By MAGGIE GEBHARDT
HOXIE -- Most would probably agree a perfect getaway might include a serene, peaceful setting where the only sounds to interrupt are the crackling and popping of a fireplace, trickling water from a nearby creek, birds chirping and leaves rustling in the gentle wind.
That place exists a lot closer than within one's hopes and dreams.
A few years ago, on a secluded property outside Hoxie, a close-knit family decided to share their dream home with others -- transforming it into a vacation and event getaway.
Larry and Irene Cressler, Hoxie, purchased a piece of land in 1977 on which they desired to build their dream home. Irene carefully designed the log cabin she always wanted, and construction was complete in April 1978. Here, the Cresslers raised their children and spent many years establishing memories.
In 2008, Larry and Irene made the decision to retire and move to town. Parting with the family home was not an option they wanted to consider, and after visiting with a friend who had experience renting, the couple decided to open their cabin to travelers and vacationers.
"Transitioning the family home into a vacation rental was an intense process," said Lori Cressler, Hoxie, daughter of Larry and Irene and part business owner. "We started with moving Mom and Dad to town, then going through personal items, deciding what to take and what to leave for others to enjoy."
Four members of the Cressler family joined together as partners -- Larry, Irene and their two daughters, Lori and LaRene.
Lori said the family did some deep cleaning, added smoke alarms and fire extinguishers for public safety, conducted inspections and consulted with an insurance agent.
Finally, in August 2009, the Cresslers had their first guests -- a 10-year-old young lady's birthday party.
"After that, we received a phone call from a few pheasant hunters. They booked their stay and have returned every year since," Lori said. "It's been a blessing to have repeat business."
With the growing popularity of hunting in northwest Kansas, the Cresslers soon began to realize their cabin was becoming much like a hunting lodge. The family wanted year-round business, though, so they made an effort to advertise the cabin for a wide variety of events.
"Quilt retreat? Sure. Sisters' weekend? Yes. Ugly Christmas sweater party? Why not? Man cave? Indeed," Lori said. "As different people called, we soon learned we could transform this hunting lodge into a very user-friendly place for all types of things."
Lori said she began to host classes, board meetings, Pampered Chef parties, graduation celebrations, weddings, anniversaries, reunions, honeymooners and even locals who wanted to be "out of sight" for the weekend.
"I would say there is no such thing as a typical guest," she said.
Business has taken off as the family has worked through the years to continue the inflow of customers -- creating a website for the cabin, establishing listings and producing signs with the official Cressler Creek Log Cabin logo.
"The guests come here to make a pot of coffee, sit, relax, enjoy the wildlife, photograph, hike and just rejuvenate their souls," Lori said.
The calming cabin boasts features guests just have to keep coming back for, the part-owner said.
The entrance of the cabin faces a view of cattle fields and rolling hills. Several of the family's gentle horses graze in a nearby pasture.
Only a few steps from the woods sits the back of the home. A nature and wildlife setting surrounds the back porches. Turkeys gobbling, deer walking through the woods, birds singing and squirrels playing are a common occurrence. On a still day, the gentle, relaxing sounds of a nearby flowing creek can be enjoyed as well.
A horseshoe pit sits on the side of the home near the volleyball area. A large, portable picnic table can be placed anywhere guests desire, Lori said.
Upon entering the cabin, the spacious rooms and vaulted ceilings are immediate attention-grabbers. Hanging from the pine stained walls and ceilings are mounted deer, geese, duck and other game -- some of which were hunted on the property. Massive cedar beams and wagon wheel chandeliers add to the charm.
The living room's cozy family area features a stone fireplace. Large windows provide a view of the woods so guests can behold nature's beauty from within the comfort of the cabin.
The "family bedroom" is on the main level, as well. It contains a king-size bed, twin bed, rocking chair, pack-and-play and toys for children.
Just inside the front door is a staircase that leads upstairs to another large, open area with a balcony that overlooks the lower level.
In the middle of the room stands a pool table for additional entertainment. There are also two quaint, comfortable bedrooms on the upper level.
Perhaps most interestingly, sprinkled throughout the cabin, inside and out, is an incredible amount of Cressler family history and memorabilia to behold. Whether it is a photograph on the wall, a sketch by Larry's daughter, Irene's butter churn, one of the many antique oil lamp heirlooms, or rusty horseshoes from the Cresslers' own horses, every corner of the cabin seems to have a story.
Outside, the history is alive as well. Larry crafted many masterpieces throughout his life, including the large bug made of pieces of metal near the workshop.
"That is kind of a family joke," Lori said.
A solitary, white cross glimmers in the sunlight at the top of one of the hilly pastures. Larry designed it in remembrance of his son, who died at a young age as the result of a farming accident.
"He built it big enough for people to see from the highway," Lori said.
In 2013, Irene Cressler died after complications with Alzheimer's. The family still remained close, working together to keep their successful business going, despite the heavy blanket of heartbreak.
There are thousands of cherished family stories buried within the cabin and in the land that surrounds it. The Cresslers are now thankful to share their home so others can create their own memories to carry for a lifetime, Lori said.
"Have coffee, watch the sunrise, you're home," Lori said. "That is what we always say."
For additional information, call Lori at (785) 675-1295, or visit www.cresslercreeklogcabin.com, the Facebook page under Cressler Creek LogCabin, or the listing at www.vrbo.com/309132.