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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drifting Away at the Driftwood Beach

When someone says to you, "Oh, you've GOT to check out the driftwood beach! It's awesome! It's FULL of GIANT driftwood!" does that excite you? I admit, when I was told those very words, I just smiled and shrugged and said, "Sure!" Because quite frankly, that's the approach I tend to have about most things in life, especially when I hear there is an element of excitement and beauty. (But that's silly to say, because EVERYTHING has an element of beauty and excitement.)

The driftwood beach is part of Jekyll Island, which is about 20-ish minutes from the hostel. Jekyll Island itself is kind of "meh" -- there's golf, classy-ish restaurants, little shops, touristy stuff, etc. But the driftwood beach definitely steals the show. After walking through some trees along a dirt path, the beauty of this place sneaks up on you, slaps you in the face as soon as you step onto the sand.

This is some Tim Burton-esque stuff right here, folks. Well, with more sunshine. (That Tim Burton, he's so GLOOMY!)

So listen, guys! There's this AWESOME beach that is FULL of GIANT driftwood!...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vegan Dining, Tree Hostel-Style

As if the Hostel in the Forest wasn't amazing enough, they're also very vegan-friendly, offering a mostly-vegan communal dinner every night, fresh out of their Soul Kitchen. Everything is homemade with love and as many homegrown and local ingredients as possible.

We ate outside each night on picnic tables by string- and candle- and torch-light.

It was late and dark when we ate, though, so be prepared for some flashy pictures.

Dinner the first night consisted of a giant salad and these amazing corn cakes with a chunky salsa-relish-chutney. I really want to recreate these and eat them every day until I'm sick of them.

The vegan chili was also delicious.

After ya dun scrape ya plate, ya help out in the kitchen.
I don't have any pictures of this, but I'll just say that that first night, I never had so much fun washing dishes before. Madonna's "Like a Virgin" will always bring images of dancing with dish towels and singing loudly over the sounds of sprayers and the clangs of pots and dishes.

My friend Brandon helped prepare the salad the second night. He's a chef and showed off his mad "I'm a chef" knife skills.

Another amazing salad with broccoli leaves, tomato, and grapefruit, along with jasmine rice and sesame broccoli, and a most heavenly tomato-basil-topped lentil loaf.

To say that the food at the hostel was amazing and comforting and delicious would be an understatement. Eating with the other guests was fun, too. Always good conversation, often interrupted with random enthusiastic compliments about the food.

I want all of my dinners to be like this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Hostel in the Forest

My magical weekend was a three day stretch that I won't soon forget. It was so full of beauty and happiness that a part of me doesn't want to share it. I want to keep these warm, happy feelings inside my heart, and these warm, happy memories inside my mind, and lock them inside of me, hoarding them all to myself. A delicious secret.

But that wouldn't be very nice. Sharing is caring, after all, and once in a great while, something that is "too good to be true," really is too good, and really is true. Something like that is worth sharing. So I present to you... The Hostel in the Forest.

I arrived at the hostel just a few minutes after my best friend, Kate and her hubby, Brandon. We were meeting here as a fun little get-away/vacation before they pressed on to Maine. The magic began just after narrowly missing the entrance. We both got a kick out of the extremely bumpy ride down the long, winding driveway. As I bumped along, I rolled down the windows for the first time that day and listened and marveled at the tall trees and the warm sunshine beaming through their leafy branches.

Kate & Brandon were set up in a hut with no walls, just screens.

My first night was spent in the Collaboratorium, which is much more hostel-like. The bottom floor is filled with bunk beds and funky paint EVERYWHERE.

The top floor has an art studio that we were told we could play in, but we never had the time.

There was also a hammock, which I successfully conquered.

I realize that doesn't look quite "successful," but I swear I made it all the way in! It was snug.

Once our bags were dropped, we set off to explore the grounds.

We had a lot of fun around the lake.

This place is about as earth-friendly as it gets, from recycling to composting.

(this includes - colorful! - composting toilets)
As colorful and cheery as these are, it was a little creepy (for me) to go to them in the middle of the night, even with a flashlight.

They also grow much of their own veggies, but you'll be reading more about the food in a later entry.

The showering situation is pretty nice. Freeing, even! It uses filtered sulfur water, so there's that eggy smell, but being able to shower in the fresh forest air pretty much makes up for that.

So there is your introductory tour of the hostel in the forest. Coming soon: dinner at the hostel, where I slept the second night, CHICKENS!, and Jekyll Island.