After disembarking the Quest in Panama and eating and drinking my way through Casco Viejo, I made my way to San Francisco where I had a great surprise waiting for me. My new niece!
Evelyn Winter Timbers was born 10 weeks early, but she’s a feisty one and despite being born at only 2 pounds 4 ounces she’s doing great. She already has a full head of hair and she’s cute as a button, especially now that she’s developing those chubby cheeks.
Her birth was a bit stressful for my brother and sister-in-law, though, who had to be medivaced via airplane out of Mammoth Lakes, California and flown straight to the hospital in San Francisco. This was only two days after they returned from San Diego for Louisa’s baby shower. Apparently the flight wasn’t so bad for my brother who got to sit in the copilots seat and enjoyed a fantastic birdseye view over the snow-capped Sierra’s while Louisa was in the back of the plane wrapped up like burrito. I don’t think he will ever be fully forgiven for that first class ride, haha. Anyway, all of this took place while I was still on the Quest in Panama with limited communication abilities and thus I didn’t really know what was going on, so it was a bit stressful for me as well.
But thankfully both mom and baby are healthy and well. They’ll have to stay in San Francisco for at least two months, though, until Eve grows a bit more and can feed on her own.
But I have a niece! It still feels weird saying that. I can't wait for all the adventures we're going to have. She's going to be one cool kid.
Moving on, after saying hi to my brother and sister-in-law and meeting Eve in San Francisco, I hopped on another plane and headed down to Los Angeles where I then boarded a ferry that took me out to Catalina Island.
As many of you know, since I travel so much, I don’t actually have a home of my own right now (this something that will probably change in the next year because nomadism is exhausting). So in between work on the ships, personal travel, and pretending to live at my brother and sister-in-laws place just south of Mammoth Lakes, I do a lot of housesitting.
The website that I use is TrustedHousesitters and I can’t recommend it enough. So far, through this service, I’ve spent three months in England, two weeks on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, a week in Portland Oregon chasing after a kitten, and several others with many more hopefully in the future. Housesitting has given me to opportunity to travel cheaply (you don’t pay for accommodation in exchange for caring for someone’s house and pets) and it’s allowed me to get my animal fix without actually having any pets of my own. In my opinion, it’s a win-win situation.
This ten day housesit on Catalina Island was another great experience. I had two Bengal cats to care for - Taj and Batu - who kept me laughing at their antics and the town of Avalon is cute and small enough so that I could walk everywhere.
Catalina has a lot of great hiking opportunities and other touristy excursions like jet-boating, zip lining, 4x4 tours into the interior, and snorkeling/diving, but honestly after coming off a month of work in Costa Rica and Panama and three weeks of travel in Colombia, I was ready to just sit back and relax. So that’s what I did.
I did go on a few hikes - one up Hermit Gulch Trail to Lone Tree and back via the Garden To Sky Trail (great 8 mile loop, but bring lots of water and sun protection) and one up Stage Coach Road to Wrigley Reservoir (lots of switchbacks, I wish I had climbed it on a road bike), but for the most part I just enjoyed the slow vibe of island life. I did catch an evening show at the eclectic movie theater/casino on the edge of town. There are nightly movie showings and if you visit Catalina, it's a must. The inside of the theater is quite a spectacle. I saw Jumanji, which had me laughing out loud.
After ten days of island life - which is plenty for this adventure junkie - I headed back to the mainland and swung by my brother’s place near Mammoth Lakes to pick up my mountain bike. Then I headed back to the Bay area for my next two-week housesit in Marin county. I had actually housesat for this couple and their two dogs over a year ago, so it was great to see them again. They had acquired a new dog, a 14 month old Australian Shepard name Ripley who had enough energy to be a full-time job. We went on lots of walks together including a twelve mile hike up Bolinas Ridge and when we got back she still wanted to play with her toys.
In between trying to tire Ripley out and making sure the other two dogs got their own attention, I managed to check out a few of the mountain bike trails in the area, namely Camp Tamarancho and China Camp.
Both networks are awesome, but I actually think I prefer China Camp because you can gather some speed and get into a groove on the well-built flowy trails. Camp Tamarancho is more technical with rocks, roots, and tight switchbacks, but definitely fun in a different way. The new DH trail, Flow, is a blast! The views and scenery on both trails are equally stunning.
After housesitting in Marin without incidince I returned to Mammoth Lakes, where I am now, for two weeks of husky sitting while my brother and sister-in-law are still in San Fran with baby Eve. Then it’s off to Sedona for a week of mountain biking fun!