20 September 1998

Biking around

We were up around 6:30 and lazed through breakfast and clean up. We'd decided we were going to bike into town and through PSP to the lighthouse and back. After breakfast, I was writing in my trip journal and noticed the sky darkening just about the time the thunder started rolling in. That didn't change our plans, we were going to ride anyway, and dug out the rain gear. As we were prepping for the bike outing, it started to sprinkle. We donned rain gear and about then it stopped raining and the sky cleared. We lucked out!

We biked to the park, which was probably no more than a mile, although there is a wicked downhill stretch just before the park that wasn't going to be any fun on the return trip. We hadn't checked our tires before we left home and I forgot to bring the pump so we stopped at the bike rental place near the entrance to the park to see if we could get some air. We did that and headed on our way.

The trail was described as "gravel" and Coe Ann was concerned about a gravel trail with her skinny tires but the trail was so packed that it might as well have been lumpy asphalt. She didn't have any trouble at all.

After the first little bit through woods, the trail turned to parallel the bay and it was a fantastic view. We pulled off the trail sit on the cobblestone beach and watch the waves and gulls for a while.

It was basically an easy ride. There were a couple of steep down hills (that were going to require a lot of effort on the return trip) but other than that, nothing to speak of.

When we got to the lighthouse, we parked the bikes and wandered around a bit. They had guided tours and I wanted to take one and see the inside of the lighthouse. When I went to ask about the next tour, it was starting in 3 minutes so we timed that just right! The tour lasted about 30 minutes and included a refurbished interior stocked with period furnishings including a ... I think it was called an upright... grand piano in the living room. They'd originally ordered a regular grand piano and had it hauled all the way from the east coast somewhere, including miles of trekking it on rollers through the forest to get it to the lighthouse. Only to find that it wouldn't fit through the doorway so they sent it back and got this other type of grand piano. There was a spinning wheel in one of the upstairs rooms that I looked closely at. It wasn't a type I was familiar with and I couldn't decide if it had all it's parts and was in working order or not. We couldn't actually go to the top of the lighthouse because it was still a functional lighthouse, although automated now. There was a plexiglass ceiling so that you could stand at the top of the circular stairway and look up into it though. A very interesting tour.

After the lighthouse, we continued on the trail around the tip of land that is PSP. The campgrounds here look much more inviting. The sites are nestled through the trees and you can hear, smell and see the water.

A little further on is another campsite area on a bay (Nicolette Bay, I think). This is more "civilized" that the other camping area. There's an actual beach with swimming area, volleyball courts, a shower house and concession stand where you can get various types of food as well as rent pedal boats, canoes or kayaks. There's a playground, benches along the shore, etc.

Shortly after the bay, the bike trail merged with a paved roadway. It all still seems to be going downhill and I'm dreading the one big uphill I remember from the trip out. As it turned out, we never hit that hill...since we made a big loop, we missed that part of the trail on the way back. I would swear the entire ride was downhill all the way but that's just not possible. The uphills must have been so gradual or taken in small increments in various places that I just never noticed them. In any case, it made for a pretty easy but very satisfying and beautiful ride.

We biked back to the campsite...and that killer hill just outside the park really was. I managed (barely) to pedal it all but I stopped to rest at the top and Coe Ann walked it.

When we got back to camp we put together lunch then loaded the bikes and headed for Washington Island. For the most part we followed highway 42 up to the end of the peninsula. Most of northern Door county seems to be made up of little unincorporated towns along the shoreline with marinas, lots of boats and (this time of year) tourists. None are so touristy as Fish Creek, though. We decided that Ephriam had the best balance of water-town charm and architecture and points of interest. It looked like a place where people actually lived. All along the way, in all the little towns, there were lots of little cottages, cabins and BnBs.

We got to the ferry terminal and the boat was just about to leave so we hurredly bought our tickets ($10.50 each for us with our bikes) and boarded. The ride out is only about 15-20 minutes and the sky was a bit on the gray and misty side so it was hard to see some of the wayside islands clearly.

At the ferry terminal on Washington Island I picked up a map for the island and ferry schedules so we could see if we were actually going to have time to get to the ferry terminal on the other end of the island, get out to Rock Island, see that and get back in time to catch the last ferry back to the peninsula. We didn't. We only had about 2 hours and even if we'd brought the car, the ferry schedules wouldn't have allowed us to do that. So we just biked around Washington Island for the time we had.

WI is much less populated and touristy than anything in the rest of Door county. Next time, I want to catch the first ferry to the island and spend the whole day on Washington and Rock Islands. There is one campground on Washington and one on Rock. No vehicles (including bikes) are allowed on Rock Island. The loop trail around all of Rock Island supposedly takes 3 hours. It sounds like a must-see sort of place.

We caught the ferry back and took highway 42 back to Fish Creek. Back at camp, we had the whole section of the camp to ourselves and there were hardly any other campers around. It was very quiet and since the night was clear, I had a great view of the sky. I was, once again, very happy that the campground (at least our section of it) didn't have any yardlights! Without any other campers' campfires or lanterns it was most excellent star viewing!

By bedtime, there was a cold front moving in and the temperature had dropped dramatically. After showering, I put on long pants and fleece. The wind was blowing pretty fiercely too and I woke up several times in the night to the tarp slapping around. It never rained though.