Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Silver Lake

So it's June and I'm still pregnant. I'm at peace with this fact solely because I know that I will hold my daughter in my arms on Friday and I will NOT be pregnant anymore. I know this last month of pregnancy has been infinitely beneficial to my baby, and I'm so thankful that she's stuck around for it, but I am very, very done with the 40 lb. medicine ball sticking out from my abdomen.

I mentioned earlier that we have booked our first family vacation for this summer. I spent two weeks of chickening out over the "purchase" button on southwest.com, but we now have three (horribly expensive) tickets to Minneapolis in August. I'm taking my (two!) children to one of my favorite places on Earth- Silver Lake in Siren, Wisconsin. We have to leave Austin at the crack of dawn, endure a 2-hour layover in Denver, take a second flight to Minneapolis, pick up a rental car, and then drive 2 hours to Siren (and then do it all again backwards on the way home), but it will be worth it.

My grandpa was the 8th of 8 children and grew up on a farm in the teeny town of Siren (now with a booming population of 988). Next to the farm was a lake, Silver Lake, and after his dad died and his mom sold the farm, the family kept their little lot on the lake. As the years passed, my grandpa, now an officer in the Air Force, bought out each of his siblings, promising to take care of the property and its taxes while still keeping it open for their use whenever they wanted. Most of those siblings still live in and around Siren.

For as far back as I can remember, every other summer my family and I would pile into our Ford van and drive for 3 days to visit Silver Lake. My dad would pull over when we were a couple of miles away so we could put on our swim suits in order to race out of the van and jump in the water as soon as we arrived. The land wasn't developed, so my grandparents spent the summer living out of their camping trailer and we pulled our little camper right up alongside theirs. We loved it.

We woke up to this view each morning,

and went to sleep each night with the cozy knowledge that all five of us were under the same tiny roof. We spent our days swimming, fishing, and "going to town"- an adventure that usually involved a stop at the laundromat to wash our clothes (which my sister and I loved, we actually protested the addition of a washer and dryer when my grandparents built a cabin on the property a few years ago), a trip to the Main Street Cafe for lunch, and perhaps a stop at the Fudge Shop. Siren is a magical place in my memory, and even though it now boasts not one, but TWO hotels, additional restaurants, and a coffee shop with wireless internet, it remains a place that takes me back to a simpler time.

My grandparents still drive up to Silver Lake from their retirement community in San Antonio. About five years ago they built a beautiful 2-bedroom cabin (decorated almost entirely in Swedish yellow and blue, of course) on the property and they spend a few months there each summer. They're getting older, as grandparents are unfortunately prone to do, and their stints up in Siren are getting shorter. For that reason, and because of some deep emotional urge I can't rationally explain, it became incredibly important for me to travel to Silver Lake this summer. While my family has been blessed by my grandparents' decision to create a trust out of the lake property so that we will be able to enjoy it for years to come, I wanted to have at least one more trip with the cabin as their place. Plus, my maternity leave made this the perfect time for a trip.

My last trip to Silver lake was when we randomly decided to drive over from Chicago with a 7-week-old Landon. My grandparents got to meet their first great-grandchild, JP got to swim across the lake for exercise (not to diminish his swimming prowess, which is considerable, but it's a little lake; I did the same swim when I was in middle school),

and I got to enjoy some family time with two of my favorite people.

I am so excited for our trip this summer. We've saved up our money in a separate "vacation fund" savings account, and while the part of me who keeps a constant, unhappy eye on our student debt knows we should probably funnel it that way, the rest of me knows it will be money well spent. Our first family vacation. Landon will be old enough to enjoy the sandy bottomed beach, the little minnows that swim around the dock, and the "Queen Mary" pontoon boat (named for my grandmother). My grandparents will be able to spend time with their second great-grandchild. JP will be able to swim and comb antique stores for old stuff we don't need. And I will be able to watch Landon enjoy a place that I love so very much. I can't wait.


  1. Sounds absolutely wonderful!! And something great to look forward to during those tedious moments with a new baby. We go to Maine in the summer for very similar reasons. I love the image of you guys running straight to the water upon arrival. I'm so excited for you guys on Friday!

  2. What great memories you have! I remember going to Eagle River in Wisconsin and staying in a cabin on the lake with my grandparents. Going to sleep watching a beautiful sunset on the lake and waking up to an equally beautiful sunrise! Picking wild blueberries with my grandma and making a pie with her, fishing and swimming with my grandpa. You are so lucky to be able to have your children experience the same fun times that you had. Happy vacation!! Oh, and----can't wait to see pics of the little sweetheart coming on Friday!!

  3. LL, how wonderful this will be! Thanks for sharing awesome photos--what a view! :D

  4. I'm so happy that you're doing this! The lake reminds me a lot of the one we always went to growing up - beautiful!

    You know, with the student loans - they're going to be around for a long time. (I sometimes wonder if mine will be paid off before my girls go to college.) And of course you have to be responsible, blah, blah, blah... but sometimes we really do need to prioritize experiences and relationships over paying off debt. I think this is expecially true when we start talking about older relatives - we really just don't know what the future holds, and things can happen suddenly. (My grandmother, who I never knew very well, fell and broke her hip three months after we returned from Japan. I got one good visit with her a week or so before that I am so, so thankful for. For whatever reason, she fell into serious dementia at the hospital and has not recovered and almost certainly will not.)

    I hope I wasn't too much of a downer! I just wanted to affirm your decision to do this now and help erase any little bit of second-guessing you may have remaining. You may very well be visiting your grandparents on Silver Lake in fifteen years, and I dearly hope that you are. But do free yourself to enjoy this vacation for all it's worth, as this is one of the situations in which life is so much more than money.

  5. Sounds heavenly! Good luck on Friday! I can't wait to hear how it goes.

  6. Sounds lovely, LL. Enjoy!

  7. Silver Lake looks awesome! I'm sure the four of you will have a great time.

    Good luck tomorrow! Can't wait to hear how it all went and "meet" the newest member of the family.

  8. My Grandparents owned property on Silver Lake as well and my best memories of growing up are from the times I spent on that lake. The cottage is no longer in our family, but when I went up to Fredric, WI for my Grandmother's memorial I took my partner to silver lake to show her the cottage and we met the new owners. I stumbled across your blog while trying to locate a way to find the address of our old cottage (I want to write to the new owners, long story) and felt compelled to say hi. Our cottage was direcly across from what we termed the "point" but I guess a lot of cottages could be seen as being directly across from the "point". I learned to water ski on that lake behind my grandfather's 25hp motor boat (I think large sizes are still banned from the small lake or at least I hope).

    If by chance you know of any way I can locate an address from the lake, please let me know.
    Thanks, Teresa (decendant of Grace and Wadia Moses)

    1. Teresa! I totally know the Moses cabin! I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother, but I'm glad you were able to take your partner to the lake. As for locating an address from the lake, I'm not sure, but I'd be happy to help. My grandparents just rented a P.O. Box at the post office (Siren has its own, you might want to start by calling there), but now they have mail delivered directly to a box on Silver Lake Road. They won't be up there until June this summer, but if you haven't found another way to reach the new owners, I'm sure they'd be happy to deliver the missive. They're still very involved with the Silver Lake Association (yes the boat rules are still the same ;) and know pretty much everyone on the lake. Send me an email any time if you want to discuss further. lagliv@gmail.com

    2. You know my cabin!! Very cool. I just sent you an email. I did find the address of the owners, waiting to hear back from them. I guess by reviewing my post I didn't tell you why I was looking for them, I want to see if they will rent their cottage to my next July 2013 so I can celebrate my 50th birthday there with my partner and siblings.
      Thanks for your reply.

    3. Instant Messaging with my cousin and the subject of the cabin and Silver Lake came up again, as it does on so many occasions with my family. Do you still get up there?

    4. We went again last summer with all three kids (post here) and it was so fun. I wish it was closer so we could go more often, but we definitely plan to return every few years!