Being Prepared: Appalachian Trail and More

North Georgia Mountains

Preparing for the AT: Skills of Necessity

This week Frank and I had a full house and a full cottage. A young couple from Vermont came and stayed in the cottage for five days.

Two Japanese couch surfers were here for two days, followed by an older guy overnight.

And Warm Showers brought us a couple of bicyclists heading north to ride the Appalachian Trail.

The Japanese kids had been touring the world, actually.

They had been on the road for a year and the US was their last country. We enjoyed their stories.

They were unusually talkative. Well, I say unusually. I guess I’m more familiar with Japanese people their parents’ ages, who I have experienced as somewhat reserved. Maybe the younger set are different.

These two weren’t reserved. I wonder how much of that was their natural personalities, and how much came out of their year of travels. It seems to me like it would take a lot of confidence to do a globe-trotting trip, and that it would also loosen you up a lot if you were the uptight sort.

To pull off a trip like that successfully, you’d have to be able to go with the flow, be somewhat spontaneous, and mess well with people. MESH! Not mess!

First Aid Skills:

You will also need to be capable of performing first aid skills. I highly recommend that if you have never taken any courses on cpr,acls, first aid that you take them. You can find companies that can teach you in about a day.

I’m an extrovert and I adore people, but I think even I would get tired of staying with different people all the time. These kids don’t seem weary in the least. They seem as fresh as if they started their tour yesterday.
When I heard that they’d been traveling for a year, my first thought was, How are they affording this? After a few conversations, I found out.
They don’t actually Couch Surf all the time. They’re also part of an association called Bread and Build, which is where you work for food. It’s an international association, based in the UK, and it connects travelers with people who need basic work done. The travelers exchange work for food, and usually they get a little bit of cash as well.

So these two kids have done jobs for people all over the world.
From the sounds of it, the Bread and Build opportunities aren’t limitless.

Like, there aren’t lots of places in say, Guatemala, or Bangladesh, where local people even know about Bread and Build. Surprisingly, even in some of the most unexpected places and countries, Kimo and Takashe (sorry, forgot to formally introduce them to you) have found jobs with B&B.

One of these unusual places was New Guinea. Takashe told us about a job they did on a plantation called Singaua, on the coast. It was a coconut plantation run by an Australian couple, and they needed a couple of helping hands with a renovation they were doing by themselves.
Takashe and Kimo spent three weeks at this plantation.

On weekends, the couple took the kids snorkeling over a reef, on a jungle hike to see an amazing waterfall, and into the closest town to see a native dance festival.

They also paid them extra above the food, which gave the kids enough money to travel to their next location.
I very much enjoyed listening to their stories!

The Departed: Couch Surfers and Feeding Guests

Australians Crashed at My Place During Their Trip from Maine to The Florida Keys

I had an unusual experience with a pair of Couch Surfers this week.

They had contacted me through the CS website, asking if they could crash for a couple of days.

They were in the middle of a walking trip from the top of Maine down to Key West.

If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, check out the video.

They actually called it a walkabout. They were Australians, and apparently that’s the term in that country for a walking trip of epic proportions.

So, they wanted to stop over with me for a couple of nights. I said of course, and that they’d be welcome to eat meals with us if they wanted to.

I just asked them to chip in a few dollars for meals, and if they wanted to help out with cleaning up afterward, I wouldn’t turn it down.

In my years of being a Couch Surfing host home, I’ve found that that’s the best way to handle the whole food thing.

I tried variations on this theme, but kept coming back to doing it this way: issuing a casual open-ended invite to meals, and asking for a bit of cash and a bit of help in return.

When I first started handling it that way, I was nervous about being taken advantage of. I wondered if I’d go broke feeding ungrateful people who didn’t contribute anything. Also wondered if I fed people, would I get stuck with all the cleanup?

Yeah, I’ve had a few deadbeats who never contributed cash or help. For those ones, I chose to not get annoyed and just let it go.

I’ve had a few people who were so tight on cash that I could see they really couldn’t help. For those ones, I figured God put me here to help them out, and it would come back to me somehow.

But most of the rest have been gems. They’ve helped out with food costs above and beyond. They’ve pitched in and helped with dishes and various other tasks that had nothing to do with meals but just needed to be done.
The Couch Surfers are mostly kids. I mean, young people in college or just out of college.

Anyway, back to this couple of Australian kids. They showed up with their backpacks and walking boots, looking tired but very normal. I showed them where they could put their stuff. I actually have a spare bedroom with two twin beds, and I put Couch Surfers and Warm Showers people both in that room.

As far as I’m concerned, Couch Surfers is just a great name. It doesn’t mean they have to literally sleep on a couch.

So, the Australian kids kind of settled in and took showers and such, and then wandered out in time for dinner. I made spaghetti and meatballs, and they ate everything with hearty appetites. The conversation was upbeat and lively.

We heard about their trip down the east coast, and they had some stories to tell, for sure!

That night we all turned in.

The next morning, when their door was still closed at noon, I knocked several times, and then opened the door. They had gone! Left! Departed! Evaporated!

Without a word.

Strange, I say. Definitely unusual. You just never know!