Anticipating the first trip northPublished 8:38pm Saturday, April 14, 2012
It’s been a while since I’ve been up to our cabin but I am planning a little trip north next week. This is a time that I’ve been looking forward to all winter and it’s finally here. The only thing I know for sure is that each time I make the initial first visit of the season I have to be prepared for anything.
In other years I have been greeted with fallen trees not just across the driveway. One year I found a tree had fallen across the top of our old camper and another time there were trees down everywhere blocking both doors to the cabin. I literally had to chop my way in. Luckily, I had my two grandsons, Trevor and Taylor along to help (do most of the work).
Another time, we had gone up in April and awoke the next day to six inches of snow. The first couple of years were pretty rustic, and that particular year we had just finished enclosing the cabin so it wasn’t insulated and we had no furniture of any type in place. We slept on the wooden floor in sleeping bags huddled around a kerosene heater to keep us somewhat warm. It didn’t seem to matter to the boys because they were “up north” and enjoying an early season adventure. It was a special time because we were the first ones to sleep in the cabin, and that will be something that we will always remember.
Our family had owned the land for about three years before we started clearing a spot for the cabin, and when we did, the boys were there to help. Brian manned the chainsaw and Trevor drove his Uncle Travis’ ATV that was used to drag the trees out of the way after Brian had trimmed and cut them up. Taylor and I dragged the brush into piles. I have to say that those boys knew how to work at a young age and nothing has changed today. We did all that work on a weekend and it was just the beginning of what would be a complete family project.
Soon after we had purchased the land, we cleared enough trees to make a driveway and also opened up enough of an area to put our small camper on. Before the end of the summer Brian, Trevor, Brian’s brother Brad and I hauled the camper up there and we somehow were able to get it situated in the area we had picked out.
I do know that the driveway seemed a lot wider when we cut it out than it actually was. We had to do some widening before we could get the camper to its chosen resting place. In the end we also had to winch the camper into place by doing a little MacGyver-ing. These are just some of the memories that I have of the first years we were there. I really felt like an outdoorsman and building the cabin with the two boys and grandkids still gives me a feeling of self satisfaction.
There were also some tough times along the way; like when Brian and I were digging the holes to put the posts in for the base of the cabin. It was one cold and rainy Memorial Day weekend and while Brian did most of the work, I did most of the falling down on the slope of the hill that was mostly wet clay, tree roots and rock. By the time the last post was in place we were ready to relax around the campfire and Brian’s mother, Jean, soon had a hot supper ready for us, which we readily welcomed. After we had enjoyed a good hot meal we both headed for bed and were asleep in no time. I have a picture of us sitting by the campfire shortly before supper and every time I see it, I think of that miserable day and am thankful that it is now history.
The other “cold memory” that I have is when Brian and I went to install the wood stove and the chimney that went along with it. It was early March and about eight degrees with a steady wind of 40 miles per hour coming straight out of the north. It took us a whole day to get it done and by the time we got it fired up we were so cold it didn’t seem like we’d ever warm up. I can still see Brian up on that steep tin roof in the wind putting that chimney up. I don’t think either of us will ever forget that miserable day.
I also think about the day that we started building the cabin with the help my youngest son Brad and grandson Dylan. Dylan was really excited to help us and I think he handled almost every piece of lumber as we unloaded it and stacked it by the building site. He surely didn’t want to miss out on helping and that is another memory that I’ll always cherish.
There is just something special about the whole family pitching in to help create something that we have built ourselves and will be able to enjoy for many years to come. We don’t have some of the conveniences of today’s world like running water or electricity but to us it’s all about enjoying the outdoors and the things that nature has to offer.
It’s amazing the things you notice when you start watching nature like you would a good movie. This movie is labeled non-fiction and hopefully it will never end. Since we have owned this little piece of the north woods I have grown to appreciate the outdoors even more. I have never considered myself a bird watcher but I have really come to enjoy watching the birds and critters of the woods. It is a great pastime that I really enjoy. The extra bonus in all of this is being able to catch enough fish for a meal right out of our little lake.
Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and start making those outdoors memories that will last a lifetime.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.
Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.