Hello everyone I hope you are all well. In my last post I realize there were a number of spelling and/or grammar errors, I hope they did not make the read needlessly confusing. I place full blame on my blog editor “future Dion”. On behalf of past and present Dion we apologize for his incompetence. The staff here will continue to aim for the pinnacle of excellent in regards to the articles posted on this page. Thanks for your patience. Now that the formalities are out of the way, we press onto this weeks issues. As promised I will be talking about staying at other peoples home 101. I feel safe addressing this topic because over the last 5 years of my life I have hosted close to 100 people through friends, family and online organizations such as Couchsurfing and Warmshowers. In addition I have stayed at quite a few peoples homes, and by the end of this trip that number will likely be over 100. Here is my top 10 list. It is in order of what I consider most important: #1 – Wash dishes This may seem like a no brainer but some people don't pick up on this one. While I was working and going to school there was nothing better than coming home and finding that my guest had cleaned all the dishes. And this doesn't simply mean clean you own dish, for me that borders on rude, if you're staying with someone for free, don't just wash your bowl, pull up your sleeves and scrub those pots and pans they have been neglecting. Your host will notice and be very grateful. You also get the smug feeling of contributing, even though you are still a bum staying for free in their home. In turn if you do not wash dishes you will quickly overstay your welcome. I cannot overemphasize this one enough, WASH DISHES! (This is way better than sleeping outside or forking out 150$ for a hotel room! Also is it just me, or is this stock photo sexist?) #2 – Time Your Bathroom Use You host is busy, in contrast you are on vacation and everyday is Saturday for you. Thus try to figure out when your host needs to use the bathroom, if you're very observant you can figure this out. Easiest thing to do is ask, “I am going to shower” or “I am going to launch the brown October” then follow these lines with “does anyone need to use the facilities before me?”. In my experience there are few things more frustrating than running late, needing to jump into the shower, only to find it was being used by my guest. And the worst is entering a hot, stinky and wet bathroom because they forgot to put the fan on. ("Why does my bathroom smell like vomit and baby food, oh well at least I'm late for work now...") If this is your behaviour you will not be welcome long. So time your bathroom use around your hosts needs and help keep this particular room very clean. I personally have to be very fastidious in making sure the many hairs I am constantly shedding are not left pasted on other peoples showers. Also keep yourself clean, stinky people are not great to have around. And there is nothing more awkward than someone politely asking you to shower or wash your clothes. No one wants to have to talk to you about this! #3 – Keep Your Host in the Loop Arguably this one could be #1. There are few things more frustrating then rescheduling you day to ensure you can rendezvous with a guest, then having them not show up and not even bother contacting you. If you are running late or plans have changed contact your host A.S.A.P. it makes everyone's life easier and demonstrates you value their time. On the flip side the reverse behaviour denotes you do not give a shit about inconveniencing them. Not a wise or respectful move. ("Sure glad I missed that audition for the Joshua Jackson stand in, and buddy doesn't even show up...") #4 – Make Food This one is budget dependant but can go a long way. If you are able to go out and purchase a meals worth of groceries and cook it for your host, do it! This gesture goes a long way and often will become a team effort and a bonding experience. If you have extreme budget confinements like myself, you cannot always do this. So if they are cooking, offer to help do any prep and at the end of the meal implement rule #1. BONUS – If you have the cash, figure out what they like to drink, get the appropriate bottle of wine or 6 pack. #5 – Don't be too Much of a Couch Potato Again your host is busy and you are a vacation bum, loving your life with little to no responsibilities. You are able to do so because you are sleeping on a couch they pay for. I find it best to not constantly remind people of the glory of not working by going out and doing things. Even if those things are sitting at a cafe for 8 hours. Being in the exact same spot when they leave to the job they potentially hate, and being in that same spot when they return from said job is not ideal. ("Hey bro I watched the Big Lebowski 4 times while drinking white russians and taking bong tokes all day, how was the 12 hour shift at the mill?”) Sometimes for budget or rest reasons you may need to just hang around your hosts home for the day. Make sure they are ok with it and give them a heads up, also again implement rule #1 and tidy up whatever else you can. #6 – Don't be Annoying This one can be challenging as even a handsome charming person like myself can begin to overwhelm someone with my constant excellent jokes, advice and words of wisdom. Gauge how well received your socializing is, some host are introverted and/or simply don't have the time and/or emotional energy to hang out. In these cases I try to become what I call a “dish washing ghost”. You are rarely seen and they will wonder if you are still there. But will happily always find the kitchen cleaned. ("Blahsshshh, while I am here, I will haunt your dreams but keep your kitchen clean!") #7 – Don't Make Unwelcome Advances Often you will end up in the home of a beautiful person, or as a host a beautiful person may be staying in the comfort of your abode. This situation is often the goal of any single persons night out on the town, so it can be confusing. In both situations I suggest playing it on the safe side. If there is some chemistry and your advances are welcome go for it, this situation can be a great time for all involved. But don't be the creepy horn dog whose relentless rapist like advances are the reason many women on Couchsurfing will only host other women. Shame on you! (This is what chemistry looks like) (This is why many women only host other women) #8 – Help Out, Share Your Skills We all are good at some thing. I myself have recently become very apt at fixing bikes, so whenever someone is courteous enough to host me, I always offer to fix, tune or help my host find a bike. It has gone a long way and I always feel so good being able to give back to someone who is helping me. Also if they have a large project they are working on spring cleaning, yard work ect, offer to pitch in, it can be a bonding experience and will often help extend how long you are welcome in their home. #9 – Don't Overstay Your Welcome This can be challenging as some people are so incredibly good at making their home feel like your home. “Me casa su casa”. However it is not your home, they are paying the bills and often probably enjoy wondering around naked and pooping with the bathroom door open. Things that are prohibited by your mere presence. There are a number of factors to gauge how long to remain at someone's home, however I try to be the “awwww he's gone” guy rather than the “hey buddy so where are you heading next!?!?!?!?” #10 – Leave a Thank You Note You have potentially made a new life long friend. The easiest and cheapest way to demonstrate your gratitude is to leave a heartfelt note explaining how much you appreciated their efforts. If it's well written and has a cool picture on it, it might even make it onto their fridge, and you kind words will continue to make them smile long after you've left. BONUS! Leave a gift that they could use. ("That was so thoughtful of my guest to leave me this noodle splash guard, I never have to stain my shirts again!") I hope this list was an entertaining and informative read and helps any of you in your hosting and guesting experiences. Feel free if you are an active host to post it on your fridge to help any inexperience guest ensure their stay meets everyone's needs! Now that's out of the way onto my experiences over the last week. Revelstoke was a great pit stop and I stayed and extra day as I had done 350km in the mountains over the previous 3 days. I was also very fortunate to get to spend some time chatting and sharing with the other guests Peter and Ki were hosting.
Igor is this awesome fellow who's roots are in Russia but now lives in Vancouver. He is a highly intelligent thinker and we shared many ideas and some of the most heartfelt belly laughs I've have had in awhile. He is currently examining Buddhist philosophy and is trying to live a detached and in turn enjoyable life. In our discussion we culminated that potentially “life is suffering” and detaching ourselves from said suffering may be the key step to enlightenment. Heavy shit! However the irony is that Igor was so happy to realize “life is suffering”. This was too funny for either of to not laugh at and the concept still makes me snicker. The other awesome fellow Dimitri has a calming Zen about him. The two would often meditate, and the three of us got along swimmingly. I hope I am able to cross paths with both of them again. Throughout this journey there has been a constant pull towards getting me to do some meditation and I will be committing 30 minutes a day to it, as I think it has a lot to offer. Another highlight of my time in Revelstoke is one night I went from no where to sleep, 24 hours later I was in the hot tub of the ski resort. Because one of Peter and Ki's friends had an access card to the lavish facilities. Pretty sweet contrast! (Peter, Ki, Igor, Dimitri, Me) I had been in contact with a fellow Tobias whom I had met earlier in my trip at Manning Park. Tobias was a ways ahead of me but because of getting sick he was held up in Golden. So I peddled the 150km from Revelstoke to Golden, which was a pretty draining ride. The climb up to Rogers Pass was not as challenging as I had anticipated but the last 30kms of rolling hills to get into Golden was painfully slow and frustrating. (Worf at Rogers Pass) Just as I arrived in Golden I got a flat tire. Tobias came out to meet me as I was switching tubes. For once I didn't inspect the tire, and to my dismay I had another flat, drained and frustrated I walked my bike to a hostel where I paid 10$ to camp, but also got access to all of the facilities. It's worth noting that this 10$ is the first money I have spent for accommodations throughout my entire trip. Kicking Horse hostel was awesome and allowed me a much needed shower and kitchen access. But adventure awaited so the next afternoon Tobias and I were off to Lake Louise. Lake Louise, was a pretty manageable bike ride and was a total of 70km of very beautiful riding. From my previous post it should be evident I have been struggling with the isolation so Tobias's company was incredibly welcome. When we arrived in Lake Louise, we intended to splurge on non grocery store food. We found a local pub and went inside, just as we entered the waitress went up to the bartender and said last call for food. We hastily put in an order for two veggie burgers, and ate them with an astounding amount of satisfaction. (Tobias en route to Lake Louise.) In searching for a place to stay, the local camping ground was needlessly overprice, and the local hostel was 45$ a night. This was outside of my budget. Tobias on the other hand had aggravated his soar knee, so wanting a warm bed to recuperated he forked out the 45$. And I headed out to squat at the local baseball diamond. It was a cold night but as you can tell in the pictures below I was well prepared and under that tarp and sleeping bag, I wore long johns and 2 sweaters. When I met up with Tobias in the morning to my dismay he had a room all to himself. Where I could have easily snuck in. So needlessly, I slept outside in sub 0 temperatures. (Frost on my saddle bags) (My bed for the night) (Tobias's empty room) We shared a good laugh about the situation and continued on our way. Our next stop was Banff where my aunt Carla and uncle Joe live. Two people I have not seen in 15 years. They have been incredible hosts and have put us up over the last couple days. Uncle Joe is definitely a Cowan and it's always cool to see the commonalities in your parents and their siblings. I also had an exceptional visit with Carla where we just really resonated, and again the common theme of meditation came up and how much it could increase my quality of life. Tobias and I are hanging around Banff for a few more nights. I get to do stand up Comedy tonight and Wednesday, then will head off to visit Marc my next host in Canmore. Whom I randomly ran into here in Banff while he was here doing his banking. That about sums up my week. Thanks for reading, I hope you all enjoyed this weeks post. It has come to my attention that I have not written much about the biking itself. So for next weeks article I will reflect on the challenges thus far and try to put them into words what biking BC was like. Because now I am in Alberta. (And look what I hit 2000kms!) Qapla, Dion