Getaway House are collections of impeccably curated tiny house-style cabins located in various outposts throughout the United States. Each outpost is intentionally located no more than 1-3 hours away from a major metropolitan area, with the goal of making restorative nature rests more accessible to residents of densely populated cities.
I visited the Eastern Catskills Getaway House location as part of their Year of Rest program. Year of Rest is a partnership between Getaway House, Rachel Cargle, The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and MiiR. The program provides 365 nights of rest for Black people working for change, and those fighting for the Black community. dapperQrew member Sunday Santiago nominated me for my work in healthcare and dapperQ. I will take this opportunity to introduce myself to those new to dapperQ before diving into my Getaway House experience.
I am a proud Black queer femme GenX. By day, I am a Clinical Trials Director. I started my career in research about a decade ago as a Research Nurse coordinating adolescent HIV/AIDS clinical trials. I became a Senior Clinical Research Nurse (oncology, bone marrow transplant), an Operations Manager overseeing multi-site COVID-19 vaccine and treatment trials, and eventually moved up to be a Director leading a clinical trials unit dedicated to broader infectious diseases research, including, but not limited to, COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. I work to ensure that those who are underrepresented in research have a seat at the table to build inclusive, ethical community-engaged research.
By night, I am the owner and producer at dapperQ, one of the world’s most widely read queer style platforms. We also produce the largest LGBTQ+ fashion shows in the world. Our team works to dismantle harmful binaries and fosters a healthy relationship with style and fashion as a form of self-affirmation and care.
As an essential worker living in the heart of New York City, this trip was a much needed respite to recharge and re-center.
Though I am an adopted New Yorker (Manhattan est. 1999), I will always be a native New Mexican and Burqueña through and through. I grew up around nature: deserts that boast gypsum sand dunes white as snow; oxidized red rock canyons captured by Georgia O’Keefe at Ghost Ranch; world class skiing in Taos; lakes and rivers where my family taught me how to cook freshly caught fish. Documenting my experience at Getaway was also a great way to challenge stereotypes that Black individuals and communities do not have a relationship with nature. Many of us and our ancestors were taken from our natural lands and/or pushed into urban areas. I live in NYC to surround myself with communities where I see my intersectional identities reflected, and for job opportunities in my field, but ultimately long for nature. Getaway House brought nature closer to my Manhattan door. I invited my partner of 13 years to join me in this experience. She is a Bosnian Muslim refugee (from the 1990s Bosnian War) who has dedicated her career to building opportunities for other refugees around the world.
The tiny cabin design was very impressive. Gorgeous light poured through the windows, and cabins were spread far enough not to hear or see other guests, but close enough so that there would be people nearby if you needed assistance. There were cubby spaces under each of the beds to store shoes and clothing. We were a bit nervous about the bathroom situation, but were pleasantly surprised to find that the bathrooms come with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, clean towels and wash cloths, a modern flushing toilet and a hot shower, all very clean. Growing up in Albuquerque, I have camped in tents all over New Mexico. Given my tent camping experiences, I can say for certain that I would rather do my business outdoors than to be stuck in a tiny place with poor plumbing that leaves an unbearable odor. This was not the case at all with Getaway House. I can confirm that the bathrooms and showers are top notch, and the combined smell of real wood paneling and the complementary Pharmacopia toiletry products gave the cabin a fresh smell at all times!
The cabins were also equipped with a kitchen that included:
- a kitchen table
- mini-refrigerator with freezer shelf
- electric stovetop
- plates, bowls, cups, mugs, and utensils
- pot, pan, mixing bowl, and kettle
- cutting board
- knives and scissors
- can opener, bottle opener, and corkscrew
- paper towels and dish soap
- salt, pepper, and olive oil
- coffee creamer and sugar, coffee + tea (for a small fee)
Each cabin has its own campfire/grill station and Getaway House provides easy burn wood bundles (for a small fee) to start your campfire. Getaway House asks that you not use their pots and pans directly on the campfire, so be sure to bring a nice cast iron pan if you enjoy making campfire meals like we do. I made homemade blackened shrimp tacos in a cast iron skillet with fresh fire roasted salsa from tomatoes, garlic, and onion from the grill (just chop up the fire roasted veggies and add cilantro, lime, and salt). I also whipped up a homemade tomato, shallot, basil, and fontina cheese frittata that we enjoyed with non-alcoholic IPA that was provided in our refrigerators courtesy Brooklyn Brewery.
After getting in a good night’s rest and a campfire breakfast, we headed out on two local hikes. The first was through the Cohotate Preserve, perfect for queer birders like us. There we spotted a variety of woodpeckers, tufted titmouse, chickadees, and…TWO BALD EAGLES! It turns out that winter near the Hudson River is a perfect time to spot bald eagles. They were soaring so fast, we didn’t get a clear photo of them, but they brought so much joy to this Black birder’s heart.
For our second hike, we visited Katterskill Falls. There are multiple entry points where you can either see the falls from above or below. Since we spent the morning at Cohotate Preserve, we only had a few more hours of daylight left (no thanks to daylight savings time), so we opted for the shorter hike to the top viewing platform (about 10-15 walk from the parking lot). It was still absolutely breathtaking. We will definitely be returning to view from the bottom next time.
After returning to our cabin, we made some steaks and grilled veggies over the campfire. Getaway House cabins are “unplugged” – little to no cell or internet service. This was the perfect environment for me and my partner to reconnect. The pandemic and global disasters have taken a toll on both of us. While I was going to work every day in NYC during the height of the pandemic, my partner was working from home, trying to secure funding for global refugee crises that continued escalating in the context of a pandemic. I was terrified, she was terrified, and we were both drained. The best we could do after work to alleviate all of the pressure was binge watch reality television. Our Getaway House cabin was so comfortable and romantic, and without the distractions of television and cellphones and internet, we spent countless hours playing cards, laughing, and listening to all of our GenX favorite artists: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Tori Amos, Erykah Badu, Alanis Morissette, Aaliyah, Jodeci, Tribe Called Quest, and more. We had not sat and laughed uninterrupted like that in what felt like ages.
Our experience was so wonderful that I booked another night 30 minutes before we were scheduled to check out. We had our rental car for one more day. So, we stayed, savored, devoured, and laughed some more. My partner got us up at 6am and drove me directly to work. I may have smelled like campfire still, but my co-workers kept commenting on how energized I was!
Until next time, Getaway House!