Give Your Family the Gift of Adventure
Olivia Murray was voted Vancouver’s Top 30 Mom Bloggers and is a wife, mother, freelance creative director & digital strategist. To follow her journey, find her here.
It’s an infamous theme, my suggestion to consider experiences over things. It’s right up there next to my “buy better, buy less” preference, discussed many times over the years.
We’ve been gifting the kids experiences for their birthdays for the past few years and try to implement the same mindset when it comes to other holidays, occasions and beyond.
We’ve done many staycations, little getaways and even some major travelling with our eldest but nothing has been quite like our latest experience and stay with family-founded company, Cabinscape.
Cabinscape is a Canadian-owned and operated company, offering eco-conscious cabin stays for those looking to experience intimate, off-grid stays. Locations range from low remoteness (ability to drive-in and near other cabins and/or amenities) to high remoteness (hike-in required, distant from other accommodations, towns and resources). Every one of their micro cabins is custom designed and built with everything you need while prioritizing a minimized footprint.
We opted for a cabin of medium remoteness for our first experience, especially given we would have two small children in tow.
We stayed at the Baylight Cabin, nestled in the forest of Haliburton Highlands. This location has a 300-meter hike-in come the cold season but offers a very quiet stay, tucked amidst the trees and directly on the water of a private lake.
Travelling at the back end of November meant snow was on the ground and the water was partially frozen over, so we didn’t get to make the most of the lake’s beauty or activities (cabin stay comes with a canoe for your use while there) but it still made for an incredibly serene backdrop. Lined with evergreen trees and entirely still, the kids were thrilled to find they could sit and hear the echo of their own voices.
The cabin is equipped with a gas stovetop, full-sized BBQ and fire pit for cooking or making s’mores of course. We did pre-plan simple meals that could be made with minimal effort but also go nicely with a camping-like experience. Due to the time of year, there is no running water at the cabins and so we kept that in mind when it came to cooking as well.
We packed things like soup (that we pre-made) and grilled cheese supplies, eggs with add-ins like mushrooms and tomatoes, as well the obligatory marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate and veggie dogs/sausages for a traditional campfire dinner.
This location is truly amazing for anyone who’s a city dweller because the night sky is a serious contrast to that in metro areas – clear with nothing but an array of stars sprinkled across the scene. A beautiful backdrop to roasting marshmallows or having dinner and a drink by the fire.
In the morning, pull up the retractable window and take in the sunrise or crisp morning air over breakfast and a hot cup of your favourite. If you’re early enough and things are quiet, you might even be lucky enough to get a few of the forest’s visitors. It should be mentioned that this is a truly off-grid experience and you truly are a guest of an outdoor environment. Prepare for the possibility of seeing wild animals, big or tiny.
When not stargazing or on the lookout for animals, cabins offer a selection of games and reads for your enjoyment while there. The kids even found a colouring book, so we picked up some pencil crayons in the city (Haliburton) on one of our trips in for extra water and chocolate (a lot of s’mores were made).
*Note: Because water is not running at this time of the year, you’ll need to use bottled or stored water for all your needs: cooking, washing dishes, hygiene purposes, etc. Water is running again following winter.
Depending on your location, I highly suggest finding the nearest city/town to explore on your way to or from, or even during your stay. We loved getting to know a little bit of the area better by visiting various small businesses local to our cabin’s location. The company did a great job of including a list of nearby amenities, towns, and businesses in the welcome and instructional binder. Ours even included a pass for making the most of our time in Haliburton Highland’s, also deemed a “snow dome” and a favourite for those who like to hike, snowshoe, snowmobile and beyond.
We made sure to visit the infamous wolf family during our stay and it was an absolute highlight for the kids – us as well to be honest. I cannot recommend this enough during your stay or on any visit to the area. The wolves are so majestic, we could’ve spectated for hours. It was such a privilege to see them carry on in an environment natural to them and to witness them as a pack. I think we’ll be raving about this one forever.
Many of the experiences on this getaway were far from our norm, both as home or on any of our other stays/road trips and I can’t help but feel like it was so beneficial for the kids. To be out of their comfort zone and learn to navigate while embracing nature was such an experience that we cannot wait to visit another location in another (probably non-cold) season.
On our list for the next visit is one of Cabinscape’s new, Kawartha locations.
I hope you will follow @cabinscape and put it on your list of future considerations. I imagine these cabins as a great option for anything from birthdays to just needing a break, a girls’ trip to an anniversary getaway.
Stay tuned for some video content over on Instagram soon and consider this your reminder to return to slow and simple every so often.