Washington Island

Sunday we took the ferry out to Washington Island, which lies just off the tip of Door County.  It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.  Washington Island has a permanent population of about 700, although that swells to a couple thousand during the summer months.  It can all be explained by the fact that only one ferry runs in the winter-time: the one that’s an ICE breaker.  ‘Nough said.  The water was a beautiful deep blue-green, reminding us a little bit of home (minus 30 degrees or so).  The island’s beautiful and the leaves were really at their peak for this trip.  As in many rural locations, everyone waves as they’re passing you on the road.  We visited School House Beach, a cobble beach nestled in a beautiful little cove.  It was just magical and we spent time piling and skipping rocks.

Lunch was at Nelson’s Hall.  During prohibition years, the owner served Angostura Bitters as a “stomach tonic”, thus keeping the establishment open and making it the longest continually-operating bar in Wisconsin.  The owner supposedly drank a pint a day, and it’s 90-proof.  And bitter, did we mention bitter?  Today you can join the Bitter’s Club by downing a shot.  Eric & Sterling joined the club, signing the log book and receiving their membership cards which are certified authentic by the bartender’s thumb-print in bitters.  Membership entitles them to privileges on the Island, and we’re wondering what the “etc” bit is (see card below).  Oddly enough, both of them thought the shot was pretty tasty.  ???  And all of those shots add up: Nelson’s Hall is officially the world’s single largest purveyor of Angostura Bitters.  Who knew?

We also wandered onto a fall festival at the local Farming Museum.  It was a great small-town celebration.  You could press your own apple cider, and for the kids there were sack  and 3-legged races, tug-of-wars, and pumpkin tossing.  I got a grown-up caramel apple (sliced and cored in a bowl with the caramel laddled on.  No sticky caramel cheeks!) that was OH.  MY.  GOD.  And there was a John Deere tractor exhibition that I thought we’d need a tractor to pull Eric away from.

A great day, and we were even able to catch a fabulous sunset at Ellison Bluff.  What a way to end the trip, and we’re sorry it has to end tomorrow.

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