Mandan News

The end of summer is hard to accept

I’ve now closed up the cabin that my dad bought back in 1966 forty seven times…it’s a melancholy affair that causes a gloomy state of mind.

I arrived at the cabin before noon on 11/9 this year, the temp outside was in the low 30’s and the temp inside the cabin wasn’t much higher. I opened the door, kicked on the wall heater and all the other heating devices and wondered where I should start so I took a tour noting what had to be done.
Both my loyal readers know that on a given day there can be up to a dozen or more people enjoying life at our cabin. This crowd has a tendency to spread all sorts debris (shoes, towels, toys) that basically gets ignored until it comes time to close up.

Over the years we have learned quite a bit about closing up a cabin for the winter. For instance anything that can freeze is also likely to blow up and create a mess that won’t be discovered until spring. Bottles of water, bottles of spaghetti sauce, cans of pop, cans of beer, bottles of syrup, and any other liquid subject to freezing has blown up in a myriad of ways. So the task here is to remove these culprits and hope you find them all because if you don’t find them in the fall they will grotesquely manifest themselves in the spring.

Then there’s the water system where we have had some of our more memorable experiences. In my tenure as cabin custodian we have blown up the water pipes three times. Each time someone turned on the water in mid-winter and the system instantly froze up once the occupants left. One year the hot water heater blew up and took a wall with it. The next two times the pipes under the bathroom floor blew up causing us to remove and replace the bathroom floor (it took 7 weekends each time to fix). We have since re-routed the pipes through the ceiling in hopes that we won’t have to replace the floor again…so far so good.

Then there’s the rodent issue. Once people leave the area nature takes over and all sorts of wildlife return…in particular mice move inside. There have been occasions where the mice burrowed into mattresses causing us to trash them, years where they’ve built homes out of paper and whatever else they could find in discrete locations through-out the facility. So a small part of closing up the place involves setting traps and poison in strategic locations and if all goes well we discover their carcasses before one of our guests sits on one and such.

As well we bag all the bedding and towels and stuff in hopes that doing so will keep the vermin at bay.

Once all that’s done then we head for the fridge which not only involves figuring out what food to trash but how to defrost the dang thing without having to clean up more than just the fridge…it’s probably the rankest task of closing up and it’s rather disheartening to sort through a summer’s worth of food.

When all these chores are completed and the truck is loaded up with whatever has to come home it comes time to do the last walk around the place…and here’s where the melancholy begins to creep in.

As I did the last walk around I began to think about what a wonderful summer we all had here, and in particular I began to think about how lucky we are to have such a place and before I could stop myself the words, ‘Thanks Dad, and Thanks God’ came out my mouth. Then I wiped a tear from my eye, boarded my truck and headed home hoping that I did everything I had to do while wondering what I was gonna do until I was able to come back again…

Here’s hoping that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing gives you more smiles than frowns…

By Dan Ulmer