A co-worker gave me a set of keys to his cabin about 16 years ago. The place was 30-plus miles north and west of Two Harbors.

The very first time my wife and I went we had no idea what to expect. We had a hard time finding it back in the woods on a gravel road — even with good directions. Once there it didn’t take much time to realize what a paradise it was for us. It was a 20-by-20 one-room cabin. Three windows and three floor types: hardwood, carpet and ceramic tile. There were two out buildings and a generator that didn’t work. Because we had no power, no running water and no cellphone reception, we spent the evening by candle light. It was early to bed and early to rise.

We bought a cabin of our own in the area about four years ago. It is surrounded by nothing but woods, gravel roads and lakes. The cabin might be small, but it has an antique wood-burning stove with a chimney, a set of bunk beds, a futon, foldout couch, bookshelves, granite countertop, cupboards and two small oak kitchen shelves.

We use it approximately 10 months out of the year. We hike, explore and snowshoe in the winter. We always have a camera with us because we never know what is around the next corner.

We have been close to deer, moose, wolves, bobcats and other small animals. We have seen bears on our trail camera, but we are still waiting to see one in person. I always tell people that I can breathe when we are Up North at the cabin, compared to back home with all the normal hustle and bustle. I enjoy fishing in the local lakes even though we don’t live on a lake. Viewed from the woods, away from streetlights, the stars look like Christmas lights in the night sky.

Our three-day weekends have never been enough. I always want to stay just a little bit longer. Many people say 300 miles away is too far for a cabin visit, but I still get excited before we go. We plan on spending more time there after we retire.

One awesome thing about our place is that even when my wife and I aren’t there, I imagine myself there, what I would be doing. It puts a smile on my face. We simply love the peace and quiet that we cannot get from anywhere else. We can breathe.

Dave and Jean Anderson, Albert Lea, Minn.