Lake Iwannachokeya more commonly known as Okoboji
There is this special little place in Iowa where my family has been going since...well forever. It's a place where I learned to love every water sport, where I sported every sunburn, and where I won every SkipBo game I was ever challenged to... That place is Okoboji, Iowa.
I suffered my entire childhood trying to explain to my friends where on God's green earth Okoboji, Iowa was and why it was a cool place.
Okoboji has it's own culture. If you so happen to see another human being with a Lake Okoboji sweatshirt or Barefoot Bar attire on, it is as if your nine year old self had just spotted a member of N'Sync. The excitement from both parties is overwhelming. You are so used to people saying "Bless you" when you tell them your travel destination for the summer, so when you find another person that just "gets it", you have made an instant friend.
Okoboji just forces you to appreciate things more. Things like an eight hour car ride with your two (and then three) younger siblings sitting inches from you, arguing over whether to watch Uncle Buck (for the 2,000 time) or Billy Madison (really inappropriate for 9-5 year olds). It also makes you appreciate stopping in La Crosse for the one and only time dad will stop to allow you to go to the bathroom with the threat that "You better not make me stop this car again", since the extra 4.5 minutes added to the trip pushes this family fun right over the edge. The car ride truly teaches you endurance. You know that at the end of this car ride is beef jerky from Forbes butcher, the sun, jet skis, 4 wheelers, and kittens at quite possibly the coolest barn converted boutique (sort of) next door.
Then there came a time when we all got busy. There were high school activities, jobs, college, etc. It was hard to make the eight hour trek every year. It was rare for there to be a year where all of us got up there at once. Finally, this year we were able to make it back, this time with an even bigger posse. On the way up there, my sister Jade and I were reminiscing about all of the stuff we used to do as kids up at the lake: the near death experiences on the wooden roller coaster at Arnold's Park, go kart racing, spending every dime we had on useless souvenirs at the Emporium, pooling our money together for SnoCones that were NEVER equally shared. When we pulled onto Highway 71, I felt like I was eight years old again. I couldn't wait to get back to a place that forces me to live a full life. A place that encourages me to eat salt water taffy, that counts getting in the lake the same as taking a shower, that judges the quality of the day by the depth of my tan (sunburn) and the dirt on my feet, and a place where mornings consist of gas station coffee and a book on the porch.