Since I left Coeur d’Alene in September, I’ve slept in over 100 different places.
- On the first night of the trip, Keith Jones and I slept in City Park in Davenport, Washington and were drenched by the sprinkler system in the middle of the night.
- Murray, Jenny and I slept in Dave and Libby Christian’s gorgeous geodesic dome east of Port Angeles.
- The next night, Murray bought us rooms at the rustically elegant, historic Lake Quinault Lodge.
- In Eureka, California, my generous Warmshowers host provided me with her van in the back yard of her home.
- Unable to find a campground after dark, I slept on the high school football field in Miranda, California.
- I stayed three days in a cheap Travelodege in Fort Bragg, California, while I was fighting a sinus infection.
- In San Francisco, Bob and Lisa Mayer gave me a whole floor of their elegant home overlooking San Francisco Bay.
- Laurie Sullivan, Brian Smallwood’s friend, bought us an expensive hotel in Pismo Bay, California.
- Brian and Sharon Smallwood housed me for two weeks in Camarillo, California.
- Wayne and Jill Tatum, Wendy Teets’ parents, housed me in luxury in Manhattan Beach.
- In San Diego, Dave and Beth Buckley provided me with my separate cottage and access to their swimming pool and hot tub, kitchen and deck.
- Jenny and I slept in the back of my Subaru Outback in Death Valley.
- I was provided a lovely room at Mike and Robyn Widmann’s, on the Umpqua River in Roseburg, Oregon.
- I stayed at Emily and Aaron’s, in Bend, Oregon, on three occassions, for a total of three weeks!
- John and John Jill Thompson put me up and fed me in the luxurious guest room of their home on the Payette River.
- In Sun Valley, Howie and Rhonda Schaff let me stay in their gorgeous home for an extra day after they returned to Boise.
- And on and on and on, with stories of people’s generosity, and the beautiful and challenging places, both inside and outside, in which I’ve slept since September.
Today, I’m staying Avenues Hostel in Salt Lake City, Utah, my third of four nights here, in a room with two bunk beds and Murray, from New Zealand, and Sean, from Korea. Murray is retired and bought a Snowbird pass to ski for a month, and Sean is an exchange student who has been in Hawaii and is traveling on the mainland before he heads home. He was super excited this morning to board a Greyhound for Las Vegas. 🙂
This hostel costs $25/ night and that includes a decent breakfast. I find the guests to be a mix of travelers/skiers, like Sean and Murray, the traveling woman from Venezuela with whom I spoke at breakfast, and skiers/ rock climbers Jake and Jeremy from British Columbia- and some people a couple steps away from homelessness. In many ways it’s like living in a dormitory.
George pays $200/ week for room and board here, which he’s happy about. A “toxic relationship,” with a woman from South Africa, landed him in jail for three months, and then he landed here. “I’ve never been in jail in my life,” he said.
“I have three more weeks of a domestic violence course,” George said, “and then this will be totally behind me. When she wasn’t drunk, she was awesome,” he added. “I still love her.”
George showed me burns around his neck, where she had poured boiling water on him when he was sleeping, and scars from a baseball bat to the head.
He sits in the living room every day, writing code for Android.
I was a bit uncomfortable when I arrived at each of my hostel stays- in Vancouver, B.C. and here. I didn’t know the rules, knew I’d be sharing a room with at least one other person and a bathroom with many others- and I didn’t know if I’d be the oldest person by 30 years.
In each case I became comfortable rather quickly. I learned the breakfast procedures, how to wash and dry my own dishes and where it was acceptable to eat. I learned what time the door was locked at night and how to get in after that time, where the safest places were to park, and who chooses what channel to watch on TV. In both hostels, there have been guests my age and older.
Most importantly, in each hostel I became acquainted with my roommates and their stories, and had conversations with other guests. We shared watching CNN and shaking our heads over Trump’s antics. When I returned to the hostel last night, Bruce and Murray greeted me. Murray asked me about skiing- and I have successfully negotiated the bathroom and the kitchen.
I like the privacy of a hotel room, the ease and cleanliness, but I’m reminded in every situation I’m in, that my comfort and joy are most significantly products of connections with other people.
Below, a look at The Avenues Hostel