Door Peninsula – Part 2

(Author’s Note:  Please forgive me for not posting more regularly.  The area in which we are staying in Wisconsin for the month of July is somewhat remote (cell service is “spotty” and unreliable and accessing the internet through free wifi spots, like at a fast food restaurant, is almost comical (a.k.a. = frustrating!).  Therefore, my posts for the next month might be sporadic to say the least.  Hopefully, when we move over to Minnesota (near Duluth) on August 5th, cell service and wifi won’t be so unpredictable.)

FYI:  I found the public library where they have free wifi …. that actually works great!

Our second day (Thursday, July 5) in Door County, we decided to drive to the very northern point of the peninsula and take the ferry over to Washington Island.  Washington Island and a Rock Island Isle are the most northern parts of Door County.

Washington Island is about 5 miles wide and 6 miles long, and it is the largest in a group of islands that includes Plum, Detroit, Hog, Pilot, Fish, and Rock Islands.  These islands form a treacherous strait that connects Bay Green Bay to the rest of Lake Michigan.  Now littered with shipwrecks, early French explorers named this water way Porte des Morts which means “Death’s Door” giving both Door County and Door Peninsula their names.

Washington Island has a year-round population of around 700 people.  The island is the host to the Midwest region’s largest lavender farm.  Tourism is very important to the island’s economy.  It also has three parks, two beaches, a fine arts school, and the Sievers School of Fiber Arts.

There are two ferries that cross over to Washington Island.  One is a passenger only ferry and the other one is a car ferry.  We chose the car ferry that leaves from Northport Pier because we only had one day to explore the island before the last ferry heads back to the peninsula at 6:00 p.m.  Having our car would be the quickest way to get around to all the places we wanted to see.


Waiting in line to drive onto the ferry.


The last cars to get on this ferry.


Pulling away from the dock.


Zoey wasn’t too sure about the loud engine noise, but she did just fine.


As we left Northport Pier, we could see Pilot Island and its lighthouse in the distance.


This is one of the Plum Island Range Lighthouses located on the south side of Plum Island.


This lighthouse was built in 1897. It was also the home of an old United States Coast Guard station.  The life-saving station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Plum Island is closed to the public to protect ground nesting migratory birds.


Coming into Detroit Harbor on Washington Island.



Docking at Detroit Harbor.

We studied our map of the island during the 30 minute ferry ride and picked out some points of interest that piqued our curiosity.  There were SO many things to see on Washington Island, and we only had about seven hours before the last ferry headed back to Door Peninsula.

Since Detroit Harbor was on the west side of the island, we decided to explore that side and the north shore of the island first.  We went to the Arts & Nature Center, the Little Lake and Jen Jacobsen’s Cabin and Museum, School House Beach, Stavkirke, and Den Norse Grenda.


This is in the Arts & Nature Museum. In the first room were the quilts, and they were stunning! In the back room were all the insects, bugs, frogs, snakes, plants, etc., indigenous to the island. They weren’t as “stunning” and I didn’t think to take any pictures in that room. 😆[[[[



This is a picture of the inside of Jen’s cabin with a life-sized figure of him. Also picture are some of the original artifacts from his life.


I thought this was some interesting information about why Jen built his cabin and museum the way he did.


The cabin from the outside.



Little Lake was beautiful and just a short walk from Jen’s cabin.


Jen’s built this museum and the door by hand because it was his desire that documents and artifacts of the time he lived on Washington Island were preserved for all to see and from which to learn the history of the island.  There was SO much in the museum that I could have spent the whole day inside.  I didn’t take any pictures … sorry.



This is the flowering catalpa tree close to Jen’s cabin. It was gorgeous!


The next few pictures are of School House Beach. This is a rock beach instead of the usual sand.



Look at HOW smooth the rocks on the beach are!


I zoomed in on a couple of houses across the bay from School House Beach.



This is how thick the forest is right up to the edge of the rock beach. The forest is thick like this everywhere!


Next we visited a small church not far from School House Beach, called Stavkirke.



Then we stopped at Den Norse Grenda. This sign explains the history of the two buildings with GRASS on the roofs and their origin.



This is Mann’s Mercantile Shops at Den Norske Grenda.  This store had EVERYTHING imaginable!

Then we ventured over to the east and south sides of the island where we stopped at Percy Johnson County Park (we could see Hog Island from here), Historic Island Dairy Museum/Store with a small lavender farm (I can’t believe we missed the Farm Museum and Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm!  Ugh!!), Sand Dunes Park, and the Marina at the Red Barn Theater.



We literally came to the “end of the road!”



The small lavender farm we “stumbled” upon while driving around.



Lavender hanging to dry. It smelled SO good in that building!



This is a picture I “borrowed” from a friend (Kathy Wooten) who visited Washington Island just a few days after we did. She actually found the very large lavender farm that we missed. The small farm smelled lovely. I can only imagine how good the large farm smelled! (Photo credit: Kathy Wooten)



It doesn’t look it in this picture, but this uphill walk in sand was pretty steep. However, the view was worth it.



This guy had his two big dogs out swimming in Lake Michigan. They were fun to watch.


Phew!  What a day!  We headed back to Detroit Harbor, got something cold to drink and to rest a little, and then boarded the ferry for our return trip to Door Peninsula.

Washington Island is definitely a beautiful place!  I’d like to return some time and stay on the island for a few nights.  You might want to add a visit to Washington Island to you “bucket list.”

Hopefully, Door Peninsula – Part 3 will be published in another day or so.

So, for now ….. “On The Road Again!”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Wanda Johnson
    Jul 24, 2018 @ 06:31:58

    I can almost smell the lavender. Such a wonderful adventure. I want to go there. Looks like you had good weather and moved fast. So much of UP I have never visited. Someday! Thanks for sharing.


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