Tag Archives: hosteling international

Harold Black Bean Vacations at The Bridge Street Inn

The other day I received an e-mail from Francisco De Lovely inquiring about where he can eat a delicious black bean meal. He writes:

Dear Brandon,

I’m coming to Cambria to vacation with my last two tupperware containers of black beans. I have enjoyed a blissful 6 months with my 25lbs bag of black beans. I named my friend Harold Black Bean. I’ll be arriving at The Bridge Street Inn around dinner time. I’m excited to use your famous cast iron collection to cook up Harold. I also have a special Harold breakfast planned. I’m concerned about the 10:30AM to 5PM lock out. Can you recommend a local favorite restaurant where I might enjoy some of Harold Black Beans relatives?

Thank you,

Francisco and Harold Black Bean

Harold Black Bean likes to go to the beach.

I write back.

Hello Francisco and Harold Black Bean,

Myself and guest, Melissa, recently went on a black bean bonanza. To answer your question we went to lunch at Sebastian’s Store and Cafe located 9.1 miles North of Cambria off of Highway 1 near Hearst Castle. Their black bean burger is EPIC!!!! That evening we made a black bean pizza followed by Heavous Rancheros for breakfast. Hope you enjoy the black bean bonanza photo blog.

See you soon,


I recommend the black bean burger at Sebastian’s General Store & Cafe in Old San Simeon Village

Black bean burgers at Sebastian's are so large that we probably ate all of Harolds' cousins.

The surrounding area around Sebastian’s provides plenty of different places to digest black beans.

Melissa digests her black beans along the coast.

Brandon digests his black beans in a tree.

After digesting the black bean burger Melissa and I are ready for the black bean pizza dinner.   The below black bean pizza is similar to the lentil pizza that appeared in the blog post My Underwear Matches my Pizza.  Here’s a link to view a description of the black bean pizza toppings.  http://bridgestreetinn.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/my-underwear-matches-my-pizza-at-the-bridge-street-inn/

Brandon gets ready to enjoy his second black bean meal.

Melissa and I had to take a break from the black bean.  We didn’t eat black beans till breakfast.  I dreamed of black beans.

huevos rancheros: black beans, scrambled eggs, cheese, tortilla, veggie chorizo, green sauce.

Melissa gets ready to enjoy her 3rd black bean meal in a row.

Here are a couple of nutritional links about Harold Black Bean.

Non Live Food Network Preparation at The Bridge Street Inn

I have never been one to pay a cable provider money so that I can watch a stranger prepare food while I sit in my lazy boy chair. Tonight however I find myself joining the millions of sedentary people who are entertained by food preparation in their home.

For this evenings entertainment the bicycle riding French family took over The Bridge Street Inn kitchen. They had pedaled 52 miles from Big Sur to Cambria. Despite being tired from their long day they perform in the kitchen like a well rehearsed TV cooking show. I am thoroughly entertained by the airy sounds of the French language, the smells of spices simmering in a soup and am drawn into the details of the food adventure they are creating.

I can now join in the water cooler conversation, “No, I didn’t see that episode of Rachel Ray but I did sit down to watch the French Family make squash soup. Oh good cooking question. The 3 women were wearing biker type pants/shorts and the man was wearing regular loose fitting pants.”

What’s chef Rachel Ray wearing? CLICK HERE

The French family are making me laugh

It would have been nice to hear the nutmeg scraping in surround sound

I ask the French Family, "when I press my thumb against this wooden spoon and point it at you, will you stir fast as if you were a TV show?"

The French Family found a bag full artichokes near highway 1

yogurt artichoke dip with thyme, dill, cumin, and celery seed

Already star struck to my surprise the French Family invited me to join them for dinner

Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn made it to Print in the Turnagain Times

International Hostel opens its doors in Old Girdwood
Eco-friendly backpackers inn can accommodate up to 30 people

New Girdwood Hostel
Ken Smith/Turnagain Times
The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn opened its doors in Old Girdwood on July 4. It is an eco-friendly designed two-story inn that can accommodate up to 30 occupants, offering dormitory and private rooms.

By Ken Smith
Turnagain Times

Girdwood is an ever-growing year-round destination for independent travelers from around the world. There are countless B&B’s, and, of course, The Hotel Alyeska at the ski resort. However, one thing truly lacking in the community has been a spacious and affordable accommodation for budget minded travelers, particularly backpackers.

Now, Girdwood has one. After nearly six months of major renovations and reconstruction, the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn opened its doors on July 4. What was once a dilapidated building is now an appealing and quaint two-story inn, with a green metal roof, freshly painted red exterior and eggshell trim, and wrap-around porches on each floor.

The inn is located in the Old Girdwood Town Site behind the Tesoro Mall at the end of Gold Street adjacent to Glacier Creek. It is a very private location with plenty of space, something neighbors will appreciate during days when the maximum capacity of 30 occupants is reached.

“We started gutting the building in January 2009,” said Jamie Boring, co-owner of the inn. “We’ll never be completely finished. The goal is to educate and promote sustainable construction and energy efficiency.”

Boring, 40, along with his business partner Armand Nyborg, also own the Alaska Backpackers Inn in downtown Anchorage, which opened in May 2007 and has 109 beds.

Ultimately, Boring expects to have five hostels across the state: in Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Talkeetna and Homer.

But right now his focus is Girdwood.

“I have children, and they’re going to start traveling, and this is a great way to see the world economically and meet other people,” he said.

The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn is affiliated with Hostelling International USA and must meet strict guidelines to operate.

“If you don’t know how to run a business then the Hostelling International is great because they teach you how to run a safe and clean, secure hostel,” Boring said.

Three-and-a-half percent of gross revenues is paid back to Hostelling International USA as a fee for affiliation.

Boring is a self-taught builder and developer and he’s chosen the eco-friendly route for designing the Girdwood hostel for both economic and educational reasons. He’s also chosen to build and run hostels because they’re a good businesses to own in a state like Alaska.

“The Anchorage hostel has seen a 100 percent increase in revenue every year,” he said. “It can be a profitable business. I hope what happens because of the H.I. affiliation is that travelers will come to Alaska because they’re good hostels.”

Boring also anticipates that the Girdwood hostel will generate revenue for local businesses.

The room rates in Girdwood are reasonably priced at $25 per person per night for dorm rooms and private rooms start at $50 per night. The rates will stay the same year-round with a seven day maximum stay.

Boring believes the low rates for rooms leaves occupants with more disposable money that they’ll spend at local businesses like Coast Pizza and the Ice Cream Shop, both located in the Tesoro Mall and a few minutes walking distant from the hostel.

Boring estimates that his Anchorage hostel guests have spent an average of $2 million at downtown businesses based on the number of beds and an average spending of $65 per person per day. And he expects the same results in Girdwood.

Aside from the business end of things, Boring is striving to create a hostel that is eco-friendly.

He started by using recycled material for the rugs and used recycled paints. Energy efficiency is also being stressed in the use of appliances, plumbing and lighting.

“We’re in the process of submitting an application for LEED, a natural standard for eco-energy efficiency building,” Boring said as we toured the inn.

Hot water base board heating was used in the building for 95 percent efficiency, and he used soy-based foam insulation. He also used a system of lighting that allows for both LED lighting and traditional light bulbs.

“The idea is that if we ever want to switch to solar or wind, we can use the majority of the lights on that system,” he said.

And not to be overlooked are the eco-friendly toilets, which utilize a two-button flushing system, allowing for selecting flushing to save water.

As of now there is no television in the building, but when one is added it will be operated by a hand crank or pedal crank, so when the TV is on, get ready to earn every program viewed with some cardiovascular activity.

“Our goal is to set it up the hostel like a school, so people can see how things work,” said Boring.

Even the sink will be an educational piece. Under it, water will be caught and measured to gauge the amount of water being used. And there will be measuring systems set up on all non-essential appliances and lights to monitor electrical usage.

The educational theme is geared towards all the occupants, ages 12-60.

The rooms are also designed for various age groups and budgets with two dormitory rooms designated for females and male occupants and seven private rooms. Dormitory rooms have eight beds, geared mainly towards teenagers or school groups.

The walls, floors and carpets are all artistically presented with flowing lines and abstract designs. Guests of the dorms are encouraged to create their own art on the walls.

The downstairs is a spacious room with a large spruce carved bar big enough to seat ten people, and the wrap around porches provide large open-air space for socializing and eating.

The building is quite the contrast from what stood there before. What was once a dark and dreary duplex, is now a warm, aesthetically pleasing addition to the neighborhood.

“We’ve provided a hostel with clean, comfortable, creative space,” said Amy Johnson, who co-manages the hostel with her companion Brandon Follett, both 33 years old, who live in an adjacent apartment at the inn. “Basically we don’t have a TV. We thought that cooking is creative, so we provided a full kitchen. We have provided an educational learning center. We have aquaponics to provide food fertilizer for plants, and we grow spinach, basil and broccoli.”

The concept is to not only design a building that is compatible with the grandeur and beauty of its surroundings, but also reflect the community itself.

“Girdwood is a very creative town,” Follet said. “Part of the goal is to compliment the community. This is a creative valley, there’s a lot of art, the community garden, outdoor music with the Forest Fair. We want to have open mic and music at the hostel as part of the long-term plan, and educational workshops and speakers.”

Johnson and Follet started working at the hostel July 1, but with the summer winding down, they would now like to meet members of the community and introduce them to the inn. An open house is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information call 727-4678. The hostel’s web site is: www.hostelgirdwood.com.

LEED Certification UPDATE

Beware of Girdwood’s Blueberry Worm

blueberry bush along bike path in Girdwood, Alaska

The blueberries are looking delicious on the bike path to Alyeska Resort. The neighbor suggests I soak the blueberries in water to remove the worms. I have eaten a lot of blueberries raw and haven’t gotten any worms. Either I lucked out and don’t have a belly full of worms or the worms don’t like my latest diet of black beans and cheese. Do any of you have the blueberry worms?

Check out the Alyeska Resort Blueberry Mountain Art and Music Festival

Here is a poem I wrote about Jack, The Modern Latter Day Saint. He is not a blueberry worm but a tape worm. I hope you get hungry and feed your inner worm.

Jack the Tapeworm A Modern Latter Day Saint

Night-light turned on.
The overhead light turned off.
Veronica crawls in
between two sheets.

She dreams
Ronald McDonald squirts
ketchup and mustard
between her beefy buns.

Suddenly she’s awakened
by a Knock Knock.
Perched on her chest
a tiny worm.
A stern voice
accentuated by a stern look
“Hello, I’m Jack the Tapeworm
a modern latter day saint.
Your fantasy for a man
dressed in a clown suit
and appetite for dead animals
has brought me here tonight.
These lustful desires
have cast a dark shadow
over your vegetarian upbringing.
Your diet
and subconscious
do not reflect
the two truths of herbivores:
do unto others as they would
do unto you
karma comes back around.

You have a choice
repent or face a life of damnation.
If you repent
you will meet a man who will
smother your sex with grapes, strawberries, and cherries.
If you choose a life of damnation
assume your physical fantasies
will only be found
in an internet chat room.
As far as the environment goes,
you’ll become a self imposed
obese statistic
who takes up precious space.”

Veronica starts to sob,
“Oh Jack! Oh Jack!
What must I do
to absolve my godless transgressions?”

The little tapeworm
in a now
pleasant voice replies,
“Swallow me whole
I’ll make your body miserable
feeding off your meat
like the cow made into a
sinfully slaughtered slab.”

And she swallows him whole.

When Veronica’s mind
has gone mad
in visions of love for body and life
Jack crawls out
of her frazzled body.

He slowly makes his way
to her chest.
Knock Knock.
In that still pleasant but weaker voice
he speaks,
“I’m ready to die
you’ve seen the right light.
Remember if your man’s expression
is expressed in mayo and Heinz
these condiments will literally
smother your heart.
Remember a man’s dollar
never amounts to a mass produced life.
only create a
compliment to strife.”
Jack the Tapeworm
a modern latter day saint
takes in one last gasp
of air
to finish his thought.
“Life is cyclical
please make me happy.
I want to be reborn
in newfound beauty.”

And she swallows him whole.

Thank You Hostelling International

What you carry a half naked picture of Charles in your pocket and can recite his poetry!?!?!

What? You carry a half naked picture of Charles in your pocket AND can recite his poetry!?

We found this fabulous write up about GABI on the HI Northern California Hostels website.

On July 1, a new Hostelling International hostel opened its doors in Girdwood, Alaska, with the facilities inside nearly as impressive as the scenery outside. Located 45 minutes southeast of Anchorage, Girdwood entices visitors from around the world with spectacular mountains, meadows, and rivers, along with world-class skiing. The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn (GABI) makes it possible to experience the Chugach mountain area, whether by hiking, rafting, or paragliding, on a bicycle or a rainforest canopy zipline, at a fraction of the cost of any other accommodation in this resort town.

The hostel has been constructed with eco-friendliness as a top priority, utilizing the “most recycled, locally produced materials available in Alaska.” Guests will see sustainability at work throughout the hostel, with its dual light switches, dual flushing toilets, and user-controlled water flow showers. The facilities essentially allow hostellers to control the amount of water and electricity that they use at a given time, enabling them to minimize wasted resources. The hostel is truly ambitious in their sustainability aims — they are hoping to achieve LEED certification.

However, being sustainable doesn’t mean skimping on atmosphere. GABI as a full kitchen, beautiful common room, Weirdo’s Farm and is decorated throughout with colorful art done on site by local artists — not just on the walls, but the floors, too! The hostel also offers a 10% discount if certain items are presented upon check-in, including a Charles Potts poem, vegetables from a farmers market, or a self-published ‘zine. Dorm beds are $25 nightly and private rooms are $50 — without a doubt the best deal in town.

The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn is located off the Seward Highway, easily accessible by public transportation, and is biking distance from Anchorage. The convenience and the low price mean that more travelers can now enjoy the astounding natural beauty of the area.

The Salmon are Mating in Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn backyard

boy salmon hostel girdwood
One of the beautiful benefits of living in a somewhat pristine neighborhood is waking up to the ever-changing seasons. I’m not talking about the suburbia seasons of driving to Home Depot to purchase a pot of pansies, checking the propane for the grill, stocking up on salt for the sidewalk, switching out summer tires for studs, and making sure the dog’s winter sweater hasn’t been eaten by moths.

bald eagle girdwood hostel

This week at the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn, there has been a flurry of seasonal change centered around the Glacier River that flows 35 ft from the hostel. Out of the woodwork people are marching with fishing poles towards the river. Bald eagles are flying up the river. Bear scat lines the riverbanks. The old timers are warning us not to tread quietly on any trails that might cross the path of a fishing bear.

person fishing silver salmon girdwood hostel

Climate Controlled Seasonal Couch Potato
The couch,
and fatigue remain the same.
The sports on TV
indicate the season.

Wild Strawberries along Bird Point pathway not far from Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

wild strawberries girdwood alaska

Strawberry patch found just a short walk from GABI by the railroad crossing along the Girdwood to Bird Point pathway. Looks like bears and humans ate the majority of berries. There are still a couple left but not enough to bring your favorite berry bucket or make a strawberry pie.

rail road crossing girdwood alaska

Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn: Gateway to the Chugach Mountains

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way. ~Dr. Seuss

Seward Highway Anchorage to Girdwood Alaska

Consider Girdwood, Alaska your gateway to the Chugach Mountains!

Turnagain Arm Girdwood Alaska

Nestled between Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains, this former mining town offers abundant outdoor activities including hiking, paragliding, fishing, whitewater rafting, historic mining tours, sea kayaking, climbing, road bicycle riding, cross country skiing, a rainforest canopy zipline tour and something special not found in everyday Alaska: the Alyeska Resort, a world class ski resort that also offers summer tram rides to hikers and mountain bikers.

Because of its proximity to the city of Anchorage, visitors do not need to travel far to purchase the supplies needed to equip themselves for a Girdwood adventure. When planning your trip, keep in mind some travelers have stayed for 3 days and some still haven’t left!

seward scenic highway girdwood alaska

The best way to experience Girdwood, Alaska is to set a base camp at the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn. With GABI’s great location near the Seward Highway, shuttle bus and train stops, bike paths, and the local Girdwood shuttle Glacier Valley Transit, a person only needs to focus on the adventure and not the logistics.

When staying at GABI, a traveler immediately notices the clean and safe environment. This means that on a day hike there won’t be any lingering doubts about one’s possessions locked away at GABI. A traveler only needs to focus on the grizzly bear meandering in the meadow or ponder the life cycle of the returning king salmon.

glacier river girdwood alaska

At GABI we are interested in you and assume other travelers also want to hear about your great day on the mountain. We will offer coin operated tv, jukebox, and internet. Don’t boo hoo the free market. We actually will probably take a financial loss on these money making gadgets because who would want to watch Fox News or surf the Earthworm Envy website when a traveler can sit on our 2nd story deck facing the mountains, listen to the eclectic Girdwood Community Radio station, borrow a book from our bookshelf, cook dinner amongst new friends in a full kitchen, or take a walk along the glacier fed river that flows 35 feet behind the hostel. A traveler can follow the river all the way out to the peaceful Cook Inlet.

recycled toliet paper girdwood alaska backpackers inn

When not exploring the Chugach Mountains or lounging in the common room, explore the hostel. The hostel building has been renovated with the goal to be LEED certified. Without getting into the science behind energy efficiency, a couple of renovations can easily be explained in common sense terms:

Less light needed to enjoy magazine photos.

Less light needed to enjoy magazine photos.

Dual light switches: A person doesn’t need the same amount of light when staring at the athletes in a Sports Illustrated magazine versus reading a regular size print anthology of poetry.

Dual flushing toilets: Poop is usually thick and clumpy which needs more water to be flushed down the drain then watery pee.

Shower with a water flow system that the traveler controls: There are many variables when it comes to a person’s water hygiene. Maybe someone’s crotch smells good so they only want to wash their stinky left armpit. The hostel’s water efficient showers give the individual the power of control.

When it’s time to dab on patchouli and head out on the town, Girdwood offers everything except Applebee’s and Wal-Mart.

The Girdwood Grind is the best place to get a cup of coffee, with old coffee house charm, a plethora of reading material, Raven’s Brew Gourmet Coffee, friendly service, free wireless internet and Modest Mouse on the stereo.

The Bake Shop has plenty of outside seating, delicious sandwiches, all natural baked products and soups made from scratch.

The Ice Cream Shop is the local origami of ice cream. Watch a simple scoop of ice cream morph into milkshakes, malts, sundaes, and floats. Try a signature Alaskan ice cream flavor of Fireweed & Honey or Alaska Wild Berry.

Maxine’s Glacier City Bistro offers weekly open mike and national touring acts like Joe Jack Talcum of the Dead Milkmen.

Learn more about Girdwood business at Girdwood Chamber of Commerce

Whatever type of city life you find, day or night, the Glacier Valley Transit runs from 7:30 AM to 2:30AM on the weekends in the winter.

Water Conservation at the Bridge Street Inn Hostel


Aimee Wyatt explains the Bridge Street Inn’s approaches to water conservation, including directions on how to make a lid sink.  Check out the Bridge Street Inn Hostel in Cambria, California.