Warm Showers 2019 — A Sabbatical Year: No Guests

In a departure from the last 8 years, we had no Warm Showers guests in 2019. About the time the season normally starts, we went on tour. With our tandem in the van, we traveled through Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and Illinois, staying a few days here, a week there, or just overnight, riding our bike where there were trails, with some camping, some motels, some AirB&Bs, or staying with friends, over a month “on the road.” After only a week at home, we were off again in our van/bike rig, alternately camping and staying at motels on our way through British Columbia and Alberta, spending some time at Prince George at a conference and with relatives in Dawson Creek.

Returning home on the first day of summer, we planned to receive visiting relatives, so stayed off the roles at Warm Showers for a few more weeks. Then, when we finally hung out the shingle, Judy became ill: we had to cancel a reservation for what would have been our first guest, in mid-July. After she spent 10 days in hospital and a month of post-surgical convalescence, we went on another camping/biking trip, to Oregon, coming home to prepare to receive yet another family visitor, so we decided to simply cancel the entire season, and will be open to receive Warm Showers guests in the spring of 2020.

Looking back over the past eight years, we have had well over 200 guests, ages 8 months to over 70, one to seven at a time, couples, friends, fellow travelers, adult child and parent, and families, including a few dogs, 25 to 50 guests a year, depending on how much travel we did during the season, which basically runs from March through November, and other factors, such as the summer five years ago when I was recovering from cardiac bypass surgery, which shortened the season.

This year, we’ve had to satisfy ourselves with keeping track of the many former guests with whom we still keep in contact, through Facebook or their personal blogs:

  • Peter, who turned 70 on his epic trip from the Yukon to Argentina, a nearly two-year journey, and who, at 77, still tours, popping up here and there around the world.
  • Sarah, who turned her first solo tour–from Seattle to Santa Barbara, when we first met her–into a career as a bike tour guide and semi-retirement as a world traveler and blogger, sending missives from Argentina, India, and Spain, among other places, in her blog, at http://www.honoringmycompass.com/
  • Bastien, who became enamored of the kinetic sculpture races in northern California and came back the next year to participate, and who achieved the goal back home in France of riding 500 km in under 24 hours.
  • Normand and Helene, who cut their 2014 tour short with a crash near Seaside, Oregon, and who later rode from Calgary to Argentina on their tandem, during which trip Normand turned 60, and who just finished a grand tour from Turkey to France through the Balkans, Italy, and Switzerland, through the mountains.
  • Glen and Bobbie, in their 60s, who returned home after a trans-America tour to hike the Appalachian Trail and this year just completed a triathlon.
  • Megan, who, with her friend Gordon, from Scotland, cycled from Alaska to Argentina and spends her summers off from teaching in Wisconsin to travel the world on humanitarian missions.
  • Eric, who called us at the end of a list of 24 other hosts, stranded in a late fall storm 60 km away, 10,000 miles into a tour around the U.S. We picked him up and sent him off dry the next day. We since visited him when passing through Moab, where he worked at a bike shop. He now lives in Colorado and has twice participated in and finished the Tour Divide, which follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, a self-supported 2745-mile bicycle race from Banff, Alberta to the U.S.-Mexico border, on trails and forest roads.
  • Chris, who cycled all 50 states and has published the first of several volumes of conversations with people he met on the way, starting his own publishing company in the process.
  • Marge, from France, who bicycled solo from Canada to Argentina, sporting each country’s flag in turn on a staff and mount we gave her with the U.S. flag we carried on our East Coast tour in 2016.
  • Klaus, a medically retired mining engineer who wandered the Australian Outback with two camels for 11 years before collecting a pension and traveling the world on his bicycle: he wasn’t a Warm Showers member, we met him at a bakery on a rainy day and invited him to stop for the night.
  • Bryan, a professional cook, who stayed an extra day and cooked for us, surprised that we had equipment for southeast Asian cooking.
  • Isabella, whose host gift to us was a pair of bike socks from a previous supported tour, which I often wear.
  • Jayshil, who passed through from Canada returning to New Zealand years ago, now lives in Melbourne, Australia.  He regularly rides 100 km “training rides” and toured Iceland this past summer.
  • Michael, who passed through with his college classmates after graduation, went to Africa with the Peace Corps and has completed medical school.
  • Angela, from Canada, who found us through a Facebook forum, recommended by:
  • Nico, an Iowan who has settled in Portland, and who returned several years later to introduce us to his fiancé.
  • Lauri, another host a day’s ride away, with whom we have shared guests on adjacent nights, follow each other on Facebook, and have yet to arrange a ride together, but soon…
  • Lindy, an award-winning weaver from New Zealand, who altered her itinerary to stay with us when she discovered we were also weavers.

Many guests for whom English is a distant second or third language, conversing through electronic translators. And many more, who have stayed, become family for the night, and moved on, sometimes turning up in other guests’ stories as met on the road or through Warm Showers as hosts or guests in other parts of the world, and some who have returned to “normal” but interesting lives as extraordinary people who once ventured to challenge themselves by traversing a continent under their own power, on a bicycle.

As it stands, now, we are looking forward to meeting our fellow cyclists again starting in Spring 2020, and extending ourselves just a bit more in our own adventures, inspired by our guests.