By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Linda Ertl has enjoyed several quilting retreat weekends in the past few years, many of them at a popular location in Alexandria. The last time she arrived there she was told it would be her last stay.
“They were closing. I wondered where I would go,” she said.
Weeks later, at the end of a rough day at work and with thoughts of a calm retreat in her mind, she told her husband, Chuck, that she was going to buy a house and open her own retreat.
He heard her.
At breakfast soon after, he was looking through the paper for nearby open houses, and Ertl was pleasantly surprised.
“We spent the weekend looking around at open houses,” she said. “He took me seriously.”
It wasn’t until two Saturdays later, when Ertl wasn’t home, that her husband spotted an open house ad at 1:40 p.m. for an event which ended at 2:30 p.m. He rushed over and found what is now known as Avon’s Lakeside Craft Retreat.
The house was built on 1.3 acres by area contractor Jim Sand in 1985, with thick walls and deep windows. It had been on the market for about six years.
“It was perfect; our home is paid for, and we had a good down payment,” Ertl said.
The Ertls rolled up their sleeves for some cleaning and remodeling. Each of the five bedrooms was painted. The ground floor bathroom was gutted.
When it came to decorating, Ertl called the owner of the soon-to-be-closed retreat center in Alexandria and asked about the furnishings.
“She quoted me a price, and it was too good to pass up,” Ertl said.
Ertl got five twin beds as part of the furnishings package, and bought six more twins and one full bed. She found a dining set the right size, and stocked the kitchen cupboards with dishes, kettles, appliances, cooking utensils and an extra coffee pot.
The three-season porch overlooking Upper Spunk Lake was filled this spring with a half-price set of furniture reduced from last season.
There is a bedroom with two twin beds on the main floor with a three-quarter bath across the hall. Upstairs are four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The former two-car garage was transformed into a brightly-lit craft room stocked with supplies for quilting and scrapbooking. There is a large refrigerator in the room and a large-screen TV.
The fireplace with access to both the living room and dining room has a gas insert. There is a fire pit near the lake and a dock.
The center is licensed for 12 people to stay overnight, with eight cars allowed in the driveway.
Bed linens and towels are provided.
An open house was held over deer hunting season opener in November 2012, with the first booking the following weekend.
A group of four friends from Becker and Elk River recently spent a scrapbooking weekend at the retreat.
“It’s our time to catch up with everyone,” said Cindy Karey. “We try new recipes, talk, sleep, make cards and just be friends.”
“We laugh a lot,” said Mary Strack.
The group heard about the retreat by “word of mouth in the scrapbooking world,” Karey said.
A group of siblings aged 62 – 84 will be gathering for a weekend in July, near the time of their late dad’s birthday.
Ertl and her craft group, which includes her mother-in-law, spent a few weekdays at the retreat, just relaxing. The Ertl family will be coming together for a family reunion in July.
“It’s nice to sit out on the porch with a cup of coffee, maybe put a puzzle together,” she said.
The main floor bathroom also opens onto the porch, which makes for easy access while spending time outside.
Ertl’s husband has continued to be an active supporter of the retreat.
“He promotes this more than I do sometimes,” she said.
The fee for Friday through Sunday is $600 for up to five people. Each additional person is $100 for the weekend. Extra days can be added to the weekend for $40 per person.
For more information, call (320) 363-4944 or visit www.avonslakesidecraft