The annual vacation trek from south Chicago to Hayward, Wis., when I was a young boy seemed excruciatingly long but so worth the drive once we finally arrived. The summer days would fly by as we stayed at various fishing resorts for a week or two.

Not many years later, as young newlyweds, my wife and I decided to relocate to the Twin Cities, in part to be closer to Hayward and hoping to buy a cabin of our own. In 1985, we persuaded my parents to make the purchase with us. They still come from Chicago, to be joined by our arrival from St. Paul. It has been a wonderful partnership lacking disagreements. Several of my dad’s mounted trophy fish, as well as deer antlers, a moose head and a raccoon, adorn the walls.

The cabin was built in the mid-’60s in two stages. The lower level, complete with an outhouse in the woods, and then the upper level with a bathroom three years later. We are the second owners.

The cabin has continued as “the family gathering spot” now, three sons, their wives, and three grandsons later, into its 34th year and counting. Older family members have passed and new extended family members have been added. But the joys, memories and laughter continue at our North Woods retreat during hikes, cutting ATV trails by hand, exploring by land and water, camping on neighboring islands and hitting the lake. There also is cross-country skiing, happy hours, socializing with neighbors and friends, grilling, and some competitive Ping-Pong in the garage.

Now in our fourth generation, we look forward to many more years of family history and togetherness in the beautiful north country. And the outhouse, though iconic, is slowly deteriorating into yesteryear.