Couchsurf: (verb) to stay temporarily in a series of other peoples’ homes, typically making use of improvised sleeping arrangements (according to a Google search)
I am pulling my own accommodations, so my staying with others is often more a matter of reconnecting with friends, or an avenue to make new ones, than one of necessity. And sometimes, it just happens unexpectedly.
Homestay #1: The 15-year reconnect.
It had been 15 years since I saw my friends Deb and Karin. In fact, the last time I saw them, we had stood under a cloudy sky at Race Brook Lodge, amongst the people who loved them most, and I officiated their wedding ceremony.
Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriages and I was honored to be granted a one-day Justice of the Peace designation in order to be the one to make theirs legal. That day was hands down one of the most lively, joyous events I’ve ever been a part of! Click here to read the original post from 2007.
I was only able to stay for one night at their home just outside of Boston, but we managed to catch up on a decade and a half of personal and professional milestones. It seemed like just yesterday that Deb and I used to regularly cycle Garden of the Gods before work in Colorado Springs and had gone camping in Moab to explore Arches and Canyonland National Parks. Time really does fly! It was so great to finally meet their two sons and see what a wonderful life they have built for themselves. Hopefully, it won’t be another decade and a half before we catch up again!
Homestay #2: Bunk-a-Biker.
Bunk-a-Biker is a worldwide community of motorcycle riders who voluntarily provide accommodations to traveling bikers. Click on the “Resources and Information” page tab for details. Basically, you find a host along your route and reach out to them to see if they can accommodate you for an overnight stay. Yes, we are all total strangers, but we check each other out on social media. I texted Christine a few weeks ahead of time with my request, and although she already had a house full of non-biker out-of-town guests, she insisted that it would be OK for me to pitch my pop-up in her yard. So, I made the trek out to Orr’s Island and was stunned by the beauty of this seaside oasis. She and her friends wasted no time folding me into their girls’ vacation by including me in home cooked meals and several hours of sightseeing. Christine even rode with me for a little section out of town to my next destination the following morning! Although the free place to stay is a nice advantage, the real benefit of Bunk-a-Biker is sharing stories and a love of motorcycling that results in new friendships. I’m looking forward to hosting her next time she’s in NC. Making friends, one bunk at a time!
Homestay #3: Serendipity.
Not long after leaving Orr’s Island, my stomach started to grumble and I decided I needed a lobster roll since I was on the Maine coast. So, I pulled over, did a quick smart phone search, and shortly found myself standing in line at Sprague’s Lobster stand in Wiscasset, ME. The line was long so I struck up a conversation with the woman ahead of me to help pass the time. We instantly hit it off, and by the time her husband returned to the line, they had invited me to sit with them for lunch. As we chatted away, we discovered that both he and I were Army veterans and the three of us had traveled to many of the same places. I told them where I was headed and he seemed offended that their town just up the road in Maine was not included in my cross country itinerary.
I’ve never heard of Camden, what is there to see?
Well, besides the fact that it is absolutely beautiful, it is the only ski mountain on the East Coast with ocean views from its trails.
Hmm, well that’s kind of cool, I thought to myself.
He picked up on my slight wavering to stick to my intended agenda for the day and upped the ante.
You could stay in the guest house, see a little of Camden, and then continue on your trip tomorrow.
What can I say… I’m a collector of experiences and I’ve never been to Camden, Maine, so I had to take them up on the offer!
Tom and Mariella gave me directions to the guesthouse about 30 minutes away and headed out to run errands of their own. The guesthouse was a spacious, historic cottage on immaculate grounds overlooking West Penobscot Bay. I had my own personal tour guide by car and by boat as I learned all about Camden and Megunticook Lake. Their ties to the place and their love of the area was obvious and genuine. By taking a chance and deviating from “the plan,” I discovered a new town to add to the “return” list and added two gracious souls to the “friends” list.
I am certain that there will be plenty of times on this trip that I will be cursing the weather, or road conditions, or just people in general, but for the last three days, I’ve enjoyed the goodwill of the world and accepted it as a precious gift. In the words of my friend Charlie, sometimes the road really does provide.