“Hostel” or “A Homophone for ‘Hostile’, but Way Friendlier”

As a part of my awesome NaNo 2012 adventure*…

*(My apologies to anyone who had performed a happy dance under the misapprehension that you wouldn’t have to hear another word about National Novel Writing Month until sometime next autumn. If you are, for personal reasons, sick to death of even a passing mention of the subject, please know that it was not my intention to contribute to your nausea, and have my assurance that this blog piece is not actually so much about The Month That Shall Not Be Named as it is about other stuff entirely. So do stick it out to the end of the article, if you feel that your constitution can handle it.)

…I traveled to California to, a) visit with my writing buddy bestie Tirzah and, b) participate in NaNo’s infamous Night of Writing Dangerously* in San Franciso*.

*(Both of these will totally get blog pieces all to themselves, in the near future. The “sick to death of NaNo” camp can feel free to skip the NoWD post.)

Now, while Tirzah’s house is significantly closer to San Francisco than is my place in the Midwest, it was still far enough away that we needed to find a place to board us while we were in the city. From what I glimpsed while walking its streets (usually somewhere in the range of “mildly lost” to “tragically lost”), San Fran’s got some ridiculously nice hotels to offer. But “ridiculously nice” = “crazy expensive”, often enough, and Tirzah and I were looking for something a little more within the budget.

Ultimately, then, we went with “a supervised, inexpensive lodging place for travelers, especially young travelers” – i.e., a hostel. The Pacific Tradewinds Backpacker Hostel, to be precise.

We arrived on a dark and stormy (well… rainy, anyway) Friday night, after a long day of missing train connections and walking several miles with forty-pound loads and inappropriate walking shoes (note to self from feet: Get some cushy insoles for my awesome boots) and, as I’ve mentioned, being lost. I was tired and sore and grumpy; Tirzah was tired and sore and less grumpy, because she’s the sort of cheerful person that I feel like punching in the face on nights like these. But upon the eventual discovery of the hostel’s door cleverly hidden just a few yards from where I’d been standing in despair, I did not cry – not tears of exhaustion at having to drag myself up three flights of stairs to get to the check-in desk, nor tears of joy at just finally, finally being there.

Checking in was a reasonably quick and friendly affair; we were given an overview of the rules of the realm, the keys we’d need to move about with autonomy, and the magical words every laptop-toting writer loves to hear: Free wi-fi. We spent our last hours of the evening in the common room, happily plugged in and slowly drying out and generally content with our lot. The night hadn’t ended before we’d gotten started on making ourselves at home, making friends, and making memories.

Tirzah with our new insta-buddy, Kat.

Tirzah with our new insta-buddy, Kat.

I told Tirzah to look like she was getting up to something in the kitchen;
she chose “no good”.

Pacific Tradewinds became our home base during our San Francisco stay; the place we looked forward to returning to after long days of sightseeing in the city and evenings dining and writing with fellow NaNo types. Falling out of my top-bunk bed didn’t happen, and enduring some roommate’s mighty snores for two out of my three nights there didn’t kill me (though I may or may not have spent a 4am contemplating suicide; my future husband had better not snore). Bathrooms were small and privacy was limited, but we’d been warned of that going in and were quite willing to pay that instead of additional money.

To my daily delight, every morning featured complimentary breakfast – toast (peanut butter and jelly optional) and cold cereal and hot tea and coffee. And if you were in the right place at the right time, somebody might offer you the remains of their lovely-smelling dinner from the next table over. (Evening number one, Tirzah and I were in that right place and time. Yum, yum, yay for chicken stir fry and potatoes.) There was even a Thanksgiving feast which, sadly, Tirzah and I didn’t get to partake in, having returned to her house the Monday before. On the upside, we didn’t leave too soon to miss out on contributing to the hostel-wide hand-turkey wall.

Voluntary holiday craft time!

Voluntary holiday craft time!

Tirzah is thankful for stars, clouds, ink and paper, the Night of Writing Dangerously, “The Night Circus” (the book that inspired her turkey’s design, by the way), a good night’s sleep, and all things noir.

Tirzah is thankful for stars, clouds, ink and paper, the Night of Writing Dangerously, “The Night Circus” (the book that inspired her turkey’s design, by the way), a good night’s sleep, and all things noir.

I’m thankful for books, characters, and we who write them; sky, water, and all pretty things blue; sisters, best friends *like* sisters, and San Fran; hostels that foster hand-turkey creation.

I’m thankful for books, characters, and we who write them; sky, water, and all pretty things blue; sisters, best friends *like* sisters, and San Fran; hostels that foster hand-turkey creation.

The Pacific Tradewinds hand-turkey wall, in all its glory. ...Or all the glory that we got to see before we left town, anyway.

The Pacific Tradewinds hand-turkey wall, in all its glory. …Or all the glory that we got to see before we left town, anyway.

So, that was pretty much my experience there. Travelers planning on passing through San Francisco, check it out. Pacific Tradewinds is run by a fun bunch of folks, and there’s plenty of cool stuff within walking or busing distance…some of which will get written about and photographically illustrated in a post coming soon to an Ever On Word blog near you. Stay tuned, y’all…

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