Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Family Vacation...Trip to the Land of Beer and Cheese

Last week the wife and I loaded up the car (with Joe in the backseat, of course)and headed North to try and escape some of the blistering heat we've been putting up with here at home. After some discussion and a little research we decided on a destination that neither of us had ever been to before.
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With the last two vacations we've taken being in Texas and Florida we decided to head the opposite direction and check out some new scenery on this trip. Door County Wisconsin was to be our final destination but we took the scenic route and spent a day in the Driftless region and then spent some time driving the scenic byways along the upper Mississippi River between Iowa and Lacrosse Wisconsin.
My wife was almost as impressed with the Driftless area as I am every time I make a trek up there.

The hills, the well manicured farms and of course those beautiful little streams that run through the floor of almost every valley are just a few of the reasons I've been making a return trip every year for the past 6 years.
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Unfortunately there wasn't much time for fishing on this vacation but I did get to spend a few hours throwing a hopper/dropper on a couple of my favorite creeks in the area while we were driving around so my wife could see the sights.
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I think I caught a half dozen pretty little browns and a rainbow or two, but the best part was simply hiking along the stream trails with the wife and Joe taking in the scenery.
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We camped along a pretty little creek for one night and then woke up the next morning and packed things up to get back on the road again.
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We spent the better part of this day cruising the scenic routes along the Upper Mississippi headed in the general direction of our destination. For someone who's used to seeing the larger rivers such as the Missouri and Ole Miss down here in the Midwest, where they look like giant drainage ditches full of muddy water, it's pretty amazing to witness their natural beauty up North before mans idea of progress alters their personality.
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The only thing better than the scenery might be the fresh walleye and lake perch that can be had at almost every eating establishment along the river. If you havn't had the pleasure of enjoying a lake perch sandwich washed down with a locally brewed Wisconsin ice cold beer...let's just say you're missing out!
We arrived at our destination late that evening, just in time to unpack our stuff at the cabin we'd rented and catch the sunset over the lake just a short walk from our front door (which became a nightly event).
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We were staying in the small town of Ephraim, in the Northern section of Door County, pretty much right on the tip of the peninsula separating Lake Michigan from Green Bay. This trip differed from a lot of our vacations, simply because we didn't have plans to do much of anything. The cabin was 250 yards from the shore of Lake Michigan, less than a mile from the entrance to Peninsula State Park with access to numerous hiking trails and beaches and right in the middle of all of the cherry orchards and farmers markets that the area is known for.
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One of the cool things we did get to do was experience one of the Norwegian fish boils that they're famous for in the area. My wife and I both love fish so it was a no-brainer for us, but even if you didn't the whole event was a sight worth seeing.
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I would have loved to do some scuba diving on a few of the wrecks in the area but Ginger isn't into the coldwater diving with drysuits and hoods so that would just have to wait for another trip.
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I spent a few morning hours wading shorelines with the flyrod in hand, hoping to catch a glimpse of cruising carp on the flats or maybe catch one of those big smallies the area is famous for, but all to no avail. I still enjoyed it regardless, the water and surrounding scenery was worth the effort on it's own.
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The one activity we really wanted to do, renting glass bottom kayaks and seeing some of the shallow wrecks in the bay, was cancelled on the morning we were supposed to go due to high winds unfortunately. Even so, with all of the state parks and small touristy towns located on the peninsula we ended up running out of time before we ran out of things to do on this trip.
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Sometimes it's nice to get away without any real plans and just spend some time decompressing from lifes everyday hustle...and watching the sunset over Lake Michigan from the comfy confines of an Adirondack chair turned out to be a fabulous way to accomplish just that!
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  1. Hey buddy nice vacation. Beautiful area of the US.
    Joe looks comfortable no matter where you take him.
    Very pretty campsite.

    1. Thanks was nice to see a different part of the country for sure. Having never seen any of the Great Lakes it was worth the trip for that alone, lake Michigan is a beautiful piece of water (at least where we were at). My wife always says that Joe's happy anytime he gets to be with us, no matter what we're doing...and I feel the same way!

  2. Never been up there. Very nice photos. I feel like I've almost been there now.

    1. Thanks Jim...I was pleasantly surprised with the beauty of the area. The lake was crystal clear and very scenic, knowing the amount of fish it holds made me wish I had more time to try and catch a few for sure. Just gives me an excuse to plan a second trip at a future date I suppose!

  3. What no Smallies? Wish the old lady would stay outdoors with me.

    1. I boat though, and I think this time of year they aren't on the shallow flats. Beautiful smallie water though and I hope to plan a guys only smallie/carp trip next year to the same area.

  4. Wonderful post Jeff. I've been to that area a couple of times and did just what you did. There is so much to see and do and it is relaxing. Nice job.

    1. Thanks Howard...I have to admit that the word relax generally isn't in my vocabulary, but it felt kind of nice to do just that.
      It's a pretty neat area for sure, kind of that Northwoods feel.

  5. Awesome. Looks like we had the same plan. My wife and I celebrated our 15 yr anniversary on the "Great River Road", covered 2200 miles and 7 states. We stayed a night in NEIA and I was able to hit my favorite Driftess stream. Made our way through Madison and Milwaukee before heading back to AR. We had a great time, looks like you did also. Great area!

    1. Definitely some scenic drives up there along the big river. Beautiful area and we did enjoy ourselves very much just relaxing and taking it easy. Looks like you did the full tour if you covered 2200 miles, bet you guys saw some really cool places and things.

  6. altho i've never been to door county, i miss my land of beer and cheese. :) happy to see joe again, too! :)

    1. We really enjoyed our vacation in your state Theresa. Beautiful country, quaint little farms and some very nice people to boot. I don't think it will be our last trip up to Door County...great place to unwind for a few days.

  7. You can try to read a book by a local author, or something just for fun. We do a lot of camping, when to visit italy