31 July 2009

Door County


Bio-mom suggested visiting Door County, and even made reservations for us all at a sweet little motel in Fish Creek. The screen shot above from the Garmin illustrates how Door County is the peninsula that separates Green Bay from Lake Michigan. It is a popular summer vacation spot for people who live in Wisconsin or Chicago. It is full of charming little towns, interesting shops, seasonal artist galleries, locally-owned restaurants, farms, and natural beauty.

On the drive up we stopped at Renard's cheese shop. (See picture of Cuddly Hubby and me with the giant mouse.) This was an opportunity to acquire some local cuisine. After all, Wisconsin is known for cheese! Later on the trip we found another place that had smoked salmon. I should also mention that there was lots of fresh corn on the cob during our trip. And beer -- I think I've already mentioned the good beer. So all in all, Wisconsin is respectable when it comes to food.

We stopped at a place along the Lake Michigan shore called Cave Point. It is an area where the Niagara Escarpment is exposed. This is a section of dolomite rock that 435 million years ago was a coral reef. This was back in the days when North America was closer to the equator and much of it was covered with water. There is something amazing and wonderful about the idea that those tiny little critters over 400 million years ago did something that can still be seen and felt today. And why is it called the Niagara Escarpment? Because that coral reef ran all the way over to Niagara, New York. And why is this place Cave Point? Because the action of the lake water has carved out some of the rock in the area. We had a lot of fun walking around and enjoying the rugged beach. There were also people in canoes out on the lake. I think they probably got a better view of the caves and erosion features than we did.

As we were wandering the countryside, looking for our next point of interest, we came across a marker for 45° north latitude. In other words, this is a marker for halfway from the equator to the north pole. Of course, Cuddly Hubby and I had to pose for a picture. I think this is a rather good picture of him, too.

Just south of Baileys Harbor we searched for and found Björklunden. This is a retreat owned by Lawrence University. We searched it out because the site includes a chapel built in the style of a Norwegian stavkirke. The chapel truly is charming. It only has six pews, so it may seat 40 people at most. But the careful work of human hands is evident in both the architecture and decoration. The end pieces of each pew have carved motifs on both sides, and each pew is different. Murals are painted on the walls, including the Annunciation along one wall and the Four Evangelists in the corners. I've included here a detail of the carved surround inside the door. The decoration includes leafy motifs, but also tools. (Notice not just the artist's palette in the center, but also the axe at top.) And below is a detail of the needlepointed kneeler at the front alter. This was a long kneeler and was covered from one end to the other in an ever-changing sampler of patterns.I also mention Björklunden because the lodge is lovely. Again, the architecture and decoration are meant to recall Scandinavian traditions. The facility seemed to be quite nice and the views of the lake and surrounding wooded landscape were pleasing. The brochure I picked up indicates that the prices are quite reasonable. I think this would be a fabulous location for a knitting retreat. Just saying.

That evening, we attended a fish boil. This is a method for cooking a whole lot of food for a whole lot of people. A large kettle of salted boiling water is on an open fire. A basket of red potatoes is lowered into the pot. Onions are sometimes added, too. That cooks for awhile. Then another basket is placed on top. This one is full of fresh fish. The water boils some more. Then kerosene is added at the last minute to make the salted water boil up and over the rim. The boil over carries the oils and heavy flavors over the edge, resulting in a cleaner, fresher-tasting fish. The picture here, of course, is from the moment of maximum pyromania.

Afterward, we and half the population of Fish Creek walked to the end of the main street to watch the sunset over the bay. The way people were gathering to watch this simple joy, you would have thought a rock star had just agreed to give a free concert in the park.

The following day, we ate brunch at Al Johnson's Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay. In addition to a restaurant with Swedish food -- I had the pancakes and we all split a cheese plate -- there is also a rather nice gift shop. I didn't take any pictures, but there were real Dale of Norway sweaters, Icelandic mittens, and other Northern European knitwear. The architecture of the building is based on authentic Norwegian traditions, including a sod-covered roof. Alas, as there was a chance of rain that day, the goats were not out grazing on the roof.

From there we drove up to Gills Rock, which is at the northern tip of Door County. The beach there is very interesting. From a distance, it looks to be white sand. But when you get up to it and actually walk on it, you discover that it is shells! I haven't tried to do the math, but there must be millions of them.Gills Rock is also the location of the ferry that travels to Washington Island. We didn't go out to Washington Island, but it is a location worth knowing. The Sievers School of Fiber Arts is located out there. A quick look at their course offerings reveals opportunities to learn basketry, woodcarving, paper making, knitting, spinning, dyeing, felting, quilting, stitchery, beading, and weaving.

Our tour of Door County included jumbo-sized ice cream cones that could replace lunch, charming art galleries, and beautiful scenery. I enjoyed the shopping, as the prices were very reasonable compared to what I see here in Atlanta. We also found a couple yarn shops, but I'll write about those in another post. When we headed back to Green Bay on Friday, we stopped at Whitefish Dunes. Having been to the beaches in Florida, it is enlightening to see the beaches in Wisconsin. In the picture, you can just barely see the beach behind me and the people frolicking. There is a narrow strip of beach, then some tall grasses, and then the woods. If your vacation goal is to get away from it all, Door County may be your destination.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a minute I thought you said Al Jolson's Swedish Restaurant, which threw me.
-Fraser