We live in a place that people typically retreat to in order to escape from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Our home is a vacation home, a little cabin, somewhat updated and comfortably furnished, that is nestled on the side of a mountain. We are surrounded by large trees, maples, oaks, poplars, hemlocks and white pines, that block the view of our neighbors further down the mountain. We have three streams on our property, one of which I’ve never even seen. We have a deck and a fire pit by one stream and another fire pit in the front yard, closer to the house. The front deck is partially covered with comfy chairs for us to relax in while we watch the hummingbirds battle it out over the four feeders we have hanging all along the front. The side deck is open to the sky, our succulents thrive here in the temperate rainforest, soaking up the perfectly filtered sunlight. This is a perfect spot to look at the stars, it’s so dark here in the woods far from the city lights, and the stars are so bright, winking at us from high above. Our property backs up to a national forest, thousands of acres of protected land where gas powered vehicles are not allowed. There is no one behind us but bugs, birds, and furry critters, and there is no possibility of future developments. We are truly retreated from society.
We often joke about how perfect our house is in the case of a zombie apocalypse. We could easily block the road leading up to us to protect us from the undead, or even worse, the desperate living. The sad truth is that this might actually come in handy one day. Our world is unbalanced, our country is at odds, the planet is suffering. We would be well sheltered from any turmoil that might arise, and we would be fairly prepared to withstand hardship. The forest would provide much that we needed, and our position would be difficult to penetrate.
Living here does come with sacrifice. The internet is terrible, we cannot get pizza or Chinese delivered when we don’t want to cook, and we have to pick all our packages up from the post office, a twenty minute drive away. Our driveway is steep and bumpy and requires maintenance all the time. It takes me twenty five minutes to get to the office, and the drive downtown is about thirty minutes. If we go out for drinks, a ride home costs $20 plus a generous tip. It is worth it to us though! We feel so lucky to have gotten this place.
So, where do we go when we want to retreat away from our world? What does a vacation look like to two people who live in a vacation home? We go everywhere, we do everything, and we come home needing a vacation. We always say that we won’t push ourselves like that again, but we always do, and we always come home completely exhausted.
We tried to have a baby for five years, and finally decided it was time to move on, to change our life plan. Instead of being disappointed and downhearted, we looked at it as a new opportunity. Instead of saving money for college, for school trips and sports uniforms, we realized that we could spend that money on travel. The world would become our baby, our dreams would solely be ours and not contingent on the needs of another.
We went to Ireland during the biggest snowstorm in thirty years, traipsed through the mushy streets of Dublin for hours just looking at the scenery, watching the locals revel in the snow, stopping for a bite to eat and a pint here and there. We got in a snowball fight with a gang of young hooligans and lost, the echoes of their clever insults following us into the apartment as we slammed the door shut laughing hysterically. We drove a car over the snowy mountains, sliding about on icy roads as local residents looked on flabbergasted. We made it though! We traveled from one little town to the next, from pub to pub, finding friendly smiles and warm greetings. We discovered hidden beaches, ancient ruins, crumbling castles, haunted manses, and seaside graveyards. We went to Galway, where my great grandparents used to live before they immigrated to the US. We wandered the crooked streets, ate oysters straight from Galway Bay, traded fish tales with locals and sampled glorious whiskies. We got drunk and stayed out late, coming back to the apartment with flushed cheeks and forgotten jokes. We stayed in a castle hotel, the original tower built in 1100 housed a hidden nook perfect for a nightcap and a sneaky kiss. Ireland was one of my favorite places, the people were amazing and the food is some of the best in the world as far as I’m concerned!
We flew to Iceland for a wedding by a secret waterfall, where we drank mead from a horn as we blessed the bride and groom with well wishes, our clothes dampened with a falling mist. We saw hundreds of waterfalls, tall and skinny stripes of white cascading over the greenest of cliff sides. We found a river the color of toothpaste, winding its way around a sleepy village with the best noodle house in the world. We walked for hours to find a plane, long ago crashed on a black sand beach. We drove through seven different ecosystems in one day, rolling mountains with geothermal plumes dotting their curves, flat as glass black desert, craggy snow capped mountain peaks with dark ominous clouds caught on their sharp tips like wisps of cotton. We drove past an old lava field, the hardened bubbles now covered with moss and lichen in several shades of green, orange and purple. We drove past a giant lake dotted with blue black icebergs and brindled seals swimming in the rushing river headed to the sea. We found ourselves on a farm at the base of a glacier, the sheep had thick coats to keep them warm, but lost luggage meant we were in borrowed coats. We had dinner by the sea, langostine and fish stew and crusty bread. We saw the Northern Lights wrapped in blankets on the porch of a secluded farmhouse, sated from good sex and bellies full of fish. We rented a river under a volcano, five miles of solitude where for eight hours, he fished and I read and drank whiskey out of a soda bottle. We rode horses over rolling hills and through streams. We overdid it on that trip, coming home bleary eyed and beaten.
We travel here at home too. We drive to nearby cities like Knoxville, Richmond and Atlanta where we catch a show, walk the city streets, eat until we might burst and drink until we are flushed and giggling. With no agenda and no obligations, we have morning sex on crisp hotel sheets, take afternoon naps, and cool off in the hotel pool. Sometimes, we travel for kink. We attended Frolicon in April where we spent three days being openly kinky and positively deviant while learning more about rope and impact play and mingling with like minded people. We have plans to go back next year and hope to attend more rope-centric events.
We camp, finding little lakeside campgrounds with nosy hosts or primitive riverside sites with no running water or toilet facilities. We enjoy getting dirty, pretending we are roughing it and feeling a primal connection to nature. We hunker down in the hammock under a tarp during a sudden storm, talking and giggling as we pass a joint back and forth. We eat meat cooked on a fire and potato chips from a bag. We wash the sticky sweat from our bodies in the cold river water, and we fuck on the ground under the stars. We sit in silence and watch the blue sky and the green leaves.
We are going to Croatia in November, where we will wander the streets of Zagreb and Split, we will explore the Plitvice Lakes and the gorgeous seaside. We will eat and drink and laugh and learn. We will take photos and secretly pocket a few rocks to add to our worldly collection. We also just started our savings account for Eroticon and Scotland! We plan on spending almost two weeks traveling the UK and haven’t planned one bit of it yet, so if anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it. Our ideal retreat offers a little bit of everything, the loud and lively streets of a noisy city, the rugged unforgiving wilderness, good food, good drinks, and good people!
Our vacations are not so relaxing, we tend to overstimulate our minds and bodies, coming back tired with sore muscles. We know that once we are able to retreat to our quiet mountain home, we will find recovery, and soon the itch to travel will begin again. Where should we go next?