To make a long story short, the usual available couches in Missoula were unavailable. So a search and a couple couch-requests on couchsurfing.org turned up a place.
Orange Acres responded with a previously-drafted, all-encompassing acceptance message. The eye catching line: “I live with my cat, 4 dogs, 9 mini goats, 40 chickens and a assault rifle”. This was immediately followed by: “women are very safe here.”
For most women, the presence of a gun does not equate to feeling secure. It’s actually the opposite for some women, including myself.
So I was skeptical, but went and stayed there anyways.
Behind the Orange Cars used car lot was a ranch-style complex. There was a commune style kitchen and living area, an upstairs shared bunk room, and a washing room connected to the dealership’s garage. Behind the main building was a range for goats, sheep, run down cars, trailers, a couple new building projects, chickens and who knows what else.
My night’s stay was in a cozy one bedroom cabin, complete with a bed, dresser, lamp and heater. This generous cabin stole my excuse to sleep outside, which I was looking forward to but didn’t mind otherwise.
There were friendly people there. The vibe was very friendly and non-threatening. Maybe the assault rifle made that possible.
I wasn’t there long. Bikram, and pub trivia filled the evening. A wonderful canoeing trip on the Blackfoot river early the next morning cut my stay at Orange Acres short.
I’ll be back though. Not to enjoy a free stay, but to actually converse with the other travelers. Learning and sharing personal stories is the essence of travelling. Without this exchange, travelling just is sight seeing; the visual repertoire expanded, another push-pin in the map earned.
Meeting and conversing with other travelers gives that destination a human angle, a story and a personality to the location and experience. Next time I travel alone, I’ll remember and make time for this.