Monday June 12 was a gorgeous day with temperatures peaking around eighty degrees. The Cornerstone Lodge provided us with a gift basket that contained salsa, coffee, and a stack of brochures with coupons and things to do in Door County. Among the pamphlets were maps of several of the five state parks located in Door County, and we perused these as we searched for fun activities. We hoped to undertake bike rides and hikes while exploring as much of the peninsula as possible.
Peninsula State Park caught our attention quickly, as it contained the 5.1 mile one-way Sunset bike trail. We liked the idea of an off road trail within a state park, and it was only fifteen miles from The Cornerstone. In addition more than half of the ride tracked Green Bay, and we welcomed views of the water.
Peninsula State Park is located just beyond the town of Fish Creek, so this gave us an opportunity to cruise through another resort town. Fish Creek was three times larger than Egg Harbor, and the main street contained an abundance of shops, restaurants, bars and lodging. The waterfront was only a block away from route 42, which served as the main street through town. We turned left near the northern edge of Fish Creek, and a short drive delivered us to the entrance station for the park. We paid an eleven dollar day use fee that entitled us to visit any Wisconsin state park on June 12, and then we quickly found the trailhead for the Sunset Trail and a nearby parking lot.
The initial section of the trail passed through some woodlands, but then it veered to the left and paralleled Green Bay for quite a distance. We stopped at the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and the Nicolet Bay boat launch and snapped some photos. The ride from Nicolet Bay back to the parking lot passed through more wooded areas.
We noted several signs that had the words wild parsnips in a bold font in the heading, but we never stopped to read the fine print. Later I Googled wild parsnips, and I learned that it is an invasive species from Europe and Asia that is spreading rapidly through the Midwest. It is in the Queen Anne’s lace family and grows quite tall and displays a light yellow flower. If the plant chemicals come in contact with skin, they are activated by ultraviolet light and create a nasty burn. According to the literature, it is worse than poison ivy. Of course we avoided tall yellow Queen Anne’s lace plants over the remainder of our trip.
After our enjoyable cycling experience we returned to our lodging for lunch, but just north of Egg Harbor we stopped at our first roadside fruit market. What a great place! We wandered the aisles and tasted the many samples displayed by the Wood Orchard store. Have you ever tried cherry salsa? You should, as it was delicious, and of course we purchased a jar. What about traffic jam? It is a jam comprised of mixed berries, and of course a jar of that now resides in our pantry. We limited our purchases to these two items, but we also tried cherry butter, natural peanut butter, and cherry mustard. Every sample was quite tasty, but we had to draw the line.
After lunch at our room we embarked on an afternoon adventure. Whitefish Dunes State Park was across the peninsula from our refurbished barn, so we made the short drive and completed a 2.5 mile hike. The trail began on the beach that faced east, and we caught our first glimpse of the main body of Lake Michigan. The water on the east side was much cooler, and that translated into lower air temperatures as well. Quite a few park visitors enjoyed the narrow beach, and a few hardy souls even ventured waist deep into the lake. Jane removed her Chacos and waded up to her knees, but after a few minutes she returned and complained about numb feet. This of course did not encourage me to dip my toe in Lake Michigan, so I relaxed on the sand until Jane was ready to continue our hike.
The red trail loop followed the lake for 1.2 miles, and then we turned right and headed west and climbed the Old Baldy dune, the tallest dune in the park. The dune is covered with vegetation and barely recognizable as something other than a small hill near the lake.
When I searched for brew pubs in Door County I noticed a second brewery besides Shipwrecked that was located in Baileys Harbor. Baileys Harbor was just north of Whitefish Dunes, so we made the drive to the Door County Brewery and sampled a cold beer before we traversed the peninsula again and found ourselves in Fish Creek. Additional research on our smart phones enabled us to discover a highly rated restaurant in Fish Creek called the Wild Tomato, so we dropped in for dinner. Because of lactose intolerance I resigned myself to pasta or an Italian sandwich, but the menu indicated that it was possible to order soy cheese on a pizza. Jane and I shared a 12″ pizza, and soy cheese covered my half.
Monday was the last day of my four day non-resident fishing license, and I convinced Jane to make a visit to Potawatomi State Park just south of Sturgeon Bay after dinner. The state park pamphlet indicated that 2.5 miles of shoreline were available for pursuing walleye, bass and other sport fish. The drive to Potawatomi was a bit longer than the other two parks, and we arrived so that I was in a position to fish by 7PM. I rigged my Sage One five weight since I was hunting large warmwater fish, and I hiked through the woods south of the boat launch until I arrived at a small cove. Numerous reeds poked above the water along the left shoreline, and this looked like excellent habitat for warmwater species, so I waded into the lake for twenty feet to allow space for a decent backcast.
I knotted a silver and cream colored sculpzilla to my line and began making casts along the reeds followed by pulsing strips to entice the voracious fish of Lake Michigan. After half an hour of this madness, I covered forty yards of shoreline without so much as a follow or a small sunfish. I reeled up my line and hiked back to the car where Jane waited in the passenger seat. The timing was perfect, as a large black cloud perched on the southwestern horizon, and streaks of lightning kicked off nature’s light show. Just as I hopped in the car after removing my gear, raindrops appeared on the windshield. On Tuesday Jane informed me that heavy rain pummeled the roof and walls at the Cornerstone overnight, but apparently three state parks in one day exhausted me, and I was oblivious to the outside world.