It was a bittersweet weekend at Lost Island Lake last weekend. We closed up the cabin we call ‘home’ so many weekends in the summer. We boarded up the porch (to prevent snow drifts from causing problems), cleaned out the cupboards, and said our final goodbyes to summer fun. We were left with memories of warm sand between our toes, beautiful lake views, gooey toasted marshmallows, and Sunday morning pancakes.
We are very blessed to have Lost Island Lake a part of our lives. This lake has been a part of my husband’s family for generations and has become a special place for our girls. My husband’s grandma owns the cabin she and her late husband (a carpenter by trade) built on the lake years ago, and while she doesn’t live in the cabin during the summer like she use to, she enjoys watching a new generation of little ones swim, play, and love the lake just as much as she always has. Although the lake has only been a part of my life since we were married, it has become a home-away-from-home for me too.
Lost Island Lake is beautiful. It is larger than what most think and is great for swimming, boating, and fishing if you enjoy those types of things. I love relaxing near the lake and listening to the water lap up onto the beach. The water shimmers in the sun and is clear most of the summer. We look forward to watching schools of baby bullhead swim near the shore and seeing turtles sun themselves on the underside of the neighbor’s dock. The beach outside our door allows for hour upon hour of good old-fashioned fun. The girls build sandcastles, bury their feet in the wet sand, and dig huge holes looking for treasures.
The girls have learned to swim in Lost Island Lake. We dipped their tiny baby toes in the lake when they were just a few months old, and now they splash and float like big kids. The girls tubed for the first time this summer thanks to a neighbor allowing us to use their boat and tube. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them smile or laugh as much as they did when they were behind the boat on the tube!
There are activities for all four seasons at Lost Island. Our family primarily enjoys summer and early fall at the lake. We find ourselves doing other things in other parts of Iowa during the winder and spring. Our girls miss the lake though (I think we all do) during the rest of the year. Before the girls understood the changing seasons, they use to beg us in the dead of winter to go to the lake so they could play in the sand. One year, we made a trip to the cabin in the winter months just to prove that the lake and beach were covered with ice and snow!
We also enjoy the community surrounding the lake. Ruthven/Lost Island Lake, although small, have a lot to offer. Here are some of our favorite things to explore:
Huston County Park is located north of Ruthven by Lost Island Lake and provides walking trails, a campground, picnic areas, a boat ramp, docks, and a public swimming beach. The area is beautiful. We look forward to exploring the area and walking on the trails. On one adventure, wild turkeys crossed the path just a few yards ahead of us. It was a super great way to explore nature.
The Lost Island Nature Center is our favorite part of the park. It includes a wetland diorama, indoor bee hive, aquarium with native fish and turtles, and several hands on displays. The Lost Island Nature Center hosts many activities throughout the year for families. We love the Saturday in the Park event held each June. Be sure to check them out on Facebook to stay up to date on all upcoming events.
Centennial Park, Ruthven’s city park, is a great place to play for people of all ages. The park is near the city pool and includes playground equipment, basketball court, sand volleyball court, and shelter house with picnic tables. When we need a change of scenery, the park provides a different kind of fun.
Ruthven/Lost Island’s annual Bully Bullhead Weekend celebrates the community and the lake way of life. Our family attended the three day celebration for the first time this summer and had a great time. You can read about our adventure here.
4. Pancakes at the American Legion
Here’s a little secret about me: I’ve never really liked pancakes. The pancakes the the Ruthven American Legion are an exception! During the summer months, the Legion flips hot cakes on the first and third Sunday of each month. Additional Sundays are added for holidays or special events, so if you are in the area, keep an eye out for signs around town and the lake. Don’t make any other breakfast plans those mornings, and be sure you support the legion and a new found pancake addiction! Don’t worry if you missed them this summer, the Legion continues the pancake tradition on the third Sunday of each month during non-summer months. In addition to mouth-watering pancakes, you’ll also be treated to two eggs cooked to order (they are seriously cracked right there), and sausage links all for a free-will donation. I don’t know what makes those pancakes so special, but I do know I may be changing my mind about pancakes.
There is so much to do in this small corner of Iowa, but if you crave more shopping, gambling, or more restaurants, the towns of Spencer and Emmetsburg are a both a mere 15 minutes away. The Iowa Great Lakes are within a 30 minute drive as well. But, you may just find that Lost Island Lake gives you the break you need from your regular work/life routine.
Lost Island Lake is a great place to spend a weekend, a week, or an entire summer. If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to a cabin like we are, check out one of the rental properties, resorts, or campgrounds around the lake here. There is something for everyone! I am fairly certain that if you make one trip to this beautiful area of Iowa, you’ll be back again!
While we packed up last weekend, we couldn’t help but enjoy the sparkling water and changing leaves. We savored the tranquility the fall weekend offered and made sure we got sand between our toes one last time!
Goodbye, Lost Island Lake; see you next summer!