Walden Revisited: Fifty Lakes, Minnesota

Rollerbag Mom and Pop have a lovely little rustic cabin in the north woods of Minnesota, in a tiny city known as Fifty Lakes. It’s nice to know such unspoiled places still exist in the world.

I read Walden while staying at the little cabin in the woods.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

There’s no running water at the cabin, no television to distract you, and no wireless internet. Thoreau went to the woods for years to live deliberately, and so as not to find when he died that he had not lived. I spent a month in my own personal Walden, to write, to contemplate and go a little crazy.

There is no running water at the cabin, so the resource is carried in.
Having limited water–even for a month–makes you realize how precious it is,
and how frequently we waste it. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

See, I’m not really what you might call the outdoorsy type.

Yet, the cabin at Fifty Lakes offers a beautiful escape. The scenery is lush and green. It is unbelievably quiet and calm at night. White-tailed deer regularly feed near the cabin. I rarely saw other people when I was at the land. One night, I spent an undisturbed hour watching a gnat attack a centipede.


The swing from which I watched the gnat/centipede battle drama unfold.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Here’s how I made “roughing it” it work for me. I borrowed Dad’s old truck. I bought fresh produce from local farmers, who displayed it at the end of their driveways and employed the honor system for payment. I had my favorite coffee shipped in from Brooklyn: D’Amico house dark roast, ground for a French press. I brought a case–yes, a case–of red wine, as well as truffle oil.

The port-a-potty that made it all possible. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I rented a port-a-potty (no running water means no operational indoor toilet), and I bought a solar shower, and with the help of my brother-in-law, had a serviceable outdoor shower.

My outdoor shower in my personal Walden. Hint: solar showers only heat up if the
sun is shining. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I spent my days watching the wildlife, enjoying the nearby lakes, sitting on the dock and soaking up sunshine when weather permitted.

Tranquil Eagle Lake in Fifty Lakes, Minnesota. A great place to sit on the dock
and dangle your toes in the water. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I baked bread and made soup, gathered raspberries growing wild on the land and ate them for breakfast.

These raspberries grow wild on my parent’s land in Fifty Lakes.
Shortly after this photo was taken, they met their delicious demise.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I listened to the mournful cries of the loons at night. And I read loads of 18th Century literature, most of it borrowed from the library at the muni, the municipal liquor store and bar in Fifty Lakes.

The library at the muni in Fifty Lakes, Minnesota.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.
 

My stay in Fifty Lakes was paradise, the kind of paradise people work their whole lives to attain. But in the end, it was too much for me. Roughing it took its toll in a mere matter of days. Increasingly, I found myself at the muni, sipping beer and eating what I swore was the best-tasting pizza in the world. I was crazy for conversation and running water. I craved stimulation of any sort, the lack of which gave me writer’s block. Overnight temps dropped into the 30s, and the solar shower didn’t warm up much more than that. And then, the rain moved in.

When my sister invited me to St. Cloud for a hot shower, I weakened, and gratefully accepted. My days at the cabin were sporadic after that.


The peaceful, rustic cabin at night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Yet, the cabin in Fifty Lakes still holds tremendous appeal to me. With running hot water, I might have stuck it out longer. With Internet (the muni now offers free wifi), and perhaps more modern literature, I might never have left.

Except to get more wine and truffle oil, of course.


Drying clothes at the land. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

What are your favorite rustic getaways? What comforts could you not live without? 

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
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Creative Commons License
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at rollerbaggoddess.blogspot.com.
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