We played hooky today. A week at AirVenture, no matter how enjoyable, is draining. Door County beckoned in all of her beauty, and we answered the Siren’s call since this area is the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” There are three hundred miles of shoreline to explore, plus gift shops, art galleries, boutiques, wineries, distilleries, farm markets, and restaurants–you get the idea. There’s temptation around every turn. Unfortunately, we had only a few hours to spare, so we had to do the “speed dating” version of the trip.
EPHRAIM: WILSON’S FOR THE BEST ICE CREAM
Our first stop was Ephraim for lunch. After hearing over and over, “You have to go to Wilson’s for ice cream, then you HAVE to go to Wilson’s for ice cream. They also serve homemade root beer and All-American burgers, sandwiches, fries, etc. Again, you get it. A diner that has been feeding the hungry since 1906 must be doing something right.
We luckily nabbed a parking spot on the road in front of the restaurant, noting the people mingling outside and lounging on the steps. Warily, I entered the front door and saw fifteen people fidgeting in front of me. I did an about-face, exited, and then re-entered the restaurant through the side door onto the porch. A lonely table for two was looking for new friends. The waitress said that front door customers get put on the wait list for inside seating. Side door customers, however, could seat themselves on the porch on a first-come, first-served basis. Some days, some things go just right.
The good luck continued. The waitress was friendly and the food arrived lickety-split. Bruce and I ordered the Door County whitefish sandwich with fries and coleslaw to split. Great choice-very tasty. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a fried fish sandwich since Kennedy was in office. Moreover, a french fry hasn’t passed my lips since Reagan was…okay, never mind. That’s a lie. I had french fries in June.
I wish I could lie and say we didn’t have the ice cream, but passing up that treat, would have negated the purpose of the trip. We ordered two scoops in one dish to share: Double Chocolate Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosion. The words double and explosion sum up the dish. Double what we needed, and an explosion of silky ice cream, smooth peanut butter, chunky chocolate pieces, and crunchy almonds worth every single calorie. Looking around, I noticed that most people had their own two scoops, or a huge milkshake, or a mammoth ice cream sundae bedazzled with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and cherries. (Not as large as the one below, but decadent never-the-less.) In comparison, our shared serving look downright righteous. Bruce and I seldom eat dessert–no lie–but we survived the sugar attack and happily left the diner unscathed.
EMPHRAIM: WALKING OFF THE CARBS
Wilson’s overlooks beautiful Green Bay, so a quick walk along the shoreline to wake up our metabolism was in order. The sun periodically poked out of clouds mixed with splotches of gray and white, reflecting on the blue water below. Raindrops rudely spit on us for a few minutes but had second thoughts and politely disappeared. We ducked into the Visitors’ Center to discover how we could do a scenic drive of Peninsula State Park, which was a convenient few miles south down the road. After getting both verbal directions and a map in hand, we walked back to the car and took off.
EPHRAIM: SCENIC PENINSULA STATE PARK
We learned that if we didn’t stop and park, there is no entrance fee. We didn’t have time to stop anyway, and we are thrifty (cheap), so we did miss a couple major attractions: Eagle Tower and Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. Instead, we drove Skyline Drive, expecting gorgeous views. The drive had its highlights, but overall we were disappointed. The right drive, but the wrong season. Summer hid the view with heavy woods. In the couple of places that we could peek through the trees, Green Bay was glorious in its washes of blues.
FISH CREEK: THE HOME OF ARTISTS AND ARTISANS
Exiting the park, we drove to the next village, Fish Creek, known for its shopping and art. First, we ambled down to the shore to check out the boats and view. To see a lot of Door County in two hours or less, we should have booked one of the scenic boat tours that leaves from Fish Creek Marina. We will be smarter travelers on the next trip.
This day, we walked the main drag enjoying the charming architecture,
the artistic gardens,
and the funky shopping.
THE DAY’S GRAND FINALE: FIREY FLAMES
Before we knew it, our speed date reached its end time, and we drove the two hours back to Oshkosh to watch the AirVenture fireworks from the backyard of our B&B. GE generously sponsored a twenty-minute show of fiery flames that illuminated the black sky with bursts of boom and color.
First, however, there were almost 90 minutes of an evening airshow featuring courageous pilots who added pyrotechnics to their already dangerous maneuvers. Flips, free falls, and fireworks flying off the planes was the opening act, but in truth, the opening act stole the show.
In the end, AirVenture is all about the pilots, both men and women, and their amazing skills in their amazing flying machines. I, however, cannot do what they do; I have the proverbial yellow stripe down my back. Watching them, I become one with them, streaking across the sky, blazing free and fearless into the dark infinity.