A fire that destroyed the family cabin in 2006 made the Purcells realize that the place was their common bond. The decision to rebuild was never in question. The four adult grandchildren of the original owner -- all siblings -- formed a limited liability company (LLC) and split the mortgage four ways.
"We were so committed to the legacy of our grandparents that now we see the cottage as a place to gather together, not divide the weeks among the four of us," said Pat Purcell, one of the grandchildren. Pat now lives in Texas. His sister Peg Milosevich is from New Brighton. Jacque Anderson lives in Plymouth and Pam Purcell in Milwaukee.
What was originally a 1,000-square-foot cottage is now a 4,000-square-foot A-frame with five bedrooms in the basement and a loft for the great-grandkids, who sleep on air mattresses.
Distance: On Sunset Lake near Stevens Point, Wis., four hours from the Twin Cities.
Best part: Pat: Teaching nieces and nephews how to fish, canoe, appreciate the outdoors.
Pam: Feeling my endorphins kick in driving closer and closer to the cabin.
Worst part: The trifecta: Bugs, bites, bumps.
Family traditions: July 4 fireworks; exchanging gifts on Christmas; Texas Hold 'Em and pinochle card games; pontoon boat rides with wine and beer.
Area must-sees: Polish Heritage Highway from Rosholt to Stevens Point and Central Waters microbrewery in Amherst. The Tomorrow River offers world-class trout fishing.
Fall fun: The family used to shut down the cottage after Labor Day. Now that they can live year-round in the new place, they take advantage of grouse-hunting season. "Fall is our favorite time at the cabin now," said Pam.
Unique features: A new water treatment system so that water coming out of the tap doesn't look like beer. The large kitchen and great room with its huge windows is where everyone congregates. The decision to use a log-burning fireplace was contentious. They added a gas line in case they change their minds later.