We decided to spend our long, Independence Day weekend in the quiet town of Rowley’s Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. It was magnificent! My husband used to come up here for his summer vacations as a child. I’ve never been.
He was tooootally holding out on me!
The area is called, The Cape Cod of the Midwest, however I liked the catchier, The Thumb the local radio station used. Cherries and apples orchards are everywhere around here. We were here for cherry season, and if you are a fan, you can enjoy cherries in too many forms for me to list here! Basically, from wine to cheese to pie, you name it, they can make it with cherries here!
The geology of this area is pretty unique. In a seriously, small nutshell: About 425 million years ago, there was a shallow sea in the Lake Michigan area. After the sea dried up and deposited all the Limestone, it was covered in a glacier. All the pressure & chemical reactions turned it in to dolomite. Many years of erosion made all the beautiful bluffs we see here today. Click here if you’d like to read more about it. I think it’s fascinating. I really feel like a true Northerner when we stood at the halfway point between the equator and the North pole.
There are many bays on this peninsula and since the area is so skinny, there aren’t any cities in between the bays on the Green Bay side and the Lake Michigan side. The GB side is much calmer, better for us kayaks, swimmers and non-motor boaters. The LM side is rougher, requiring a larger boat, however that’s where the good fishing is. Many folks at our campground had both campers and boats.
The area is also known for its concentration of artists. Every craft is represented via signs along the roadways. Aside from the beauty of the area (which would make anyone want to stay), I’m not sure what draws them all here. Is it the camaraderie?
There are many workshops available to attend. The Clearing, a folk school founded by Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect of this area, is a future destination of learning for me. We visited, however only went on the 2 hour walking tour of the grounds. I’ll have a post to link to this soon.
Otherwise, living here year-round can be tough. There are no Walmarts or big box stores nearby. I think the nearest larger town is Sturgeon’s Bay, which was an hour away from our campsite. The winters can get really hash here and there are no tourists at that time. I could see it being a good time to be immersed in a project. A bit of ‘alone time’.
The towns are all very conscious of the natural beauty around them and try to keep Mother Nature happy. Many shops had beautiful gardens and well chosen natives for the area. I think these gardens gave me about 6 posts of Blooming Flowers alone!! Hmmm, I wonder if I could make it as a garden designer up here?
Many little nooks contained fountains and other artwork. Modern technology is not abandon here, however it does get its artistic touches, like this cell tower currently getting spruced-up to resemble a spruce!
These folks spend many hours putting together their summer flower displays. So pretty!
Sadly, we felt that the shopkeepers were all pretty rude. It seriously amazed me. The shops here are all somewhat upscale and expensive, not exactly touristy. Most of the time we were not acknowledged at all. We went into a kaleidoscope shop. I love them! Many were over a grand, however there were some for as low as $50. The ‘Do Not Touch!’ signs outnumbered the kaleidoscopes. Had one of the two clerks just said HELLO, I would have promptly bought the $80 one that I thought would produce some cool photos via my camerone. I’ve got principals, tho. I felt like I was looked-over and dubbed too poor to buy and no energy was going to be exhausted on us. They lost a sale because of their attitude.
Like I said, there are not many average places to buy a shot glass with Sister Bay on it or a T-Shirt, seems those places were off the beaten path. If you did find a T-shirt location, it was an astonishing $35 for a thin shirt. I always feel you have to go to a ‘locals bar’ for good T-shirts. Now those are our homes away from home. We love hanging with the natives and getting the inside scoops to places they go, away from the hustle and bustle. My advice is, always tip heavy and respect that you’re in their hood. They’ll be flapping their gums about the best spots in less than 10 minutes. We bought our commemorative, vacation glass from a bar in Gills Bay that was being sold for charity, with all the proceeds going to the local dog shelter. Duh, that was a no-brainer!!
As with any area here in ‘Merica, there seems to be a concentration of one culture or another. Here it’s Nordic. We saw many examples of this, such as the Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik, “The place with the goats on the roof”. in Sister Bay. You can click those words for the ‘Goat Cam’… Yes folks, there is a goat cam!!! (It’s a still shot, so repetitively click your ‘refresh’ button to make it a video).
All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and we’re so coming back to this area next year. Among so many other pluses, there is little light pollution at night, which makes star gazing and spotting constellations cake. Fishing is great, along with the fish being offered at the restaurants. It is very quiet here, no big box stores, large highways or airports. If you pick a strategic location, you can see a water-based sunrise and a water-based sunset!
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl