Last month, I shared the meaning of going “Up North” in Minnesota. It is a rite of passage of sorts for the land of 14,000 lakes, closer to actual number but 10,000 sounds better on a license plate. Families pass along cabins that were bought for a few thousand dollars in the middle of last century, which are now worth half a million or more. Because property up north is the dream of native Minnesotans from birth, it seems to work its way into every conversation. “We’re going to the cabin,” “We’ll be at the cabin that week,” or “Call me when you’re up north and stop by the cabin” can be heard around every water cooler in Minnesota. You know you are a tried and true friend if you receive an invitation to the summer home of one of your friends. It is one of those qualifiers actually measured on how hard or easy is it to make friends in Minnesota.

My husband had a special attachment to his summer home. It was the place where he and his brother played around, found mischief in the woods and spent time with their generation of cousins all scattered around the lake. Each time we are in the Crosslake area, he is the most relaxed on a vacation I have ever seen him. So when we were up visiting the area for his father’s birthday, we were forced to stay in another campground from our usual spot. I even called the morning of to see if there had been a cancellation. It wasn’t that the place we had a reservation wasn’t a nice campground, quite the contrary; it had a pool and game room and playground for the children. They had smaller sites and it was not as large as the one we were used to. Little did we know we were about to fall in love with the community that is Fifty Lakes campground.

We were staying at the campground and enjoying family time when we decided to go canoeing on the beautiful Daggett Brook, a clean, clear, zigzagging stream of sandy water and Brown Trout. When we came to the end of our hour-long canoe trip, were at the back of the campground where we noticed some larger sites with  mobile homes and travel trailers. Jeff and I strolled by one little nook of a site with a cute perennial garden a yard and deck. When we saw it was for sale, we wondered if we should even look. Then again, maybe it was fate;  maybe this was the reason we had been, all but forced, to stay in this campground.

So when we went to pay the grand fee of eight dollars for our two canoes, we asked about the sale in the office. It turns out the people who owned it had two daughters who were too old to want to spend weekends up north with their parents. The asking price was below blue book and it was in great shape. We did the math came up with a figure and said that if they accepted our offer, it was meant to be ours. And guess what?……

Yep, they accepted our offer which means our girls will now get to enjoy the same Minnesota tradition their father did, very close to the area he and his cousins created all those memories that stay with them to this day. A place “Up North” is no longer a dream for us… it’s a dream realized.

What traditions do you dream about sharing with your children? Do your children know about them?

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Hillery Smith Shay, is the Manager Brand Services at HealthEast Care Systems. A proven leader in Visual Communications and New Media Marketing, she holds a MBA, from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Haverford College. Shay is an award-winning photographer who has worked for the Associated Press and various newspapers. Hillery resides in West Saint Paul with her husband Jeff and their daughters Jenna and Hayden. She is also the proud stepmother of Erin, Ginger and Jack. Read more about her at and follow her on Twitter@crazphotochick.