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.
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.
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|
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.)