When Mark and I were still working at Wagon Trail Campground, our boss sent the whole staff to get training to be a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA). One of the perks of being a CTA is that once a year, there is a free special event that we are invited to so that we can tell visitors about it and maybe peak their interest in doing it. This year it was a cruise to Plum Island.
Plum Island is uninhabited, and until last year, it was off limits to tourism. It used to be operated by the Coast Guard and they’d rescue the people on ships that had run aground or sunk. The Coast Guard moved to a new location in 1969 after the range lights here were automated. We discovered we know someone who used to live out on Plum Island when he was in the Coast Guard. He’s now the other captain of the Shoreline Cruise we were on.
Pilot Island has been declared a bird sanctuary for migratory cormorants. The lighthouse is automated and still works, but as you can see from the collapsed roof on the keeper’s house to the right, no one inhabits Pilot Island anymore. Cormorants have no oil on their feathers, so when they get wet they sit in the trees and spread their wings to dry out. While they sit in the trees, they defecate and their droppings are toxic. The trees are all dead as a result. The guano is so thick on Pilot Island that I’m told the ground is spongy to walk on. The cormorants stick to Pilot Island because Plum Island has eagles and other birds of prey. The only people allowed on Pilot Island now are people who have an official reason to be there. The tour boats don’t even get particularly near it.
The Visitors Bureau in Sturgeon Bay is kind of over all the visitor centers on the peninsula. They are the ones who trained all of us CTA’s and they organize these annual outings. The video they were shooting was to advertise the CTA program and try to get more people to go through it. In this video, they were talking about the perks of becoming a CTA and they told a little about this event: (https://www.facebook.com/doorcountyCTA/videos/2119729988054598/)
When we got back to Gills Rock and disembarked, one of my co-workers handed out bags of goodies and coupons for businesses in Liberty Grove. Some of the CTA’s who had come up rarely get this far north, so this was a way to acquaint them with things to do up here. One of the coupons was for the Savory Spoon which is a cooking school a couple doors away from the Ellison Bay Visitor Center. The proprietor was waiting at the Savory Spoon with some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for the CTA’s who went on this tour. I have walked past the Savory Spoon before but had never been inside. I took the opportunity to get a picture of the gift shop in there:
After getting our free cookies, Mark headed to work and I went to take the afternoon shift at the Visitor Center. Now I can tell anyone who asks about the Plum Island tour.