Going off the grid in Quebec and overcoming nature deficit: how I spent a few days with my teen son in Canada, putting down my phone and living in the moment, despite a healthy fear of bugs and bears. We kayaked, hiked and star gazed; the real, night-time stars, not the Hollywood celeb types.
Into The Woods: Off the Grid in Mekoos, Canada
Going off the grid for me usually means a couple of hours where I unplug and recharge. But at Mekoos, three hours north of Montreal in the Canadian woods, there’s no grid whatsoever. You are immersed in nature, pre-cell phones – practically pre-telephone.
I was awed and humbled.
Awed because the beauty of this place literally takes your breath away.
Humbled because I ignored my own advice and plunged into the backwoods without the necessary equipment.
From National TV to National Park
In August, I was on the Today show, where I talked about taking your kids camping and unplugging. I literally got into a cab from the Today show segment and flew to Canada with my son. I realized too late that I had forgotten warm clothing, a sleeping bag and a flashlight.
Mom Hacks – Making Do
Ever resourceful, I borrowed warm clothing from others at the campground, used the sleeping bag of a kid who planned to crawl into her mother’s bag, and remembered that my iPhone has a flashlight app built in. I scrounged s’mores from other campers and I was set.
That night, the stars were so thick it was like looking up at a sno cone.
The next day, we canoed through national park, an incredible place that felt like Grand Canyon.
THEN we went off the grid
Then we drove three hours north to Mekoos, a stunning lodge with five rooms and six lakeside cabins.
Known for fishing and hunting, Mekoos is immersed in 345 kilometers of nature, with 145 lakes. The lodge on the lake is naturally stocked with blue speckled trout; we caught two, and ate them shore side. The trout, a cousin to salmon, has a pinkish orange flesh with a mild flavor.
Reconnecting with Nature: How to Unplug
We stayed in a cabin for two nights. At the lodge there is spotty Wi-Fi, which I find so frustrating that I learned to let go and ignore my phone (you can use the owner’s computer to check into your flight). There is a television in the lodge (not in the cabins) but I never saw anyone watching it.
Instead of tracking how many likes and comments I got on social media channels, I went on a bear observation. You sit in a tree house and guides put food in a barrel, hoping that a bear comes. A bear DID come; we were about 100 feet above, watching him devour the food. Of course, I’m so citified that I was then terrified to walk around. What if a bear leaped out at me?
My son and I had the best conversations ever while we relaxed. We talked about stars, life, politics, saving the earth. We felt so connected to earth while there.
Life on the Water
My 15 year old son kayaked and swam in lake. The water is super clear and unpolluted, what I call creamy, dreamy water. It was refreshing, not cold, but not super warm either. We also took a three hour hike up a hill where I learned the importance of having your growing teen son check the fit of his hiking boots BEFORE going to a remote lodge. Forget Amazon Prime and same day delivery; you’re lucky here to get to a store and back in one day.
Letting Someone Else Take Charge
The cabins have full kitchens, and come stocked with water, firewood and matches for the fire pit and, if you want, any food you have ordered in advance (the nearest grocery store is 50 km away). The lodge’s restaurant has plenty of fresh salads and veggies; we also tried local specialties like poutine and beaver tail. Don’t miss the homemade desserts.
Our cabin had a room with a double bed and a twin bed on the main floor, another room downstairs with a double bed and twin, and a bedroom upstairs with for twin beds. We had plenty of space; a big family could easily spend a week here. And you can bring your dog; the cabins are pet friendly, too.
Guides and staff were fully invested in our happiness. We were particularly taken with a guide named Reno, who had dinner with us and loved practicing his English while we practiced our French. He genuinely cared that we had a good time. The lodge is family owned and run, and you feel more like house guest than a paying customer.
What Else is There to do?
In winter, guests snowmobile into the lodge. There is a billiards table and a jacuzzi. And there is reveling in going off the grid.
Note: despite dousing myself with the heaviest DEET, it was still not enough. I got some bites, but then, I spent two days outdoors.
I was a guest of Mekoos, which covered my travel, lodging and food.