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Exploring the Door

July 13, 2011

A trip to Door County is always a welcome get-away. The beautiful scenery, the fabulous food, and of course the golf are reasons to pack up the car and head north. Being huge Door County fans, Mike and I graciously agreed to participate in the Door County media tour. The week-long event hosted journalists from the United States and Canada who were invited to experience “the Door” and its multifaceted activities, from golfing to kayaking to zip lining and hiking to light houses. There is something for everyone in “the Door”.

We left late in the afternoon and headed for Ephraim—some 222 miles from home. We arrived at The Village Green Lodge(, owned and operated by Steven and Sue Sherman after 9:00 pm. Steve, and his dog Buddy were there to greet us and show us to our large suite—complete with hot tub, king size bed, kitchenette and gas fireplace. It was beautiful. Steve showed us how to work the fireplace and the hot tub, while Buddy showed us where the bedroom and bathroom were located. After they left, we lit the fire and discussed our plans for the following day—one that would prove to be chockfull of adventures.

We woke early and headed for the main lodge, where we found breakfast waiting. Sue had prepared a delicious baked egg dish, coffee cake and peach-cherry fruit compote. In addition, there were fresh juices, including an orange/cherry blend that according to Mike was delicious. Another journalist from Texas joined us. She was exploring Door County’s art galleries. We explained that our agenda started with a golf lesson and 9 holes of golf at the Alpine Golf Course in Egg Harbor.

The morning was crisp, cool and cloudless when we arrived at the Alpine Golf Course( Our golf pro was en route and as we waited, we discussed the course and the 9th hole on the Blue Nine course—reportedly “the most scenic hole in the state of Wisconsin” by Steve Habel, a golf writer. Peter Hickey, the golf pro arrived and began a lesson for us and another visiting journalist from Washington, D.C., by telling us to simply hit a few balls out to the 100-yard marker. We began with all the fury we could muster. Some of our balls hit the 100-yard marker. Some of our balls didn’t come anywhere near the 100-yard marker. As a matter of fact, the display was reminiscent of a fireworks display—balls exploding everywhere.

“Wait a minute” Hickey said. “Focus, take your swing gently, aim for a spot, and gently hit the ball.” He demonstrated and hit each of 5 balls to the exact same spot. “Now you try,” he said. And so we did. Gently. Surprisingly, the balls went where we aimed, not as consistently as Hickey’s, but a lot better than before. “See?” Hickey smiled. “You don’t have to kill the ball.”  “I get it” I said. “It’s a Zen thing—less is more, weak is strong, hard is soft…” “That’s right,” he smiled.

We practiced a few more chip shots, and then Hickey showed us how to putt—by using our shoulders as the fulcrum and gently (always gently) swinging the putter side to side. With his guidance, we were soon putting better than we ever had before—some balls actually falling into the cup. When Hickey was satisfied that we had mastered the lesson, he sent us out to play the Blue Nine course. We invited the D.C. journalist, a golf novice, to join us. We played ‘best ball’ and soon found ourselves on the 9th hole. The tee stands high above the green with a view of Green Bay in the background. A row of trees and shrubs separate the fairway from the tee. It truly is a stunning hole. I hit a beautiful shot high above the fairway and the ball landed near the green and ended with a birdie on the last hole. I was very happy.

9th Hole on the Blue Nine Course, Alpine Golf Course

From the Alpine Golf Course we drove down County Road G in Egg Harbor to meet with the rest of the group at the Woodwalk Gallery (, home to the works of Margaret Lockwood and owned by her and husband Allin Walker. We ate lunch in the barn-turned-art-gallery as Walker told us the history of the barn and the gallery. One journalist asked about the crystal chandelier that hung in an adjacent room. Walker told us that he had constructed it out of old cow stanchions and crystals. It was simply beautiful.

Cow Stanchion Chandelier, Woodwalk Gallery

All too soon, most of the journalists left to attend the afternoon events. I stayed behind along with the woman from Texas that we had met at breakfast. She expressed an interest in seeing The Clearing in Ellison Bay and I told her that I would take her there.

The Clearing, originally founded by Jens Jensen, a landscape architect, is a folk school that holds many classes throughout the year for artisans, writers, and those who simply wish to go on a retreat in a beautiful, peaceful setting. The campus is not open to the public in the summer, but the visitor center and bookstore are open.

Visitor Center at The Clearing

From the Clearing, we traveled to Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market ( to taste some cherry-inspired wines. One of particular note was the cherry chardonnay made with the tart Montmorency cherries that are Door County’s signature fruit. The cherry’s presence is subtle in the chardonnay and the wine is crisp and clean. It is a perfect sipping summer wine—one to be enjoyed sitting on the back porch on a hot summer day.

From Lautenbach’s we met with the rest of the tour at Bistro 42 ( for dinner. Located on Highway 42 in Carlsville (just outside of Sturgeon Bay) Bistro 42 is part of the Door Peninsula Winery and consists of a large tasting room and gift shop as well as the restaurant. A distillery, currently under construction, sits adjacent to the restaurant that is known for its stone-hearth fire-baked pizzas, sandwiches, pastas and salads.

Mike and I both chose the mushroom strudel made with phyllo dough stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, dill havarti and fresh herbs. Sides included fresh vegetables and a mushroom risotto. A glass of pinot noir completed the meal that was light and satisfying. While we enjoyed the food, we discussed our adventures—Mike had paddled in a sea kayak around the shoreline in Sister Bay hosted by Bay Shore Outdoor Store. He explained that it had been a most invigorating experience and he would love to do it again. I agreed that I would join him the next time.

The last event of the day was a play at Peninsula Players Theatre ( in Fish Creek. We saw “Making God Laugh” a comedy by Sean Grennan starring Peggy Roeder, Neil Friedman, Joe Foust, Erin Noel Grennan and Sean Fortunato. Peninsula Players Theatre is the oldest American professional summer theatre and is celebrating its 75th year this summer. The theatre is beautiful, located on the waterfront in Fish Creek. Originally an open-air theatre, it has gone through several renovations including the 2005 renovation that enclosed the theatre.

Our final destination after our long day of exploring the Door ended at the White Lace Inn in Sturgeon Bay, where we stayed for two nights. We arrived late and managed to lock our keys in our room while we went to get our luggage. A late-night call to the owner, Dennis Statz, soon had us settled in our beautiful room in the Hadley House, one of several renovated homes that make up the White Lace Inn (

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 14, 2011 10:49 pm

    What?! No Fish Boil? No visit for me would be complete without that. Love ’em.
    But your visit sounds heavenly. It truly makes me want to return for a visit. Just all your talk of cherries makes my mouth start watering.

    One more comment on your recent article in “Brava”. Sheboygan?! My home town. Thanks so much for visiting. I’m so proud of my little town and how greatly it’s changed over the years. Where there used to be a tavern or two in every single neighborhood, there are now replaced with playgrounds and other nice stores. The waterfront where I used to sit with my father and watch coal boats being unloaded, is now a beautiful resort area with trendy shops, fine restaurants (as you mentioned) and the freshest of fresh air in which to enjoy a brisk walk. Thanks again for your article.

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