Today’s post is 1500 words, 28 photos, 2 short videos, a 6 1/2 minute read. Enjoy!
This week I take you back to Door County, Wisconsin. In mid-October, my Traveling Partner and I hitched the Minnie (our travel trailer) to the Red Rover (our tow vehicle, a bright red Ford f-150) and make the three hour drive to Door County. We camped for five nights in one of our favorite parks, Potawatomi State Park.
The Fall Colors
The day of our arrival, the leaves on the maples, oaks, and aspen trees were just beginning to turn color. By the end of the week, we saw the glorious colors nature provides us before winter sets in.
Eagle Tower in Peninsula State Park
During our stay, we returned to Peninsula State Park to climb the Eagle Tower for a view of the waters of Lake Michigan and the fall foliage. The day was sunny with mild temperatures. We had to shed our jackets before making the accessible walk to the Tower.
Lest you think the extra cost is wasted to make sites accessible for those not as physically abled, we saw at least three visitors using mobility devices enjoying the same scenes as able bodied people. That made me proud that the State of Wisconsin DNR and the Friends of Peninsula State Park raised the extra funds to make this view enjoyable to all citizens regardless of ability.
Cave Point County Park
One of the most visited places in Door County is Cave Point County Park. The day we stopped by, the parking lot was near capacity. Visitors were watching the fierce wind coming off Lake Michigan and whip the waves into a frenzy as they crashed into the rock cliffs. Here’s two short videos that offer a bit of insight in to the conditions.
Newport State Park
On one of our drives around Door County, we headed to the tip of the peninsula to Newport State Park. We enjoy this park for its peacefulness. Since it’s more remote, there are fewer visitors even during the summer peak. It does have a very nice beach along Lake Michigan. Europe Bay is sheltered from the strong prevailing winds off Lake Michigan making it a desirable location for swimming, kayaking, and sunning. Newport is the only Dark Sky designated park in Wisconsin so a night visit is highly recommended.
The Squiggly Road
After leaving Newport State Park, we continued on north and east on Highway 42 towards Northport where the ferry to Washington Island originates. In between Gills Rock and Northport is what I call the “Squiggly Road.” Others call it the curvy, winding, or twisty road. It’s the most photographed road in Wisconsin and maybe the Midwest. I’ve talked to people that drove a couple hundred miles out of their way to see this road.
This road was designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen, also the founder of The Clearing Folk School in nearby Ellison Bay. Jens thought a curvy road would slow traffic to allow drivers to appreciate nature. I believe this short stretch of road accomplishes that purpose.
On the day of our visit, several cars pulled to the side of the road to take photos as the leaves were beginning to turn. While my goal was to have a car free photo, I quickly determined it wasn’t going to happen. The day was beautiful and sunny with lots of leaf peepers on the road. Here is an example of my efforts for the day.
In the numerous posts I’ve written about Door County, many of them have included information and photos from Sturgeon Bay. It’s the largest municipality in Door County with nearly 10,000 residents. A couple of years ago, before Covid, we visited the Door County Maritime Museum and it’s new (as of 2016) ten story tower. The view from the tower is spectacular, offering a 360 degree panoramic view of Sturgeon Bay and the Ship Canal that connects Lake Michigan with the Bay of Green Bay. The clouds were rolling in from the west giving me a nice background for the top two photos. The next two days were rainy. This photo was from the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge.
The historic Sturgeon Bay Bridge, also known as the Michigan Street Bridge, was built in the very earl 1930s. For many years, it was the only bridge connecting the mainland to northern Door County. Just beyond the bridge is one of Door Counties largest employers, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. They renovate, repair, and build commercial ships as well as service Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers vessels. During the winter, there are several Great Lakes freighters lined up on the dock for repairs and rehab.
Next to the Maritime Museum is the restoration of the 1901 Teweles and Brandeis Grain Elevator now named the Door County Granary. The Sturgeon Bay Historical Society and City of Sturgeon Bay are working together to preserve this historic building. It addition to it’s importance to the farming communities in Door County, the structure has its own history.
For nearly 120 years it sat on the west side of the Ship Canal, in later years falling into disuse. The Historical Society received an anonymous grant of over $1 million to move, preserve and renovate the elevator. In a controversial move, the elevator was moved across the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge to the east side. There it sat for a couple of years while its fate was determined. It was then moved back across the bridge to a place near its original home. Renovations have began. I, for one, am anxious to see the final result.
Birds of North America
One evening we took in the ninety minute play at the Third Avenue Playworks in Sturgeon Bay. Written by playwright Anna Ouyang Moench, Birds of North America, examines the relationship between a father and his daughter over the course of a decade as they struggle to understand the parts of each other that defy understanding. Their common thread is bird-watching in the backyard. In the play, we see climate change having an affect on the number of birds and species cited. The father can’t understand his daughter’s employment with an oil and gas company. The play was well done and created another look at generational relationships and current events.
Miller Art Museum
On one of those rainy days, my Traveling Partner and I saw an announcement in the Peninsula Pulse for a critique on the current exhibit at the Miller Art Museum. The exhibit was the 45th Juried Exhibit of Contemporary Artwork in Wisconsin. The presenter was art instructor Shan from St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin. We enjoyed her talk and learned a bit about the status of art in Wisconsin.
In this photo, Shan is talking about piece that was created by an inmate at one of the state’s prisons. He is self taught and has limited access to quality materials. But his message was exceptionally strong. I found it fascinating.
Here Shan is standing with two artists with art in the exhibit. One was an abstract painting using alternative materials like a credit card to make her art. The other was abstract photography that left me wondering how he did that. I found both interesting. If you get a chance, stop by the Miller gallery, it’s connected to the Sturgeon Bay library and it’s free!
Door County Candle Company
This was our third visit to Door County in 2022. After Russia invaded Ukraine, we became aware of the Door County Candle Company. They created a candle the colors of the Ukrainian flag, yellow and blue. The profits from the sale of the Ukrainian candle go to Razom for Ukraine, the largest humanitarian agency helping to provide food and necessities for Ukrainians. The owner is a first generation Ukrainian, her father and grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ukraine after World War II. Not only have we purchased several candles, we volunteered for a half-day to help with the effort. To date, the sale of candles has generated $800,000 with a goal of $1 million.
The Door County Candle Company began another fundraising effort to help those affected by Hurricane Ian. This is a business that is doing a lot of community good in addition to providing quality products and jobs for locals.
Any trip to Door County isn’t complete until we stop at the pink bakery in Egg Harbor. We shared a pecan carmel roll and purchased a couple of cherry turnovers for breakfast the next morning. It’s a can’t miss place for a sweet treat!
The distinctive Hardy Gallery in Ephraim is a must stop for us. It’s now closed for the winter but don’t miss all the messages, names, and notes written on every square inch of the weathered clapboard siding. The west side contains the message we painted in celebration of our 50th anniversary this past summer. A great memory for us.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week. Stay tuned next week for another episode of Traveling With Tom.
Until then, happy travels!