Last week we were at Eagle Lake for our annual summer vacation. It’s one of our top vacation spots every year.
Both Judy and I have fond memories of vacations at the lake long before meeting each other. She would travel with Betty and Howard and their kids to Minnesota for a holiday, while Jim and I would head to Lake Metigoshie for a weekend of camping and tooling around the lake on the pontoon boat. After a couple of false starts, Judy and I discovered Eagle Bay Lodge and started a tradition that has done us well for a long time. We don’t go every year, but often enough to feel at home and relaxed there.
In the late eighties we started having other people stay at the lake for several days during the week. Lucy was always there, sometimes her friend Judy would be with us for a few days. Jim started coming down during that time, too.
The first year that Jim came to the lake was the year of one of my high school reunions. After dropping the family off at the cabin, I rushed off to Jamestown for the reunion. (It was really quite dull without Judy there!) Jim had just purchased a VW camper bus. It was rather old, but in nice shape. That said, it was still a death trap. I hated driving it, and I had to drive it all the way to the lake the day after our reunion. For the next several years he’d drive the bus down and camp next to the cabin for a couple of nights. In the early days the lodge had a pontoon boat we could rent by the hour for a tour of the lake. Jim loved that, it brought back memories of the times at his Uncle’s cabin at Lake Metigoshie.
There was one other time I drove to Jamestown while we were at the lake. That was a little more stressful trip. Jim had been diagnosed with lung cancer. That was months after a misdiagnosis of TB. The TB treatment was (unsurprisingly) not effective. By the time he got to the right doctor the cancer had spread to some of his ribs. He had surgery at St Luke’s Hospital in Fargo. That’s where I picked him up, took him back to Jamestown, then to the grocery store to get supplies, then left him after one night. I did not like leaving him that day. Based on how far the disease had progressed, he had about a five per cent chance of surviving, but somehow he made it to come to the lake and to Rochester for many more visits.
Enough of that bad stuff. What did we do at the lake? Relax. I’d read books, one a day on average. Every day we would have an outing. Horse back riding. Go carts. Itasca State Park. Shopping. Fancy dinner at a restaurant. Usually we’d eat at the cabin, where they supplied us with a complete kitchen. All we had to bring was the food. Sometimes we’d cook spaghetti inside, other times we’d fire up the gas grill.
Besides the pontoon boat, the first couple of years they would take me water skiing for a couple of hours. Their insurance later made them stop that excitement. When we go to the lake these days, the best we can do is rent a fishing boat with a little motor. It’s good for a tour of the lake. Usually there are eagles, loons, and osprey to see.
One year Grace and Norrie brought Erin from Jamestown for a couple of days. She and Mara had a great time getting to know each other as cousins. Several other times Lon or Mara would have a guest, and sometimes Judy and I would head off to visit friends who were at a lake nearby.
Over the years we have rented several different cabins, each with its own character and benefits. One had a screened in porch. That was great on those hot nights when the mosquitoes were fierce. Another had a wood burning fireplace, useful when the sun didn’t shine. (That was an awful week.) The one we use now is big enough for the kids to show up and fill the house with the little ones. It has a view of the lodge and swimming pool. I’m not big into swimming, but that’s one of Judy’s favorite hobbies all year, especially at the lake. The grand children have caught the habit, too.
Each year there’s an improvement at the lodge. One year they rebuilt the pool. It wasn’t quite done when we were there in June 2012, but by the next year everything was complete and wonderful. Our routine the last couple of years has included a morning coffee break in town for Judy and me while the kids stay in the cabin, the lodge, or go on their own field trip. We are flexible, but I’m not giving up my coffee break.