Living in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" was a fair enough consolation prize for being born in the wrong geographical location. There is one place on earth to which I will forever return---the lake in Northern Minnesota where I grew up. My Grampa purchased a cabin in the late 60's, and I'm 3 generations into spending every summer in a community named Side Lake, made up of 5 lakes chained together. Our cabin was on North Bay Trail, a bay on Big Sturgeon Lake. This area has a close-knit Iron Range culture where our 2 stores and restaurants have been hometown-operated since the 40's. Because this little oasis was only 15 miles from the town I actually lived in, many of the friends I went to school with had summer places out at Side Lake. 

As a kid, every summer was spent swimming, paddling around in little inflatable rafts, fishing for sunnies, boating across the lake to one of the best sandy beaches in all of Minnesota, building sand castles, and rigging up my slip n' slide for direct contact with the water. 

In junior high school, my friends would pick me up on their jet skis in front of my cabin and we would ride circles around the bay in view of our parents. In high school, those friends would pick me up and we would cruise the chain looking for boys. As an adult, my husband proposed to me at the cabin after a beach picnic, and now we own a place right on the nice sandy beach side of the lake.

The lakes around Minneapolis just aren’t the same. Up north lakes are more pristine. They have a larger sense of adventure and getaway. The trees are taller and pinier, the water clearer, the houses and cabins more spread apart. "The lake” had an influence on me, and because of it I'll step into any opportunity to get to the water!