Too Hot, Went to Lake

sorry, I stole the title of the post from the book of the same name. A great little picture book of old timey photos of Minnesota vacations. If you like that sort of thing. Which I do.

So today ends the great Minnesota Staycation of 2009. In the time honored tradition of the great Robber Barons, the 20 Prospect clan will leave in the morning for our Northwoods Camp.

Great Camp Sagamore of the 20 Prospect Family

Great Camp Sagamore of the 20 Prospect Family

Sure, it’s a bit much. But we’ll have close to 30 relatives, cousins, in laws, and inlaws of inlaws in attendance. We need the space.

Actually, we will not all be under one roof. (Thankfully) We will however be overunning the good proprietors of Jay’s Resort. This will be our second summer there, after having to say goodbye to the last resort we stayed at when it was sold to a developer. Damn developers.

The real cabin

The real cabin

Hopefully Jay’s will be around for many years to come. However, there is no shortage of Great Camps on the Cisco Chain of Lakes. I am amazed by the money that has gone into some of these places. The gilded age has nothing on our recent history. Yes, you too can build a Northwoods home that would make a Vanderbilt blush so long as you qualify for our easy credit terms…

No thanks. I prefer to rent our little 2 bedroom cabin for a week. Still, the view from the front porch is something a Rockefeller would appreciate.

The view from the Front Porch

The view from the Front Porch

I have to say, I really do love the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It reminds me so much of northern N.Y., and the Adirondacks. And the best part is that Watersmeet is far from being some gentrified resort town. In fact, it could use a little bit of $. Home to about a thousand hardy souls, the biggest employer in the area is an Indian Casino. The town is even pseudo famous thanks to their local High School sports team.

You see back in the late 90’s, ESPN decided to run a piece on the “weirdest nicknames” for High Schools. The Watersmeet Nimrods topped the list. Nimrod, despite it’s connotation, is actually a biblical name for “great hunter”. A logical nickname for a school in the north woods. Until Bug’s Bunny decided to taunt Elmer Fudd by calling him a “Nimrod”, which subsequently found its way into our vernacular as an insult. (I wonder if the University of Chicago Maroons suffered the same fate?)

Go Nimrods!

Go Nimrods!

Anyway, the piece resulted in several ironic promo’s poking fun at the “backwards” inhabitants who cheered for their Nimrods. But Watersmeet to their credit, did not shy away from the exposure. They proudly embraced their notoriety. Enter a film crew from the Sundance TV network, who filmed an 8 part documentary during the Winter of 2004-2005 on the Nimrod basketball team, and the life of the town in the Winter months. It was very sympathetically done, and shows as honest a portrait of small town life as Winesburg, Ohio or Spoon River Anthology. The series was called Nimrod Nation and it is now out on DVD. I highly recommend it.

Despite their 15 minutes of fame, Watersmeet remains an unspoiled place. A cross road town on Hwy 2, it’s unlikely to ever see much money from the developers. Most of the properties going up in the woods are private homes that only provide a few construction jobs, maybe some work as caretakers or cleaners for the locals, and some extra $ to the tax base. Not much to feed a family on.

So that’s our summer get away. To be honest, we spend most of our time lakeside, weather permitting. Fishing, swimming, kayaking, and getting out for a daily bike ride on the back roads. Night fall ends with a campfire for the young’uns and a game of Kaluki for the old folks.

Mrs. 20 Prospect grew up with family vacations like this. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my own 20 Prospect family preferred the family road trip. As her family grew up the vacations dwindled, and then stopped. 4 years ago though, we decided to get them started again. In the winter time I did a ton of internet research to find a place, then we booked a cabin and informed her brothers, and parents that they were welcome to join us. They did, and each year the invite list has been extended a little farther, until now it has taken on a life of its own. We are no longer the planners, and coordinators. I am just the scout and researcher who has found the places, and the instigator behind the rebirth of the family week up north. I cannot tell you how much this week means to me each year.

Posting will continue at it’s regularly scheduled intervals next week. I have already put them in the cue. Tune in for some delightful, obscure stories of the Northwoods. And as always, thanks for stopping by the front porch.



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