Here’s a map of Tumbleweed’s stops during 2022, when we headed roughly west through Canada and four of five Great Lakes. As always, pressing one of the little red balloon-looking thingys will load up our blog posts related to that spot.
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In May of 2021, we moved aboard Tumbleweed when she was docked behind Rick and Mary’s beautiful home in Fort Myers.
As we posted way back then, they recently had taken off on their new North Pacific 49. We later documented our rendezvous with them and Exhale in Port Jefferson.
We’re so thankful that Rick and Mary and Buttercup decided to evacuate before Hurricane Ian hit, because their neighborhood took a hit, although maybe not as bad as other areas. We don’t have final information on Exhale—and know they had her hauled—but based on the early reports they received from their marina, she amazingly may have survived mostly intact. That’s all good news. Much of Fort Myers, of course, wasn’t as lucky.
The point is, there’s a good argument that it’s bad form for us to post about our recent experiences at all. We try to be light and sometimes swerve into the silly lane, so people who are suffering greatly might find our sniveling about Sturgeon Bay weather, for example, to be in poor taste. Or even downright offensive. Our excuse, however, is that the blog also is our personal diary, and most anything we skip, we’ll forget. So we apologize in advance.
Friday we finally arrived at Tumbleweed’s final seasonal resting place. Green Bay. The Frozen Tundra. When they make a romantic docuseries out of our blog, we’re going to insist that the late John Facenda be resurrected to narrate this portion of the post.
But let’s not skip over Sturgeon Bay. When last we posted, we were heading that way.
Because the wind was up when we arrived, Taylor the Dockmaster put us down at the end of Dock A. This seemed like a good idea, until we heard that just last year a big storm from the north brought 40-knot winds that swept Dock A out into the canal, dragging boats with it. We fired up a Google search in case the locals were funnin’ us. Nope. True story. Well that’s great, because a huge storm from the north with 40-knot winds was predicted to hit a day or two after our arrival and last for several days. Not much to do other than deploy extra lines and every fender possible. We even dragged out and inflated the big boys that we use on locks.
If that wasn’t enough, moments after we docked a gorgeous blue Berger pulled in beside us One of the prettiest boats this size you’ll ever see. $2 million easy.
The problem is that the anticipated winds were going to drive that Berger off her finger and directly into us, effectively giving us the finger. And the nice couple only purchased her two weeks earlier. And they had dock lines smaller than the ones we used for our ski boat on Saguaro Lake. And they didn’t really tie them properly before they cheerfully headed home to ride out the storm. Imagine trying to sleep knowing that a huge anvil is hanging over your bed, suspended only by a single strand of poorly affixed embroidery thread. That’s what it was like, sort of. So we had Taylor come help us prophylactically add some of our 1” lines to the pretty Berger.*
Sunday evening we watched the storm roll in on the weather radar and on the horizon. Weird color can’t be good.
Literally five minutes after that photo, we had three-foot waves with whitecaps, which the wind drove up and over that same dock that previously ripped away. The temperature dropped until we felt like we were trapped in Minnie’s Haberdashery during the blizzard that hit right after Jody and the Domergue Gang killed Minnie and Sweet Dave.
The good news about three days of high wind and driving rain, of course, is that if you never leave the boat there’s no reason to change out of pajamas. So we didn’t, until cabin fever finally drove us into a six-mile round trip hike through 40° crap to the closest movie theater.
Fortunately, just as our memories of blue sky and sunshine were fading, Thursday brought them back.
Since we left Sturgeon Bay the next day we didn’t get to do or see too much of it during our week stay, but a bit of stuff is worth noting. For example, this is the White Lace Inn. It may (or may not) look like the “posh Victorian B&B” claimed by the marketing department, but not even the quaint exterior can cover up its grisly past.
In April of 1942, one William Drews clubbed a nice little old lady named Sadie to death right inside there, then jammed her body into a small wood-burning stove for a DIY cremation. He supposedly stole $110, which he spent on flowers for his wedding the following day. We’re guessing the marriage didn’t last.
Skipper Bud’s Harbor Club is hard along the Michigan Street Bridge.
This is the “old bridge” that everyone wanted replaced. So they built the “new bridge” one block to the east. Except then nobody wanted to tear down the old bridge, and the bridges can’t be open at the same time, so now boats have to hang out between them when trying to transit from Green Bay to Lake Michigan. Said transit was made possible by the seven mile Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal—distantly visible in the drone photo above—so that anyone stopping to play pickleball in Sister Bay could get to Chicago without going all the way back up and around.
Also between the bridges sits the century-old John Purves, although back in the day she was named Butterfield. She barely missed the First World War, and served in the Second as an Aleutian supply ship. Unfortunately the onboard tour wasn’t available the day we visited the Sturgeon Bay Maritime Museum.
The museum, however, is well worth the cost of admission, and not just because we could see Tumbleweed from the top of that tower.
Off there to the left in the background is the Fincantieri Bay Shipyard, the Sturgeon Bay branch of a huge Italian conglomerate. The local joint builds lakers, and builds and services ships for the Coast Guard and Army Corp of Engineers. As an interesting aside, the Badger—made famous in our posts about Ludington—was built in Sturgeon Bay. From the view on our way out, we’ve determined that Fincantieri also works on dirty old ferries.
Did we mention that the museum is cool? Among other things, we learned that the dude who invented the method now used to haul Tumbleweed out of the water did so right around the corner.
We also learned that for a good while back in the day, Sturgeon Bay was a major supplier of ice, with commercial harvesters cutting 300-pound blocks out of the bay for shipment to towns and cities as far away as Chicago and New York. Which seems like a good thing to discuss with your realtor before relocating someplace. If he or she answers “Yes” to the question “Was there ever a commercial ice harvesting industry around here?”, you just immediately start looking elsewhere.
Most everyone knows that Andrew Carnegie’s steel and railroad companies made him a gazillion dollars and then he built thousands of libraries around the country. This cool old building was one of them.
What we hoped would make this one interesting was the “hint of Lincoln history” promised by the sign outside. As near as we could figure out, however, the only “hint” was the sign itself. Now the place is a CPA office or some such thing so we couldn’t very well go inside and ask. But we do like the ivy.
Anyway, the town is cute and even the Irish folks at Kitty O’Reilly’s—where we had two delicious meals—decorated for autumn.
We hate to admit it, but in a bizarrely-unexpected twist, Hurricane Ian presented us with a happy bonus. Mallory was flying to Virginia to meet friends at a festival, but the festival was cancelled—because of the hurricane—while she was en route to a Chicago layover. So she cancelled the leg to Richmond and drove up to see us. Very exciting.**
At least the wind died down enough for a nice cruise past Sherwood Point and the Sherwood Point Light.
One Minnie Hesh served as Assistant Keeper at the Sherwood Point Light for some 30 years, which is important only because it allows us to double the number of “Minnie” references in this post.
Now back to Green Bay. The marina where Tumbleweed will hibernate until spring isn’t nearby anything except a rickety amusement park that’s closed for the winter. But Green Bay does have the Packers, and there wasn’t anything else to do on Sunday, so we headed over to Lambeau Field.
About this self-aggrandizing “Titletown” nickname.
The Packers indeed have won four Super Bowls, including the first two. The Steelers and Patriots each have won six of them, however, although New England’s win total comes with an asterisk because everybody knows Kraft, Belichick, and Brady are a steaming pile of brazen cheating. The Packers also lag behind the 49ers and Cowboys, and are tied with the lowly New York Giants. And no, you don’t get credit for “titles” won in leather helmets. So maybe the cheeseheads should pump the brakes on all this bragging.***
The Ring of Honor at Lambeau surprised us by surrounding the great Reggie White—the “Minister of Defense” himself—with quite the assortment of villains.
Bart Starr, for example, played at Alabama and thereby forfeited his chance to reach heaven. Paul Hornung benefited from a Heisman fraud so staggering and atrocious that it’s rivaled only by the travesty that handed the same award to Charles Woodson, who also is up there. And Brett Favre currently should be memorizing the details of Andy Dufresne’s escape plans as he soon may reside in a Mississippi prison. But whatever. The Packers beat the Patriots in overtime, but we left before the half because it was getting cold and the drunk guy beside us was annoying.
Everybody up here is really nice, although they all sound strangely like Marge Gunderson or Jerry Lundegaard. The leaves are just starting to turn. But it’s damn cold. And our house is out of the water so we have no place to sleep, as documented in this catchy video of the haul out.
Yup, those Marine Travelifts are damn cool.
At this moment, we’re ignoring the wind and cold and trying to average at least 70 knots in the rental van on the way to someplace warm. Hopefully we’ll be back in Arizona before it runs out of drinking water. We’ll pick up the blog again next spring when we retrace Door County as we pop up to Lake Superior and new adventures. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.
*It’s a damn good thing we did. The fat bow line we added chafed halfway through. No chance a single 3/8” line would’ve held.
**Special thanks to Mike on Rula Bula, who loaned us his car so we could meet Mallory in Green Bay and schlep her up to Sturgeon Bay so that she could turn around and ride back down to Green Bay by boat.
***It’s sort of like calling the University of Florida “Murder U,” because of the way notable dirtbag Urben Meyer groomed and coddled gang-banging killer Aaron Hernandez. Oh wait. That one is legit.
Although Monday’s trip to Egg Harbor was short, based upon the events of earlier that morning we expected the worst. First, at 3 a.m we awoke to unexpected howling wind that drove us outside to add and tighten lines. Second, we both struggled with the Wordle. Every English-speaker in the known world will agree that “trice” is a stupid and unfair word. While the wave conditions weren’t great by any stretch, however, the cruise wasn’t horrible either.
One logically might assume that Egg Harbor would be found nestled between East Egg and West Egg and would be what Jay Gatsby looked across as he lusted after Daisy, except those are in New York. And even more except, they’re fictitious.* Instead, Egg Harbor is another of these cool Door County villages.
Door County essentially is the Door Peninsula, with some 300 miles of coastline. This has led the locals to call it “The Cape Cod of the Midwest.” We have thoughts. First, there’s a lot less lobster and a lot fewer of the aforementioned Kennedys around here. Second, Door County is fabulous in its own right. We get the sad desperation that led Grafton, Illinois, to proclaim itself “The Key West of the Midwest,” but this area seems neither sad nor desperate. Even the questionably-named Cape Cod Motel is cute enough that someday it just might be absorbed into the Rosebud Motel empire.
Basically the Midwest just needs to be happy with what it is, although it’s not coincidental that no place in the world claims to be the false equivalent of, say, Gary, Indiana.
Back to Egg Harbor. Nice marina.
The always helpful geographical totem pole, however, seems a bit off. No way Santa’s House and Aspen, Colorado, for example, are in the same direction from here.
Just down from Tumbleweed, our dude reeled in a huge something or other. There was a discussion on the dock about whether it was a brown trout or a king salmon. We’re not experts—and the ironmonger’s daughter “who knew a surprising amount about fish as well” was nowhere to be found—but based on a five-second internet search we’re strongly leaning salmon.
Have we mentioned the flowers and pumpkins and stuff? Door County is all in.
Now about that sign. We’re in frickin’ Wisconsin. It’s one thing to pretend to be Massachusetts, but this cultural misappropriation is taking it too far. While we’re at it, that directional thing at the marina contains another yankee abomination. Anyone entitled to say “y’all” would know that Dolly is from Sevierville—or Pittman Center, or Locust Ridge, depending on how far you zoom in—not Gatlinburg. Dollywood is in Pigeon Forge. Nobody is from Gatlinburg.
Anyway, Egg Harbor is small, and cutesy, and has delicious food, and has paths. So basically it’s our kind of place.
The name Egg Harbor supposedly dates to 1825 and that time some fur traders were racing to shore and started throwing eggs at each other. Really. That’s what the sign says anyway. What we know for sure is that the current villagers have embraced the name and all the same clever puns used by breakfast joints all around the country. “Blue Sail,” for example, is a sculpture that the town purchased with funds raised at the “EGGstravaganza.”**
Lots of other colorful pieces are scattered about town.
Speaking of colorful, the marina tree tried mightily to give us a small taste of what’s coming right after we pack up a rental minivan and head back to Arizona.
This morning we awoke to 40°. Wait, what? Forty degrees means it’s time to move south as fast as possible. The last couple of days used 40-knot gusts and thirteen-foot waves to keep us pinned to the dock, but today looks decent. So right now we’re pushing through to the balmy climes of Sturgeon Bay. Which is only 16 miles from Egg Harbor, but still.
*This reminds us of that sad time we were cruising through the Rhode Island Sound and wanted to take a photo of Rosecliff—which was Robert Redford’s mansion in the vastly superior original movie—but unfortunately remembered about five minutes too late.
**We’re not at all fans of East Coast gangsta rap, but we do have to give a Biggie thumbs up to whoever created the “Notorious E.G.G.” shirts.
Tuesday’s acceptable weather window allowed us to tuck in behind the ferry, which we discovered was hauling other people away from Washington Island at the exact same time we wanted to leave.
Short day. Nice day, although we did pass dangerously close to death’s door. That’d be Death’s Door Bluff.
The Door Peninsula’s name actually comes from the Potawatomi term that translates as “door of death,” supposedly because bunches of tribe mates perished while attempting to make the same crossing we made.** Apparently back in the day the Potawatomi lacked a term that translated as “acceptable weather window.”
Then on in to Sister Bay. Now this place is cool, even though we’re still weeks away from any colored leaves.
Sister Bay’s most famous attraction is Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik.***
We know a thing or two about Sweden, because we like ABBA. And we’ve been to IKEA. And when they were little, Mallory and Shannon loved those tiny gummy fish. So of course we ate at Al Johnson’s. But Al Johnson’s isn’t known for Swedish Fish. It’s known for the goats. Which graze on the roof. They even have two goat cams on their website.
Several years back some wingnut New York attorney filed a lawsuit, alleging that putting the goats on the roof was demeaning to the goats, although his claim of personal harm was a bit murky, what with him having no obvious connection to the goats or to Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, he lost at every federal court level and now has to pay Al’s fees and costs. Duh.
Also right near the marina is an odd little self-serve place—The Holy Transfiguration Chapel—full of Orthodox Christian iconography.
The path through the woods to get to it basically goes through some dude’s yard, and every website we found about it contained a bunch of jargon but nothing that really explains any history. So it’s kind of hard to piece together what’s going on. Maybe there’s some connection to Mother Russia, however, and they want to lay low for a while. Which would be understandable.
After Sunday’s season opener, Packer fans also may want to lay low, although we’re not sure they have the ability.
Our new membership in the Door County Pickleball Club got us on the courts in Sister Bay. Pickleball as visitors is hit or miss—sort of like our abilities—but this time was a hit.
Anyway, Sister Bay is a fabulous stop. Dana even worked in a good deed, by helping a boat pivot. No really, the boat was Pivot. Al and Judy and Wrigley the dog mentioned their plan to zip back through the Trent-Severn yet this season. They hadn’t heard about the Kirkfield Lock being closed for the winter, however, and would’ve been stuck in Georgian Bay. Eeeek. But no worries for us.
No rain and few clouds mean awesome sunsets, which have replaced sunrises for us since we’re in a different time zone so the sun comes up too early again. And our view is to the west.
We call this one “Dana on a park bench in silhouette.”
Enough of the artsy sunsets already. So Friday we knocked off a quick eight miles of the trip down to Green Bay and stopped at Fish Creek. Fish Creek should not be confused with Schitt’s Creek, which the Rose family supposedly owns and yet nobody pays them rent and Moira only was elected to the town council because Jocelyn dropped out, rather than, you know, because they own the town. Makes no sense.
Not much along the way to Fish Creek, other than the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. We imagine it’d be pretty awesome if the leaves had changed. Grrrr.
Fish Creek made a couple of lists ranking the coolest villages in America, and it’s indeed pretty cool.
And the marina misrepresented the Wi-Fi situation, which complicated Football Saturday.****
Despite the lack of fall colors, Door County already is embracing the season. Lots of pumpkins.
Also lots of farms and orchards and such. After all, this is “Orchard Country,” according to the winery barn.
We passed the barn and the pumpkins on our way to “a celebratory slap up binge at Mrs. Miggins’ Pie Shoppe.” Actually we went to Sweetie Pies—not Mrs. Miggins’—but it’s a crime against humanity to skip an opportunity for a Blackadder line.
Dana even found a little premature color on her incredibly scenic walk, which she took alone because Verizon hotspots allowed Doug to thwart the marina’s efforts to block football.
Yup, we’re big Fish Creek fans.
The most exciting thing that happened over the past few days, however, was the addition of a grandson.
Ok, Pretzel actually is a rescue dog Shannon adopted, not an actual baby, but he also doesn’t cry all night or need his diaper changed, so we’re good with that.
*Bob Dylan, NOT Guns N’ Roses.
**Fortunately for Wisconsin gambling addicts, enough Potawatomi survived to open not one, but two casinos in the area.
***Combining (1) our powers of linguistic deduction, (2) what we learned from Swedish Chef on The Muppets, and (3) the availability of Scandinavian knickknackery to purchase, we determined that “butik” likely means “boutique” in English.
****Next year, Starlink hopefully will put an end to this recurring nightmare.
So Washington Island is an island. Duh. Thus by definition it’s not attached to the Door Peninsula. But Washington Island IS part of Door County, which is significant because Julie runs Washington Island Pickleball as part of the Door County Pickleball Club. The amazing part is that there only is Julie and a handful of others, yet she not only convinced the town to allow her to remake the two tennis courts into pickleball courts, she also raised the money and found people to help with the work. Now that’s some dedication. Hopefully everything will be done by the time we return in May, because right now the courts are kind of crappy. But we had fun anyway.
Julie grew up on the island, spends every summer on the island, inherited awesome property on the island, and thus knows it well. So after pickleball, she spent an afternoon driving us around. Very cool.
Here we are with Julie on Schoolhouse Beach, famous because the beach is made of smooth stones rather than sand.
Stone poachers are such a problem that they criminalized it. They also provide one last opportunity for thieves who happen to find Jesus on the way out.
Although we can’t find any evidence of Vikings landing on Washington Island—and the Packer fans around here actually hate the Vikings—someone went to the trouble of building a traditional Viking stave church here.
The local Lutherans run the Stavkirke, which holds periodic services despite periodic vandalism. Some people suck, but the church is very cool.
After a delicious lunch of freshly caught whitefish, Julie took us up to Jackson Harbor.
The most interesting thing we found in Jackson Harbor was an odd fishing boat that looked quite uncomfortable and barely seaworthy.
But we know the boat floats and works, because it’s the very boat the restaurant dude used that very morning when he caught our delicious whitefish lunch. Yum. We highly recommend getting it Parmesan crusted.
Washington Island may not be super hopping, but quaint and picturesque make up for what it lacks in action.
TripAdvisor recommends a stop at Jacobsen Museum, which it accurately describes as “a quirky little log cabin packed full with neat artifacts.” It even had some references to Julie’s grandparents, which was in fact neat and all, but truthfully we spent far less than the recommended one to two hours there.
After the tour, Julie hosted us at her house on the water, with a sweeping view of Rock Island.
Unfortunately, Julie skipped what she called her “inbred tour,” because all “the inbreds have died or moved away.” Now that’s the sort of thing only a true islander would know, although Julie says she isn’t actually an islander because she only spends half the year here. She seems to know everybody, however, and supports most of the treasured institutions. Like the famous Coffee Pot, which she painted.
Anyway, Julie is awesome. The green paths and roads of Washington Island Island also are awesome from a scootering or walking perspective.
However, we don’t want green. We want autumn and red and yellow and orange leaves. Apparently we’re a few weeks too early, which sucks. At least we’ll be back in Scottsdale when the license plate colors start changing, so there’s that.
The plan was to scoot over to Sister Bay on Sunday. Sunday it rained and the wind blew, so no scooting. Sunday night 38-knot winds slammed even more rain on us, so no sleeping. That’s not a joke. Whilst we were in our pajamas watching Moira take over the town council and Alexis work towards graduation, what looked ominously like a hurricane magically developed in Lake Michigan.
Today more rain and wind. All day. Two inches of rain in 24 hours. What the hell? How do they even measure rain when when it’s blowing sideways? Arizona doesn’t get two inches of rain in a year. But at least we can cherish our distant memories and photos of back in olden times when the Washington Island weather was nice.
That was supposed to be the end of this post. Just moments before posting it, however, we learned that our friend Rich has passed away. Rich loved talking about pickleball, and golf, and boats, and Wisconsin, and the unlimited and profitable future of hydrogen as an energy source. Mostly Rich just loved to talk. We’ll miss him. Cholla won’t be the same.
*“He made fiddle pegs from her long finger bones.” – Jerry Garcia