When I was in my early 20s I spent a night in a youth hostel at Cannon Beach.  I was in a dorm room with several other young women and had an enjoyable evening chatting with one young woman who was bicycling across the country.  The next day she was going to her ultimate destination – Astoria, OR.  It felt heady, exciting, to stay in a hostel and meet interesting people. 

I also spent a couple nights in a hostel in San Diego several years ago when I went down to pick up my car that I’d left in Mexico.  My last evening there they had a barbecue and everyone was invited.  Another intoxicatingly independent experience, until I got sick and ended up in a hospital on my way home.

I have recommended hostels to others.  I put my dad and young son in one on their trip to Washington DC.  Another time I put Mark in one in Salt Lake City when he went down for his mother’s funeral.  Neither Dad nor Mark had quite the zeal about hostels that I did.

I say “did” in the past tense.  Right after work tonight we headed to Fairbanks where I had us booked in a hostel for the next two nights.  When I was booking it, the room was called the Tree House Room and I thought that sounded intriguing.  When we arrived and were taken out in the back yard to our “room”, I realized they meant that quite literally.  We had to climb a ladder to get to it, open a trap door, and use a flashlight to see our way around.  The mosquitos are eating me up.  We have two mattresses on the floor.  The walls show the bare boards holding it together.  If we need to use the bathroom, that’s inside the house.  And for this, we are paying $120 for the two nights we’re going to be here.  The next cheapest thing would have been a hotel that cost twice as much.

Mark is none too happy about this.  After working a full day and driving three hours to get here, he’s tired and sore.  I am trying to envision what an adventure this would be if we were children.  Remember when sleeping in a tree house or fort overnight was exciting?  If I can recapture that youthful exuberance, it will take a herculean effort.

More about our weekend adventure tomorrow…

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