We got a late start after spending our Saturday morning with Chef Harcey on the radio talking about his new restaurant Upton 43 and saying goodbye to our intern Aggie who spent the weekend at what we call “dog camp”. The drive was beautiful up through Duluth, the leaves of the trees along the highways were beginning to change to fall colors and we finished on the winding road along the Gunflint Trail as we slowly disconnected from the world with every 35 MPH blind turn and scenic overlook.
When we arrived at the cabin, it immediately stood out from the rest, but blended in and looked unassuming in it’s natural habitat. It was modern, clean and thoughtful. The structural and design elements destroyed all of our preconceived notions of what a “cabin” is (no log-like structures here), but embraced what it meant to have a reclusive getaway. No cell service, no internet, no TV. Only yourself, your natural movements, community radio and the scenery around you.
Words from the architects, VJAA:
Sited directly on Gunflint Lake and adjacent to an existing resort, the property was a barely accessible area of fallen pines and rock escarpments. The clients requested a simple retreat; enough sleeping area to accommodate fluctuations in guests; storage for canoes and outdoor gear; and a screen porch and sauna. Responding to the extreme site, the cabin pragmatically responds to the orientation, views, and access. Metal clad ICF walls and details were developed around energy efficiency, fire resistance, and the ability for two people to perform the work. The interior was finished with standard tongue and groove knotty pine.
Our first few hours at the cabin were spent adjusting to our situation. It involved a lot of pacing, snacking, as we were constantly wondering what was going on in the digital world that we were detached from. After some whiskey and wine, we acclimated and submitted to the experience.
On our first morning, we work up late (8:30am is like sleeping in for us). Large windows next to our bed looked into the dense forest surrounding the cabin and let in just enough light to act as a gentle nudge to get our day going. We were slow to make coffee, but quick to make a big breakfast of a frittata with eggs, purple potatoes, sage and goat cheese. Oh, and don’t forget the rosé champagne.
We spent the rest of the day in our corners reading books (Liz was reading My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Josef the Faviken cookbook by Magnus Nielson), sketching and working out ideas and plans for Bodega LTD without any distractions except the ones we created ourselves.
Throughout the day, we drank less and less as we became more comfortable in our solitude. We hopped in the sauna for 30 minutes (we have to train our bodies for our next visit) and began to actually enjoy the ramblings of the local community radio station hosts going chatting about local food shelf fundraisers, wild rice recipes and visibility readings for avid birdwatchers. This experience helped us realize the value in disconnecting from the world and all the great things that can come from it. We love where technology has taken us and connectivity it has fostered, but as human beings, we need time to connect with our true self and set aside the facades and perceptions we work so hard to support during the work week.
The big questions that came to our heads during this trip:
- What is actually real?
- If Instagram didn’t exist tomorrow, what would you have left to show to the world and who would you actually be?
- Are incredible, expansive experiences and true friendships the only things that are "real" in our new world?
- How can we afford a getaway like this for ourselves?
Overall, we had an amazing stay and we would highly recommend PlansMatter’s services to anyone who appreciates a unique, elevated experience that is unlike any other. The space and experience helped us recharge and find ourselves from the depth of our crazy day-to-day lives of running our business.