Experiences of a summer spent outdoors (offered by Airbnb)

When I tell people that we’ve rented our home on Airbnb periodically throughout the summer, I get mixed reactions.

“What about your bed? Isn’t it weird to have strangers sleeping in your sheets? “

“Oh! That’s smart. I thought about doing it.

“Wait, your whole house?” Where are you going?”

This last question has the longest answer. (Regarding the sheets: We wash them.)

Here are some snapshots of what it’s like to be somewhere else while our home is rented.

May 2021

My husband and I complete a 17 mile round trip to Mount Charleston from Las Vegas, a 4,890 foot elevation climb.

The trail that was lit by a strong, cool morning sun on our way is now smothered in afternoon shade. I descend cautiously, knowing that I am tired enough that I could easily sprain my ankle by simply descending awkwardly.

I am also on the phone with our neighbor in Alaska. Our Airbnb guest told us that she was uncomfortable with the woman who comes to water the plants, not because of anything personal, but simply because she would like more privacy. She offered to water the plants instead.

I have the uncomfortable conversation with the neighbor, who now feels personally invested in the success of our garden.

“It’s unusually hot in here,” she told me. “I just hope your guest will follow along and sprinkle!” “

I find it hard to care much for my zucchini plants 3,000 miles away, but I know I will care when I get home. I talk a little longer with the neighbor and then apologize because my cell phone signal decreases. I hang up and continue to focus on my steps. I know that when I get back to the campsite, I will need to follow up with our Airbnb guest.

I smell the sage-infused desert air and close my eyes for a second, reminding myself that the guests in my house pay for my vacation.

June 2021

Back in Alaska, I notice that the bed of the truck where we put our sleeping pads and our down bag starts to fill with water when it rains.

Plastic ridges lining the truck bed prevent water from collecting directly on the pads or bag. But I can’t put my sweatshirt next to me or it will get soggy. There is nothing more depressing than thick damp cotton while camping. I stuff some paper towels and watch them slowly absorb the water. At least it’s a bandage.

July 2021

I go to work in my husband’s office after camping every day. I work remotely, so as long as he and his team graciously give me a seat at their conference room table, I’m good to go.

I feel like a superhero, logging into my laptop in business attire (it’s Alaska, the bar is low) and chatting with my co-workers and clients as always. They don’t know I woke up in a truck. (Actually, they know it, because I enthusiastically disclose it to anyone who is willing to listen.)

It is pleasantly dry and warm in the office. I like the peaceful stillness and look out the window rather than being outside.

August 2021

The sound of the rain on the truck at night is comically loud. I think about the number of extra sleeps until I fall asleep in my bed.

September 2021

The forecast is for rain. What else ? We have had so much rain this summer that it seems inevitable that we will have more over the last weekend in our truck. At least we fixed the leaks (most of the time).

The rain ends up arriving only at night in the form of heavy showers. It is dry when we have dinner, go to bed, and wake up. On Saturday, on our hike, the sun lit up the droplets on the alpine blueberries and bright red fireweed, and the clouds added to the drama.

Back in the present, our Airbnb-ing is over for the season and we are back in our home.

It was fascinating to be outside of what we were this summer. We made the choice to rent our house and we had to deal with it when the time came. We have camped in the aisles of many kind friends.

We have a little extra money that we funnel into longer term plans, but we also have some extra experience and memories. All is not rosy in hindsight. It’s mixed. But the experiences were more than I would have had if I was just home all summer.

This push to do and be more is good for me. At the same time, I felt more tired and stretched out camping all summer. I felt more of everything. Happier, more alive, more me.

I struggle with this as I settle back for the winter. How can I keep this feeling of home, with a sense of relative stability?

Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and performs in south central Alaska.

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