Saturday, May 28, 2022

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Couch Surfing

Wayne from North Carolina


A “digital nomad” and his pug

Meet Wayne from North Carolina. A 28-year-old bachelor who calls himself a “digital nomad.” He has traveled northwest on a skiing adventure with his dog, Mindie. This is the first guest I have had who has brought an animal with. Animals are normally a red flag since I have a cat of my own who is forever protesting the world, but I am a sucker for pugs.

Let’s get this first question out of the way: What is a “digital nomad”?

A “digital nomad” is someone who makes their entire living off the Internet and doesn’t have an actual place they call home. So I am an IT guy. Although I am not 100 percent a “digital nomad,” I have an apartment in North Carolina. I do enjoy the luxury of having a place to go home when I get tired of cruising around this great country of ours.

I think to really live as a nomad of any sort, you need to cut that lifeline to your North Carolina apartment. Where did you drive in from?

Oh sure, but I definitely won’t do that during the winter. I just came from Galesburg, Illinois, which is not a huge haul but a haul nonetheless. There is a killer diner called the Landmark Cafe. They have amazing crepes. That was my breakfast this morning. I didn’t do a whole lot of exploring since I got in late and my couchsurfing host was sort of a Chatty Cathy. She really wanted to visit with me, which is cool, but I also just like the idea of sleeping at my host’s home, visit with them in the morning or right when I get there, and then spending the rest of my time exploring. Problem was I had to actually do some work when I got there, so she started drilling me with questions. Next thing I knew it was 11:30 p.m.

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

What makes things interesting for couchsurfing hosts is that they have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world whom they may not have otherwise. So I can see why she would be interested in what you do.

I wasn’t offended, but at the same time, I can’t see a reason for me to ever be in Galesburg, Illinois, ever again, and the only thing I can take away from that experience is that I know where you can get a really tasty crepe. I am not saying that piece of information isn’t valuable, because it was delicious.

You are my first couchsurfer who has brought a pet with him or her. What are the challenges of traveling the country with your pug, Mindie?

No challenges at all. Because I have to stop for her more than I do myself, it forces me to stop at more places than I would if it was just me. She is also a talking point with strangers. The only thing is she snores louder than most humans.

Now that I actually have the “digital nomad” term, I can say I have met a lot of people like you. People have this almost economic freedom where they work on a laptop or smartphone, which allows them to be practically anywhere in the world. I am going to be my favorite devil’s advocate and ask the question: Doesn’t that get tiring? This is coming from someone who has done the couchsurfing ride and traveled for a few years while I worked.

Well you are never 100 percent rested. I haven’t had a good night sleep since I was back in North Carolina. I haven’t been comfortable enough to get a perfect night’s rest because you are always in a situation that you’re not fully comfortable in. I’ve slept on air mattresses, couches, futons and fur rugs for the last two months. None of those are my bed or in my house. When you come home, you can safely let your guard down and not worry about who is going to randomly come in the room while you sleep. There is some comfort having my dog with me, but she is still a small pug. She really couldn’t do much to protect me in a dangerous situation.

You just made the entire experience of couchsurfing terrifying to my readers.

I have never had that happen. Scouts honor, really.

You are currently on a ski trip. Have you done any skiing yet? Where are you headed?

Not yet. I am first heading to this place called Great Bear up in South Dakota, so I am getting close. I am meeting some friends from Minneapolis there, and we are all cramming into a cabin. Then I am going to head to Hogadon in Casper, Wyoming. From there I will probably drop down into Colorado somewhere. But Colorado doesn’t interest me like it used to. I have gone skiing there so many times. ♦

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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