Posts Tagged ‘Participants’

Glaciers, Trails, and Seldovia | The First Two Excursions

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

In rural areas of Alaska like Homer, cabin fever has been known to drive even the most peaceful of souls to hysteria.  So with the sanity of our volunteers dear at heart, we’ve been focusing on excursions that get us out of the house and into the Alaskan wilderness. 

Just over a week ago, Casey and Andrew led half of the Collective on our first trip across Kachemak Bay.  This was a momentous occasion, as the hefty cost of a water taxi ($75/person!) had kept us snug on our side of the Bay for the first part of the month.  Luckily Casey and Andrew managed to tap into a deal with the National Park Service, allowing us to do park cleanup in exchange for a discounted ride across the way.  So we woke up at the ungodly (yet sunny) hour of 6 AM, piled into our respective water taxis and cleared a ragged trail for the first four hours of the day.  As terrible as all that might sound, the view from the deck of our water taxi as it charged towards the opposite shore justified everything.  Wind and adrenaline in the morning put coffee to shame.   image
Glacial Ice
Photo by: Andrew Otto

After our park cleanup duty, we hiked to a nearby lake and the sight of my first glacier hit me right in the face.  Words don’t begin to suffice here; slap your cheeks a couple of times and dump a bucket of ice over your head, and the effect should be something like what I felt.  We attempted to walk around the lake to the glacier, but dive-bombing birds and the setting sun put a stop to our plans.  We hiked back to the yurt we rented for the night.  There, I realized that I had ingeniously locked the key inside the yurt, so TTT pulled his first yurt break-and-enter.  It was pretty nifty.  We made a fire, had a face-making contest and slowly dozed off to sleep.  The next day a couple people hiked all the way to the glacier, and ran into two bears on the way!  The bears ran away, and Andrew  swears he “wasn’t scared at all.”  Mmmhm. 

This past weekend another small group celebrated summer solstice with a trip to Seldovia for the folk festival.  Seldovia is a tiny town with a slick marketing plan (the site advertises it as “Alaska’s best kept secret” above a plug for “UFO Day”) (  It turned out to be a stunning little seaside ditty with 300 locals and a few tourists (a local told us there would be 3,000 people in town for the festival…I’d estimate there were 350.  Total.)  During the day we went to various workshops on harmonizing, playing the didgeridoo, and understanding music.  Afterwards we found an awesome island-like oasis at the edge of town.  It was inexplicably warm compared to the rest of Seldovia, so we played and napped until the evening.  The festival itself was fun, and we spent the night roasting apples, singing and playing ukulele on the beach.  We camped out on the black sand next to the bay. 

Photo by: Andrew Otto

Our return to the collective house was greeted by our new chef Nick’s first meal, which was delicious, to say the least.  Things are speeding up as the week begins, and I’m rejuvenated and excited for the future in our little cottage.


Collective Week(s) in Review

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

It is the beginning of my fourth week, and a lot has happened since I arrived. We rolled out a tech release package, launched group RSS feeds,  witnessed several great presentations, started several of our large projects, and welcomed several new members to the house.

We have been joined by Miri, who is heading up the CouchSurfing CARES program, and Wendy, a member of the User Research and Design team. Miri is with us for a month, and Wendy leaves tomorrow. Susy has returned from Holland and got an incredible visa! Ten years, with intervals of  six months, multiple entry!

We also welcomed our new cook, Nick, who will be taking care of our appetites for the rest of the collective. He cooked a fantastic pasta dinner with garlic / tomatoe / cheese bread and salad on Sunday night.

We have also enjoyed getting to know the local population. From weekly soccer and Frisbee matches to weekend barbeques, we have been integrating ourselves into the community. If we tell a group of people in Homer that we are volunteering with CouchSurfing,  someone inevitably says “Oh, you’re the new guys up on the hill right?”

The weekend before last we went on an excursion across the bay to hike around some glaciers, and then this weekend a group of us went to the Solstice Folk Music festival in Seldovia. Laura will write about that soon as I wasn’t there! Walter and I hitchhiked up to Hope, AK for some remote camping.

From a project standpoint, things are starting to move smoothly. The first few weeks were all about getting things set up, and now that everyone has tasks to accomplish and goals to achieve, productivity has continued to rise. We are using a new online project management system, thanks to Camtastic, and Jeff is working on a project matrix.

We also had  presentation from Shonali, Casey and Mattthew that will begin to help us discover CouchSurfing’s identity. With an organization as spread out as we are, this is a challenge we look forward too!

The tech team has been hard at work as usual, and has recently added three new remote members. We will also be adding eight new servers in the near future, and phasing out five old ones. This will help the performance and stability of the site.

More updates from the Great Northwest in the near future!

International CouchSurfing Day

Thursday, June 12th, 2008


Happy International CouchSurfing day everyone! Get out and connect with your local CouchSurfing community!

Today we are going to be heading to Turnagain Pass to throw some snowballs at each other. What are you doing?

To see what is going on in your area, check out local events or the wiki.

Introduction and first impressions

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Hello everyone,

My name is Walter Heck and I’m one of the tech team members that will be working their asses off for you this summer. I just arrived in Alaska last Saturday and wanted to introduce myself and give you my first impressions. Read more after the jump…

The house is getting more and more full, currently 17 or 18 participants are here (I don’t know the exact number, but we cooked food for 17 last night :) ). It is big and crowded, but a lot of fun. People are working all the time. Last night at 3 in the morning was actually the first time I walked into the living room when it was empty.

One of the things we all have a hard time getting used to is the daylight. The sun currently sets at 23:30 or so, and it rises at 4:00. My whole biorhythm is disturbed. This will probably be fixed in the next couple of weeks though.

On Saturday night we had a party for Cyril’s birthday. It was very good to have an informal party to get to know everyone.

Now on to the professional/tech stuff (which is why i’m writing this post in the first place :) ). Today we have an introduction day to find out who does what and things like that. Until then, I have been keeping busy with setting up the development environment and debugging some small things. I expect to have a specific project by the end of the day.

More later!