Steve Schack is counting the days until May 1, when he and his wife, LeAnn Baker, will open their cabin on Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minn. The Lino Lakes couple bought their 400-square-foot cabin five years ago from a close friend. The interior walls and ceiling were inspired by Cree Indian designs at the nearby Naniboujou Lodge and were painted by the previous owner. Schack and Baker still offer her a week's stay in late spring, when she tends the English garden she began. The couple list their property with other Lake Superior rentals at www.cascadevacationrentals.com.
Distance: 250 miles. At a minimum, that means four-day weekends for Schack when he can get time away from his job.
Best part: Being next to the lake and experiencing its moods. Severing any connection with workaday life.
Worst part: Leaving.
Activities, shops or restaurants in the area to recommend to visitors: Sunday brunch at Naniboujou Lodge, about 15 miles north of Grand Marais on Hwy. 61. Thursday nights are trivia night at Sven & Ole's Pizza. The Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery shows local and regional art. The Attic is the place for gifts, art and clothing. Joynes' Ben Franklin still has the wool shirts and leather boots that smell the way they did when Schack went there with his grandparents in the '50s.
Area must-sees: Artists Point and a walk to the harbor lighthouse are popular for plein-air painting. You can still see the names and dates people scratched into the ledge rock off Artists Point more than 100 years ago while they waited for passage boats.
Traditions: Taking the grandkids to the World's Best Donut Shop and walking off the calories by hiking to Artists Point.