Kevin and Alicia Shea have an unusual way of traveling and getting to know an
area: they housesit. This summer, the semi-retired couple is leaving their home
outside of Boston on June 15, and planning to spend the summer between Jackson,
Sun Valley, Bozeman and Missoula.
“We started doing this about three years ago,” Kevin says. “It’s a great way to
make new friends and have an experience.” His amiable manner is bolstered by an
undeniable Massachusetts accent.
Last summer when they sat in Sun Valley, the symphony was in town and attended
for several nights. In Jackson, they took care of a famous dog – Pukka,
who is Merle’s successor (of the book Merle’s Door). Pukka, has his own book
now, and when they took him for a walk they’d end up with all the neighborhood
dogs in tow.
“We’re climbers, skiers and bicyclists, so we like everything about his area,”
Kevin says. “The fishing, the open skies.” They first visited Montana in 1976
when he worked as an engineer in Butte and Anaconda doing magneto hydrodyamics—
trying to figure how to burn coal efficiently. “We went to the St.
Patty’s Day parade in Butte, which was totally cool.”
Kevin says the most memorable house sitting gigs are the dangerous ones. During
one in Southern New Hampshire, the biggest ice storm in New England history
hit. “At around 3 o’clock in the morning we heard cracking, and the power
went out. The next morning, the place was littered with branches, and there
was ice on everything. We were there with two dogs and a cat, two miles down
a dirt road in the country. We knew we wouldn’t get power back quickly.” They
drained the pipes, called the homeowners, and then took the pets back to their
house two hours away until the owners returned.
The Sheas still work part time from their laptops and even carry folding desks on
their travels. The only thing they require is high speed internet.