Almost everyone asks me, “Why? Why are you traveling? What are your plans? Where do you want to go?” So, here are some quick facts (or maybe not so quick) and my story.
I was born in Arlington, Virginia, into a military family. However, we only moved twice with the US Army before my mom divorced my dad when I was 2 1/2. My mom and I moved to Warrenton, Virginia, to live with her parents. (I never saw my birth father again, and he passed away in 1970.) My mom’s father/my grandfather was a retired Navy captain. I grew up listening to my mother’s and grandmother’s stories of the places they lived, the people they met, and the joys of experiencing other cultures.
Now, my grandfather was a Kansas boy, whose family went west with the covered wagons and were one of the setting families of Wichita, Kansas. He was raised in the old cowtown days of Wichita when Bat Masterson and other famous gunmen walked the streets.
My grandmother was Castillian Spanish born in Puerto Rico. Her father (my great grandfather) attended the Spanish Military Academy and married my great grandmother when she was just 14 (getting her disowned by her family). After moving to the US, he joined the US Army as a quartermaster and found on the American side of the Spanish-American War (getting him disowned by his family). What a combination! (And means that I am just second generation in the US on that side of my family!) Family legend says I am related to the illegitimate side (apparently the “party” side) of the royal family of Spain. Apparently vast fortunes have been made and lost by my ancestors. I have not personally confirmed all of this, but it sure is a fun legacy to try live up to!
Now my birth father’s side of the family are original Daughters of the American Revolution. They were of both English and French descent, and helped settle Winchester, Virginia. My father’s mother married three times. From what I have been told, her first marriage what to a very rich man. She lived in penthouse apartments and hotels all over, including the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. They divorced, and then she married a poor man, who was the father of my birth father. I think husband number two died. Then she married the grandfather I knew – a nice, middle class man. I have slews of cousins and other relatives on this side of the family – most I have never met, but have heard their names most of my life!
When I was 6, my mother remarried to my step/adopted father. Yep, he adopted me! I not only took his name, but the State of Virginia even changed my birth certificate! For me, he is the only father I remember, and I consider him my real father. In my opinion, taking on a new wife and a rambunctious, major handful of a little girl, and working so hard to raise her as his own, takes a very, very special love. I am blessed!
Education: Simply a Bachelor of Arts from James Madison University.
Work: Oh, there is a long history here! Suffice it to say that I get bored easily and am always looking to reach new heights and try different things. I have worked for the Federal Government, private industry, and for myself. I have experience in secretarial and administrative work, human resources, convention and meeting planning, and as my own boss, a website designer and Internet marketer since 1993.
Fun: Here again is a long list! Some of my favorites have been: hiking, backpacking, fox hunting, welding, crewing for hot air balloons, and of course, traveling. I have traveled to most of the major cities in the US, plus Hawaii, Alaska (Anchorage and Dutch Harbor), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and Honduras. I hope to add many many more favorites to this list!
Places Lived (when I was old enough to remember):
- Warrenton, Virginia
- Miami, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Perry Point, Maryland
- Muskogee, Oklahoma
- Austin, Texas
- Also rented a vacation house in Saltillo, Mexico, for 2 years
- San Angelo, Texas
- Alpine, Texas
My Current Story:
Now that I have possibly bored you to tears, I will try to explain why I am going what I am doing.
First, what AM I doing? What is “Sofa Surfing The World”?
As you read in my family background, I grew up hearing about travels to other places. Then when I worked for the Federal Government, I lived in Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Oklahoma. I left the government job and moved to Austin, Texas. In living different places, I loved exploring each place, meeting new people, and experiencing the different cultures. Yes, even in the US, each city, state and region has a different culture!
I also traveled extensively with my late husband, Pat, who adored showing me new places and experiences. It was one of his greatest joys! It was with him that i really developed my travel bug.
Pat and I talked many times about traveling and staying for extended periods in new places. After he passed away in 2002, I knew I still wanted to travel and do the things we had discussed — and more of my own! I started my “bucket list” — which now has several hundred items for all over the world!
BUT! How was I to accomplish this? How could I generate the income to afford to travel all over the world? Would I have a home base and travel? Or live on the road? I knew I would have to be creative!
A few years ago, I discovered the website HouseCarers.com. HouseCarers is a site that offers home and pet owners to list their house sitting and pet sitting needs – from a couple of days to months in length. House and pet sitters also register with the site to offer their services. Basically, the sitter does NOT get paid for the service. But for me, I see it as opportunities to live for free in different places.
But that solved just half of my goals. I still needed to figure out how to afford lodging to, from and in-between destinations.
And it happened! On March 23, 2013 (the day after my sixtieth birthday), my girlfriend and I were having lunch in the little town of Marathon, Texas. We overheard a young woman saying she was traveling from Georgia to California and return — and “couch surfing”. My ears perked up and asked her to tell us about “couch surfing”. She said there is a website — CouchSurfing.com. I decided to check it out!
Now, I’ve heard of couch surfing for a few years, primarily on the Today Show. But I dismissed it, thinking it sounded a little risky. Was I ever wrong! Through the CouchSurfing.com website, hosts list their couches, guest rooms, even floors for travelers or “surfers” to stay — for FREE! Surfers also register with the site so they can “request a couch”.
Of course, common sense must be used when surfing for a couch. For instance, I choose only women or couples. I also choose only hosts who have been verified with a real address, have photos, and have positive “references”. Hosts are given written references by surfers who stay with them, and surfers are also given references by their hosts. Along with each host or surfer’s profile, you can determine whether the person, couch offering, setting, etc., may be a good experience for both of you. Most important is couch surfing etiquette — be a good guest! Contribute to the meals, help cook the meals, wash dishes, run errands, etc., as appropriate for the family and how long you are staying.
Anyway, back to my story. I checked out CouchSurfing.com and decided this was the solution to my lodging obstacle! I immediately started making plans. What did I do? I took the BIG LEAP!
Knowing my dad’s 92nd birthday would be on May 31, I decided to give up my apartment and put everything in storage. Yes! I GAVE UP MY HOME! No lease, no home rent to pay, along with all that entails. (Of course, I am paying for my storage unit, but that’s just a fraction of my home costs.) Within 8 weeks, i packed up what I wanted to keep, sold what I didn’t, and loaded the car with what I wanted with me — and headed out on May 23, 2013!
First, to visit family and friends through to the end of 2013.
After that? As mentioned above, I have this long (and ever growing) bucket list of the places I want to see and the things I want to do. I’m going to accomplish as many of the items on the list as possible, using HouseCarers and CouchSurfing to help me get to and stay in places.
Where specifically? Well, keep track of me on my Itinerary page.
If you’re where I am, drop me a line! Perhaps we can meet over a cup of coffee and swap some stories.