hexagon houseThis morning, before the sun came up, I took our dog for a walk. The sky was that pearly blue that deepens into an impossible, nearly neon shade before the sun emerges over the horizon and washes it out. It was beautiful – fat snowflakes drifted to the ground, settling over a new layer of white.

The walk was a refreshing tonic for the desperate addiction that seizes me at this time of year. While working on articles – lately, about Michigan’s art coast, eating local at area farmers’ markets and Quebec City’s 400th anniversary – I carve out small breaks to surf the net for bargain getaways in exotic locales. Barring that, an inn, any inn or resort or spa or hotel, in a part of the world at least a two-hour drive away, will do.

So I was pleased to stumble across iloveinns.com yesterday and this: buy their book, the 19th edition of Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns, and you’ll get a gift certificate for a free night (usually midweek) at any one of several participating properties. The book costs $24.95, making it a great deal.

I spent awhile perusing the website’s list of participating properties and saw a few places I’d heartily recommend, including the Londonderry Inn, a former farmhouse in mid-coast Maine, an area I wrote about for both NOW Magazine and the Georgia Straight.

Closer to home, there’s Petoskey, Michigan’s historic Terrace Inn, where the innkeeper told me that one of his guests asked, when told about their Ernest Hemingway-themed room, “How’s it decorated? With booze and women?”

On the western edge of Michigan, there’s the lovely Hexagon House B&B (pictured above) in Pentwater, a small town with a dozen art galleries on the east coast of Lake Michigan. Within my stomping grounds, there’s the Pretty River Valley Country Inn, near Collingwood, where each of the guest rooms has a fireplace, a must after exploring the wooded 120-acres on your snowshoes or skis.

With the possibility of my going back to school next year and rising costs of renovating our house, we might not be going anywhere anytime soon. But, still, it’s fun to daydream.