There is something really liberating about going to a resort for the weekend and having no TV or Internet access—no checking Facebook, no tweeting, no peeking at email, no channel surfing. Without the distractions of technology, my mom, my husband, and our two kids were able to enjoy quality time together during a good old-fashioned “weekend at the lake” at Dickerson’s Lake Florida Resort, located about 100 miles west of Minneapolis in Spicer.
I knew this resort was different when we were warmly greeted by resort owners Bob and Connie Dickerson upon arrival. How many resort owners take the time to personally greet their guests?
First on the agenda was a quick rundown of what was where (that dock over there is private property; that fish house back there is a community building; that water bucket outside your cabin door is for washing the sand off your feet; the hydrobikes, kayaks, and paddleboat to the left of the dock are for anyone to use, free of charge). After our Dickerson’s 101 introduction, we were encouraged to unpack and explore the resort grounds.
The first thing we “discovered” was a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen table in our cabin.
Now that’s hospitality.
After we got settled into our cozy and very clean lakeside cottage—complete with a little deck facing the lake—my two and four-year-old boys, Ben and Adam, made a beeline for the beach toys. Between the two of them, I think I heard “Mom! Look!” about a hundred times.
I was as impressed with the beach as they were. It was one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen. I even asked Connie if they had the sand shipped in from somewhere else because it seemed too pristine to be natural. “No, that sand was God’s gift to us,” she answered. “Aren’t we lucky?”
Luck is only part of the equation—Bob’s great grandpa first opened the resort over 80 years ago on beautiful Lake Florida (the only resort on the lake), and it’s been in the family ever since; but a bigger part of their success is that the Dickersons are extremely hardworking and passionate about preserving and sharing their little slice of heaven with the general public.
A lot of resort owners eventually sell off their lakeside property to buyers with the money to build million-dollar mansions on the lake, but not Bob and Connie. They take great pride in running a clean, safe, family-oriented resort and it’s evident—through the pizza parties, hayrides, campfires, and Sunday morning homemade donut “mixers”—that they love what they do and love meeting new people (I get the impression that the regulars become like extended family).
“Hey Bob!” Adam would wave when he saw Bob raking the sand or picking up twigs. “Hi Connie!” He felt so comfortable with them he would walk right up and ask what they were doing and if he could help. He even became acquainted with their cats, Simon and Sasha. It’s just that kind of family resort—everyone feels welcome (even a typically timid four-year-old).
We lucked out with gorgeous 80-degree weather during our stay and didn’t need to “go into town” for anything, although if we had stayed longer I would have liked to check out the Little Crow Waterski Show in New London and the restaurants and retail “therapy” in the nearby towns of Spicer and Willmar. I heard that the taco pizza—and patio—at Zorbaz on Green Lake is pretty phenomenal.
The boys played on the beach or swam in the lake, collected rocks, tossed a football in front of the cabin, rode the resort’s bikes and trikes (so many options, so little time), took advantage of the playground (Ben could swing for hours), fished off the dock (Adam caught 20 sunnies one evening!) and fell asleep completely exhausted every night.
The adults had fun, too. Aaron and I took the paddleboat for a leisurely spin while my mom watched the kids, and contemplated trying the complimentary kayaks or hydrobikes (maybe next time). We put the kids in the wagon and took a nice, long walk one day, enjoyed a grilled chicken dinner with a few glasses of Pinot Gris one night, sat on the deck and watched an amazing sunset, had great conversations, laughed a lot, and felt relaxed and recharged and ready to head “back to reality” once it was time to leave. I can understand why families return year after year. It’s like a little hidden time capsule.
The cabins may have changed since the resort first opened 80 years ago, and the fashion, music, and topics of discussion are radically different, but the most important elements of the resort remain the same—the beach, the lake, the simple joy of catching fish off the dock, the mesmerizing glow of orange and yellow campfire flames, the beauty of a sunset, the opportunity to truly connect with family.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but to me, that’s the best kind of vacation.