A Cabinista is Born

To say that this is self-proclaimed would be a huge understatement. But I do have an article published in the June issue of Edina Magazine about how to start your cabin search — which I am recognizing as my official coronation into the royal court of cabin experts. And that sort of proves that  “fake it til you make it” can no longer be dismissed as an unscientific method for success. She who speaks the loudest and with the most conviction shall conquer the earth, yo.

If you have dreams of becoming a cabin owner, you have to start somewhere. Click on the link below for your step-by-step guide, along with a little bit of our cabin search story, featuring cabins and cabin people from Edina, Minnesota.



Cabin Quest: Shopping for a Family Getaway

The backstory to our cabin search began nearly twenty years ago. Bill Clinton was in the white house and Alanis Morisette was in the cd player and I thought my overalls passed for business casual. I was still quasi-grunge from the neck down and Friends from the neck up.

Mike and I were newlyweds and we were shopping for cabins.

We were shopping for cabins long before we ever considered buying a house. We were too young for a house. Houses were for grown ups. We were just a boyfriend and a girlfriend with a marriage license and we had no designs on anything practical or permanent that might force us to abandon our “we do anything we want whenever want because we can” mentality; we worked and we played and we road tripped and we were loathe to leave our old roommates behind. Roommates are valuable and we couldn’t let them go just because they had been replaced by spouses.

But, even so, we shopped for cabins.

We lived in a 600 square foot apartment with a hand-me-down futon and a kitchen so small that I don’t recall a single meal ever emerging from its loins; “We’ll cook more when we have a basement,” Mike famously said. I still don’t know exactly what that means — but we have a basement now and we definitely prepare meals in our kitchen. So there you go.

On weekends, we drove from Eau Claire or Naperville or Glen Ellyn or Wheaton, wherever we were living at the time, and travelled the back roads of northern Wisconsin looking for lake property that a young boyfriend and girlfriend with a marriage license could afford.

We never discussed our future. We never dreamed of the house with a picket fence. We never talked about babies —  until we actually got one. But we did fantasize about a lake with a little cottage on its shore that would be our getaway no matter where our jobs or our address du jour took us.

I don’t even know if our visions were the same; all I know is that we agreed that buying a cabin before reaching virtually any of our adult milestones was a completely rational thing to do.

But little by little, life got bigger. Jobs intensified and babies cried and we eventually did buy a house; a little pink hacienda on a street with other mommies and daddies who were real grown ups. Not like us. We were just a boyfriend and a girlfriend with a marriage license and a house and a baby. The cabin discussion didn’t come up anymore.

And then that thing happened called STRESS. And we didn’t want any more of it. The cabin discussion came up again, after years in the closet, and this time it went like this:

“I have enough responsibility as it is.”

“I can barely handle what’s in front of me….I can’t put another single thing in my brain.”

“What if you HAD to go to the cabin? Because the lawn needed mowing or the dock needed work? That would be a total buzzkill.”

“I don’t ever want two lawns to mow. Or two houses to clean. Kill me now.”

“What if we wanted to go someplace else? Like Europe? Or Dollywood?”

“Why would we go to Dollywood?”

“Because Dolly Parton is awesome…..but we couldn’t go to Dollywood because we would feel guilty about not going to the cabin.”

“I’m not going to Dollywood.”

“That’s my whole point.”

Instead, we make a resolution to seek out the most awesome lake resorts in Minnesota, places with cleaning services and snack bars and kid’s clubs. Jesus loves the little children….and he loves their babysitters even more…..all corralled far, far away from cocktail hour. We will make one of these places our cabin. All the fun with none of the stress. And we will go back every summer so that Liam will remember it fondly and think of it as his.

So we do that a few times. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. None of them make me say, “I love this place so much that I will come back every year for the rest of my life!” The modified dream is not materializing as planned.

And then…..something happens to force our hand; our son becomes a fisherman. Not just a kid who likes to fish but a kid who likes to fish all day, every day if possible.  He likes it so much that he chooses to hang out with homeless vets and new immigrants at the city fishing dock instead of hanging out with his friends. Or, if I must be totally honest, his gaming system. And we see fishing as our chance to rescue him from a life spent in our basement fondling the game controllers.

“I want to buy a boat,” Mike says.

“Okay,” is my reply after picturing my son as a grown man in my dark basement with the aforementioned game controllers.

But then the boat comes home and I wonder where we will put it, hoping the answer isn’t “in the front yard.”

So we research marinas, resorts, timeshares, cabin rentals and lakeshore association homes.


But nothing – NOTHING –  gives us what we are looking for.

It turns out that what we are looking for is a family cabin.


There are times when we all feel mismatched from our chosen partners. There are times when “opposites attract” seems to be the glue that holds us together. Don’t deny it, we’ve all been there. But then there are times that bring us full circle, back to the people we were when we decided to be life partners. There are things that illustrate, in full detail, that we are meant to be together. So we grab our overalls, slip Alanis Morissette into the cd player, and head north.

The rest, as they say, is history.


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