Upon graduating from college I was not quite ready to settle down, buy a house and start a family. But along with my father, I did purchase a few acres on a remote lake in Crow Wing County. We carved a driveway access to the lake and had a small cabin erected in 1970.
In subsequent years I married. My wife and I adopted two children and built another small cabin to spread out the family members. As our children grew and brought friends to the cabin, I sensed a need to build a Lincoln Log-type of bunkhouse just so the kids could get away from the adults. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, I had always wanted to live in a log house. My plans for the bunkhouse seemed like a good compromise.
A pole yard in our local town was selling the cutoff ends of telephone poles for a cheap price. So I loaded up my trailer with dozens of 5- and 6-foot pole ends and hauled them to a farmer who, with the aid of a buzz saw attached to a 1950 Minneapolis Moline tractor, squared off two sides.
My logs were now ready to stack, fit and number to make an 8-by-14 bunkhouse. I spent six weeks in my Arden Hills garage marking, numbering and fitting the logs together with the aid of a chain saw. Together with my wife and two kids we disassembled the cabin, loaded the logs again on the trailer and hauled them up to our property. After a couple of long weekends the logs were up, the roof assembled, the door attached and the window installed. My father's skill as a welder provided us with a small wood stove for warming the place on chilly autumn mornings.
None of our cabins has electricity or running water. We rely on propane for lights and refrigeration. We rely on a pitcher pump for fresh-tasting water. Our creatively constructed outhouse has a skylight and white linoleum floor, luring young and old to come and sit for a while, to read the humor on its walls. And a newly dug outhouse hole should fulfill our needs for another 10 years.
At times I think about the benefits of having electricity — fans on those hot summer evenings, lights for the dark nights, power for those handy gadgets. My family always convinces me to leave things the way they always have been. There's no flipping switches, playing Xbox, watching TV or warming leftovers in the microwave at our place. A good game of cards or Monopoly by kerosene lantern provides lasting memories.
GORDIE DEAN, ARDEN HILLS
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