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updated: Oct 22, 2011, 9:45 AM
We've all heard the tune, if not the lyrics, of that grand old fight song,
"On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin,
Plunge right through that line. . ."
Great stuff and a great state.
I started thinking about Wisconsin in the 5th grade, when my pal, Richard Boller
and his family moved to Carpinteria from Sheboygan, WI. Mr. Boller wanted to
be a fisherman and did just that, in a very cool commercial boat he reconstructed
from a smaller shell of a boat. So they relocated from Lake Michigan to the
Pacific Ocean. He soon made a living hooking albacores, with Richard and his
brother hauling them in. Hard work.
There's German influence all over the Badger State, as evidenced in the Bollers,
but not much is noticeable to travelers:
"Between 1820 and 1910, nearly five and a half million German immigrants came
to the United States. Most settled in the Midwest, and many came to Wisconsin,
whose rich farmlands and rising cities attracted three major waves of immigrants.
Today German influence in Wisconsin is still quite apparent, from churches, to
food and beverages, to cultural and educational institutions. In a 1990 census,
more than 53 percent of the state's residents considered themselves German,
highest of any state in the United States."
We sensed an increasing population and energy as we drove down from Iron
Mountain, MI, to Green Bay, WI, home of the famous pro football team, the
PACKERS! Sometimes it seemed that every other car and T-shirt in this part of
the state reminded us that this was the LAND OF THE PACKERS - such pride!
It's also the land of collegiate Badgers, of course, and Madison, like its
counterpart across the lake, Ann Arbor, MI, is a darn fine town. Before visiting a
daughter there, we stopped in the northeast.
We weren't sure what we'd find in and around Green Bay, but the bay starts
northward from near the city (and it's blue, not green). We passed an industrial
kind of area, and enjoyed the countryside of the long slice of land that forms the
bay. Our goal turned out to be Door County and Baileys (no apostrophe) Harbor,
near the tip of the approximately 100-mile-long peninsula.
A summer storm threatens Baileys Harbor on the west side of Lake Michigan.
Door County is a major tourist entity in the prime touring area, reaching up
yonder from Sturgeon Bay to the tip of the peninsula.
It was well worth the drive. Wisconsin strikes me as a pleasant place everywhere
that I've been, but the Door County area is special. It's all washed clean, prices
are reasonable, and the quality of food, and the rest of life, seems quite high.
Unfortunately, your Wandering Writer lost his notes and can't remember the
names of a couple of fine restaurants in Baileys Harbor. Fellow ramblers will just
have to experiment to find them.
We did, however, pass on one of the offerings: the nightly "Fish Boil" at Café
X on the main street. A fish boil is not an abscess, but a big iron pot full of
simmering fish parts. Mostly filets, I reckon - and hope. It was out in the
backyard of Café X, and folks were allowed to stand around and watch dinner
bubbling and steaming. Fun at Baileys Harbor, even though Spousie and I prefer
our fish steamed, baked, fried or broiled. The concept and the event were fun,
but we ate inside another fine restaurant.
Restaurant Y featured some very high-class seafood offerings, at medium high-
class prices. Again - a fine place on the main street (Hwy. 57) to dine in. It
appears that there is a disproportionately high number of excellent eateries in
this pleasant place.
On a hillside down and across the peninsula lies an even more attractive village,
Egg Harbor. Don't know why the unattractive name. It's lovely, the town sloping
down to the water. It made us want to return.
Yes, a fine place, Wisconsin. A small fair, the Autumn Festival, was in progress
in the Baileys Harbor Park by the library, with food, music and art. Up the street,
locals were selling food, art, rummage and other stuff. We sat back in the mellow
sunshine and enjoyed a cheery woman's singing and band back-up in the park.
She concluded the festivities by leaping onto my lap, removing my hat and
singing in my ear.
Late autumn is being celebrated by a singer and band at a Baileys Harbor fair.
Wonderful way to end an afternoon in Door County!
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