With Labor Day behind us, and cooler temperatures setting in, it’s time to start the process of reflecting on another summer gone by. Plenty of trips were taken, and many memories were made, but now having been the proud owner of a rural retreat for three summers, I’m beginning to wonder if some of the warnings I was given by other lucky retreat owners hold more merit than I suspected.
I call my place Driftwood Acres. It’s only 43 acres, but the surrounding expanse of public lands lends to a freedom I’ve found in few other places. One can walk out of the county 20 miles away without fear of stepping foot on a piece of privately owned dirt. The crystal clear creek at the base of my mountain is the greatest place I have ever found for simply sitting in the water with a cold beer in hand while the entire world flows by.
The lodge is a testament to the love of family and friends. So many people I care about have left their mark on the place. Shags and Paddle Don hung countless board feet of rough cut cedar on the walls. Frank Oberle handcrafted the cherry wood island top. My cousin, Derek, has personally cleared acres of land and cut substantial amounts of brush. My uncle and Pete put in hours of work. Bruce Sassmann taught me how to burn the hillside. So many more have contributed. And then there is my dad. He’s given so much time and effort to help make my dream, one he knows I have harbored all my life, a reality. Grateful is not a strong enough word.
By all accounts, the place perfect. But perhaps too perfect. My girls are nearly grown. We are rapidly running out of summers before they leave for college, then headed off to whatever corner of the world beckons. So many plans to visit places I know they would appreciate have failed to come to fruition. Of course, this summer was different. Having a wilderness retreat where we could isolate was a gift. But still, another summer slipped by without a journey to a destination on the bucket list. A big part of the reason is most travel has been tabled while our property has been developed.
Coming to own a second home, especially one that serves as a camping, fishing, hunting and floating destination, has been one of the great blessing of my life. Yet, it hasn’t come without a cost. Travel brings my greatest joy, and for the last four years, most of my travel has been to Driftwood Acres. Others I know who have been lucky enough to own similar properties warned me that having one home is more work than most diehard sportsmen can handle. Two will leave you fraught with anxiety as you struggle to find time for anything but maintenance. While that’s not been exactly true, it’s not far off.
I need to find a better balance. I need to force myself to relinquish weekends and longer blocks of time to visiting places I hope to take my girls before it is too late. Alaska has somehow eluded me for 41 years. I really hope to take the girls up there soon to explore Denali National Park and see the glaciers before they are gone. I also want to fly to Rome, drive to Venice and take a boat across the Adriatic Sea to meet up with a distant cousin who lives in Croatia that I have come to know through the good side of social media.
Driftwood Acres is a dream come true, but how many other dreams are going unfulfilled because of too intense of a focus on this one. So to all of you wanders who live to leave boot leather on the ground, yet dream of having your own special destination, heed my warning, you may find yourself over committed to a single destination. Before you know it, other dreams will seem distant.
I certainly encourage you to buy that property and build your cabin. Just don’t lose sight of how big the world is. Keep those travel plans front of mind and strike a balance. No matter how many stars we wish upon, we’re never going to have more time than we do at this moment. Use it wisely.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Owing a wilderness retreat is great, but don’t forget how big the world out there is.
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