Monday, September 29, 2014

Full Weekend at Door County

We returned to Door County in Wisconsin for our annual fall camping trip.

It’s always exciting to get there to put the tent up. Kai wanted to play with the campfire.

He was especially looking forward to making s’mores.

And they turned out great!

The next morning we went to Eagle Tower. If you squint, you may be able to see Kai and my wife about a third of the way up the 75-foot structure.

My knees told me that the tower was taller this year, though Kai had no trouble hiking to the top. Here’s the view from the top. Please pay attention to the little island that you can get a glimpse of on the right side of the photo. That is Horseshoe Island (more on that later).

Next, Kai wanted to go to the beach. My wife volunteered that I would go in the water with Kai. ☺

The water was really cold. I mean, it was REALLY COLD. Even Kai thought it was cold, and he is a penguin when it comes to going into cold water. Nonetheless, he still wanted to walk all the way out to the boundaries of the swimming area.

Next, we wanted to try kayaking.

After our experience kayaking the Skokie Lagoons, we felt like taking on the challenge of kayaking in a bigger body of water. The man who rented kayaks told us of a few places we could go to. He said that it would take 20 to 30 minutes to kayak to Horseshoe Island. As we only wanted to go out for an hour, we thought that was perfect.

We rented a kayak large enough for the three of us, though Kai only sat with his back to Mom and did not paddle.

Here you see us with our destination in the background. This picture was taken when we had already paddled out nearly halfway. We still had a long distance to go.

We learned that kayaking in a large body of water like Lake Michigan (or technically, Green Bay) is much more difficult than kayaking in the small, calm waters of the lagoon back home.

Even though it was a calm day, there seemed to be just enough wind and/or current that it was challenging to stay on course toward our target. (Or perhaps, my wife and I were just not in sync and kept steering off course). Anyway, we would keep going too far to one side, then over-adjusted to the other. We were zig-zagging instead of going straight.

The choppy waves from passing motor boats did not help either, and were a bit scary as the thought of capsizing in that cold water was not attractive.

The final issue was more mental. In a small space like the lagoon, you can see every tree go by so you can tell that you are making progress. But in this big open space, we passed few landmarks and the island appeared to be far away no matter how hard we paddled. It felt like we were making no progress at all.

With nary a break, with our arms aching, we finally approached the island. But we had taken so much time to get there that we turned around without the planned rest on the island. We wanted to get back in our allotted time as the man told us that if we were late, they would send someone out after us.

The trip back was probably even harder than going out. But we made it! It was an accomplishment. And it may have satiated our desire to kayak for a while.

After a break for lunch, we got our bicycles out to ride on one on of the beautiful trails in the State Park. We had tried this last year but Kai tumbled off his bike in the first few minutes and we did not ride for long. We were hopeful of going further this time.

Kai did much better this year.

As incentive to keep going, we set our destination as the frozen custard stand just outside the Park entrance, about four and a half miles from our campsite. It was about the same distance as the loop we usually ride back home.

Kai generally rode well, though he often rode too slowly to make it up the hills.

But we achieved our goal and enjoyed some big sundaes.

Riding back was a bit more challenging. Kai was tired and I had to keep encouraging him to pedal faster.

“Keep going!”

“Pedal faster!”

He did not like my encouragement.


Oh, brother. I could just imagine what passing bicyclists must have been thinking if they heard Kai yelling that to me.

But we made it back to our campsite. The 9-mile round trip was probably the longest we had ever biked together.

And once we relaxed in the tent and played games, Kai was back to his happy self again.

We capped our day off by going into town to experience our first fish boil.

A Door County tradition, the fish boil involves a huge cauldron of salt water being brought to a boil.

Potatoes and onions are first put into the pot, and later fresh water whitefish steaks are added. At just the right moment, the boil master tosses kerosene into the fire beneath the pot, setting off a huge blaze that causes the water to boil over, dramatically carrying off the fish oil that had collected on top.

The fish, potatoes, and onions are pulled out and carried to the kitchen, where they are served with a generous drizzling of butter.

The fish was really tasty, though the service at the restaurant left a lot to be desired.

Kai is not one for regular fish (he likes shellfish) so he had the ribs, which he said was really good as well.

As you might imagine, we were very tired and slept pretty well in the tent that night.

The next day, we took a ferry over to Washington Island.

The boat ride took half an hour. And then we explored the large island.

One of the highlights was a neat-looking church. Before you get to the church itself, you walk on the “Prayer Path” through the woods.

Along the path are numerous Bible scriptures.

And then we arrived at the wooden church.

It was beautiful outside and in.

We also went to a farm museum. Here Kai is feeding a goat.

We had a long drive ahead, so we couldn’t stay on the island too long. We grabbed a take-out lunch to eat in the car while on the ferry.

Back on the mainland, we drove home, stopping only to buy some cherry pie to have later.

It was a fun weekend. We had done a lot. Frankly, I didn’t expect to be able to do all those things. We wouldn’t have been able to in years past.

And so it was a great weekend in many ways.

And best of all it portends more good times ahead.


  1. Wow...what a super adventure! Don't you just hate that feeling when you are at the point of no return only to find out you are fading fast :) My son and I got that feeling when we went snow biking...on the way back...all uphill.

    This was the fish boil you were talking about earlier. I have never before seen one. Food just tastes better in the outdoors...especially so after a nice show such as the boil over.

    Nordic architecture! I've only seen these type of structures through TV shows and in certain video games.

    Kai is funny. Stop Swearing, Dad! :)

    A great weekend trip!

    1. We did have the option of turning around sooner on the kayak, but I really wanted to get to the island. But you're right, at that point we had no choice but to paddle all the way back. At least it wasn't uphill for us, though it did seem like we were going against the wind the whole time.

      I don't think they do fish boils anywhere else except Door County.

      You would like that church. Very nice architecture.

      Yeah, he was very funny, although you might not think so if it had been you. :)

  2. Wow....that first day! You packed a lot of fun into it and got an extreme workout, too! I was just sure you were going to say that they trip back on the kayak was easy and the waves pushed you along. ha. Lovely weather, too!

    I've never seen a fish boil....I didn't know that's how it was done! Pretty neat! Maybe I should do one in our backyard while I don't have an oven. haha.

    1. Haha, get a big pot, make a big fire, and you're all set. You can be the Fish Boil Lady of Ohio.

  3. What a great vacation. We go camping every year too, but haven't been to Door County - we will have to put that on the list for next year. Thanks for sharing.


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