It has been my unspoken/unwritten principle that my paid vacation days are for international travels and long weekends for domestic travels. As a result, we often inadventently explore some destinations during off season.
For the Easter weekend of 2017, two friends and I visited the famous Door County. Known as the Cape Cod of the midwest and located 3.5 hrs drive north of chicago, Door county, still in its sleepy mode in mid April, definitely didn't disappoint us with its quaint costal communities and coastlines.
The bays were quiet, but not feel deserted; no human activities whatsoever except the birds in the air and fishes in the water. The streets and hotels were not clogged with vacationers. Most stores were still closed for business. Nonetheless, there was a sense of transcending calmness that would not have otherwise seen/felt during the high season.
Door county has a shoreline of 293 miles and 11 of the 35 lighthouses in WI are in Door county. Visiting some lighthouses was part of our itinerary in addition to our quest for nature theraphy. The weather was mostly cloudy or intermittent heavy downpour until the last day, but that did't deter us from sipping nature's blessings of crispy fresh air, peace, and tranquility.
Day 1 - Travelled up north
We spent most of the day on the road driving up north from Chicago with some stops in between. We managed to visit two lighthouses: Baileys Harbor Range Lights and Cana Island Tower before dusk.
Baileys Harbor Range Light is simply lovely; white body with a red rooftop. The long wooden walkway flanked with tall trees that connects the Oil and Privy houses and the lighthouse somehow carries a very hopeful expression, as if beckoning and guiding sailors/travellers to come home safely. A great place for great photos.
Cana Island Tower Lighthouse. A typical lighthouse structure and in white color. One of the two lighthouses we visited that permit visitors to view it up close. At the time of our visit, there were students camping in the compound.
It could be because of off season with fewer restaurant choices, the food in Door County was unexpectedly more pricey and less tasty compared to Chicago.
Day 2 - Heading to Washington Island.
Washington island is a cute little island, located northernmost of Door County. Lie at the tip of the pinkie-shaped penisula via highway 42 is Washington island Ferry Line. Be prepared to see the surprising, dramatic ending of the highway 42 by moseying along this last stretch 2-mile snake-like winding road view. Haven't seen one like this elsewhere!
The ferry fare for vehicle is $26 and for individual $13.
For us, the two highlights on this island are the nordic style Stavkirke church and the School House Beach. As expected, other musuems were still closed until May.
There are two paths off the main road that lead to the church. One of them is the Prayer Path, perfectly ideal for both wood and spiritual theraphies. The short prayer path is in the wooden area and is decorated with sculptures related to the bible verses. The church is an incredible piece of architecture, completely made out of darken wood.
When we stepped into the church, we saw two ladies cleaning the interior of the church; one on her knees scrubbing the floor and another wiping the altar. When asked, they stated this was their annual cleaning to prepare for the good friday night service at 8am. They were extremely friendly and informative, telling us more about the church history and the island. We didn't stay for the night service as the last ferry leave the island at 4:30pm. It would have been nice to stay for the unique service and to mingle with the local residents on this Christ's cruxificion day.
It is surprising to learn that the local residents pay for the same ferry fare as tourists and the demographic on the island consists of mostly younger children and their parents, and retirees. Teenagers, once reach the college age, will leave the island for further education and job opportunites and tend to return later in life for retirement.
Knowing most stores/restaurants might be closed, we came prepared with light lunch - salad and boiled eggs. While waiting out the rain, we enjoyed the food at the park shelter in School House Beach. Cold but joyful.
According to some people, this beach is the quintessential stone skipping beach in Door County because of its distinctive smooth, ivory-white pebble stones that compose the beach. We had the whole beach to ourselves. No other sounds but the soothing, calming splashing waves against the pebble stones.
The water is so crystal clear and the stones are uniquely beautiful in the water. It is against the law to take the stones away from the beach.
On the way back to our hotel in Sturgeon Bay, we stopped by our favorite bayside village Ephraim. It was raining intermittently that we only managed to take a couple photos. To our surprise that there were so many large fishes swimming at the surface of the lake.
We swang by Sherwood Point Lighthouse before our dinner. It was drizzling and dark. Not much to see, except taking a photo for memory.
Day 3 - Last Day
I had seen more beautiful wave-worn limestone cliffs than the ones at Cave Point County Park. However as the fog rolled in and shyly blurred the sight of the white limestone cliff with lush green at the top and the white crashing waves at the bottom, the view became rather breathtaking.
Undeniably that sunlight is extremely crucial for taking a good photo. And yet there is something very mystical about the foggy misty effect that is so mesmerizing and appealing to the soul and naked eyes.
Another great experience of the foggy effect that we had was at Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pierhead Light. While we were walking on the walkway out to see lighthouse, suddenly the dense fog banks shrouded the surrounding area. Within seconds, the visibility dropped drastically to maybe only 200 feet. The long shoreline and the tall Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse literally vanished from sight.
The fog was dispelled by the harsh sunlight just as quickly the dense fog appeared out of nowhere. To be honest, this particular nature effect was very magical.
As we walked back to our car, the sunlight completely broke through the thick cloud and beamed upon the lake. The first time in three day, the lake water color finally turned aquamarine, so incredibly beautiful.
Door County is ideal for outdoor activities as well as for spiritual rejuvenation. Its views are not as spectacular or grand as Grand Canyon or other places, but they surely are soothing to the soul.
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