Up North: Part 1

Oct 25, 2012 View Comments by

Up north, in Wisconsin, is anywhere north of Madison. Reason being, that’s where the land starts to open up and become more country. There are more bait shops than McDonalds and more bars than churches—it’s the north woods, i.e. a hunter kind-of-a-thing.

Well it’s that great northern land that we are heading into, Door County to be precise. If you look at the state of Wisconsin you will see it resembles a glove, maybe even a baseball glove—not a mitten like Michigan. Nonetheless, the area that looks like the thumb is Door County, which runs from Green Bay in the south to Washington Island in the north, with lake Michigan on its east and west. Between these points are scads of small (pop 200-300) little picturesque towns, cherry and apple orchards, wineries, and gift stores. This area has been rightly called “the Cape Cod of the Midwest.” For my money, it’s better; less crowded, and with no chain stores or restaurants of any kind, mostly family owned and very cozy.

Geographically, Sturgeon Bay has always been the “doorway” to the door; it’s about a third of the way up the thumb and is the joining point between “lake” and the “bay side” (Michigan). As such you can cross a high bridge over the harbor and get a great view of some of the larger boat yards of both states. Just north of here the road splits into highway 42, up the more developed bay side, and highway 57 up the less developed lakeside. Both routes offer plenty to see and do, with excellent shops, small restaurants, and friendly bars. Each highway is a two lane-er with near perfect roadbed and a mixture of rolling, curvy, and straight stretches. There are also numerous crossroads, driveways, and paths that intersect these byways so exercise caution. For the “full effect” of Door County, the more seasoned traveler will head up one side and return on the other.

The ethnic settlement of this area is mostly the Swedes, Finns, Danes, and Norse. And their effect on the area is easy to see from wood carved trolls to grass covered roofs, not to mention some awesome food, and bakeries (of course). I have been coming to this area since the 60s, and it really hasn’t changed, it’s only gotten better. How do they do that?

To be continued.

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About the author

A Wisconsin farm boy, I learned how to ride a cow, before a horse and way before a motorcycle. I first started riding on my 16th birthday and I took my first real ride at my party: I pulled a wheelie and dug a trench in the lawn, which sent the bike in one direction and me in another. I was irrevocably hooked!