Hello fellow mantripper’s. We have begun our Lake Michigan Circle trip and it has been a full day of travel and had a couple stops along our way. Our first stop brought us to Kenosha and a little diner called Frank’s, as seen on Diner’s Drive In’s and Dive’s from Food Network. I can tell you it was a complete dive of a diner and I loved it and why you should check it out. From the moment you pull up you can smell the greasy goodness emanating from the side of the small old building. Walking up you enter the small door and up the stairs to the sliding door and you enter into what a traditional diner should be. What hits you first is the smell of the grill sizzling of hash browns with varieties of porky goodness! Then you begin to look around and take in the small layout of booths and barstools and your eyes are drawn by your ears to the sounds of the cook yelling orders to her bread man and then calling to the servers when the orders are up. There is also the uniqueness of candor of the conversations of the regulars that undoubtedly visit daily. I really enjoyed this quaint and characteristic diner. We sat directly behind the grill and watched as our cook, and she was the only cook, fly through orders with flipping skills unmatched by few. It was real entertainment just to watch her run the grill and worth the trip in self. The food was great, we had traditional eggs, I had a Puffer omelet and all was really good. If you are going through Kenosha you need to stop here. Friendly and entertaining staff (the cook), good food and a fun environment. My only recommendation is to sit behind the grill.
As we made our way north along I-94 we were greeted by increasing colors of auburn and orange redness on our approach to Door Counties front door of Sturgeon Bay. We hit Hwy 42/57 in Sturgeon Bay and stopped by the must see Door County Visitors Bureau. They have every brochure you would need including food, arts, lodging and daytrips. But most importantly-MAPS! We then continued our way slightly North and off County Road WD to Cave Point County Park. The website indicated you will “hear the coast before you see it”, and they were right. Upon walking up through the canopy of orange leaves you hear the tide hitting the bluffs with tremendous force. We made our way to the shoreline and were met with surprisingly steep and rocky bluffs. The lakeshore was crashing into the sides of the shore and it made for a nice relaxing atmosphere after our lengthy drive. We spent about 20 minutes walking up and down the shoreline listening to the bluffs sing their song and enjoying the crisp air. Be cautious though, there are many areas that are slippery and if you have Fido along, be sure to have him on a leash. If he gets to nosy there are places he could get himself and you in trouble.
After the nice relaxing stroll we were back in the car and further north into the heart of Door County. Again the colors continued to impress as yellows turned more to brighter orange and dark reds. If you are a nature lover and looking to do foliage road trips this would be the place to be. Some of the Birch trees have already gone to sleep for the winter but most others are right now in Peek or possibly even slightly past. But overall today the colors have been amazing. The sun is beginning to set and we look west to see the sky filling with ruby and purple colors of the day drawing to a close in full Autumn splendor. It was now time to look for a place to eat. After some discussion and are craving for some BEER!, we end up in a town South of Fish Creek on Hwy 42 to Egg Harbor. Our restaurant of choice was Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant. It’s a small microbrewery offering 6 different brews and a decent menu of salads, sandwiches and your normal entrée fare. We tried the 6 Brew Sampler which consisted of 2 light beers, 1 cherry wheat, the seasonal pumpkin and a coffee infused peninsula porter. In all, none really impressed; light beers were average, the cherry lacked cherry’ness, the peninsula porter was a bit strong but tolerable, and the pumpkin would probably stand out as very drinkable of the lot. Our food was good; we had smoked chicken salad and a pulled pork sandwich and both were served quickly and by very friendly staff. I will say that I took a splurge and spent $3 for a bread plate that came with local olive oil and balsamic vinegar which was a highpoint of the evening. Both tasted of high quality, very fruity olive oil and the balsamic was ultra sweet and ultra smooth. Shipwrecked is the only microbrewery in the Door County region and I would say for the true brew lovers its worth the trip for the tasting and experience, but you probably will not find anything extraordinary worked about the brews. Of note Shipwrecked also houses an inn with quite reasonable rates starting around $59 even in peak season.
After dinner we drive back up 42 to our final destination of Fish Creek to our home for the evening at Parkwood Lodge. Rolling into town I will tell you Fish Creek has a very busy nightlife. The small business lined streets were packed with cars and people walking up and down visiting shops, restaurants and bars. There is everything from Mexican, American and Swedish restaurants to Art galleries, Antique shops and Clothing Boutiques. I was so taken aback by all of the charm this town of Fish Creek has to offer. We are hoping to get out early tomorrow morning to dive into this town and explore what more it has to offer. Arriving into Parkwood Lodge we are greeted by a quaint tree lined two story lodge. We arrive into the lodge office and are greeted warmly by our office attendants. We were checked in quickly and I was impressed with how much information they offered us such as restaurant ideas and points of interests. They recommended but we were unable to attend a local theater production of “Guys and Does” about a Guy and a Deer and the folly of making fun of “northerners”. I am sure it would have been fun, but it highlights a point that there is a thriving art vibe going on here in Door County. In any event, we got our keys and proceeded to our room. We walked in and were pleasantly surprised with how clean everything was. Of note we noticed that it appears there is fresh paint, newer carpet, new headboards and even the windows were clean so we could see the great colors. One uniqueness is that the sink and mirror are in the bedroom/living space and the bathroom is simply that along with the shower. A little awkward but workable. However, the water was hot and the linens are clean so overall we are pleased. The facilities are decent offering a game room, pool and whirlpool spa, sundeck and tennis courts and access to snowmobile and skiing trails when available weather hits. I would say I am pleased with our first nights accommodations and is typical of a good lodge stay and is very comparable to the nicer state park lodges I have enjoyed in Ohio State parks.
So our day draws to a close and we are turning in. Tomorrow will find us exploring some more of Fish Creek and Door County and then back to the open road on our way North toward Escanaba, Michigan. Special thanks today to John at the Door County CVB for all of his help and recommendations. He has been an invaluable asset to our trip and would highly recommend giving him a call before you make your own trip to this quaint and charming peninsula in a world of its’ own. Good night Mantrippers!