Family Getaways: Maine Forest Yurts

You have to love a getaway that’s less than 30 minutes from your home, but makes you feel as if you’re hundreds of miles away. In our case, Maine Forest Yurts, which is located in Durham, is such a place. The 100-acre retreat, which opened in 2013, is owned and operated by Bob Crowley, winner of the reality series “Survivor: Gabon,” his wife, Peggy and their adult children. The secluded property includes three yurts, wide trails to explore, a fairy house village and a shallow pond that’s great for skating.

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We arrived on a Sunday afternoon with snowshoes, backpacks, sleeping bags and our dog, Gordon. Phil, who helps out at Maine Forest Yurts and lives on the property, met us in a snowmobile rigged with a jet sled for our gear. “Are you the Survivor?” the kids asked him immediately.

“No, but I get asked that a lot,” he said, grinning. MP explained to Phil that we just started watching the 17 year old series in preparation for our visit. The kids had a lot of questions.

Phil told us our yurt would be Zen Den, which is the newest of the three. He pointed out where we would need to walk and told us he’d meet us at the yurt. The walk, which is .25 mile at best, brought us past the woodland fairy house village and neat piles of stacked firewood. There are signs pointing to the yurts and tiny, solar-powered lanterns on the trees to light the way during evening walks.

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While MP had viewed pictures of our yurt online, she was even more impressed with it in person. The circular, tent-like home has a wrap-around deck and a meticulously clean outhouse beside it. While Phil unloaded our gear, all of us hurried to see the inside.

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Our family was amazed by how large and spacious the yurt is in comparison to its exterior. In fact, it’s one of the aspects Bob’s daughter, Page, admires most about the design. “I love the open space,” she tells MP. “The flower child in me loves that there are no corners for bad energy to settle.”

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Artwork left behind by past visitors.

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The “eye” of the yurt where you can see an expanse of stars on a clear night.

All around us, we felt nothing but good energy. A well-stoked fire in the wood stove gave our home for the night a cozy warmth. The yurt has a bunk bed and two full-size futons. There’s also a well-equipped kitchen with a stove and everything you could need to prep a meal, which is exactly what we decided to do. DP and CP#1 left to buy food at Bow Street Market in Freeport, while MP, CP#2 and the dog explored the trail to Runaround Pond.

The walk to the pond was peaceful and quiet, with the exception of the roar of a snowmobile engine now and then. CP#2 played on the ice while MP and the dog kept to land, all the while keeping a watchful eye on our boy.

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Back at the yurt, we settled in and read books while DP made a hearty pasta Bolognese. We ate together, enjoying our meals, the crackle of the fire, and conversation. It was growing dark outside and we discussed an evening walk under the stars. MP sipped her wine and smiled brightly at her crew. She wished that the family could stay longer, but alas, Monday was right around the corner.

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Outside, the temperature was dropping, but that didn’t dissuade DP and CP#2 from lying on their backs in the snow to look at the stars. Us girls (and the dog) decided to head back to the yurt and play a few rounds of Bananagrams.

While playing, the front door sprang open and CP#2 announced he discovered the meaning of life while looking at the stars. “Tell me,” said MP. “I must know.”

“Well it’s a great big universe out there,” he said, his freckle-face flushed red from the cold. “And we’re really just insignificant in comparison. So, if we’re just a blip on the screen, I think we should live life to the fullest. Really enjoy it.”

MP hugged him. “You know what, buddy? You’re absolutely right. In fact, I think that’s what we’re doing right now.”

To learn more about Maine Forest Yurts, visit here.

PS: Favorite family getaways in Newcastle, Millinocket and Kingfield.

 

 

 

 

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