It all started in the spring of 1993. I thought our family should go on a summer vacation and stay in a cabin in the Hayward area.
The Hayward Chamber of Commerce booklet arrived in the mail and I was looking for a place to rent that had three bedrooms. After looking at a few pictures, and reading a brief description, I decided Northland Lodge looked nice and called to make our reservation. Remember, years ago there were not Google searches or online reviews to read.
In March of 1993 we welcomed our twin boys, Caden and Connor, and went from two to four boys! In June we packed up our minivan with the four boys and were off on our vacation.
Our rustic log cabin was 10 feet from the water on Lost Land Lake. It had a sandy swimming area right in front of our huge screened in porch. The cabin also had a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a spacious living area with two huge picture windows with a wonderful view of the lake! During that first vacation I spent most of my time in the cabin with our 3 month old twins, while my husband, Clarence, took Kasey (5 1/2) and Brock (2 1/2) fishing in a small motor boat.
They kept catching fish, which kept them very busy. One of the resort owners told me years later that she told her family that “there was no way we would not be coming back”! This year was our 27th year going to the same resort and cabin!
That vacation was an immediate hit and was talked about throughout the rest of the year. The second year we took a babysitter along, which was a huge help! By our third year, we rented a pontoon for the week. We stocked up on snacks and drinks for the boat ride and we caught lots of fish. Every summer since 1993 we have booked the same week to spend at the cabin. Over the years this tradition has taught us many things.
The kids made sacrifices, like giving up baseball games, taking time off from their jobs, leaving to attend summer classes at college, and even giving up wifi for a week! However they also learned about balancing life with vacation.
They would have to head into town on occasion to connect to wifi to respond to work requests or finish online classes for college. When you spend 8 hours a day on a boat with your family, you also get a lot of time to learn about good communication through interesting conversations and debates. Oh the stories that have been told and retold!
Over the years we have had to work together to overcome terrible weather, which included power outages from a few hours to 48 hours! We worked together to catch hundreds of fish, including numerous muskies from 33-45 inches. We struggled through broken nets, snagged lures and broken fishing poles trying to get the big one in the boat.
We have enjoyed seeing eagles and osprey dive down to the lake to get their catch. We have seen blue heron, foxes, huge snapping turtles, and loons with their distinct call. One year we even saw bear cubs in a tree in the resort and another year had a bear trying to get into cabins! As a family, we have enjoyed nature up close every year on our summer vacation.
We especially treasure the friendships we have made with other families that have vacationed during the same week and the family that runs the resort. The cabin up north has become a gathering place for new friends and our extended family, who often stay with us or just come up for a day to hang out and enjoy life on the lake.
Every year the kids learned about responsibility as we wrote our list of things to pack and helped each other get the car loaded. The kids were involved in helping get everything ready and also helped make decisions about what we would bring and what we plan to do while on vacation.
The menu for the week was planned as a team and requires everyone to help with grocery shopping, meal prep, and cleanup. After the boys graduated from college and got jobs, they have also contributed to the cost of the vacation.
This vacation has become a tradition that the whole family looks forward to! Now the next generation of the family is also joining us at the resort. Kasey, then fiancee Megan, came up for the first time a couple of years ago and returned this year with their 14 month old son, Kane. They got their own cabin and it was fun to watch Kane catch his first fish!
This yearly tradition has never been a fancy, or perfect vacation, but more of an evolving adventure every year with a lot of laughter! Even though we go to the same place every year, our traditions have varied.
When the kids were younger, we would always spend time in town shopping, going to an attraction and mini golfing. As they grew older, we stopped going into town, except for necessities and a rare visit to the ER. Our entire family find being in the northwoods, with very little cell reception, a welcome change from our demanding everyday life.
Our kids always hope they can get that week off from work to go on vacation as a family! I feel blessed to have our family together for a week every year for this fun and exciting adventure together! The love of a family is one of life’s greatest blessings!
Sue has lived and been very involved in the Lodi Community for the last 37 years. She has been on the School Board for 17 years.