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!”


Door Peninsula Wisconsin – Part 1

On Wednesday, July 4th, we got up early and packed our bags and our dog and headed to Door County, Wisconsin.  Door County is the most northern part of the Door Peninsula.  We had heard from various friends and family how beautiful that area is along the eastern coast (Lake Michigan) as well as along the western coast (Bay Green Bay).

We decided we would take a more southern route over to the lower east side of the peninsula.  Our first stop was near Two Rivers, WI, at Point Beach State Forest.  It was our first glimpse of Lake Michigan, and the first thing we noticed was how much cooler it was there.  We were a little disappointed because it was very hazey over Lake Michigan.  A friendly man explained to us that it was a very warm wind that was blowing from the east to the west (instead of from west to east).  The water in Lake Michigan is still very cold this time of year, so the warm wind causes “steam” to rise off the lake.



I can’t believe I caught that bird in flight.


Lake Michigan (and all the Great Lakes) were critical to the success of travel, trade and settlement of this area (and still is today!). Signs like this one were all over the coastline. It was interesting to read about the history of the water transportation at each of our stops.  I won’t bore you with pictures of ALL those signs.  😊 [[[[


We also saw our first lighthouse of the trip:  Rawley Point Lighthouse.  Construction on the lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling began in March of 1873, and because of various complications, was not completed until December of 1874.  The lighthouse was staffed until 1979 when the station became fully automated.


And one more picture of the lighthouse.


Now I REALLY can’t believe it!  Zoom in and look between the circular roof of the dwelling and about halfway up the lighthouse. Do you see the bird dive-bombing something? 😂

Then we headed north along the Lake Michigan shoreline to the town of Kewaunee.  Kewaunee is a lovely coastal lake town with beaches, a marina and it’s own lighthouse (I never discovered the name of this lighthouse).


Then we continued north along the coast to the town of Algoma.  Algoma has a scenic walkway along the Ahnapee River with views of boats, old fishing shanties (didn’t get any pictures of those 😢), and the Algoma Lighthouse.



I’m getting good at catching these birds in flight.


We were getting close to Sturgeon Bay where we had motel reservations for three nights.  We had gone far enough north on the eastern coastline side and decided to go across the peninsula to the west side which was close to where our motel was located.  However, before checking into our motel, we headed to Potawatomi State Park which is at the mouth of Sturgeon Bay and only 4 miles from our motel.

This state park is named for the Indian tribe that once occupied the land.  There are campgrounds, picnic areas, a nature center and park store, and Old Ski Hill Overlook (which has a beautiful panoramic view that I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the fall!).



There were 3 or 4 deer that crossed the road right in front of us. This is the momma, and her baby is behind the tree (you can kind of see baby’s hind end in this picture.)


And…..NOW there is baby!



Old Ski Hill Overlook.


Old Ski Hill Overlook.


Old Ski Hill Overlook.


Old Ski Hill Overlook (I zoomed in on this picture).  Can you see the country church on the left about halfway up?


The final view at Potawatomi State Park. Can you tell it was getting ready to pour down rain?

The town of Sturgeon Bay is the gateway to Door county.  It is located right at the natural end of Sturgeon Bay.  The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal was built across the remainder of the Door Peninsula to connect Bay Green Bay to Lake Michigan.  Ships were and are an important mode of transportation for goods as well as people.  The shorter portion of the canal was dug between July, 1872 – late fall of 1881.  Smaller watercraft began using the canal in 1880, however, it was not open for large-scale watercraft until 1890.

There are two draw bridges that allow larger ships to go from Bay Green Bay to Lake Michigan through the canal.  We drove across both bridges and actually saw one of the draw bridges letting a large yacht go through one evening (although I didn’t get my camera out in time to catch the yacht going through;   I just got the bridge coming down).  Sturgeon Bay is an beautiful, interesting bay and busy harbor.


All of this was just DAY #1 of our trip to Door Peninsula and Door County!  Now you understand why I chose to make a Part 1 and Part 2 blog of this adventure. 😆   I’ll post more about DAY #2 and #3 in a few days.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”


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