Tales from the Cabin
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Gimme Shelter

Adventures in the cabin rental world
By Paul Sullivan
Published: September 9, 2011
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Photo by dreamstime.com
It’s said that God never closes a cabin door without opening another one. Or something like that.
     Passing the offices of the Wenatchee World newspaper in Washington State, I said to my wife, Pat, “Pull over. Let’s put an ad in the paper and try to rent a summer cabin. We can’t roam around the West forever.”
    Three months earlier, we had sold our house in the city and our cabin with 40 acres of woods in the coulees of the Minnesota River Valley. Then we quit our city jobs to start a mid-life adventure somewhere in the West, preferably with mountains and trout streams.
    In the newspaper office, I wrote out our ad: “Homeless vagabond couple seeks interesting shelter. Lakes, rivers, mountains, okay. Returning from Europe April 1.”
    Pat thought “vagabond” sounded irresponsible. “How about, ‘homeless professional couple?’” she said, “Make that the headline. Put it in bold print. That should pique somebody’s interest.”
    Upon our return from Europe, three landlords wanted to rent us their interesting shelters. One described his property as having a mountain view, with a trout stream in the front yard. It was inexpensive and sounded great. I called, hoping I wasn’t too late. After we scheduled a time to look at the cabin, the owner said, “Oh, by the way, you have four-wheel drive, don’t you? Kinda hard to get up there if you don’t.” Regretfully, I said no and called the next landlord, who said she had an interesting shelter. And no, we didn’t need four-wheel drive.
    In a gloomy and damp cedar forest, we found her mailbox nailed to a stump. A commercial fishing boat spread with nets, backed up to a busted garage door over which hung a lopsided elk rack. A ripped screen door stood ajar. Plywood covered one window. As we started to get out of our car, two snarling dobermans rushed to greet us. We waited for someone to call them off.
    This landlord’s interesting shelter was a Quonset hut in the back that reminded me of my uncle Paul’s chicken coop. Pat said, “No, thanks. Not quite what we had in mind.”
    “Well,” the lady harrumphed. “Your ad did say shelter. This is shelter.”
    The next prospective landlord said his cabin was a bit hard to find. He suggested we meet at the Cougar Inn and follow him in. At the bottom of a steep lane, we were thrilled to find his cabin was a wonderful chalet with a cantilevered deck extending over the rocky lakeshore. Soaring two-story windows offered a magnificent view of Lake Wenatchee and Dirty Face Mountain. The cabin came with a canoe. A golf course was nearby. It rented furnished for $500 a month.
    We snapped it up like feeding sockeyes.

Paul Sullivan has never met a cabin he didn’t like.
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