Where my heart lives… {Southern Minnesota Photographer}

I’m going to get personal right now. I want to share with you a little piece of me. 

Most of you know I am from Michigan and I am very proud of that fact. More importantly, I call the Upper Peninsula home. It isn’t the same as the lower peninsula. It is covered in trees, smells amazing (yes I wrote smells) and you can sit on the side of the lake and hear nothing but the birds around you. 

I went home for ten days last month and it was amazing. I really took the time to enjoy myself with my kids and husband. We laid around my parent’s lake house, went blueberry picking, walked the shore of Lake Superior and just took it all in. 

But this post isn’t about my vacation as a whole. It is about the first place I called home in the U.P. 

My parents purchased Half-A-Camp in 1967 after they were married. My great aunt and uncle owned the resort across the road. It is a 10×12 room on top of a garage. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is everything to our family. 

My dad, mom, sister, brother, myself and at least one dog (sometimes guinea pigs, and other pets came along as well) would travel the 8 hours from lower Michigan to our cabin. In July we stayed for two weeks, we would go back for one more week in August as well.

My dad would drive across the Mackinac (pronounced Mack-in-naw) Bridge he would say,

“Where are we Ky?”
“Home,” I would reply. 

No toys (except for the one McDonald’s toy I acquired on the trip north), no TV, and one room. You would think it would be chaos. 

Sometimes I am sure it was, but that’s not what I remember. I remember late nights at the campfire telling stories. I remember making a playhouse out of a group of trees. Fishing, hiking, meeting new friends that were staying at the resort across the road. Hours upon hours of imagination time. It was my favorite time of the year.  

We didn’t mind that we all slept on cots in one big room. The beds lined the outside, table in the middle, counter and sink on the east side. The “bathroom” was a table with a vanity. The actual bathroom was an outhouse up the hill. Yes, we used it at night. 

The shower was a tarp wrapped around four trees with an opening on one side. We would fill up a bag with hot water in the cabin and there was a pully that pulled it up to hang high enough to wash. Of course, the girls washed their hair in the sink in the cabin first, it took way too much water by the time you got down to the shower. It was cold, most of the time buggy, but again, it was what we did. 

The cabin has lost most of it’s luster over the last 10 years. It is used maybe once or twice a summer for a few days at a time. No long stays, no big parties. 

The deck gets replaced every ten years, it is need of it yet again. I have so many plans for this little place. 

Inside the three colored rainbow still goes around the sides, it hasn’t been painted in my lifetime, I don’t think. 

There are cartoons from years ago. Every time one would remind my mother of something about us or the family, she cut it out and would tape it to the wall. There are poems about yoopers (people who live in the U.P.), funny notes, and colored pages from when I was younger. 


The stuffed horse my cousins gave me 20 years ago still hangs on the nail that would have been over my cot. 

We have since gotten rid of two cots and replaced it with my old bunk beds, so there is a full size bed on the south side for parents then two cots for kids on the other side. The pipes froze one winter when they were drained quickly enough. So, there is no water running in the sink as of right now. But that is to be fixed next summer. 

The shower hasn’t been used in a looooong time. It still stands though, just waiting to be wrapped in a tarp once again. 

Most campfires are out at my parent’s house now, where we usually stay. So the log benches have been covered with moss and rotted away. 

The outhouse still stands. It is still useable. Each year my mom cleans it out and gets in ready for the summer. 

Every since I had kids I wanted to share the cabin with them. I had dreams of passing on my love of this tiny place. This year I got the chance to. Of course, we had an iPad for entertainment, which I never had growing up. They slept well and woke up to have conversations about the posters above their heads. It made my heart swell. 

I have so many plans for this little place I will always call home. I want to take everything out and fix all the holes in the walls, repaint and put a new floor in. It needs a new deck, with treated wood to last longer. I want to take everything out from downstairs and actually finish out a room for a another sleeping space like there was once before. Oh and so much more. 

I want my kids to enjoy the cabin with their kids. I want this place to survive. 

This is home. 


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Shields Valley Montana

Kyleen Olson is a  Shields Valley Montana Wedding and Portrait Photographer that specializes in capturing the imperfect moments of life. She loves helping her clients to find the authentic moments and spending her Sundays with her family.

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