The best farmer vacay ever

A wood-fired cabin, blanketed in fluffy snow and nestled along the Canadian border, beats the beach any day of the week. This has long been my ideal vacation spot. Now, for the first time, I was able to share the experience with my family.

The Tamarack Cabin at Heston’s Lodge was our home for three nights this week.

The cabin, built in 1928, is roughly the same vintage as the Pigeon cabin I’ve written about in my book, and numerous times on the blog. Though it possessed all the rustic charm I could ever ask for, this place boasts the creature comforts my wife prefers: running water, toilet, shower, yada yada.

This place was the ideal compromise between our two oft-differing tastes and comfort levels.

I believe this cabin was built by Grandpa Heston. The small resort of five carefully spaced, simple cabins at the end of the access road to Gunflint Lake is still in the family.

I arose before dawn each day, delighting in building a fire, brewing coffee, and reading. An hour later, Joey would join me, as he quietly enjoyed his puzzle.

There is no Netflix to distract you here.

Returning to the warmth of the wood stove after exploring the nearby wilderness is intoxicating. That one-of-a-kind heat is one of my favorite things.

While I took the kids skiing, Shawna enjoyed making some simple drawings in the quiet of the cabin. Heavy physical exertion is essential for me to slow down and appreciate a slower pace of life, but it isn’t for her. We’re actually quite different people. Our separate interests keep us engaged with life personally, and keep us fascinated in each other.

That’s Gunflint Lake right outside the cabin. Canada sits on the other side of the lake.

Emma turned around early, and me and Joey then enjoyed an unexpected adventure when we took off the skis, and scurried up a little rabbit trail in search of the “Lost Cliffs.”

This spot is actually a few miles west of our cabin on Gunflint Lake. You can see a wee bit of development at this end of the water. There’s virtually none further to the east, as we were located at the end of the road. I really valued being in our extra quiet corner with no restaurant and other hoopla.

Getting to this spot was a real hoot…

Steep! Lots of sliding on our butts on the way back down.

Such excursions enable guilt-free relaxation for hours in the cabin…

The morning we left, yesterday as I’m writing this, me and the boy snowshoed a couple miles up the hill to the ridge above Gunflint Lake.

Prior to this it had been rather warm at around 20 degrees, but now it was just a bit below zero. The change was most welcome, because the sun made a dazzling appearance and visibility into Canada across the lake was very fine indeed.

This farmer was very pleased with how he planned the business around the vacation.

This trip, in lieu of regular wrapped presents, was our family’s Xmas gift to each other. I believe the experience just might have started a new family tradition.

Preparing for it required quite a lot of planning and preparation. For example, instead of packing on the day we left, I engaged in a ten-hour harvest and planting marathon. As soon as the seeds hit the soil, the three day clock began ticking, as germination typically requires this length of time, which conveniently matched the length of our vacation. I then brought a bunch of seed for soaking in a five-gallon bucket for the drive home, and planted another batch of crops on the evening of our return. Here’s a short video I made about that from the cabin:

I was super grateful for our fancy new van, which provided ample space for this farm prep.

Ok, I can’t resist. Here’s a short video of the seed in the van. It also provides an opportunity to share that we allowed the van to be snowed in for all three nights, because we had no need of it while on vacation. There were ample adventures to be had by ski, snowshoe, and foot, right out the door of our cabin. This made the stay that much sweeter.

Lastly, I’m excited to share about these three items in next week’s podcast (we skipped a week, so I’ll have it ready to go on Tuesday, 1/4/22).

I picked up the book in the middle, Educated, at Heston’s amazingly well-stocked little library. What a gift! Their stock of free books at the end of the road on the edge of DEEP wilderness was doggone incredible. I’m adoring this book, a memoir, alongside the work of fiction to the right. I haven’t been engrossed in a book for a couple months now, so two at the same time is utterly fantastic. Fiction and non-fiction at the same time are my ideal. These works, along with the sweetly hand-drawn Christmas card I received from a little girl on the other side of the world, are helping me with several connections and insights.

If there’s snow where you are, get outside and enjoy it!

Happy New Year to you and yours,


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