Josh Duhamel's Private Minnesota

Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Before his leading-man good looks drew him to Hollywood, Josh Duhamel was a young boy chasing salamanders in the woods of North Dakota.

“My buddies and I were living our lives like Huck Finn,” says Duhamel during an overnight trip to New York. “Our days were spent fishing in the summer and sledding in the winter.” His life has gotten slightly little more complicated since then, a side effect that comes with being married to a pop singer and co-starring the Transformers franchise with Mark Wahlberg.

Duhamel insists the trappings of showbiz have only drawn him to nature more — leading him to purchase a fixer-upper cabin in the Minnesota wilderness. “I put in a well this year, so we finally have a working toilet and shower inside,” he says. For the 44-year-old father, the rustic getaway not only offers respite from the paparazzi flashes, but also a place to expose his son to a simpler existence.

This admiration for the great outdoors made Duhamel the perfect person to spread word of a new campaign from Claritin called “Be An Outsider.” The actor managed to stop daydreaming about his North Star State escape for a few minutes to discuss outdoor barbecues, lake life, and why he will never golf with Wahlberg.

How did you decide on Minnesota?

My father lives in Minnesota. The place that I got is near his on the lake and out in the deep woods. There is nobody around for miles. I always come back with my spirit feeling lifted. I bought it about eight years ago. It was just half a parcel of land at first, which had an old cabin on it with no plumbing or electricity — straight-up old-fashioned outhouse, and it was time to shower in the lake. There is something special about going back to the basics, and having that solitude.

Have you added electricity since?

I ended up buying the place next to it as well; you can get a lot for your money out there, so we have about 52 acres all together. The other cabin had electricity, and now we have running water. I don’t have to go take a bath in the lake anymore.

Do you get some good fishing done on that lake?

Oh man, there is great fishing in the lake. There is plenty of walleye and trout, which taste amazing when you cook them up. Now we have a boat too. My dad is a bit of a bargain shopper, so he bought a 1986 pontoon off of the Boat Trader website. I couldn’t get it to start for the first three years we had it. Then we finally got it to start, dropped it in the water, and realized that it didn’t go forward. Luckily, we had beers to help make the time more tolerable as we went in reverse all the way back to our dock. It took two hours.

How else do you spend your days there?

Honestly it is just whatever. I chop wood. I got a Toolcat, a Bobcat machine that has a digger and a grabber. So I will jump on that and literally just tool around all day. Then when it’s time for dinner, we'll get the fire pit going and grill something up.

Do you have a specialty when you are on grill duty?

I like to keep it pretty simple and just do good ingredients. If I’m making burgers, they are getting dusted with pepper and a little Lawry’s garlic salt, maybe some chopped onions if I’m feeling ambitious.

How do you stay in shape between all the barbecues?

I like to mix it up right now. I do some traditional strength training and conditioning with my trainer Don Brooks, who does his Don-A-Matrix method. I have learned that I can’t really just hammer the free weights like I used to, because it starts to take a toll. So, more recently, I’ve been doing a lot of hot yoga, and I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this strong or flexible in 15 years. Yoga is not just for the ladies. I can barely get through a session on a good day. So that has been an amazing addition for me.

Have you gotten any training tips from your Transformers co-star Mark Wahlberg?

Nothing directly, but I can honestly say I’m just inspired by watching him go about his day. Mark gets up every morning at 3:30 a.m. He goes to bed at like 8 p.m. His work ethic is second to none. Before we started the movie this time around, I was all excited to play golf with Mark, get some rounds in, but he is up way too early. And he plays “power rounds” of golf, which means he is running from one shot to the next. That is what he does for cardio. Then on top of that, he works a full day. The dude is a beast.