Home How To'sHousesitting Episode 10: House Sitting Stories: Hot Tubs on the Roof, Road Tripping with a Cat, and more

Episode 10: House Sitting Stories: Hot Tubs on the Roof, Road Tripping with a Cat, and more

written by Sam and Veren May 28, 2020
Episode 10: House Sitting Stories: Hot Tubs on the Roof, Road Tripping with a Cat, and more

Welcome back to another episode of the podcast! Today we’re kicking off a brand new series in which we share our most memorable house sitting stories. In today’s episode, we’re going back to the very beginning of our house sitting journey: our very first house sit! As you’ll see, this experience was special in many ways…but we don’t want to spoil the fun too much, so click to have a listen below or head to your favorite podcast app.

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In This Episode, We’ll Talk About:

  • What our current situation looks like
  • How the reopening is going here and how we are approaching that
  • Our first house sitting opportunity
  • Our first house sit luxury digs (but why that doesn’t matter so much to us – and what does)
  • How Veren picked up some part time work on our first house sit
  • All about why the first pet we watched was so special
  • Why the pet owner – house sitter connection is so important
  • Veren’s experiences and opinions on the education system, working as a teacher (in NYC and SLC)
  • Why we are so adamant about promoting tourism to lesser visited destinations
  • The hilarity of taking a cat on a road trip
  • Visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in southern Utah
  • One of the hardest parts about doing long-term house sits
  • Why Salt Lake City will always be such a special place to us
  • How we’ve come full circle

Links and Resources Mentioned:

These transcripts have been automatically generated and then edited by us, so please excuse any typos, missed capitalization, weird phrasing, etc. Humans talk very differently than they write, as we’ve learned! There are just topics that just lend themselves better to conversations rather than blog posts, but we also want the podcast to be accessible to all.

Hit the green “plus” button below or hit download to access the full transcript.

Sam: Hi and welcome back to another episode of the Alternative Travelers Podcast. So this episode is kicking off a series we're gonna do of house sitting stories. So we've had a lot of house sitting experiences, obviously and we thought it would be very fun to just share our stories with you over different episodes. So in this episode, we're going to be sharing our very first house sitting experience.

But before we get into that, we just want to talk very briefly about what our current situation looks like because it's been a bit since we mentioned that. So as things start to open up, people want to know what's going on in different parts of the world. So we wanted to share what our situation is looking like. So...what is it looking like Veren?

Veren: Well, I would say for most of us in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is where we currently are... We ended up here after a house sit. Once the house sit was about coming to an end, all the pandemic and shelter in place, stay at home ordinances came into place. So we're still here renting on Airbnb below the original house that we had been house sitting in.

So, nowadays, things look pretty much the same. However, the state government has decided to move from this red phase to an orange phase. So a soft reopening of things. For the most part, like I said, it doesn't really look that different for us.

Sam and I are going to wait till we have the hard data and statistics to show that we can confidently be safe being in a restaurant, for example. We don't feel that a hundred percent yet. We want to see what the numbers are after this opening for a little bit.

So with certain restrictions in place, certain businesses can reopen and have half capacity. For example, restaurants, tattoo shops, and hair salons are appointment-only with no walk-ins. They have to take all these extra precautions.

For the most part, I think people here are taking things pretty seriously. So day to day doesn't look that different, other than the weirdness of seeing people eat somewhere, even though that shouldn't be weird. I remember Sam mentioning that feeling.

Sam: Yeah, going to the park - we have a park like 10 minutes away, which is really amazing. I was coming back from there the other day, and there were people sitting at this pizza restaurant. They were sitting inside and it was so strange. It's weird how that's become weird within just a couple of months.

I mean, obviously like we love eating out. We would love nothing more than to go eat at a restaurant and just feel normal. But like Veren said, we just don't feel 100% that there's not gonna be an increase in cases after this reopening. So we’re just kind of trying to play it safe.

We can still operate fairly normally. We go for some take out every Saturday and we're just doing our thing mostly. We work from home anyway, so we've been doing that, focusing on this podcast. It’s been very fun and it's been great getting feedback, so thank you guys who've given us great feedback.

I think that's more or less it is getting warmer so that's nice. We go for long walks every Saturday. That's pretty much where we are now. We're monitoring things closely to see what our next move will be. But for now, we're pretty much in a holding pattern. We're looking at the house sitting trends and seeing some [house sits] start to pop up for late summer.

But not much, like we talked about in a previous episode - that state of house sitting 2020 - we have a whole episode on that, so if you're interested in our thoughts and the whole situation as a whole definitely check that out. Yeah, so that's more or less what things are looking like at the moment for us.

Veren: So now that you mentioned house sitting….

Sam: Yeah, so we thought we would dial it back, going down memory lane with these house sitting stories. It's been really fun and I know you guys have said that you like hearing stories so we thought it'd be fun to start this little series of houses stories. So we're gonna start way back at the very beginning with our first house sit that we got through a house sitting platform.

Like we've mentioned before, we use TrustedHousesitters, that's the one we use. It's the biggest one out there, and we have a discount code for you guys which I will link in the show notes. But we get that question all the time, so I just want to put it out there. That's what we use.

So give us the lowdown on our first house sit, Veren.

Veren: We need to take you back to 2016. Well, maybe even before that. But officially it started in 2016, but October of 2015 was when we had really gone full throttle in our search for house sits. To hear more about that story and how we got into house sitting in the first place, check back at one of our earlier episodes which we will link in the show notes.

But just so you know, we had a whole plan in place. We were looking for a long-term house sit somewhere. We happened upon a three-month house sit for the rest of winter - a three-month house sit in late winter/early spring of 2016. It was for a cat named Nimble Wimbles. Short Nimbles.

Sam: No Nimbly Wimbly was his full given name. Nimbles was his nickname, okay get it right Veren.

Veren: Okay, I stand corrected.

Sam: I loved Nimbly way more than you.

Veren: I liked Nimbly at times. Sometimes I didn't like him and we'll get to that later. But the main thing was that we were trying to trial run house sitting. We wanted something long-term to help give us a little escape from New York City, where we were living at the time. We wanted a little space to let us collect our thoughts and figure out some moves that we wanted to make in the not too distant future. We felt that house sitting was going to be a very helpful strategy going forward for some of our long-term goals.

Sam: Yeah, we had reached out to the guy that had posted the house sit. We arranged a time to Skype, we Skyped with him on January 1st, 2016. I love that, it's very symbolic. New Year, new beginnings. Yeah, we Skyped with him and we connected immediately. So we agreed to the house sit and six weeks later we arrived in Salt Lake City. All of our friends and family in New York were like, where are you going?

Salt Lake, isn't that where Mormons live? What's happening? So we arrived in Salt Lake City at the airport and the guy we were house sitting for, Keith, came and picked us up at the airport. I still have this vision of him looking super cool with his jacket leaning up against his car, which was a Tesla. We had never seen a Tesla before.

Maybe once or something but they’re not a common thing. We've since learned and seen that Teslas and electric vehicles in general are just in way higher proportion in Utah than anywhere else we’ve seen. This is because of some of their tax breaks for electric vehicles, which is awesome. But it had the time, we were like “Whoa, Tesla! That's really unique and cool.”

Veren: Yeah. I remember the door handles look flat and then all of a sudden, slowly these little door handles come out from the side of the car. And yes, wow, what a big deal, little door handles...But you don't really see that on other cars. It just made the car feel more like it's own self-aware machine.

Then later, Keith was driving us around and he had a friend of his in the passenger seat, he was like, “oh you guys want to see it do self-driving?” I just remember his friend being like ,”No no, no, I don't want to do this!”

Keith did it anyways and you could see the car make rights and lefts completely on its own. It was really impressive. You could see a little screen that was telling you how well it was able to read the road. It relies on the big white lines on either side of the road.

So putting that all together as our first experience with a Tesla, with this man in Salt Lake City, the first time we've ever been there, and it was definitely quite a memory

Sam: It made quite an impression. And then in the car, right on the way back from the airport. What did he ask us, Veren?

Veren: Oh yeah! He goes - I remember him looking in the rear view mirror at us in the back seat - he's like, “Are you guys vegan?” And we hadn't said anything about that. He just kind of guessed it. He had this look on his face like he kind of knew. So we said, “Yeah, why?”

And he said, “I knew it! My friends have been giving me so much shit because I've recently started eating vegan. They're like, ‘they're not gonna want to eat your vegan shit,“ It turns out that he decided he wanted to make us a five course meal to show us how appreciative he was of what we were gonna provide as house sitters. It was a great incredible meal and he even stocked the cabinets (cuz he knew we cooked) with tons of fresh spices and everything. It was a very serendipitous moment.

Sam: Yeah, well like he says, “I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in synchronicity.” Which I think is Carl Jung's idea that there basically are no coincidences. I don't know the whole philosophy behind synchronicity, but that things happen, you're brought together for different unknown reasons. I thought our whole meeting and the fact that he had just gotten vegan was very synchronous. I don't know how to say that. Whatever.

So yeah, this is all still the first day. He's asking us this in the car. So he brings us back to his apartment and then we immediately go out for a driving lesson. He was lending us his other car which was a normal car, a Kia Soul, and it was manual - stick shift.

I have driven manual cars before, but not with any kind of regularity where I felt super comfortable to just take that on. I had told him this in our initial interview because he mentioned that he was gonna let us use his car. I said, “I'm not 100% confident driving manual cars. I've had some familiarity, but it's not a super ingrained skill.

He was like, “No worries. I'll give you driving lessons.” So yeah, we just went out to a parking lot, and this is February so there was still some snow around. I even drifted into a snowbank at one time, but he didn't give a shit. It was just really cool because even though he obviously had nice things like his Tesla and whatever, he was just very much like, “It doesn't matter. It's just a car. If something happens, it's just a car. As long as you're okay. I have insurance.”

Here in the US, car insurance goes by the car and the primary driver. Then you can have an occasional driver, so someone who doesn't live with you can drive the car. If something happens, that person would be insured. So me driving was totally fine, never gotten to an accident, so that was fine.

We didn't 100% need the car, so it was really nice of him to give us use of it. His condo was literally right smack dab in the center of Salt Lake City, so you definitely did not need a car.

Salt Lake City has a very good public transportation system for its size because they had the winter Olympics here and they built that out back into 2002. But it was still really nice to have because it made it easier to do grocery shopping and to go for hikes. We still only used it maybe once a week, maybe every two weeks even. But it was still really nice to have.

I'm super glad that I learned how to drive manual because then when we moved to Spain later, I could just rent a car no problem. Renting an automatic car in Europe is crazy expensive. Actually, the house sit after that one in Salt Lake City, the woman had a truck and she was like, “Oh well, I could leave it for you but it's manual.” Because most people in the States don't drive manual.

I was like, “I do!” So it's been such a useful skill and I'm really glad that that happened. So this is all within the first 24 hours of arriving in Salt Lake City. Was there anything else that happened that day Veren? I feel like it's very ingrained into my memory.

Veren: Yeah, after that, he showed us around at the condo, the building, and all the amenities that came with the building.

Sam: What amenities are those Veren?

Veren: Well, it had a pool. Two hot tubs, a hot tub that was indoors and a hot tub that was on the roof, along with areas to barbecue if you'd like. There was a gym. You had many amenities there.

Sam: It was a luxury condo building.

Veren: Yeah, technically it's a luxury condo building. Based on the garish style of it, maybe the 70s or 80s was when it was built. Not that the apartment looked like that, but the building itself.

These towers are some of the tallest buildings in downtown Salt Lake City, so it had a great view. Even the condo itself had an incredible view. Salt Lake City is situated in an ancient lake bed, a prehistoric lake bed. It's in a valley, but it's a very wide, shallow, u-shaped valley.

You can see two huge mountain ranges. The Wasatch on one side, and I forget the name of the other on the other side. You just get this great view of the valley. The mountains looked like they are right there, they're so close. You could see that on either side. So it was definitely quite the view initially stepping into that apartment, because the whole side of it was glass.

And right next to the window, with the best view, was Nimbly's heating pad.

Sam: Yeah, straight up on the windowsill. He had a heating pad there, so he could overlook his domain of the city. The heating pad could never be switched off because literally the switch that controlled that outlet had tape over it. So you could never accidentally switch it off and leave poor Nimbles in the cold.

Veren: Yeah, this guy was the prince, he was the prince of the castle there.

Sam: Yeah we were just so blown away. We were like, “There's a literal hot tub on the roof. That's absolutely ridiculous.” I've just never even heard of such a thing. You could just sit up there and look at the mountains and it was incredible.

Yeah this whole experience….well let's just put it out there, that was probably the most luxurious house that we've ever been in. That's just not something that we look for.

Obviously that's super glamorous and super nice and we really appreciate those things. But for us, the connection and feel that we get with the home and pet owner matters more. Keith is just like a really great guy and he also had a luxury apartment.

So this whole experience really set our standards high for what we could expect from house sitting and people that we would want to house sit for. And then it made us be like, “oh wow, this is pretty damn awesome, we want to continue doing it.”

Veren: Yeah, I want to reiterate that point. The luxury stuff was the icing on the cake, but for the most part, what set the standard was Keith's attitude towards us and that he valued the service that we were offering. He wanted to show us how appreciative he was. He was very generous with his time, making sure that we were comfortable. That was important to him.

He also first posited the idea that to us that house sitters are important even if you didn't have a pet. He told us about how one time he came home, and there had been some kind of pipe or main line had broken. Boiling water was spilling into the apartment and if he hadn't been there for days, it would have destroyed everything.

So having people physically there to see if something like that would happen in an absence because you're on vacation or traveling is extremely valuable. Him showing that appreciation made us want to do our best and make him feel one hundred percent confident in our abilities.

He also has a background in customer service, he said something along the lines of working customer service for 30 years. We were complete newbies in terms of online house sitting - had no native reviews on the platform - and he was like, “I think you guys are perfect. I trust my judge of character and read of people. I think you guys are gonna be great.”

So that gave us even more confidence that we are people that you can trust. We can provide something confidently, be responsible, and be trusted to be taking care of your home and pets.

Sam: So yeah that sets the stage a little bit. Let's share a little bit about the star of the show, Nimbles, the reason that brought us together in the first place. Nimbly Wimbly. I love Nimbly so much. Veren's literally rolling his eyes so hardcore right now. I think on a monthly basis I mentioned how much I love and miss Nimbly. I just look at photos of him and he's so cute and he's so soft and he was so quirky. .

He was a rescue cat. Technically you weren't supposed to have cats in this luxury condo building. But there was a woman who lived there who worked for a rescue shelter, and she stealthily adopted out cats to like a third of the building. So Nimbly had come from the shelter and he had lost all of his teeth except two little snaggletooth fangs.

So he had those teeth always hanging out of his mouth.He was really soft. I don't know why. But he always loved to be around you. He was a very social cat. He loved to be the center of attention, so when her owner had parties, he would just sit in the middle of the table.

One time we went hiking and I got really badly sunburned. I even had mild sunstroke. I had a fever and I was just lying on the couch with a blanket over me. And Nimbly just came over and laid directly on top of me.

Veren: I think that was because you were better than the heating pad at that time.

Sam: yeah that's true. I didn't think about that. But yeah, so I love Nimbly. I have so many great pictures of him. He just would lie there like a seal, or like a walrus actually with his little nub legs out. Maybe I'll include a photo in the show notes. I didn't have a very good camera back then, but he was just so cute. But Veren had some issues with some of Nimbly’s behaviors.

Veren: Well, I like Nimbly. I liked Nimbly for the most part. But there were certain annoying things he did. One was yowling early in the morning for food, as if he'd never eaten in his entire life. Eventually this became a joke with our friends, because again, the homeowner insisted on us having guests, so we did have a couple friends visit. They described his yowl as a “Wow wowwwwww!!!”

He would do that right in front of the bedroom door, early in the morning. We're semi morning people, we get up in the morning, like we're not getting up at noon. But when I wake up, I like to enjoy my mornings. This cat couldn't enjoy his mornings without getting fed immediately. So, like clockwork, he'd be yowling.

Also, he took some of the stinkiest cat shits I've ever smelled. After he would take the shit, hit was like rocket propellant. He would just dash out of the litter box and run across walls, he was just so energized. He could clear rooms and we’ll tell more of that story later, because it wasn't just me who thought that. It was also some of our guests as well. That aside, he was very sociable, he was super soft - like luxury-level soft, super plushy - and he had a lot of personality. For the most part, he was a very low-key cat.

Sam: So that set the stage. We got everything set up, and we were there for three months, so we kind of got into a little routine. I was doing freelance work at the time, and so I would do that.

Veren had just left his teaching job in New York and he even picked up some teaching gigs in Salt Lake. How did that happen?

Veren: I had been working in an after school and substitute teaching program in New York City, in Queens. I would do after school work and then I'd also do substitute teaching, when they needed it. That's very much an on call kind of basis.

So that experience translated over to working for a charter school 20 minute walk away from the condo that we were staying in. I just applied. I got whatever paperwork they needed an order. Because it's a charter school, you don't need to have any kind of state certification to be a teacher there. They have their own process for that. So they saw my experience and they said, “okay sure. We'll let you know when we need you. We'll try to let you know ahead of time, but often it's the same day.”

I said, “Not a problem, I live close by.” So I ended up picking up two, three days a week for quite a while. It was easy. I'd go to work. I could walk. The receptionist was very upfront. She was like “Make sure to bring a book.” There was no pretense of looking like I'm working or having to do a work plan.

Often it was for a lot of art classes, so the students were very self-directed. They’d just kind of hang out and do their thing. I'd read and a lot of times just talk with a lot of them and that was a lot of fun. It was probably one of the best teaching gigs I've ever had. It was just so laid back it was so low-key.

So Sam and I were doing that and just kind of figuring out if this was something that we could do long-term, very often, or even potentially full-time. We were considering what we want to do with that newfound freedom.

Sam: I just find it so ridiculous that you just walked into this school, applied, and got a job. Like...when does that happen?

Veren: Well two things. One: I didn't just ask to send them my resume. I showed up, I gave them my resume, and I checked back in eventually. I don't know how often that happens anymore. This was four years ago now. But that's something I learned very early on. You just show up to places with your resume and say, “I'm here to apply.”

It's much different than mailing it in or dropping it off. Then on top of that, you follow up if you don't hear back from them a week later. A lot of times, that leaves an impression. A lot of times that just makes you more memorable. Since I was 16, that's how I got jobs a lot of times. I would show up with the resume that made sense for that kind of job.

Then I'd show up again a week later usually. So I think here I showed up on Friday, and then I showed up the next week. The receptionist was very friendly.

Sam: And you said it was very alternative, like they played 90s rock music over the intercom.

Veren: Yeah, so for people who don't understand how the charter school system works. They receive public funding, but they're run privately. So as long as the students are able to pass certain state-wide tests, they have a lot of freedom in the curriculum and what they teach.

In my experience - because I've worked with a few charter schools now - they tend to be a bit more open, a bit more progressive with the program. And yeah, over the intercom, in between classes, they would play 90s rock. It just had such a cool vibe. The school had such a cool vibe and it was really laid back and relaxed working there.

Sam: And because you weren't a full teacher there, I know you said that you were able to kind of mentor some students in a way. They would ask you stuff that they might not have asked their actual teachers. I know you like that kind of role right? As opposed to teaching for the test.

Veren: Yeah, yeah. I have a lot of opinions about the education system. I believe very much a teacher should - you teach people but also by example. So there's this idea that you’ve got to just teach students things by the book. But often, I think it's more important to have discussions about the things that they're curious about. Because then, it's more consensual. You know that they're interested in your answer, as opposed to me walking in and being like, “Let me tell you how to live life. This is what's important.”

Instead, it becomes more self-directed and encourages them to think more critically. A lot of students were asking me things in general, because they looked at me and saw me as young, not that much older than them - even though I was. At the time, I didn't seem that way. I remember a student talking to me about renting his own place and what it's like to live on your own. And since it was art class and maybe they're doing fine on their art project and they're not behind or anything, they had the time to do that. I talked with students about a lot of music that we all listen to. So yeah, the class was diverse as well.

They just felt comfortable. I guess it had to do with my manner a bit. They felt comfortable asking me questions about post-high school life. I was encouraging to some students that not everyone has to go to college. That maybe was what made sense at one point, but some students expressed not wanting to do that or maybe having a gap year between high school and college. I'm like, “that's completely fair if that’s what you want, you shouldn’t rush into things.”

So I was able to give honest answers to them about my experience with the education system and life after high school.

Sam: I feel like we could go on this topic for so long. I feel like we should have a different episode on teaching because I want to continue this vein. I know there's so much that we could talk about here and I'm really interested. But anyway to get back to Nimbles, my favorite topic ever.

Veren: Mm-hmm.

Sam: So yeah, all that’s to say that we had our little routine going on. Three months is not a terribly long amount of time, but it is enough to get into the routine of a place.

That's very slow travel, you know. We really explored Salt Lake City so much. I was very in exploration mode. So we would go on tons of hikes, day trips, just doing different things in the city, trying different restaurants, different coffee shops, not that there were many back then. But just really exploring a new different city.

I had never traveled much in the US before me and Veren met. Our first trip together was to New Mexico and Colorado, and then Salt Lake. So it was very interesting to explore a new place that I had no preconceived ideas about. I know we're gonna do an entire episode just focused on Salt Lake itself, as a place, so we won't necessarily get into it too much here. But I wanted to share that our first house sitting experience was not to someplace glamorous.

I know a lot of people get into house sitting because they're enticed by the idea of house sitting in glamorous locations. But when you're starting, you want to go for less popular places, so there's less competition. That certainly helped us. I don't think we would have gotten very far if we just tried to start house sitting in New York. We still find it incredibly difficult to line up house sits in New York, and we're super experienced now. So that's really something we always recommend.

We hope with these house sitting stories to show you all the different experiences that are open to you if you expand your horizons a little bit more.

Veren: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. Salt Lake City is not a place on most people's radars, especially travel radars, but it's a very fun place. We're gonna talk about it more in our other series where we talk about places that are more off the beaten path. So to kind of sum up the vibe of Salt Lake City, it's a very liberal left-leaning kind of enclave in the middle of a very big red state.

In general, conservatism here tends to be a little bit right of center. Of course, you're gonna find the more extreme ends wherever you go. But there's a lot of cooperation between the left and right here, compared to other states. We've definitely seen that reflected in how the pandemic has been handled.

For the most part, people who want a city lifestyle but still have all that outdoor access come to Salt Lake. You have the city right there, with all the things that come with living in a city, like the variety of restaurants, and bars. There’s a very strong art community here that’s very supportive of each other. Then on top of that, you can just go skiing whenever you want. We're not really into skiing, but we love to go hiking and we did a lot of - like Sam said she was in an exploration mode - hiking and that was really really fun. It was just a cool place to be in and experience things. We think that this attitude that you’ve got to go to all the top ten whatever places listed by whatever people and whatever tourism marketing... you're missing out on more by limiting yourself to those options.

Sam: I hope more people start exploring lesser known places as travel opens up again after the pandemic. We don't want to go back to what is current what was happening before the pandemic, which was overtourism of a select group of places and then other places that could really use some tourism but don't get any. So that's why we're doing our alternative destination series to highlight those places.

So when and if people come to Utah, they mostly go to southern Utah, which is where there are five national parks. They're called the Mighty Five. There's been a massive tourism campaign which actually now they've kind of regretted, because it's gotten to the point of overtourism. So it just goes to show you that when tourism marketing organizations focus on tourism and bring people there, sometimes it backfires. It's a very concerted effort and I always like pointing that out, because these places didn't just become popular because they are the only places that you should ever go. A lot of times, they became popular because tourism boards work to make them popular.

So the Mighty Five, the national parks in Utah, are absolutely an example of that. So the five parks are: Zion, which is the most popular, the most overtouristed. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. They're all in southern Utah, which is a five to six hour drive from Salt Lake. Complete opposite end of the state. It's not like that was something we were gonna do for a day trip.

But Keith was very much like, “oh my gosh, you have to go to the National Parks. I've traveled all over the world and Utah is one of my favorite places. The landscapes are incredible; you can't leave Utah without seeing southern Utah.”

They call it the red rock desert, because of these big red rocks and it's a desert. He was like, “you must go.”

Veren: And we were thinking, “wait, how do we - we have to take care of a cat.” But he was so insistent on us going. He's like, “oh you can take Nimbly. He loves road trips. Just take him. I'll show you the whole process of how you're going to smuggle him out of the building.”

Sam: Because like I mentioned, cats were not allowed in the condo building. He showed us the whole process of how to get Nimbly out of the building. In the parking garage, underneath the building, there were shopping carts that you could use to load up whatever from your car and bring it up in the elevator to your apartment.

So we brought up one of these shopping carts, put Nimbly’s carrier in the shopping cart, and put him in the carrier with a little can of cat food so he would not do his customary yowling for food. So we placated him with some food in the shopping cart. And then we piled pillows and blankets on top of his carrier so that it would be hidden to any cameras or anyone that would come into the elevator.

So you could just imagine this experience. It was so ridiculous and we love telling the story. So we booked a pet-friendly motel, we decided to go to Moab which is a little town that's the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands, which are in the same area. So we booked a pet-friendly motel and we smuggled Nimbly out. We were in the elevator hoping that no one came in, hoping that he wouldn't yowl.

And then we got him in the car. I was driving and I think you were in the back with Nimbly, right?

Veren: Yeah, I was in the back with Nimbly. I remember letting him out of the carrier, because he seemed to want to get out. He poked around for a minute, looked out the window, like, “Oh, we must be going on a road trip.” He promptly barfed in the portable litter box.

Sam: So considerate.

Veren: Yep, so barfed into the litter box which was meant for travel, and promptly went to sleep on my lap. So this was a time that I loved Nimbly. And it was not just us on a trip, we also had a guest with us.

Sam: Yeah our friend Greg, who is one of our favorite people to travel with. He's super fun, one of those people that’s like a little kid, everything is so interesting and he has a lot of energy in that way. He became fast friends with Nimbly, even though he is allergic to cats.

Veren: Mildly allergic. He can't really bring them to his face and if he touches them, he can't really touch his face afterwards. He can be in the same room with the animal, and he still likes cats. He just has to take that extra precaution. I also don't think he necessarily gets a big reaction. I think he just kind of gets a little stuffy nose.

Sam: Yeah, but he loves cats and he was well aware that there was a cat.

Veren: Well we need to say that him and Nimbly had a special relationship.

Sam: Yeah, tell us about their special relationship.

Veren: Nimbly and Greg bonded from day one. We knew that because Greg sent us a selfie one morning of him, laying on the bed, and right behind him was Nimbly, just sitting there and staring at him. That would lead up to more of their interactions when we traveled later.

Because when we went to the pet friendly motel, we set up all our things and then decided to go out for the day and explore. But when we came back, Nimbly was sitting exactly on the pillow that Greg was gonna be using.

Sam: Like you had two full-sized beds, there's two full-sized beds in this motel room. He had all this room to choose from, and he chose Greg's pillow.

Veren: As if he knew that that was where Greg's face couldn't be in order to avoid triggering his allergies.

But they shared another special moment of bonding later. Greg decided to go to the bathroom and as he's going to the bathroom, Nimbly’s following right behind him. We had put the litter box under the sink in the bathroom. So right as Greg closes the door, and starts to use the bathroom, he's like, “Nimbly’s taking a shit with me!”

At some point, Greg burst out of the bathroom like, “Oh my god, yo, this cat’s shit stinks!” He opened the door and Nimbly burst out as well, running across the walls. We immediately had to open up all these windows because this cat just took these stinkiest shits. If I haven't said it enough, I'll say it again. He could clear out a room.

Sam: Well he did, we left!

Veren: We immediately left. We were just like, all right Nimbly, we're out of here.

Sam: Yeah, so we went to dinner or something. But yeah that was just hilarious. It was great because Arches and Canyonlands were awesome. The national parks in the US are definitely amazing places and those are two great parks. We had a great time.

I wrote an article all about Arches or Canyonlands, which is better depending on your priorities and needs. So I'll link that in the show notes. But it was beautiful. It was so much fun. We went in April, which I think is an ideal time. As you can imagine, the desert gets really hot, and it was really hot even in April. But it was bearable whereas we always were seeing caution signs saying to bring tons of water, find shade, bring sunscreen, all of that. But we were fine in April.

So yeah, it was just a really awesome and memorable experience, obviously.

I mean, who takes a cat on a road trip? And again, this was at his owner's insistence. Its never happened since and I don't think it ever will happen with anyone else. It's not something we expect or anything like that. But obviously it was really great and something that we love to reminisce upon if we couldn't tell by how much we're enjoying having this conversation.

So that was the pinnacle of our experience in Utah. Like we already said, it was just such a unique house sitting experience in absolutely so many ways that have not repeated themselves since. And again, we're not expecting those things, but they're certainly fun when they happen.

Veren: It was such a memorable house sit. And also what kind of adds to the notoriety or the infamy of the experience was that we had a couple guests. So one of them was Greg, but then also our other friend Ivy and she loved being around Nimbles because he was just so soft and plushy. One of her favorite things to say was that she could just hold them and squeeze him and there was nothing he could do because he didn't have any teeth or claws. So not only do we have this great memory to share between us, but also a couple of friends.

It was a symbolic period for us because it really jump-started everything in the direction that we were headed. It's also where we started the website, the blog.

Sam: Yeah that's true. So to bring things back full circle, we're in Salt Lake City. The last house that we did was for Keith again, here in Salt Lake City. He had moved out of the condo to a different neighborhood and sadly Nimbly passed away.

RIP Nimbly, this episode is dedicated to Nimble Wimbles, in memoriam. He will live on forever. I was so devastated to hear that because I had always in my mind thought that we would come back and house sit for Nimbly again. So I was really sad about that.

That’s one of the hardest things about house sitting. Especially because we do long-term house sits so we really get to become close with the animals. It's really hard to say goodbye. But Nimbles was a cat that I always thought we were gonna come back to. But he had a great life.

And now we're back in Salt Lake City. I think it's very appropriate, symbolic, whatever you want to call it that we ended up back here. We started our podcast here, just like we started our blog here. So Salt Lake City is definitely a special place for us. Now we're in our fifth month here this time around. We ended up having to extend our stay because all our house sits were canceled. So total, we've spent around eight and a half months here, so that's no short period of time for sure.

Veren: Yeah, originally, after that first house sit, we lined up another one in SLC. So it's already looking like we're gonna be spending close to a year - like nine and a half months. Again, we'll go into it more than another episode, but it's definitely one of our favorite cities to visit. There are certain things we don't like, such as the crazy drivers, but it is very pedestrian-able. I don't want to say pedestrian friendly, because the drivers.

But where we're living right now, we don't have a car and it's been perfectly fine. Normally, we would rely on some mass transit, but because of the pandemic, we're not feeling one hundred percent safe doing that. But otherwise, everything we've been talking about, even in the first house sit, we mostly did by walking. So that’s a big plus for us, if we can house sit somewhere that's very walkable. There's just a lot of great, cool things going on here. In a lot of ways, we're very lucky and fortunate to be here right when the pandemic happened.

But again, yeah, it’s been the birthplace of our blog and now the podcast as well.

Sam: Yeah, thanks SLC. So with that, I think that about wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed this first installment of our house sitting stories episode. If you enjoyed this kind of format, definitely let us know and we'll be sure to be putting out more. We have a lot more stories for you guys so stay tuned for those.

I hope that you are doing well, no matter where you are, as things start to brighten up a little bit in the world.

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