One of the best weeks of the year is the week that we go to Fish Creek in Door County, Wisconsin. As I mentioned in my last post, I really had high hopes of blogging often while I was there. However, once I got there all I really wanted to do was enjoy Fish Creek and not be sitting around attached to the laptop. There were so many partial thoughts and feelings and memories that really wouldn’t gel into a specific post. So instead I will share with you a sampling of important Fish Creek moments.
A Beacon in the Distance
While I was in medical school and most of residency, I was unable to go make the family trip to Fish Creek because my schedule didn’t allow it. Finally in 2006, after a seven year absence, I made the trek back to our family’ summer refuge. During that drive, I remember one building sticking out more than any other building on the way there. It was a giant building that I never remember noticing before in a little town that I never really took much notice of before. The Acuity Insurance building in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
It is a huge building which has the look of a giant log cabin, which then reminds me of all of the time I have spent in rustic cottages in Fish Creek. Plus, it has the added benefit of being a significant marker of Door County and Fish Creek not being much further away. Every year when I see first see that building, I know that I am almost there. And every year when I see that building for the second time, I can’t believe how fast the week went by and how a year seems too long to be seeing that building again. And yet, the more often I see that building, the more I am struck by how quickly time flies and how quickly I will be back driving past that building again. Not bad for a rather recent image in my memory.
Buck on first deer
One of the big draws of Door County is the Peninsula State Park, a large forest with scenic bluffs, hiking and biking trails, a golf course, a beach, camping and so much more. As a kid growing up in the suburbs, it was also one of the few places I ever got to see wild animals. The biggest draw was to see deer. Now a days, I feel like I see deer everywhere. But back when I was a kid, the only place I ever saw them was in Door County in the state park. It was such an exhilarating and exotic feeling to be able to see such majestic animals in their natural habitat. One of the highlights of the entire trip was the nightly drive through the forest, trying to spot deer. In true family fashion, there was a game/gambling involved. My dad would almost always say “Buck on first deer”, which was our cue to really start paying attention. There were a few inside jokes that would go along with the ride through the park. There were all of the wooden animals we would pretend that we saw. Wooden lions, tigers, alligators, crocodiles, you name it. In the end, they were just logs, but my brothers and I were always trying to top each other with a crazy made up wooden animal. The other big joke, which my dad usually pulled out every year, was pointing out the “two-legged deer” aka people. Because there are many campsites only slightly removed from the road, there would be many occasions to see people moving and waling in the woods just off from the road. I tried to pull this joke on Hannah this year and she didn’t quite get it. Oh well, maybe next year.
The nightly ride through the park is a tradition I have really wanted to start, but I have not been able to do just yet. Usually we make one brief drive through the park, but we haven’t seen a deer yet. Part of it was that we are usually driving through the park too late at night to see anything and also we are usually in a rush to get home so we can get Hannah (and more recently Amelia) to bed. I hope that in the coming years as both girls get older, we can really get this tradition up and running for my family.
The other major activity that happened in Fish Creek when I was a kid was going to the beach. I feel like we went to the beach every single day when I was young. My brothers and I would go out in the water, splash around, tackle each other, play catch, build sand castles, try to avoid seaweed and dream of the day when we were big enough to be able to swim out to and maybe even beyond the buoys. One of the images of those days that is burned into my mind and still equals Fish Creek to me is that of two inflatable rafts that we used to have. They each had a set of oars and my dad would faithfully pack them into his old army duffle bag and haul them up to Fish Creek. To be honest, I rarely remember them actually being pulled out and used, but we always brought them.
The best part about the beach is that we always refer to it as “The Ocean”. We have always known that Green Bay/Lake Michigan is not an ocean, but we have always referred to it as such. Of course, Susie, who grew up in South Florida near an actual and ridiculously beautiful blue sparkling ocean, thinks that we are insane when we talk about little ol’ Fish Creek Beach in such terms, but it is our ocean and no one can take that away from us.
Fish Creek is tucked along Green Bay with one main road through town. Most everything is just a few blocks off of that main road, including most every shop, restaurant and cottage. Many a day was (and still is) spent walking up and down that main road to get to the confectionary, the tavern that is our favorite lunch (and late night) spot, the place to buy sweatshirts and hats, a number of breakfast and coffee places. And accompanying you every step of the way are marigolds.
As far back as I can remember there have always been planters along the sidewalk on both sides of the road that are always filled with marigolds. Every time I see marigolds, my mind always harkens back to strolling along without a care in the world through Fish Creek and I can’t wait until I get there again.
In fact, I think I am going to see if there are still any marigolds in at the local garden center to help tide me over until next year.