A Jew In The Woods

I’ll admit that my entire life I’ve used Jewish stereotypes to get out of doing things many other Minnesotans do. For example… I’ve never owned a pickup truck. I’ve never gone camping. I’ve never eaten venison. I’ve never gone ice fishing. I’ve never hung drywall. I’ve never gone hunting. Following these stereotypes has mostly kept me close to Minneapolis and other big cities with only limited exposure to outstate Minnesota. Not never, just limited. And when I do, I have always followed the idea that “roughing it” means a hotel without room service.
Okay, before I go on… baby steps. I’m not going to book a trip to the BWCA, walk around with a canoe over my head, and fish for my dinner. I’m not going to spend a weekend in a tiny ice fishing house with a hole in the ice, trunk full of beer, and a deck of cards. And I’m not going to snowmobile from bar to bar in a bright yellow jacket with matching gloves and helmet.
But later this week I am actually going to leave the Twin Cities metropolitan area and head a couple hours west. For New Year’s, I rented a three bedroom cabin at a tiny resort in New London for myself, my children, and another family. It may not be considered roughing it, but come on, they probably don’t even have wi-fi!
The plan is to spend time in the cabin, playing games, cooking our meals, maybe head to the main lodge for ping pong or Foosball. One day we might venture into New London or Spicer for a movie or some other activity. My dislike of cold has prevented me from considering outdoor activities, other then that there is a small sliding hill for the kids near the cabin.
It’s a start, right? Two nights away from the city, focusing on fun with friends and family, and maybe even turning off my iPhone for a few hours at a time. I’m not looking to totally unplug, as I am going to let the kids bring the Wii and some DVDs. But despite my unwillingness to unplug completely, it’s probably the closest thing my family will come to observing a traditional Shabbat, with a focus on family time and less of a focus on electronics, separate activities, and other things that fill up a typical weekend.
But what if I do want to take a few more steps, do you have any ideas? Should we play on the lake (I don’t think I’ve ever walked across a frozen lake), rent cross country skis or snowmobiles, go snowshoeing? I’m asking you if I should take this opportunity to stretch myself even further, and explore more of what outstate Minnesota has to offer. Leave a comment below, and I’ll be sure to keep checking the comments up until the time I leave Friday morning, and as far west as cell towers cover.
I look forward to hearing from you, and can’t wait for my weekend getaway. I hope all of you have a fun and safe New Year, and an adventurous 2011 ahead.
P.S. By the way, if you think the sheltered Jew from the Twin Cities will be somewhat out of place in New London, hear this – the family we’re traveling with is Indian, and grew up in South India (average temperatures in the 90’s) and then lived in mostly urban areas in the United States. They arrived in Minnesota only a year ago, and are still getting used to saying “pop” instead of “soda.” So I need to be the guide, the local who appears to know what I’m doing, at ease in the vast snowy wilderness. So c’mon my Minnesota brethren, help me out.
(Photo:  Lars Hammer – Flickr)