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Time to Live Your Dream

Neil Johnson, Marketing, Northview Bank

Recently my wife, Lora, and I were asked to share our story about building on the old Boy Scout camp that we purchased back in 2005 with a loan from Northview Bank. We told the story to a group of about twenty people. Many listened with their mouths agape as we recounted the struggles.

Our story is one of many highs and lows, but through it all we never lost sight of our dream. For us that dream entailed eventually building a place that would become our home.

When we first bought our property we moved a thirty-two foot camper trailer up to the land and used it mainly on weekends. We went fishing, hunting, berry-picking, hiking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, etc. In short it was a place of recreation. The years flew by. We started with just two kids and our oldest was only four. We added our first girl later that same year. The kids kept coming and my ever-patient and beautiful wife would go out fishing in a too-small boat with a passel of kids and tend to their needs while I baited hooks and put fish on the stringer. The magical days of summer and fall would pass and the years flew by.

In 2011 we finally broke ground on our home. We moved up that summer with six kids to live in that same thirty-two foot camper trailer and everything got started late, but we were able to get the shell up by the beginning of January 2012. We spent that winter renting a cabin on a neighboring lake (Praise The Lord for seasonal residents!). I spent that year finishing my second book along with promoting my wife’s and my books and photography. Of course, I would also get what I could done on the house while we summered in the camper trailer again. That fall we moved back to the neighboring cabin and worked over the winter to do siding, windows, plumbing, electrical, insulation, etc. We also welcomed our seventh kid into the world on March 26th. When spring of 2013 came I moved back to the camper but my family moved down south to the Twin Cities while I finished up on the house. To put it frankly, it was one of the toughest times of my life, but I soldiered. I continued to speak on resort history and promote our books and photography. We also managed to get the house to a point where we could move in at the beginning of November.

We did not have our full heating system in and we ran off generator power or none at all, but we were in. Over the last couple of years we were able to put in an amazingly efficient heating system, a full off-grid electrical system (once you go off-the-grid, you’ll never go back), and a number of other amenities. That being said, the home still isn’t finished, but we are no longer fighting the TC traffic, we can walk right out our door to hunt, and our boat is waiting at the water’s edge.

Truth be told, I would never want to go through it again but I would also never want to go back to living the way we did before. I heard once that if every objection must first be overcome, nothing would ever get started. How true that is. If we hadn’t bought and built our dream it would still be January of 2017 and we’d still just be wishing and hoping, instead we are living the dream we desired.

People always wonder if it’s the right time (interest rates, home prices, etc.) but if you have the resources the right time is now. Because, if not now, when? Beginning truly is half done and too many people never start and as a result live lives of regret.