little yurt on the prairie

Tucked away in a quiet, small community in rural Manitoba not too far from Riding Mountain National Park sits two Mongolian yurts in an old farmhouse yard. Those yurts represent the dreams of two people - Sherry and Robert - the owners of Journey Home Artist Retreat. Their initial idea was simple - create a warm and inviting space where artists can come and create and enjoy life - but now that simple idea is blossoming into something much bigger and more powerful and is catching the eyes of Manitobans seeking a unique b&b experience.

I was taking part in a sponsored journey through a Tourism Dauphin social media initiative called "One Year Here" and I was very much looking forward to experiencing this unique bed and breakfast, although I was a bit unsure about what to expect. When my husband and I arrived at Journey Home we were greeted by Sherry and she immediately gives us a tour of the property. Her enthusiasm is apparent from the get-go as she guides us out in the yard to see the yurts. She points out the authentic details of the artwork on the doors and ceilings of the yurts, describing how they are the real deal - traditional Mongolian yurts. We duck our head and enter the smaller yurt, our home for the night. It is toasty warm with an electric fireplace and lots of blankets. I know immediately we will be just fine spending the night in a yurt while the wind, rain, and snow blows.

We then head into the farmhouse and meet Robert, the resident artist, and Peat the resident dog. Both are very friendly and quick to sit and visit. The farmhouse is a neat combination of old charm and antiques and quirky art, I can see why artists would choose this retreat for a getaway as it is serene and calm but every corner has something artistic and special just waiting for you to take a peek. The four of us shared some laughs over a wonderful meal of vegetarian sushi, salad, jasmin tea, and one of Sherry’s specialities - homemade plum sorbet. It was delicious, and a visit to Journey Home is worth it just for the food. Robert and Sherry explained their plans to expand their retreat, hoping to add a separate washroom and kitchen facility, some more yurts, and some yaks. They also hope to add a dedicated space for artist workshops. I can easily envision the growth of their business, and imagine people being drawn in for the unique yurts but then wanting to return because of the warm hospitable hosts who take the b&b experience to a whole new level with their food, conversation, and art. I can visualize people wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture out to something new in a quiet and peaceful rural Manitoba location. Sherry and Robert are creating more than just a place to stay, they are creating an experience, a place to grow and expand your creative side, a place to get in touch with the artist that lies within all of us.

After dinner I have a reiki session, which is another unique option available at Journey Home. Reiki is new to me, and Sherry explains it is basically therapeutic touch that helps shift energy within the body to create more balance. It was a great experience, I would describe it as a milder form of massage or reflexology. Sherry had me lay on a massage table beside the wood stove and for the next hour she helped guide energy through my body by touching various points on my arms, head, legs and feet. She seemed quite in tune with my energy, picking up on my bad knee quite easily and helped to shift it back in equilibrium.

Following my reiki session it was time to head into the yurt and call it a night. My husband and I crawled into the warm bed piled high with blankets. The flicker of the fireplace cast shadows on the latticework of the yurt walls and we giggled at the thought that here we were in rural Manitoba experiencing something completely unique, but something that is the norm to many people in Mongolia year round.

After a great sleep we rose and opened up the doors to the yurt to check out the weather. We were greeted by a fresh snowfall. We decided to stay inside and enjoy the yurt for a little bit longer. Eventually we made our way to the farmhouse to see how breakfast was coming. Once again Sherry was hard at work in the kitchen, this time it was for coffee, bacon, eggs, muffins, toast, and three homemade types of jam. The three of us ate breakfast by the beautiful large window, and admired a large hawk and other birds as they frolicked in the trees. Once breakfast was complete, I knew it was time to head out. Our Journey Home yurt experience had come to an end, but as I signed the guestbook and bid the host farewell I knew we would be back again in the future. There is no way the yurt, the food, the art, and the hosts is a one time only experience. Next time I’ll bring friends and stay an extra night, and perhaps have Robert guide us through a custom art class.

For more information on Journey Home Artist Retreat visit www.journeyhomeartistretreat.ca.