Mike Campbell

My wife, Inga, and I, along with our four-year-old daughter Andy, packed, sold or donated everything we owned and headed off for a year adventure, with a plan to housesit our way around North America.

When you housesit you don’t always have the luxury of choosing the destination you end up living in. For our first, four-month housesit, we were accepted to look after a log cabin, in the middle of a national park, during winter, in Clam Lake, Wisconsin.

We did some research on the town and discovered that during the winter, temperatures can drop below -40 degrees and there were only 37 residents in the town, the youngest being 36.

When we moved there my daughter and I were the youngest and second youngest in the town. I remember thinking, this is going to stretch a few comfort zones.

It was early January, we had been in Clam Lake for a fortnight and we experienced our first sub -25 degree day. I looked out our front window, across a snow-covered, tree-lined, frozen lake. The sun, punctual and eager to start the day, dressed the tops of the snow-capped pines with a drizzle of life. There was a smearing of pink through the sky that felt like residual from the farewelling night’s stars.



Exquisite. Faultless.  Beautiful.


There was this picturesque paradox - from the warmth of the inside, Mother Nature looked so inviting, but when we stepped outside, she bluntly reminded us who was in control.

Our senses were in constant battles.  Our uncovered faces kept longing for the warmth and security of the inside, while our eyes kept guiding us through this unfolding natural gallery.


This was part of the beauty, the unforbidden nature of the experience. You’re cognisant that you shouldn’t be there, but you are. An instant exercise in mindfulness, as the extreme temperature and the natural beauty do not allow any thoughts apart from precisely what you are experiencing in that moment.

At dusk, the deer herd came strolling through the backyard for their daily snack of corn and apple. Not worried by the cold or concerned about the spectacular sunset that was about to unfold.


And when the sun did set across the frozen lake, pulling the curtains on this flawless performance, I was humbled by my first sub -25 degree day, an appreciation for a magnificent natural experience.


Things you should know about -25 degree days

  • Mittens are warmer than gloves
  • Socks are just as important as shoes
  • Listen to the snow as it talks when you walk on it
  • Look up, a cold sky is beautiful
  • Get outside and enjoy (for short bursts at a time)

Mike Campbell and his wife Inga, along with their daughter Andy have packed, donated or sold everything they own and hit the road for a year, attempting to housesit their way through North America. You can connect with them and read about their adventures at www.liveimmediately.com

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.