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Kingston Peninsula: The trip you didn’t know you needed


GINA ALWARD

I lay my head back and close my eyes as I listen to the sounds of the forest. I’m half-floating in warm, still water, nestled inside the wood-burning hot tub just outside of our weekend home.

I didn’t realize how much I needed this - how busy and chaotic my life had gotten - until I was able to slow down and listen to the stillness that now surrounded me. Having escaped all the hustle and bustle of the city, I was finally able to appreciate all that was being said in the quiet.

When first planning my trip to Kingston Peninsula, I was convinced that a day or two would allow me ample time to enjoy all it had to offer. But as I lay here, I feel a little saddened knowing that tomorrow I would have to leave this place - because there is still so much left to see.

Reconnecting in nature

The thing I love most about Kingston is that time seems to stand still here, which is made even more evident by the rustic houses and old-timey store that stand in the middle of town, as if unchanging since 1965. This town is quiet, blessed to be far enough removed from reliable cell phone reception, and forcing you to awaken from the distraction of a screen-filled existence.

Ridgeback Lodge can be found deep in the forest only minutes from town, with glamping domes and log cabins tucked neatly away in their own secluded oases. Overlooking the Saint John River with a small pond and hiking trails tying it all together, you instantly feel relaxed as soon as you step onto its soil.

To say that the Dream Dome has ruined traditional camping for me would be an understatement. Unzipping the door and entering my abode the evening before, I found a small kitchenette immediately to my right with everything we could need; a queen-sized, memory-foam bed in the middle of the room facing a large window which takes up a third of its surface; and a beautifully modest bathroom hidden just out of sight. There was even a small pellet fireplace to warm us from the rain as we sat hypnotized by the pitter-patter that drizzled onto the cover.

The luxury of this glamping experience was modest enough not to overpower the simplistic charm that comes with a weekend in the woods, but exceptional enough to keep us more than comfortable during our stay.

But a soak in the wood-burning hot tub just outside of the dome is quite possibly the most luxurious aspect of the environment, as you’re able to sit in nature listening contently to all the quiet and peace you had no idea you were missing. It was in this tub that I was able to disconnect from my daily routine and reconnect to the natural world around me - a world I had been neglecting for far too long.

Local charm with local wine

While basking in Kingston’s wilderness is enough to do any soul good, there is a place just five minutes from Ridgeback Lodge which allows you to blend together some nature with some well-deserved nurture.

The Dunhams Run Estate Winery produces some of the region’s finest hand-harvested wines - and has the best time doing it. Run by the dynamic and charming duo of Tony Rickett and Macey Ruff, here you’ll feel as if you’ve been welcomed by long-lost cousins who want nothing more than to show you a good time.

The winery holds many different events throughout the summer, bringing the community together in a fun-loving way. From wine tastings and vineyard tours to book clubs and bachelorette parties (which is what we found ourselves in the midst of during our visit), we were able to spend all day here, chatting with locals and enjoying some “serious wine from people who don’t take themselves too seriously.”

But Date Nights are certainly the biggest affairs of the summer, filled with wine-tasting, delicious food and live music - the most notable acts including Tomato Tomato, Brent Mason, James Mullinger and Ethan Ash. With all this liveliness in the middle of some spectacular scenery, I really can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening.

It’s true, at first it didn’t seem like there was much to do in this laid-back area of the province. But it didn’t take long to learn how naive we had been. And as I sit here now in this beautiful barrel of a tub, allowing my worries to wash away while reminiscing on my time here, I can’t help but think of the things I still have left to see and the next time I’ll be able to do it all again.

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