevation here, above Asheville.

In the afternoon, we drove in to Weaverville for a stop at the handy Ace Hardware, and then to check out another small brewery there.

Note the cute coasters….the ladies in the quilting shop next door make them for the brewery. What a cute town!

Back home, we watched a beautiful sunset. The mountains beyond our deck were dusted with snow…

DINNER: George grilled porkchops on the grill on the deck. Sides were broccoli and cheese with a baked potato

Lovin’ Weaverville!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER:Drab, raining, and cold (30s)

In the morning, we watched the boldly red cardinals waiting their turn for breakfast while perched on barren tree limbs. Their color really shows up with the contrast.

We went in to Weaverville to use the friendly services of the small, cozy public library. We are dealing with George’s hospital bills from Quebec, and needed to print some docments.

After a successful library visit, we checked out one of Weaverville’s tiny breweries.. Only open on Fridays and Saturdays, it is tiny but popular, probably because they make excellent beer. The owner/beer pourer told us to just keep track of what we drank and to pay up at the end.. Nice honor system!

After a little beer tasting, we walked across the street to Maggie B’s, a delightful wine shop/wine bistro/deli to taste some of their jalapeno pimiento cheese spread, a specialty, and to do a little wine tasting. Small world – the owner is the wife of our daughter’s boss! It was packed with locals, all seemingly good friends. While we were there, it started snowing lightly.

DINNER: Using the last of the rotiserrie chicken leftovers, I made a tomato-based pasta dish. At the end of the cooking, I added some fresh green beans, for crunch and for some vitamins!

Christmas 2018 Letter

I am writing this Christmas letter in front of a blazing fire, in a lovely and cozy cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We started 2018 housesitting, in tropical Panama, and end it here housesitting in wintry North Carolina.

I am amazed at all we did in 2018. It was a busy travel year, which of course, we just love. Here is a recap of our 2018 travels….

January: Our high point in Panama was a day trip to a very remote Indian village. It was a scene out of National Geographic. From Panama, we flew “home” to our tiny house in Mission, Texas, then flew almost immediately to Rochester, MN where we retired in 2013. We were there as a guest speaker for the public library fundraiser. We spoke about out housesitting adventures and living life mostly on the road, all on a shoestring budget.

February: From MN we flew to Calgary to visit a cousin, then took a direct flight to Baja, California. Our daughter Alexis accompanied us and we spent a delightful week in an AirB&B in Loreto. (highly recommend). We picked up our other daugher Meredith who had been living in Baja, and took her to Asheville to get her settled in.

March: We then commenced our spring European housesitting stint. After one night in Rome, our arrival location, we took the train to northern Italy to a remote village near the Adriatic Sea called Cingoli. It was one of the best housesitting assignments we have had. The owners loaned us their car and we took many day trips to ancient mountain villages, with absolutely no one speaking English. What fun! After the assignment, we spent a few days (eating) in Bologna, then took the train through the Alps to Geneva, for another lovely assignment.

April: We did a lot of criss-crossing around Europe. With inexpensive flights, we flew to London, then took a train to northern Yorkshire, England for another assignment. Here we were in James Heriott’s territory…. “All Creatures Great and Small”. Again we took a lot of day trips to charming villages where we enjoyed cozy pubs. From there, we did another housesit outside of Cambridge, England, staying in a lodge once occupied by one of the Queens! We then took a bus and train to Belgium where we met up with 2 sets of friends that we have meant while RVing. Friends Daniel and Minnie from San Francisco were traveling through Belgium, and we were able to rendezvous with them. Then we met up with friends Tony and Jenny from Nova Scotia. We spent a week based in Ghent, Belgium and traveled around the country with them. The best thing about traveling is meeting people, and then reuniting with them – all over the world!

May: We fulfilled one of our bucket list items by taking a tall-sail ship cruise (Windstar Cruises) around Italy. The cruise included stops in beautiful Montenegro, Croatia, and then ended in Venice. Hopping all over Europe, we spent another 2 weeks in western England, near Wales, at a lovely housesit, and then one near Bordeaux, France. The airport controllers were on strike, so our flight was canceled and we had to take a 40-hour bus ride from Wales to Bordeaux, through the Chunnel. What an experience!

June: We loved the Bordeaux area (especially the wine and food!), then flew back to Texas. After a week getting ourselves organized, we hooked up the Airstream and headed out for our summer road trip. We took our time following the US southern coast, then ended up on the eastern shore in North Carolina, where we spent two weeks housesitting, capped by 4th of July fireworks over the bay in Edenton.

July: We took our time driving and camping up through eastern USA. We spent several weeks in our favorite part of the country – Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. How lovely!

August/September: Another reunion with our friends Tony and Jenny from Nova Scotia (whom we had met in 2013 in Newfoundland while camping). We spent a few weeks with them, staying in national parks all over New Brunswick. What fun to explore together! Then, on our own again, on to Quebec. Our plan was to circle the Gaspe Peninsula, then head on to Labrador. This was not to be. On August 20, in the middle of the night, George suffered a heart attack. Life changed immediately. We were in a remote village on the St. Lawrence River, where no one spoke English, and we were without a phone. What to do? (Check out blog posts from August and September for details). In short, we got him to an urgent care center, then to a rural hospital, then airlifted to a heart hospital in Quebec City. A lot of overwhelming experiences during that time, with the kindness of the Quebecois forever imprinted in my memory.

October: After retrieving the Airstream back in Gaspe, we traveled back to the USA for medical follow-up in Vermont. We spent some time in Burlington (cool town), then moseyed back south. We checked off a few more bucket list items – the Frank Lloyd Wright house in PA and the Thousand Island area of NY. We camped in several wineries and breweries, thanks to Harvest Hosts. We dropped the Airstream off at the factory in Ohio to get a dent repaired.

November: We spent the month back in our tiny house in far South Texas. George did a lot of relaxing and I took advantage of our community’s activities – water aerobics, yoga and line dancing classes. We were delighted to have our daughter Alexis visit us for a week.

December: We end the year in Asheville, with the last housesitting assignment of the year. We are enjoying spending some quiet time in the cozy cabin and seeing our daughter Meredith in town.

What wonderful year, with lots of adventures, both good and bad! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a great 2019!

Christmas traffic!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Very unpleasant….cool and rain

We awoke to rain and clouds covering up our mountain views. It is supposed to clear off in a few days.

George spent the day at home with our dog and cat, while I went in to Asheville to go shopping with my daughter. What terrible traffic! In one mall parking lot, there was a huge traffic jam with cars blocking the road by trying to get into a drive-through fast food joint. Aaarrgghh!

Cars were blocking intersections when they couldn’t move forward. I guess everyone is doing last-minute Christmas shopping!

Back in our cozy cabin, we sat in front of the fireplace and read books. So much better! This house has Netflix, so we discovered some old episodes of my favorite show, “Call The Midwife” and watched a Christmas episode. I cried for hours……

When we were housesitting in England a few years ago, we went to the town where these scenes were filmed. How neat!

DINNER: Sauteed shrimp with Asian stir-fried vegetables and rice. Tasty!

Enjoying housesitting

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, NC, near Asheville

WEATHER: Sunny. High in 50s

We are doing our 34th housesitting assignment. We really enjoy this opportunity. The particular association we work with is It is a UK-based company so many of the assignments are located in England, but there are opportunities all over the world. Each day I receive 2 emails, each with about 25 new assignments from which to choose. I look at the dates, locations, and type of assignment. (We generally shy away from caring for big animals like cows, horses, and aggressive large dogs). The assignments range from a long weekend all the way to an entire year. We like ones that are 2 weeks or so long.

We have had assignments in several US states – MN, WA, OR, CA, NC, as well as in Panama and US Virgin Islands. Abroad, we spent 6 months all over Australia, and did many many assignments in England, plus Switzerland, Singapore, Thailand, France, and Italy.

No money exchange takes place. The homeowners normally have animals and prefer to keep their pets at home. In exchange for caring for the pets, animals, and plants/garden, we housesitters get to stay at the homes at no charge. As the name implies, the system is based on trust. So far, we have had great experiences. We have made great friendships and have returned to several assignments when we could. We have cared for dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, hamsters, geese, ducks, and even a wild fox! We have been in both rural as well as urban areas.

Right now, I’m starting to apply for assignments in the Pacific NW for March or so. Sometimes, for the USA assignments, we drive so need to find a location with room to park the Airstream. Other times we fly, and use public transportation when we can.

If anyone would like to join, just let me know and I can provide a promo code.

Now….on to this assignment. We are here for 2 weeks. Our charges are one dog and one cat. Yesterday, I posted photos of the cute terrier that we are caring for. Today, I was able to capture our Maine coon cat Kevin while he was hanging out on top of the couch…

We started the day watching two huge deer munching their breakfast in the side yard. Then, the many, many cardinals and bluejays made their way to the birdfeeders on the deck. Sunrise over the Blue Ridge mountains was spectacular.

Wednesdays are our little “chores” day. I watered the indoor plants, then George did some dead-heading….

I did a little cleaning of the outdoor hot tub.

We had a beer at the pizza restaurant/brewpub in Weaverville, while we did phone and intenet work.

In yesterday’s post, I mentiond that I could see ourselves living in a town like Weaverville. A reader asked me if I preferred this over our current 55+ RV community in Texas. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Some day, when we settle down, when we are no longer using our Airstream, I’d like to find a small city that has a vibrant downtown that is walkable and bikeable. Send me recommendations!

DINNER: Couscous with leftover rotisserie chicken, salad, and green beans.