My Happy Place


The cabin. My happy place. My wife’s favorite place is Disneyland so I describe the cabin as my Disneyland.

The cabin is located on Hood Canal in Washington State. Its front yard is a rocky beach sprinkled with clusters of oysters. The backyard is a temperate rainforest with a creek that passes next to the cabin.

The cabin is off the grid. No electricity. An outhouse. Running water is collected from a creek. A wood burning stove provides heat. Propane runs a refrigerator and water heater. You can reach the cabin by boat from a marina a mile away. Or, you can drive in on logging roads, park a half mile above the cabin, and hike down.

My grandparents bought this piece of property when I was in elementary school. They fixed it up with the help of my dad and my uncles. I visited this place several times a year as a kid with Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Dad, and my sister. We caught crabs, shrimp, cut-throat trout, and salmon from the canal. We ate clams and oysters off the beach. Sometimes, I brought a friend from school.

One of the reasons I love the cabin so much is because it is a collection of memories of my family. I remember staying a week with Grandpa one summer break and taking his boat to the marina once or twice to shower because the cabin didn’t have one yet. I remember him teaching me the names of all the plants and animals on hikes. I remember Grandma cooking way too much spaghetti on the antique stove. She always kept a bowl overflowing with candy on the counter. I remember Dad water skiing. I remember him hiking the beach, somehow always at low tide, to unload his overpacked old boat for the weekend trip. I remember my sister and I putting on wetsuits and swimming in the canal. I remember her standing alone on the beach in the dark with a lantern to help guide me in through the dense fog and thick darkness covering the canal at midnight. I remember Mom windsurfing across the canal. I remember her lying on a bamboo mat on a gravely spot on the beach, using cocoa butter for sunscreen, and reading romance books while she sunbathed.

Nowadays, my heart aches to remake all these wonderful memories with my wife and daughter. Especially since Mom passed away. My daughter, wife, and I enjoy taking trips to the cabin, too. My daughter loves to hike to “Big Rock” (it is what it sounds like), eat marshmallows roasted over the fire, and swim. On warm days, she would be happy to spend all day floating in her life jacket in the saltwater. My wife enjoys raking for clams on the beach, taking pictures with her fancy camera, taking a nap, and playing games in the cabin. I have a new understanding for how much stuff my dad packed from the boat to the cabin at low tide, being the dad in this situation now. Thanks Dad!

I love to write. This place would be the best writing spot around. Yet, I never write at the cabin. When I visit, I’m there with family or friends. I will usually bring a journal just in case I get an idea, but it always stays in the bottom of my backpack because I want to soak up every cabin-moment. I envision myself coming to the cabin alone with the purpose to write, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s the cabin after all.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for your generosity, support, and your never-ending heart to share this place with our family. Having the cabin in my life has made me into the man I am today.

What’s your happy place? I’d love for you to share in the comments.



6 thoughts on “My Happy Place

  1. James this made my heart so happy. Having all those memories in our hearts are amazing , especially living so fare away now. The Cbin is definitely my happy place also. A place to go and have fun or just get away and relaxe. Plus having so many memories of mom, dad grandma grandpa and you. And having new memories with my own kids. The cabin is a place I miss so much

  2. I LOVE this, James! You captured such a sweet, tender feeling and invited your readers to experience this special place with you. So well written. May I write a “happy place” blog post, linking the inspiration to this one?

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