In 1974, my uncle bought two lots on a small gin-clear lake north of Bemidji. Two years later he cut a trail into the property, and in 1977 he sold that property to his sister (my mother).

Early in the 1980s, we built a 10-foot-square shed with three bunks and an outhouse. We hauled a 16-foot travel trailer to the property about 1985 and enjoyed this place for a few years. In 1990, my nephew and a college friend, along with my mother, built a small cabin that had a loft and fireplace. We framed an entrance to connect the trailer and cabin.

We call our place "The Bear Shack." Why? A bear broke through a window of the trailer one winter, making a huge mess and exiting through the door.

We enjoyed our place in the woods, and in 2000 we built a larger cabin — adding on to the original cabin. The new place includes a basement, running water, and a large screened porch.

Our friends and family have enjoyed fishing, hunting, bird-watching and swimming. Today my wife and I own the cabin with my nephew and his wife. We all hope our family can retain our little sanctuary in the woods.

Ron Olson, Maple Plain