trees and water

There are probably as many different reasons for why we travel as there are people, but I think I know one reason, and a good one at that: maybe we travel because, sometimes, a change of landscape is all we need for a change of perspective.

Maybe by altering our geography, we alter ourselves—or, at least, try to.

purple flowers

big trees



When I was a kid, I didn’t understand why my parents liked Minocqua—a sleepy northwoods Wisconsin town that becomes a hub of tourists in summer, where people talk about fishing and camping and the local wildlife. But as an adult, I think I get it. As soon as we reach Wausau, thick forests on either side of the highway, stretching as far as you can see, something inside me begins to relax. And by the time we’re at the cabin, even if it’s past midnight on a Friday, stumbling with our bags and Bailey into the front door, it’s not just my surroundings that have changed; I have. There’s no e-mail to check, no television to watch, nobody to call. The routine—even if for less than 72 hours—becomes as simple as sleeping, eating and sitting outside on the back porch swing, listening to the wind rustling the leaves, snuggled underneath a blanket with my dog.

No guilt, no stress at all that isn’t accomplished.

Only, gracefully, rest. The kind of rest you need to remember how to take, the kind that means a nap in the afternoon just because you can.

me in the trees

And, home again, I’m going to try to keep that mentality, or at least the reminder of it, even when the world around me is no longer wide open skies, sparkling water and the freshest air you’ll find. I’m going to remember how simple things seem when you’re paddle-boating on a quiet lake as the sun sets, how unimportant daily stresses become when you’re roasting marshmallows over a bonfire in the backyard. And in that way, I guess the geography of travel is only the beginning.

ps! If you’re looking for a place to rent in Minocqua, WI, here’s a great cabin I used to go to. We’re not affiliates or being sponsored in any way by the manager, but we’re just linking over in case you want a great place.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Cate

    Beautiful post! I derinitely try and channel the relaxation of the 10 days we spent on an isolated beach in Southern Thailand whenever work gets stressful. I think weekends away to recharge are essential for mental health!

  2. jessiev

    this is lovely – the photos are so soothing, esp the lakeside one. we were just up at our cottage this past weekend, and felt some of this peacefulness.

  3. Jacqui

    gorgeous photos, shanna. how funny — i just wrote a post about how nice it is to finally get a weekend at home, but reading your post makes me want to get away again. or at least find a beautiful forest to get lost in and take pictures.

  4. Jennifer

    Your vacation spot looks poised in mellowness and is beautifully captured through your photos and sentiments. Let’s cheers to maintaining this notion of calm!

  5. Vicki

    Great photos! Good luck in your quest to rest and enjoy the moment back home. :)

  6. Kelley

    Thanks a lot for making me homesick! 😉

  7. lo

    Isn’t it funny how we lack an appreciation for certain things as children? Maybe it says something that, as adults, we feel the need to “get away.” As children, every experience is new… as adults, we need a change of pace to make us realize the miracle of the every day.

    Minocqua is a truly gorgeous place — and it looks like it’s given you a true vacation! :) Reminds me to appreciate what we have here in Wisconsin just a little bit more. Thanks!

  8. Susan

    Travel really is what you make of it. I think everybody gets something different out of every single place. Your pictures are beautiful.

  9. postcollegecook

    Just reading about your getaway was soothing :)

    Minocqua is beautiful in the winter too.

  10. TJ

    What a beautiful, restful place!

  11. Jessica

    Wow what an amazing scene. How peaceful. Great photos.

  12. maris

    Such a beautiful post! I love these photos and now I want to go to Minocqua.

  13. Shannalee

    Cate – 10 days on an isolated beach in Thailand! What a dream! I love that you’re trying to channel that memory for relaxation, and I agree we all need to get away once in a while.

    Jessie – Glad you got to get away, too! There’s really no comparison in terms of stress relief!

    Jacqui – And when I read your post, all I wanted was a Sunday afternoon at home, spending time putzing around in the kitchen!

    Thank you, Jennifer! I’ll cheers to that!

    Vicki – Thanks! It’s a daily reminder, for sure.

    Kelley – Sorry, friend! Wisconsin is wonderful in summer, isn’t it? I always forget that sometime in January.

    Lo – Interesting thoughts. I wish to have the sense of wonder I did when I was a child – I mean, I really want to find that again – but then I have to admit when I was young, Wisconsin was only boring and woods and fishing. (Shouldn’t I have loved it?!) I guess it was relaxation when I had nothing but. Maybe we always want what we don’t have, maybe we need equal rest and work, maybe I was just a spoiled kid. Either way, perspective changes everything – one of my professors used to say “Your perspective becomes your reality.” I agree!

    Susan – Exactly. We all bring so many things, want so many things, remember so many things – all different, all the same, in ways.

    PostCollegeCook – Beautiful, yes. Terrifying-beyond-belief-to-drive-through-in-a-blizzard, also yes. We definitely spent a few memorable childhood trips up to the cabin in winter, too, though less fondly. But last November we did Thanksgiving up there, and that was lovely.

    TJ – It is! I kind of miss it, to be honest.

    Jessica – Yes and thank you!

    Maris – Right? It’s so nice to get away. So. Nice.

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  15. Kate

    I adore northern Wisconsin. My husband’s family has a cabin near Tomahawk and it is just about the most relaxing place ever. Well, minus the state bird that is the ginormous mosquito. :)

  16. Shannalee

    I had to laugh at the mosquito comment, Kate, both because there are TONS of them (here and there) but also because it made me think of Minocqua postcards from my childhood, a giant mosquito enlarged on the front!

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  18. katie

    your pictures were awesome!

  19. Shannalee

    Thanks, Katie!

  20. heather

    I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, and my family would head to Minocqua every couple of years for a relaxing lakeside holiday. How I miss the serenity and beauty of those woods and waters. Looks like a truly relaxing trip! Thanks for sharing!



  21. Shannalee

    Heather, Always glad to hear about other Minocqua travelers! I feel like we shared a childhood memory now!

  22. Mom

    My very favorite time is COLORAMA !!!! The northwoods are ablaze
    with beautiful color and you can take drives through color trails. This
    year has had some drought, so we don’t know what to expect but we’re
    heading up to find out!!! Minocqua has so much to offer! To relax at the lake is just the best. I want to bake apple pies and make homemade
    carmel apples! Thank You Lord for Minocqua and FALL !!!

  23. Pingback: Nashville Food Trucks: local meets mobile in Tennessee | Food Loves Writing

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