My father had a lake cabin near Detroit Lakes, Minn. It was a nice cabin but it was just too far away and, besides, I wanted one of my own.
I had been camping and skiing in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I really liked the area, filled with conifers that made it as beautiful in the winter as it was in the summer. It reminded me of the Hamm’s Beer commercials, “The Land of Sky Blue Waters.” So I put a protractor to the map and drew a circle approximating a 2 ½-hour drive. Unfortunately that excluded Cable, Wis., as being too far to drive. Within the circle was the Minong Flowage, a 1,800-acre lake northwest of Hayward, Wis., formed by damming of the Totagatic River. I had never been there before, but in 1982 I found a vacant lot, 350 feet of shoreline and a southeast exposure — just what I wanted.
I spent the summer of 1982 clearing the land, getting by with a tent, sleeping bag and chain saw. I put in the foundation, well and septic tank. I designed the cabin, and framed it up in the fall with the help of three good friends, sleeping in tents and soggy sleeping bags, working through the relentless rain. Still, we sealed it.
I met my wife the following spring, and we worked on it some years. But when our first child was crawling around in the debris of bits of Sheetrock and rusty nails, she convinced me to get some help. The cabin was finished in no time.
The lake is very interesting, with many bays and islands. Sand Island is in the middle, about a 30-feet high sandbox carved by storms. It is popular and crowded with boats. I was cruising around the lake last summer. I pulled out my cellphone just for fun and was surprised to see Sand Island on my global positioning system!
Every year, my wife, Ginny, has a girls’ weekend. Up to 11 women take over the cabin. Somehow there is room for everyone. And when the weekend is over, they are already planning for next year.
We used the cabin most weekends as our children were growing. Now our son is married, and my daughter-in-law loves it, so I know it will go on for another generation.
We like to take our pontoon to a restaurant on the lake, order pizza and have it out on the boat. Ten minutes later, we are adrift in our bay, sharing a pizza, my wife with her glass of wine, me with my beer. As the warm sun settles, touching the tops of the trees, a beautiful sunset follows. Then, we touch glasses to the memory of another beautiful day on the lake.
Jerry Leppart, Eden Prairie