Pie and possibility - Becoming a kid again in the M.D. of Bonnyville
Dewy purple and magenta bursts of berries hang pendulously from the branches of eight-foot high Saskatoon bushes at Rocky Meadows Country Getaway, just outside Bonnyville. The Robson family walk the rows, filling buckets in a hushed, zen-like industriousness.
The former farmland on which Rocky Meadows Country Getaway sits has been transformed with a bit of Willy Wonka-like genius. The mini-golf course neighbouring the berry patch has built-in farm implements for obstacles.
Some mornings, you can catch the scent of fresh pie coming out of the oven as you try to putt through the giant tractor tire on the way to the combine. Down from the golf course there is a campsite, spring-fed ponds and a trail leading to the Beaver River, where guests go tubing on the lazy current.
All together the effect, for folks of prairie heritage (and all those who appreciate it), is like returning to childhood.
“Everyone loves the memories associated with farm equipment, so it’s a nostalgia thing,” says Jocelyn Robson, who is out for a July weekend with her husband Darren and two kids, Maya and Liam. “I like coming out here because it’s relaxing. The wind in the trees, nice greenery, super quiet - I love that part of it.”
Like sunlight, there’s a wholesome goodness to spending a day here that has the ability to penetrate into your soul and warm you from the inside out. It’s the kind of pastoral setting that Jane Austen would have gushed about, if she were alive and writing today.
But before enjoying the ultimate in nostalgic foods like homemade pie and ice cream, you have to face down what may well be the most challenging mini-golf hole in Alberta.
Try to visualize this: the putting green feeds into a grain auger with a 20cm diameter hole. Get through that then your ball has to ascend through the tiny hollowed out pipe upwards of three metres, and then drop onto another section of green.
Master that one and you are on to the holes built around the combine and the thresher, which present plenty of challenge as well. Yeah, hard to imagine. It takes the game to a whole new level and you have to try it for yourself.
When the afternoons get too hot, the water beckons. Just outside Bonnyville, about a 15 minute drive through canola fields, flood plains and boreal forest lies the Muriel Lake MD Campground.
Campsites are separated by stands of birch and poplar, skinny white sentinels swaying in the gentle breeze coming off the lake. The Robsons appreciate the solitude of Muriel Lake for all the water sports they like to do.
“It’s quiet, there’s not a lot of people, just animals. Camping right on the water makes it easy to enjoy the calm moments on the lake,” says Jocelyn. “That nice evening sunset paddle is great.”
Summer is too short, so escaping the daily bustle is at a premium. Secluded places like Rocky Meadows or Muriel Lake truly offer the best of all options for friends and family.
“It’s about family time, being able to visit with friends and get out into nature,” says Jocelyn. “We’re more active when we camp, we’re always biking, always kayaking, canoeing - we’re on the go.”
Spacious, rural and relaxed, the Bonnyville area is perfect for the modern family to unplug and enjoy that wholesome retreat into nature. For more inspiration, check out all the rest there is to offer when you #TakeItToTheLake in the M.D. of Bonnyville, and the rest of the Lakeland.
WHEN YOU GO
You can get a great room for under $100 a night at a number of hotels in the Bonnyville/Cold Lake region – and all of them are within minutes of an amazing #TakeItToTheLake moment. For accommodations in the Bonnyville area click here. For hotels in Cold Lake, click here.
Share what you find when you #TakeItToTheLake this summer, using the hashtag and you might be featured on ZenSeekers and/or our partners' social media channels.
Video produced by ZenSeekers and Edmonton's Viva Voce Group and all images produced by ZenSeekers and Indigenous photographer, Canmore based Angus Cockney.