Monday, June 25, 2012

Not the Best Camping in Canada

Kind of funny to live in Vermont and go camping in Canada, but I have to admit, there’s a different vibe to Canada, and it’s nice to go up there. Plus, as we all know, you can take a vacation at home, but it’s just not the same, because you can’t beat travel for the way it shakes up your system and revitalizes you. The new circumstances have a way of forcing you to think about your life and how you do even the most mundane things. There’s value to that, because when you really get down to it, when you’re going about your daily life, unless you make a conscious effort to vary your routines, your brain essentially shuts off and you go on auto-pilot. That’s fine up to a point, but after awhile, you are definitely prone to stagnation. Like Bob Dylan said, when you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying... or something like that.

Anyway, enough of me being a prig. We were camping in Canada, and we ended up at this campground in Sutton called Au Diable Vert (ADV). It promotes itself as an eco-friendly “resort,” where you can have a rustic vacation in the beautiful woods of Quebec. I’d have to give the place an overall grade of C-, and would probably not go back. The location was beautiful, and the grounds were nicely maintained, with great trails, a pond to swim in, and these really cool tent cabins and tree houses. The downside was it was ridiculously expensive for what you get, and once you’re inside, the cabins were fairly dirty and musty, and there was no running water at any of the sites. You had to haul it into your place. Maybe it’s a Canadian campground thing, but having some fresh water nearby is always a plus for me.

We had some negative vibes from the get-go, though nothing insurmountable. We were feverishly looking for a place to stay up there because the trip was very last-minute, and we tried to see if ADV had any openings. We couldn’t seem to get in touch with them, and finally sent some emails. They replied that they had one treehouse available, and it was $150 a night, and it was available for three nights. Great, I told them we were interested, and then we didn’t hear from them again. During the planning of the trip, we decided it would be nice to spend some time in Montreal, so we told ADV that we’d only be staying two nights instead of three, and they said we’d have to pay for half the night we were canceling. What? We hadn’t paid a thing, and didn’t even get anything in the way of confirmation.

Now we could have played hardball and just canceled the whole thing, because again, we hadn’t paid a dime. We were interested in staying in the treehouse, though, so I kept my cool and just said I didn’t think it was fair. After some discussion (we were prepared to walk away-my Mentor would be proud), they agreed that since we hadn’t put down a deposit, we didn’t have to pay anything for the cancelled day. We were relieved, and made the trip up. I do think they nickel and dimed us when we arrived, because they ended up charging us extra for two children, which is a complete joke, and then for the price we paid, we couldn’t even get a lift to our cabin with all of our luggage. We had to load our stuff into a wheeled cart and push it all the way, and the cabin was about a half mile from the front office, mostly up hill. I felt like one of Joseph Smith’s followers heading out to Utah. All part of the rustic experience, I guess.

The cabin was not horrible, but it was clearly in need of a good cleaning. The previous tenants had left their recycling, and I was a bit resistant to even sleep on the bed. It didn’t help that the day was hot, and the cabin was sweltering. Oddly enough, I slept well. I didn’t even bother using the outhouse, and simply held it all in for two days. Just kidding. There were showers and running water down by the front office, and I simply went #1 in the woods.

The next day it was drier and breezy, making it pleasant to hang on the porch and go for a hike, not to mention swim in the pond, but again, I can’t get over what a rip-off it was. Definitely not worth the price. I got a sense it was more of a winter place, and would have been nice in the cooler weather. Not a summer place to go.

One last peeve that I had was that the owners of the place got to stay in luxurious accommodations in the main lodge, which is their right, but it kind of stinks when you’re dirty and sweaty, hauling your bags to your room while the “other” folks are lounging on their fabulous deck, drinking cocktails and eating killer food from the grill. It really sets up an us vs. them atmosphere. They could have kept it more low key and not rubbed in our faces. It was almost as if they were too good for the rustic conditions, and they weren’t even that friendly. They just ignore you as you walk by.

I could have been expecting too much, but all in all, I think our time at ADV was somewhat negative, even though A&N had a blast. We’d have been much better off going to a real campground and just camping like the rest of the world. It’s a shame, because it really is a nice location, it just had bad vibes. We did have fun, but I think we could have had just as much fun for a fraction of the cost. Plus, our expectations would have been much lower.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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