Author Archives: Ryan A Forsythe

About Ryan A Forsythe

Ryan Forsythe is a writer, editor, and artist from Cleveland, though he considers the state of Jefferson his home. He received a Master of Arts degree in Teaching Writing from Humboldt State University and an MFA in Fiction from San Diego State University, where he also served as Associate Editor with Fiction International. Ryan writes short fiction, novels, travel stories, family history, personal essays, children's books (for adults), and the occasional poem. His writing has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations, a Best in Show at the local county fair, a "Great 69-er Award" (for best 69-word fiction), and more. His novel, "Dick Cheney Saves Paris," was released by Love Earth Publications on August 30, 2011, the same day Cheney's own memoir was released.

Tonight’s the last night…

Working the front desk tonight, I’ve been thinking of a song by one of my favorite musicians.  On the album Black Sheets of Rain, Bob Mould has a song called “Tonight’s the Last Night”:

Tonight’s the last night that I’ll ever spend with you / And please don’t ask me why ’cause I don’t know

A somber sentiment, sure.  But after 22 1/2 years and probably over 7000 nights welcoming hostellers (we guesstimate over 75,000 unique guests in total during that time), tonight is the last night for the little hostel at Wilson Creek.  The reasons for the closure have been described before, but now we are left with the reality.  For my family, it’s been a great time: four years of meeting travelers and helping them plan their day, four years exploring the beach across the street and all the hiking trails throughout the Parks, and four years of scrubbing the same toilets day after day.  Well, okay, maybe that last part wasn’t so great.  But it was part of the experience.

Some random off-the-top-of-my-head memories from the past 4 years….the power going out for 4 hours on our first day in charge o’ the place….severe storms tonight and the possibility of the power going out tonight…the fellow skateboarding the entire coast from Mexico to Canada on a 6-foot long skateboard….Linda Marie and Craig showing up with a Christmas tree a few days before Christmas one year….Humboldt State’s French class showing up each year, and speaking French for most of the weekend….Humboldt State’s German class showing up each year, and speaking English for most of the weekend….popping “Kind of Blue” into the living room stereo before opening the office….Mike the Spoon Guy biking here with his bucket full of hand-carved spoons….a group of hostellers including 15 or so of the California Conservation Corp singing to our son Rory on his first birthday here….a member of the CCC losing his bookmark and being upset because it was his grampa’s photo (we found it and tried calling the CCC but they didn’t have contact info for you–if you’re out there we still have it 4 years later)….all the many kids playing with our son Rory for a day or two….all the many adults playing with Rory for a day or two….watching Kailen born here–as hostellers were checking in at the office right below us….getting to know all of our great staff members over the years: Cautip, Mark, Matthew, Barbie, Tara, Lezlie, Emily, Andrew, Brandi, Sarah, Kyle, and Chris….all the other hostellers, too numerous to name, who have made working here a fun and rewarding time…and, of course, the thousands of hours of conversations with Kaci on every possible detail of the place: policies like daytime lock-out and length of stay, furniture, wall decor, prices,advertising, recycling, landscaping, purchasing, coffee and candy bars and the foodstore and the bookstore and on and on and on and on. You’re a rock star, Love, and I look forward to whatever adventure we share next (and congrats on the Manager o’ the year award–you earned it).

So, yeah. Thanks for the memories, Redwood Hostel.

– Ryan (with “Kind of Blue” on the stereo right now)

P.S. For those that don’t know, we will be opening our doors one more time.  So there is one last chance for people to come on in and check out the place (or should that be “check the place out”?) before we start disassembling bunk beds and moving everything out.  This coming Saturday, January 23, from 3pm to 8pm, we will have the farewell celebration.  There will be live music, free food and drink, and a history of the settler, pioneer, and hostel history of the area.  We’ll also have a community hour where people with a connection to the place can share stories. More on that here.

Categories: About Redwood Hostel | 1 Comment

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

The return of TROUBADUO

In May, Redwood Hostel was energized with a a great set of live music from national touring act, Troubaduo.  We and they enjoyed it so much, they are making a return engagement.

This Monday, September 21, in the Redwood Hostel living room, the soul-singing duo of Bryson Van Cleve & Jill Marie will be performing some of their great original songs and also some of their favorite covers, free for guests (though you may want to bring $10-15 in case you want to take home one or more of their CDs).

To learn about their last visit, click here and read a blog posted just after the concert. You’ll also be able to see them perform a few songs by clicking the links in that blog.  By the way, when we discussed that they may come back, they said maybe they’d even bring some recording equip. and record a song or two.  So if you want to hear yourself clap on a future CD, come on out to the show.  There’s more on Jill and Bryson in another of our blog posts right here.

Troubaduo.  Be here Monday.  Or miss out.

Categories: Events

The return of ‘Those summer private rooms are fillin’ up’

Most of the phone calls we get these days begin with “Do you have a private room on…”  And we know how the conversation will end up.

As of this very moment, between today and September 18, we have one room on each of August 26, September 2, 3, and 10.  That is 4 out of 150 (2 private rooms for each of 75 days).  So we’re sorry, but the answer is yes, we have no private rooms today.

Categories: Hostel News

Troubaduo, fresh from their set at Blue Lake Casino…

…will rock the house tonight!


As they make their way around the western United States, what better place for a “soul singin’ songwriter duo” to perform than surrounded by Coast Redwoods and the Pacific Ocean? Traveling musicians Bryson VanCleve and Jill Marie will perform a free all-acoustic show at the Redwood National Park Hostel tonight, May 18.

Collectively known as Troubaduo, Jill and Bryson will play both original songs and songs by some of their favorite artists, such as the Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash. The show takes place either on the hostel’s ocean-view deck or around the woodstove, depending on the weather.

While their music has a folk/rock essence, the two bring their own talents together to back each other up on stage. Jill’s charismatic Sunshine Pop sound combined with Bryson’s high-energy soul-singing voice should make for a show that fits perfectly with the serene surrounding of the hostel.

Both artists have released CDs recently, and Jill Marie’s song “Season of Wishes” was chosen for the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s 2007 holiday campaign song. While the show is free, donations are accepted. Check out their videos for a preview of what you’re in for, which is a show you don’t want to miss.

Categories: Events

Those summer private rooms are fillin’ up

Our last post was of our Frequently Asked Questions, but I think we neglected the most frequently asked question these days: “Do you have a private room available on ____ ?”  We only have 2 private couple’s rooms (each with a queen bed, though one of them also has a single loft bunk above the queen making it perfect for a family of three), so they tend to go fast.

We will get the occasional cancellation, but as of this minute, we have booked over 2/3 of the rooms for summer.   Just to give you a sense, here are the days between now and the end of August, for which we have at least one of our private rooms:

April 23

May 4, 6, 9, 13

June 1, 2, 3, 4, 7

July 1, 5, 8, 9, 11, 17, 18, 20, 28

August 2, 11, 12, 14, 23, 24, 25, 26

Keep in mind we will get the occasional cancellation, so even if your date is not listed now, it might be available in a few weeks.  But then again, I seem to recall that last year we had sold virtually all of the private rooms for June, July, and August, by mid-to-late May.  So it may depend on when you’re reading this on just how hopeful you should be.

But hey–there’s always the dorm rooms.*



*By this, I don’t mean that we always have beds available in our dorms–those fill up too.  Just not as fast.

Categories: Hostel News

The Return of Frequently Asked Questions

2 1/2 years ago, we posted our Frequently Asked Questions here on the blog. Well, it’s time for an update. Much has changed. Plus, few people are probably scrolling through the 50+ postings (at 5 per page) to get to our FAQ of August 2006. So let’s update.

What is a hostel? (generally phrased as “I’ve never stayed in a hostel—how does it work?”)

We welcome many first-time hostellers and so aren’t surprised when this question pops up. Perhaps you’ve made a reservation because this is the cheapest lodging in the region, but you aren’t quite sure what to expect. Where do I sleep, you may ask. Where do I eat? Do I get to shower in private, or will I be sharing my shampoo with a family from France?

Never fear, for the answers are here. Yet this first answer is the most difficult to define, because a hostel is many things. It’s inexpensive lodging with a complete self-service kitchen, saving you the expense of eating out. It’s a place to learn about the local area and meet travellers from all over the world (in any given month, we welcome people from Ireland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Poland, South Africa, Scotland, the United States and everywhere in between).

A hostel has usually had many incarnations. Redwood Hostel used to be the home of the DeMartin family, who raised sheep and goats on this land more than one hundred years ago. Other hostels used to be mansions, lighthouses, military outposts, farmhouses and even castles. They can accommodate 6 people (often in someone’s home) or 600 (often in large buildings in big cities) or anywhere in between.

Fun fact: We are members of the largest organization of hostels, Hostelling International. To be precise, we belong to the Golden Gate Council of Hostelling International-USA. There are roughly 75 HI hostels in the United States and over 4,000 worldwide.

Can you tell me more about your hostel?

We’re a smaller hostel, with space for 28 people, so staying here is kind of like staying at someone’s house. It is one building with a living room, kitchen and dining room, bathrooms, and 5 bedrooms. The living room has comfy couches, a fireplace, books and games and instruments. The kitchen has all the pots, pans, and plates you’ll need, as well as stoves, fridges, toaster, microwave, coffee maker—even spices. If you bring the food, you can cook all you like. We’re found in Redwood National Park, just across the street from the Pacific Ocean, so our two outside decks look out on the water (and 4 of our 5 rooms have an ocean view).

What is the #1 hostel in the world?

Okay, we admit this isn’t asked frequently, but we thought we’d brag anyway. Last year, named us #1 in the world for customer satisfaction among HI hostels. Okay—we actually tied with a hostel in Osaka, Japan. But there are over 4000 hostels in the Hostelling International network, so we’re pretty proud of our standing (proud enough, in fact, to make up a frequently asked question about it).

Coming and Going

When can I check in?

Anytime between 4pm and 10pm.

When must I check out?

By 11 a.m. on your final day.

Does the hostel close during the day?

Not anymore! Beginning June 1, 2007, registered guests have 24-hour access to the hostel. Though please note: this doesn’t mean you can be here for 24 hours (we’ve had to clarify for people who check in at 6pm and are only staying one night—you still have to leave by 11am).

Can I check-in early?

If you’re with a group of 10 or more people, then you can rent the hostel for day-use at the rate of $100 for a full day (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) or $60 for a half day (1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.). Keep in mind, however, the hostel will also be open to registered guests during that time.

Another way to arrive early is by bicycle or bus. We understand that folks traveling by bike or on public transportation have less control over the time they arrive at the hostel. Please call to make arrangements for an early bike/bus check-in.

Do you have parking?

Yes, plenty of free parking.

How can I reserve?

Best is to pick up the phone and call 707-482-8265 during our office hours of 8-11am or 4-10pm Pacific. That way we can answer any questions you may have, and make sure you get what you need. You can also book online 24 hours a day here. Please note, however, that only dorm beds can be booked online. If you require a private room, we ask you to give us a call.

I thought I paid already? (generally asked at check in, when we ask for payment for your stay)

While we do take your credit card at the time you reserve, we don’t charge you until you show up. At that point, you can pay with cash, traveler’s checks, or credit card. If you pay with credit card, we ask you to hand it over for us to swipe; that is we do not “just put it on the card” that we have on file (for one thing, it takes longer to enter the 20+ numbers than to simply swipe, but it also insures both that you are the card owner and that we don’t make a mistake in entering all those numbers).


Where do I sleep?

In a shared or private room. We have three shared rooms: Wiyot and Chilula (6 beds each) or Yurok (10 beds). There are two private rooms: Karuk has one queen bed, while Tolowa comes with a queen bed on the bottom and a single bunk bed on top, ideal for families with young children or up to three adults. We can also convert a shared room into a private room for your group, if you pay a small surcharge, depending on the season and availability.

What if people snore?

On our office door, we offer the “Middle-of-the-Night Emergency Earplug Supply.” Just come on down and grab a pair. But please note: if you sound like an airplane landing when you sleep, hostels might not be the best option for you. We’d be happy to recommend a nearby motel for you.


Where do I eat?

In our kitchen. It features 2 new stoves and ovens, a microwave, 2 toasters, pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, plates, bowls, cups, glasses, can openers, graters, peelers, Tupperware, kitchen towels, cutting knives, etc. Not to mention ample spices, cooking oil, salt, pepper, and often an orange or tub of butter left behind by another traveller.

In short, our kitchen has everything but the groceries. Stock up in Crescent City if you’re coming from the north (Safeway, Harvest Natural Foods, Ray’s Supermarket, Shop Smart, or Grocery Outlet) or in Klamath if you’re coming from the south (Woodland Villa, 2.5 miles south of the hostel). Also, Arcata and Eureka (1-1.5 hours south of the hostel) have several great co-op and/or natural food markets.

But what if I’m hungry and don’t feel like driving?

Glad you asked. While we support local businesses and are glad to see hostellers buying jugs of milk at the Woodland Villa, we also have some goodies available at Snack-quoia Sempervirens, the little store found in our office (generally soups, pasta, drinks, instant oatmeal, chocolate bars).

And let’s not forget the restaurants. Here in Klamath, there are a half dozen or so—though some of these are seasonal—while Crescent City has a wide selection of options. We keep a binder handy with just about all of the local restaurant menus, so you can peruse items and prices before heading out. The options include seafood, burgers, pizza, Chinese, Italian, Thai/Vietnamese, American, and more.


Is there a bathroom in my room?

None of our rooms have private bathrooms; however, the bathrooms and showers are just a few steps down the hallway.

Do I get to shower in private, or will I be sharing my shampoo with a family from France?

You get to shower in private. We have three showers, each with a lock for privacy.

Do you have Internet, cell phone reception, and TV?

No, no and no. Because the hostel is situated in a remote area on the North Coast, there isn’t access to reliable Internet, cell phone signals and cable TV. We do bring out a DVD/VCR player to show a documentary on Friday nights (generally travel- or environment-related), but other times, we keep it hidden so people can chat, play games, or read peacefully. We do, however, have a payphone.

If you have your own laptop, there are several places up in Crescent City (12-13 miles north) that have free Wi-Fi, including coffee shops (The Coffee Corner, Alissa’s), a deli (Chomperz), and a breakfast/lunch restaurant (Good Harvest Cafe). If you don’t have your own computer, the Coffee Corner and the county library are your two choices for finding a computer or kiosk. Closer to us, the Woodland Villa (2.5 miles south) and the Pem-Mey gas station (7 miles south) have Wi-Fi.

Is the hostel clean?

Maybe you aren’t asking this question, but you’re probably thinking it. Yes, the hostel is immaculate! During our most recent inspection by Hostelling International, in March 2009, we scored 103% overall. That makes us one of the highest-scoring hostels in the country (if not the highest). And as part of the hostelling experience, we gladly say “yes” whenever a hosteller asks if they can help out with a chore.

This is definitely not a party zone. In fact, alcohol isn’t allowed and smoking is relegated to the parking lot below. HI-Redwood Hostel is a quiet, safe place to get away from everything (everything except the beach, forest, and lagoon, that is.)

Can I do laundry at the hostel?

Sure. We have a washer and dryer, and sell laundry soap at the office. Please limit laundering to the evening hours of 4-10 p.m. (so last load should be started by 8:30pm). The machines are located near a sleeping room, and we don’t want anyone to have to fall asleep to the sounds of your jeans going through the spin cycle.

Does the hostel recycle?

We recycle plastic, glass, tin cans, aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, and batteries. The bins are located under the dining room side of the countertop and under the sinks. Please thoroughly rinse and flatten these items or they will mold, smell and attract bears when placed outside for pick-up.

Should I be afraid of the bears?

Black bears do live in this region, but they are much more afraid of you than you are of them. Before embarking on a hike from the hostel, read the posted notices that offer tips for avoiding bears and mountain lions (and what to do in the event of an encounter). You can also print bear tips from the Internet.

Two years ago, one particularly pesky bear raided the hostel’s Dumpster a few times. He managed to perform a few belly flops on the lid, causing a complete cave-in. The kindly folks from the National Park Service ordered us a brand new, bear-proof Dumpster, and the bear retreated to the woods. If more ursine neighbors should happen to visit the hostel, we will make sure everyone is well aware and take precautions.

How do you heat the hostel?

We have a pellet wood stove in the common room that keeps the hostel toasty. For additional heat, each sleeping room has an electric heater which is quiet, efficient and safe.


Do I have to be young to stay at a hostel?

No. The first official hostel, back in 1909, was begun by German schoolteachers looking for an inexpensive place for the kids to stay on backcountry trips. Hostels were geared towards young travellers in the early decades, but today we welcome everyone and there is no age limit.

When you say everyone, does that include families? I have a young child.

This is a common concern for parents. The hostel is ideal for families–it’s clean, quiet and safe. Just ask us. Our 21-month-old son (make that 48-months now) likes to crawl up and down the stairs and “reorganize” the pots & pans cabinet every morning. And all the while, he’s surely safe. But please note: for the comfort of all guests, we require that children be at least 4 or 5 to stay in a shared dorm with other travelers (for those under 4, please inquire of our private room availability).

Is Redwood Hostel accessible to disabled travellers?

Certainly! The hostel has ramps, first-floor sleeping rooms, and an ADA-approved bathroom and shower with a fold-out bench and adapted shower nozzle. Please let us know when you are coming, and we’ll ensure your needs are met.

Are pets allowed?

Sorry, but only service animals are allowed at the hostel. Please call to make arrangements.

Going Outside

What’s the weather like?

Expect a little of everything. The wet season runs from November through April, more or less, and it’s cool and sunny the rest of the year. Afternoons get windy, as we’re near the ocean, and summer mornings are foggy. Want to be prepared? Find the weather outlook here.

How far are you from the ocean?

Three minutes. (And that’s walking–not driving.)

What’s your favorite trail?

One of us would say Flint Ridge section of the Coastal Trail. Another of us would say Damnation Creek Trail. (How many of us are there? Well—that hasn’t been asked frequently. Check back to see if people start asking.)

Miscellaneous Questions

What if I forget something?

We’ll keep it in our Lost & Found for one month. Please call and we will send it to you, although we’ll likely ask you to cover shipping costs. After a month, we need to clear out the Lost & Found, and unclaimed items are donated to thrift stores.

Is the hostel privately owned?

No. HI-Redwood Hostel is one of nine hostels in northern California operated by the Golden Gate Council, which is a non-profit, membership organization affiliated with Hostelling International. Our mission is “to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.” And though Hostelling International runs the hostel, the building and land are part of Redwood National and State Parks.

So what is there to do around there?

We’ve already created a pretty decent list of our favorite things to do around here. Visit our Things to Do page for the list, as well as a collection of upcoming events:

Anything else I should know?

To see pictures of the hostel and nearby area, and to learn more about the hostel and its history, visit our official webpage.

Categories: About Redwood Hostel, Local Information

In case you missed it…

We’re open!

After a few months of being open on weekends and holidays (November-December) and a few months of being closed altogether (January-February), we’ve been getting the occasional call asking “So, are you open?”

Yes, as of March 1, we’re now open every day. Office hours are 8am to 11am and 4pm to 10pm daily (between 11am and 4pm we’re off cleaning the hostel, making it nice for when you show up).

And just an FYI, those summer private rooms are starting to go fast.  I’d estimate that right now a little more than half are booked.  So if you want a private room between Memorial Day and Labor Day, we suggest you make your plans soon.

Categories: Hostel News

Hiring happening again

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Hiring for the March-October season.  We’ve posted on Craigslist and in  the Del Norte Triplicate, but for those of you who check this space, here’s the scoop:

Hostelling International-Redwood National Park is a 30-bed hostel on the coast in Redwood National & State Parks, 13 miles south of Crescent City.

We are hiring 2 seasonal staff people to work 17-25 hours/week from March through October (closer to 25 June-August; closer to 17 the other months). At least one position will require overnight stays Friday and/or Saturday nights. The starting wage is $9 per hour. Please note: Housing is not provided, nor are health benefits. Staff members do receive complimentary Hostelling International membership and free stays at HI hostels throughout the United States.

The ideal candidate is familiar with Redwood National & State Parks—or is enthusiastic to learn—and enjoys working with the public. As well, s/he can confidently handle a computerized reservation and cash register system, is creative and has a tolerance for cleaning and frequently answering the frequently asked questions. Light maintenance skills preferred, or at least a willingness to learn. Prior hostelling experience and bilingual skills are recommended. This job is ideal for social nature lovers!


-Take reservations by phone, e-mail and an online system

-Orient guests to the hostel and local area; help guests plan their hiking itineraries

-Become familiar with hostelling, its history and mission

-Collect and accurately record overnight fees and sales of goods

-Provide a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for guests

-Clean the hostel (approx. 1 shift/week)

-Help with special events, educational programs, maintenance work and other hostel projects

-Other duties as assigned by the Hostel Manager

Send a letter of interest and resume to:


And do please note that last line (a few people so far have not sent resumes–just a phone number for us to call them–they probably won’t be getting interviews).


Categories: Hostel News

The rankings are in again…

This past June we shared with our loyal readers the latest customer rankings of HI Hostels the world over (see here).  Well, they’re at it again (making rankings, that is).  And so I feel obliged to give the update.  Sadly, the Redwood Hostel has been knocked from its #1 ranking (which we shared with the Shin-Osaka Hostel in Japan).  We are now tied for #3 in the world (with the Shin-Osaka Hostel in Japan).

The good news is that we apparently have not seen more dissatisfied hostellers here: In the previous poll, we topped the list with a 93% customer satisfaction score.  This time around, the HI Baan Dinso Hostel in Bangkok achieved an astounding 95%, while yours truly, the Redwood Hostel, maintained its 93%.  So it seems that people are just as satisfied with us as they were way back when we were #1 in the world.  But the Baan Dinso has thrown down the challenge.  And so our goal for the next year, is to make each of you 2% more satisfied than you would normally be here.  Can we do it?  There’s only one way to find out (and yes, that would be to read the next ranking whenever it comes out).

Again, we’d like to congratulate our fellow Golden Gate Council hostels who made the top 10–making it still the case that 4 of the top ten HI hostels can be found here in Northern California.




Categories: About Redwood Hostel, Hostel News | Leave a comment

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