With our schedule freed up after our first house sit in Idaho was canceled, we began looking for other possible house sits to fit in before our second sit in Idaho was set to begin in mid-November. After looking at and applying to several house sits in the Washington/Oregon area, we noticed a house in Breckenridge pop up. Even though there were several applicants already, we decided to give it a chance and apply anyway. Later that same day we had a Skype call set up to talk to the homeowner, June. One video call later, and June confirmed us as her new house and pet sitters for her two dogs, Mimi (Japanese for Ears) and Dude (aka “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski).
Though it’s been years, the drive up to Breckenridge is a familiar one. The fact that it was the off season, and far less crowded than usual, was very unfamiliar though. As a kid, my parents always used to take us up to Breck to ski and snowboard, and seeing the peaks without their normally snow-covered slopes felt odd. Passing just out of downtown, we turned off onto June’s street, and were met with her beautiful home. Once we knocked on the door and were invited in, June, Mimi, and Dude made us feel like part of the family, and right at home. After a quick tour of the house, June took us on a drive around downtown Breckenridge, and showed us the sites.
As a local historian who leads historical walking tours of the town, June was full of knowledge about Breckenridge, and its past. Pointing out different buildings and roads, she told us stories of the establishment of Breckenridge and its gold mining and railroad background. The short car ride felt like our very own personal tour. Our overall objective for the ride, was so that June could show us the local dog park, and allow Mimi and Dude to run off a little steam. Once little Mimi began shivering from the cold, we hopped back in the car, and headed back through town. On the way back to the house, June pointed out several of the local restaurants she suggested, and told us which roads were always bogged down with traffic.
Back at the house, June showed us the evening dinner ritual for Mimi and Dude, and ran through everything we might need to know. An avid hiker, she had a plethora of hiking maps and pamphlets on activities she recommended, and she was even kind enough to leave us with her “Locals Only” restaurant and shopping passports, which gave discounts on a ton of different places in town. After answering our last minute questions, June grabbed her bags and set out on her trip, leaving us to care for her two little fur-babies.
Dude and Mimi are two of the funniest little dogs we have ever cared for. Mimi, a Chihuahua living in the Colorado Rockies, was constantly tucking herself under the covers in bed (or under the blanket in Ian’s lap) to keep warm. On the other hand, Dude, a Pekingese, had an affinity for attacking his dog bed and flinging it around the house for entertainment. Over the week we stayed in Breckenridge taking care of them, Mimi and Dude were always up for going for a walk, or down to just snuggle in front of the television.
Another of Dude’s more entertaining quirks, which we discovered over the course of our week together, unfolded as we binged the second season of Stranger Things. In this newest season of Stranger Things, there is the addition of a new creature, which Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) dubs the Demo-Dog. As soon as the Demo-Dog was on screen, Dude leapt to his feet and started barking at the tv. Now, as it was a strange creature and it was making weird noises, we thought that this occurrence was a one-time thing; but, when we watched Bad Moms and John Wick: Chapter 2 and the main character’s dogs were on screen, Dude would begin barking and jumping at the screen again. He made such a spectacle, I had to take some pictures and video of him doing it to share with June.
While Dude’s biggest quirks are high energy, Mimi’s quirkiness is much more stealthy. The morning after staying the first night, I folded my pajamas and tucked them under the covers when I made the bed. Later, when I went to change into them and pulled away the covers, a furry little creature made me jump back in panic. Thinking some small animal snuck its way into the house, I gingerly removed the blanket to find Mimi snuggled into a ball with her head on my clothes. Every night after that, Mimi tucked herself into bed next to me, and each morning I would be contorted around her, with her feet digging into my back (cute little nugget.)
Though there was never a dull moment with the dogs, Ian and I did spend some time in the evenings in town, and we tried several different restaurants over the course of the week. The three establishments we visited were Burke and Riley’s Irish Pub, The Lost Cajun, and Breckenridge Brewery and Pub. At Burke and Riley’s, I ordered the Irish Beef Stew, Ian ordered a chili cheese dog, and we both finished off the meal with a “Hot Riley” (hot chocolate with Bailey’s Vanilla Cinnamon – So good!). We ate lunch at The lost Cajun one day, where Ian and I both ordered the Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, hush puppies, and fresh out of the fryer Beignets. Finally, on our last night in Breckenridge, we hit up Breckenridge Brewery and Pub, where we started off with the Beer-Cheese Fries, I ordered a Build-It-Like-You-Own-It Burger, Ian chose the Elk Meatloaf, and we each tried a house draft. Of the three restaurants, the Irish pub was my favorite (because I love Irish food), and The Lost Cajun was Ian’s favorite (because he could probably live off of Jambalaya and Gumbo); though we both did enjoy Breckenridge Brewery’s food and brews as well.
Just because we are away from home while we are house sitting, it doesn’t mean we are on vacation. Each morning, Ian woke up as usual and logged onto his computer to work remotely, while I spent the mornings and afternoons catching up on writing blog posts, while snuggled up in bed with the dogs. Once our work day was over though, we were free to spend a few hours outside, enjoying the mountain air, or stay inside watching shows and movies, keeping nice and warm. Over the week, we were able to catch up on some of the Netflix shows and movies we’ve been falling behind on, as well as investigate the different neighborhoods and mountains surrounding Breckenridge.
Most mornings before sunrise, and afternoons for sunset, Ian would gather his photography equipment and head up into the mountains to take pictures. Though he never got the ideal “Golden Hour” photo he was looking for, he did manage to get some nice shots of the mountains and a couple of good sunsets. Once night fell though, we were given an exquisite view of the moon. As luck would have it, the night of the full moon was smack in the middle of our week long house sit.
Due to the lower levels of light pollution, with Breckenridge tucked away into the mountains as it is, Ian was able to shoot some pretty spectacular nighttime photos of town (header image) and the full moon. As it was, the moon was at its fullest around midnight, the night before it began snowing off and on for several days. So, it was a chilly night, but well worth the breathtaking view we got of the moon. Even though it was a cloudy night, and we had to take the shots we got of the moon between clouds, the whole mountain was lit up, like it wasn’t even the middle of the night. When the clouds opened up, and the moon was able to shine fully, it was as if someone were removing a veil from a lamp, and everything shone clear as day. Even from miles away, we could make out individual buildings in town, in the valley below. It is truly a moment I will never forget.
During our stay, we only had a single weekend in which we could wander town, and we spent a large part of one day walking the main streets of Breckenridge, window shopping and taking in the sites. We stopped for cookies inside Mountain Top Cookie Shop, and munched on them as we meandered down Main Street. After trying several shops, we found a Breckenridge magnet that we liked, and picked it up as a token of our trip. With shops to suit almost any interest, we had fun checking out everything downtown Breckenridge had to offer. When we stepped into Spice & Tea Merchants, I never wanted to leave. There were so many different teas to smell, and spices to sample, that I could have spent hours there. However, with our near constant travel, and lack of an actual home, we do very little cooking, and anything we would have purchased would have likely gone to waste. So, with one last whiff of the delicious sensations within, we turned our backs on the shop and moved on. Finally, as we were about to return home to the dogs, we stopped in one last shop, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. True, this isn’t exactly a shop which is hard to come by. Nevertheless, we picked up a few treats to enjoy during movie night later, and headed back to the house.
With early mornings to catch the sunrise, busy days working on our individual projects, and late nights powering through Netflix or photographing the night sky, the week really flew by, and before we knew it, June was home from her trip. She had a great time, and we let her know how much we enjoyed checking out the amazing area she lived in, and spending time with Dude and Mimi. As a thank you for taking care of her pups and the house, June invited us to dinner in town. However, a snow storm had blown in, and we wanted to try and make it down the mountain before it became a blizzard.
Before we left, June let us know we were welcome back to visit and stay with her any time, and, once we are back in the states and have the time, we definitely plan on taking her up on the offer. With virtually every season having its own unique list of activities, and gorgeous views to lure us back, we can’t wait to see what other trips we can take up to Breckenridge in coming years.