For many Minnesotans, heading Up North is a way of life—a tradition carried down from generation to generation. Year after year, families from all over Minnesota travel to their favorite resort or family cabin to make memories. It’s so engrained in us that Up North is more than a direction, it’s a state of mind. These summer vacations shape who we are, and for some, it changes their lives.
It was 1975 when Quinn Carlson and Kevin Stull met. Not that they remember; they were just infants. Their parents Larry and Linda Stull and Dave and Jill Carlson had already been coming to Bay View Lodge the same week (on Rush Lake, which is part of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes in Crosslake, MN) for decades and were friends. “Bay View provided the opportunity for us to grow up together, if only for a week a year,” Kevin affectionately said.
Each year when Quinn and Kevin saw each other, it was like no time had passed. They picked up where the previous year left off and enjoyed the resort camaraderie: volleyball games, swimming, tubing, campfires, and potlucks. Kids and adults of all ages would hang out at the campfire, sometimes until the sun came up. “The kids would swim out to the floating dock and tell each other scary stories. We’d be so scared to jump back into the dark water and swim to shore that we would swim as fast as we could and run out of the water,” Quinn reminisces.
As Quinn and Kevin got a little older, they became each other’s summer crush. “She was the only girl my age who wasn’t family, and she made me nervous. She was beautiful and intimidating. We would play volleyball after dinner, and she was really good,” Kevin amuses. “Kevin is a good storyteller and has the type of personality that attracts people to him. I had a crush on him when I was 15 and he was 16,” Quinn remembers. “It started off for the week we were at Bay View and grew from there.”
Knowing each other’s families and growing up together made it feel natural. “Being accepted by Quinn’s family made me more comfortable to get closer to her,” Kevin reflects.
As the years passed and Kevin and Quinn went off to college, they stayed in touch through their Bay View connection. “There was a day that we were talking on the phone, and I asked why we never dated. He told me because I was in North Dakota and he was in Minnesota, otherwise he would,” Quinn recalls. “It was in that moment that I decided to move back to Minnesota after I graduated. I graduated December [right before Christmas], and our first date was Christmas Day (night) in 1998.” Quinn and were engaged in 2001 and married in 2003. Now, they continue their tradition of spending a week at the resort with their two children, Leland, 13, and Makena, 11, along with their extended families.
Like Quinn and Kevin, Adam Williams has been coming to Bay View Lodge since he was a kid in the 80s. His dad, Steve Williams, started coming to Bay View as a teenager. He shared in the same activities with Quinn and Kevin—spending time with friends and family year-after-year. “Bay View has a special place in my heart,” said Adam. “It’s been a constant in my life and a place to get away and enjoy.”
When Adam met his fiancée, Nikki, the traditions at Bay View were one of the first things that they talked about. Nikki enjoyed hearing about his family’s vacations Up North. As their relationship grew, Adam began to think of proposing. After talking with his dad, Adam realized that Bay View was the perfect place to propose. They talked about the date and time of day, so everything would be perfect.
On a sunny summer day at his favorite spot overlooking Rush Lake, Adam got on one knee and asked Nikki to marry him. Friends and family watched from their decks and cheered when she said yes. “My family means a lot to me, especially my dad, and for them to be there for this big moment in my life was incredible,” Adam said. “I was shocked and was not expecting to get engaged at the cabin,” Nikki said. “I thought that it was really cool that he wanted to share a place [Bay View] that means a lot to him, which now means a lot to me.”
Bay View is a sacred place for the Dorn, Stull, and Williams families. They’ve been vacationing at the same resort for over 60 years. And most of us—if we’re lucky—have a similar Up North place that when we think of it, waves of nostalgia wash over us. A place we go every year without question. A place that becomes a part of who we are.
“One of the things that I love most about Bay View Lodge is that now our kids get to experience the same things at the cabin that we experienced. When we’re at Bay View, it doesn’t matter what family you belong to or what age you are, everyone hangs out,” Quinn said.
“The friendships made over the years are treasures that we wouldn’t have without Bay View,” Kevin agreed.
Kevin’s dad, Larry, said it best: “Life changes to come here. It’s just something that we don’t miss.”