After a week of almost constant raining in Milwaukee, I had the pleasure of spending this weekend “up-north” at my old friend Nicole’s cabin on Dake Lake in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Waupaca is about two hours north and west of Milwaukee, a relatively short drive to a very idyllic place.
I generally headed much farther “up-north” for at least a week every summer with my own family until sometime in high school. It’s a Wisconsin tradition for the average middle-class family. We almost never traveled out of state (other than to Chicago) as kids, but to Eagle River, Minocqua or Antigo, we most certainly did. (Back in the day, I’m sure all these places did not have websites).
I’ve been going up to Nicole’s cabin occasionally since elementary school. We used to hang out on her parents’ boat, work on our tans (Nicole was always so far ahead of everyone else in that regard), visit the local lake hangouts – the Casino, the Harbor Bar, and the Wheelhouse restaurant, and just generally enjoy the summer sunshine. It was always great fun, but it’s so much easier to appreciate these getaways as an adult.
I haven’t been to the Peterson cabin in eight years, and was happy to see that not so much has around the area. There are a few more so-called McMansions dotting the lakes, but not as many as I feared.
Their cabin reminds me of the definition of “shabby chic,” and smells the way same familiar way I remember it. Nicole has always told stories about Waupaca, to the degree that the places and people have become familiar to me as well, although I’m not sure I have actually spend more than five or six short holidays at the cabin. But this indirect, strangely distant familiarity is a great, nostalgic feeling to have on a relaxing weekend.
Now, as adults, we’re not so embarrassed to cruise the Chain ‘O Lakes on a giant pontoon boat, we happily drank beer sheathed in styrofoam and take 30-minute power walks. I got some reading done, caught up with high school girlfriends, let my e-mail and laundry pile up, enjoyed micro-brews on the boat, and even went on a round of tubing.
It was a great weekend. Only tainted by being back in the office, with rain falling outside my window again.