Road hospitality: pay it forward

MEC rowfest
Melanie and me at MEC rowfest in Victoria.

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know that on the first day of my bike trip I stayed at a campsite north of Vancouver where I met Jenny, mother in the fearless biking family of four. Jenny gave me lots of cycling tips, one of which was to connect with cyclists and hosts on WarmShowers. WarmShowers works mostly like except that it’s for touring cyclists.

Six days later I was lucky enough to find the kind and lovely host, Melanie, in Victoria Canada. Melanie welcomed me into her home without ever having met me. All I expected was a place to stay and a bed to sleep on, but she fed me Indian food, spinach omelets, chocolate, and beer. She took me to the farmers’ market in the morning, introduced me to her friends, and found a yoga class for me to go to.

I was overwhelmed by her hospitality and flustered by my inability to give her anything in return. I told her this and as a fellow traveler and cyclist, she understood. And she told me something that I would remember for the rest of my trip: “When I’ve traveled, there were so many people who went out of their way to help me. At the time I couldn’t repay them. This is my way of paying it forward. You’ll pay it forward, too.”

I try to remember everyday–to pay it forward–but I think it will take years for me to redistribute all of the kindness that I received on the road. I am indebted to many:

Jenny, Shawn, Alli, and Jill (of course): for assuaging my first day jitters, for the maps, for the tips, and for the earrings–I got lots of compliments on them.

Melanie (and Bala): for copious amounts of Indian food, a warm bed, and good company.

Ron and Rosa: for making me soup and tea in their temporary RV home. For the canned oysters that I wasn’t so keen on taking. As it turns out, a few days after our encounter I was stranded with little food. Dinner ended up being an apple, nuts, and canned oysters. Little did I know, canned oysters are delicious (we don’t really eat those in Kansas).

Nathan and Julissa: for making room for a seventh(!) person to sleep in your home.

Mercedes and me on the UC Berkeley campus.
Mercedes and me on the UC Berkeley campus.

Suzanne: for inviting me into your RV on a wet morning and feeding me eggs.

The guy at the Astoria bike shop: for stopping what you were doing to take a look at my bike. And for fixing it!!!

The Peg House: for the ice cold water in the cooler on the side of 101. It nearly saved my life on my hardest day.

Mercedes, Liz, and the Frank family: for making me feel at home in the Bay Area.

Peter: for broccoli tofu noodles and for showing me around all the surfing spots in Santa Cruz.

Random guy in Aptos: for the orange juice.

James and Helene: for the garlic bread, mushrooms, and doughnut holes.

Justin: for a good time in SLO.

Mary and John: for getting me a REAL workout in L.A. and for feeding me chocolate almond butter.


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