Monday, July 27, 2020

Bayshore Bluffs


Door County is a peninsula that juts up into Lake Michigan from the city of Green Bay at its base. We proved you can drive in and out in a day especially as Highway 57 into the county is a four lane expressway. That road is in some ways symbolic of how Door County struck me, you can make a fast dive in and out  with no requirement to meander and view the beauty.  This place is where everyone will direct you if you ask: "What should I see in Wisconsin?" I knew a blogger a decade ago who worked as a landscaper in Door County until gentrification and bitter isolated winters sent her to the city and off her blog. So I can say I had heard of Door County but beyond that...And you know what? There are people - and I'm not joking here - who have never heard of the Keys. 
Door County is a wild amalgam of gentrified coastline with expensive homes right down to the water but inside that ring of summer home money lies a gentle peaceful rural swath of farmland that looks and feels no different from mainland Wisconsin. I was quite surprised to see agriculture in full bloom, proper well kept farms,  right alongside the self absorbed holiday maker's paradise. It was as though there were still a working dairy farm in Key West somewhere between Flagler Avenue and North Roosevelt. Sears put paid to that but Door County has preserved farmland. And it turns out a small strip or two of parkland. We found this one:
I left my wife to her watercolors and set off on an 85 degree day to check out this piece of wilderness with -who else?- Himself.  I have no idea what these plants are called and there was no Verizon cell service (hence the prolonged radio silence on this page) to look up a Field Guide to the Flowers of Door County, if one exists. Anyway I took some pictures as souvenirs, not as explanations of where we found ourselves.
This place is weird I tell you. I saw flies acting like honeybees looking for pollen in the flowers. 
I saw no alligators but I did have a large beetle fall out of a tree right in front of me, buzzing angrily as it lay on it's back as though drunk. Finally it righted itself exposing a crazy silver back and flew off angrily.
The whole place felt like Alice Through The Looking Glass.
I confess I thoroughly enjoyed the deciduous forest, with all those bright green leaves, shifting shadows and sparkling sunlight. Mangroves were far from my mind. I am so fickle.
Herself was enjoying the van on her own meditating with watercolors, and though the Internet was a remote memory Verzon still worked well enough to send texts so I knew Rusty and I were off the leash as we started to climb the actual bluffs.
I got quite caught up in photographing miniature purple foxgloves. Another Wisconsin oddity.
The posted a useful map and I determined we should follow the longest yellow line up the hill and onto the plateau above where there is apparently another parking lot.
Three nice people from Chicago passed me by as I waved my camera about and they dutifully put on masks even as we distanced ourselves. Luckily they were gone as they were elderly nice people who might not have enjoyed seeing a sweet friendly dog turn into an alligator after they disappeared.
I only started to sweat when we climbed the hill as my cardio exercise is mostly of the flatland type but Rusty thought it was warm enough to indulge in his favorite transgression: getting covered in rich black mud.
It wasn't exactly Everest but I plodded manfully up like the Flatland Floridian I am and he left me far behind hopping like a rabbit with no effort at all.

I found a spider doing its job so in honor of all the box spiders I left behind at home tangling up my mangrove trails I recorded this fiend settling in to an early lunch:
I reached the top of the hill and walked the flat part of the trail catching my breath, my broken pelvis gives me no trouble at all these days. But Rusty denied he didn't care for whatever view there might be, enticingly close but too far away to interest him. He did that stubborn thing he does so well and sat on the trail staring at my back until I turned around and yielded with as much good grace as I could muster which was not much.  The trail still looked lovely on the way back.  
This time two more people who had parked at the top lot came by, distanced as well as masked as we passed like a trio of bandits meeting in the woods. They asked me for directions to the bluffs which was a bit of a laugh but apparently they wanted to walk all the way from lot to lot first for we saw them later across the meadow.

There they were, no camera or dog to impede their progress, crossing the lovely meadow towards Layne in the van.
I had to stop for this, especially as the butterfly cooperated by sitting still in a rather unimaginative pose, but very decently opened its wings for me. All orange butterflies are monarchs to me unless proved otherwise...
A tree in wildflowers:
Queen Anne's lace maybe?
Ding Door County the right way:
The artist in her lair:

Van life as she is actually lived:
Then we drove back to Sturgeon Bay and took off for the other side of Door County.
Sturgeon Bay is in the middle of the peninsula where it is cut in two by two fiords that meet at the bridge in the middle of town. There is another road bridge but much less picturesque:
They sail sailboats around here even though the water is fresh and has no swells and no tides. The Great Lakes are actually fearsome places to sail if you do it wrong as weather changes rapidly and short sharp wind waves make life difficult I have been told. Lakes are not the ocean but they have their issues.
Many states and two countries share the coastlines here so it should not be surprising that the US Coastguard is well regarded by the locals.
Classic downtown small town mid western town Sturgeon Bay, lovely under bright sunshine. We noticed many local businesses in places like this, flanked of course by some notable chain stores but local business seems to be thriving here in a way Key West can only envy.
They even have a Tropic Cinema equivalent which they claim is the Wisconsin crown jewel of theaters. I hope t thrives after coronavirus.
There's not much more to say about this fascinating peninsula except to hope that after the virus they pick up as before. For us, no masks no social distancing and no care at all about coronavirus precautions meant we couldn't enjoy any of the many attractions. The irony of course is there are many things to see and they were out of our reach. I'd like to think they will get away with it but I fear there is an awful reckoning to come as coronavirus is bound to spread out of control here as it did in Florida when the Sunshine State ignored the implications.