City: Colchester, Connecticut, USA
Years on Couchsurfing: 11
Tell us about your very first Couchsurfing experience…
I have an old boss who no longer lives in the same state. She called me to tell me her son was on Couchsurfing and had surfed in Amsterdam with a couple and the couple was coming to the USA. She asked me if I would be interested in hosting them. Ironically the same week I had read an article in the local paper about Couchsurfing and thought it seemed cool. So I joined up to host them. It was a little bit weird having two ‘strangers’ show up at my place to stay but it turned out to be a life changing experience I will forever be grateful for!
And what made you join the Couchsurfing Ambassador program?
I wanted to be an ambassador because Couchsurfing has been such a positive part of my life and I want to be able to share it and help anyone I can to experience all the amazing things that Couchsurfing can bring to your life. I am always telling people I meet how Couchsurfing has restored my faith in humanity.
Ours too! So what has been your favorite hosting memory?
Two of my favorite experiences were hosting musicians that performed living room concerts in my house. I organized meetups for each of the events and was able to share some great live music in a small personal space with other members.
Sounds amazing! A private Couchsurfing concert of sorts. What about your favorite surfing memory?
I honestly can’t say what was my favorite surfing experience as I have had so many experiences while surfing I can’t count them. My host Franco in Lecco, Italy taking me to a restaurant that was closed for a private event but he got the owner to let us in and they made us samples of the whole menu. Or my host Jean-Marie in Beijing who took me to an art district that was having a festival and experiencing some great art and music. Or my hosts Ron and Kitty in Amsterdam taking me on a day-long bike ride through the countryside. Or my host Franck in Nova Scotia who lived off the grid in a small cottage right on the shore cooking lobsters and the best damned mashed potatoes I have ever had watching an amazing sunset. Or staying with Tom and Candy, two of the organizers of the Bend, Oregon CouchCrashes, and seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen in the USA and of course amazing crash events. Or my host Sonia in South Korea who took the day off to drive us a couple hours to a National Park I never dreamed I would get a chance to go to and fulfil a travel dream. Or was it all my hosts in Astana, Kazakhstan showing me such amazing hospitality in a foreign country. These are just a few of the many memories I have from my surfing experiences that never would have happened if it wasn’t for Couchsurfing!
Wow. Some incredible experiences. Do you have a favorite travel quote that inspires you?
Well my favorite quote is not necessarily a travel quote but it guides my life and travel experiences. I actually heard it on a television commercial. It currently is the mission on my Couchsurfing profile as well:
” We only have one life… I want to leave this one exhausted!”
Are there any places in your city that share the Couchsurfing values and you recommend travelers check out?
Two Wrasslin’ Cats Cafe supports lots of human rights causes and is a great quirky place to have breakfast or lunch.
Sounds delicious! Speaking of Colchester, when travelers come, what do you say is a ‘must-see’?
I always take my surfers to Gillette Castle. William Gillette was famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage in the early 1900s and was one of the most famous actors of his time. He was eccentric and built a really cool castle on a hill overlooking the Connecticut River. Aside from the amazing views and hiking, he designed his ‘castle’ and it has many cool eccentricities in it. I am usually not the sort of person who likes to take tours through old houses but this one is really a different sort of place to see. He even had a train with three miles of track on his property!
That’s almost the amount of train the whole USA has! (kidding!) So what is your one piece of advice to new Couchsurfers?
The one piece of advice I can give new members is to get involved with all the aspects of Couchsurfing. Don’t just surf or host but go to meetups, CouchCrashes or use Hangouts. There are so many great experiences you can have and people you can meet by taking advantage of all that Couchsurfing has to offer.
One last question, what is the craziest thing that has happened to you on the road?
When I was surfing in Astana, Kazakhstan I met some Couchsurfers using hangouts and one of them had a tattoo with a date and coordinates on his leg. I told him I had seen someone else with coordinates tattooed and he excitedly asked what they were and I said it was where the guy was born. He seemed kind of let down, so I asked him about his tattoo.
He said he met a Couchsurfer who had the same tattoo and that guy had met two others who had the same tattoo. Needless to say my curiosity was going crazy! So what was the tattoo?
It is the date 7/28/40 and coordinates of a beach in Iceland. The goal is to form bonds with travelers and others and have them get the tattoo and all meet at that beach on that date! I thought it was such a dope concept to REALLY commit yourself to a goal so far in the future and give you something to keep you motivated through life. Well I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit that to my skin forever so I told him if I was still thinking about it in three months I would get it.
Needless to say I just couldn’t get it out of my head and three months later for my birthday I got the tattoo! So now I meet other members and have them thinking about committing themselves to it… only time will tell! How cool will it be to show up at the beach in a little over 20 years and hang out with all these forward thinking outgoing people some of whom I may have met in my travels and others I will meet for the first time.