By Maggie -- Aug 04, 2014
Leaving the cabins at German Lake felt a lot like leaving summer camp. We were exhausted, our bodies hurt, and we couldn't stop thinking about all the wild and wonderful times we had. We felt sad but we were smiling big. I learned a lot about Minnesota summer traditions while at the lake, and I feel like now I understand more about what "Summer" means to Minnesotans.
In Minnesota, like many other parts of the US, Summer means getting people together, grabbing tons of beer and heading down to the lake for the weekend. No plans exist after that. Just get there, and the rest will work itself out. Cabins are passed down in the family and all generations enjoy them together, all summer long. With limited days of warm weather, Minnesotans take full advantage of what their lakes have to offer. Usually there's a shed full of toys: boats, jet skis, rafts, water skis, wake boards, fishing gear, ginormous floating foam called a Maui Mat, etc. Summer is never boring and it always ends too soon (this of course is different than what I grew up with, where 80 degree beach days in January are expected and then taken for granted).
The property we stayed at belongs to our friend Jason (the guy who built us this website, thanks Jason!) and his family. Originally owned by Jason's grandpa, or "Grandpa Mully" to those who knew and loved him, the Mullenmaster cabins are connected to each other by about 50 yards of shoreline and have a very vintage feel. Beyond the second cabin is another several yard stretch of land that the family also owns, which is where we parked Donna for the weekend. Ryan remembers countless days at the Mullenmaster cabins spent with Jason, his parents, their friends and extended family. He said he'd tell me some stories, but I'm not allowed to write about them all down… in other words, some things that happened at German Lake remain at German Lake.
Ryan remembers Grandpa Mully and said he was "like Superman to him". In his nineties, Grandpa Mully would play a complete round of golf then spend the afternoon driving his tractor around his property fixing and moving things. You can tell him and his wife loved and appreciated what they had and the countryside around them. The lower cabin feels like it hasn't changed one iota since it was built and everything inside is thoughtfully placed and cared for. Country western antiques hang from every corner, taxidermied mule deer keep an eye on you from high above, and there's a musty yet familiar smell that makes you feel like you just stepped out of a time machine. You can feel his presence in every perfectly placed object and painting. The cabins are bursting with stories and memories of good times past, and although I had never been there a day in my life before this trip, I felt as though I had a history with the place too.
The Kaplan family was able to make it out and join in on the fun - his parents Mark and Renee, his brother Casey and wife Lauren and their kids, Eldon and Mavery, and his sister Alyssa came down with her boyfriend Christian. Basically the Kaplan crew showed up and dominated! The kids had a blast and are turning out to be such cool little people. Living so far away, it's not often that we get to witness any "firsts" in Eldon and Mavery's lives, and over the weekend they both got to ride on the jet ski, Eldon kayaked by himself and tried waterskiing for the first time. We taught them about "sea glass" (it was actually lake glass, but the rocks by the shore created soft edges just like the ocean shore) and they scoured the shoreline for it, running back to us each time they found "a good one to add to their collection". They're growing up fast and it's so much fun to watch and be a part of it.
Ryan said it well: Once you spend time at German Lake, you leave a little part of you there. Everyone has a cabin story or two, and everyone wanted to reminisce. When Ryan went to check out the lake shed, he came across an old homemade wakeboard that he and Jason crafted back in high school. They called it a "wake skate". It was propped up by a beat up jet ski that hasn't worked for years. That was the jet ski that almost got them into deep sh*t after junior year - Jason and Ryan collided on jet skis out in the lake, one of them started to sink, and Ryan had to act as a human tow rope and grab ahold of it while Jason towed him to shore with the other jet ski.
As nostalgic as it was for Ryan, it felt nostalgic for me too. It reminded me of how it feels to be at a familiar place with family and friends, with no cares whatsoever, enjoying vacation together, soaking it all in, letting the day go however it wants, trying new things, enjoying doing the same old thing, and appreciating the moment.
Thank you to Jason, Chelsey & Lauren for being such awesome hosts. Thank you to all the Kaplans for making it down to the lake. We are still basking in the warmth of it all!