When I was a kid and late summer would arrive on our Iowa farm, Mom and Dad would carve out a week between hay cuttings to load their four boys in the family Buick for a trip to a Minnesota fishing resort. When we pulled up to a string of white cabins lining a sparkling lake after an all-day drive, we thought we'd found heaven — or at least stepped into a Hamm's Beer commercial. The setting of blue lakes and skies, balsam-scented cool air and exotic knotty pine cabins seemed magical.

Dad probably never spent more than $35 a week to rent one of those cabins. They were the definition of simplicity: an open space serving as kitchen, dining and living room, with two small bedrooms and tiny bathroom in the back. We wouldn't have been happier at the Waldorf Astoria.

We'd rise early each day for bacon and eggs, pile into a small rental boat with a dinky outboard and fish for hours. As the sun sank low, Dad would head to the screened fish house to clean our walleyes (and bullheads because, after all, we were from Iowa). Then Mom would fill the cabin with the aroma of fresh fish frying in the skillet. We'd end the night with some card games, then head to bed, sleeping with screens open to the cool night air, sounds of boats bumping gently against docks and loons calling in the distance.

Those Minnesota memories played a part in attracting my wife and I north to Minneapolis after college. In 1986 we bought a cabin in western Wisconsin that reminded me of those old family trips. Built in the '40s, it was lined wall-to-wall with knotty pine. Our Iowa family from both sides came up every year, and we could relive simple cabin days. My Dad visited for 30 years before he died, and my Mom was still taking sunset boat cruises with us at age 93, just a year before she left us. Our two daughters, my brothers, my wife's family, and our nieces and nephews have visited again and again, creating new cabin memories to place among the old.