Sunday, April 22, 2012

Road trip - Six nights of hospitality

Tonight we're at a B&B, after six nights of being hosted by members of Evergreen Club or Couchsurfing.

Monday, night 1 - Tom and Julie live in a two-story brick home in a stately St. Louis neighborhood. They've lived in the house for 42 years and raised their children there. They're St. Louis natives. We share many of their views, so the conversation was easy.  We ate dinner at their favorite neighborhood Italian place.

Tuesday, night 2 - Walter and Sue live in a ten-year-old house built by them on their 90 acres in Clinton, Kentucky. They lived in St. Louis for many years until they retired and moved to the country. Sue grew up in Clinton. They are active in their community and their church. Our conversation with them was somewhat careful as they are conservative and we are, well, not. They took us to dinner at their town's diner. They knew everyone in the restaurant.

Wednesday, night 3 - Tom and Joan moved to Waverly, TN about ten years ago from Chicago. They designed their unique four-story house to take advantage of a 180-degree view of Kentucky Lake.  They're still working on finishing the house - had spent the day painting a stairwell and hanging their artwork. They're both spontaneous and creative and travel widely, often couchsurfing. We also met a young French couple who are finishing up a three-week stay with Tom and Joan. Tom made pizza for dinner - including his own pizza dough. We had lively conversation on a wide variety of topics and stayed up late in the process!

Thursday, night 4 - We were scheduled to stay in Shelbyville, TN with Gene and his wife, and I was going to speak at Gene's Lions Club. But Gene got sick, so we accepted another offer and couchsurfed instead with David and Sharon at Butterfly Hollow, their B&B in Gordonsville, TN.  They were both born outside the South but moved there with their families when they were children. We had a great meal at a nearby restaurant and had thoughtful, interesting conversations with them both. They found their place about 15 years ago when they got lost in the country, and completely restored the house and cleared the land. They have a lovely, peaceful place. We would have liked to spend an extra night there. We hope they'll come to Seattle for a visit with us.

Friday, night 5 - Dave and Ruthie hosted us in their new, upscale condo in Knoxville, TN. They both worked for IBM for many years and retired to Knoxville because of its easy access to travel in every direction. We had an excellent meal in a local steakhouse - with lots of vegetables! - and they're considering staying at our place when we go to Maine for ten days in late August.

Saturday, night 6 - we stayed with Joseph and Merrilie in Bristol, TN (halfway through town it becomes Bristol, VA). They live in a house they built 20 years ago on six acres after moving to Tennessee from Connecticut. We drove together to Hiltons, VA where we attended a concert by the White Top Mountain band at the Carter Family Fold. Well, not really a concert. Lots of seating, but many of the locals danced - either "flatfoot" or clog - from a boy of about 9 to folks older than us. We got hot dogs and popcorn from the concession stand for dinner.

For the next five nights, we'll be at this B&B or at motels in Kentucky. We're resting! On most days we  have driven less than 200 miles. As much as we have enjoyed our stays with other folks, it's not as relaxing as having our own place. We knew that would be the case, and we have no regrets as to how we set up this trip. It would have had a completely different flavor without the 12 people we met.

Our hosts were quite different. They ranged in age from mid-40s to late 70s, in politics from budding revolutionary to far right, in religion from fundamentalist Christian to absolutely nothing, in temperament from creative artist to wheeler dealer to introspective. They shared a love of travel and a welcoming spirit. Such a blessing they all have been!

When I plan our next trip, I think we'll look for two nights of being hosted for a night, followed by two nights at a B&B or a motel. A variation in pace, so to speak.

Tomorrow there's a big storm coming in - maybe even some snow. We've adjusted our schedule a bit and will stay here tomorrow to sit out the weather. We're looking forward to the down time.


Travels with Emma said...

Very, very interesting. I enjoyed reading about this kind of traveling.

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

How wonderful is this...I have written about couch surfing in NYC. I had read an article by the Frugal Traveler Blog in the times. Did you link to the couch surfing network to find these places?

Thank you for the information.


DJan said...

It sounds quite tiring, actually. I think your plan of putting some time on your own in between all that socializing sounds like a great idea. But what you learned during this trip, it's well worth it. And it was fun, too! Thanks for sharing this kind of travel; I have little direct experience with it myself.

Tom said...

I'd think you'd have to be very open and flexible, and pretty laid-back, to do all that Evergreening and couchsurfing -- in order to tolerate and even enjoy all the different people and their idiocyncrasies. I used airbnb to stay with someone in Calif. for a few days and did like it -- but only for a brief time. Anyway, it does sound like you're having a great time, so congrats. to you!

Arkansas Patti said...

Wow, as interesting as it all sounds, I can see where it could wear on a person. It is like being on a ton of first dates. Think your two on with two off is a great idea.

Out on the prairie said...

fun to hear about your trails

Olga said...

How much I admire your spirit of adventure. I could never, ever travel like that.

Sally Wessely said...

Like Olga, I read this and can't help but admire your spirit of adventure. You are really traveling in a way most of us would find very challenging, but look at how many new people you met.

Suzanne said...

Linda, thanks for bringing Evergreen club to our attention. I recently joined and am looking forward to participating.

I think you are right about the 2 nights on, 2 off thing though. We've done a few 10 to 12 day road trips and seem to be more rested and satisfied when we are in the same place for at least 2 nights.

It will be interesting to see how we tolerate the added social element. We're not always the best company when we are tired from traveling. I think we'll be better hosts than guests.

Thanks for inspiring me to get out side the box.