There’s no gentle pitter patter of rain tapping on my rooftop of my dream dome at Ridgeback Lodge. It’s simply chucking down. For someone who came to New Brunswick looking for a sunny beach vacation, you’d think I’d be upset. But there’s something about being cocooned inside a puffy marshmallow-like structure while a tempest rages outside, that makes one feel, well, a tad bit smug. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been quite so blissed out.
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Situated an hour away away from Saint John, Ridgeback Lodge allows you to bask in the great outdoors without having to sacrifice style points. Imagine bedding down in a super swish, mod igloo. These all white geodesic domes look like they’re part of a sci-fi movie set that was carefully plopped down in the middle of a forest.
Here, you’ve got your own private expanse, complete with a picnic table, BBQ and wood fired hot tub (more on that later). Indoors, the glamping dome boasts wooden floors (laminate, but so what), and a small kitchenette with induction plates, running water and mini fridge.
An entire wall of windows afford views of Kingston Creek, or would if those clouds would part. No matter, there are comfy chairs for reading, a propane fireplace and a super cozy queen bed. So cozy, I’m kicking myself for not snapping a picture of the mattress label.
We’ve also got electricity(!), a shower and flush toilet. This, my friends, is serious glamping.
Glamping in New Brunswick
This glamping destination is the last spot on our New Brunswick adventure. Besides our many hotel stays, I wanted an experience that got my daughter and I back to nature without roughing it, if you know what I mean.
Camping is fine, but I wasn’t into schlepping around a sleeping bag all the way from Alberta in our one suitcase. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to find this glamping spot – a short drive away from the Saint John airport in southern New Brunswick.
Within minutes of arriving, Eve nabs the bag of penny candy we picked up at nearby Kredl’s market, flops on the bed and dives into her book.
Meanwhile, I make myself a gin and tonic and consult the instructions on how to fire up the Japanese soaking tub. Yep, you read that right. Outside each Dream Dome is a two-person wooden tub heated by wood fire.
It takes us a few tries to get the kindling lit for the tub, but eventually we get it going. Keeping the fire stoked becomes an excellent diversion for Eve. Every half hour or so, she pops outside to tend to it, then sticks a canoe oar in the tub to circulate the water.
I return to my book and G&T. I realize pretty quickly I don’t want it. (The gin, not the book. The book: Pirates on the Eastern Seaboard, left by a former guest, was fascinating.)
I don’t have any desire to get tipsy. There is no edge I need to take off. I’ve been here less than an hour and I’m already infused with a deep sense of calm.
I make myself a cup of tea, treat myself to an oatcake and settle back on the bed. A warm drink, an engaging read, a kid happily playing outside and zero connectivity; this is all I need, I think to myself.
Dreaming in the dream dome
It feels as though time has been suspended inside our the Dream Dome. Without the din of hotel guests and background TV, I’m easily able to reflect on our trip and how I want our future summers to play out.
For sure we’re coming back to New Brunswick. There’s so many cottages we could rent, and the Dream Dome is just the tip of the iceberg. This trip we visited we nailed off a bucket list item of mine and rented a cottage by the ocean. It didn’t turn out to be the best cottage (the basement was way damp, there was no AC and so many flies inside!), but being steps away from the sea made up for the minor inconveniences.
I realize I don’t need to take my teen to some theme park, Caribbean beach or mega mall. I only need to search out spots for us to disconnect, where there’s enough interesting diversions to foster curiosity and conversation. Ridgeback suited all these needs.
My reverie is interrupted by the sound of…silence. The storm is losing its edge. Though it’s still raining (gently now), the clouds have parted, delivering misty views of the creek framed by lofty maple and cedar trees.
We are snug inside our camping dome and Eve is keen to make her own dinner (fresh Atlantic salmon and green beans drenched in butter). It’s delicious. I cut open the cooked lobster I bought at SuperStore in Saint John and also drowned it in butter.
Our meal is simple, fresh and a good reminder how we don’t need to overcomplicate things. I feel the same way with camping eats, but this is way better because we are dry, dry, dry!
Just as we finish eating, the sun finally reveals herself, casting diamonds on leaves and waking up the woods. We spot a humming bird, no, two of them are bickering their way through the branches. They stop for a long drink at the bird feeder just outside our dome.
It’s all the inspiration Eve needs and she’s out the camping dome in a flash. I follow suit. She’s headed for the nature trails (there’s 4 km of them), and in no time at all, we come upon a pond – a spring fed swimming hole actually, with a diving platform and … frogs!
Eve attempts to catch them, while I unsuccessfully try to capture them on the camera I haven’t quite figured out how to use.
After our romp in the woods, I’m finally ready for that G&T. Luckily, our hot tub is ready, too. We spend over an hour plunging in and out of it. (I may have let the fire burn longer than it should’ve and it’s super hot!)
Though the soak is luxurious with a refreshing breeze on our backs and the heady scent of cedar all around, it’s our unstopping conversation that makes it so special. We rattle through a range of topics from pioneers to teen pregnancy to what’s up with parents these days.
The rain starts up again, but by this time our digits are shrivelled up like prunes anyway. We race each other back to the dome.
She snags the shower first. I fall asleep on the bed. It turns out to be one of the deepest sleeps in recent memory. I can’t remember drifting off or how I got out of my wet bathing suit into PJs. Fret not, I only had one G&T!
Hours later, prisms of jewel-like light stream in from the portholes near the roof. I feel Eve stirring, but I don’t want to open my eyes. I want to capture this soaring sense of space and bottle up this experience forever. Once up, we’ll have to pack, head to the airport and resume our busy, busy lives.
I crack open an eyelid and find Eve happily staring at me. She wonder’s if it’s OK to go outside and check on the hot tub. Maybe if it’s still warm, we’ll have time for another dip? We do.
Know before you go
Ridgeback Lodge is an adults-only getaway that’s open all year round. Occasionally, they’ll allow a parent with a mature child to spend the night, but it’s not technically a spot for families.
In addition to three wooden cabins (that sleep six), you can spend the night in a Dream Dome, as I did. Also available are smaller glamping domes called Stargazers. They’re just for sleeping, so you spend your day inside one of the cabins and at night you pop into this dome to peer at the stars through the see through roof.
Bedding, towels, dishes – they’re all provided. You only need to bring your food and drink, shampoo and a journal to capture what’s sure to be a magical experience.
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Have you ever been glamping? Where do you recommend?