I was 12 when my parents got the bug to buy a cabin Up North. We were a family of five, my oldest sister 17 and my middle sister 15. Leaving the nest was imminent for my two sisters, and we all wanted to make family memories before our little unit changed.

Forty-five years later, our family has grown to 30-plus members, and all of us trek to our place, called Black Bear Lodge, on Gull Lake to spend time.

The road to the cabin takes you into the Pillsbury State Forest and is covered in birch and Norway pine trees. This is where one starts to relax. I know we have all felt it: the audible release, the anticipation of the pleasures that await us.

Black Bear Lodge, named for the huge black bear rug that hangs on a wall upstairs, is thought to be one of the first original log cabins built in the area. My artist mother, Judie, fell in love with the place because it was historical and charming. She filled the house with antiques found in Nisswa and Pequot Lakes and painted the kitchen cabinets with rosemaling designs. Her original art is mixed in with Dad’s walleyes and deer heads.

Each year, elaborate games are planned and played. This means the game has to span an age bracket from 3 to 88. We started with our own “Amazing Race” — a relay race of sorts featuring team mini-golf, paddleboard racing, tennis and other challenges. Great-Grandma and Grandpa sign off before teams can advance. Last year, we made use of the converted boathouse and christened the “Paddle Up Bar.” We danced all night to our favorite vinyls and relived our rock ’n’ roll roots.

The cabin has become the place we can gather and practice our firm belief that it is good to relax and play. It is good to be with family and to go Up North.

Maren Jones Gregg, deephaven