One of the good things that came from the pandemic was a surge in outdoor activities. As indoor or heavily-populated entertainment options became scarce, people took to their bikes, kayaks, roller skates, and more to get some fresh air and reconnect with nature (and our loved ones). Camping also experienced a wave of interest, but those in the southern U.S. aren't as likely to camp in the long, humid summer months. That was true until the luxury tiny cabin rental company Getaway took the countryside by storm so that anyone can be surrounded by nature with most of the comforts of home.
Most of the Getaway Outposts are located in the northern part of the U.S., but Getaway Homochitto which opened in early 2022 is located a 2.5 hour drive north of New Orleans near Meadville, MS, and it is one of the furthest south. Getaway's Regional Director Sherri Schoff explained, "Getaway has been expanding rapidly across the country and has experienced high demand at our Outposts in the Southeast including Getaway Asheboro outside of Charlotte and Raleigh and Getaway Dale Hollow outside of Nashville. When we were considering our third Southeast Outpost, we were drawn to the location's proximity to the Homochitto National Forest for the ample hiking trails and beautiful evergreen views. With the opening of Getaway Homochitto, we have increased our cabins in the region by 25%, bringing the Getaway experience to more consumers."
The customer experience for this exciting business venture was perfect for the new normal. You simply book your stay online, drive to the outpost and go directly to your cabin, and enter the door code to enter. "Getaway is in a unique position as our cabins have always naturally been socially distant, and we've always offered a contact-free experience that's accessible by car. Our Outposts are built intentionally to allow guest's privacy and seclusion. There is no check-in or check-out desk, no communal spaces, and cabins are located between 40-200 feet from other cabins. Our occupancy rate has remained high, even as vaccines have become available and air travel returns," Sherri continued.
I got to visit Getaway Homochitto on some of the coldest days that this area has seen in a while. As thrilled as I was to get into my cabin for a cozy weekend, I was nervous about how I would handle the cold. The trip up to the Outpost was part of the experience. On the way to the Outpost from New Orleans, we stopped by Gnarly Barley Brewery to pick up some local craft beer for our stay. Later on after we crossed the state line, we happened upon the somber and breathtaking Lynyrd Skynyrd Memorial on a small backroad off of I-55. We just continued on the backroad all the way to Getaway Homochitto as the dusk set in.
We received a text that our cabin was called Henrietta. All of the cabins are named after the grandparents of Getaway's employees, which was such a heartwarming aspect of the trip. Sherri stated, "Getaway is all about reconnecting with what truly matters. For us, naming our cabins after grandparents is done in that spirit, as our grandparents have often been the teachers of timeless lessons and simple truths, like the importance of time outside, away from our screens." Henrietta was located at the end of one of the three lanes that we surmised from the map of the Outpost.
We drove up to the entrance to the campground, which was only advertised by a small black sign pointing the way to the cabins. In this manner, Getaway Homochitto would hardly be noticed by any of the residents in the area. There are no lights that would cause light pollution and the lanes are thickly-laid gravel paths.
We slowly traversed the road to Henrietta, passing a few other cabins along the way, but they were so tucked back into the trees that we could hardly see them. Henrietta resides on the bottom of an impressive slope. We were obliged to park at the top of the slope and walk down, but it felt more intriguing than parking at the foot of our cabin like those that we passed. It was like a journey onto our own little island free of any distractions. Henrietta was a beacon in the cold, dark night with her light guiding us down.
The cabin was perfectly toasty when we arrived, and it just melted the stress out of my body. We set down our bags and immediately set out exploring every inch of this cute little cabin. A table with an activity and information booklet, a lovely kitchenette with cookware and dining ware, a full bathroom with a glass door shower and very hot water, and a big, beautiful bed against the massive window facing the forest. There were no lights in sight whatsoever from this vantage point, which felt so freeing! There is no television nor Wi-Fi at any Getaway Outpost, but we did listen to music on the cabin's Bluetooth/FM radio.
On our first night, we decided to make a pizza on the open fire pit's grill before the temperature dropped extremely low. My old dog Charlie loved sniffing and investigating everything he could from the safety of the provided tether anchored to the picnic table. This may have been the best pizza I ever had, especially when paired with Gnarly Barley's Skater Aid Pilsner. After dinner, we all curled up in the big, warm bed and marveled at the incredibly bright moonlight streaming through the dense trees. It was then that we could see just how steep the land was all around, and it felt even more like a desert island. We could not see any other cabin lights, house lights, nor city lights anywhere through our massive window to the world.
Through the windows, we watched the sunrise through the trees from the comfort of our cozy bed. The heat was set on 70 degrees, but we were too warm at times. Throughout our entire stay, we remarked on how well insulated the cabin was. It dropped down to the low 20s (feels like temperatures in the teens!), and yet we turned the heat off and kept the main door open with just the storm door closed for much of the day.
The air was so still that we felt comfortable spending a lot of time outside relaxing, building a fire, cooking salmon steaks on the fire pit grill, making cocktails, taking photos, and letting Charlie sniff everything in sight. I knew from the information booklet, which showed where nearby trails, restaurants, stores, and even a winery are, that there was a nature trail just ahead of Henrietta, but we could not see it whatsoever. From our island down the hill, we could barely see and couldn't hear the nearest cabins. I've never experienced being on vacation and not having to deal with people all the time. Our cabin also came with several books and a deck of cards (and a book of card game rules) that we perused at our leisure. It was truly relaxing.
Our second evening was a magnificent spectacle. I've seen many sunsets in my time, but I've never witnessed one so quiet and unobstructed by the makings of man. I sat on the bed and simply watched the vibrant sun gently sink into the sharp trees painting the sky with hues of pink and blue before it pulled down a blanket of stars so thick that and brilliant that it looked like diamond dust scattered on black velvet. The night sky was completely clear, and the longer you stared at it, the more glimmering celestial bodies you saw. The moon rose later on in the night, situated perfectly in the window at the foot of the bed. Though the cold laid frost upon the ground this night, we were untouched by it in Henrietta's warm embrace.
Getaway does not want to rush you out, and check-out is at 11 a.m. We spent our last morning making hot coffee and stovetop croissants at a nice slow pace while the frost slowly dissipated in the sunlight. As I drove away, I felt like I could have easily spent more time there. Once your brain and body unwind from the pressures of everyday life in such a serene and natural place, you realize how fast life goes by without you even knowing it. Getaway is such a fantastic concept because you are encouraged to find that still space where the cellphone is in the cabin's lockbox, your thoughts are free to wander, and conversation can go on for as long or as short as you want.
Getaway Homochitto and all of the Outposts near and far beckon you to come by and reconnect to the Earth, your loved ones, your furry friend, and, most importantly, yourself.