Monday, September 3, 2012

Window of Adventure

I'm back and it feels a little strange.  I just returned from a ten-day tour, of sorts, of four New England states.  The last stage of it was spent at the hostel pictured here in Cape Cod.  Most families don't do hostels, but we thought it would be a relatively cheap way to manage to pay for the first family vacation we have ever taken. (I don't consider trips to visit other family vacations, do you?) 

The hostel is the white building in the photo.  It was a Coast Guard station built in the '30s on the ocean side of the upper Cape Cod peninsula.  (The Kennedys were a Cape Cod family, and John Kennedy was flying to Martha's Vineyard, just off of Cape Cod when he crashed in the ocean.)

I hadn't stayed in a hostel since I traveled through France exactly 20 years ago as a childless single person.  It felt a little strange hosteling with a family, explaining to kids they would have to share a restroom and shower with strangers, and live communally with people they'd never met.

Here's what I found most interesting:   

There is a whole subculture of single female senior citizens hosteling alone.  LARA! Hosteling is not just for 20 somethings, and in fact young people were in the minority at this hostel.  Most of the guests there were middle-aged plusplus females venturing out alone.  I found this so exciting--that these women hadn't decided that their window for adventure had closed.

I have to think of my life as one of options--as I get older I keep thinking they diminish.  Do they have to? 

My first night there I couldn't sleep.  The small room I shared with my family felt small, because it was small.  The total darkness outside, save stars, and the remoteness of our location seemed oppressive.  I started to panic.  I hung out in the closet with the light on for awhile, and then ventured downstairs to the main floor--a vast open space consisting of a living room with a half dozen mismatched couches and a capacious kitchen.  It was about 3:00 am when I wandered into the kitchen and swiped a bag of herbal tea from the community basket, put the kettle on.  I kept feeling like I was going to be in trouble, but the house full of guests was largely silent.  Outside the open windows, I could hear the wind whipping off the ocean.  I sunk into the couch and posted about my insomnia on Facebook via my phone.  One commiserating friend from Salt Lake City was up late, too, but not as late as I was.

At around 4:30 one of the female guests descended in sweats, her hostel-issued blanket wrapped around her.  I looked up guiltily. "I can't sleep," I confessed.

"My roommate is snoring," she said.  "But anyway it's the full moon," she said.  "It's like caffeine."  She peered out one of the picture windows framing the fireplace.  "Lot's of planetary action going on out there."

I peered out with her.  The moon was a blue moon; an illuminated planet tried to steal its thunder.  

But I didn't feel panicky anymore.  I felt grateful I was awake and alive.

More on the trip this week, if you're interested.  


I know Lara just finished the Artist's Way, but my vacation, coupled with the fact my kids have had nothing going on but me the week before, I'm a bit behind.  School starts this Thursday, though.

You didn't think my kids were going to let me read on this porch, did you?  


  1. Julie! I've stayed at a hostel on Nantucket. It was great, but overall I felt Nantucket was just too fancy for me. I loved Cape Cod but didn't realize there was a hostel there. Must try it!

  2. looks gorgeous, julie! i'm totally up for a hostel adventure, girl. tell me when.