To the restless ones
To all the gallant frantic fools
Who follow the path of the sun
Across blue waters
To distant mountains
I dedicate my book
One of the prerequisites of being a writer is to have a tendency toward nostalgia and a longing to pursue good stories. When I first visited Les Deux Magots in Paris I spent hours sipping wine and soaking in my surroundings. Not because the wine was particularly good or because the atmosphere was something worth writing about, but because I knew Ernest Hemingway once sat in that very café drinking wine (or probably something stronger, but wine in Paris seemed more poetic). I wanted to feel his memory in the walls. I wanted to breath the air that had once inspired The Sun Also Rises. I wanted to be a part of a beautiful story about writers finding romance, beauty, truth, and something worth writing about.
That same drive is what led me to the Vagabond’s House in Carmel.
Once upon a time there was a man named Don Blanding. He was a brilliant writer, but he told his story with a suitcase more often than with a pen. He traveled the world and wrote hard and true about his experiences. His poems are raw and speak directly to my vagabond soul. He also used to visit a small boutique inn when traveling through Carmel and it’s where he wrote a lot of his poems. Poems like this one:
I am a bloodbrother of all drifting things
That ride the wind and tide, or on swift wings
Cry down the pathless blackness of the nights,
Guided by restlessness and phantom lights
Of will-o’-the-wisps borne by lost frantic soulds,
Futile seekers of far shifting goals.
We see strange sights, learn curious truths,
Find lotus lands and taste the fruit that soothes
Our fretted spirits for a blissful while
But leaves us craving, seeking once again
Veiled distances. We know the stabbing pain
That makes the desolation-haunting loon
Fling maniac laughter to the silent moon,
For once, god-cursed, it saw the monstrous joke
Life plays on life; its terrored reason broke
And so its mocking mirth congeals our blood.
We are the riders of the aimless flood,
Strayed human driftwood watching with wise weary
The brassy tropic suns and shallow empty skies
Of chartless seas. One day is like another day,
And we unhappy, happy… who can say?
We know not what strange port shall be our last,
Nor care. Today we feast, tomorrow fast.
The treasure found is less to us than treasure sought,
And we most dearly treasure trifles dearly bought,
While all those tender things, love, friendship, home
That haunt the dreams of us who drift and roam
We trade for worthless star-dust which we vainly seek
In namesless valleys lost behind some mist-enshrouded peak.
Here was a writer that knew what it meant to be a wanderer and here was a chance to sleep where he had slept and write where he once wrote. I went to Carmel for the magic of that story. I had little expectation from the inn itself, and that was where I was sorely mistaken.
Falling in love with Vagabond’s House in Carmel
Named after one of Blanding’s book of poems, Vagabond’s House is a bed and breakfast in Carmel that completely blew me away. Which is saying something, because I have been to a lot of amazing places.
The minute I walked through the door I was offered a glass of wine and plate of delicious cheeses. The incredibly hospitable staff then led my friend and me to our room and even I, a seasoned traveler, almost lost my composure. There is no word to describe the place except perhaps outstanding. We’re talking a cloud-like king bed, a stunning view of the courtyard, complimentary fruit and sherry, a fireplace, a claw-footed bathtub, and heated floors. Yes, you heard right, heated floors. I know it’s a small thing, but I became obsessed with those floors.
The room paid homage to its literary background with a bathroom wall covered in book pages and a shower curtain sporting Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, The Raven. Tanya and I could have easily spent all day in the room. Especially since they bring breakfast to your door each morning. But the proximity to downtown and the cozy courtyard were too appealing. So we ventured outside and walked to town.
Exploring downtown Carmel
Carmel is a small, quiet town with a lot to see. Every boutique shop sells something unique and adorable, every street boasts more than one art gallery, and the food is out of this world. We spent most of our time in Carmel just wondering in and out of these shops seeing what it was that made Carmel such a popular destination.
I quickly realized the love of artists was not limited to Vagabond’s House. All of Carmel seems to be locked in a love affair with unknown, local artists. As a wannabe artist, I loved every minute of it. I was so inspired by this city that really cared about and supported their artists. And I was inspired by the art and artists themselves.
Of course it is not hard to see where the artists get their inspiration. The white beaches, crashing waves, wind-blown trees, and striking skies would awake the artist in the most seemingly uncreative people. I quickly fell in love with this little enclave of art and nature, but we were tired and decided to return to the hotel for a rest in the late afternoon.
Back at Vagabond’s House
We got back just in time for happy hour. Every day from 4-6 The Vagabond’s House serves complimentary wine and cheese. We definitely appreciated the free goodies, but the real joy of happy hour at Vagabond’s House is the opportunity to mingle with your fellow guests.
Vagabond’s House’s outdoor fire pit creates a gathering place for guests and there is an instant sense of community amongst the guests. It’s a small hotel so it’s easy enough to meet every guest during your stay. I often prefer to keep to myself in group settings like this, but there seemed to be some sort of magic in the air and soon we were all chatting as though we were old friends.
I think when you share such a beautiful and unique experience, even if you share it with complete strangers, a sort of bond forms. We were bonded by the extraordinary temporary home we’d found at Vagabond’s House and were excited to talk to anyone who could join in ooing-and-gooing over the gem we’d found.
And that’s really what it comes down to; Vagabond’s House is a gem. It’s been a few weeks since I visited and I still can’t stop talking about the place. So whether you have a vagabond’s soul or not, whether you know or care who Don Blanding is or not, consider staying atVagabond’s House. Just beware… it’s going to be especially difficult to leave.