A Family Tradition


In 1994 my Grandpa John wanted to start a tradition that involved our family vacationing together each year.  Up to that point, we had smaller family vacations to places like Omaha, St. Louis, and the Black Hills.  (I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I recall.)

So in June 1994 we rented a cabin at Fillenwarth Beach in Okoboji, Iowa.  It was around an hour to an hour and a half drive from Storm Lake.  It wasn’t exotic, but it was far enough away to escape the day to day.  I don’t recall much of the first year, but I do remember having to sleep on the floor of a very small cabin – basically side to side with all my cousins.  It was awesome.

Sadly, that October, my grandpa fell ill from a heart condition and was not able to recover.  He passed away shortly after and although that was one of the roughest parts of my life, I look back on each vacation since and feel extremely proud that 23 years later we are still continuing what he started.  Love you grandpa.

We only spent one year in the cabin off the lake, and the following year we moved to a lake front cabin just down the street… still sleeping side by side on the floor.  By the 19th year of our vacation we had grown to enough grandparents, parents, and children that we were renting three cabins to support our group.  We started looking at other options at Fillenwarth and found a single lake side cabin that would fit the entire group.  The cabin was close to Arnold Park, has a fenced in backyard, and a private dock.  After a year of trying to get in, we got it!

Okoboji has morphed over the last 23 years from being a brand new experience, to the same old stuff every year, to now experiencing the excitement through the eye’s of you kids. We’ve had no boat, and then three different boats, and no boats again.  We’ve spent some years on the lake 10 hours a day, and others where Nana and Papa couldn’t get us lazy teenagers out of the cabin. Now, we spend our entire vacation running around with you three and your cousins making some of the best memories so far.

This year we frequented Arnold Park, the Indoor Pool, the Barefoot Bar, Miniature Golf, Go-Karts, and the frozen yogurt store.  Some of the better photos of this year are below.

How does this apply to our adventure abroad…well each year we will be taking our home leave trip in the summer so that we can continue to participate in this awesome tradition…and set the record for most distant travellers to stay at Fillenwarth Beach.


Mom & Dad

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