For a six-day getaway, recently we drove up to Ephraim, Wis., in Door County to find rest, food, and fun. The resting part was done at the Ephraim Inn http://www.ephraiminn.com where quiet and professional service prevail. This is one of our favorite B&B spots with a breakfast that's very good and fresh, although it was unexpectedly cut back in content from last year.
Earlier this year, we also stayed in a Harbor View condo http://www.harborviewresort.com/ which had wonderful innkeepers with large rooms, a big deck facing the sunset, and many other amenities. It’s one of our other favorites.
For outdoor fun, we went walking and we tried kayaking. In our walks, we especially enjoyed the birds and deer in the Ridges Sanctuary and Peninsula State Park. Then we enjoyed a trip given at sunset from Ephraim put on by Kayak Door County (KDC) http://www.kayakdoorcounty.com launching from the South Side Pier at Ephraim right across from our Inn.
KDC appears to be sanctioned by the Bayshore Outdoor Store in Sister Bay. You can sign up in the store or at their kiosk on the Ephraim South Shore Pier. Ask for Kevin, a very helpful, polite, courteous young man to be your guide, if possible. We walked about 20 feet to be fitted for our life preservers and paddles, then we were assigned to a tandem kayak already set up on a launch ramp near the 83-degree water in the harbor. The KDC ramp has a special fabric covering that allows the guide to slide you into the water after you get inside the kayak on dry land, a big plus for beginners.
Kevin got us started with brief but careful explanation of paddling strokes and rudder operations. In our group, one kayak held two teenage women who were inept at controlling the boat, to say the least. Kevin's reaction was to hitch a harness around his shoulders and tow them along with gentle coaching until they were safely in the midst of the other boats. What a great guy!
About 30 minutes into the paddling, Kevin began to give a geological tour of the area, citing the beautiful bluffs, caves, state parks, estuaries, and rock formations we were passing with their glacial ancestry. As we reached the halfway point by paddling west from the harbor (known as Ephraim's Eagle Harbor), the sun was beginning to set, and Kevin asked us to get into a tight group, take a rest break, drink water and eat snacks, drift eastbound with the light wind, and just enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery.
From there it was an easy paddle back to the launch point, making sure we were back before dark. KDC does not have a "tip" line on its credit card receipt, but we were so impressed with Kevin (a college student) that we made sure to give him a tip after our trip. We will do other KDC trips when we return to Door County in the future for sure.
During our recent Door County visit, we really enjoyed the outdoor café at Julie's www.juliesmotel.com in Fish Creek, a casual spot with a great menu and free internet.
Fred & Fuzzy's www.littlesisterresort.com at the Sister Hill Resort also provided us with a great menu and view of their harbor with live music at dinnertime.
For snacks, don't miss the Door County Bakery www.doorcountybakery.com with its luscious treats, though some can be a little pricey.
You cannot do better for dessert than Wilson's in Ephraim, a local legend spotted right across from the famous harbor in Ephraim. Be sure to try the feature of the day and cherry pie ala mode.
We have decided to return to Door County’s “quiet side” in a condo in the Bailey's Harbor Yatch Club www.bhyc.com . This cuts down on needing to eat (and overeat) at every meal during a getaway in the midst of a paradise that has wonderful restaurants everywhere. This is a great resort development with units that have been kept in top-notch condition with constant updating since they opened about 10 years ago.
On this side of the peninsula, we also have been kayaking on an organized tour from north of Cave Point down to Whitefish Bay Dunes, two beautiful areas, provided by Door County Kayak Tours (DCKT).
We took one of the DCKT http://www.doorcountykayaktours.com instructional paddle trips for first-timers. To do this, we signed up over the internet and then showed up at their kiosk at Hands On Art Studio to check in and be fitted for lifejackets with about six other couples of all ages and abilities. Then we got on their converted school bus to be driven to a launch point near Cave Point. Our all-in-one guide, instructor, and bus driver was fun to be with and very cheerful. Another negative was the bus ride, during which our guide cranked up way-too-loud Johnny Cash music that blared while we tried to watch a simultaneously-shown instructional kayaking video from a flat screen TV at the front of the bus.
At the DCKT launch site, we were shown to our tandem kayak, and then we were fitted for paddles. Our guide showed us a few more fundamentals and some how-to launch tips, which we then utilized. Out on the water, we never felt like we would capsize (surprise!). Without any previous experience at kayaking, we thought this two-hour trip was a little more strenuous than we would have liked -- maybe 30 minutes too long. By the end, we were past being ready to stop yet exhilarated at what we had accomplished. The bus ride back to the starting point again featured way-way-too-loud country music.
You pay DCKT after the trip. At that time, you're told about discounts: Take another DCKT trip during the week and receive a 50% discount or get a 30% discount at any other time as a repeat customer. Your charge card receipt that you sign has a line on it for "Tip Amount." We thought that was greedy.