***I apologize–I’m catching up on posts from the past that haven’t made it on the sight yet. This is from Washington island at the end of last month. On or our favorite places so far on the loop.***
Well the best laid plans and all.
Our original plan was to anchor one night at Washington Island and then continue our journey south. But we woke up in the morning, it was an absolutely gorgeous day and there was an island in front of us. We have been hitting home runs when it comes to islands–they have all been awesome, so we decided to see if we could find some dock space that could fit our boat. We made a couple of phone calls and we hit the jackpot. We ended up at a (now) private dock where there was space for a bunch of boats, but was only two. Ours and Peter from Green Bay who was relaxing on his sailboat on the island for a couple of days. Peter has known Jim, the owner, for decades and comes up regularly. Jim, the aforementioned owner, met us at the dock, tied us off, gave us the short tour and then gave us a short history of his place and the island. He has lived his entire life on the Island, as did his father and grandfather. The only exception was for five years when he joined the Air Force. Why not Navy, I asked? Because he worked on his dad’s boat for years and he remembered vividly painting and scraping and didn’t want to do that on an aircraft carrier! Jim was in the Air Force during the Viet Nam era and was over in Southeast Asia for a portion of his service. During the two days we were with him and Pete, we found out that he also wrote a book about his time working on his father’s boat, the “American Girl.” It is worth reading; gives you a feel for how hard the boating life was, how many dangers watermen took to move supplies to islands and how much expertise was required to maneuver ships over seas before there were maps, or GPS, or radar.
We were docked early in the morning and had the whole day ahead of us, so we walked over to a bike rental shop across the street and rented three one-speed bikes for the day. One speeds. Like the bike I had when I was 10 years old in 1975. They are still around. And they come with a basket! We got a briefing on the fun stuff to see on the island and then we took off. Our destination was the Northwest corner of the island to Schoolhouse beach. It is a rock beach, composed of ‘smooth’ rounded rocks. ‘Smooth’ because though they are mostly smooth, they still hurt to walk across with bare feet! Since it was close to lunchtime, we decided to stop at Albatross Drive in for burgers.
The land of the talkers (and wavers)
The Albatross has been around for 40+ years and it’s motto is something like “Relax, you are north of the tension line.” Which one assumes you cross when you get on the ferry to get to the island. Or maybe when you cross into Door county. And next to their menu is a sign that says they make food good, not food fast. And true to their sign, we got good burgers but certainly not quickly. We also got our first (but certainly not last) order of fried cheese curds. While we waited I went back to a tiki bar in the back for a glass of tine for Jan and aa local porter for myself. And while I was there I ended up talking to the nice bartender for about 10 minutes. About every topic under the sun. Because we have moved from the land of the wavers into the land of the talkers. I LOVE it, but I grew up here. Jan, being from the East Coast, wants to get in and get out and that just doesn’t happen around here.
Bellies full, we hopped back on our bikes and headed first to the lavender fields. Fields of the purple flower plus a gift shop where you could buy, you guessed it, stuff made with lavender. We opted for the lavender macaroons; they were purple and fantastic. Then we went the 4.5 miles to the ‘beach.’ School house beach is on a picturesque bay. Water is crystal clear, rocks are blindingly white and on this sunny day, the place is filled with people cooling off in the water. We brought our chairs and setup our little area; AJ went to swim in the water and on the float with other kids and Jan and I promptly fell asleep.
Two hours later we hopped back on our trusty steeds for the bike back with a couple of stops. First was to the Sweet Shop for some gelato (AJ) and white-chocolate peanut butter cups (Jim). Sugar level back up we headed to Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Pub. Nelson’s is the oldest legally continuously operated tavern in the state of Wisconsin. It was opened in 1899 and when prohibition became the law of the land, the owner, Tom Nelsen, successfully made the case for a pharmastist’s license so he could dispense bitters as a “stomach tonic for medicinal purposes.” Since then thousands of people each year down a shot and become part of the Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Club. We became members in good standing by taking a (nasty) shot of bitters. Yuck.
Then off to turn in bikes and to dinner. Back at the dock, we sit down with Pete for an hour and go over potential anchorages in the area; his favorites and places not to be missed. And then bed early for all of us.
On 31 July, the sun rose and with it came the groans from AJ’s cabin. His legs were sore. He couldn’t possibly move. Walking or biking was out. OUT! The day was going to have to be spent indoors. Playing electronics preferably. But no biking. Something had to be done, and we went out and found a bike rental shop that had multiple speed bicycles. Like seven speeds (who knew they made them?). Which was enough to get us back on the road. We had a light breakfast on the boat but it wasn’t enough so our first stop (after a mile of biking) was the local bakery for breakfast sandwiches. Then back on the bikes to the tallest hill in the middle of the island so we could climb 119 stairs to a tower and look across the island. Good view. Not sure it was worth the stairs. Back on bikes with a quick stop at a local dairy farm which was the first one on the island. And a major, major disappointment. There were NO DAIRY PRODUCTS AT THE DIARY FARM! Like say cheese curds? Or cheese? Or ice cream? Back on bikes (again) to the North East corner of the island where we caught a ferry to Rock Island. Hike 1.5 miles to the lighthouse. Quick tour and we retrace our steps back home with a stop for sandwiches and another stop for gelato.
Back at home to make a big pot of spaghetti and relax on our last night on Washington Island. Our new favorite place.