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Are you yurt? Nope, it's just the way I'm camping

Reporter edges ever closer to the ground on latest brush with the great outdoors

When family in my native Scotland heard I was in a yurt in Snohomish, the general reply was, "Oh, I'm sorry, is it painful?"

On this side of the Atlantic, the responses didn't fare much better, with my accent having folks believing I was going sailing on a yacht for the weekend.

For those still in the dark, Snohomish is a Washington State county, about an hour over the U.S. border and a yurt is a round camping abode complete with bunk beds and a fouton; not as earthy as a tent, not as comfy as a cabin.

And, having broken our Canadian camping cherry in a luxurious RV during spring break, we felt, as a family, it was time to get closer to nature.

However, with my wife not quite ready to "live off the land," camping in a yurt for a few days was as low to the ground as she was prepared to go.

To be honest, the yurts come complete with electricity, heating and a locked door, so we weren't exactly slumming it Grizzly Adams-style.

After stocking up on supplies in Arlington, we realized we could feed a family of five for a week and it cost half as much as in B.C. A few miles east of Arlington was River Meadows County Park.

Set in thick woodland which tumbles into the adjacent Stillaguimish River, the Snohomish County-run park has regular camping sites and RV spots.

However, we "camped" out in the intriguing little yurt village; with each unit boasting a yurt, obviously, a private fire pit, picnic table and a lush meadow big enough to while away the afternoon playing badminton and bocce!

With B.C. generally banning campfires, we couldn't wait to get ours going.

But before we started setting it, we walked the half mile or so down to the river to test out my son Ben's new fishing rod.

After spending an hour working out how a fishing rod actually works, we attempted for the first time in our lives to cast a few lines into the fast flowing Stillaguamish River, which did, apparently, have fish.

"The only thing you'll catch today is a cold," a local informed us. With that vote of confidence and with the sun fading, we packed it up. But we'd broken our fishing cherry and were proud of it.

Even if you don't like camping, no one can deny the campfire is one of the most pleasurable experiences of the summer.

So, after the barbecue, Ben and I got the fire going as quick as possible and we were all soon huddled as a family, basking in the glow of the flames, while taking turns transforming marshmallows into mini comets.

It's all over too soon, though, and as the last flicker on the fire died a slow, withering death, it was time to bed down for a night under the stars in a yurt for the first time.

I say "under the stars," only because there's a small dome-shaped window on top of the yurt.

All said and done, our inaugural "yurting" was a successful one, despite my wife still insisting this is as "low as she will go."

This was even in light of the fact each yurt had a key to its own private washroom and shower - a convenience she would soon find out was a five-star luxury.

With our first day firmly behind us, we set off - in the rain this time - back toward the I5, stopping briefly in Arlington's town centre, which is decorated on every corner with odd little drive-thru espresso stands. I counted five in two intersections.

Kayak Point, another county-owned park, was the next stop, about ten miles or so across the other side of the I5. And with the rain still tumbling down and

our yurt not being available for another few hours, we picnicked in the fog on the glorious rustic beach and stared out through the sea fog, which was hovering a few feet above at the doldrum water.

By the time we'd gotten entry to our yurt - Kayak's village is also surrounded by woodland and is closer to the water than River Meadows - we wanted to go fishing again and hiked a few hundred yards down a leafy trail to the pier, where crab fishermen and amateur anglers were already "hard at it."

With the rain unrelenting, there would be no badminton or bocce here - just a very painful two hours trying to convince damp wood and a rapidly diminishing stock of old newspapers to spontaneously combust and boil a pot of water for a cup of tea.

Through sheer will, and some prayer, there would be a fire and finally the best cup of tea I'd sipped in many a year, followed by sausages and more comets on a stick.

acampbell@richmond-news.com