Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Couch Surfing

Guru Higgins


Guru Higgins (as he wants to be called) has traveled to Iowa from Vermont while on his way to Montana. His opening line on his email to me was “looking to check out Des Moines, cook you a meal, and show you some yoga moves.” I don’t do yoga, and I’m currently on a diet consisting of hummus and espresso beans. Just kidding, only the first part about me not doing yoga is true. I consider it a trend and, therefore, must wait until it’s over before I can partake once again.

So it took you a week to get from Vermont to Des Moines, which means you went the scenic route?

“Well, that is the only way I can get any quality time in each town I stop in. The only place I rush through is Indiana. I try to blast through there, especially the northern part of the state. It’s not very nice. My normal route through the Midwest is from Vermont down to Oberlin, Ohio, where I crash with friends. Oberlin College is located there, and since school is not in session, it is a really chill environment during the summer. From Oberlin, I usually head straight to Chicago and up to maybe Lake Geneva, another place where I have some friends I went to school with. After Illinois, I usually need to figure out if I am going to head south toward St. Louis, north toward Ontario, or, like this time, west toward Denver. Last time I did this, I stopped in Omaha instead of Des Moines. But I had been hearing enough about different things happening in this city, like 80/35 for example, that I decided to make it a stop this time around.”

Please don’t take my “no thank you” response to your yoga and meal offer as we are folks that don’t appreciate it. Everyone does except for me…

“No, it’s fine. I just appreciate the crash pad for a few a days. I actually went and did yoga with a group of folks down at Gray’s Lake this morning. That was a lot of fun. I went down for yoga and then caught a movie at that art house fourplex a few miles down the road (Fleur Cinema). I kind of wish I brought my bicycle with me. I drove around a little bit and got caught up in what I was told was the farmers market traffic. Trying to get around wasn’t fun, and I really wished I was on a bike. I just really didn’t feel like taking the front tire off the day I left and decided to leave it home. Lame mistake. This city seems like a really great place to get around on anything but a car.”


Well, the farmers market traffic is something we all deal with every Saturday if you choose to go downtown, or you can be like me and choose NOT to go downtown because you are trying to manage your stress levels better. The whole city is actually connected with bike trails, but, because it gets so hot in the summer, most people don’t bike to work unless there is a shower or a place to get cleaned up afterwards.

“Always an excuse. No, for real, that would probably mess up productivity. I try and point in the direction of green living, but there is no way around bad body odor. It ruins your day. What’s worse is when you start to smell yourself. You don’t need to wash your hair, but you need to wash your pits.”

I’m glad this interview has become more a public service announcement for transients and green living commuters.

“Hippies United!”

I like to think that Des Moines is that perfect middle ground due to our large amount of liberal young people surrounded by hundreds of miles of conservative farmers.

“It has definitely been a worthwhile stop for me. I went to 80/35, which is a music festival I have never attended before. I appreciate you being cool with me coming in late. The only thing I remember I was struggling with was that I found myself looking for some late-night eats after the festival ended. I was coming up empty handed, and you had gone to bed when I texted you.

Yes, I go to bed at 8:30 p.m. every night. Doesn’t matter which day. Warm almond milk at 7 p.m. Read quietly at 7:30 p.m., and lights out by 8:30 p.m. No farmers market traffic for me.

“Des Moines was nothing but a good time. That’s all I can really say.” ♦

Kristian Day is a filmmaker, musician and writer based in Des Moines. He has couch-surfed across the west coast as well as through the Midwest. He also offers his home up to unknown travelers passing through Des Moines… for free. Follow him on Twitter at @kristianmday.

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