We’ve now spent three weeks in our primitive dry cabin with no electricity… I thought this would be a quiet escape; no hum from lights, from the fridge, microwave, TV, traffic, and people. But I definitely would not use the word QUIET to describe this little clearing settled deep in Northern Minnesota’s lake country.

I wake up in the morning and ohhhhh I’ve got to pee, because I’ve been holding it until the sun decided to welcome the new day. You know I imagine all these critters lurking just outside the cabin, waiting for me to come outside so they can attack. (This is obviously not realistic and why I’m not a fan of scary movies; they only fuel the imagination). But with the first sign of morning light glowing orange through the dense vegetation, the threat of the unknown and unseen evaporates. All the imaginary haunts have left the yard for the day.

With every good dry cabin, there is an outhouse. I decide to leave the door wide open to take in my surroundings… and it is SO LOUD!!!

What is “peace and quiet” anyway? I ponder the noice and focus my senses to register what is going on around me.

I see a peliated woodpecker swoop from one perch to another 20 feet up in an old budding oak tree. Then hear it POUND away in its new spot looking for its prize.

I hear, “THUMP… THUMP… Thump… Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. Starting off slow, each thump gains speed before fading off. I don’t see the culprit, but I know exactly what it is from growing up as a outdoorsy kid. It’s a grouse thumping its wings on a fallen log. This goes on all day, LOUD, and just out of sight.

There! The peliated woodpecker swoops again and sings its taunting call. Is he laughing?

And the songbirds. I’m not sure if I can decipher how many different tunes I hear; I think maybe 5. What could they really be gossiping about so early this morning?! The sun is just barely peeking over the horizon and lighting up the forest.

Oooooo what’s that?! A group of wood ducks fly by. They have a funny call, but it’s familiar to me from growing up on the Mississippi River; a flyway byway for migrating birds from around the world. I am no birder, but I am starting to appreciate my childhood and the small wonders I have picked up from half listening to my parents, the amateur naturalists who raised me.

Don’t forget the bees and other bugs, buzzing around finding the flowers that have already bloomed saying “Hello summer!”


I walk around the yard and look up to see three turkey vultures gliding steadily with the light wind that is picking up for the day. I know they are a bit ugly up close, but they look timeless soaring around above as they look for their next scavenged meal.

And my next thought before going back inside, “I MUST find a way to teach these things to my children someday.”

I challenge you to enjoy this spring and summer like it would be your last. School is already out for some, and the adventures begin. Go outside and breath in the moment. Listen and actually hear the differences between songbirds, frogs, crickets, or whatever your habitat provides.

There’s a lot more to come from our experiences this summer as we live “up north”.

With no electricity, you might have already figured out that we do not have internet service so I will do my best to sum up our experiences worth sharing and get them out to you.

You might already know we’ve had a prickly situation between Beast and a porcupine. It was a rough night yanking quills out of his snout at 1:30am by flashlight. But rest assured, Beast is doing great! Other than being a bit traumatized and hesitant for us to poke around his gums, he acts as if he’s 100 percent happy dog.

We had family surprise us last weekend by coming up to visit and enjoy the area in their traveling van. We are so gracious to be close to family in Minnesota and had a blast catching up with Mary, Jim, and Goodie.


And how about these 90 degree days?! How have you been finding fun in the heat? We’ve been forced to head straight to the lake after work to cool off. Again, without electricity we are beating the heat the old fashioned way. All three of us find refreshment in jumping in nearby lakes and then lounging waterside until the day cools off into dusk. This is “the life”!

Luckily mosquitos have not yet been an issue, but I will be testing some homemade bug repellent soon enough. Wood ticks on the other hand… oofta! Watch out for these blood sucking disease spreading buggers. I found one on myself that was as small as a poppy seed!!

That is all for right now. As always, wishing you happy and healthy trails from the woods…

Going Off The Grid

Cheers to the start of another new adventure. We really thought we would settle and grow more roots in southwest Michigan. We’ve had a great time with our friends and family here and will always be back to visit. We are grateful for all the time spent and memories made. Having friends and family so close is not something we take for granted.

But in always keeping our sails open to the winds of opportunity, we find ourselves drifting westward once again.

This time we will be stopping in Northern Minnesota for about 5 months. Zach has accepted a position as a Park Ranger with the Army Corp of Engineers and I’ve decided to take a vacation…. just kidding. I am taking my time finding work that will be suitable for a fun summer in lake country.

With the gracious help of family and friends, and friends of the family, we will be shacking up in a dry cabin. Yes, this means no running water and using an outhouse. I couldn’t be more thrilled about it! Summer spent amongst “the woods” is exactly what I had in mind when we decided to move to Crow Wing County.

Will it be more work to live in a dry cabin? Will there be enormous swarms of mosquitos, ticks, and bugs? Will it be difficult without having running water? Absolutely, but amenities will be very close by. I mean, who has a dog? Are they a lot of extra work and a pain in the a** once and a while? Hell yes, but you love them and they are worth it for all the little joys they bring. And have you ever spent some prolonged time in “the woods” without any noise and distraction?  It’s simply peaceful! 🌲🌻🐸🌲🌻🐸🌲🌻🐸

I look forward to sharing our joys and trials of our next adventure and what is to follow!

For now, we are finishing a few days at work and furiously packing and cleaning another house. Another Thieves Household Cleaner success, as we were able to use the natural cleaner for the ENTIRE house (everything)!

We plan to leave by the weekend and spend some quality time cruising the Northern route through some really Great Lakes. Neither Zach or myself have been able to experience the “U.P.” (upper peninsula of Michigan) so the exploration and journey starts there.

Later, we will be putting natural homemade bug spray to the test in the true backwoods. So stay tuned for the results and recipe.

Remember, life is what YOU make it – every minute, every day, every hour.

And as always, wishing you happy and healthy trails.

Photo credits: Rose Wenck and Joe Wenck