Imagine arriving at your host’s house in the middle of Hollywood, California. You are welcomed by the cutest 3 year old boxer who licks your face as you sit down. You’re offered a cold beer and some mac-n-cheese. Your host shows you their recently patented invention – a retractable flower box that allows residents of small apartments in big cities to grow their own vegetables. He laughs as you push and pull the box through the window. You notice the camouflage backpack in the corner and learn that he is a Paramedic in the Air Force. He can play Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ on the keyboard. He played semi-pro baseball. He makes a mean Bloody Mary.
You just met William. And he’s your host for the next few nights.
“I first heard about Couchsurfing while staying at Tower Youth Hostel in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico,” William told me as we were sipping one of his mean Bloody Mary’s. “Hostels were kind of like a ‘transition drug’. You take a sip of a hostel and you catch the traveler bug. But sometimes you end up somewhere where there are no hostels, but you can find a fellow surfer.”
This exact thing happened to him on a trip a few years back.
“In 2010, I was driving the old Route 66 and found myself in Ada, Oklahoma. There are no hostels in Ada, Oklahoma, but there is one couchsurfer! Jeff. You get to see the town from a local’s perspective. You could stay in a hotel anywhere, but why sit in a room by yourself? Jeff was able to introduce me to Ada and his friends, recommend places to see, and take what a ‘yuppy cruise ship traveler’ would think to be a boring town and turn it into a great place to see. It’s fun to get off the beaten path and take the road less traveled. ”
I checked. There are now 7 hosts in Ada!
William offers much more to surfers than a place to rest for the night. His three year old boxer, Toby, is adorably friendly and will accept a snuggle whenever offered and William fancies himself somewhat of a bartender. He whips up a rum-sweet tea concoction, a drink that you never knew you needed and shares story after story from his years on Couchsurfing.
He moved to California in 2017 when the Air Force relocated him and he lists Santa Monica Beach as his favorite place in the city. His apartment is in the perfect location, a stone’s throw from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a 20 minute walk to the best food and cafes in Los Feliz, and on the Red Line of the LA Metro.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, he has adjusted just fine to the never-ending summer and considers the weather to be perfect. On weekends, he takes his surfers to the beach with him and is always up for an after-work happy hour. Professionally, William is as impressive as they come. He is an Engineer and in the Air Force. He jumps from planes and saves lives. All in a day’s work!
“The coolest thing about being a paramedic, I think, is that there are people out there walking around who would have been dead if we had not been there.”
Beyond being a life-saver for LA couchsurfers, and a literal life-saver for humankind, he is a patented inventor. As I mentioned before, he used his engineering background to design a retractable flower box.
“Californians are always drooling over that nature s***. Who doesn’t like some good flowers? This is a way that you can grow all your own vegetables and other things I know are going to get grown in it…”
It is the focal point of the living room. A box, hanging precariously out the window by the couch, greets you in the morning with fresh flowers and veggies. His dream is to see an ad for it depicting a family, Norman Rockwell style, eating a full salad dinner that they picked from their own flower box. It is his favorite part of his apartment to show off to his surfers.
He’s been hosting in his Hollywood apartment for 3 months and is a big supporter of last minute requests. His profile states to write ‘Urgent Request!’ just so he knows that the situation is dire. He laughs about how low his response rate is due to the high number of requests. He quips, “I would need a secretary just to answer all of the requests I get!’ But, he gets it, because he too started off as a surfer.
“I was in Mexico and met this group of Spanish guys, and one of them set me up on couchsurfing. A few years later I was going to Spain to I sent him a request. Wasn’t even sure I would recognize him because it had been so many years, but I was walking towards his place on Gran Via and all of the sudden he starts yelling and screaming my name across the street, and everyone was stopping and looking and confused about what was going on. I just remember thinking it was so cool that we had met in Mexico and I was staying with him in Spain. All for free!”
He loves the way Couchsurfing brings people together and letting them explore a city from a locals perspective. He loves taking his surfers out in West Hollywood and showing them the famous LA nightlife. And as for a must-see recommendation?
“Definitely, The Moroccan Lounge.”
The Moroccan Lounge is a small music venue and bar in downtown LA where popular bands often come and play. This cool spot is well known amongst music lovers due to it’s small size, which gives each performance a much more intimate feeling.
“If you’re lucky enough to get tickets for a big name band playing there, you’ll find yourself in a small room where the furthest spot from them is no more than 20 feet. ”
William offers a truly unique and fun-filled view into his new home for surfers headed to LA. Active Host, Paramedic, Engineer, Inventor and former Semi-Pro Baseball Player.
But, as William says:
“Anyone living in Pennsylvania with a small interest in baseball can be semi-pro.”