Alan and Diane Page savor summer at their North Woods cabin

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2013 - 7:07 PM

Alan and Diane Page weren’t always on the same page when it came to weekends at the cabin – until some new ingredients changed their recipe for summer fun.

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Minnesotans love their cabins. But sometimes, not all family members love them equally.

As a teen, Diane Page wasn’t crazy about spending summer weekends at her family’s cabin in north central Minnesota. “I wanted to be in the city, with my friends,” she recalled.

But the cabin eventually cast its lure.

She came to love being on the water and spending downtime with her family, away from the busy routines of city life and her work as a focus-group moderator. Diane and her brother inherited the cabin after her grandfather died, then she bought out her brother after he built a retirement retreat down the road. “I felt more ownership then,” she said.

Her husband of 40 years, Alan, the Minnesota Supreme Court justice and former Vikings football player, was slower to embrace the cabin lifestyle.

“He’s from Canton, Ohio,” said Diane. “He didn’t understand the cabin thing.”

“I wasn’t enchanted,” Alan admitted. He hated the mosquitoes and deerflies, and preferred to spend summer weekends in town, where he could take his runs around the city lakes. “I’d say, ‘I’ve got one of the best lakes in the world three blocks away. Why are we going up there?’ ”

Then something happened.

Actually, three things happened, according to Diane. The couple discovered the joys of kayaking and pizza-making — and they became grandparents. That made Alan a cabin convert. “I’ve evolved,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been up there more this summer than the past five.”

Now Diane enjoys trips to the cabin even more. “We’re spending time up there more than ever,” she said, “Now that we’ve added value to the lake.”

Here’s how they did so:

Kayaks a deux

Diane had never cared for kayaking because she found it uncomfortable. “I’m long-legged,” she said. Then she discovered Hobie kayaks, which can be paddled or pedaled while sitting upright. She bought one for herself, and it soon became the family’s favorite watercraft at the cabin. Then, Alan got a kayak, so the two could go out together.

Kayaking allows them to escape the bugs Alan hates, but to get close to other wildlife, including loons. They both love the peace and quiet of gliding through the water without a motor.

“Silence is such a wonderful sound,” Alan said. “You can’t get it here, in the city. Even in the early morning, there’s a lot of background noise. But up there, there’s no noise except the leaves in the trees and the paddle on the water. Pedaling is even more quiet.”

Oven-baked pizza

At home in the city, the Pages became fans of oven-baked treats created by Craig Schulz of Phalen Oven Works in St. Paul. “His breads are to die for,” Diane said. Then the couple were smitten with the stone fireplace that Schulz, a stonemason, built in his back yard. Diane asked him if he would build a fireplace like it at their cabin.

To her surprise, Schulz told her his family had a cabin not far from hers, and that he’d be happy to build an oven for her sometime when he was in the area.

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  • The Pages’ kayaks, which can be pedaled or paddled, are quiet, allowing them to get close to loons. Behind the couple, their grandchildren and friends play on a raft.

  • The Page cabin is a modest structure, built in the 50’s by Diane’s parents. Today, they cherish the cabin and its quaint 1950’s-style interior such as the Formica countertops, the linoleum tile floor and knotty-pine paneling.

  • Diane and Alan Page bake pizzas in their outdoor pizza stone oven. Diane is taking a picture of the fresh pizza out of the oven.

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