Friday, October 7, 2011

Warm Showers

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It was 6 pm on Wednesday and I was a mile from home flying down a steep hill. Ahead of me, just as the rise begins, I recognized a familiar sight: a fully loaded touring bike. I smiled and easily caught up with the woman and offered her a place to stay. The chilly evening was forecast to dip near freezing. We chatted for a bit - as much as the passing traffic would allow - and I helped with directions. She was staying with a Warm Showers host a half mile away. Traveling from Amherst, MA and hoping to make it to Quebec City, she planned to stay with more members on her northward journey. At the turn to my street, I signaled to stop, and for a moment I pointed out my house in case her evening plans fell through. I wished her a good trip and, with a wistful sigh, I pedaled on.
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If you haven't heard of Warm Showers then you should check out this site for touring cyclists. Because I wanted to reciprocate the hospitality shown to my husband and me from our extensive U.S. and world travels, I've been a member for 15 years. At one time I was the only host in the Burlington area. Now there are 7. This year we've had one guest, a lady from Nova Scotia. We have also housed a repeat visitor and keep in frequent contact with him. A few years back, I used a Warm Shower stay on a solo journey to the Maine Coast.

You can browse the site as a guest, though to receive names and specific locations, you must become a member. This insures a host's and tourist's safety. As a proprietor, one offers a warm shower and a place to stay - nothing more. You can decline a request for any reason (I have). I give the option of camping in our yard, maybe a bed, sometimes dinner, etc. - whatever feels right for the situation.

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A bicycle tourist is usually humble, often tired, and grateful for a safe and restful sleep. It's a delight to meet someone from the next state or from a far away country. It can promote the most thoughtful and wonderful conversations, all centered around a shared love of cycling.  As a host, open up a little and you receive abundance in return. I encourage anyone to try this amazing experience.

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