My wife, Kelly, and I grew up with close friends that had cabins. Neither of our families had cabins, so we both took every chance we could get to go to our friends’ cabins. Those early years showed us how weekends at the lake can connect you to friends, family and yourself.

Fast forward to the late 1990s — Our young family was just starting and we had just bought our first house. Let’s make a plan to buy a cabin, Kelly said. That is exactly what we did. We looked in lots of places, but we settled on Alexandria, Minn., because we loved the area and the lakes were great. We looked for two years before our Realtor called and said, “I found it. This is the one.” I took a red-eye flight back from a work trip, Kelly picked me up from the airport, we drove from the airport to Alexandria, Minn., and we made our offer that day.

Our Realtor was right: It was the one. The couple we bought from had built it themselves with help from their kids. We bought it fully furnished. Over the following years we slowly added our own furniture and took down paneling, replaced carpet, and added a garage, and last year we did a total remodel on the interior.

While the decor has changed and so have some of the amenities (glad we added the dishwasher), a constant has been that feeling of freedom and relaxation when we pull into the gravel driveway, open the car door, and smell the fresh lake air. Seeing the birds on the feeders and hearing the sounds of kids, boat motors and loons on the lake make stress from the week drip away. Our days and nights at the cabin keep us connected with each other, with nature and with ourselves.

Dave Murphy, Minnetonka