Tales from the Cabin
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Lights Out: The Cabin's the Cabin Again!

Living the dream full time might not be so dreamy
By Steve Umland
Published: February 1, 2012
AS IT SHOULD BE – After attempting to convert their cabin into their primary residence, the Umlands are glad to be celebrating long weekends at their favorite getaway again.
Photo by Umland Photography
What were we thinking? We’re smart, good looking (well, at least Bev is), college-educated, well-adjusted adults. We normally think things through. We plan, we budget, and we try to do what’s right for the entire family. So how is it that we sold our house in a Minneapolis suburb and moved to our cabin full time?
    Did I mention all of our friends were jealous? We, along with our friends, have places on the same lake. For years we’ve loved driving the 2 1/2 hours up to our cabin. We reveled in waking up with the fresh air, the boat rides, fishing off the dock.
    So what could be better than being at the lake full time? Bev and I made plans for our exciting change. How could we make this work? Bev had a really good sales job but was sure she could find something around the lake. After the move, she did! Not only did she find a few jobs, but she also got certified as an EMT with the ambulance company – something she always wanted to do. I’m a photographer and “have cameras will travel.”
    My clients said, “We don’t care where you are. We’ll call, and you’ll grab your cameras just like it has always been.”
    We even knew that it would be great for our high-schoolers. Fresh air would be good for them. They would love living away from the urban problems of teenage life.
    It didn’t even sound too good to be true … until it was.
    Bev enjoyed the ambulance gig. Problem was, it was part time and the pager always went off while we were cooking dinner. Bev ended up going back to school for nursing and was hired at the local small-town hospital – only thing available was the night shift, and she’s a morning person.
    Some of my clients stopped calling, and I learned firsthand what the saying “out of sight, out of mind” really means.
    The kids, well, we were the farthest out for the bus ride into school – first ones picked up in the morning, last ones dropped off at night. The bus ride was 1 1/2 hours each way.
    And here’s the real clincher: We stopped having our traditional Saturday-night campfires. It’s different when you can do it any night.
    We were living the dream. At a turtle’s pace. And turtles we are not. I love to work and wasn’t interested in retiring. Bev would just as soon be in a larger hospital’s emergency room going Mach 1.
    We also missed Minneapolis. So what did two intelligent adults do? We sucked it up, admitted we’d made a mistake and purchased a condo back in downtown Minneapolis. We call it our “Urban Cabin.”
    We’re in the coveted Riverwalk area near a host of great restaurants. Bev got a great job at one of the larger hospitals, where she continues to pursue her career and works with great people. I have my small office in the condo where I can call clients and keep in touch with the vibrant advertising industry that I love.
    As I write this, I’m in Minneapolis looking out the picture window from my office overlooking the river. Bev has come out on the porch and is waving to me that lunch is ready. It’s still warm enough in October to sit on the porch and eat our lunch. It’s a kind of calm that’s different from the one we enjoy at our “real” cabin.
    And now, just like before, we love to visit the real cabin. Its smells are rich with tradition when we unlock it after the drive up.
    And the kids? Both of them are off to college now and can’t wait to meet us at the cabin for long weekends and holidays.
    So, be careful when you’re lying in your hammock overlooking the lake and dreaming about the day when you can stay full time. We found that we got it too early. We just wanted the cabin to be the cabin again. Thankfully, now it is.
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