Monthly Archives: December 2009

Bookstore closed

It hadn’t really sunk in that we would be leaving our home of 4 years, until earlier tonight when I started taking down the bookstore.  Soon after we arrived, Kaci and I decided the hostel needed a bookstore.  We just didn’t know where to begin.  How do we get the books?

One day while perusing the books up at the Jedediah Smith visitor center, we mentioned our plan to the man working there.  Turns out Jeff ran the many state park bookstores up here on behalf of a local nonprofit, the North Coast Redwood Interpretive Association.  And he said he’d be happy to set us up.

Within a few weeks, the hostel had a bookstore, essentially a satellite store for the NCRIA, offering over 50 titles most of them relating to the natural and cultural history of the area.  For the next few years, Jeff dropped off whatever books we asked for and returned to pick up the deposit. Sure, the hostel never made a penny on the sales, but it supported a local nonprofit, it was a great service for our hostellers, and we got to thumb through the books and guides on the occasional slow night.

Since the hostel is closing we talked to Jeff about the plan for the remaining books.  January 17 is our last night, but for his association’s annual inventory, he noted it would be better to have those books back before the end of the year. And so, earlier tonight I started boxing them up.  Out of curiosity, I decided to count up what I saw on the sales record.  In about 3 1/2 years, we sold approximately 170 books and 120 trail maps.  And yes, there were many more people who just enjoyed being able to peruse.

But now the bookshelves are empty. The books are the first to go, but soon they will be followed by everything else: disassembled bunkbeds and other assorted furniture, boxes of old files, tools, sheets and pillows, et cetera.  And then us.

I guess you could consider starting up the bookstore and closing it down the bookends to our time here.

Categories: About Redwood Hostel, Hostel News

Solstice Oxygen

Last night while closing my 10pm shift, I did the usual walkabout the hostel. I wrote a message on the office door, contemplated changing the Quote of the Day (“Life is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page” -St. Augustin), but didn’t, said goodnight to the half-dozen hostellers still up reading thick novels and finishing a raucous game of Balderdash, drained the mucky kitchen sinks and poured another 40 pound bag of pellets into the wood stove hopper.

I also locked the four doors connecting the hostel to Outside. At each door, before locking up, I pushed the door ajar slightly–just 12 inches or so–and poked my head into the night. I felt like a bear, sticking her nose out of the den.


Would a bear stick her nose out of the den on the Winter Solstice eve? Around here, maybe. It doesn’t get quite cold enough for a full hibernation, so the bears kind of “mini hibernate” throughout the winter. Like cat napping for four months. (I, human mother to a newborn and preschooler, am envious beyond reproach).

Outside was instant awake. Foamy waves belly-flopped onto rocks. Sky mist separated the land and sea from most stars, yet even then, at least four dozen Other Suns broke through the fog. Twinkle, twinkle, how small we are. It was cold, but a cold of gratitude. That is, you feel it, and wordlessly give thanks to this cold for –like a bell– alerting you to where you are. Bringing you back to now.

And the air.

When I’d poked my head outside, I took a deep breath of that air. I did not tell myself, “Oh, fresh air! Breathe it in!” Didn’t need to. Just, head poked outside, lungs got the news and pulled in as much air as they could. I had nothing to do with it. At least not the conscious parts. The best I could do was to notice.

The other day, I took a short walk on the Yurok Loop trail with my newborn son in a front carrier, napping as he likes to do. No other humans were around. The rain abated, and only a sheath of mist lingered. I was on the move and outside, so the fresh air pumped freely in and out of my lungs, letting me breathe deeply with such regularity that I could take this for granted. Of course the wilds will always be this accessible. Of course I’ll always make time for a hike. Of course I can always breathe like this.

That was when I made a pact with nature, or if you like, Nature. To be on her side. In a non-dualistic culture there wouldn’t be sides, only one long roll of the tides that carried everyone and everything on it, landing ashore in one piece. But my culture needs to choose. Whose side we’d take, if it came down to it. Are you with us, or against us?

I’d rather not focus on who I’d be against, but I can choose to be with nature, and not for nature’s sake, either. If we left, if humans wiped ourselves out through war or simply attrition, the plants, microbes and non-human animals would survive. Persist. Evolve. They would move on. I side with nature for our sake. I want my great-great-great grandchild to take her newborn son for a hike someday. He deserves at least that much.

A bird swooped down a few feet in front of us and alighted nearby on the branch of a red alder tree. I looked up. This wasn’t just a bird, it was a Spotted Owl. In our human world, the spotted owl is the symbol, the epitome, of the bitter struggle between “loggers” and “tree huggers.” I doubt that this particular spotted owl knew, or cared, about our little fights in humanland. She just wanted to have a look at us. She watched me, I watched her. After a few minutes, I walked away. It was a simple relationship.

That is the Solstice for me. Simple. The sun rises, the sun sets. Sometimes it moves closer to us, other times it moves away. We don’t need to control it, or sell it, or even seek to ‘understand’ it. All we need to do is take notice.


Categories: About Redwood Hostel

Walking in Our Final Winterwonderland

Winter is descending again. This morning I scuttled about the frosty hostel, cranking up the space heaters and feeding pellets to the wood stove. My fingertips are still numb, but the sun is out, so hope persists.

May hope also persist with the future of Redwood Hostel.

As many of our blog readers know, the hostel is closing indefinitely next month. Our beloved building has worn her foundation down to her seismically unfit bones, and our friends at Redwood National and State Parks–who own the hostel building–are unable to fund repairs. So we close.

Guests are, naturally, despairing. This little hostel by the sea has served many travellers with a warm and cozy respite for two decades and each year, it seems, more people are drawn to the Redwood Hostel. It fills them up.

Our final day is January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Until then, we are open limited nights: December 3-5; December 10-12, December 17-January 2, January 7-9 and January 14-17. We are planning a Goodbye Celebration in late January, so please check back for more details as they become available (it will be after our closing date, so sadly, we can’t offer overnight accommodations to the public).

We’re optimistic the hostel will re-open sometime in the future, either at this location or nearby. If you happen to find $2 million beneath your couch pillows, or lying on the sidewalk, or wadded in your backpocket and you just don’t know what to do with it…think of us.

And if you would like to stay abreast of Redwood Hostel news, please contact us at 707-482-8265 or

We’ll miss you all! Keep this little hostel in your thoughts during the coming chill.


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