When we were back in the U.S. tackling our Spanish visa situation, we were afforded a whole lot of time to spend with our family. While we get to see them often, thanks to Skype and Whatsapp and Facebook and all of that, we don’t actually get to sit down and enjoy life as often as we did when we lived in America.
Despite our ever-connected world, all of that technology just isn’t the same as the real thing.
During our visit to the Chicago area, we were invited by my sister and brother-in-law to head up to the latter’s family holiday gathering at their lake house in Minnesota.
A chance to get away, and to hang out with some great people? No need to say more.
As we like to keep things slow-going, we decided to take a couple of days to actually get to Minnesota. Why not?
We don’t particularly like driving more than a few hours a day, and we don’t like taking the interstate, so we took two days to get to a place we were only going to stay for a few days. That’s just how we do!
We headed up the back roads from outside Chicago, through southern Wisconsin, latching ourselves to the Mississippi River once we got across the state. We figured the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, would be a good place to spend the night, so we booked a room at the Stoney Creek Inn.
This place is a small chain in the Midwest that has fashioned itself with a sort of log cabin vibe. The one we stayed at had a huge conference center, the entire, sprawling mass of it all decked out as if we were in a rural lodge in the boondocks.
Due to our “child,” aka Louis our dog, pet-friendly is the only way we roll, and we love how the staff had a whole packet of goodies waiting for the little guy. The hotel didn’t have a restaurant, but did have a bar and lounge where the beer of choice is New Glarus, a proud Wisconsin favorite.
They also had this massive chair outside the bar, which seems like it’d make a good sleeping place if too many New Glaruses (New Glarii?) made it impossible for you to get back to your room.
After a damn good night’s sleep, we got up in the morning, juiced ourselves with plenty of coffee, and hit the road at a slow pace, waiting for my sister and her family to catch up with us.
We decided to meet in Lake City, Minnesota, for lunch, but we were early, so we bummed around the beach and docks while we awaited their arrival.
After a hearty lunch, we hitched our wagon to theirs and made our way up to the town of Annandale, Minnesota. Not before crazy rush hour and torrential rainstorms while driving around the Twin Cities, though. That was anything but a delight.
Landing outside the town of Annandale, Minnesota, we checked into our hotel and stocked up on the essentials: food and drink.
Outside the liquor store, a full-blown rainbow greeted us and no one’s camera could get wide enough to take in both ends.
We then made our way over to Sugar Lake, one of the bazillion lakes in the area and the state, where my brother-in-law’s family has a lake house.
In proper lake house fashion, they have a huge yard on the water, a pontoon boat, a tire swing, and all the other fixings that make for proper family relaxation.
While my folks didn’t make the trip, along for the ride were most of my brother-in-law’s family, as well as my sister and their daughter. This is our niece, Grace. She’s the recipient of all our spoils, and probably the most well-behaved
kid teenager in the universe.
She brought her friend and softball teammate, Anna, to join in on the week’s festivities, and they had a great time kicking the older folks’ butts in wiffle ball.
A few generations of family were in town, and it was lovely to see everyone hanging out and enjoying time together.
In this day and age – especially in America – too few people actually take the time to enjoy the important things in life.
Good food, great friends, wonderful family, scrumptious eats, fantastic scenery, and more.
On our last day there, we took an adventure out on the boat and circled almost the entire lake, marveling at which lake house we’d dream about buying or what we’d do on our holidays if we had our own property out there.
About three-quarters of the way into our ride, though, the clouds moved in and decided it was their turn for some holiday fun.
That didn’t stop us, though, as we retreated to the patios and decks to watch the crazy torment arrive and lay down the law.
After more drinks and food, it went away for a while and gave us some more rainbow fun as dusk settled in.
Having the ability and making the effort to spend time with such a wonderful bunch of people is one of the most important things in life.
We’re thankful to have been invited to this holiday retreat, and thankful for our hilarious and fun family.
Don’t forget to take time out for yourself and yours – relax and enjoy!
Want more? Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Flickr.
Do you ever take the time to kick back and relax with your family? To enjoy some of the most special parts of life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!