Touring Door County

A friend of ours was camping in our driveway this past week while she waited for her campground to open and tried to recover from bronchitis. She has never been to Door County before, so I took this opportunity to show her around. (Warning: this blog is long but worth it!)

Our most famous road was designed by Jens Jensen, a landscape architect, who wanted people to slow down and look at nature around them. We call this the Windy Road. It goes to Northport.
We started at the tip of the peninsula, Porte des Morts park, where there is a stairway down the bluff to the rocky beach below. She is a rock hound so she was fascinated with the rocks she examined!
With no sun on this beach, we found a frozen branch. There were also ice cycles dripping down on her as she peered into the rocky crags of the bluff. I had my winter parka on and I was still shivering in spite of it being a sunny day.

(At least half of the pictures in this post were taken by her.)

From Porte des Morts, our next stop as we headed south, was Uncle Tom’s Candy Store. I had heard that the historic candy store had been sold to a young couple, Rebecca Whipple and Ryan Mueller, who intend to use the original recipes to make their candy. We had a chat with Ryan who explained a bit of the history of the old schoolhouse and the many years that Uncle Tom and his family made their famous brittle, pancake mix, chocolate, and fudge. My friend bought some chocolate peanut brittle and a couple packages of dried cherries to commemorate the occasion! Then I took her to Europe Lake and Newport State Park which is an International Dark Sky park, one of only about 30 in the world!

Newport State Park

At this point, we went home for lunch and to feed our critters (she has several dogs and a cat) and I suggested she take a rest so that she could recover, but she was eager to see more, so we went out again after lunch.

We went to The Clearing, a school started by Jens Jensen, where people can come for week-long classes on painting, weaving, quilting, photography, forging iron, woodworking, poetry or short story writing, etc!
A woman in the gift shop let us go into the great hall. I walked over to the far wall and told my friend to come to me and then turn around. This is what she saw!
A little farther down the road, we drove into Door Bluff County Park and saw my manager, Mickie Rasch on our way in. She came over and let me know that a meeting I was going to later was going to be half an hour later than scheduled, so that gave me the freedom to take my friend to one more park.
This is Ellison Bluff County Park. We took the stairs down to a walkway on the side of the bluff…
…and saw this. This is the side of the cliff wall and, yes, we were higher up than the trees below!

At this point, I had to get back for my meeting. My friend dropped me off at the Welcome Center and drove my car home. My home is within a block of the Welcome Center, an easy walk.

That night, I gave her some Breathe Easy tea by Traditional Medicinals and it helped her not to cough so much and she got some rest, so she was ready and raring to go again Friday morning. This time, I decided to take her down Highway 42 on the Green Bay side because she would not otherwise have a chance to see it. She brought her trailer up on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula and would be going south on it as well.

Our first stop was at Pebble Beach in Sister Bay where I asked her to teach me how to skip stones. It was great fun, but we were both sore the next day!
I also built my first cairn, AKA “rock balancing”. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Slightly off kilter but still standing!
The next town south is Ephraim and we stopped at Anderson Dock to look at the boat warehouse that is covered with graffiti. At first, only boats that anchored there left their ship name and the date on the wall, but pretty soon, everyone got into the act!
The view from the dock

We left Ephraim and headed to Fish Creek. There I drove into Peninsula State Park. I should have stopped at the registration building, but it looked closed and I figured that this early in the season, maybe it was OK to just drive in. We took a scenic road and then I saw a sign for Blossomburg Cemetery. I have been wanting to look for some of the historic family names I learned when giving tours at the Noble House last year, so we turned in and parked. I was looking for old gravestones and not having much luck until a park patrol officer came up and asked if I had the car with the Oregon plates. I said I did, and he said I probably should have stopped and paid for an admission tag before coming in, but since the cemetery is public property, he would let us stay. I asked him where the historic gravestones were and he pointed them out to me. When we left the cemetery, I felt guilty about going any further through the park, so I went back the way I came. My poor friend didn’t get to see anything but the cemetery in the park!

Then we stopped at the Noble House for a short time. Of course, it’s not open so we couldn’t go in, but we peeked through the kitchen windows so she could see a little of that. Ever since I’ve been working there, the kitchen has had a decided incline to it. It’s been sinking on one end because it wasn’t built on as sturdy of a foundation as the rest of the house. This winter, the Gibraltar Historical Association finally contracted with a company that has lifted the end of the kitchen and fixed the foundation. Everything is still dug up and looks kind of ugly so I didn’t take a picture, but it will be so much nicer walking on an even floor this summer! While we were there, I also visited my sister, Sherill’s brick and tried to clean it off as best I could from all the dirt. I’m sure they’ll wash the brick walkway when they put the lawn back in.

We drove on down to Egg Harbor and through the parking lot at the park so that I could face the car toward The Shipwreck restaurant. The story there is that Al Capone used to frequent the restaurant because it had an underground tunnel that he could escape into if the Feds ever showed up. He suspected his stepson was about to turn him in to the Feds, and the next thing anyone knew, his stepson was found hanged in the attick. It was called a suicide, but he most likely had help.

We drove through Carlsville and I pointed out several Walloon Belgian houses. They have unique construction. They are square, two story brick buildings and the windows are arched. The Belgians made these brick homes after the Peshtigo fire burned much of southern Door County and upper Michigan and killed about 1500 people in October, 1871.

When we hit the juncture of Highway 42 and Highway 57 north of Sturgeon Bay, I turned up 57 for a fast run home because my friend had a Zoom meeting to get back for. That evening, I gave her some more Breathe Easy tea.

Saturday was overcast and slightly drizzly. We visited a good part of the morning hoping it would clear up, but when it didn’t, we headed down Highway 57 on the Lake Michigan side for a bit more exploration.

Our first stop was at Cana Island in Bailey’s Harbor. This island is connected to the mainland by a causeway that is usually somewhat submerged. Here you can see that waves go around the island and come from two directions when they hit the causeway. In the summer, there will be a tractor-drawn cart that will take people over to the island.
The big draw of the island is the lighthouse which you can just barely make out above the trees here. It’s possible to walk the grounds, go through the lightkeeper’s home, and climb the light tower.
We stopped at one edge of the Ridges Sanctuary, also in Bailey’s Harbor, and took this shot of the range lights. The building way back had a white light lit and you can just make out the red light in the closer building. I have never been to the Ridges Sanctuary, but I’ve always wanted to go. They have a variety of ecosystems and there are many trails to explore.
Our final stop was at Cave Point in Jacksonport. This is the first thing you see at Cave Point. It reminds me of the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon coast. When you are standing on the ground in the picture, your feet can feel when the waves hit the rock.
This is my friend walking along the opposite side of the “punch bowl”.
These caves are why this is called Cave Point. I don’t know if you can see, but there’s one cave after another along this point.
We walked down a path in the opposite direction until we got to this rocky beach with a fairly tall cairn. I had to practically crawl on my hands and knees to get out to it because the rocks were so uneven.

After taking this picture, my friend was getting cold and so was I. We headed back home and spent a companionable evening talking and Mark joined us. The Breathe Easy tea has been working so well for her that I gave her the rest of the box before she went out to her trailer.

This morning my church, Door of Life, had a special celebration of their 20th anniversary. They had asked the members to submit their favorite worship songs from the last 20 years and we sung them. Then there was a video about the history of the church and how God has led Door of Life through calling Ed House to be the pastor, acquiring the building our church now meets in, and the various programs Door of Life reaches out to the community and the world with. After the service, they had a lunch and I called Mark to come and join me for the food.

My friend was participating at her church through Zoom when we got back, but eventually, we were all together for our last brief visit. The campgrounds opened today and there is finally a place for her to move in for the season. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned her name or shown any clear pictures of her face. That’s for her protection. I can’t divulge her story because she wishes to remain anonymous. She and I have spent the last few days getting to know and love each other. We hope to see each other more often this summer!

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