I had an opportunity to visit a summer cottage several weeks ago that was far more appealing on the inside than the outside. The property is situated very close to a river with gorgeous views of the countryside. Since it is in the country, there is a private well, a septic system, electric and cable provided. The more I looked the more I realized the the owners got it right when they built the cottage. They said they were tired of taking vacations and dealing with the hassles of travel and trying to find clean and safe places to stay. Their reasons for taking vacations were based on needing to get away and relax. It really didn’t really exist for them because of all the uncertainties they were faced with each time they started planning their next vacation. After coming back from their last vacation which was filled with all the travel and accommodation nightmares, they had a long talk and decided to take a different step in creating comfort and relaxation without traveling so far away from home. They found a piece of land about 30 minutes driving time from Mason City that filled all their expectations as far as close proximity to their work. They purchased the land for a reasonable price, went to the drawing board and created a small 2 bedroom cottage with all the basics yet centered around comfort and durability. After that, they started getting their financials prepared for what they thought would be a great drain on their assets. With the help of one of the estimators at a local lumber yard, they were able to get a material package that fit their budget. Well, about 2 years later they were spending their entire summers in the cottage and going there sometimes on the weekends to spend cozy winter evenings in front of the hand built stone fireplace. The one comment that came from them that has stuck with me is that until they realized that they could create their own dream vacation home here in North Iowa, they never really relaxed and enjoyed nature to its fullest. As a final note, they both look at least 10 years younger than they really are. Nature does have a way of keeping people young.