Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where we live

Well, so much for my "bonus post," as it's been almost 2 weeks! My "bonus post" was going to be pictures of where we live!!! It is so hard to explain in words and pictures don't even really do it justice, but they should give you a better idea.

You can enter the lodge through the front door, which brings you into a community living room, community dining room, community kitchen and 2 bunk rooms (8 beds and 12 beds). Sorry, no pictures of those rooms, but they are really open and beautiful. Back in the 1930s, this was someone's summer home. Many of the walls are stone ... so gorgeous.
When you go around the back of the building, you come to the hiker door and our private entrance. The hiker hostel is open by a code 24 hours/day and has 10 beds. There is also a private room with room for 6 people downstairs, which we will use for any guests (I'm directing that at YOU and YOU and YOU). We live in the turret section of the building!!!

And now, enter our chamber. It is quite possibly the smallest space we have lived in, but that is fine. In a way, I am happy to be forced to "downsize," as we just spent 9 months living out of our backpacks and then our vehicle, so we can live on next to nothing! Plus, the living arrangement is included in Deal's employment and you can't argue with that "deal!" Anyway, after painting, laying new floor and hanging pictures, we have made it our quaint getaway space and I do love it. We have a kitchen, living room, 1 bedroom and a bathroom. There is also a bonus small room for our spillover guests.
Outside our door is the office and store and then another locked door back to the community space. We sell hiker resupply as well as some gifts in the store. But people especially love that we sell frozen pizza and Ben & Jerry's ice cream!!! I have to admit, I also love that we sell Ben & Jerry's ice cream ... 

So there is your $2 tour. Don't forget the incredible view of the Shenandoah Valley just 200 yards from the lodge. You'll just have to come and visit the "castle in the woods" yourself!! I promise, you won't be disappointed!

I suppose I can also give you some quick updates while I have your attention ...

-We've had about 50 thru hikers come and stay at the hostel. This doesn't include section hikers, bikers (Deal has a funny story about one group), people driving around the country and whatever else comes through our front door. It is some kind of wonderful, I tell you!!! This place is hopping and all the visitors have been awesome!!! And Deal is in his element catering to them. With his beard and fact that he showers every 3 days, he still kind of fits in with the thru hikers...

-Our summer intern arrived this week. Perfect timing because with it getting busier and busier for Deal and it's so helpful to have someone to share the load with.

-We are heading out of town this weekend!!! Marie/Hopeful and Scott/Redwing, the former caretakers, are covering for us so we can attend Trail Days, the annual festival celebrating trail life!!! We will hand out Soyjoys, hand out business cards for the hostel, meet up with some old hiker friends and meet some new friends!! I can't wait!!!

-Jess, our foster cat, is doing great. She's so tiny, though, that sometimes we can't find her. She's looking for a home if there is anyone out there (Mama F) ...
-The stink bugs are still here, but the BugZooka is still our savior. I will spare you more pictures of them, unless there is a special request.

-If you've known me for a long time, you'll remember the company for which I worked 8 years for and where I was laid off in 2010. Well, they finally went out of business. I really feel bad for the 4 employees who were left on the editorial team, but we all saw the writing on the wall for many, many years. I salute that company and all the employees, as they went through a heck of a lot of changes and survived a tough economy! 

-I just found out my mom is going to live forever. Because a new study came out linking coffee drinking to a longer life. Who knew she had the secret to a long and healthy life all along? 

-Our friends lent us the first 5 seasons of The Office. How in the world did we miss this awesome ridiculousness all those years?

-And my current job, well, I'll just leave it at that. 

I do believe that's it for now! Until next time!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Seis de Mayo

Hi there. Has it been 2 weeks? Oh, 3? Really? Oh boy. That means I missed my deadline for my biweekly blog post! I am sure y'all will be much more forgiving than my job is about missing deadlines ...

Overall, we had a pretty good 3 weeks, if you consider we had no car accidents or break-ins! However, without getting into it too much—because honestly, I could write about 5 blog posts about  it—my job is tough. The clients are extremely demanding, and frankly, I have a hard time keeping up with the work and not taking the demands to heart. All of my coworkers are completely overworked and no one really seems happy. Plus, I love the hostel (so far). I love being involved in the lodge business, so I long to be here and "present" more. Can't really do that when you are running on empty. Don't really know right now what my future holds, but I hope it is brighter than the present!

However, instead of being a complete debbie downer on the blog, let's just focus on the positive things in life, like BugZookas.

What is it? It's a lifesaver, plain and simple. We have the most annoying bugs here at the lodge. Stinkbugs. We never experienced them until here. I don't know anything about them, except that they are invasive and occasionally let a "stinky" out. Gross. I know. But, it's part of life here. Luckily, Mac/Fire Marshall and Alex (really need to come up with a nickname) brought us a BugZooka. It looks like a super-soaker and sucks up the bugs one-by-one, which is glorious is itself. Plus, it is turning out to be a big conversation piece among our guests.

We've had quite a bit of excitement on the property since we've been here. The previous caretakers said they had to call the police for different reasons a "handful of times" in their 4 years here. We have called the police 3 times in 2 months. Once, for underage drinking at the campground, once for some illegal drugs at the overlook and once for a spiritual dancer trying to serenade the gods on our lawn at 10:30pm. All good fodder for my future book, right?

Friends have been the key to our sanity these days. And we can't thank them enough. We have a sporadic schedule, clearly, so it's easier for people to come to us. Twice, fellow SOBOs have brought us food and fellowship. Foot-Z, who we met up in Maine in the beginning of our trek, brought us steaks a few weeks ago. Mac & Alex brought us Thai. Deal & I also got away separately and visited old friends recently. I went up to Philly for 24 hours and some QT with my college roommates - Kelly/Chile and Rachel/Charlotte. Deal went up to Atlantic City (surprisingly, not for a concert) and hung out with Jay/Hoss. Of course, I didn't take any pictures of any of it. I suck. We look forward to future visits with our friends (that means YOU).

Cats, Cats, Cats
You all know about our cat, McKinley, whom some would say we abandoned, while others would say my parents kidnapped. We finally came to a decision on his future. He will stay with my parents indefinitely. It's just that he is entirely too comfortable there and even my father loves him and would sad to see him go. They have grown attached. We know McKinley would adjust to all the hustle and bustle of the hostel life, but why rock his world?

To make ourselves feel less guilty, we decided now would be a good time to do foster care for animals. The Loudon County Humane Society has many animals without homes and doesn't have a physical location to shelter them. So many times, they end up in cages at the vet. It breaks our heart. We first had 2 older cats (Gizmo & Corolla) for a week. They were a little crazy, though. Someone in their life decided it would be a good idea to let them steal and eat people food. They literally would steal our food right under our noses. We felt bad, but we traded those 2 back in for a younger cat. She is a sweetheart, and although she is very kitten-like (2.5 years old), she listens when you tell her not to do something.

I think I've mentioned the amazing network of volunteers connected with the lodge. Well, we had some more come and they are a HUGE help. One group weeded and mulched all our grounds. This other couple is here redoing the ceiling in the hiker hostel. This place takes a lot of teamwork to keep it going!

We've done 2 more presentations about the AT for local events. We really like doing these presentations and educating people about the trail!

I think that sums up the last 3 weeks. Maybe, just maybe, no promises, I'll do another post this week!!!! A bonus for my lapse!!