Our family of three lives out a childhood dream by going off-grid amongst the trees
Underlying notes of moss and bark, warm, reassuring, and earthy, encapsulate our accommodation that hoovers amongst the trees. It is the first time my husband Terry and I have gone literally off the grid as new parents, with a five-month-old for a (stay)cation.
And these accommodations are not the haphazardly laid floorboards and rope ladders sometimes found in a kid’s backyard. Instead, the five geodesic domes (a cross between a treehouse and a pod) are more like something to be found in the pages of a children’s book where Baloo the Bear may drop by, but there are no bears here in this rather magical setting.
We sleep and wake to a loud chorus of chirpy and melodious birdcall from the surrounding foliage. There is a hot tub located on one side of the surrounding deck, and during the evenings, we soak in its therapeutic bubbles while feeling like we are a million miles away, where many more surprises are in store. But TreeTop Haven, where we are staying, is not too far from home (Summerside), nestled in Albany, Prince Edward Island.
Each tree pod contains the perfect blend of modern amenities (hot showers, a fully equipped kitchen) and camping essentials (a barbecue).
Our family decided to go out on this limb to leave the barrage of Covid-19 and social media behind. And now we are finally here, curling up in our little Hummingbird tree pod bubble – quite literally – for the ultimate hideaway in nature.
The Japanese have long practiced shirin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath,” so taking in a “forest bath” alleviates stress, fatigue, and feelings of depression. And with all the pandemic insecurities and changes lurking around every corner, it is undoubtedly time to refresh our minds, body, and souls with nature.
Being out in nature is how I spent my childhood—no phones or screens of any kind. I recall watching monkeys swing across the branches of trees in our backyard. They howled with excitement as the bananas came out in crates to be passed by hand for feeding. Zebras trotted across the dusty rural South African routes. And I hurried after my parents hiking through the towering Drakensburg Mountains where we camped, among other beautiful experiences.
I hope to give my daughter similar experiences, but in Canada, so she can also appreciate the great outdoors and quality family time – something I have learned to enjoy a lot more thanks to the pandemic. Slowing down, valuing family and friends, and being present are lessons the pandemic has taught me.
Treetop Haven has no Wi-Fi or televisions and toots of “forest bathing” with an onsite trail, nearby red-sanded beaches, and plenty of local wildlife to see. Glad we brought our binoculars to spot a variety of birds in the trees.
Our Hummingbird tree pod gives the nod to the world’s smallest bird it is named after, with a painted wooden picture in a small corridor leading to a bedroom. However, the tree pod measures 425 square feet and is perched nine feet in the trees with a sizeable circling deck, so it feels much more extensive. And what is even better? It is the most private of the five tree pods, making it ideal for those with a baby (or young kid with a pull-out sofa bed).
We get our lunch; a barbeque pulled pork pastry freshly made onsite, from the local HandPie Company not too far down the colourful lupin-lined road from where we are staying. And during the day, we take our daughter for a dip in the sea at Chelton Beach Provincial Park. The Park is famed for its royal red Island sand. Of course, we are not at the beach too long because of the baby’s delicate skin under the hot sun, but there is something so fun about watching her little expressions while splashing in the warm salty water and digging her toes into the soft sand.
Towards the evening, it starts to rain, and we return to our stay. We watch from the tree pod the water pour down the tarp and listen to the spa-like sound that helps the baby drift to sleep. We cook, read a book, and watch the changing scenery outside from the comfort of the couch as the wind whistles through the woods. Eventually, the storm breaks, and for a moment, the sun shines its warmth through the clouds. I listen to the memorable chorus as the birds begin to emerge from their hiding places and sing their wild song.
Author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote about this landscape in her much-loved book based on the Island, called Anne of Green Gables.
She penned, “you never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields or along the winding red roads of Prince Edward Island.”
I understand that line now.
We feel at peace – in the true sense of the word – from the rest of the world.
We plan to do more memorable adventures as a family. So, on that note, do you remember any fun experiences from your childhood or do you have any recommendations for us in terms of things to do or places to stay with a baby?
I’d love to hear from you – comment below. Thanks!