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Door County in blossom season

May 2022. Part One.

Having camped in Door County in the heart of winter and enjoyed it, we decided to spend an extended time in the area during the spring. It’s not the fullness of tourists season yet but the shops are open and we aren’t the only ones at the campground. The day we got here the cherry blossoms were just peeking out. Within days trees were almost in full blossom and I understand that in two weeks it will all be gone! One of the visitor pamphlets claims one can catch a whiff of cherry scent on the air and both Jim and I are believers having several times experienced it.

Our first stop was back to Peninsula State Park. Tennison Bay is one of our favorite campgrounds. We were just

steps away from the water and the Sunset Trail which runs along it. Although there were more campers there now during the week we often walked the trail and saw no others on it. It appears to be a habit for those staying there and savvy locals to come down and perch on a rock or sit on one of the memorial benches for the sunset. I am glad we did so the first night since the after storm clouds made it a spectacular end of the day. Future sunsets seemed pedestrian after that one!

Currently Jim is in the season of golf more than rockhounding and he was able to play the Peninsula course that first morning. He found it enjoyable- scenic and well maintained- and heard that in the summer it’s nearly impossible to get a tee time. (We love shoulder seasons!)

While he was occupied the dogs and I took a long hike up past the lighthouse and across the top of the peninsula. White Trillium salted with dandelions and little blue flowers that I think were common flax (although there also seemed to be forget me nots) were scattered under the trees. We came back by way of the road which gave good opportunity for birds eye view photos out over Green Bay.

That afternoon we set out on our first road ramble up towards the tip and the Ellison Bay / Gills Rock area. The vegetation seemed less lush and more windswept up there. There are several art studios, especially pottery in the area but we didn’t stop this time. We drove all the way to the ferry to Washington Island although decided against the expense of ferrying out there. The road there was quite unusually winding. Apparently the story involves the famed landscape architect Jens Jensen who moved there from Chicago and was in favor of roads that slowed the driver down and caused nature to always be in view. This was the first of several eccentricities on this drive, including a cluster of gnomes set in a tree and the sign for “Bea’s Ho-Made Pies”. If that doesn't make you giggle…well, then you are not as juvenile as us! It certainly made us stop which was a good thing since the take and bake strawberry rhubarb pie was delicious. On the way back through Sister Bay we saw the goats on the grass roofs of Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant.

Jim golfed another day at The Orchards which he described as a nice open championship golf course with plenty of terrain. The hike of the day for the dogs and I went up the Hemlock trail through a beautiful peaceful forest up on the top, filled with bird song, then down by way of what are ski trails in winter to Blossomberg Cemetery. It was lovely but I must admit I was hoping for an older more decrepit and atmospheric resting place. The entire hike we saw only one other group.

We were approaching the end of our upper peninsula time but we ate at The Bailey’s Harbor Cornerstone Pub where the single waitress deftly and cheerfully handled all comers. I appreciate their ad where the warned due to staff shortages they might close here and their for emergencies like ‘dentist appointments’. Great way to support your employees and weather staffing difficulties in a summer destination without a large pool of young workers. We also had a delicious bowl meal at Fat Belly between Ephraim and Sister Bay. My Godzilla bowl had a big chunk of avocado to cool down the spicy sauces on the crispy chicken and watermelon pickles. There was no one else at the outdoor tables so we took the opportunity to give the pups some training in sitting with us. Long way to go with that! The waitress was great and knew dogs so that really helped.

The last day at Peninsula State Park I painted a plein air watercolor at the tip of Tennison bay. It was a great peaceful spot to capture it and quite a different day than the December view I painted from inside the truck!

I had only been able to book a shorter stay at Peninsula so now we were off to Southern Door to stay a week at the KOA in Brussels WI. On our way there we spent some hours at Whitefish Dunes State park. The beach there is gorgeous!

If I had known about it back when we lived in Wisconsin I would have taken the boys there. There is a “dog beach” at the far end. The trail to it through the woods passes a recreated Native American summer village like one would have seen several hundred years ago.

Midweek in the shoulder season we had the beach to ourselves until right before we left. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we walked back and had lunch in the RV in the parking lot. I really wanted to check out Cave Point County Park and Chloe was antsy for action so she and I walked down to it. I don’t have words to describe it - sublime? Amazing? There are no guardrails etc so one can experience it fully. (I definitely kept Chloe on a short leash!). The views were so amazing I made up my mind to come back and paint. I’ll cover that in part 2 - but for now here’s a teaser photo or two!

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