I’m sitting at the kitchen table in El Cerrito, California. Usually, I’d be looking out across the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. This afternoon, the rain is coming down in buckets, and I’m thinking about our previous house sit.
It’s been a wild winter, and it’s not letting up, yet!
I’m playing catch-up with the blog. I’ve been struggling with absolutely horrible internet service this winter. I struggled with this post for ages, and once I finally finished it, we lost internet service (again), and the whole thing reverted to a previous version. I lost a lot of work, and could have cried in frustration. I’m going to give it one more shot.
We left the sunshine and warmth of Palm Springs, and made our way north through California’s Central Valley. The weather forecast was calling for heavy snow, with predictions of road closures and all the other fun that accompanies serious weather. We were making our way to a rural property, so we stopped in town to stock up on essentials, and carried on along the narrow, twisting roads through the hills.
We arrived on Super Bowl Sunday, so after meeting our hosts and the animals we’d be caring for, we were whisked off to a neighbourhood party. Not a bad start!
Rural gigs often reward us with gorgeous views, and this one did not dissapoint. It’s a damned good thing, too. We weren’t able to leave the property nearly as much as we’d planned, so watching the mist and clouds roll by became part of our entertainment.
The day after we arrived, the snow started. We wouldn’t normally be put off by a little snow, but this was something else altogether.
As Puff will tell you, 6″ of wet snow fell on top of ice (it had rained a lot before the snow fell). Something like 500 trees fell in the area. Many roads were closed, thousands of homes were without power and telephone for several days. We only lost power for a few minutes, but we were without cell coverage or the internet for days.
After the snow, it rained some more. Then, we had three more inches of snow. Then, more rain, some sleet, more rain, and more snow. It just wouldn’t stop.
There were several days when we couldn’t drive anywhere. We had a big, beautiful home to rattle around in. The kitchen was huge and well equipped, the fireplace kept us toasty, and the animals kept us entertained.
Shadow, Puff, and Boo helped with my quilting projects. Shitake is above being an assistant, thank you very much.
Dog walks took us past the neighbour’s vineyard.
On the days we were able to drive, we managed to visit four of the 70 area vineyards. Not as many as we’d hoped, but they were excellent!
Hiking was also limited. We pretty much stuck to the paved trails. There were so many more we wanted to see, but slogging through the mud wasn’t appealing.
Being partially housebound in someone else’s home has it’s challenges. We couldn’t see (and taste) everything we’d hoped, the internet was super crappy to non-existant, and we lost cell coverage regularly.
All the same, we managed to stay entertained, for the most part. We did a lot of cooking and baking, we both did a fair bit of reading, and I started a new quilting project.
Initially shy, the cats eventually spent more and more time with us. Thats what you get when you hang around with them enough.
Isn’t Shadow the most amazing cat you’ve ever seen?
If our stay didn’t quite offer all of the sight-seeing and wine tasting excitement we were hoping for, our nail biting departure more than made up for that.
The night before we were scheduled to leave, another storm passed through, leaving several inches of snow in it’s wake. We really weren’t certain we’d be able to get out. Bill, the homeowner, couldn’t make his morning run to town for Starbucks and the paper. He couldn’t even get out of the driveway!
Eventually, things let up, we shovelled once again, and all decided to make a run for it. Lois and Bill, with their all-wheel-drive and years of experience driving in the area, went first. We followed, but only just.
At one point, going up a very long, slippery hill, the truck stopped moving. Just stopped. Our hearts were pounding as we each silently envisioned sliding backwards or, worse, off the road and down the embankment.
You have likely guessed that we made it out in one piece. After decades of driving on ice and snow, over rough logging roads and winter roads on frozen lakes, even after Karen’s driving police vehicles for decades, we agreed that this was one of the most nerve wracking drives ever.
We were lucky to have excellent weather for our time here. We managed to tour San Francisco without rain (or snow), and we’re getting ready to move on tomorrow.
So, here we I am, looking out at the pouring rain, with an eye on the forecast, including the possibility of flash floods. We’re supposed to leave tomorrow. Yup, it’s been a wild ride this winter.
I’ll whip up a little report about our week in El Cerrito soon.
Fingers crossed the storm doesn’t knock out the power!