This cabin has and has had many names. When we purchased Sandy Point nineteen years ago, it was simply called, “Cabin #1.” It was not the first of the original five cabins built on this 40-acre site, but it was built the closest to the lake and next to a narrow inlet creek running the distance of the property and into Squaw Lake. Well, we not only gave a name to that creek (“Cozzens Creek”) we also felt Cabin #1 had so much character and unique charm that it needed a unique name.
We call it “Karibu.” This is not a misspelling of the word caribou (an antlered, elk-like animal found far to the north of these Northwoods). This is the SWAHILI word for “welcome,” and it’s pronounced ka-REE-boo. Decorated with authentic African artifacts we like to think of it as the perfect dwelling for your Northwoods safari. The word “safari,” by the way, simply means “journey” in Swahili.
After naming the cabin “Karibu,” one of the former owners visited us and told us that during his tenure as owner (1950-1970) the cabin was called “Uneeda Rest.” We believe that name was dubbed by the original owners, builders of Sandy Point, The Andersons.
We have guests, The Good Family, who we refer to as “our lumberjacks,” who call this cabin “The Fishing Cabin.” They rent several cabins from us each July (and come again in the fall to take care of our birch trees), and this summer, one of their ten children will occupy “the Fishing Cabin” while here.
WHY THE AFRICAN INFLUENCE?
For those of you who’ve read my book, I’M LIVING YOUR DREAM LIFE, you may recall that the idea for Mike and I to become innkeepers came during my first journey to Kenya. While traveling with my sister, Gayle, over a five week period we covered much of the country–from Nairobi to Mt. Kenya to Western Provence, Mombasa, the Masai Mara and through the Great Rift Valley to one of the most magical places I’ve ever been, Lake Baringo. Lake Baringo is located in the far north of the Great Rift Valley and it was a hot, dusty trek getting there. But waiting for us at the shore was a darling young couple who invited us aboard their banana boat and whisked us across the coffee-colored water to a place called “Island Camp .” Hugo and Antionette, the innkeepers, made Gayle and I feel very special and catered to all our “fancies,” including an afternoon of waterskiing. “Mind the hippos!” called Antionette as we dove into the experience. Trust me, skiing in hippo and crocodile infested waters is not something one soon forgets. Island Camp was such a special place that I never wanted to leave. (Two years later, I returned there with Mike, as well as my parents).
After leaving Island Camp on that first trip with Gayle, to my amazement, we went to another place that impressed me even more. Located in the shadow of Mt. Kenya, we were guests of the Craig family at a ranch/wild life conservancy called Lewa Downs . The Craigs were another young couple raising two small children. During our stay we slept in a beautiful, stone cottage, which was decorated with rugs handmade on the property by Kikuyu women, and took our meals at the main house, dining with the family. Daniel Craig, who explained the 45,000 acres property had been in his family since the 1920s, took us on a horseback safari and also a tour from the air on his private plane. And yes, I did feel like Meryl Streep’s version of Karen Blixen in “Out of Africa.”
Dining with the family and interacting with the young Craig children, I saw what an extraordinary life they had–and believed that having people come from all over the world to regale them with international tales and adventures provided a unique education. Innkeeping appeared to be . . . well, a dream life.
GAYLE’S FIRST VISIT TO SANDY POINT
The first time Gayle came to Sandy Point was in October, 1992, when she was back in the States for a brief visit between long-term stints in Kenya. It was during the inspection process and sale negotiation. There was no doubt that Cabin #1 was her favorite cabin. Of the five original cabins that were here when we purchased Sandy Point, it was in the best shape, which is probably the main reason why it still stands today.
Also, it’s the closest to the water. And because it’s so close to the running creek and zoning laws dictate much of what we can and can’t do around here, we are not allowed to A: tear it down and rebuild another in its place; nor B: Make improvements worth more than 50% of its assessed value.
Anyway, Gayle walked into the screen porch, looked at the view and said “Karibu!” I knew from that moment that this special cabin had a new name.
Happy Birthday Karibu. May you stand for another 75 years!