Coming soon near you [perhaps]

©2021 Michael Raven

I actually hadn’t planned on writing any more for the site today, or for several days (honestly), but I wanted to float an idea past my regular readers to see what kind of response I received about an idea I am considering. Right now, it is in the planning stages, so it may end up being unworkable after I flesh it out.

I’m wondering if anyone out in the States might be interested in exchanging the use of your couch for an evening or two for a meal or groceries to make a meal. Or some other similar kind of barter/trade for sofa space.

The short version of the story is that I need to break out of a cage that I’ve built up for myself over the years — if only for a short while — in the name of breaking out of the well-established routines that are driving me bonkers and filling me with dissatisfaction. I need to shock myself out of my daily routines and habits, stretch out of easy. I need a change of scenery and a change of culture that comes with it. I need to be taken out of my comfort zone, and “roughing it” instead of living in Airbnb’s or swanky hotels is more interesting to me. I’m looking more for a crash pad for a night or two than a 5-star getaway. It will be more comfortable, I expect anyway, than the coach seat on the Amtrak trains I am considering for my transportation.

What are my destinations?

I have zero clue at this stage. The easy thing would be to try and lean on a cousin in Seattle, or an old high school friend in NYC, but I’d rather not call on favors that come with implied obligation. That would make life easy for me and I’d be all set with a short email or a phone call.

But, you see, that defeats the “outside my comfort zone” criteria. No, I haven’t ever been to NYC, but Stephen and his wife would make sure I saw all kinds of sites and I was comfortable in a bedroom and it would be all vacay all around. The same could be said of my cousin’s place — and I lived in Seattle for a while, so it would not be a total break from routine to go back there.

I’d rather work out some kind of exchange with people under no such expectations of extensive hospitality, in a place that I am unfamiliar with, and I want to have little or no expectations for them to play tour guide for me.

I know it is a strange ask for me to put this out on the blog, but I’m wondering if anyone might have an interest in this kind of arrangement. I’ll develop an itinerary based on responses I might receive (including ones where I just sleep in my coach seat), but one of my thoughts is to hit NYC and places between there and Minneapolis, with perhaps a detour to the nation’s capitol (I’ve only had a glancing blow with DC and should consider going there at some point). Alternately, I am considering a NW Coastal run or a even a Minneapolis – Seattle – LA – Flagstaff – Chicago – Minneapolis circuit.

Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in helping out “some poet guy from the internet” with. Comment below or, if you don’t want to reveal to the world your city of residence, use my contact page. I will keep personal information confidential if you express a willingness to let me crash at your place for a night. And you would be doing me a solid if you were willing to have me invade your space for a short time.

Photo by David Bartus on

15 thoughts on “Coming soon near you [perhaps]

    • Helsinki, right? Or am I misremembering your location?

      I am a little surprised at the pricing I’m seeing for some European travel. It’s lower than I expected and, for the price, it might be worth staying at the Helsinki hostel: RT flight, 7 night hostel w/private bed for ~$1100. How easy is it for a native English speaker to get around? If I did that, it would be great to hit the town for dinner a few times.

      Compared to some of the options this side of the pond (when you include hotels to get away from the coach seat on the train), it’s more than comparable. Even competitive… ($500 for the train, average of $125/night for hotels for ~5 nights = $1200.)

      FYI — Reykjavik, Iceland was one of my considered destinations and is similarly priced with a hostel “pod”, which might be an experience in of itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s right, outer suburbs of Helsinki.

    Travel is easy. Majority of people speak English (over 70%) better than native speakers.

    Iceland is amazing. All coaches there and very pricey. At least it was when I went. That was some years ago now.

    Keep us posted on your plans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I am still toying with the idea of Iceland or Finland (or Amsterdam), I was able to create a mock itinerary for myself that gives me a rail experience in the US that hits about half of the few states I’ve not been to before on the cheap (the first stop in Seattle would be several days staying with cousins and includes a stop in Reno to stay with an old dear friend from my coffee-slinging barista days who offered up a slab of sofa for the night.

      That said, I’m still tempted to get entirely out of my element. I’ve got to decide just how much budget I have and how bad I want to renew my passport, which has expired.

      But, as I said, I could see me hanging out in Helsinki for a week or so and dragging you out to dinner or coffee once or twice. Now that I have a fairly solid idea of the costs stateside, I want to dig into my other options to make sure I really get a change-up I think I need to jump-start my head.

      Liked by 1 person

      • (Fat thumbs)
        …I could take a similar trip around the US.
        You’ve made it sound like fun.

        Passport renewal can be a bitch depended on the country issuing. In a few years I’ll have to renew mine remotely. Not looking to it.

        If you come here for a week ill make as much time as I can to meet up. Once or twice would be minimum 👍

        Enjoy the planning.

        Liked by 1 person

        • If I end up there, it would be awesome to spend time with you.

          I wish my attempt to rough it around Europe when I was in my late teens hadn’t been aborted by suspicious customs officials in England, convinced a one-way ticket and hair to the middle of my back meant that I was a mule or something. They couldn’t prove it (hmm, because it wasn’t…. true….?), but they sent be back to the States all the same (with a police escort to make sure I stayed on the plane).

          I would have enjoyed slumming around Europe for a spell. I envy your experience.

          I’ll keep you in the know.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It would be fun.

            I did my trip in my early twenties after some trial and error backpacking in new Zealand and asia.
            This is not the first time I’ve heard of such an occurrence. It seems they update their terror demographic on a regular basis. You were one of the unlucky few who didn’t fit societal norms of the time.
            Skin colour all the rage these days so I doubt your shade will be setting of any red flags.

            Liked by 1 person

            • It’s laugh or cry. I at least can laugh about how my escort to the bathroom basically rubbed his pelvis against me while I TRIED to piss to make sure I didn’t pull anything out of my rectum.

              “You know,” I said, looking over my shoulder, “this is going to take a while with you standing basically on top of me. I’ve a shy bladder and, well, you’re not helping me. Think you could at least take one, maybe three steps back?”

              “Piss off.”

              “Right… I’m glad you’re patient then.”

              Twenty minute later, I was finally able to relax enough to piss.

              Liked by 2 people

            • It is a bit close for comfort. I thought they gave you a few steps at least. I’ve never been put in that position myself.

              And imagine, he was being paid to watch a grown man piss.
              Not sure if I consider that a good thing or a bad thing. Very uneasy money.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Maybe it was a step or two back, but I swear I could feel his breath making the hair on my head move back and forth, so it was damned close.

              I imagine having to watch me piss contributed to his surly demeanor.

              Of course, I had my own bout of surliness not much later when they had the audacity to ask me to pay for my own ticket back to the the States.

              “Your request for immigration has been denied.”

              “I just want a fricking visa…”

              “Also denied. How much are you willing to contribute towards your plane ticket back to the States?”

              “Umm… let me think… How about NOT ONE FUCKING RED CENT?”

              “Right, we’ll submit for reimbursement from your federal government then. [tick box on form. Looks to heavy breather.] Take him to his flight and make sure he stays in his seat until the doors close.”

              Heavy Breathing Copper: “Right.”

              He grabbed me by the armpit and manhandled me all the way to my seat on the plane and stood over me with crossed arms, which in turn made everyone on the flight stare at me wide-eyed. He stood there, as ordered, until the attendant whispered in his ear they were about to leave. He waggled a finger at me and told me not to start any mischief.

              I think they were pissed they couldn’t find any drugs on me. They missed the extra pack of smokes I had over my limit…

              Liked by 2 people

            • More than close enough.
              Still, it must be part of his job description. Watching others pee on a daily basis.

              That is a messed up story. It seems like more trouble than it was worth for all involved.
              The issue of paying for your forced/mandatory return is bs.

              Liked by 2 people

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