Monday, November 24, 2014

A-glamping we did go!

Almost immediately after my return from two weeks in Europe, my husband Steve and I took off for a little retreat together. Earlier in the fall, I had stumbled upon a Groupon deal for "glamping" (a portmanteau word for glamour + camping).

On further investigation, it turned out that this experience was for a stay at les Refuges Perchés, which literally translates to "perched shelter."

The company website describes them as "tree houses" which is a little misleading. They are houses built on stilts and, for the most part, don't actually incorporate trees into their structure. But they feel very much like tree houses: they sway a little and when you look out the windows, all you see are leaves and branches, unless you look down.

Even though I had only been home for 48 hours, we hit the road again so we could enjoy the autumn colours. Most of the red-coloured leaves had already fallen, but there was still plenty of foliage to greet my eyes.

Stephen and Kane
Kane is wearing his ThunderShirt which we put on him to calm him
during the car ride. He'd been excitable in the car of late, so we were uncertain.
I don't know if it was the jacket that made the difference, but he was fantastic.
We arrived about an hour before check-in, so we decided to hike the grounds -- a large part the attraction of Refuges Perchés, and one of the reasons we had brought our dog, Kane, with us.

There were miles of paths and boardwalk around the lakes and marshes, and most of it was quite damp.
These red flowers are carnivorous pitcher plants. I'd never seen them before, and they were huge - the size of a baby's fist.
Whatever wasn't actually mud was wet and often had a generous coating of moss.

On the company's website, they have a section for visitor feedback, and one patron had complained that the cost was high ($189/night, high-season weekend), considering it was just camping and very rustic at that. What those guests didn't seem to appreciate were the grounds and the experience.

You won't see this at the Holiday Inn.
Eventually we checked in, at which point I realized that I should have paid closer attention to their confirmation e-mail which included a packing list. We had brought sleeping bags and pillows, but needed to purchase kindling and firewood and rent a great deal more things, including a jug for drinkable water. I can't even remember what all, but it added up to about $40 for the two nights we were there.

We borrowed a canoe to reach our cabin (there were paths, but they were rained out) and quickly unpacked. (Kane behaved well in the canoe, but clearly wasn't sure it was a good idea and would probably rather have swum behind us. I held his collar the duration of the short ride, about 5 minutes.)

Our cabin was surprisingly large inside (though it was not a time machine) and had room for six people to sleep (though it would have been very cosy at mealtime). Before long, the sun was low on the horizon.

This. This is why we came here.
The cabin had a propane cooktop and a barbecue. We had brought some delicious steaks, but forgot the wine! (Can you imagine? We didn't even have beer.) Definitely a hasty packing job. Dinner was good nevertheless, and we played a few rounds of Klabberjass, visited the outhouse, then settled down for the night.

Kane had other plans. He isn't used to sleeping near us (at home, he sleeps on the main floor while we sleep upstairs), so each time he roused in the night, he came over and stuck his cold, wet nose in our ears or necks or eyes. Steve took him out to pee once (in the pouring rain), but it didn't make any difference.

The next day dawned wet and grey. Steve and Kane went for a ramble while I stayed in and read by the warmth of the woodstove. After lunch, the rain eased up, so we all went out.

All the creeks and rills were full of burbling water.

The terrain was quite hilly, but there were plenty of staircases to help us traverse it.

The soil was quite thin over the granite of the Canadian Shield, so we saw many cases of trees growing thickly around and through gigantic boulders.

All of this really reminded me of the artwork we'd seen just days earlier at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. We spent two nights there, as we often do for short getaways. That way, we get a full day of relaxation and experiences.

sunset on the dock
The next morning, while cleaning up, I had a bit of an incident with the propane stove. The "start" button stuck while I was trying to light it and, rather than giving up for a minute and waiting while the gas dissipated, I kept trying. Just as Stephen was yelling at me to stop, it finally caught and the large cloud of gas that had accumulated pretty much exploded in my face. Aside from some singed hair and a gasp, no damage was done. Could have been a terrible end to a lovely respite. (We did tell staff about the problem.)

Finally, we finished cleaning up, packed up our gear, and canoed back across the lake, through a steady drizzle of rain.

As we drove home we saw more of the bright reds we had hoped to see.

Short trips like this are one of the ways we plan to stretch our retirement travel budget and, since we do still have three children living at home, are a great way for us to reconnect. (One of the beauties of retirement is that we could do this mid-week when rates are lower and availability is higher.)


  1. I want to book there for next fall. Looks wonderful.

    1. It was a perfect fall trip, though it's probably lovely any time of year. (Pat did have a good point about insects, however.) Would love it if you could drop in overnight or at least for a meal as you pass through.

  2. this place looks amazing!!! I'd love for me and the hubby to have a night away at some place like this. I suppose the kids would love it to - but seems like a more romantic spot if just for two. :)
    beautiful scenery - well worth the price I think.

    1. I think the people who complained about the price just didn't realize what they were in for. There is a fair bit of lugging and cleaning, but the accommodations and grounds are much better than most camping.


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