As of 2pm on January 1st, I will have been couchsurfing a full 3 years. I have to admit, it’s gone by quickly. Everyone says “Where did the year go?” But because I blogged more this year, I actually know where it went. I didn’t blog everything- but here’s my summary..
I bought my new camera this year, and when visiting my folks I was going to interview people about me, so you people can get other peoples’ takes on what I’m like. Dad said “Why would anyone care?” I said “’cause I’ve come to accept the fact that I have a very interesting and fun life, and the shit that happens in my life is often the stuff that only happens in movies… thus a few thousand people like to keep up with my adventures.” He replies “Oh yeah? If your life is so interesting… what did you do for New Year’s?” I replied the truth “Well.. I WAS going to go to Skizzy’s house party, but then he decided that Alyx didn’t want to clean the mess that would make, and thus promoted a club event instead. I don’t like club events for new year’s, so I was going to work.” Dad smirked. “But then as I began working, some hot girl I never met, on okcupid.com e-mails me and asks if I’d like to go to a belly dancing, gypsy music, bon-fire party. So I dropped work, and went to that.” His jaw was a bit slack now. The next day he gave me an interview for my blog.
On January 29th of this year, I got the following e-mail from Sam Kinch (whom I have no idea who he is):
…..you’re such an obnoxious ass.
I just scanned through a bunch of posts looking for the promised “Amazing photos & amazing adventures”….Ori?….i didn’t find any.
All i found was a sadsack who doesn’t want to get a real job and hopes to become some kind of “blog phenomonon” but hasn’t yet realised that you need some kind of a decent/interesting idea, AND some form of talent.
Anyway, here’s a thought, how’s about your next adventure is giving up?
it’s a toughy but you’ll soon realise that broadcasting your “life” to the whole worl, when you have nothing decent to say is actually a little backwards.
Anyway, much love, keep up the hard work,
Sam had a point. On that particular day, I was in Atlanta, sitting at home, packing up for the next leg of my journey. I was about to drive to Austin, Texas for the first time… I had already done a few trips to Florida that year, but I had not really blogged too well in 2008. A lot of that crap was just what I think… and I certainly wasn’t posting that many photos (that is something that still needs to be remedied—I have literally hundreds of thousands of them from my journey). Same applies to video (only 100’s of hours there).
I’m glad to say a few short weeks later I sent Sam a letter with some links to some pretty crazy stuff I did, with photos in the blog posts.
2009 started with me couchsurfing at Dr. Michael Craig’s house. I met him at one of Matt Bacak’s events. It wasn’t an adventure, but it was really great getting to hear him and his wife’s many fabulous travel stories from around the world, then work on his business.
I got a Canon 5D Mark II, and a fisheye lens (F2.8 15mm Canon) which was life-changing… now my video was in full high definition, and shot with the same great optics I use to do photography. Additionally, it’s all digital, which means as soon as I shoot, I can edit, export, and upload. So 2009 was the year that had the most video on my blog.
I then drove to Florida to surprise my mom for her birthday. I visited my little bro (twice in January actually.. once for his birthday, once on my way to see Mom), where I borrowed his dog to represent. To break in the camera, I interviewed some old friends and clients.
I got a Mac in 2009. Groan I’ve been talking crap about Macs for ages… now I could finally justify it. They’re ok machines, I just think the work flow is infantile… 2010 will probably be a PC with Hackintosh year.
I discovered Austin (where I’m writing this from now), because I crashed at Perry Belcher’s couch for a few weeks. Perry is a great marketer, and now a great friend. He showed me around, and introduced me to some people, which introduced me to some people… and Austin really grew on me. Some of my first videos this year were of me, Perry, and friends just sitting around telling Jokes.
I went to the ER in February. I had a “meat impaction” – apparently, I have some kind of acid reflux, which makes my esophagus constrict, and food gets stuck, and I can’t breath. It sucked, and I’m still paying off the lab-work, endoscopy, etc… Made for a fun blog post though!
My new friend David Gonzales introduced me to an amazing girl, Betty Bell, who took me around on Valentine’s Day. She really showed me these amazing local places, and we hit up a ton of them… bars, pubs, pizza places, candy stores, and a walking tour of downtown.
For my mom’s birthday, I had gotten her a knitting kit. She used to knit when we were children, and hasn’t done it in years. In February, I got a cap, and a scarf that my mom knitted for me.
I went to a rotary club meeting. I went to an event called Twestival… they leveraged the power of Twitter to throw multiple parties around the world to raise money for clean drinking wells in Africa. Sumo Wrestling for a cause has never been so much fun.
I drove to Dallas to have breakfast just to meet a twitter friend I hadn’t met in person before. It was great exchanging adventure stories, and getting along so well, when we are so politically opposed. This was on my way to Washington, DC for Yanik Silver’s Underground 5 – a marketing conference with style (and booze).
I discovered that Washington, and Washington DC are totally different places on the map!
I stayed with one of my models, Christina, who was the 3rd model I shot from OneModelPlace.com in 2004. While she was pregnant, their dogs had some puppies too.
Yanik’s Underground was an amazing time. I met so many incredible people, had a lot of fun, and even got a nice headwound. This led to stitches, and I won a bet that there would not be a scar! It’s one of my favorite videos of the year too.
I had a quick trip to New York, which is where I first heard of Tito’s Vodka. The next night, in South Carolina, I got to drink Tito’s Vodka, and hear an amazing tale of how excited my friend was about Tito’s, that he personally went and got all the liquor stores in his city to carry it. That made me contact them, and later couchsurf with them.
I went to Stompernet Live 7- another marketing event. One of my twitter friends, Wilson Mattos asked if I wanted a ticket (value: $1,500 if I recall). I had a blast. The staff took me out partying, so after the party, there was an afterparty, we closed out Opera night club. Then there was a small 5am after afterparty, and then I realized the presentations were starting in 3 hours, so tried to get some shut eye. I was 30 minutes late to the first presentation, and after 10 minutes of being there, left my camera and laptop unattended, as I rushed off to vomit. Apparently, I wasn’t hung over, I was still drunk. Additional apparently, it turns out that unlabeled carafe was not Vodka, but tequila. I also remembered that I had forgotten to eat dinner the night before. Oh well! I made many awesome contacts, and learned tons of useful stuff.
Stompernet was in Atlanta. So, I did my taxes while there, went cliff jumping with my buddy Robert, and got attacked by wild geese instead. For those who say that you can’t say much in 140 characters, I disagree: Was gonna jump off a cliff. Got attacked by wild geese instead. Dang, yet another new gash! ß- 50 characters left over!
In March I was excited. It was my first time being invited somewhere as a pro blogger / tweeter. Ford, the car company, invited me to attend their 2010 Ford Taurus preview dinner. It was very cool indeed! Great food, incredible car (I used to drive a Ford Taurus station wagon, and it didn’t look anything like this!), and nice people. I was leaving back to Austin right from there…. This time to attend SXSW (South By South West). There I got to meet in person Peter Shankman and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Peter (@Skydiver on twitter) is funny, witty, masterful at PR (I bought his book this year—Can We Do That?! – tells you how to create PR Stunts that work, and why they work. I highly recommend it), and helps journalists. To top it off though, he is an adventurer… he’s done over 200 skydives already… and he’s running triathalons and marathons now. He’s a total spaz J – So, of course I look at him as sort of a roll model. Gary has inspired so many people. I’m a fan because he just says it like it is, and has gotten the acclaim for it. He’s a real dude. He’s also an awesome person.
I couchsurfed with the folks of Tito’s Vodka. Beth, head of marketing, was so excited that I interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk. She’s his biggest fan (or close to it… when you’re as famous as Gary, I’m sure there’s a few that are TOO big of fans (stalkers?)). So I gave her my Vaynernation sweatband. She was thrilled. But she really called me up shocked when she had a voicemail from Gary, just saying hi. She had told me that he was her hero, so I gave him her number, and asked if he would mind making someone’s year… no…. decade. He did it, and it did make her decade. In fact… it’s helped influence some major decisions for her. Thanks Gary!
I got a tour of Tito’s Vodka Distillery- they don’t give tours. I got to drink it at 180 proof, straight out of the still. I got to go to the Tito’s Vodka Dinner- where every course was cooked in Tito’s, and a different cocktail was served up. It was a seven course meal J
I drove back to Atlanta for Matt Bacak’s Marketing Maddness event. You guessed it, it’s a marketing event. This is where I broke into public speaking. The people were surprised when they saw that the guy wearing a Zebra-stripe bathrobe, a fuzzy hat, and telling tons of jokes…. Was actually one of the speakers. The response was awesome, and I got invited to attend a magic show by John Calvert—one of the world’s oldest magicians… Google him, uber-interesting!
I got to couchsurf with Matt on his private property which he calls “God’s Country” – we went 4-wheeling, shot skeet with a shotgun. Fun stuff! I brought the Tito’s Vodka of course.
I went to the Atlanta Creativity Exchange. It was not as wild of a crowd as shows up at marketing events, that’s for sure! I got to attend Laughter Yoga, and my buddy Ben Mack mortified the instructor by telling his Bowel Movement story, when she was talking about Vowel Movements—another classic video!
Saw the Plain White T’s in concert again. Austin has a lot of music shows! I was staying with a girl that I met during SXSW. Holly was very cool (still is)- she took me to do a lot of exploring in Austin. Not just the city, but a lot of swimming holes, a waterpark, a baseball game in Dallas, and she visited me in Oregon. But… I haven’t gotten to Oregon yet!
My car got broken into! That really sucked. I was lucky though, they only took my GPS, and a bunch of change. I needed to get my window repaired. But, they didn’t take my lenses, so I was in great shape.
I took Perry and his wife April to go glass blowing with Holly and me. I’ve never been glass blowing, and have wanted to do it since I was a small child. I sent the glass pieces I made to my mom.
More Austin oddities I saw- Cathedral of Junk (a giant structure built over 20 years of just junk), and the bats… millions of them come out every night at sunset. It’s quite a sight.
I was about to drive to Phoenix, AZ to speak at Ben Mack’s event, when I got an email on Facebook saying “I love what you’re doing! If you’re ever in Phoenix, AZ you have to stay on my couch!” That’s how I met Caleb Jennings. I called him up, and said “Funny enough, I’m headed there right now” – and he took me to the Heart Attack Grill (2nd most popular post on my blog). We had a lot to discuss—adventures, travel, technology, marketing, and much more. He is one well educated adventurer!
I went to California, couchsurfed with Radio announcer and photographer Aron Bender (who just got married 2 days ago, and his new wife already said I am welcome to crash on their couch any time I want). I inspired Aron to pursue his photographic career, and we’ve been in touch since… so it was great to get to visit him in California.
I was really excited. Another case of being recognized as a social-media talent… got invited to Oregon, as a means of attracting attention to the city of Coos Bay. I made it there, parked my car, and flew to Florida. It was my first flight since I started this thing. I flew to attend my little brother’s graduation from UF. The family took a cruise to Jamaica, Honduras, and Belize. I ate ridiculous amounts of food. It was fun to be with the family, but cruises are rather dull these days. We did get some really nice scuba diving in though!
The best thing about the cruise was that it gave me a week away from my car. I needed it. See, after it got broken into, I kept expecting to see my car broken into every time I came out of a building. The time away fixed that.
Before the cruise, I couchsurfed with Allison Nazarian. A talented copywriter that I know from “back in the day” before twitter and facebook, and all that stuff J We had a tame time hanging out, but we spoke of our bucket lists. I am proud to say that since then Allison has gotten a tattoo, and we did karaoke together. Skydiving is next on the agenda (I’ve been a few times, but she hasn’t). Allison is also an amazing friend- we’ve been able to bounce private stuff off each other, and she even delivered flowers to my parents for their anniversary for me! Which was awesome, ‘cause my folks love her (A nice jewish gal!).
In Coos Bay I got to have the most amazing time. I went clamming, deep sea fishing, camping, camping at a yurt, 4-wheeling (on a rental, and on a private one that’s tricked out) on the dunes, jet boating, surfing (waves, not just couches), bowling (also to go in the back, and see how the bowling machine works), see some amazing scenery, and then Kat (the amazing woman who was hosting me — @OregonKat if you want to plan an adventure!) introduced me to Julie, who is in charge of the chamber of commerce in Bandon, Oregon.
Bandon was another amazing city. Both cities are on the coast. In Bandon I got to go horseback riding, get kitesurfing lessons, help make fudge, ride with the coast guard on search and rescue training, play hickory (authentic 1890’s) golf, play regular golf.
I picked up my first hitch hikers in Ashland, OR. This is the point where Holly came to visit me, and we went to Crater Lake. Kat had gotten us staff housing there. We went rafting, and hiking, and just enjoyed the beauty of the place.
After dropping her off at the airport, I went and played Bull Poker. Definitely one of the highlights of this year…. Which was quickly followed by another highlight: couchsurfing with Tony Hsieh (zappos.com CEO). This gave me a major insight into the company, as I got to attend their 2nd ever annual meeting. I really miss the Zappos.com crew. I think if I would ever have a regular job it would probably be with Zappos.
Zappos.com is in Vegas. After hanging there, I hung out with Caleb again. He had moved to Vegas to work with copywriting LEGEND Joe Sugarman (whom I got to meet later in the year. What an honor. You probably don’t know it, but Joe is the reason we can order via credit card over the phone, and thus now over the internet). We went to Zumanity (Cirque Du Soleil’s sexy show) where the pre-show gang messed with us. This consisted of a 350 pound gal in a skimpy teddy sitting on Caleb’s lap and bouncing around, then drowning me in her tits. When she backed off, she asked if I was ok. I caught my breath, gave a thumbs up, and she did it again. The crowd was pretty entertained. I was pissed off – ‘cause Caleb didn’t get a picture…. That stuff’s just classic!
It was now June. I had made a 22 hour drive from Tony Hsieh’s house, to Holly’s house in Austin. We had a tubing trip with David Gonzales’s crew. I was dead tired by the time I arrived, but it was a fun day.
During this visit I got to mess up Holly’s BMW a bit, and pay to have it fixed. The only problem was that the guy I paid did a crap job… lesson learned- there’s a reason the shops cost more. The Friend of a Friend doesn’t always work out so well.
I attended Dos XX’s Most Interesting Academy – a party at a castle, with Bug Eating, Skydiving, bungee jumping, and of course… good friends.
I did 4th of July on the lake with Lyn Graft. He produces OnTheRoadWithIV.com – one of the shows I was on this year. IV is one of the girls I interviewed as well, and she’s just a blast. I met her through Caleb. She’s an entrepreneurial skydiving hottie who races motorcycles. How could I not fall for that? J Lyn does work with other clients as well, and I got to hang with him at Blues On The Green – a Blues concert that Austin regularly has.
Mike Dillard is a well known internet marketer. I got invited to ride out with him and his clients on a houseboat. Another first. Remember—new experiences is one of my definitions of adventure!
My buddy Jimmy Walters the IV (4th) had a screening of a movie he worked on. That was really neat to see someone have a success with one of their passions. It was a really neat movie too… it’s called Between Floors, and you can catch it touring the country right now on various film festivals.
I was actually in town to work on a project with some friends. We just buried the project last night, but it was a neat learning experience. So, a lot of my time in Austin was spent filming, editing, animating, and having meetings.
I had the most amazing time at Perry Belcher & Ryan Deiss’s Traffic and Conversion Summit. It was 3 days of Perry and Ryan sharing everything they do. Their advanced tactics, and the small details that make them work. There was also great networking, and at the VIP party, great drinking. I got to ride in a hummerzine to their VIP dinner at Fogo De Chao Churrascaria, which is a Brazilian style restaurant. I’m drooling just thinking about it. The things I learned there have become quite useful for me, and thus for my various clients.
I had a going away shindig, and the most amazing people showed up. It wasn’t particularly planned- I just tweeted about it the day before, and everyone made time. I wanted to cry… that’s how moved I was.
The next part of the year – it was now August – stands out as it’s own year almost. I met and went on a road trip with Craig & Suzanne (who’s house I am writing you from now). Which I had heard of through Caleb, and they heard of me… but we didn’t realize it when we met, that that’s who each other was. When we realized it, we became instant BFF’s, and I got invited to camp at their camp at Burning Man.
We went on a week roadtrip from Austin, to some hotsprings in New Mexico, to Arizona, to Sacramento, to Humboldt, to Ft. Bragg where we attended a Raw food expo—and where I started my 30 day raw challenge. I ate 100% raw for 30 days, and lost 28 pounds. After the expo, we went back to Sacramento, and onto the Ranch.
At the ranch we helped make hundreds of lifesize legos out of wood. Our camp was called Lego Land, and it took a lot of prepping to make it! The end of August is when Burning Man begins. Burning Man always provides the best photos and stories.
We figured we would part ways in style, so we went rock climbing in Yosemite, and then I split to go to San Francisco (Albany) to spend the holidays with my family. This was the last week of my 30 day raw challenge, and was not easy, as Mom & Barak (older bro) were prepping holiday food around me all week. Lots and lots of meat and cooked food!
The night I finished my 30 day raw was the night of the holiday feast, and I gorged myself!
The next morning I drove to San Diego to stay with Jason Moffatt. Jason is a marketer, but we didn’t really talk much marketing. He is by far one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. I attribute his success in marketing to having lots of street smarts. I wish I could tell you all his stories. I designed his book cover for him on very short notice, because the person that originally did it did a crappy job! I say crappy job, ‘cause the book is called “Twitter for the shitter”.
Jason lives in a gorgeous home on the beach. We were going to go surfing- I had only had the one lesson in Oregon, so was excited to get to go. The night before Jason took me to Benihana’s, and my stomach did not take too well to that, after being on 100% raw for 30 days. I woke up with serious indigestion, and Jason’s incredible girlfriend, Kameron had made us some really spicy potatoes and cooked eggs for breakfast. This did NOT help my stomach. We went and surfed, and I ended up puking all over myself… a few times. We were in the water though, so it got washed off quickly. I expected to find a bunch of little fish eating it, but no such luck.
I flew to Austin on 0 notice to make changes to that project that just got buried. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I’m in town.. I just worked for 2.5 days, and flew back in time to go to Ken Macarthur’s JV Alert Live. I met some neat people there, and had relocated couches to John & Julia’s. I met them at Burning Man (Julia was vital in helping me stay alive during my mishaps there J ), and didn’t realize that they live right on the beach.
We went Kayaking one night with this really cool girl I met at JV Alert, Joanna Kinsman… whom I then couchsurfed with briefly to help her pack on her trip to Florida. While there, I invented a new recipe we tried briefly: Chocolate Chip Cookies dipped in Guacamole. Oh wait—the kayaking! We kayaked through the harbor to see Crosby Stills & Nash – they had a show, and we brought lots of booze, food, etc… so we had comfortable seats, all the food and drinks we wanted, and got to enjoy the show. It was a blast.
I took off again. This time it was time to go to Kansas City, Misourri. This was a 3 day drive. I couchsurfed with my buddy Dirk Linderman (whom I met at Yanik’s Underground) in Salt Lake City. The next day I made the rest of the drive. I drove to the American Royal—the world’s biggest BBQ competition—just to have a taste of the Bacon Explosion. I was supposed to couchsurf with Jason of BBQ Addicts (creators of Bacon Explosion), but I was freezing cold, tired, and parked kind of far from the American Royal… so after eating some of the best BBQ ever, I chose to drive to Atlanta instead.
It was actually a tossup between Atlanta, and Chicago. But, I figured I’d get stuff done in Atlanta- such as emptying my place out, so it can be rented out… something which didn’t happen (emptying) until Decmeber.
My friend Robert & his girlfriend Megan had a baby. I was in town to show my support. When they found out they were pregnant, they asked me to be there for the birth… I said I’d try, so I was thrilled when things worked out. I’ve been coaching Robert for a while now, and he has become the best sales person at Gold’s Gym—constantly beating his own records (and those of the other 7 gyms in the region).
I left Atlanta to go to Fantasy Fest with Couch #2 – Cari. She’s another adventurer entrepreneurial hottie. Cari had enough costumes from her Klowning (yes, with a K… she’s in a Klown troupe- they get dressed up, and go perform at parties), and from Burning Man. She dressed us all up. It was great. Fantasy Fest is Key West’s version of Mardi Gras. Lots of boobs, booze, and beads. We rode around on bicycles, and since Cari grew up in the keys, she knew tons of people, and we got to go to many private parties.
I hung out with various friends in South Florida. I got in a car accident from texting and driving…. Bad Ori! It was just a fender bender.
I attended my friend Johnny’s wedding. He’s the talented artist that collaborated with me on the CouchSurfingOri.com logo.
I went to the SoFresh Cruise Tweetup. I met up with Rich Tucker, and Lyell Petersen. The cool thing is that I met Lyell through Kate Buck Jr (one of my couches and bffs), and when I said I’ll be in Florida, Lyell invited me to their tweetup. Rich was shocked to see me there. He kept announcing to everyone that I’m The Couch Surfing Ori, and that I’m actually here, and that when he signed up on twitter, he followed 37 people the first day, and I was one of them. The more he drank, the more he announced that to people. Shucks. It’s cool talking to people on twitter/facebook, but real life is the best (followed closely by Video Skype).
On my way out of Florida, I got to visit 2 more awesome people. First is Eric Farewell. I’ve been talking to Eric about hanging out since I met him at March of 2007. It was incredible how many similarities we had. I met him at Armand Morin’s Big Seminar… I think my camera got his attention. Eric is a marketer, photographer, pilot, motorcyclist, adventurer. I got to meet him and his hot wife. They’re fairly recently married, but they literally have known each other since they were born. It’s truly the best wedding story I’ve heard.. find my blog post about Eric, and you can see the story in the invite. He took me around to his family’s property, Chalet Suzanne, and even gave me a can of (delicious) Moon Soup (One of the astronauts on the original moon launch loved their soup so much, he demanded that NASA figure a way to get their soup up to space with him… and they did.). He showed me the family’s planes, he even spun out in his VW Bug (remember the 100′s of hours of video I said I needed to edit/post?). The property was quite full of history, and Eric had many stories. I got to sit in on one of his teleseminars, and pitch in. I’ve had some of his attendees find me on twitter and get in touch since then, as they liked the content. That was bonus. Then it was off to see my little brother for a delicious dinner at one of the restuarant/bars he works at, a big hug, and a chance to see his dog Nugget again…. then it was off to Atlanta.
I came back to Atlanta to find that my neighbor’s sister had been in my place while I was gone (I know ‘cause she leaves food in the fridge, and does my laundry), and stole my shelf! More like threw it out… I don’t know… my neighbor was the only one that had a key, and she was obviously there. Neither one of them would fess up to it. It was really tough to fix the shelf, and Jeremy Johnston finally did it for me.
I met Jeremy at Matt Bacak & Mark Joyner’s Survival Tactics For Tough Times conference. More marketing stuff. I learned some stuff, partied (What is it with Atlanta conferences, and showing up the next day still drunk), and met some amazing people. I got to meet some legends! Ted Nicholas, and Joe Sugarman! Google them. If you’re into copywriting, you should definitely know who they are, and have read anything they’ve ever written.
I wanted to celebrate my birthday in Austin, as there are so many awesome people here. I made my birthday be the deadline for my moving out of Atlanta. I did it… but a few hours later than I wanted (like 12 hours). So, I missed my own birthday party, but I’m in Austin. This is where I want to start 2010 in.
A few days ago I started my weekly radio show- CouchSurfingRadio.com — That’s something I wanted to do this year… so I just did it. It will definitely evolve and grow. But I can check that off my 2009 goals list.
That’s basically my year. Tonight, I am going to a small party to celebrate the new year with some close friends. I got invited to various parties, clubs, and bars for the night. But, I’m a chill guy. I like my adrenaline. I like my music loud. But I like people, and conversations, and stories. And I find that at loud clubs, and bars, and big parties… I can’t hear what people are saying, and they can’t hear me. I would like to start the year sharing laughs, stories, and good times with my close friends. That’s what life is about, thus that’s how I end one year, and start the next. It’s not a Bellydancing, gypsy music, bonfire party… but it’s even better/
I’m not into resolutions (other than 1920×1200 J )—I’m into goal-setting. Resolutions get broken, and are often not precise. I hope that 2010 is a fun year for you filled with many achieved goals, good memories, good health, fun adventures, and prosperity.
See you next year!
Feel free to leave your 2009 highlights