The Dakota Sioux called it "Minnewaukon" or "Lake of the Spirit.." People say it heals the body--I say, it heals the soul. Spirit Lake is a place I have always gone to "soothe my soul". As a teenager and young adult, when my world wasn't what I wanted it to be, the lake was the place I wanted to be to heal. Everywhere I go, there are memories of who I used to be. On the road into town I drive past the little park where my grandparents took us camping and I caught my first fish. The houses of old friends greet me when I get there. And no matter where I am in the lakes area, memories of my dad are there.
Every year Dad took my sisters and I on vacation for two weeks and we always went to the same little family owned resort. We always left town early on Sunday, even though we couldn't check into the cottage until afternoon. My sisters and I always had our swimsuit on under our clothes so we could jump in the lake as soon as we got there. The drive always seemed to take forever--I knew how long it was from every landmark on the way. Two hours from home; an hour and fifteen minutes from the turn in Algona; the half-way point was Cylinder. Spencer meant we were there--even though it was another 15 minutes or so to the resort. Driving past Arnold's Park created even more excitement. What night would we go. Who would ride the old wooden roller coaster?
Finally, we would get to the resort and throw our clothes on the beach and race into the water. We'd swim until Dad whistled to come up and unload the car. Grandma packed everything for Dad and we always laughed, wondering what she was thinking when she sent some of it. But you know what? We always seemed to use it all!
There were few rules when we vacationed with Dad. We had to pick up the cabin and sweep out the sand every day. Hang up the wet clothes out on the line and be in the cabin once the light went out on the trampolines. Oh, and we each had to cook one night and the others had to do the dishes. I don't remember anything I cooked, I just know that no one could fix tuna and noodles other than my youngest sister. It was all she knew other than peanut butter sandwiches.
We grew up and the vacations to the lakes stopped when I went to college. There would still be weekend trips to friends who lived in town, but it just wasn't the same.
We bought our trailer two years after my dad passed away from cancer. It was hard for me the first couple of years--I often cried when we ended up in a memory place. Just too many memories and I missed him so much. Dad would love the resort and I often imagine him walking down the road visiting everyone or sitting on the beach with his great-grandkids. I see him in front of the trailer at night enjoying a campfire and the sunset. Sandbar is his kind of place. And for me, he is the spirit...