It was September 1983, and we had been married for three weeks when I noticed an advertisement in the Sunday Star Tribune: “Sandy beach, Rainy Lake.”

I called and learned more: on an island in Canada, 5-mile boat trip to marina, bare land with no buildings. My wife was not enthusiastic about the whole water access thing, but I told her: “We’re not buying anything. It’s a chance to look around, and a cheap weekend adventure.” After a beautiful fall cruise through the islands, channels and open water of Rainy Lake, we landed on a perfect sand beach. We got back in the boat for our return to the dock.

“I have three guys coming back this afternoon for their third visit,” our host said. “They really want it, but can’t get their wives on board.” I told my wife I was going to make an offer, that it’s perfect, that we couldn’t let this slip by. In shock and confusion, she agreed. Then, our 35-year adventure began.

We built a 20-by-20 building with a sleeping loft and a couple of lean-to’s on the front and the back by the end of the next summer.

A friend who helped thought: “Great, this is all done.” Not exactly:

1985: What about bathing? Added a sauna and wood-fired hot tub.

1987: Let’s build an icehouse and cut lake ice for the summer.

1991: The sleeping loft is overcrowded. New bunkroom and second sleeping loft.

1996: A fireplace would be nice. Portage in 1,200 bags of concrete for great room and fireplace.

2001: The kids are always underfoot. Boat house with kids’ bunkroom above.

2002: The dock is underwater. New dock and screen porch.

2003: The front lean-to is falling. Another fireplace and wood-burning pizza oven.

2005: The back lean-to is falling. Another bedroom, bathroom and changing room.

Our annual Boy Scout winter ice cutting trip in February filled the icehouse for the 30th year, and 55 children and dads found some kind of bunk, bed or cot space to sleep.

All that is left to do is about 35 years of unattended-to details.

Keith Summers, Wayzata