Getaway Cabins – Be Kind, Unwind
This little getaway couldn’t have come at a more welcome time. Pardon the metaphor right off the bat, but the fault line of my life has shifted, creating a new topography, new crests and valleys, what seems like a new world. And, at 39, I finally feel like I’m standing at the precipice of a business-casual adulthood. Hold your breath. Trust fall.
Willow River, MN (as opposed to Willow River State Park, which is in Wisconsin), is a town of about 500 at the wooded asterisk of I-35, County Roads 43 and 61, where the Kettle and Willow Rivers embrace. Things To Do: Squirrel Cage Bar and Motel, Moose Lake State Park, Route 61 Lounge and Bowling, something called the Bear’s Den. Nearest Walmart is over 30 miles away, and that’s pure poetry.
City life can wear on a person. It’s easy to forget who you used to be or who you used to want to be, all that prelapsarian kindergarten zeal up and gone like a frightened cat. The low-level roar of downtown, the white noise of the suburbs. This is the American Dream in action, and sometimes it’s tough to wake up.
Getaway was conceptualized for just that purpose: to getaway. Whereas the peopled world expects—nay, demands—largeness, loudness, mandatory participation in the deep-fried riot of consumerism, the mosh pit of self-promotion, Getaway quietly encourages smallness, peace, mindfulness. Once you step inside one of their thoughtfully appointed tiny cabins, you’re met with a cell phone lockbox. There is no TV. The whole concept is antithetical to Wi-Fi.
And they welcome dogs (bowls, bags and treats provided), so I’m not traveling alone.
Getaway, a health and wellness hospitality company, was founded by Jon Staff as a result of his own burnout in 2015. Each tiny house was designed with key concepts in mind—free time, slowing down, disconnecting—in an effort to encourage a healthy work/life balance. The outposts are located under two hours from major U.S. cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle, New York and others.
The sky looks like melted plastic. It’s cold. The suggestion of animal tracks left by creature so slight they barely break the surface of snow-covered fields. Deer everywhere. Then, at the end of Long Lake Road: Getaway cabins disperse like a neighborhood of minimal-futuristic pods. Each little house has a Scandinavian bent, their windows panes of honeyed light and cedar among all this electric blue. Fire pit/grill provided, with bundles of firewood available on-site for purchase.
This is not a trend. Our concept of lodging has imploded—whereas options for travelers/adventurers were previously limited to, say, hotels/hostels and campgrounds, we can now book anything from treehouses to castles to houseboats. Humans are curious creatures, and the market has finally caught on.
Punch the door code and enter. First, kitchenette with sink, soap, large and small enamel bowls/plates, cutting board, two-burner stovetop, mini fridge, all the utensils you should need, AM/FM radio, selection of books, deck of cards. This is a study in feng shui, everything neatly in its place, nothing extra, nothing compromised. The small bathroom has a toilet, towels, shower, and a first aid kit.
The highlight of these cabins is, perhaps, the glass wall giving way to views of the forest. It’s the closest thing to sitting outside. I recline on the (very comfortable) bed and stare up at the treetops, which disappear into obscurity. Then, I open Jim Harrison’s Brown Dog for the umpteenth time and crack a beer.
This is a time for reflection. I put on some soft music and relax. My head is empty, a Zen-like balloon. And since I’ve previously described the workings of my mind as like two dogs fighting, I don’t know how to feel. All the static of my life—money, dating, an encyclopedia of past mistakes, the chaos of my youth—starts to feel ephemeral, like the last ribbons of a dying song or the reverb of some passing storm.
Tomorrow I will explore the area. Banning State Park, General Andrew’s State Forest, Saint Croix State Park. Nearby Three Twenty and Moose Lake Brewing Companies.
But, tonight, I will unwind, read for a while, drink a few beers. And then I’ll sleep like a fallen tree.