The most colorful character that afternoon was Dave V., the former president of the board at Avatan, who was in his mid-60s and cultivating a sweet handlebar mustache and a full-body bronze (no tan lines for Dave!). Dave V. first visited the club back in the 1970s.
"We've had everyone from doctors to lawyers to teachers join the club," he said. "We've got people who are very wealthy and people who can barely afford to pay their annual dues. But they make it work, because this is their vacation. This is where they enjoy spending time during the summer. Here, no one judges you based on your background, economic status, or profession; you're just another member who enjoys nudism, and we're happy to have you."
While some of the club's members, like Bob and Jenny, told me they were comfortable with people knowing they were nudists, Dave V. explained that others aren't so open.
"Some of our members have friends, family, or co-workers that they aren't comfortable discussing this place with," he shrugged. "Everyone here understands that, and it is another reason why we don't use last names. I know that I personally have chosen not to tell certain people that I come here, not because I'm embarrassed, but because I don't think it's their business what I do."
Thanks to the club's secluded location, Avatan's members don't find themselves bothered too often, Dave V. continued.
"Thank God for the prudishness of the average Minnesotan."
AFTER ABOUT FOUR HOURS of unclothed freedom, I finally decided to call it a day. I said goodbye to my newfound nude friends, who were all heading back to their campsites to freshen up before the evening's festivities (a pig roast and slideshow featuring highlights from some of the club's recent activities).
I've never felt so strange putting my clothes back on as I did at that moment, which just goes to show how quickly a new visitor can become comfortable in the nude environment.
Walking back to my car, I actually felt awkward, realizing that I stood out among the other visitors due to the fact that I was dressed. But everyone was still friendly and said goodbye.
As I pulled out of my parking spot, the naked Coors Light cowboy from earlier walked by, smoking a cigarette.
"Be sure to come back any time!" he shouted as I pulled away.
Maybe I will, naked Coors Light cowboy, I thought to myself. Maybe I will.