Two Days at Ten Thousand Waves

Two Days at Ten Thousand Waves

Kimonos, Slippers, and Buddha Chocolates.  Ahhh.

Kimonos, Slippers, and Buddha Chocolates. Ahhh.

Paul and I wanted to do something different for our Birthdays this year, so we treated ourselves to two days and nights at ten thousand waves, a mountain spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A Warm (Toilet Seat!) Welcome.

A Warm (Toilet Seat!) Welcome

Perhaps I am easily impressed, but I was pretty much in heaven before we even left our room.  The toilet included a heated seat and a bidet.  Another first for me.

The Star Lounge

The Star Lounge

I loved this little section of our room.  The ceiling was full of starlight that flickered through the night.  I am going to see about having this installed in my Airstream one day (I don’t yet own one).

Happy Head

Happy Head

This guy kind of freaked me out at first, but he grew on me.  We had our own little courtyard.  We spent all of our waking hours out here or at the spa.



Seeing this pleased me greatly.  My Dad used one of these as his main cooking source ~ probably still does.  My favorite hibachi (shichirin in Japanese) meal was veggie shish kabobs with teriyaki sauce.  We brought groceries with us (the restaurant doesn’t open until this fall) but having access to an outdoor oven didn’t even cross my mind.  Next time.

Paul in a Kimono

Paul in a Kimono

I thought Paul wore this quite well.  We left our western clothes in the suitcase as the kimonos were so comfortable.  Paul surprised me with Natalie Goldberg‘s latest book, The True Secret of Writing, and I read almost all of it while we lounged.  Ms. Goldberg lives in Santa Fe and will be at Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse tonight.  I plan on going and will most likely be blogging about my experience.

Another Cool Statue

Another Cool Statue

This dragon statue lived next door.  I am really feeling dragons lately.  Not sure why.

Resting Along the Way to the Spa

Resting Along the Way to the Spa

We had a steep climb to the spa and thought this little outdoor couch was a great idea.  The small hike wasn’t an issue for us, but there is a shuttle for those who could use it.

Koi, or Nishikigoi

Koi, or Nishikigoi

I love the sound of running water and the koi ponds definitely added to the feeling of serenity throughout the spa.




Public Bath in the Morning

Public Bath

We spent an entire day at this public bath and I was able to get a picture of it between waves of naked people.  I told Paul I was going to title this blog post “Me and a Bunch of Naked Guys” but thought better of it.  It was interesting to observe the difference between sexes when it comes to nudity.  Guess who let it all hang out and who didn’t?

Private Bath in the Afternoon

Private Bath

We treated ourselves to a private bath, as well.  I love this picture of Paul, even if he is sunburnt (why he refuses to wear a hat I don’t know).  Along with the private bath, we each had a theraputic massage and salt scrub.  Thank you, Daniel and Dana!

This experience was so different for us.  I wasn’t sure how Paul would handle sitting in one place and relaxing for two days straight.  Come to find out, he really enjoyed himself and we are already making plans for our next little spa retreat.

My friend Sadie and I visited Ojo Caliente when she came out for a visit from Colorado, and I am looking forward to taking Paul there on our next spa adventure.  Are you a spa person?  If so, please share with us your favorite destinations.

Caretaking Couple Loves Key West

Caretaking Couple Loves Key West

Paul and I had originally planned to spend five nights in Key West.  It took us a couple extra days to get out of Sanibel, owing to Hurricane Isaac, so we ended up having three nights instead.  We were a little disappointed at first, but Sanibel was a great place to be stuck in (see our Sanibel post for storm pics).  I think we did a pretty good job of making up for lost time…

The Road to Key West

Paul and I both love driving the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West.  This is the longest bridge I have been over and at times, it seems like it is just us and the water.  Here you can see the old bridge, as well.

Better Than Sex

Our first dinner in Key West was at a fun little place called Better Than Sex.  Yes, we had dessert for dinner, rebels that we are.  What you see here is “Brie cheese and dark chocolate grilled together on sweet homestyle butter bread, served with strawberry prosecco soup for dipping (or drinking).”  SO GOOD.  Paul used a flashlight in order for me to capture this picture as the place is very dark inside.  We marveled at how the waitress could keep a straight face while suggesting such menu items as “rim jobs”.  Tee hee!

Truman is a Regular at Schooner Wharf Bar

Truman is one of the first friends I made while in Key West.  Boxers are one of my favorite breeds.  He seemed to know everyone at the bar!  Key West is very pet friendly, from what we have observed.  Our original plan was to network like crazy and find us a winter sit there, but we were officially offered a year-long sit in Santa Fe, New Mexico while in Sanibel, so we were able to make this trip a bonified vacation.  We *are* accepting inquiries for winter 2013, however!

Truman Bellies Up to the Bar

The first time I went to Key West was with my friend Nancy.  I’m thinking it was at least ten years ago.  We visited the Hemingway Home and I gained a newfound respect for the writer.  He was a chauvinist and I did not enjoy reading The Old Man and the Sea one bit in high school, but the man could write.  He loved his cats (bonus points) and added much to the allure of Key West.  My favorite book of his is The Son Also Rises.  Paul hadn’t been so we spent the better part of the morning exploring Hemingway’s home and grounds.

Hemingway's Typewriter


Hemingway's Pool


One of the 40-50 Famous Polydactyl (six-toed) Hemingway Cats


Hemingway Cat, Showing Off His Paws


Keeping Cool at the Hemingway House

I love old beat-up trucks.  Every time I see one, I wonder what it would take to get it running, and what color paint I would use to pretty it up with if it were mine.  I am going to need a truck to tow my Airstream one of these days, after all.  Hopefully “my” Airstream will become “ours” when Paul falls in love with it as well.  As of this writing, the fascination lies with me more than him.

Banged Up Old Truck in Front of Mac's Sea Garden


Another Old Key West Truck

Paul and I visited the Chart Room back in 2008.  I have no idea how we found it, as it is nestled in a luxury resort.  Paul has a way of finding the best watering holes, so I just go with his suggestions most of the time. We are both “atmosphere” junkies and this tiny spot has plenty of it.

Locals at the Chart Room

We had also already been to Louie’s.  I love trying new places, but since we hardly ever get to Key West, there were a couple of places that needed revisiting.  Just to make sure they were as good as we remembered them to be.  And they were.

Perfect Night at Louie's Backyard


Romantic Waterfront Dining at Louie's Backyard


Cool Key West House


Michael McCloud at Schooner Wharf Bar

Schooner Wharf Bar was new to us and we went back a couple of times as we enjoyed the music, the drinks and the laid back crowd.  It is mostly outdoor, but with plenty of shade for freckly people like me.

Harpoon Harry's for an Early Breakfast

I love diners, and we were advised to check out Harpoon Harry’s for breakfast.  It did not disappoint.  We actually really enjoyed the food and drink wherever we went, whether the menu was gourmet or down home.

This Bird Rules the Roost in Key West

Key West is a great place for wandering.  It is a small island…no need to rent a car or take a taxi if you are OK with walking or riding a bike around in the heat (September/October in FL is pretty hot).  I just made sure that I had my hat and sunglasses on me at all times.  You will see chickens and roosters all over the island, along with fun little shops like the ones below, if that is your thing.  Paul and I are more foodies than we are shoppers, so I have no recommendations there.  If you have a favorite or two, please share in the comments section.

Seaside Shops

Same goes for cruise ships.  Neither of us has been on one and I don’t see Paul ever deciding to try it.  He is convinced it is going to be a bunch of people who dress funny, gorging themselves on buffets and shopping or playing shuffleboard the rest of the time.  I will have to remind him of the plaid shorts he bought this summer.

Just Arriving

I actually applied for a small liner earlier this year; an educational cruiser that held less than 200 passengers and had guest lecturers of the intellectual variety.  The appeal for me was that I would get paid to travel and meet interesting people from all over the world, and that the liner was small enough to get into ports that the cruise ships couldn’t fit into.  Alas, I was not offered the job.

This is More Our Style

We both love being on the water, but our experience is limited to mainly fishing and touristy boats.  Perhaps we will find ourselves a yacht sit here in the near future…

Musician at the Schooner Wharf

We went back to the Schooner Wharf Bar for our last Key West breakfast and I could not get over how good it was.  How many bars serve excellent breakfasts?  I splurged and had eggs benedict (I give the ham to Paul) and it was divine.  That is saying a lot as I have had more than my share of bennies.  The cardboard plate and plastic utensils didn’t even phase me.  I wanted to talk to this guy but there wasn’t time.  He had his guitar with him and reminded me of Keith Richard.  Bet he has a few good stories to tell.

We did have a chance to meet a couple of interesting characters at Don’s Place and would like to thank Key West Lou for suggesting it.  Sadly, I have no pics of Key West Lou (he was about to go on air so we were lucky to just chat for a few) or Don’s Place (too busy enjoying the locals).  Next time, we will give you more notice and buy you a proper drink at one of your favorite watering holes, Lou!

Leaving Key West

And yet another delightful adventure under our belts.  I love this picture of Paul.  We stayed (for the second time) at the Pilot House.  I don’t have any pictures because we spent most of our time there at the pool, which is clothing optional.  Paul has no problem getting naked (I think it is a European thing).  I am OK with it now, but only with strangers.  Don’t want friends seeing my bits, and I don’t want to see theirs!  Anyway, the Pilot House is a great place to stay.  We had a lovely dinner at Michael’s one night with friends we met in the water.  After a couple of days poolside, it was kind of weird seeing them with their clothes on.

Goodbye, Key West!

Sadly, my Canon has been laid to rest since returning from this, our latest adventure.  I am not enamored with my i-Phone camera, even though everyone else seems to be.  So, I need to figure something out soon as a lack of pictures means a lack of blog post motivation on my end.  If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and share with friends.  If I wanted this blog to be all about us I would simply journal or scrapbook, after all…

A Quick Hurricane Isaac Update From Sanibel Island, Florida

A Quick Hurricane Isaac Update From Sanibel Island, Florida

Pre Isaac View From our Lanai in Sanibel - Day 1

Paul had business in Orlando this past week, so we did something we haven’t done before. We planned a vacation, mainly in Key West, during hurricane season.  I flew to Orlando and met him there this past Thursday.  I finally got to meet Paul’s boss and most of his co-workers from around the world (Croatia, Brazil, Switzerland, and Australia). This alone was worth the trip out for me. We had a lovely meal at Moonfish that night and headed south to Sanibel Island the next day. Our plan was to spend two nights here in Sanibel, but we have extended it to four, owing to Isaac.

The View From our Lanai in Sanibel on Day 2

Paul and I are having way more fun than a couple whose plans have been derailed by a hurricane should. Our digs at Casa Ybel are perfect for storm viewing. We can see miles out to sea from our sheltered lanai and the sounds of the wind and the waves are intoxicating (along with the hurricane party drinks). So, while we would rather be in the pool (me) or at the bar next to the pool (Paul) at present, we continue to enjoy ourselves. It will be a relief to see the end of Isaac but in the meantime we are hunkered in with plenty of food, water, candles, etc.  So far, so good here on Sanibel.

The View From our Lanai in Sanibel on Day 3 - (Almost) Post Isaac

The resort has taken all necessary precautions and I am shocked and delighted at the fact that we haven’t lost power, like so many of our Florida neighbors have. We were upgraded upon arrival and have a full kitchen and a full bath, which means we were able to stock up on groceries and fill the tub with extra water, just in case. If you are going to be stuck-in, this is the place for it!

Candle Lit Dinners at Thistle Lodge

I cannot seem to get a shot of the Atlantic that does it any kind of justice. We both love being on the ocean and to see miles out from our quarters during a storm is pretty awe inspiring. Below is a mediocre (sorry) zoom shot from the deck.  I am trying to figure out how to post a short video, which gives a better idea of what the storm is really like.

A Close Up From the Sanibel Lanai Today

Thank you, friends and family for checking in on us. We are doing just fine and are hopeful that Isaac will decide to go easy on the Gulf Coast and everywhere else in the coming days. And for those of you in its path, please continue to keep us posted, either here or on facebook.

PS I will be sharing some big news here on the blog in the next day or so *** teaser alert *** we are VERY close to making our next sit official…

Two Days at Ten Thousand Waves

Valynne’s Ten Favorite Quotes From The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup

A couple of weeks ago, I won a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s latest book, The $100 Startup via his facebook page.  I have read it twice since. If you would like to “Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and create a new future”, then this book is for you.  I did a lot of highlighting and thought I would give all of you kindred spirits out there a teaser…

1.  “Two years ago in Minneapolis, Lisa Sellman attracted my attention by telling me about her dog care business.  At first, I didn’t think much of it.  How profitable could a dog business be?  But then Lisa told me how much money she made: $88,000 the previous year and on track to clear six figures the next.”

This one appeals to me for obvious reasons : ) Pick something you love and pursue it.  

2.  “To succeed in a business project, especially one you’re excited about, it helps to think carefully about all the skills you have that could be helpful to others and particularly about the combination of those skills.”

What are your skills?  Write them down and brainstorm.  Some of the entrepreneurs featured in this book are doing things I never would have guessed there would be a market for.  Good for them!  

3.  “The basics of starting a business are very simple; you don’t need an MBA (keep the $60,00 tuition), venture capital, or even a detailed plan.  You just need a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid.”

Having a diploma doesn’t guarantee success and not having one certainly doesn’t equal failure.  More startup capital would have been nice when it came to my businesses, but it wasn’t a necessity and less important than my goal of becoming debt-free.   

4.  He kept waiting for it to be perfect…and then he kept waiting.  “I finally just had to give up on perfection and get the thing out the door,” he said later.

Odds are you do not have to wait until you finish taking those classes or writing that business plan to get going on that exciting project.  I struggle with this one and am really trying to just learn as I go versus reaching ‘perfection’ before even trying something new.  Obviously, this is relative.  I am not performing surgery on anyone, after all.  Odds are you aren’t either.

5.  “The point is to do what makes sense to you.  Get up in the morning and get to work.”

It is hard to work at something that doesn’t feel right.  So many of us complain about our jobs over and over, all of the time.  If this is you, please ask yourself what it is you would rather be doing and brainstorm ways of making that happen. You will be doing yourself and everyone around you a huge favor.  

6.  “Low paying buyers are the worst,” one business owner who sold a broad range of products at different prices told me.  “We have far more complaints from people who pay $10 and expect the world than from those who pay $1,000.”

Some people will appreciate you and your services and some won’t.  It does not behoove you to take it personally; those people are most likely treating everyone around them the way they have treated you.  Let them and their $10 go.  Seriously.

7.  “My rule of thumb is that a successful partnership (or any type of collaboration) should create a combined business which is at least 33 percent larger than the sum of what the two individuals can achieve on their own.”  Ralf Hildebrandt

I hadn’t looked at Caretaking Couple like that before, but it is absolutely true for us.  We can say yes to more opportunities as a team.  While we split a lot of CC down the middle, I enjoy promoting our biz via networking and social media, while Paul is really good at packing up the 4Runner and mapping our routes when it comes time for our next sit.  We save a lot of time & money this way.

8.  “All the bad days have two things in common: You know the right thing to do, but you let somebody talk you out of doing it.” Tom Bihn.

Tune out those that think they know what is best for you when it comes to your business and your personal life.  You know what is best for you.  Respect to the intuition.

9.  “Without a doubt, the smartest decision I made was to set a specific intention to not grow the business.  Growing up as the daughter of an entrepreneur, I watched my father’s creativity and inventor mind-set get sapped as the business grew from just him to over fifty employees.” Cherie Ve Ard 

Go with what feels right to you and your business model.  Again, don’t listen to what everyone else says (especially those that have never owned and operated a business).  By the way, if you are a fan of location independence, you owe it to yourself to check out technomadia.

10.  “There’s no rehab program for being addicted to freedom.  Once you’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, good luck trying to follow someone else’s rules ever again.”


Chris Guillebeau will be at Powell’s Books in Portland, OR on Wednesday.  Click here if you would like to catch him on tour!



Two Days at Ten Thousand Waves

Where To Next?

Paul and Valynne at The Smallest Bar in Key West ~ 2008

Paul and I aren’t wandering much farther than Portland this summer, aside from an occasional drive to the Pacific or train ride to Seattle.  This is because Portland is absolutely gorgeous in the summer and we have local pet sits lined up through August.  In late August, Paul is spending a week in Orlando, Florida with his boss and co-workers from around the globe.  I will meet him there the first week of September (yay!).  Yes, this is a hot time to be in Florida.  That is why we are renting a convertible and heading for the Florida KeysKey West, to be exact.  But not before visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.  Cannot wait and am actually wearing a Muggle shirt as I type this.  Feel free to call me a nerd.  Don’t care.

I'm a Muggle

OK, back to Key West.  Key West is one of our favorite places here in the US.  Nothing is set in stone, but I will be keeping an eye out for a potential long-term sit of the island variety beginning in late fall/early winter. Both Key West and Northern California are on our radar at present.  We love Portland and would be happy to stay here, as well…it is just that yours truly has a serious case of Wanderlust (by the way, have you seen the movie yet?  I got a total kick out of it) and it is true what they say about Portland being a bit…soggy for a good several months of the year.  And the tagline for Caretaking Couple is “Caring For Properties and Pets Across the US”, after all.

Have you been to Key West?  If so, tell us about it.  If not, where have you been that you would love to get back to?  Or, where haven’t you been that you would really, really like to visit?  Leave a comment on this post or any other for a chance to win a prize (details here) and I will draw a name on Monday, 5/28.  Thanks for keeping in touch!

Two Days at Ten Thousand Waves


Maps, etc. at Cargo in the Pearl District

When I was little, I dreamt of far away places.  I was born in Connecticut and raised in California and the furthest I typically traveled was twenty-three miles from Ventura (Mom) to Santa Barbara (Dad, for a short while) going Greyhound on weekends, with an occasional flight back to Connecticut thrown in.  I knew I would never stay in one place for long once I actually had a say in the matter, and have remained true to form on that account since my late teens, even if all I could manage at times was moving a town or two over.

Twenty years and several walk-ups, tents, basements, campers, truck-beds (what?), homes and estates around the USA later, I find myself living in the Pacific Northwest with Paul.  We love it in our sweet rented bungalow here in Northeast Portland, Oregon.  The past eight months have flown by and we are happier than ever.

Then, out of nowhere, it hits me again.  The Wanderlust.  Perhaps I am just antsy, as I have more free time than most.  I am focusing on projects and hobbies, fun new friends, volunteering, temp work and a barter or two and can’t wait to get started on the raised garden beds out back.  I am finding us local Caretaking Couple gigs and admiring Portland neighborhoods with Paul on weekends.  Still.  The Wanderlust.  That’s all.

PS Has anyone seen the new movie Wanderlust yet with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston yet?  I plan on dragging Paul to see it over the weekend : )


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