As my son was packing up for another season at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I realized I had to do something to make these weeks special for my daughter too. So what better than a grand AirBnB inspired road trip!
My daughter and I love animals and have been especially interested in raising chickens after our town passed legislation allowing them to be kept locally. My daughter even began lobbying school administrators to create a kind of 4-H club for some students to raise a few hatched chicks.
So, creating a trip to visit chickens along our route seemed like a natural theme for our adventure!
Immediately, I started searching Airbnb, an online resource that connects travelers to hosts, to find homes that matched our criteria, namely – staying off major roads as well as visiting highly-rated organic farms that had chickens, and finding hosts who appreciated natural beauty or art and were interested in sustainability. Along the route, we planned a day to visit my son’s camp, a waypoint that guided our planning.
A Couple of Birds on a Lark in a Blue Bird
Our first Airbnb stay was in a converted “Blue Bird House Bus” at the Orange Twin in Athens, Georgia. The site was host to an outdoor amphitheater buried deep in the property (unfortunately no concerts while we were there) along with some dogs, goats and a chicken, who loved to have her cheeks rubbed!
Our “room” in the bus had a wooden floor, a green velvet couch, solar lights good for three hours whenever we chose to use them, and shelves filled with herbal medicines and tinctures and an eclectic assortment of treasures from the rusted head of an elephant taken from an antique coin bank, a howling Red Riding Hood wolf, to books of poetry and medicinal plants. If we were in Salem and it was 1692, we’d be trouble. But, we loved it!
A Great Pyrenees in the Smokies
Our next stop was especially exciting! We stayed at an off-the-grid permaculture education center located near Boone, North Carolina called “Woodland Harvest Farm.”
It was a bit difficult to find, but once we found the entrance, an enormous Great Pyrenees dog greeted us immediately along with a gallery of sustainability initiatives on painted signs, and a happy welcome from partners Lisa and Elizabeth.
Our rustic cabin was built on a rise at the end of a forest path. Outside, my daughter explored the grounds with one of Lisa and Elizabeth’s children. After a while, I noticed her walking up the path to our cabin with her hand resting on the back of Jed, the Great Pyrenees, who’d decided he was her guardian. That night, he positioned himself on our deck, periodically galloping up the hill to fend off the coyotes!
In the morning, a farm intern brought us steaming thermoses, hot eggs, and local bacon. After fortification, we set out for a day in Boone at “Cyclo-via,” a festival that celebrates “human-powered fun.”
Travelling onward, we headed up to a place advertised as “Country Comfort in Bethlehem, PA.” I knew it would be beautiful, but even I wasn’t prepared for how lovely it was. Each room, every corner, was a composition of treasures: stacks of books on topics ranging from design to the human body to the art of farm steading, an iron bird on wheels, a floor to ceiling antique painting of a koi, a silhouette of a goat collected on a trip to France, and a cabinet of natural treasures: dried eggs, a nest, smooth stones.
The bed itself was a simple structure with fluffy down pillows and percale sheets that had been line dried. At breakfast, owners Ken Foster and partner Larry Lance, “ex-pat” designers from Philly, had set out a metal basket of fresh eggs made in perfectly seasoned cast skillets, soft butter, raspberry preserves made on-site, and a loaf of locally baked bread. Creature comforts were not lost here!
The Family Platform
Next on our list: D Acres, a permaculture education retreat in Dorchester, New Hampshire, a small hamlet in the mountains. Founder Josh Trought lives there still, happy to talk or sign a copy of his detailed and meticulous book on the farm’s social and agricultural evolution.
After some exploring, we decided to set up camp on one of several camping platforms set up in the woods that D Acres had for visitors. Having our own “house” felt luxurious. We enjoyed parking our bikes in our footpath driveway, saying hello to the neighbors, two pigs happily grunting as organic greens were hauled in by interns pushing wheelbarrows.
This stop marked the half-way mark of our trip as we finally made it in time for visitation day at my son’s camp, a 107-year-old treasure situated on the banks of Lower Baker Pond in Wentworth.
I’ll let you know about the adventure back home in my next article. In the meantime, feel free to let me know your experiences with AirBnB. Did you know they had so many sustainable options to choose from?