Our family just spent a couple days in a Quebec Yurt. Let’s start with a quick question: why on earth would somebody living a very comfortable life, in a nice house and all the accompanying luxuries of city living purposefully choose to head off into the woods with the now-apparent objective of being bug food? Why trade a couch, a Joe Rogan Podcast, 24 hours of Holmes on Homes, a fast internet connection, a memory foam mattress, and well stocked fridge for a crowded campground, no shower, hordes of mosquitoes, and a poison ivy laden walk to the crapper?
To be honest, we weren’t exactly roughing it. Hard to complain about conditions when your tent has electricity, a stove and even a well stocked fridge. And although the campground seemed to be booked solid, us well to-do yurters were in a secluded part of the park, a private laneway with only 3 well-spaced yurts, a surprisingly clean washroom and long, quiet walking paths.
Before I wade into deeper waters perhaps it’s best to explain what a Yurt is. Yurts are the traditional, mobile homes of Mongolian/ Central Asians living on the Steppes. They are nomadic folks and have been using these circular, portable dwellings for thousands of years. North Americans don’t have to pack up their home and move across town unless all fourteen local supermarkets up and left. Steppe dwellers however don’t have down the street access to chilled-vanilla-moka-chai and plane-loads of Costa Rican produce so they need to move to greener pastures from time to time – thus portable dwellings.
Must Camping Be Difficult?
Does camping need to be difficult in order to for us appreciate the coming home. My friend Ron mentioned tonight that when he camps he likes it as basic as possible, getting ‘close’ to nature and that’s how it should be. You’re either a camper or you’re not. And that means sleeping on the ground with only a thin sheet of nylon between you and the critters, BBQ-ing everything from jumbo dogs to empty Coors Light cans and since most modern camping involves neighbours – listening to Joe-Bob slam the door of his pickup after being on the losing end of a brouhaha with Daisy over the need of privacy for certain intimate activities.
If camping’s too easy is it worthwhile? There’s a notion that sleeping on a cold wet floor, cooking over an open flame (sometimes leading to disastrous consequences for the over-dangled Mallow) and getting more than a half dozen bug bites helps you to better appreciate the comforts of home. That by adding stress you then feel de-stressed upon your return and your Neanderthal, artificial deadline creating boss seems like just a silly annoyance. Personally I already have a largess of appreciation for my comforts – so, me thinks taking it easy out of doors (we actually had a locked door with an easy sliding window) is just fine. To each his own – so how about the yurt then?
On to Our Quebec Yurt Experience
In a word, yurting is ideal for ‘campers’ who prefer a mattress, fridge and stove in place of the wet ground (and boy would it have been wet), burnt burgers cooked on a half inch of baked grease and semi-cold beer. Though I’m sure that we can’t really be referred to as campers. There was a ‘camp’ but there wasn’t a whole lotta errr. We did have to walk down the road a bit to visit the loo but the place was meticulously cleaned by a well-trained staff every morning, so even that wasn’t so rough. We did get to create a couple nice little bonfires, roast some marshmallows, see a firefly display and go canoeing – so there were outdoor elements to our stay. Combined with a nice Cabernet, a roof that kept the driving rain out and some valuable Monopoly time with our son – it was a very pleasant couple of days.
The yurt itself was kind of cool, but expensive for what it was. By the time you count up the Park fees, taxes and the yurt rental, we were looking at close to $300 for 2 nights. We’re spending less than that for a couple nights at a resort in Stoneham, Quebec in a couple weeks (and that comes with a heated pool and room service). Price aside it was a neat experience. I can’t say that we’d do it again but we have no regrets over the decision.
A note about Parc national de Plaisance, Quebec (just outside Ottawa).
The folks that work there were all polite and helpful. The parc is kept in great shape with easy access to the water, plenty of canoes and kayaks at the ready. Free wi-fi in the visitor’s center, firewood & ice available along with maps and even a little shop for sweaters & souvenirs.