The wide angle: A much needed break to the lake

Published 4:00 pm Friday, July 9, 2021

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It’s always tough going on vacation and yes, I’m aware of the contradiction of that statement. Nobody really complains when going on vacation. Certainly, they will complain when they get back or after falling asleep for an hour in the sun, but never actually going on vacation.

“Oh no, I have to live in a cabin by a lake for a week. What a terrible vacation.”

Where I’m coming from is more of the preparation end of things. Getting things squared away at the Herald before leaving it in the capable hands of Michael Stoll and Rocky Hulne, who had to cope without my brand of genius for five days.

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There’s sarcasm there and I’ll let you find it for yourself, but I can give you a hint: It’s actual level of me genius.

I spent a lot of time the week before going from one thing to the other in a mad attempt at making sure I wasn’t forgetting anything, but like you inevitably forget something when going on vacation, I will inevitably forget something here at the Herald.

Ever notice that suddenly the busiest two weeks of the year are vacations and the week before Christmas? Scientific fact. Don’t bother looking it up.

For clarity’s sake, you will read this as I’m coming home, requiring me to be a bit of a time traveller in terms of this vacation.

We’re going to assume I had fun returning to my favorite place in the world (I can safely say this as I haven’t been to Iceland or Fiji yet) after a year absent because of the, well you know, C-O-V-I-D-1-9 hullabaloo.

We are likewise going to assume I made it to Itasca State Park (for the record my second favorite place) at least twice as well as assuming that I will catch no fish, because that’s how I roll.

If plans suitably follow the path we have laid out, then we will have left Austin at around 2 p.m. the Saturday before you read this and rolled up our natural route through the Twin Cities and further north around Lake Mille Lacs before really suddenly, turning west and jaunting over to Brainerd and then up northerly again toward Park Rapids.

It’s a very scenic drive all in all, far more scenic than the route my family took as a kid that had us leapfrogging small town after small town until we finally got a break in the corn I was looking for at Alexandria.

It had its pluses though. I don’t want you to think it was terrible. I could always count on a stop at the A&W in Montevideo and a visit to the big, giant viking standing in downtown Alexandria. By that point, my kid-like glee would take over as I recognized we were getting closer to Isle O’Dreams on — I’ve said it before and will say it again — the best named lake in the state or nation: Bad Axe Lake.

One of these days though, I will take that old route again for nostalgia’s sake. I’ve even put together a music playlist filled with songs I remember hearing on the radio when traveling with my parents.

But, for the time being, I’m more than happy with our route and our own stops, including Barnes and Noble in Burnsville and the BP convenience store in Brainerd.

It’s a familiar and repetitive trip, but I find I don’t ever get tired of those old familiar sites. The trees standing tall on either side of the road, broken by lakes, some so big you don’t see the far shore. The way the sun goes down behind the trees and the smells of both lake and pine. The calls of loons and the silence of forest at night sometimes cut by the howl of far-off woods.

I was highly disappointed when we didn’t get to go last year, but we planned on making the best of this moment this year. The old familiar had us again and I, for one, will never be disappointed by this very special “old familiar.”

See ya Monday!