Door County – Wisconsin

Dates: September 6 – 11, 2017
Difficulty Level: Moderate
What’s Included: 5 nights, daily breakfast and dinner, guide, bicycle rental, and all entrance fees.
Notes: This tour is offered through Road Scholar in 2017. Please click here to review prices and other information.

Door County is the piece of Wisconsin …

… you might not know is there. A slender finger extending into Lake Michigan, Door County forms the peninsula sheltering Green Bay. The atmosphere is tranquil in spirit and friendly by nature, congenial to cycling and cyclists.

Icelanders like it here; maybe because the nights are cool even when the days are warm. Cherry trees and apple trees, like the transplanted Icelanders, thrive here as well. Try the cherry pie, for proof. It’s also healthy country for grapes and their accompanying wineries. A winery stop is on our agenda.

Five state parks enhance this relatively small area, and twelve lighthouses speak to the dangers of the coast. Both state parks and lighthouses provide interesting destinations. Our travels will take us from picturesquely named Egg Harbor to Ellison Bay, where we’ll visit Ridges Sanctuary nature preserve to learn about rare plants and bird life. Our farthest point is Washington Island, reached by ferry, six miles off the tip of the peninsula, where we will have an opportunity to explore the beaches and the pretty town. Somewhere along the line, perhaps on the ferry, the dark meaning of the name of the county will be clear. The rocky strait between mainland and island claims ships in bad weather; the French called it “Porte des Mortes.” No county would choose to be called “Death’s Door,“ but “Door County” leaves the underlying message unstated to visitors, understood by locals.

Coastline means fishing and fishing means good eating. In Door County that translates to the memorable dish called Fish Boil, a sight to see as well as to eat. Potatoes, onions, and white fish are cooked in a large kettle over a wood fire. The fire is built up at the end so that the kettle spectacularly boils over, then fish and vegetables are doused with butter and served up. Cherry pie no doubt follows.

Although people have lived on Door County peninsula deep into pre-history, nature is still the dominant factor. Our rides take us through woodlands and along the shore and will include a visit to the Door County Maritime Museum. Villages frequently retain a sense of other times. Ephraim, for instance, began as a Moravian settlement in the middle of the 19th century, carrying the ideals of what is considered the first Protestant church into this remote location. The town retains a strong awareness of its heritage. We’ll also visit Fish Creek, which has had, of course, a thriving fishing industry.

The pleasures of Door County have been known to several generations of visitors but its charm lies in holding onto its identity while extending a welcome. Our visits, timed to avoid the summer throngs, take place in those slightly off-season periods when the fun can be had without the crowds.