HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 20, 2007, Herald Journal

Door county delights


A few weeks ago, our family traveled to our neighboring state, Packerland, USA.

My husband, Marc, is from the dear dairy state of Wis. and loves his Badgers and Packers, although he outwardly (in front of the kids anyway) cheers for the Golden Gophers, Vikings and the Twins. I guess he doesn’t want his children to have identity crisis issues when it comes to sports.

Anyway, we visit with Marc’s family, stay at the family cottage (they don’t call it cabin in Wis.), and each visit Marc shares something about his childhood memories with our children and me.

This year we traversed to Door County, which Money Magazine has deemed a top ten vacation destination in North America. Marc was lucky enough to spend four summers during his college days in this beautiful part of the country.

Each summer he earned money waiting and bussing tables and washing dishes at a top restaurant, The White Gull Inn in Fish Creek.

The first morning in Door County we made the trip from Sturgeon Bay, where we stayed at a beautiful resort, to Fish Creek to share breakfast with Marc at The White Gull Inn. This time Marc was on the other side of the table.

We shared some award winning coffee cake on the same dishes that Marc remembers washing many many times (so he says).

The coffee cake lived up to its expectations as our daughter called it scrumpdelicious (no spell check on that word).

Our children were able to see where Daddy Marc lived while working there each summer, at the keeper’s inn. We drove on beautiful scenic roads that Marc biked on regularly and ate at the same ice cream shops that he frequented twenty plus years ago.

Sharing these memories and experiences was and is special for both Marc, myself and our children. It allows our children to see their parents in a new light, as people (Just like kids think their teachers don’t do anything else but teach all of the time.)

I would like to share with you some other highlights of our trip that my family shared together, in case you travel to this beautiful part of the country.

Firstly, being surrounded by water, the Bay of Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other, Door County has the most shoreline of any county in the United States, 250 miles.

That being said, there are breathtaking views everywhere water, bluffs, trees, orchards, rock, and beautiful sunsets.

To help see those beautiful sites, we spent an afternoon at Peninsula State Park.

We took a tour of the historic and working Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and keeper’s quarters. We climbed the Eagle Tower, a 75-foot tower that gave us a bird’s-eye-view of the area.

We then spent the afternoon swimming and exploring at the natural sand beach in Nicollet Bay in the park.

Because of the rocky shorelines and active fishing trade, Door County has one of the greatest concentrations of lighthouses in the country.

We also toured the 1869 Cana Island Lighthouse located northeast of Baileys Harbor. It was just as much fun walking out to the lighthouse along the rocky causeway as it was touring the keeper’s house.

It’s cherry picking time in Wis., and Door County is laden with orchards and markets ready for picking. We enjoyed a variety of cherry delights at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country. We sampled cherry salsa, cherry apple cider, cherry donuts and a variety of cherries.

Our vacation wasn’t complete without playing some mini-golf and driving go-carts. Mini-golf courses are in great supply in Door County and a favorite is Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf in Sister Bay. Along with the pirate theme, there were cannons, caves and waterfalls. When we completed the course, each child went home with a pirate patch over one eye and a pirate tattoo.

We spent an afternoon at the Hands On Art Studio, just east of Fish Creek. You could paint your own ceramics, glassware and wood, make a mosaic, experiment with hot glass, lampworking or create a sculpture in the metal studio.

With so many choices, it was difficult choosing a project, but each of our children created mosaic masterpieces. Even our three-old Delaney made a dragonfly mosaic. The studio completed the grouting on the projects and we picked up the creations the next day. Each of the creations was beautiful, and it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

There were also animals on the Art Farm that Delaney could pet, watch and love while waiting for her older siblings to finish their artistry. (And of course, there were treats to buy at the marketplace, too.)

These masterpieces will be good remembrances of our vacation in Door County.

Another favorite stop of our family’s was The Farm in Sturgeon Bay, a living museum of rural America. Aside from the nature trails and petting farm, there were log homes to tour reminiscent of times past. We learned about syrup making and log home building, about crops grown.

While hiking along the paths and soaking in history, friendly cats would join in, hoping to be picked up and coddled, which all three of our children certainly did.

The animals at the farm were our favorite. Bottle feeding the goats and lambs, watching the goats get milked and feeding corn to any animal we could occupied my kids all day. (Good thing there was a limit of bottles of milk per family.)

Although those were some of our family favorites for our Door County vacation, walking the shorelines, roasting marshmallows on the Bay of Green Bay, watching the sun setting over Lake Michigan, and just plain spending time together as a family still tops the list.