Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Door County Anniversary Trip, Day 2

Day 2: Thursday, June 4, 2015

We woke up to rain on our first full day of vacation. That didn't happen often when we were traveling around the Southwest, so we went back and forth about what we wanted to do for the day. We had a long list of things we wanted to do in Door County, but we weren't sure what would be best for a rainy day adventure. We decided to start with breakfast at a coffee shop a few blocks from where we were, and take advantage of their wifi to plan our day. This is one things we found great about this vacation - our rental home did not have wifi (which is a very good thing!) but it was never hard to find if we needed it. Lots of restaurants, stores, and information centers offered free wifi.

At Brew coffee shop

In Ellison Bay, there's a tourist information station off of the main highway. We stopped in a few times during the stay and found the friendly ladies there extremely helpful. We were never without things to do, and they also offered both free wifi and bike rentals! 

And so we set off on our adventure. First stop: Cana Island Lighthouse! Door County, WI has one of the highest concentration of lighthouses of any county in the country. There are 11 lighthouses spread out along 300 miles of shoreline. We were able to see 4 of them throughout the week, and toured 3.

Cana Island

The lighthouse!

This lighthouse is still used actively by the Coast Guard today, and it wasn't until more recently that they opened it up for tours. We learned a few things about the lighthouses in the area that day: 
1. They can be expensive to tour. This one charged even more if you wanted to go up into the tower.
2. Wherever we go, we always collect stamp images as souvenirs. The lighthouses in Door County are the only places in the US that have charged us $1 for them to stamp it into our logbooks. They have it hiding back behind the desk, so you have to know to ask for it. 

Looking down from the tower of Cana Island Lighthouse

All that being said, we did enjoy seeing lighthouses. We enjoyed imagining what it would have been like to be lighthouse keepers together. Typically, a man would be hired to live in the lighthouse, and his wife would also be paid as his assistant. We would totally be up for that. :)

Overlooking Lake Michigan

The Nautical Parking Brake.

Our first wildlife sighting (of many) - a garter snake!

After Cana Island, we drove down the East side of the peninsula to Toft Point State Natural Area. This is the only virgin forest in the county, and it was Curtis' favorite hike from the entire week. It's currently owned by University of WI - Green Bay and WI Chapter of Nature Conservancy and still protected.


Old cabins were scattered around a clearing.

We stopped for a letterbox and enjoyed the scenery. We were the only ones out here, it was peaceful and lovely.

We were walking along the trail in the above picture (right after I took this picture) and suddenly, we saw something moving around ahead. It took us a bit to figure out what it was, but then it came to us: a porcupine! It was both thrilling and terrifying. We know what to do in the event of a mountain lion attack, but what do you do about porcupines?! ;) We decided to turn back and give it its space. It was a lot bigger than I thought a porcupine would be.

Next up, we drove through Bailey's Harbor and saw the lighthouse from a distance, and the range lights. We knew about these because of letterboxes in the area, and enjoyed checking them out.

Range Light!

No wonder it's so cold up here!

After that, we decided to do some indoor things. We stopped at Simon Creek Vineyard & Winery - our first ever visit to a winery! Typically, vacations always mean hiking and outdoor things for us, so this vacation was special because it included things we'd never done together before. Simon Creek offers free tours at 2 (which we missed today - too bad!) and free tastings all day. 

Leaving Simon Creek Winery.

We decided we needed a little afternoon snack, so we stopped at the dairy farm right down the road. (I can't remember what it's called, but it's off the same road as Simon Creek and hard to miss!) We got ice cream there and enjoyed walking around the farm.

When you're missing your puppy, and every animal you see starts to remind you of her...

Baby cows!

After that, we stopped at an art gallery in a barn, and left feeling inspired. The lady there asked if we were looking for a wedding venue. Nope, you're 2 years too late. :)

We decided that eating at Al Johnson's "The Restaurant with the Goats on the Roof" in Sister Bay was completely necessary. Sadly, because of the rain, the goats weren't out - but don't worry, we saw them eventually! ;)

Soup & Sandwich special

Curtis' pickled herring platter. He described it as pickly and delicious. :)

Walking along Sister Bay.

Apparently, when your town is known for having "The Restaurant with the Goats on the Roof," you really need to take that theme and run with it. There are goat shaped signs hanging all around the town, each uniquely decorated.

Our final stop for the day was a short hike on Door Bluff. It was approaching sunset, so we were a little nervous about running into wildlife after our terrifying experience earlier. However, that didn't take away from enjoying this beautiful area! Here, we learned something about hiking in Door County: Being a peninsula, you would think that trails along the bluffs would be full of lake views, but you're wrong - we knew the lake was right there, but because of the trees, we weren't able to see it! This trail walks right along the bluff, and there is only one spot where you can actually see the lake!

Here's our one lake view - it was just the right moment with the sun setting. Absolutely gorgeous!

We took one more walk around Ellison Bay before calling it a night. Even with the scattered showers throughout the day, we still managed to pack in lots of activities. We relished our first rainy day, but were glad to see that our week here was not forecasted to be rainy every day!

Day 2 Wrap Up: found 8 letterboxes, saw 2 lighthouses & range lights, hiked at Toft Point & Door Bluff, visited a winery, dairy farm, and The Restaurant with the Goats on the Roof.

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