The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 0: Ping Pong

On the eve of his first day hitchhiking across Canada, Ben CouchSurfs with first-time hosts Tom and Katie

After all the excitement of crossing the Ottawa River I made my way to the University campus in downtown Ottawa where I had arranged to meet Tom, who together with his wife Katie would be hosting me for the night at their home in Arnprior.

Situated some 65 or so kilometers west of downtown Ottawa, Arnprior was the perfect location to begin hitchhiking from as it sat right at the start of Highway 17 which is the point at which it becomes legal to hitchhike right on the highway and wanting to avoid unnecessary encounters with the police, I was very pleased when they accepted my request to stop at their place a week or so ago.

Upon meeting both Tom and Katie it was clear from the outset that we were going to get on well. Tom, who was studying at University and Katie who taught at a nearby school were both very smart, well travelled and very easy to get on with, revealing early on that it was in fact their first time hosting.

This I have to say made me very happy as I remember all the apprehension turned excitement that I felt when hosting for the first time (See: Whips & Chains: The Austrian Invasion) and really enjoy sharing in this experience with other first time hosts. And whilst not the motivation, my experience of CouchSurfing has gone to show me that first-time hosts generally are more keen to make the experience a positive one, going further to welcome you and ensure you have a good time.

And for sure Tom and Katie were no exception to this rule... welcoming me into their beautiful home with arms wide open, providing me not only my very own bedroom but for dinner a Thai stir that was so hot it literally brought me to tears - and whilst in my back of my mind I was wondering if this was perhaps the most sensible food to eat the night before hitchhiking I thought "to hell with it" opting instead to deal with the consequences tomorrow morning and/or afternoon and/or evening.

Eventually though I did cool back down and settled in to what became a wonderfully relaxing evening. Tom unfortunately had to return back to Ottawa for lectures but left in Katie's hands I spent the best part of the night playing ping pong where I am afraid to say I had my ass kicked several times over.

So that was that and after saying goodnight to both Tom and Katie I too headed for bed where I lay for some time thinking about what tomorrow and indeed the next few weeks might bring. For with little idea on if this crazy idea will in fact work I reminded myself of the quote I first heard somewhat ironically whilst working in Dudley... that is...

"When nothing is sure, everything is possible"

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