Minnesota summers = cabin weekends.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a native Minnesotan in possession of a lake home (or friend with a lake home) must be in want of a cabin weekend.

All bad Jane Austen bastardizations aside, it’s truly a unique and pervasive aspect of Minnesota culture to spend summer weekends “up north” or “at the lake.” I grew up with a cabin on a lake about two hours slightly northwest of the Cities, and many of my friends’ families also have second homes on the water. This summer I’ve been totally spoiled with FIVE lake trips thanks to amazing friends Greg, Eva, and Kelsie, and each has been totally perfect/hilarious/relaxing/riotously fun in their own unique way.

We’ve been up to Greg’s twice since Memorial Day, with a third trip planned over Labor Day (it has its own hashtag and everything, it’s such a big deal!). Shockingly for me, both trips have involved so much fun, relaxation, and socializing…i.e. gin, drinking games, and late-evening boat rides…that I haven’t managed to take a single picture. Trust me when I say that his cabin is beautiful, the lake is a little slice of heaven, and each weekend has been exactly perfect. I’ve never been taken better care of at a social function…I think all of us are a little bit in love with weekends on Lake Francis.

Eva’s cabin weekend, in mid-July, has been on the books since there was still snow on the ground—a much-needed girly getaway to her family’s gorgeous place on Balsam Lake, just over the border in Wisconsin! Fun fact: my grandparents and great-aunt both used to have places on Balsam—it’s truly a small world when it comes to lakeshore in Minnesota and Wisconsin! Claire and I prepped for the weekend the day before with a fairly epic Target run for snackies, breakfast supplies, and mixers. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in a grocery store…

…or a liquor store, our next stop! Woo!

After we arrived on Friday afternoon and had spent plenty of time rhapsodizing over the beauty of the lake, things got a bit crazy right away…

(It was already empty, that picture is 100% posed for novelty and to make us appear to be harder partiers than we, in actuality, can claim to be.) Our Friday evening, in reality, looked a lot more like this:

How pretty is miss Eva?! She was the best hostess, too—Such. Delicious. Food. Her fiancé Josh is a very lucky man. Eva’s friend Michelle joined us shortly after dinner, and of course a selfie parade ensued, because it wouldn’t be a basic girls girls’ weekend without selfies galore.

We played a little Kings (a LOT of Kings).

We toasted to cabin weekend.

And then we went to bed, where Claire and I slept through the thunderstorm of the summer. Poor Eva woke up in the middle of the night and ended up battening down the hatches and whatnot all by herself, watching nonstop lightning and hoping there was no damage. In the morning, the two of us almost didn’t believe her…we had been dead to the world.

We got off to a bit of a slow start on Saturday as more girls trickled in, but the day grew more and more quintessentially lake-perfect: sunny, breezy, and hot. Naturally, a boat ride quickly rocketed to the top of our must-do list. The three of us ended up being the only ones to head out, and we floated, tanned, swam and drank to our hearts’ content before heading back to the dock to float some more.

After a lot of floating (and a LOT a lot of Doritos), we took the boat out AGAIN with a little white wine while waiting for our favorite girls’ weekend crasher, Claire’s BF and our dear friend Mike! This is Claire’s “Mike is coming to see us!” face…at least in my mind.

We enjoyed another killer dinner (Eva’s grilled pork? To DIE for), played a few more games and relaxed all night and all of Sunday morning before heading back to the Cities with a little tan and a bad case of the Sunday blues. Thanks for a killer weekend, Eva! You’re pretty much delightful.  

Two short weeks later, Kelsie’s fifth or sixth annual summer cabin trip graced my social calendar! She scheduled it at LEAST six months in advance…I think I had the calendar invite by my February birthday. She and I headed up to Hay Lake, an hour north of Brainerd, on Thursday afternoon, with two quick stops along the way: Zorbaz on Gull Lake, and Gull Dam Brewery! How pretty is this place?

We split a quick beer flight and observed a highly competitive game of geriatric cornhole (hahaha) before hitting the road again, arriving in time for a few beers on the porch and a stunning sunset. Her friend Nick also arrived that evening, and we soon discovered that a: he is a cribbage whiz and b: I can’t do mental math if it’s small numbers.

The next morning, we made the totally wise and prescient decision that we needed to put the family swim platform in the water. Nick, having already conquered a wasps’ nest and generally made himself useful, came up with an innovative and totally effective method to accomplish said goal:

I died laughing. Luckily, after approximately twenty similar actions, we ended up with THIS!

Don’t ask me about our towels, Huckleberry Finn, or anything related to my generally wise approach to dry-linens problem solving. Instead, let’s talk about how we swam and floated for hours, Kels’s friends Lauren and Brandon arrived, we grilled a delicious dinner of brats, and had a campfire that would make Pocahontas jealous. Her friends Zack and Samantha arrived late at night, and campfire hilarity ensued until we all ended up too tired to function.

The next day the guys went fishing:

The couples went floating:

And we all went day-drinking.

Funny story: the speedboat broke down in the middle of the lake while we were legitimately the only boat in the water. After some unsuccessful calls to shore for help, an ill-fated attempt to swim back to the cabin that ended Titanic-style, and a lengthy and discursive phone call to Kels’s mom, we were able to contact a neighbor to tow us back to shore. Long story short: our group did not have a high success rate with boats over the weekend.

Sunday dawned chilly and gray, and we headed home with heavy hearts. On the bright side, I saw a sweet porcupine in the wild, so there’s that!

OH CABIN WEEKENDS. These are the days I’ll look back to when Minnesota is buried under feet of snow and I can’t feel my face from the windchill. Thanks to all my friends for sharing their lovely summer getaways…this cabin guest could not be more grateful!