Cabin Fever Fades in the Northwoods

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We recently had our final trip of the summer to the ‘cabin up north’.  When I got ready to sit down to write this blog while I was there, I looked outside and the sun was already setting by 8pm . . . UGH!  And now it’s even earlier . . . Typically, we don’t see the sun go down up north until nearly 9:30pm in early summer.

I hope you enjoy some of my memories from our time there:

As I write this It’s an absolutely beautiful evening so I’m taking advantage of the screened in back porch to avoid the mosquitos.  I love the sounds of the crickets and frogs chirping, kids splashing down at the lake, and final fishing boats pulling in for the night.  Admittedly, I don’t take advantage of the porch as often as I should!!!  It’s a melancholy time for most Minnesotans as we know summer is swiftly coming to an end.  A big part of Minnesota Culture is Cabin Culture.  We live for our 3 months of summer and trips to the cabin . . . and as the end of August nears, you can feel the Cabin Fever Fading.

It’s easy to understand how Cabin Culture began in Minnesota as there are so many Scandinavians that live here.  My Mother’s family is from Sweden, and on our trips to Sweden and Finland we often traveled to our family’s cottages in the woods to pick berries, hike, sauna, and jump in the freezing cold lake . . . we’ve carried those traditions on at my folks’ cabin as the summer lake jump or snow roll in the winter after a sauna has become the favorite thing to do!

Kendy blog 3 2 dockKendy blog 3 snowAlthough most Minnesotans close up their cabins in the fall, my parents, like true Scandinavians, keep theirs open year round in order to enjoy the Norwegian Kick Sledding, Cross Country Skiing, and Snow Shoeing.

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Minnesotans enjoy their cabin lives for many reasons: solitude, nature, sport, etc. . . .  The main theme is family reunions where family members from across the country gather to partake in the great outdoors, celebrate holidays like the 4th of July, and enjoy Mom’s Home Cookin’!  It’s an awesome time for the different generations to go offline and really connect face to face!

Kendy blog 3 8Kendy blog 3 10Fishing and Food are first priority at our cabin!  The kids love to fish with Papa to get ready for the big Fish Fry with Papa’s Homemade German Potato Pancakes!

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Our puppies love the cabin visit as much as we do . . . they love fishing, chasing the loons, staring at the hummingbirds, and jumping off the dock. Kendy blog 3 15DSC_0156.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

We have to do our best to keep them away from the eagles overhead and the bear on the path!

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The big draw to the cabin is of course the lake . . . after all, we have over 10,000 of them!  Whether it’s diving off the dock, learning how to ski from your expert 75 year-old Grandpa, kayaking, paddle boarding, tubing, or fishing, the day revolves around the lake.Kendy blog 3 25Kendy blog 3 27

Walor Family vacation to Grandparent Kloepfer's cabin in upper Wisconsin. Other relatives that came were Rick & new wife Melody Kloepfer, Brett Kloepfer and Cousin Hillary Kloepfer and son Everest.

I know every state has its vacation spots: ‘down the shore’, ‘in the mountains’, ‘on the beach’, etc. . .  Hopefully one day you’ll have a chance to experience Minnesota’s Cabin Culture some day!  If you’re a Minnesotan, I’d love to hear what your favorite lakes and cabin traditions are!  If you are not a Minnesotan, let me know what your state’s favorite vacation spot is so that I can check it out someday.  Hope you’re all able to enjoy the remainder of summer at your favorite spot!Kendy blog 3 31

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My Summer Tradition

Pretty much every summer for the majority of my life, I have traveled to Lake of the Woods.  Have you heard of it?  It occupies parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, and northern Minnesota.  It is over 70 miles long and wide and has 14,552 islands.

When I was young, we would attach one of those Winnebago foldout campers to the back of our car, and drive three hours up and three hours back.  Somehow, we packed: my parents, my brother, a couple of my stepbrothers and sisters and our huge black standard poodle, Mitzi into the car.  We did this EVERY weekend of the summer!  This is where I sat on a bee and got my first sting, and had my first wee little crush on a boy a few campers down.

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From the Winnebago, we graduated to a little white house on Rainy River. Rainy River runs into the big lake and is just outside of Baudette, Minnesota, population about 1,100. Now that we had the benefit of heat, plumbing, etc., we started traveling here during the winter months, too . . . again, EVERY weekend.  This is about the time where I just wanted to be home on the weekend.  I had friends and a social life where, if I missed out on something happening, my life would be over and I would die (I’m a teenager now). I had a hard time convincing my parents I should stay home so, instead, I would bring my friends along.

lynne-blog-3-2There is a tiny little island that my best friend, Jillie, and I would love to sneak off to. She had a tiny fishing boat, kind of like a dinghy. She would pull up to my dock, pick me up and off we went.  We were always alone on this island; it was like our little secret.  The island was very remote, had nothing on it to speak of except a bunch of sand ,so no one ever ventured there but us. One time, we thought we would be super grown up and sophisticated and sunbathe topless.  That was the very rare time that another fishing boat came floating by.  Now, the island has somehow been discovered and is full of big boats and lots of families picnicking.  My family and I still love to go there.

My parents decided to build their dream home at the Lake about the time I was starting my own family.  I had moved to Minneapolis and, so now, the three-hour drive is a seven-hour drive.  The drive takes us through many quiet, small towns and truly is a slice of Americana.  Homes with wrap-around front porches, lawn art and flags waving proudly.  Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere, and everything is slowed way down.  So lovely.

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There really isn’t that much to do at the lake . . . except for fishing, and so heading out onto the huge lake means spending the entire day on the boat . . . fishing.  I’m not that great of a fisherwoman as it takes great patience, and I get extremely bored waiting for something to happen.  We usually catch walleye and trout.  Nowadays, we bring a couple of boats onto the lake and have fishing competitions between them, which can get really loud and boisterous.  To this day, my boat has never won.

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Fourth of July celebrations at the lake are my favorite part. Thousands of people come into Baudette for the street fair and fireworks.  At the street fair you can listen to bagpipes, enjoy fried walleye, get a tattoo or our favorite thing, watch someone else get a tattoo. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tattoo truck is located right next to the Beer Garden. At dusk, it is so cool to see all the families sitting on blankets with their coolers, fluorescent light-up necklaces and twirly thingies in anticipation for the fireworks.  Our neighbors in Canada across the river have lit up American flags in their backyards as a sign of friendship.  The fireworks are choreographed to music, and always end with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” When it’s all over and we’re walking back to the car, it’s always the feeling of “best night ever.”

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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