As one whose daydreams had often drifted toward adventure and challenge, my desire to own a remote wilderness property had occasionally prompted searches in northern Minnesota.

The research generally found listings that were too populated, agricultural or out of budget. As the years passed, the search became much less frequent and the idea seemed to fade.

Then, a few years after my retirement, my son wrote a Christmas “wish” outlining the desire for a remote retreat for hunting, camping and outdoor experiences for his family. That reignited the fire.

Using a Realtor, we finally located a property with significant acreage surrounded by state and federal land. It was about 30 miles south of Ely and, recently logged, it was priced within reach. As a bonus, there were five close lakes accessible only by ATV. We did it!

And then, voila: a local homebuilder who hunted and fished in the area stopped and showed interest in building a cabin. He crafted a beautiful structure with two bedrooms, a loft, and a kitchen/living area.

Today, a short walk leads to the beloved outdoor biffy with a knotty pine interior and a window overlooking the woods. The cabin is off the grid. A generator provides electricity for lighting and refrigeration, and propane powers the gas range. A wood stove provides winter heat.

While the cabin was under construction, we cut nearly two miles of trails through the young forest. We continue to brush and maintain it. We also have added hundreds of white pine seedlings to complement the natural regeneration of the forest.

We are seven miles back in the woods, but we can reach the property with four-wheel drive in the summer and snowmobiles and/or tracked vehicles in winter. Eight years later, the woods have become more mature and beautiful each year. We frequently see moose, wolves, deer and a variety of smaller critters from the front porch, and have had good success on the fishing opener and again in the late season. The winter brings another kind of beauty and isolation (bug-free) with wonderful ski/snowshoe trails or nearby snowmobile trails for those wanting a little more action.

“The Cabin” has become a treasured retreat for our family and friends. It provides the grandkids an opportunity to learn about the outdoors and appreciate the beauty and depth of the natural world. It is in a family trust to ensure a future generation also can be a part of the wonder. It is my perfect alternative to playing golf!