Monday, December 19, 2011
December 18, 2011 Too Weird To Believe
ADVENTURE ALERT: In our search for a more permanent place for the Darrel to stay, we shopped on line, on the street and in the newspapers. Since San Diego is virtually a snowbird retreat, a lot like Florida in some respects, prices for furnished anything run from $2600 per month to $3800 per month (and up, of course). So after sticker shock wore off and unacceptable alternatives were eliminated, I pulled out the newspapers again and started over. We saw an ad which we thought probably had an error in it. It basically said "executive rental, artist cottage, RV storage, mountain top views," and listed a price at about a third of the previous ones we'd considered. However, it was located 40 minutes north of San Diego. That's 40 minutes in hideous commuter traffic similar to Atlanta's I75. We thought something too good to be true would at least be an adventure for the frustrated, so called the phone number included in the ad. Remembering the last three calls we'd made to local places had never been responded to, we left a message. A half hour later a British woman called us back. There were no errors in the ad, she was very matter of fact, saying the views were indescribable and the place was adorable. Right.
So we drove north 40 minutes. As soon as we got off the I15 and asked the GPS to tell us where to go and it refused, we almost called the whole thing off. But bless the Iphone. We asked it for directions, got them, though the trip at that point became more about curiosity than practicality. Up the mountains we went, through grape vinyards, citrus orchards and avacado groves, a series of ten road changes. We were falling in love with the land on the way...always a critical issue with us.
So. We found the place somehow. It presented itself as a lone mountaintop with an American Indian great white wall sculpture surrounding a modest looking home. Several outbuildings appeared to the sides: garage, covered parking pad, separate studio, all dotted this way and that between the giant boulders and chapparal. Then we noticed the gardens, both vegetable and indigenous flowers and trees spread in every direction. The view was indeed spectacular. How do you describe the best of California hills, covered in sage, cactus, Eucalyptus trees, scrub oaks, acacias, olive trees, pepper trees? How do you describe 200 mile views to San Gorgonio and San Bernardino from hills we'd ridden horses over 35 years ago to reconstruct the padres' trail north from Mexico? And entire 360 degree 200 mile view to and over hills and beyond? Well, that's where we'd landed.
So we knocked on the door. A 5 ft. tall British lady answered the door. She looked at us like we were long lost friends just returned after a ten year trip to chaos. Then she gave us a smile that lit up the mountain, quite like she'd been waiting for us. Not some people who answered an ad, but just us. Well, the Darrel fell in love immediately and I was grateful the lady was 84 so I could at least have a chance of keeping him. But wait...this gets better.
She showed us the grounds first--all eight acres of it. And the Darrel was hooked. Of course it helped a deer came up to talk to us, and a couple of hawks flew by on their endless hunt. Next thing I knew, the superfluous studio--actually a charming art studio with a bedroom and 360 degree mountain views built like Fort Knox, was toured and the Darrel was negotiating the length of time of our stay. How did it become one year? I looked at him, his eyes glazed over and said, "what?" very quietly so as not to disturb whatever was happening.
He turned to me and said, "I've always been an eagle, flying in my dreams. This is an opportunity to actually fly." Whatever that meant.
I had become just a bystander.
We're now the proud renters of paradise on a mountaintop for a year. Details of how we're going to do this will follow after I figure them out.