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In a cabin, in the woods...

Posted: March 26, 2012 - 9:50am

A recurring conversation between my husband, my friends, and myself involves raising kids. Are we raising our kids how we were raised? And is that a good or bad thing? You might assume because you don't have children, this might not be relevant to you, but I disagree. We are all part of a community and encounter youth on a daily basis. The younger generation has much to offer, as does the older generation. Where do they meet?

(Cut scene to me at the midnight opening of "Breaking Dawn.")

Being an adult I started to think about the traditions my family had that I loved as a child. What made me feel part of our family unit. It involved a few things: sweeping the floors of my dad's garage while he worked in there, being involved in church, and visiting our family cabin in the Caribou Hills.

I haven't been up to the Hills in years. A fear of mine is that I will go visit the cabin, then accidentally run into Justin Timberlake. Let me tell you about my version of "cabin apparel." My attire is a flannel shirt, pajama pants, and a wedgie. I wear little or no makeup, which might sound normal for some of you beauties out there, but for me it looks like I'm battling anemia. After a day or two at the cabin I look like an animal and have to be cautious during hunting season. Needless to say, I stay "comfortable" and Timberlake will have to accept me as I am.

Here's the thing: Instead of complaining about the snow in March, we decided to enjoy it. After many years, we took our little family and make the trip with my parents. They often take my daughter, so she was in her element immediately.

It was exciting to see their new cabin, technically their third one. It's a far cry from the first one. The first cabin was built in the 70s with friends. Its problems included bears, squirrels, rodents, or even the potential strong wind. It eventually grew old and was off the beaten path. Like most cabins in the 70s, it was loosely shared with the public. When arriving there on the snowmachine, I always half-expected a naked mountain man to come screaming up the hill shouting for us to get out of his house.

The second cabin was nicer, had an upstairs, and a generator for electricity. Lanterns!? Hah. A thing of the past. Its problems included getting burned down in the fire of 2007. The third cabin was similar to the second, but 2 feet longer and seafoam green. Adorable.

Don't egg my home, but years later after the fire, it looks absolutely gorgeous up there. I remember the Hills being like one giant, bushy pine tree. Now it's so clear and open. Just viewing eight cabins at the same time over various rolling hills was surreal. I walked outside to calmly drink my cup of coffee in the fresh morning air, and I wasn't expecting the sun to reflect off the bald, snowy hills so brightly, so when I stepped out into the open I temporarily went blind. A ninja could have jumped out from behind a stump and punched me in the throat and I would have never known what happened.

It was an extraordinarily beautiful day. We went sledding, snowboarding, and snowmachined. My toddler son got his first accidental whitewash and I have pictures that tell the story. He's happy, then shocked, confused, angry, distracted, then back to happy again. Typical.

We were fortunate enough to be there during St. Patrick's Day. The Cabin Hoppers, a great group that maintains the trails and keeps things "hopping," had a cookout at the Pavilion, which is indeed ... a pavilion (shocking). People snowmachine through miles of white snow and wilderness and in the middle of nowhere they have a bbq party in their snowsuits. It was pretty awesome. 

A lot of families grow up excelling in a unique knowledge, like a hobby, that brings them closer together. A great example would be my in-laws that love horses. My husband said the word, "gelding" and I immediately blushed. I didn't know what he was talking about and couldn't believe he said it in front of my dad. It just means a male horse. I grew up hearing Caribou Hills vernacular, so I was happy to get re-acquainted with it. It was Rocky's, but now it's Freddie's. The water hole. Four corners. Tinkle tree (that one is more appropriate then it sounds).

It was nice to revisit my childhood and share it with my children as they build their own memories. The cabin was and continues to be a charming bridge for our family, where the kids and adults can share the same adventure.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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