Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Resort 1987

In the Fall of 1986 we were really restless, although we liked living “in town” we didn’t feel it was the best place to raise teenagers. We lived in Moorhead back then and Far Guy worked in Fargo for the North Dakota Air National Guard and was often gone TDY (Temporary Duty).  Our house was small a two bedroom one bath with a huge yard.

We began to look at properties outside of town…rural properties. The girls were 11 and 14.  Trica wanted a horse so country life would be a plus for her, Jennifer just wanted to live in town forever and go to the local 7-11/Stop n Go Store every day.

One day we got a phone call with an interesting offer.  Would we be interested in buying an old resort that had been struck by a tornado and was in total disrepair?  My parents owned a resort on the same lake and were not interested.  Oh my, it sounded good and the price was right.   We knew the people from Indiana that had a mechanics lien on the property…they just wanted their original loan amount back…if we didn’t want the resort they wouldn’t pursue the Quit Claim process. After a few minutes of discussion we said “yes.”

One day in the summer of 1987 we sat in the Lawyer’s Office to finalize the papers for the sale.  The Attorney asked Koons and Elsie if they were sure that they wanted to sell the property that they had acquired the day before for the same amount that they had tied up in it ….I guess it seemed too good to be true to the lawyer.  And possibly a little strange as our house had not sold yet so the bulk of the down payment was in the form of an IOU when the house sold. The lawyer asked again if they were sure, he said “Their home may never sell.”  Koons and Elsie said “Well it is a nice home, sooner or later someone will buy it.”

The house sold two months later.  We needed those two months to do repairs.

The first day we went to the resort, Jennifer was stung by a couple of wasps.  We had to break into one of the cottages through a window so we would have a place to clean up and sleep overnight.  Water had to be carried in and there were several outhouses.

The first morning we were there Trica came out of the cottage and asked “Where is this out house?”  we pointed the way.  She walked down the road to the outhouse opened the door and peered inside…she closed the door and walked back to the cottage to wake up her little sister to accompany her.
House at the resort 1987 copy
July 27 1987  The house on the right…painted three different colors of green…the Fish Cleaning House is straight ahead. There were trees from the tornado laying all over the place.
By Cedar and the outhouses 1987 copy
We had two Shetland Sheepdogs  “Shelties” back then Misty and Moses. Misty is down by the end of that log and Moses is running to meet her.   They would discover that fish washed up on shore were wonderful to roll in. In this photo is a cottage on the left, the old shower house/bath house and two outhouses.
July 27 1987 copy
It was a few days until we could have the power company come out and get us some electricity.
Gene and Marvin July 1987 Resort copy
Far Guy and his Dad having a lunch break.  The resort gave Marvin something to do in his retirement, there was always something that needed fixing or a granddaughter that needed a ride home after a school activity.

Getting water was the worst…the resort sat vacant for a number of years.  Mice had fallen in the well and had to be fished out…not a job for the weak stomached.  Once the sand point was pulled up, replaced and the mice removed, the well was sanitized and tested so that we knew the water was drinkable.

Once we had water the next step was getting rid of sewage…the resort had a lift station that lifted the sewage to a drain field…my other baby brother and Far Guy took on that crappy job.

Having electricity, water and sewer were a big start to making the place livable.  My Mother told us that the house was so bad it should be bulldozed down…yet we managed to live there for nine years.  Lots of elbow grease and some paint made a big difference.

Far Guy would commute 180 miles round trip for nine years.   He would go through two cars.  The girls would adjust to country/lake living…although the adjustments are never easy when you move to a new house and a new school.  The resort would not officially open until the summer of 1988.
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  1. What an interesting story. I think it's fantastic that you rescued the place, even though it must have been an incredible amount of work. I'm wondering, is it still a working resort?

    1. It was for awhile, then in about 2004 all the cottages were sold and moved off the lake and one log home was built there and an elderly fellow lives there alone with Snoopy his dog:)

  2. Wow, I've heard of "fixer uppers" but that place seems like a "doozy". I am so happy you finally got it the way you wanted and the fact that you lived there for nine years says a lot about all your hard work. Thanks for sharing this fantastic story today.

  3. Wow, that had to of been pretty daunting at the time. I commend you for doing it.

  4. That is an amazing commute. I'm learning how resilient and tenacious you are! As if I didn't already have a good idea. :-)

  5. I suspected that you and Far Guy were hard workers, but my goodness what an undertaking!

  6. What a challenge and what an adventure!

  7. You really stepped out for this one! Talk about a brave adventure, and so much work. Not for the faint of heart for sure. Thanks for your story.

  8. It sounds to me like you and Far Guy have always done the impossible!

    Shirley H.

  9. Wow - what a great story! I'm sure it was a wonderful place to live and raise children.

  10. Sounds like it was meant to be. You and FarGuy were probably the only people who would have taken that project on. Talk about sweat equity! But it looks like a beautiful spot! :)

  11. Oh to be young and so energetic! I don't think many would have taken that on. I would have been worried about a tornado hitting again. Makes me think of all the work we had to do here when we moved in 30 years ago, but it was nothing compared to what you did. But, I'd love to have that youthful energy back.
    What a great place for your family to live:) Did Trica get her horse?:)

  12. Quite the challenge and risk but you all made it work . I feel sorry for some of these run down places in the country that I still see they have potential but no one wants or can afford to sink time or money into and bring them back to life ! Great post photos and story ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

  13. Whatever decision we make we win some and lose some. You got a good deal but the cost in effort was high. I'll bet you look back on this as one of the est parts of your life!

  14. What a huge committment. And FG's commute! Yikes! I!m guessing there are a ton of good memories, though. Beautiful spot.

  15. What an amazing story of perseverance and hard work! As Linda Kay put it.... not for the faint of heart.

  16. Wow! What an adventure and what a lot of hard work! I would have gone for it too. An amazing opportunity and it looks like you really made it pay off! I love 'diamonds in the rough" but not sure I have the energy to take on too much anymore but I've fixed up a lot of "fixer uppers" in my day. Congratulations to all of you!

  17. Thats a heck of a commute!

    Bet he wouldnt have traded it for anything.

  18. Thank you for sharing this. What an adventure it must have been. Looking forward to reading the rest of the story

  19. So glad you shared I know why I think you're a tenacious woman...because you had to be.

  20. This story says so much about who you are. Wow. what an undertaking!

  21. What a neat story. To think of all the work you two must have done.

  22. I had Aunts and Uncles that use to go up to the north country near Park Rapids and stay in the old log cabins, outhouses and bears were always in their stories. When the place redeveloped the place they wondered how they survived the minimal conditions. My late wife's family introduced me to cabin life. The problems continued for the owners with wells going dry or sewer tanks not being emptied often enough. The smell of the fish house is one of my favorites. I think you were young and brave and I bet it did pay off once you got it all in working. order.


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie