I think we’ve firmly established by now that we are beach people. We love the sun, the sand (even when it makes our way into our bed), the activities we can do in and on the water and we don’t even mind all that much when the pesky saragasso rolls in.
But we also know that there is life beyond the beach worth exploring. And so when we are lining up our house sits for our time away from Mahahaul, our quest is always for something “different.”
I should tell you that as far as our living situation goes, I’m the planner in this relationship. I figure out where we are going to house sit, when we need to travel and how we are going to get there. Jason’s input usually looks like this:
Me: “Hey, do you want to go pet sit a dog in Hawaii for a month?”
Jason: “Sure, sounds good.”
Or, more recently:
Me: “Hey, do you want to go take care of some chickens and cats in upstate New York?”
Jason: “Sure, sounds good.”
We had been wanting to give snow skiing a try again after being away from it for a few years (as you can imagine our skiing options on the Caribbean coast are limited). Years ago when we lived in Kansas City we’d drive the 8 hours to Steamboat Springs or Breckenridge, Colorado for a weekend of skiing and we missed it.
When talking with the homeowner in New York she mentioned that they were five minutes from a ski area and had hiking trails out their back door. It sounded like exactly what we were looking for and so we dug our ski pants, hats and gloves out of storage and drove 18 hours north to Copake Falls, NY, one of the most beautiful and idyllic places I’ve ever seen. It seriously felt like we were in a Normal Rockwell painting, although that might have something to do with the fact that Rockwell’s hometown was 30 minutes away.
Mother Nature wasted no time in welcoming us and letting us know what our six weeks in the Berkshires was going to look like. We had a foot of snow waiting for us upon arrival. But new snow sure does make everything look awfully pretty.
It was just so dang pretty there. But as with all house sits, we weren’t just there to sit and stare (although if anyone wants to hire us to do so, we’re in). We had responsibilities to tend to which included taking care of two cats and, well, an amount of chickens somewhere between 15 and 25. Have you ever tried to count chickens? Before or after they’ve hatched – it doesn’t matter – it’s impossible. We asked the homeowner how many she had and even she couldn’t say for sure.
We have tended to lots of animals during our house sitting tenure, but this was a first for us for chickens (yay for new experiences!). Turns out chicken care doesn’t, um, require much more than sitting and staring. Every morning I headed out to the coop to let the chickens out, fed them our food scraps and feed and checked their water. At nightfall they put themselves to bed in the coop and we just had to make sure it was locked up to keep any predators out. Oh yeah, and we had to collect their eggs. Or should I say EGGS. We gathered 8-12 fresh, free range eggs every single day. Quiches, casseroles, hard-boiled, fried, scrambled, we got creative and still couldn’t eat them all. We considered making friends just to have people to give the eggs to.
Eating the eggs was truly a treat, but my favorite thing about chickens, that I had no idea about, is that they are inherently hilarious. I have no idea if all chickens are funny, but the ones in Copake Falls? Yeah.
These chickens roamed freely around the property and so you never knew where you’d find one. Although one place they were guaranteed to be was always outside our windows peering in.
We were delighted to add a new skill set to our house sitting resume and enjoyed chasing chickens around the yard (just for fun) and chilling with the cats. But after getting settled in and waiting for a couple more snow storms to pass, we were ready to get out, explore, have some fun and see if we could get our ski legs back.
We layered up and headed out to Catamount Mountain to see if skiing was indeed like riding a bike and if it would all come back to us.
Look, it wasn’t the biggest mountain (seriously we could see our car in the parking lot most of the time from the top of the mountain). But it was five minutes from the house, we paid $20 for a lift ticket during the week, and the size of the crowds? Well….
Unfortunately, this ends the skiing pictures that I can share with you. Immediately after these celebratory pictures were taken, I remembered who I am (the clumsiest person alive) and immediately wiped out and wrecked my knee. For real wrecked it. Down and out for the count. I spent the rest of our time in New York exploring the joys of trying to use out-of-network health care, unable to put my own shoes and socks on, and saddled with a sweet new accessory to keep my knee immobilized 24/7.
So with the elimination of participating in outdoor activities (so much for trying out the hiking trails that were literally out our back door) and having watched about every single Law & Order ever created, I was desperate to find something else to do. Luckily enough, one of my other favorite things to do was close by.
So we spent the rest of our time in Copake Falls eating eggs, drinking beer and counting down the days until we could head out. Obviously the trip didn’t go as we had planned (although the house sit and pet sit couldn’t have been better) and several people asked if we would ever consider go back to the area. Our answer has consistently been yes! Absolutely, yes. The area is picture-perfect beautiful, there are loads and loads of outdoor activities to do during the summer and winter (for those who can stay upright), plus beer!, and we absolutely adored the home and the pets. And to be fair, it didn’t snow the entire time we were in New York.
But the day we left the house sit the first of what turned out to be three major Nor’easters was bearing down that would each bring several feet of snow. While we loved spending time here (injuries and all), we had no intention of getting stuck there. It’s a nice place to visit and all, but our hearts will always lead us back to the beach.