To clarify, I’m not a complete outsider but I’m close. My father-in-law’s dad and family built a cottage on Sand Bay in Door County, Wisconsin in the 1940s. The cottage is still in the family. I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life but paid my first visit to Door County 25 years ago this summer, only months after my wife and I married. It’s been about 14 years since we’ve been here though, so it all seemed new to me again when we returned this month.
The cottage still stands on the shore, much of the original architecture still visible. Family members describe it as “rustic,” but at least they added an indoor shower many years back. In all seriousness, they’ve done some remodeling through the years to accommodate 3 generations of kids, including converting the attic into a loft with a few beds, overlooking the living area below. It’s a comfortable place to be.
The following day was spent in low gear. We started the day with a late breakfast at Morning Glory Restaurant, a delightful home cooking place where the locals gather year-round and breakfast is served all day. You know if the parking lot is full of cars and motorcycles the food has to be good.
The view from the cottage patio is paradise with jet skiers, tubers, swimmers, and kayakers randomly drifting by. I wanted to do nothing but sit and stare, taking it all in as I sipped my morning coffee. Later we walked all 30 feet from the cottage to the water for a swim. In true vacation form, I didn’t shower for a couple of days, hoping the waters of Sand Bay would keep me from stinking. Oh wait, the muck that sometimes collects at the shore smelled worse than I ever could have…maybe that helped me stink even more.
My wife spent countless hours here from early childhood until her dad moved the family south when she was in her teens. She’s still able to name the families who owned the other houses along the shore, noting the current occupants are probably the grandchildren of the original neighbors. So much looks the same to her, even in the 21st century.
On our last afternoon at the cottage my daughter announced she would nag until we built a fire in the fire pit adjacent to the sand. At dusk I dutifully (and gladly) prepped our bonfire. The next hours were spent blissfully roasting marshmallows and being hypnotized by the crackling fire while listening to water gently lapping at the shore.
Door County is a tourist/resort area so we spent our last morning exploring the shops in the town of Sturgeon Bay. The bohemian in my daughter drew her to one called Enchanted, complete with incense, naturally dyed garments, and all the other attractions a hippie at heart could want.
We stopped in at Door County Candy Company before leaving town. And yes, I tried their famous chocolate-covered bacon. And yes, I liked it even though it sounded repulsive at first.
This outsider loves Door County and we’re already plotting our next visit.
Have you been to Door County? Share your experience below. Even if you haven’t, please don’t leave without posting a comment.