Day 044 – Treehouse Hostel, GA

What a contrast! In New York I would go months at a time without leaving the city limits, mostly in Brooklyn where I lived or Manhattan where I worked and even then just a few neighborhoods in each. Now, every day or couple of days I’m miles from where I woke up, meeting new people and seeing new places. Of course that is the point of traveling, but I had forgotten how satisfying it is to be constantly in the new. My trip feels like a rolling three day tour – the moment I’m in, most of the day before and a descending fog on the day before that.

I woke up to the peaceful sounds of birds and the hostel chickens with sun light filtering through the forest canopy and into my treehouse windows. First order of business was coffee and finding a seat on the communal deck in front of the main building. The North Carolinians were soaking up the last bit of the place before having to head back home. Cameron was also taking off today to cycle back down to Saint Petersburg, FL. He works at a bike shop there and I plan to stop in to say hi when I’m coming back up from Key West. Kate was also heading back to Asheville, NC to resume fighting for the environment. She said the Republican supermajority in the legislature has been colluding with the Republican Governor to gut a lot of the environmental laws in the state. Keep up the fight Kate!

Mornings are bitter sweat – it’s wonderful to wakeup in such a place, but there is always someone leaving. I decided I would not be one of those people on this day and booked another night and then quickly made my way to the lake for a morning swim.  There were a few people playing in the water and a few more sunning on the center dock. I apologize that I have not remembered everyone’s name. Mike and his wife were there on their honeymoon with their daughter and daughter’s friend from Waycross, GA. Mike’s wife is a ranger at Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge and she talked a bit about feeding the alligators as we laid in the center net. Lucy and her friend are on a tour of the US from England. I was strongly advocating that they try boiled peanuts before going home and I think I convinced them. Adam was also there – a man I instantly liked because he has a great name, but also because he seems like a great guy.

Adam proposed a canoe race across the lake and I chose Lucy to be on my team. We debated about tying their canoe to a tree to gain the advantage, but decided it would be more in the spirit of the place to paddle as hard as possible and see what happened. Mike called the start and we were off with the girls in the bow of each boat. My plan was to take the center line to the right of the dock and force Adam towards shore. Lucy was on the same page and we managed to get out ahead of them and to the other side of the lake in no time. We had to touch shore with our canoe before heading back, which meant we had to pull the bow off land and quickly turn around to keep the lead. The turning part got a bit frantic as I was not calling out our strokes to Lucy so we ended up pretty far off the center line by time we got the boat turned around. I’m ordinarily not competitive, but wanted this victory so dug in deep to catch-up knocking my sunglasses into the water.

I took one look behind and saw them slowly sink into the abyss and one look in front of me at Adam a boat length ahead and decided to go for it in hopes of finding my sunnies later. We caught up to them a little past the dock and I knew I could bag the race. A few more hard paddles and we were beached on the other side a little before our competition. High fives all around! Adam and I grabbed some snorkeling gear from the dock and attempted to find my designer prescription sunglasses. Upon sticking my head in the water I was repulsed to see all types of sulfur slurping lake slime billowing up from the bottom – you know that greenish, whitish sheet like, mucusy stuff that can be found in hot springs. Adam made a valiant effort with me for 30 minutes before it became apparent that these sunglasses would be found by a future generation. This being the third pair I’ve lost in the past three years I’ve decided to buy cheapies from here on out. And yes it was worth losing them to win the race or so I keep telling myself. Note – the slimy stuff is far away from the main swimming area so don’t let my description deter you from enjoying the lake when you go there. (you really should go there)

When I originally called the Treehouse Hostel to book a room I spoke with Dee. When I arrived at the Hostel Dee was there to check me in and give me the lay of the land. It also turns out that Dee is the on staff masseuse and I of course had to get worked on by her. Let me just say it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.  She works in a screened in room away from the rest of the buildings. It’s nice to have the sounds of the forest as a backdrop instead of the usual meditative music found in most massage places. My legs and hips felt fabulous after the hour. I could have easily gone for 3 more. I asked how much she would charge to come on the rest of the tour and give me daily massages. It was either a bicycle and $500 a day or a bicycle and $25 plus a burrito of indeterminate size per day. If I only had the money or could figure out just how big of a burrito I would have to make her everyday 🙂

After a game of rotten vegetable slow pitch softball, no catching or running required thankfully and good for the garden and chickens, it was time for dinner. Everyone holds hands in a circle and we listen to the sounds of the forest for about a minute before going around the circle and saying our name, where we are from and what we are thankful for on that day. It’s a great opportunity to learn a bit about the every changing faces and a nice way to start the meal. We had a kale salad and vegetarian curry over rice with a lot of the food coming from the garden.

That night someone started a fire and I got a chance to talk to Cat. She had been at the hostel for a couple of weeks and has been working on an herb spiral amongst other things. She was taking some time off of studying because she wasn’t sold on her path into the business world. She gave a very impassioned review about the movie Blue is the Warmest Color and it’s realness. The condensed description – lesbian coming of age story, but it seems there is a lot more going on and a fair amount of controversy surrounding it. I shall add it to my film list and see how I react. Cat is also planning to stay at the hostel a little longer before spending a few weeks hiking the Appalachian trail before heading back to Louisiana to finish off school.

Hostels are a unique node in the network of human narrative. So many stories motivated by the desire to see, be and feel the different. The Forest Hostel is a gem amongst gems.