Adam first started dreaming about owning and operating a resort/lodge/outfitting operation in the summer of 2000. He had just graduated from high school and went to work for a resort on Crane Lake, which is the Eastern access point for the BWCA and the Western entrance to Voyageurs National Park. He enjoyed working around people who were on vacation. Adam ended up working for three summers in Northern Minnesota and dreamed of someday having a lodge of his own.
Adam and Kasey met while studying business at Utah State University. While dating they enjoyed doing many things like going on hikes in the mountains of Utah. Adam convinced Kasey to come up to Minnesota and visit him one summer. While she was visiting him Adam decided to give her the ultimate test to see if they were truly compatible. Adam took Kasey on a two-day canoe trip in Voyageurs National Park. He decided that she handled things pretty well, and made a great photographer of the Smallmouth Bass he caught, and later he took her to a waterfall where he asked her to marry him. She said yes, and they were married in October of 2004.
In 2008 Adam decided to go back to school and specialize in hotel and restaurant management. Their family moved to Hawaii for Adam to pursue an educational opportunity. Still dreaming of owning a lodge in Minnesota, Adam took half a dozen classes on entrepreneurship, began entering business plan competitions, and finding excuses to meet with investors and venture capitalists. It was early in 2009 that Adam decided that Clearwater Lodge was the outfit that he someday wanted to operate. Adam entered a business plan writing competition with a 20-page plan outlining a dream to acquire and operate Clearwater Lodge. That paper was chosen to receive a grant that allowed Adam and Kasey to continue researching the feasibility of purchasing Clearwater Lodge.
In 2009 Adam graduated from BYU-Hawaii with a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree and was awarded the outstanding graduate award. After graduation Kasey and Adam met with Kasey's Aunt Laura and Uncle Carl, about the possibility of working together to acquire Clearwater Lodge. Carl and Laura Clark, both with a background in business, saw something in the plan, believed in the dream and became involved in the pursuit of acquiring Clearwater Lodge.
In 2010 the Van Tassell family, now with two small children, moved to Ely Minnesota where Adam and Kasey worked for an outfitter while negotiating a purchase of Clearwater Lodge. Late in 2010 a purchase agreement was signed. On April 25th, 2011 the Van Tassell family began living their dream as full time stewards of Clearwater Lodge and Outfitters. Instead of sitting around waiting to learn the ropes, they spent the first year building a new shower-house, re-building a bunkhouse, putting in a new dock, installed new water lines, replaced the majority of the cabin furniture and redoing a couple of kitchens and bathrooms. When asked if the first season was a success, the usual reply is that it was a "learning experience".