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Up North

I just got back from a week "up north" which is the Minnesota way of saying a vacation in the northern part of the state usually involving a cabin and a lake. Going "up north" is what Minnesotans do in the summer. With over 10,000 lakes to choose from, there are lots of places to go up north. Our place of choice is Park Rapids, Minnesota.

To imagine Park Rapids, just think small town Americana at its finest. Main street has two candy stores, a movie theater, ice cream parlor, small gift boutiques, coffee shops, and a book store called Beagle Books that features two docile canine companions – neither of which are Beagles.

The particular resort we visit in Park Rapids is called Half Moon Trail. It's a beautifully landscaped, quaint resort situated on Boot Lake. There's no TV, no internet coverage, and no cell phone reception at the resort. It's forced family togetherness time at its finest.

Each of the 18 cabins at Half Moon Trail has a gorgeous view of the lake, full kitchens, and updated bathrooms. Rustic camping it is not. Half Moon Trail is a family resort promoting interaction among the families – many of whom who have been returning for over 10 years. We are definitely the newcomers with this being only our third summer there. Openings for new families become available only through minor miracles. The place is just that good.

Dave and Mary are the ever-gracious owners of Half Moon Trail. They create a wide variety of family activities ranging from bingo, to potlucks, to campfires, to a rock sculpture contest, to the infamous carpet ball tournament (think outdoor billiards played with your hands rather than a cue stick). Friendly competition is very much alive and well at Half Moon Trail.

The unmistakable highlight of the vacation for me this year was hearing my TV-obsessed five year-old son declare that fishing was better than TV. Who knew he’d voluntarily trade in an episode of Sponge Bob for a fishing pole?

There is an endless list of things that I appreciate about Half Moon Trail Resort, but the thing I appreciate the most is that it's the one week a year when my love for my family does not have to compete with my love for my career. For one week a year there are no competing interests between work and family because there is no ability to work while at the resort. With no available access to e-mail or voicemail, I can be mother of the year for at least one week a year, and I relish the role.

As much as I love our time up north, it's not the way I'd choose to spend the other 51 weeks a year. My personality craves a much more hectic lifestyle. I crave the challenge of creating sanity in my life amidst the demands of daily life. With that said though, we have already put down our deposit for next summer. Don't look for our cabin to be one of the rare and coveted openings available for new families at Half Moon Trail Resort.