When we left Florida the plan was to go to LA to deliver with Postmates to make some money for a while before training started for the new job in the last week of May. I started delivering immediately and within a week I was done. The traffic was horrible, the customers rarely tipped me, and it rained constantly, in LA! I hated it. I was making decent money if I worked the lunch and dinner rush but I hated LA. So after seeing my dear friend Eli, who I actually met working on the cruise line, we headed north to the Bay Area where the pay would be better and outside of San Francisco the traffic would be better.
Everything was better in the Bay! The hiking was better, the weather was cooler, there was less traffic, and most importantly the pay was better.
We’d start each day with a 3-7 mile hike, breakfast and Jax would nap or relax in the back while I did deliveries. We’d stop around 4 or 5 for Jax’s second release of energy and dinner and then I’d do a few night deliveries before ending the day around 9. Of course not every day was like this. Some days I didn’t feel like dealing with the stress of driving around until I was in an area with lots of orders. Some days we’d do a longer hike and just relax for the day in a park. Some days we would roam the streets of wherever we were. It wasn’t long before it was time to start training for work. First up was a 2 day Wilderness First Aid class with REI and NOLS, then 10 days of training in the north Bay Area. It was an outdoor summer camp job and so those 10 days included paddle boarding, kayaking, mountain biking and rock climbing so that we were prepared to literally have fun all summer! This is where the hassle began. I decided to start using Rover to find sitters for Jax because the dog daycares around the city were very expensive. In Florida I used to purchase a 10 day pass for him for $150 at his daycare and sometimes the owner was so nice that she would let me go a few days without paying. In fact, when I told her we were heading to California indefinitely she gave us a whole week free. She understood Jax more than anyone else has so far, and she made sure he got the kind of care he needed everyday for months when we first moved to St Pete in 2015, and again when we went back in early 2017. I cannot recommend them enough. She would let me drop him off early when I had to be at work by 7 and pick him up late if ever I needed. Free of charge. Best. Daycare. Ever.
Back to the city. I couldn’t find anyone who would listen to what I told them about Jax. I’d give them a rundown of what he was like before I booked them, and they’d accept the request anyway. But after a full day, they all had complaints that he barked too much (I mentioned that booking he barks if he wants to go outside or wants to play) or that he reacted when they tried to cuddle him (Again, before I booked each sitter I explained that he would allow them to leash and unleash him but he didn’t want to be petted by strangers). On the 3rd day of work I had a sitter cancel on me and I had no back-up plan. I had to leave before we even got started to pick him up. So then we decided to try dog daycares. I told them all that he didn’t like to be handled and he’s smart so he’ll follow directions. He’s not aggressive so he won’t start fights with any of the other dogs but he will react if someone tries to grab him or force him into an area he doesn’t feel safe in. He’s actually been kicked out of a few places because they want to be able to drag him around by his collar and lock him in small kennels and he’s not into that. And most love to advertise their play yards but neglect to mention all dogs are crated for most of the day. Which is the biggest reason I liked Downtown doggie center in St Pete. They gave him commands instead of dragging him around by the collar and he was never forced into a kennel and never gave them any trouble. After he got kicked out of 2 daycares I started calling around to get an idea of what each place had to offer before going in for a trial day. The last thing I wanted was to get fired and I was adamant about not getting an apartment because rent prices in the bay area are a little ridiculous.
I got a house/pet sitting gig through Rover, funny enough, and ended up being paid to stay in a nice townhouse for 12 days. So I had time to figure out where he would go while I was at work. It was nice to sleep indoors for a while and shower daily, haha. The dirtbag life gets a little tiring sometimes. It was nice to take a break indoors. The majority of daycares were full (space is a luxury in the area and so everywhere has a limit on the number of dogs they can allow) but after some searching I found Planet Canine. It was a bit out of the way but it was the best place for him. We soon settled into a routine and life was pretty great. I showered at gyms that offered free trials, we slept in places with great wi-fi so I could watch TV at night or look for our next destination, and had mini adventures on the weekend. Literally having the time of our lives. I made a friend that I went climbing with a few times and her gym had a shower so I got a membership and started climbing regularly, and showering more regularly, lol.
And just when it felt like we had this thing figured out and everything was going great, we got woken up by the police at 2AM one Saturday. I had fully intended to go to Stanislaus with a friend straight from work on Friday but I was too tired to make the drive and had decided I would wake up early to drive out there and spend the rest of the weekend in the mountains swimming in alpine lakes and paddle boarding. This also happened to be the one night the entire summer I went to bed in just my underwear. Awkward. So he told me to get dressed and come outside, he just wanted to talk. He asked me why we were in town and how much longer we’d be here. I answered his questions and asked if there had been complaints. He said there hadn’t been any and he only thought to check out our car because earlier in the day he noticed the windows were covered with curtains. He told me it was against city ordinances for a person to reside in their car but he isn’t bothered by it so “just be careful.” I thanked him and he went on his way. As a black woman this definitely shook me a little, with all that’s been going on in the states and the police’s apparent lack of empathy in a lot of cases, it could’ve gone a lot differently. And all I could think was what would happen to Jax if something had happened to me. He’s not the kind of dog to “come quietly”. He could be deemed aggressive and euthanized for not wanting to cooperate. My greatest nightmare. But we were lucky that day and I started switching up our sleeping places a bit after that encounter and made sure we got out of town every Friday night and got back late on Sundays.
Here’s what we ended up doing in Stanislaus
So all in all we had a pretty amazing summer. I don’t regret a minute of it. How could I, when my 9-5 meant bathing suits, bikes and climbing harnesses? I wish I could live like that year round but student loans are catching up to me. As much as I’d like to tell all the stories of what we did last summer, I feel like they are all the same. Except maybe the one where a friend and I decided to hike Cloud’s Rest, the highest peak in Yosemite, on a whim one night and dragged 2 of our guy friends along for the ride. We left the Bay 3 hours after deciding to go along with the plan. I got altitude sickness half-way up the mountain and we had to turn back and sleep in the car before we made french toast on the side of the road in Tuolumne. We made the trip to Yosemite and back in less than 24 hours. One of our better weekends but it was a 2AM hike and so we didn’t take many pictures in the dark.
Until next time…