We are lucky in the New Orleans area to have so many beautiful parks and conservancies. My husband Mark and I are weekly visitors to Audubon Park, City Park Conservancy (especially Couturie Forest), Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Marrero and the Tammany Trace Trail on the Northshore. A few weeks ago, we finally checked out Woodlands Conservancy in Belle Chase and were so pleasantly surprised. We love our swamps, but this was a little woodsier, much like Couturie Forest. Over the Easter weekend, we cast our net wider yet and took a jaunt to Mississippi to tromp around in the Homochitto National Forest, where we stayed at Getaway Homochitto in Meadville. (Disclosure: Accommodations and some amenities were provided complimentary.) Some friends of ours stayed at Getaway last year and had good reviews, so we were excited to check it out. Meadville is an easy two-hour drive but is a lot like landing on another planet populated with swaying pine trees as far as the eyes can see, with literal hills and fresh country air.
The “cabins” at Getaway are custom built, 140-to-200 square-foot tiny houses. My husband found it a little too small, but for me it was just small enough. For reference, each cabin is one room, except the bathroom, (which has a door), with a kitchenette and a queen bed or bunk beds (linens included). The kitchenette has a sink, mini-fridge and two-burner stove and is equipped with cookware and tableware. There is also a charming little collection of non-fiction books about disconnecting, travel and relaxation, works of fiction and a deck of cards. The bathroom has a toilet and shower stocked with bath linens, shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Each cabin has heat, AC and outdoor firepit with a grate for grilling, as well as Adirondack chairs and an outdoor light. You can purchase wood (kept onsite) for $8 a cord, as well as pour-over coffee packets, tea, mosquito repellant and hot chocolate. Those items are priced very reasonably, so you don’t have to brace yourself for exorbitant hotel mini-bar prices. We don’t have a dog, but if you do, you can bring your pal along for a $40 fee and Getaway will provide treats, bowls, an outdoor lead and waste bags. To truly disconnect, the cabins have a cell phone lockbox, but there’s limited cell phone reception and no wifi, so you’ll likely be under a certain level of disconnection either way, but don’t worry, there’s a landline in each cabin, too.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and accessed the cabin via a code that was texted to us about 30-minutes prior to our arrival. After unpacking, we hit the Richard Creek trail at the Homochitto National Forest (a 14-minute drive) for a quick, one-hour hike, then returned to crank up a fire and dinner. I roasted our corn over the fire, while Mark sautéed shrimp and boiled new potatoes. It started to drizzle, so we enjoyed dinner in the cabin. There are other cabins about 60 feet away in each direction, but the rules of Getaway are to be quiet and extinguish fires by 10 p.m., to encourage a peaceful retreat for guests, so we barely knew anyone was close to us. Saturday, I was thrilled to open my eyes and look out the huge picture window beside the bed. It’s beyond magical to wake up feeling as though you are in a treehouse. I heated water in the pour-over kettle while performing my morning ablutions, then went outside for yoga and meditation al fresco and a pour-over. We had a big breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast, packed up a lunch of summer sausage, Havarti cheese, French bread and grapes, drove back to Homochitto National Forest and embarked upon a 9.7-mile hike, which is the full Richard Creek trail. The elevation gain is about 800-feet, so it was no joke. But our simple lunch enjoyed over a babbling brook, surrounded by trees and wildlife was worth it. (There are shorter trails and you can always just hike the Richardson loop for whatever amount of time or miles you prefer.) The birdlife is incredible and mostly what we see in our neighborhood in New Orleans or the above mentioned parks and preserves — including blue jays, crows, Carolina chickadees, cardinals and Carolina wrens, as well as a lot of summer tanagers —but I did add two “lifers” in my Merlin app: Hooded warblers and red-headed woodpeckers. Back at the cabin, we enjoyed another campfire night, sans rain, with a mess of baked beans and andouille roasted on the fire, as well as s’mores for dessert. I was in bed reading by 9 p.m. after our long hike and slept like a baby.
On Sunday, I repeated my Saturday morning activities and Mark got up early to whip up another big breakfast, which we enjoyed outside on the picnic table. We hated to leave, but felt so well-rested, we both remarked later that it felt more like a five-day retreat than what amounts to two if you consider the 3 p.m. afternoon check-in and morning checkout. We’re already planning another visit as soon as we can work it into our schedule. I’d also like to check out some of the Getaway outposts in other cities during our summer vacation. All-in-all, it was a 10/10 experience for me and for Mark, 9/10 since he felt a little cramped. If you love the woods, simplicity, disconnection and have dreams about selling all your stuff and moving into a tiny house, check it out. If you dislike small spaces and the outdoors though, you’ll probably want to pass.
(Note: Getaway Homochitto has a New Orleans special with 20% off stays through April using code Mardi2023.)
Do you like being immersed in the great outdoors or would you rather have teeth pulled? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.