Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Winter Comes to Tucson—and Hypertravel Hostel at the Old Boarding House

What a difference a month makes. The high temperature here on September 30 was 100f/38c—sssizzzle. The high on October 30 was 66f/19c—bbbrrr. That's a normal winter's day. Now it's November, with the nights crispy and the days still warm. This is time for the change of seasons, in the low Arizona desert and Hypertravel Hostel at the Old Boarding House. This house took its first guests more than one hundred years ago, and has served many different purposes in between. This is a still-life painting of the life in between. This is the changing of seasons. Winter is nice.

This is the sweet spot, nature in transition, revolving around a central set of warm days and cool nights, naked perfection, no blasting furnaces or icy frozen buns. A month ago I opened the windows first thing in the morning to let some cool air in for a few hours, then close it up tight at nine or ten in the a.m. to seal in whatever freshness I can with whatever jiffy-wrap is at or near my disposal, mostly windows and doors. Now I open them later in the day to let in some warm air, to warm things up before the long cool nights.

To bend and stretch with the seasons is one of life's finer pleasures, really, bundling up when it's cold or stripping down to skivvies when it's hot hot hot. If you can't do or don't do that, then you're missing something nice. That's the nice thing about living in moderate-temperature lands of four seasons—lots of variety. I think it could be argued that that is what set us cooler European-descended cultures on a path of unrelenting development, so as to somehow conquer nature. And that's what we've done—sorta'... oops...

Thus the search for the coolest room in my house continued throughout the summer. I figure the ideal method of climate control is the simple opening and closing of windows, but the architecture has its own dynamics, also. The main problem was that once I thought I'd found the coolest room, soon it wasn't so cool anymore. Oops! That's my body heat, I guess. So now I look for the warmest room and hope my body heat will make up the difference for any lack of warmth. Warmth is necessary; refrigeration is not. That's the difference.

Then there's the age-old practice of migration, frowned on these days as archaic and anachronistic. I disagree. Nothing is more normal than migration, but few peoples do it any more. Even the famous nomadic Bedouins of Arabia and the Sahara have been largely bought off and settled down. It's a shame. But that's back there and then. This is here and now, and we're looking for a few good people to share the winter with us down here in southern Arizona. It's not expensive—and it's nice. C U soon...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hostility to Hostelry: Hostels as Latter-Day Rooming Houses

Why do people fall through the cracks? Because the gaps are so wide, that's why. Modern American culture offers many frills and thrills, but not much of a safety net. I mean, who has a nuclear family any more these days?  Has it occurred to anyone that maybe we'd have fewer homeless people if we had more boarding houses? Is that un-American now? America is schizophrenic. 

America is in denial. America is misguided. America is under the false impression that somehow we can all become middle-class suburbanites if only we try hard enough and control our wilder impulses, while staying one step ahead of the rest of the world, without bothering to ask if that's what everybody really wants or whether it's genuinely open to all, not just those who are already there. 

In other words: Get a suit-and-tie golden-umbrella Plymouth-in-the-parking-lot career or sleep in the park: hell of a choice.  Boarding houses don't exist anymore—not really. They've pretty much been zoned out of existence in America. Thus a single man or woman has no easy way in to a new city with a new job and a new life, especially not considering the crap that is felt to be 'essential' in modern-day America: mostly consumer junk and high-tech life-style add-ons.

Only immigrants are willing to live like the working-class and they work many of those break-in jobs that native-born Americans would've been proud to have fifty years ago, but not now. Now many of those mostly-white upper-middle-class Americans form a special sub-class in the upper hierarchy of society in which they get the high-paid jobs to pay their college debt—or live in Mom and Pop's basement. The losers in this game can sleep in the park. Welcome to America.

(Disclaimer: I am a great promoter and erstwhile owner of a hostel, and party to the general knowledge a day late and a dollar short that they have no official legal status, i.e. subject to the whims and whips of the local chief Building Official; too bad—i.e. sad and pathetic).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hypertravel Hostel: The Modern Age of Hostels Finally Comes to the USA—and Tucson, Arizona

Territorial property from the turn of last century

Mention the word 'hostel' to the typical American and the facial reactions are not likely to be welcoming. The word alone conjures up images of school groups in sterile dormitories on one hand, or grungy backpacker dives on the other. Neither image is particularly welcoming (and God help you if you ever saw the movie of the same name. You might need psychological help after that, particularly if you came back for the sequel). The good news is that all of these images are way past the expiration date, if not outright falsehoods.

There is a new era of hostelry around the world which is finally making its way, albeit painfully slow, to the United States of America. These lodges, inns, guesthouses and other assorted accommodations all offer the bunk-beds and shared spaces that typically define a hostel, but also add oh so much more, like private rooms and hot tubs and history and atmosphere and... you name it. The offerings are as varied as the spaces themselves. If this all sounds more like a B & B than a hostel, then there might be a reason for that.