In 2012 we moved to Seattle, WA when Bobby was offered a job at Amazon. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse and we packed up ourselves and our Golden Retriever, Latigo, and drove the 1,600 miles to the Pacific Northwest. At the time we were childless and relatively care-free.

While living in Washington we completely immersed ourselves into the outdoor recreation scene that flourishes so vibrantly in the Pacific Northwest. With a plethora of ecosystems, a variety of recreational opportunities, and an ever-growing group of remarkable like-minded friends we adored living there. Our weeks were spent in the heart of downtown Seattle, both living and working, while our weekends were spent adventure-seeking in the mountains. We tried everything from rock climbing to white water rafting to mountain biking to backpacking, camping, and hiking.

Mt Pilchuck, WA

After we welcomed our son, Jack, in 2014, we immediately began to long for the deep roots that having family close by offers. We had developed amazing and deep friendships with an extraordinary group of people in WA and I still refer to them as my, “Friend Family”.

Jack and Wendy at Garabaldi Lake, BC

However, not even those relationships could fill in the gap left by the lack of nearby Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins.

When Jack was 7 months old we packed everything up again and made the journey back to MN and our newly purchased home in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. We are steadily approaching our two year anniversary of being back here in the land of 10,000 lakes. We moved in the dead of winter but our house was lit, warm, and filled with our large immediate family ready and waiting to help us unload our massive moving truck.

Over the last two years we have continued to live as adventurous of a lifestyle as we had grown accustomed to while living in Washington. But, it’s different. Different in almost every way possible. Mountains are scarce. We have a toddler and a newborn baby along with us now. We are discovering the remarkable and beautiful opportunities for outdoor recreation that the Midwest has to offer. AND, often times our family is along with us on our adventures.

When we decided to take the plunge and head into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) for the first time we called my sister, Katie, who immediately jumped at the chance to join us and help us.

Jack and Aunt Katie in the BWCA

When we wanted to tour the southern shore of Lake Superior in a camper my parents happily came along, giving us a ton of help and even a kid-free hiking date along the way.

Jack and Grandpa Bud on Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands, WI

Bobby’s parents joined us, too. It was his Mom’s¬†first camping trip in 20 years and her first trip to the BWCA.

Three Generations of Paddlers

Jack and Rowan will grow up adventuring on multi-generational trips, something I find incredibly remarkable. They are growing up with cousins by their side and aunts, uncles, and grandparents coming over for a visit, a party, a playdate. The childhood they will have amongst this truly incredible family we have is beyond blessed.

This last week has been…hard, just doesn’t seem to cover all of it in all honesty. A stomach virus made it’s way through our house and it was a doozy. Long-lasting and butt-kicking. But, our family was there. There to help. There to talk to. There to listen. Bobby’s parents spent a day with us helping. My parents took the kids and I in when it hit Bobby over the weekend. They were just there. No questions asked. No thanks needed. No strings attached. No guilt. Just there.

Jack and Grandpa Bud in Duluth

It’s easy to question why do we live in Minnesota? It’s cold. The winter is long. The summers are hot, humid, and mosquito and tick infested. And then we remember. We remember the support, the love, the free babysitting, the magical childhood Jack and Rowan are getting. And so, we endure the cold. We sweat through the humidity. We scratch our way through mosquito-filled air. We check for ticks. And we enjoy the remarkable beauty that abounds in this state through all four seasons. The beauty found in the distant Northwoods, in the nearby Nature Centers, in the city parks around the corner. We have learned over the last two years that adventure can be found wherever you look for it. We are so grateful we are here.

Jack and Grandpa Mike in the BWCA

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About the author


I am the youngest of six daughters and spent my childhood vacations camping in the beautiful State Parks of MN. In 2009 I married my best friend, Bobby Marko. We have embarked on numerous adventures along with our Golden Retriever, Latigo, our son, Jack (born 7/26/2014) and our daughter, Rowan (born 10/25/2016). When not adventuring in the great outdoors I spend my time as a stay at home mom and volunteer. I am a Branch Lead for the Twin Cities Hike it Baby branch. My favorite pastimes include dog training, eating chocolate, reading mysteries and crappy romance novels, and creating paper crafts, my passion lies in writing.

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