Thursday, August 21, 2014

McMichigan Holiday

This year, the (second) annual McMillin summer retreat took us to Michigan. We found an eight bedroom vacation rental house on Campau Lake that could sleep all twenty five of us. Not easy to find, I tell ya!

Campau Heaven

Our backyard complete with beach, dock, paddle boat, canoe and kayaks.

 Time for an updated sisters photo! Heather, Liz and I.

 The house was full of nooks and crannies and forts and hiding spots for kids of all ages.

 Gavin's new fishing pole was tested by all the kids. That's Gavin's and Riker's first fish!

Fourteen year old Lilly and her parents joined us at the last minute and all the parents with young kids were SO glad to have her around. Her parents wouldn't let me take her home but said she could come for a visit!

 Teagan with a long line of painted creations.

 The huge dining room table was a terrific gathering place...

...but wasn't actually quite big enough to seat all of us!

Heather got all the kids matching shirts once again this year. She wanted something with a positive message and found these adorable bee themed shirts that say BEE KIND, BEE STRONG, BEE YOURSELF, BEE BRAVE, BEE HONEST, BEE GOOD.

Even the littlest joining-us-in-January McMillin gets a shirt!

Cael, Teagan, Lilly, Gavin, Edward, Katie, Ari and Riker in their matching shirts. Too bad Porter was asleep!

And the excited version. Some more than others :)

As Leah, Carl, Keith and Gavin (and Aunt Nancy) all have birthdays in the same week, Heather was kept busy baking and frosting delicious cakes! 

Gavin asked for a rainbow cake for his birthday.

 Teagan and Katie watch while Heather works frosting magic.

Voila! Rainbow tie dye cake!

 One afternoon was spent at Sky Zone.

 Trampolines as far as the eye can see!

 Teagan shows her moves.

 Leah, Ross, Penny, Liz, Edward, Jan, Teagan and Joan. This getaway included a whole range of in-laws and out-laws.

 Katie, Edward, Cael and Riker enjoy Icees after jumping.

 A bubble machine provided hours of fun. Notice the reflection of the house in the top bubble.

 Evenings were spent chatting and catching up on the wrap-around sofa or in the basement lounge which was further away from sleeping kids.

 Dave and Katie on the paddle boat.

Fishing and splashing and pouring and squirting on the dock.

 Better watch out!

 Porter can now get about with lighting speed!

 Joan and Ross

 Bill and Barbara

 Keith and Liz

The moon rises over the lake.

 Kids enjoy the (not very) hot tub.

Brian and I met Rochelle when we lived in Maui and we hadn't seen her for at least ten years. As she lives in Michigan, she and her two kids came to spend an afternoon with us. So great to see her!

Like our trip to the Adirondacks last summer, this holiday was a great chance to celebrate the McMillin clan and spend some quality time together. Now we just have to decide where to book the 2015 getaway!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Glarus Brewing Company

We've been enjoying beers from the New Glarus Brewing Company for many years and on our journey east out of Minnesota, we finally made the time to stop and tour the iconic Wisconsin facility.

I expected our visit would be interesting but I was blown away by their impressive buildings and grounds!

The grand entrance to the premises. Like everything else in the small town of New Glarus, the brewery features Swiss inspired architecture and design.

 The internal courtyard is a comfortable and spacious meeting place.

 The outdoor bar is the central point of the courtyard.

 A rinsing station lets customers clean their glasses between varieties of beer.

 The other side of the elaborate rinsing station.

 Inside, we took a self guided tour of the brewery since there were no formal tours offered on the day of our visit. These large vessels are for boiling the grains and hops.

These large tanks hold the water for just one batch of beer.

 Miles of spotlessly clean pipes transport water for brewing.

 Detailing on the wrought iron rails guides visitors past large fermenters.

 The Stairway to Heaven....

...leads visitors up to a small platform for viewing the huge barrel fermenters that stretch up to the ceiling.

 Mammoth fermenting tanks.

 A thirty litre pilot brewery tests new product ideas.

 Just some of the equipment in the expansive bottling area.

 A cabinet featuring a slew of awards.

 This interesting poster outlines the myriad of ways to describe beer flavors.

 Back out to the courtyard.

 "Ruins" are scattered throughout the outdoor seating areas and offer the kids a great place to run and explore.

 This beautiful maternal statue looks over the courtyard.

 In the gift shop, Riker picked up this key chain and pointed out the continent of Australia. I was somewhat stunned that he'd discovered that Wisconsin turned on its side looks an awful lot like Australia! Of course, I had to buy it and I pointed out this interesting observation to the clerks who were very impressed with his cleverness!

The actual shape of Australia, for reference. The Gulf of Carpentaria shrunk a bit and Tasmania was once again forgotten but the similarities are otherwise striking.

The boys compare the new key chain to the right-side-up state of Wisconsin. Then they used their fingers to trace their way through the maze formed by the fingerprint.

 I appreciated the attention to detail throughout the place and the kids noticed these fairies dancing in the garden.

 An overview of the whole place gives an idea of what a massive establishment this is.

Three of our favorite New Glarus Brewing Co. drinks - ales brewed with raspberry, strawberry rhubarb and apples/cranberries/cherries. Delicious!

New Glarus beers are only available in Wisconsin so if you've never tried their products, I highly recommend finding them next time you're in the state. In addition to the three above, we also highly recommend the cherry ale!