This will be my last post from Door County, as we leave tomorrow. The nice people at the realty agency say we much be checked out by 10 sharp, so tomorrow morning, we’ll be packing up the car, giving Josie Dog her happy pill, and driving home. But please check out my blog later on the weekend to learn of our final days of Door County Adventures with Dog.
My friend Sara says, when considering Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” that when Frost says of this road that taking it “has made all the difference.” When this poem is studied in school—and it is, as it’s one of Frost most anthologized after “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”—that taking that road less traveled was a good thing. Perhaps, we like to imagine, it lead the speaker (and now us the readers) to some unique experience, some insight that only we and the poets got to have. And maybe it did, but Sara’s point, is that we don’t know as the speaker (and this is the English professor in me, but let’s separate the speaker from the poet, please) never tells us—and Frost, as the poet never tells us. Maybe it was an amazing unique experience to see this vista for what seems to be a first time, or maybe it was a sad little mud pit that mired the speaker up to his ankles in muck. We don’t know. And at the same time, we still long for what seems to us to be unique.
Hang on, I will not continue in this vein, but remember, I am a poet.
This is what I think—really—as we rode our bikes at Peninsula State Park. Wednesday, we had decided, would be our day at the park as the weather promised to be perfect—and it did not disappoint. We packed a lunch, swim gear, and bikes to spend the better part of the day at the park. We did not take Josie Dog, though, they do allow dogs in the park, but not at the beach. Since we planned to ride for a while, it was best to leave her at the cottage, and she didn’t mind as she had access to the bed and her favorite nylabone.
If you don’t know, Wisconsin’s real resource after cheese is its state parks. Even near our home, we regularly go to Devil’s Lake, which is a beautiful state park. Glaciers formed the lake there and hills seem to rise almost right out of the water. Also, they don’t allow motorized watercraft, so it’s very clean.
Okay, but this is about Peninsula State Park. Because it’s so economical, we bought a yearly pass, which allows us entry in to all of the states’ parks. For $28 for residents, we can go to any and all of them as much as we want until the end of December. The daily price for residents is about $7. For non-residents it’s only about $8. You can’t beat that with a stick.
Oddly, when we got into the park, there was no one staffing the pay station. It seemed one had to be on the honor system. Or what Trav said, “That’s what we call Budget Cuts.” It is not enough for Walker to strip public schools and the university system of money, collective bargaining, and governance OR enough to strip jobless folks of their dignity (here, pee in a cup before you receive the unemployment funds that you contributed to when you were working) OR for transparency for those elected officials, but Walker and his ilk also went after the parks. What did those trees, plants, lakes, and rivers do to them? That is to say, in 2015, the state (and by state, I do mean Walker and the state legislature) determined that the park system, overseen by the DNR would shift to a model where “the people who use the service should pay for the service” (Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelton). Though according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this model is untested, it was put into place so Walker could look like he’s lowering taxes and at the same time look like he’s socking to those foreigners (folks from Illinois, Minnesota, and the like). Let me be clear, prior to 2015, the state paid 28% from its annual fund. That is not much, but clearly it matters, since there was no one in the booth to collect those fees that the parks need.
So the DNR had to raise rates (the raise isn’t too bad), as well as cut positions. There are other more unsavory cuts to the DNR, but I’ll let you all do that research on your own. Suffice to say that the market forces have not yet dictated the prices as Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) says that they should nor have the parks needed to accept outside corporate sponsorship—so no “BP Devil’s Lake” or “VISA Peninsula State Park.”
Rant over. For now.
So, we drove into the park, going to the beach. We were able to park in the shade and then we had our lunch at one of the many picnic tables near the water. While having lunch, we watched the boats (canoes, kayaks, different motorized boats, and sailboats). The best thing we saw was a woman on a stand-up paddleboard with her dog. We could not imagine being able to balance on a paddleboard to begin with, but certainly not with skitchy Josie Dog.
After lunch (there is recycling in the park!), we packed up the picnic things, Trav took our bikes off the rack and we headed for the trail.
There are three basic trails, according to the free brochure provided by the park. There’s a Red Loop (3.8 miles), Black Loop, (8.3), and Total Red (10.4). Once riding, there are trails that are named, Sunset and Sentinel were two I noticed. We took off from the beach, so I think we were initially on the Sunset trail. This is a nice trail—either paved roads (there are cars, but they were careful as we were) or wood-chip and gravel covered paths. The trail took us by some nice overlooks of the lake (well, Green Bay) as well as by Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, a lighthouse which no longer functions as a lighthouse (and hasn’t since 1926), but one can take a guided tour of it. It’s a sweet little building.
From there we followed the trail along the water. It was mostly flat with breaks in the trees where we could see the water. There were even little beaches with a bench or two. At one, we saw folks with their dog, a pretty retriever of some sort. They were throwing her a toy to chase into the water. She was leashed, but they gave her plenty of lead to swim towards the toy. She didn’t seem too thrilled by the aspect of going too far into the water, and the toy was not far, but she thought too far for her—so she barked at it. I wonder if she was a cousin to the Josie Dog.
We continued on. The trail looped around to a more forested path, with limestone cliffs to the left. Last time we biked this trail in 2010, five wild turkeys crossed our path, but today, there’s no one but an occasional cyclist or two.
When we come upon other cyclists, they are friendly nodding or saying hello. But there aren’t very many and in those stretches of time, I feel like we have taken the path less traveled, even though, we know many others have.
We could’ve finished our ride of the Sunset trail, but it was only 40 minutes, so we decided to keep riding. We rode by an old cemetery first opened in 1904. We didn’t stop, but I could see some old stones as well as some that seemed more contemporary.
The trail that we followed now was a road (read: paved), but it was narrow, so it felt more like a path. We saw no one for long stretches. This path while pretty, cut through woods and more open fields. The road is Middle Road, so it felt like we were cutting up the middle of something. We didn’t run into anyone until we had to ride (okay, I pushed my bike) up a huge hill. Trav managed to ride, but I did not. There was a couple walking down the hill who said something about it being Heartbreak Hill and we should be riding down. I don’t know if this is possible, but I told them, I don’t even walk up the real Heartbreak Hill—I take the T.
I know I am out of shape, but I’ve been working out. I can swim for 30 minutes or more. I walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes at Level 3 on the Rollers setting. So why do my lungs feel like I should just spit them out here and be done with it?
When I got to the top, I communicated to Trav in “sign language” what I thought about him and riding up the hill.
The rest of the ride wasn’t too bad—especially the big hill down to Shore Road and into the parking lot by the beach. We did go by some folks on a Segue tour. I could tell the tour director wasn’t thrilled with a little grandma-type woman who either wasn’t following directions or wasn’t listening. He was very put out with Bubby. I felt bad for her. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all Bubby, if we’re lucky.
Just before we got to the parking lot, two fawn crossed the road in front us. If you are not familiar with deer and their behavior, they typically travel in twos. So if you see one, wait for the other to avoid damage to your car or bicycle.
These sweet things, though, were babies. We found them a little off of the road feeding. We shot them in the best way—quietly with our cameras.
When all was said and done, we decided we had biked at least 10 miles. We were gone for nearly two hours. My arms were a bit sore, but I actually felt good.
We decided to beach it for a while, which meant switching out the bike gear for the beach gear. There were far more people on the beach than there had been at lunch. But we found a place on grass, and we pitched our beach blanket. We were only there for an hour and half, but the sun was warm, though the water was a bit too cool for swimming. It should be noted, though, the beach was sandy and not rocky at all. No need for sand shoes.
Ten Miles and We’re Smiling
At about five or so, we packed up as everything was getting too shaded, and we headed back to clean up for dinner. We decided to go to a new place in Sister Bay, called “Lure.” Lots of fish. We had a late reservation, so we missed sunset, but the dinner we had was so worth it.
The restaurant is new, but our server said up until May a restaurant had been there called the Mission Grill. I can’t remember it, but then we don’t do a lot of meat. Trav thought the building had a look of something like a church. At Lure, they have their specialties, but they also have this brilliant concept called “Simply Prepared.” What this means is that they have about six different sorts of fish (halibut, salmon, Door County whitefish, mahi mahi, rainbow trout, and grouper). Then there are six sauces/preparations: mango salsa, lemon beurre blanc, soy ginger, miso glaze, picatta butter, and citrus vinaigrette. You pick one of each. Trav had the mahi mahi with mango salsa. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I had a Cesar salad and then an appetizer of coconut curry clams. They were tasty, small bites with a curried sauce—that had a bite, but they were good. For dessert, we shared a strawberry rhubarb crisp. The ice cream wasn’t homemade, but I actually liked it better. The dessert itself wasn’t overly sweet at all, and it was nearly slap-your-mama-good.
By the time we finished, it was after 9 and getting dark. It’s amazing how much later it stays light up here. It reminds me a little of when we lived in Rice Lake when in the summer our neighbor and his kids would be playing softball with glow-in-the-dark ball and bat. We sometimes ate so late, from our dining room we’d see the ball bouncing across the nearly dark yard.