We are blessed to live in “the nation’s vacationland,” a place countless tourists visit each summer. Yet we are also often at our busiest during the summer, many working at jobs that depend on tourism.

Last week, I had the opportunity to remember to savor all the things visitors come here to enjoy while spending time with family from four different states at an area resort.

My niece, Anna, is 11 and my nephew, Finn, is 3. They are “lake children,” although they have spent their whole lives in Portland, Ore. For weeks before the trip, Finn asked daily, “Papa, when are we going to Minnesota?” and said he wanted to catch more fish.

To a 3-year-old, a year ago is a long time. To him, “Minnesota” means getting to fly on an airplane, stay up late, help Papa drive the pontoon, fish and eat s’mores by a campfire. It also means special times with his grandma, grandpa, aunties and uncles.

For Anna, Minnesota means freedom from the schedule of camps she is enrolled in the rest of the summer. Once we are at the cabin, her time is her own. After stopping at a local bookstore, she stayed up late into the night reading, finishing her first book in less than 24 hours, much like I did when I was her age. With no place to be except in the moment, she told me, “I don’t even know what day it is!”

My sister-in law, Lynh, said she prefers vacationing in Minnesota over Hawaii because you don’t feel like a tourist and it’s so peaceful and relaxing. She and my brother, Mark, enjoyed long pontoon rides on the lake and cooking with fresh produce from the local farmer’s market.

My brother, Paul, from Hawaii, enjoys being on the lake, too, and is the grill master every evening.

For my parents from Moorhead, the best part is having all of us together in one place for a week. My sister, Karen, from Moorhead, and I enjoy time playing with Finn and getting to know the person Anna is growing into, a sensitive-natured girl with a giving heart.

Living here, it is easy to become accustomed to the beauty that surrounds us: a clean lake that ripples with waves of gold at sunset, the call of a loon, the way the pontoon rocks in the wake of a passing boat, seeing the first star and making a wish, then watching embers spark and fly into the air around the campfire late into the night.

These magic moments are gifts to everyone who lives in or visits Minnesota.

Lorie Skarpness is a staff reporter with the Enterprise.