For CLT member Dave Marut, the original Northwoods inspiration came at Boot Lake in northwestern Wisconsin.
The trek from Aurora, Illinois, through Madison (even then always under construction), Black River Falls (where my love for club sandwiches began), Augusta, Osseo, Cadott (Halfway Point Between the Equator and The North Pole!) and past the dummies at Flater's Resort before finally heading down Rustic Road County D toward the Blue Hills built the excitement to a crescendo. The final stretch down Sawdust Road and the sign that had all the lake owners' names on it, and then past Lake Pulaski and Winter's Tavern (the old one, not the metal pole barn that replaced it after the fire) could give me goosebumps. And then finally, at the end of a long two-track driveway lined with blackberries, the most perfect cabin in the world sat waiting, just as it always had.
With the screen door slamming behind us, we would enter the tiny kitchen surely looking a little worn from the 350 mile trip. Grandma almost certainly would have spaghetti at the ready (her "go-to" dish) and there would be hugs followed by stowing our meager luggage into the crannies of the small cabin. The adults would have conversations about traffic and the five-hour drive, but my journey would not be complete until that first trip to the shoreline where Kristen once found a real live arrowhead. I would scramble out the back porch and down Tick Lane, mostly oblivious to the relentless hum of mosquitoes and horseflies. From the sandy beach, the world looked endless.
Even now, more than three decades later, my dreams of Boot Lake are more like archetypal memory. Those dreams are the reason there is a CLT.