Laking My Way Home, Part 1

Typos in the title? Man, this guy is really losing it.


I’ve been pondering what the theme of this trip has been so far. How about this: This is the story about a guy who has a huge, generous family which is strategically placed throughout North America.

My final three nightly stops would be Clear Lake, WI; Lakeville, MN; and Spirit Lake, IA. (Is there such a thing as an Oxford semicolon?) During this time I would also endeavor to check off three places from my list: Chaska, MN (Verse 4 Line 4), Spirit Lake, IA (Verse 2 Line 5) and Sioux City, IA (Verse 4 Line 6).

Real time update: (This is a new feature that I might add to the blog. I’ve had some people tell me that it would be nice to know what the next destinations on my path will be.) I’m currently sitting on my parents couch in Norfolk, NE, planning to head to Lincoln tomorrow (the 16th). This post may be a bit less detailed than normal since I am eager to take a few days off of writing. As much as I love it, it does require a lot of time and energy. I will need that time and energy to accomplish other projects during this “down week.”


Saturday, August 5 (cont.)

I left Baraboo and headed NW towards Clear Lake, WI. This town is home to around 1,000 people and sits just a short drive from the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

It is also home to my cousin, Lucas. He was one of the first people to offer me a place to stay as I was planning this trip. Knowing that my next song place would be Chaska, MN, a suburb of the Twin Cities, Clear Lake was a perfect place to stop.

I really enjoyed spending some quality time with Lucas, his wife Erin and their four kids: Halle, Carter, Reed and Hendrick. When our whole family gets together it can be pretty hectic (in a good way, of course!), so it was wonderful to have some time to become better acquainted with the whole family.

I slept really well, probably because I had a large cardboard cutout of Chewbacca standing guard next to the foot of my bed.


Sunday, August 6

Time to bust out my church shirt again! It has gotten quite a workout over the last couple of months. Lucas and Erin were on the worship team so we arrived early. While they practiced the kids gave me a comprehensive tour of the United Covenant Church.

Lucas asked if I would talk a little bit about my trip during the service. I gave a little message that seemed to be well received. Afterwards, I had a lady slip me a $20 bill as she was shaking my hand while another inquired about my relationship status. There were some friendly, caring people there.

Back at the house, there were some epic games of ping-pong. Each of the children were so accommodating and hospitable that they all let me win. I’m sure they could have crushed me mercilessly with just a modicum of effort.

They took me by the lake for which the town was named and the kids did a little wading.

Then it was time for the obligatory photo:

Our time together ended with a nice hike up to Willow River State Park. There are some beautiful falls there.

They treated me to supper before we parted. Saying goodbye was easier than normal, knowing that I would see them at our family reunion in a handful of days.

I made the short drive into Minnesota and down to my next “lakehouse”: Lakeville, MN. This is the home of my dad’s brother, Rol, his wife, Karen, and their son, Chris. They live on a beautiful acreage, beyond the urban sprawl of the Twin Cities. I have lots of good memories of these people in this place, so it felt great to pull up to their abode.

Rol and Karen are great hosts and we had some good chats. Chris and I have a connection through our love of music. Who else can I talk to about vintage Casio synthesizers?


Monday, August 7

I stayed around until early afternoon, mostly working on the blog and eating good food. Both Karen and Chris were under the weather, but they still agreed to the obligatory photo:

I wish I would have had more time with them, but the lure of home was drawing me on.

Next place on my list was Chaska, MN (Verse 4 Line 4). I have to confess, I did not “do” this place as thoroughly as I would have liked. Part of this was circumstance, but some of it was due to effort as well.

Chaska seems like a pleasant place. I enjoyed seeing its classic downtown and its spacious park in the middle of the town. This park is home to some ancient burial mounds, which did not photograph well.

One of the interesting industries in Chaska is Gedney Foods, most known for their pickles. I drove by the plant and was overcome by the aroma of dill and vinegar. Unfortunately, their office closed before I could talk to anyone there.

There is also a large curling center.

Chaska has grown rapidly over the last few decades, serving as a homey alternative for Twin Cities commuters. The town seems committed to preserving its small town feel, despite being on the edge of a major metro area. It will be interesting to see how this place progresses a few decades from now.

My next “lakehouse” would be an interesting intersection. I would be staying with family in a city that is actually mentioned in the song: Spirit Lake, IA (Verse 2 Line 5). This marks the first time on my trip that I have relatives in a song city. I have a big family, but none of them have an address in Ombabika. πŸ™‚

My mom’s sister, Karen, and her husband Dan live on Center Lake. It is a smaller lake, situated between the two Okoboji lakes. It is quite possibly the most repulsive body of water I have ever seen. It is full of moss, jagged rocks, irritable snapping turtles and floating barrels of toxic waste. Yukon mosquitoes and the Loch Ness Monster both summer here. If any lake on the planet should be filled in and covered, it is this one. I can think of absolutely nothing positive to say about it.

(Well, I did my best. Hopefully that will keep the riff-raff off of your lake πŸ™‚ )

My cousin, Ben, and his wife Kelly are taking some time off of their RV adventures and reside here as well. Another cousin, Abi, lives just a short drive away. They are all such enjoyable people. Just being part of their banter around the dinner table was worth the price of admission. (Which, in the interest of full disclosure, was $0.)


Tuesday, August 8

I spent most of the day working on the blog. I had a lady from the Dickinson County Newspaper come and visit with me about my trip. I also interviewed her a bit, learning that Johnny Cash had played in Spirit Lake multiple times. Her reaction to him, being a teenager, was, “His music was good and he was tall, but he wasn’t very handsome.” πŸ™‚ I enjoyed talking to her.

That evening, I wanted to get my quintessential Spirit Lake picture. We first stopped by the cabin that belongs to Kelly’s family. Her aunt, Mary, was gracious enough to allow us to use the place for a photo. The cabin is bothΒ on Spirit Lake, as well asΒ in Spirit Lake the city. I did not notice until later that I had a smudge on my lens, so these pictures are a little hazy. There were other cameras going, so I will probably borrow one of their images for my “official” Spirit Lake photo.

There was also a nice sign in town.

My wonderful photo crew, 3/5 of the Sedlacek ladies:

That evening, an interesting exchange took place between my uncle Dan and I. My cousin Abi had brought me some “just add boiling water” meals and I was considering how I could use them. I’ve maybe not stated this on the blog yet, but my only dedicated food items are a can opener and two plastic sporks. I usually just eat my beans cold…you get used to it after a bit.

Dan decided that I needed more opulence in my life, retrieving his camping stove and civil war era (just guessing) percolator from the garage. We debated the finer points of adventure dining, before I realized that there was no way that I was leaving their house without these items. My uncle has had a successful career in pharmacology, but I think he missed his true calling as a used car salesman.

That night I had to examine what motivated my reluctance to accept these items. Surely a cup of coffee in the morning and a warm meal in the evening would make my journey more sustainable, right? I think sometimes I get a little too caught up in rejecting comfort. It takes discipline to do so and discipline is what has allowed me to save enough money to make this trip a possibility. My ability to save money is directly connected to my ability to refuse momentary pleasures.

Will some compromises in this area cause me to slide down the slippery slope of unabashed consumerism? I guess you will have to read on to find out. πŸ™‚ Whatever happens, this was a very generous gift.


I am so blessed to have family that seem to tolerate me. I’ve eaten so much food and used so much internet that was given to me freely and unreservedly. I can hardly imagine how I would feel by this point in the trip if I did not have so many restful stops. Hopefully I won’t have to find out soon.

Tune in next time as I write about kissing, twin bings and obelisks!





Author: BA


7 thoughts on “Laking My Way Home, Part 1”

  1. I’ve added the song to my travel playlist and every time it plays it reminds me to stop and say a quick prayer for your safety as you travel. Enjoy your down time!


  2. Hi Brett! I’m catching up with your whereabouts after doing some adventuring of my own and I just want to say that a cup of coffee in the morning and something hot before crawling into a sleeping bag are wonderful ways to punctuate deliberate discomfort! My kayak probably does have more space than your bike, but my kitchen items are spartan – a little kettle and a tiny stove that weighs about an ounce. And a camping cup. And a little spoon. And a baggie with coffee and powdered milk. Ok, so the items do add up, but sipping hot coffee on cool mornings is wonderful. Try it sometime!
    Your writing tool chest sure holds more than a can opener. Reading your blog is fun. And I’m going to credit a biker with inventing the serial semicolon. Oxford on wheels.


    1. Great to hear from you, Carol! I’ve definitely been rethinking some things while I’ve been home. I do think that I need to add a little more comfort to my routine. A pot, stove and some instant coffee will be coming along on the next leg of the journey.

      Punctuation is always a journey for me. πŸ™‚


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