When I found an invitation in my in-box for a Wisconsin tour that included ice fishing and snowmobile riding, I assumed I'd act polite and appear interested through the other events on the agenda that Geiger and Associates public relations firm had put together for the writers. I signed on mainly because of the outdoors stuff I'd get to do and accepted the fact I'd figuratively have to endure the commercials to get to the good stuff.
I'm eating crow today because everything I saw and experienced in Door County Wisconsin was interesting, exciting and just plain fun. Too, I met some of the nicest folks who, except for funny accents, you'd swear could be my down home neighbors.
Soon after the jet touched the runway in Green Bay, the good stuff began. On the way to my unbelievably sweet accommodations at the Landmark Resort located up the peninsula in Egg Harbor, Tracy Klepper, our Geiger hostess, pulled into Country Ovens, a cherry processing plant that has been in business for a quarter century.
Cherry orchards grow there much like the peach orchards in north Louisiana. In fact, there are about 2200 acres of orchards that are harvested from mid-July to August each summer.
What Country Ovens does to cherries is pure culinary bliss. I know because there were samples of dried cherries, milk and dark chocolate covered dried cherries I'm still munching on now that I'm back home. (Visit www.countryovens.com for more.)
After a delightful nights rest, I pulled on all the cold weather clothing I brought with me because it was time to test "hard water" fishing. (You'll read about this fun-filled morning on the frozen surface of the Bay of Green Bay in next week's column.)
First, a look at Door County. To get a visual, dig out a map of the Great Lakes and you'll see what appears to be a long finger tickling the armpit of Lake Michigan where the main lake is conjoined with the Bay of Green Bay. The upper two-thirds of that elongated digit is Door County, a region that got its name from the strait between the peninsula and Washington Island. Scattered with ancient shipwrecks, this dangerous passage was named by the French as "Porte des Morts", which translates in English to "Door to the Way to Death" or simply "Death's Door".
The population of this popular tourist area is some 28,000 with Sturgeon Bay serving as the county seat. Door County is the largest county in Wisconsin with nearly 300 miles of shoreline. Tourism explodes in the county between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year, partly because of the five state parks and 12 light houses located within the county. (Visit www.doorcounty.com) to learn more.)
When you think Wisconsin in February, the mind conjures up images of riding through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh or more modern pictures of scooting along frozen trails on a sleek snowmobile. Those were two items on the agenda for the trip but there was a problem; Wisconsin is just one of the northern states that have seen a dearth of snow this winter.
The horse would have needed wheels on the sleigh to move along while my 4-wheeler would have been better suited for traveling the snowmobile trails than the machines designed for such. There was lots of brown; very little white to be seen. Thus, I didn't get to partake of either of these activities.
The Door County Maritime Museum located on the waterfront at Sturgeon Bay is steeped in history and a tour of the facility was intriguing. (For more information, visit www.dcmm.org). I even tried my hand at using a cutting torch to fashion a piece of art at Hands On Art Studio (www.handsonartstudio.com). I think, though, I'll stick to stuff I'm better at, like munching on chocolate covered Door County dried cherries.
The food at Coyote Roadhouse, Joe Jo's Pizza and Gelato and Mojo Rosa's Cantina and Pub was absolutely wonderful.
The most interesting meal was a "fish boil" I wanted to shy away from but I'm glad I didn't; it was wonderful. You'll read all about catching fish through the ice and cooking them in a pot of boiling water in next week's column.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.