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We hosted volunteers for almost ten years at the Victorian bed-and-breakfast we ran in Deadwood, but we recently sold it and our other businesses, and we relocated 50 miles south to a much smaller home in Rapid City's historic West Boulevard district. Now we do remote freelance work from home, and we're finding some ways we can safely travel.
That's where you come in! We're making some tentative plans to start traveling in 2021, but we'd love to find volunteers who can keep an eye on our place while we're gone. We have two black cats who love cuddly human time - and, of course, regular feedings - and we don't want to leave them for long on their own. They've got some special diet considerations, and we'd really like to have someone who can actively stay in the house and spend time with them while we're away. Depending on the time of the year and your skillset, we might ask for a little help with a project or two, but mostly we just want someone who will stay overnight at the house and take care of our houseplants and cats. It would be an ideal setup for digital nomads and freelancers looking for a little escape. (Also: Dustin is a photographer and Laura is a writer, so if you have some editing or modeling experience, let us know! We might draft you into one of our projects.)
We'd arrange to meet you in person for at least a couple of days to show you around, but depending on our travel schedules, we may not have too much time together. But we're happy to answer questions and help you get to know the area as much as we can! We're entrepreneurs in our late thirties, no kids, and we love to travel and hike outside. We've explored a lot of the Black Hills, and we can help you find some good trails and places to see in the area.
Help around the house
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
Although our house is in a fairly urban neighborhood, Rapid City is relatively small with just 80,000 residents. Overall, we're in a pretty rural outdoorsy setting, on the edge of a forest in a small mountain chain, which makes us a fun way to see some of the wild lands of America away from the cities. In fact, even though our house is in walking distance to lots of stores, restaurants, and shops, you can also walk a few blocks to the west and start hiking up a forested hillside into a designated wilderness area. It's a region and subculture in the United States that most visitors don't ever get to see!
We bought the house in September 2020, and while it was in really good shape for a house built in 1937, it needs a little work. We're working on a few interior projects this winter, and we'll need to paint the exterior this coming spring. Depending on your skillset and timing, we might ask for a little help with light maintenance projects, but really we're just interested in housesitting!
The house is only about 2,000 square feet, and it has a fairly small yard, so the work should be pretty lowkey. Here's a list of likely tasks:
*Cat Watching. Mostly we're just after someone who can keep our cats alive and happy! We have two: Luna is scared of everything, but she starts demanding cuddles once she gets to know you. Kepler, on the other hand, is friends with everyone and will demand cuddles right away, but he also has a sensitive tummy and has a special diet regimen.
*Plant Watering. Laura loves plants, so we have lots of them. For the most part, they just need water once a week.
*Lawn Mowing or Snow Shoveling. In the summer, we'll probably want someone to mow the lawn once a week or so, and probably water some flowers and trees. (There's a sprinkler system that covers the grass.) In winter, we'd like someone to keep the sidewalk clear of ice and snow.
And that's pretty much it! Aside from cat maintenance, it's all pretty normal everyday chores. We’re a fairly young and easygoing couple, and just want a little extra help, so no slave-driving. If you can put in a little time to keep the house standing and the cats alive, we'll be happy! Altogether, you probably won't spend more than an hour or two everyday to keep the cats and plants happy.
In exchange, you'll have your run of the house while we're away. You're welcome to use our kitchen staples, but you'll be on your own for most other food. There are several restaurants and a supermarket within walking distance, so it's pretty easy to get grub.
We're just putting together a guest bedroom with a queen bed on the first floor. It's toward the back of the house, and it's fairly quiet. It's also pretty dark, since the windows there face north and west. There's a bathroom just around the corner through the hallway that would be all yours during your stay.
Also on the first floor: Laura's office, the living room, the dining room, and our kitchen. In the basement you'll find our bedroom and bathroom, laundry, Dustin's office, and a quiet family room with a home theater setup and fireplace. There's a small fenced backyard with a quiet patio and some lawn.
The neighborhood is super cute and incredibly walkable. It's the only historic district in Rapid City, and it's filled with really pretty late Victorian and early 20th century architecture. There's a tree-lined boulevard perfect for walks about a block over. Wilson Park, which has tennis courts and a gazebo, is just across the street. Downtown is less than a mile away, so we walk there all the time to hit the shops and restaurants (there are several with outdoor seating). The house is also just a block off Mount Rushmore Road, which is a major artery that connects the central Black Hills with Rapid City, so there are several great shops (including a pizza place, a liquor store, Starbucks, a pharmacy, and a grocery store) within three blocks.
And the surrounding area is incredibly beautiful. Rapid City is on the center-east slope of the Black Hills, a mountain range about 195 km long and 100 km wide. It’s probably most famous for Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the mountain sculpture of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, which is about 30 minutes from our house. There’s also Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park (the fourth-longest cave in the world) and Jewel Cave National Monument (the second-longest cave in the world). As far as wildlife goes, we have bison, elk, coyotes, mountain lions and wild turkey. Summer is great for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Winter is a good time for snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skiing, and there are two moderate-level ski areas about 70 minutes from our house.
Did I mention that we're easy-going? We are. We'd love to take advantage of any skills you have to offer, but really, all we'd like is someone to keep an eye on our house and cats!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
There's high-speed 100Mbps wireless internet throughout the house. The dining room is a quiet area with lots of working table space, but there's also seating in the living room, which has lots of natural light, and in the basement family room, which is dark and quiet, and has a fireplace and home theater setup.
5 hours per day, 5 days a week