When my husband, Steve, and I met we both wanted to have a campground to ourselves, and we found it — land that was a 2 ½-hour drive from our home in Minneapolis. It was lake, woods, seclusion.
We bought 13 acres near Spooner, Wis. When we first saw it, in 1983, we had to hike down a road of just more than a half-mile, climbing over at least two dozen downed trees. A forest fire had burned through the land in 1980 and most of the large trees were gone, with saplings popping everywhere. We finally bought the land in 1986, after getting married and having a baby.
We set up a travel trailer that first year to make it more convenient to come up with a 6-month-old. We kept that little trailer standing for nine years, during which we cleared land, made paths, dug and built an outhouse, pounded a sand point pump — and welcomed another baby to our family. Friends and family have helped us work and play along the way.
In 1995, we began to build our cabin.
We had a landscape architect friend help design it. First, local carpenters put up a structure, another installing our pine vaulted ceiling, then siding, on and on. We did as much work ourselves as we could, and we add things bit by bit as we can afford.
The beauty of this place is that it is ours. We’ve worked it, planned it, played it and lived it. Our children have known this special place from their beginning. What a family our place has made.
We have progressed in the past few years. In 2012. we put in solar power, so now we can turn on a light, charge our cellphones and have a great music system. We put in a septic system and a pump in 2014, thanks to my mother-in-law, who helped pay for the project. Plumbing was installed in 2015. So we don’t have to haul our water up the hill or hike to the outhouse in the middle of the night. I especially like doing the dishes with hot water.
The first 30 years have provided so much for our family. Now that our children are adults, they find the value of being at the lake and want to come whenever possible. Steve and I plan on retiring sometime soon and will continue to spend the fair weather months here. We are completely off the grid, yet we have many comforts. The best of those being memories we’ve made, and the memories we will continue to make.
Mary Jo Hunt, Prior Lake