We left Washington Island on a Tuesday. Headed Southwest across the passage known as Deaths Door. Wind and waves funnel between the Door County peninsula and Washington Island creating a choppy mix-master type of wave that often come from all different directions. This makes for a difficult ride. On the day we left waves were coming from the North on Green Bay and the East off Lake Michigan through the Deaths Door passage. Waves weren’t too large, 2-3 feet, but the beginning of the passage was a bit uncomfortable. It was worse for Toots, she vibrated for quite a while. The closer to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula we came the better the ride and we all were more comfortable.
Having never cruised the Door County, Green Bay area, I never had realized that compared to our usual cruising area of Michigan’s Western Lower Peninsula, destinations here in Wisconsin are relatively close together. Most destinations are only a couple of hours cruising time. I can see Door county from the harbor in Menominee and Sturgeon Bay is less than 20 miles from here. The Bay is sheltered and waves aren’t able to build to the size we have seen on Lake Michigan. I’m sure that Green Bay can get pretty rough but for the most part our experience was 2-3 foot waves and mostly less than 1 foot.
Menominee’s Municipal harbor is located on the Western Shore of Green Bay and protected by a large breakwater. Cruisers enter from the Southeast about a mile north of the Marinnette, Wisconsin, lighthouse. We were directed to our slip and met by 3 dock hands that helped us tie up along the wall and walk the boat into a slip. Plenty of help to tie up is always nice when entering a marina for the first time or any time.
We found everyone very friendly and before we were at the marina an hour, had offers of rides to grocery stores and restaurants. The staff and seasonal boaters in Menominee are very proud of the marina’s boaters lounge and made sure we knew about its features. As always a first priority after securing the boat is to get Toots off and give her some time to acquaint herself with the local green-ways. Dearest took Toots and I went up to check us in at the office. I was more than delighted to hear about the slip rates, along with a decent discount for Boat US members, making it a dollar a foot per night. There is also a discount on fuel, so before we leave we will top off tanks even though we really didn’t need to.
With the hand-off of Toots, Cynthia made her way to the much talked about boaters lounge while I did the regular check-in paper work. Toots received a biscuit in the office and I paid for the night. Again, the marina staff were very helpful with local knowledge and a packet of coupons to local restaurants and stores. Most are within a short walk of the marina. Upon Dearest’s return, her first remarks were “You’ve got to see the lounge”. She doesn’t usually get that excited about a bathhouse and lounge area.
Located on the North end of the marina it’s a bit of a walk to the lounge from the boat, so, I wasn’t in a rush to walk down there. On one of Toots’ walks we headed that way and Dearest kept Toots while I checked out the facilities. I was impressed. The lounge is in the old Water Works building that has been turned into a very comfortable seating area with breakfast area and individual shower and bathroom suites. Very nice. The laundry area is only 1 washer and dryer here and another in the office building right at the marina which were reasonably priced and clean. The whole marina was very clean and well-kept. The staff and the local boaters are very proud of their facility and it showed.
Menominee’s downtown is being refurbished and many of the older buildings have been or are in the process of being restored and repurposed. Walking or riding our bikes in the area was a pleasant experience. Sidewalks were wide and crosswalks well-marked. Drivers would even stop and allow us to cross without having to dodge traffic.
Toots and I met some nice people while on our walks, she always attracts plenty of attention. People are curious to what breed she is and are always surprised when told of her age. On one of our walks we met Hugh Vary, an older gentleman, I’d guess at least in his 80’s. Hugh walked bent over and weighed all of a hundred pounds. I noticed him stretching his back out while sitting on a bench. We struck up a conversation and talked for a good while, then finished our walk together. Hugh described himself as a Yooper and he was proud of it. (For people not familiar, a Yooper is someone from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or UP) I offered help to get back up from the bench and was waved off. It looked like a good breeze could blow him over but he leaned into the wind and headed off. We also met Mary and Janice, two retired ladies that lived in one of the refurbished buildings in the downtown area. Toots and I ran into these ladies a few times while on our walks, and the one time when I was out without Toots they wanted to know where she was and if she was OK. During our talks I had mentioned that one of the marina staff’s sister was going to sit with Toots so Dearest and I could have a few hours together without the dog. They both offered to come sit with her. I told them that I didn’t want to impose upon them but the answer was “we’re old we’re always looking for something to do.” Our last night in Menominee was made better by Mary and Janice coming, in a rain storm, to the boat and sitting with Toots. Mary even gave us a ride to the restaurant and offered to come back and pick us up. The rain stopped and we had a nice walk back to the boat and the ladies said they enjoyed just sitting and watching the people walk by.
I apologise for not having pictures of Hugh, Mary, Janice, and all the rest of the people who were kind, generous, and out-going in the area. I’m not used to getting others involved in the writing and just wasn’t carrying the camera.
We extended our stay in Menominee because we had a few things that needed to be done and because of forecasts of poor weather and water conditions. But, I can’t think of a better place to stay. The facilities and staff were first-rate. But what really made the experience positive were the local residents and boaters. Always helpful and friendly. They are proud of the area and it showed.
Until next time; We left Menominee and resumed our travels heading back out the Sturgeon Bay Canal and on toward Algoma, Wisconsin, but that’s another story.
You should be seeing another book review shortly, I’m almost done with Louise Penny’s “A Fatal Grace”. I am enjoying the series.