Amazing Host & Amazing Host & Amazing Host &

Sandra in Laramie, WY (CouchSurfing)

She’s a graduate student studying community counseling at Univ. of Wyoming, the only four-year college in the state. Lives in a tiny apartment that reminded me very much of my time in Japan (counter intuitively, banging my head on short doorways actually enhances memory). We went out to a vegetarian restaurant where I demolished a massive black bean and cheese burrito, then took a bike tour around her campus. Really pretty area. Slept in a surprisingly comfortable recliner.

Thanks for the tasty dinner and beautiful bike ride, Sandra! Good luck in school, and Nick, stay lazy.

Rick in Rawlins, WY (CouchSurfing)

He’s a cyclist himself, though much more hardcore than me. 24-hour/400 mile races are his game. He’s gone randonneuring in France, cycled from Canada to Mexico, and plans to do the horizontal cross country ride in the near future. He also showed me his roller, a training device that teaches you to ride in a straight line. Admittedly, when I first heard this, I thought it was kind of silly; I mean, really, something for riding straight? But the first time I tried to balance on it, I flew off. Turns out riding in a straight line is harder than it seems. Anyway, because Rick has had firsthand experience in the voracious appetite of a touring cyclist, he made me massive quantities of stir fry, homemade bread, and for breakfast, endless blueberry pancakes. We watched about half of the thriller movie Zodiac, then crashed on his blowup mattress. Most memorable Rick quote: “Anyone can make a lot of money, but not everyone can tell a story.”

Thanks Rick for the inspiration to keep cycling and the massive quantities of delicious cooking!

Juan in Lander, WY (CouchSurfing)

One might call Juan a jack-of-all-trades; through our conversations, I surmised that he has at least five professions: Photographer (see his work here; I arrived the day after he had a gallery opening), Caver (he explores caves in Mexico), Carpenter (he built most of his house), Search & Rescue (he is occasionally called upon to help rescue people and recover personal planes that have crashed in the mountains surrounding Lander), Lumberjack (spent some time chopping timber in Denmark…?), and as a hobby, Collector…

We had a delicious dinner and breakfast from his gallery reception leftovers, and I took off with a promise from Juan to fix my broken water bottle cage as soon as he sets up his welding station…Seriously, this man redefines the word “handy.”

Thanks for letting me help you finish the reception leftovers, Juan, and keep being eccentric and adventurous!

Gordon in Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY (CouchSurfing)

He has worked in the food service at Old Faithful for 10 years. Unfortunately, Gordon had to work in the restaurant when I arrived, but he gave me the keys to his dorm and offered his bed and shower. After getting some food and seeing Old Faithful do the Old Faithful thing, I crashed in his room. Woke up when Gordon arrived back from work around 11pm and we had a late night chat. He is really into food; as his CouchSurfing profile states, “Food is an important part of traveling. I think the best way to get to know a new culture is to sit down with the local people and eat local food.” Agreed. He also knows his stuff about the park – he recommended I return (in a car, preferably) and he’d show me around.

Sorry my visit was so brief, Gordon, but thank you for your hospitality. I plan to take you up on your offer soon!

Anne in Idaho Falls, ID (CouchSurfing)

4 words to describe Anne – trip and a half! She founded Laughter Yoga in Idaho Falls for the simple reason that she believes laughter is the best medicine. Within 5 minutes of…no, within a minute…actually, when she opened the door, I knew I would like her. Immediate warmth emanated from her, or said another way, she smiles a lot. We talked about mindfulness, ate homemade banana soft serve, and laughed a bunch. In the morning, she made tortilla, banana, peanut butter, granola, honey, pecan butter tasty treats for the road, and sent me off with a song!

Thanks Anne for the addictive positive energy and tasty treats to go! My trip was filled with much more laughter after my visit with you!

Randy and Laura in Fairfield, ID (WarmShowers)

After my unexpected but glorious 90 mile day, I arrived in Fairfield earlier than expected. Found Internet outside the library and checked WarmShowers.org, a hosting site for touring cyclists. The only hosts listed were Randy and Laura, so despite the extreme short notice, I gave them a ring. Surprisingly, they eagerly offered me their guesthouse, and within 15 minutes of arriving in town, I had access to a shower, food, bed, and roof under my head. Amazing. Randy was out on a fishing trip with his sons, but Laura was a very gracious host. In the morning she made me whole grain blueberry pancakes, eggs & sausage, and a blueberry-raspberry protein shake!

Thanks for your immediate kindness, Laura! Good luck with all of the farming, and I hope to one day have at least some of your superb cooking skills!

Howard in Meridian, ID (CouchSurfing)

He fights fire for a living and plays in water for fun. He loves fishing and rafting and owns his own hybrid catamaran-raft, a “cataraft.” We went to his friend’s stepdaughter’s college graduation party, where Howard was assigned Margarita Man and I was assigned to eat as much food as possible. Challenge accepted. We also talked to a few people that were flabbergasted at the idea of Howard letting a complete stranger spend the night in his home. I don’t think we converted anyone, but at least a few ended the night with a more open view of CouchSurfing.

Thanks Howard for being such a pro Margarita Man and allaying some fears of CouchSurfing. I hope to get a ride on the cataraft on my next visit!

Christy’s Bike Inn in Mt. Vernon, OR (WarmShowers)

I had heard about a woman in Oregon whose guesthouse she kept open for traveling cyclists to use. Sure enough, as I rolled into Mt. Vernon, I saw a small green “Bike Inn” sign on the side of the road. Unfortunately, Christy was on vacation, but true to the description on her WarmShowers page, the guesthouse was unlocked, there were clean towels and sheets, and the dog was super excited to play tug-o-war. As I flipped through her guestbook, I saw I was not the only one grateful for this woman’s amazing display of hospitality.

Sorry we didn't meet Christy, but thanks so much for the use of your guesthouse, and your dog is a tug-o-war champ!

Jennifer in Madras, OR (CouchSurfing)

First, she raised 7 sons as a single mother. Second, she is calm, collected, and good-humored despite completing such a feat. Third, she’s an amazing cook. BBQ chicken, corn, pasta salad, watermelon, and chips and salsa for dinner. A Dairy Queen Buster Bar for dessert. And Conan the Barbarian for entertainment. So bad it’s good. The next morning, Jennifer made sourdough pancakes, eggs, homemade granola, and chai tea, then loaded me up with pasta, chicken, and granola to go!

Jennifer, thank you for seamlessly making me a part of the family for a night, and Naveen, keep living, loving, slaying, and being content.

Geoff in Government Camp, OR (CouchSurfing)

That’s the three-story house in which Geoff currently resides that he bought from his uncle and has been doing repair work on for years. He used to live in the city, but says he much prefers the wilderness. When you’re in a ski town of population 200 (off season) and living practically on top of Mt. Hood, the only year-round skiing in the contiguous states, living in the “wilderness” doesn’t sound too bad. We went to his friend Lia’s party, where I had delicious steak, chicken, bean and broccoli salads, strawberry shortcake and Lia specialty chocolate-dipped potato chips. A cyclist’s paradise.

Geoff, thanks for inviting me into your enormous house and to your friend's party. Good luck on all those house repairs!

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