A Truly Relaxing Vacation

I spent a week at the lake. The cabin has been in my hubby’s family since the 1950s and inspired Summer’s cabin in North Star, the one in Spark. This is the lake where Hugo and Kevin fall in love again, years after drifting apart. It was fantastic to spend a week in this place where Kevin and Hugo’s story was literally spun as I floated on the waves. Scenes came so vividly to me here on the water. I often couldn’t get to shore fast enough to type them into my laptop. It’s been a special place where many stories have been either conceived, written, or polished.


There is very limited access to the internet at the lake due to cellular service just not getting through. I can send out images on Instagram if I leave my phone alone for 15 mins in the exact right spot, but email won’t load, I can’t access social media to read, and forget about news sites. Heck, I can’t even get weather radar unless I stand in the driveway, balance on one foot, stick a spit-slicked finger in the air, and sing Zippideedoodah while I wrinkle up my nose.

So it’s the perfect getaway from a too-connected life. Characters talk to me up there. I truly relax. I let my mind go to places I simply can’t back at home. And I laugh like a loon with my family.

When we arrived, the whole clan was at the cabin. That was eighteen people in a 2 bedroom cabin. There are 2 hide-a-beds in the living room too, but we needed more beds. Thankfully there was a hotel across the highway for some, and we made use of our tent, which we have only used once since we bought it a few years ago.

I LOVED hanging out in the tent. I edited out there, wrote a little, and was lulled to sleep by the waves for the first few nights. I think I might set it up in the backyard this summer, just for a little escape from my office. But I’m not going to lie, getting a bed in the cabin after a few nights on the ground was lovely, and eventually, it was only John, Poppy, and me at the cabin.

On Friday, I had to send a formatted epub file to an editing client, so we went into town and ate a restaurant where I could access a reliable internet connection. After my work was done, we laughed so hard about ridiculous inside jokes, I was crying. That’s exactly what I needed after months of working 12 hour days, rarely taking weekends off, and always working toward a deadline. It’s also a great place to reboot and rediscover what’s important because work and politics and social media are not always butting in to demand attention. Instead, I get to swim with my kid, sift for treasures in the sand with my husband, and bike on beautiful trails. And I get to talk with the most important people in my life about anything we want.

As I floated, I tried to get into Charlie’s head. Charlie is a character from Naked Organics, and his book, Fresh Earth, was supposed to be written last year. He’s not been talking to me. Despite that, I have nearly 20,000 words written. Some of that is good and will be kept, but very little moves me. I’m not driven enough yet.

I’m one of those writers who often struggles to keep up with super chatty characters, essentially dictating what they tell me in my head. Yeah, I know that makes me sound crazy, but what can I do about that? Charlie has been quite mute, so instead, I’ve examined his motivations, stakes, desires, upbringing, past, fears, and anything else I can. That’s gotten me where I am today, but it’s not enough.

I want Fresh Earth to be released sometime in October, but at this rate, it’s not happening. I needed this week at the lake to really let go of whatever is holding me back. I know some of that is me taking editing jobs, which help pay the bills. I need those so I don’t freak out that my writing will never help me pay for my kid’s braces or my medical bills. Once the car is paid off in October, life will get easier financially. I bet you anything that Charlie will suddenly start getting chatty then. Haha! I swear financial worries tie up my writing brain.


So sitting on the dock and staring at scenes like this are essential. The water always moves, even when it seems glass smooth. It reminds me that, even if I don’t see word counts going up on Fresh Earth, the sands underneath are shifting. I’m getting to know Charlie every day, and soon, he will demand his story be told. He might be like a clam in the middle of the lake right now, but eventually he’ll drift toward shore.

Or so I’ve told myself. 😉

Just in case he didn’t, I read Farm Fresh and Picked Fresh this week to get a feel of who Charlie is again. He’s more flippant that I was trying to write him, so that knowledge might help me get back into his head. He’s sorta cocky like me, using humor to deflect and derail when things get too serious.

So after what felt like a perfect week where I got some work done, played with my family, and finally rode my bike outside in the fresh air rather than on my indoor bike trainer, we headed home. We stayed until the last possible minute, and because of our crappy internet, we didn’t check the weather before leaving.

And a few miles south of the lake, we encountered this:


John freaked out a bit, especially because it was attached to a Tornado Watch. But we headed south and thought we’d outrun the beast. We actually outran most of it until we got about an hour from home. Accuweather was telling us to expect damaging hail in 3 minutes when I pulled off the highway and searched for shelter. The last thing I wanted was to be driving at 65 MPH with large hail coming at my windshield.

We took shelter under a bank drive-thru awning, and despite the Nexus* Ribbon of Thundersquall trying to kill us for miles, we were protected. So haha, WTForecast, we barely got sprinkled on because we hid and waited this monster out and then drove slowly through a break in the storm until we got home.

The thunder was the loudest I’ve ever heard. That’s saying something considering I’m used to Southern Minnesota thunderstorms, which can be wicked. This practically made my heart stutter, it was that strong. I’m also grateful we didn’t stop at my BIL’s house on the way home because that’s where the tornado was spotted. All are well, but it was scary!

Despite the booming finish, I’d still say I had a pefect week off. My bed felt amazing last night. My desktop computer is the most beautiful thing in the world to me this morning. And internet, oh, I have missed thee! But I don’t want to fall into the trap of always needing to be connected to news and social media. I need my mind to drift like I did on those waves.

This was likely the last full week I get to spend at the lake. My husband’s family is having to make the tough choice of letting the beloved cabin go. Maybe we can work out a way to keep it in the family, but having a place on Green Lake to call home may very well be a thing of the past.

I’m glad we got to spend a fantastic week there. I’m grateful my daughter got to spend summers on the water, living the lake life. It truly is a way of life up here in Minnesota. It’s a whole cultural shift, and I’m lucky to have been invited to live it with my husband.

*Kudos to those of you who got the Star Trek reference.


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