Day Trip: Door Peninsula

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In other words: FALL COLORS!

I love fall, & I haven’t had it for the last couple of years because it really isn’t a thing in Florida.  A few trees turn pretty colors but for the most part they either just drop leaves everywhere all the time or insist on staying green & leafy year-round.  Anyway, I’m pretty excited about fall in Wisconsin.  I’ve been looking at wandering up into the Door Peninsula the whole time I’ve been here because I’d heard it was beautiful, & I figured what better time than fall?  I checked out the fall color report (easy to find for pretty much anywhere with a quick Google search) saw that Door County was up to 90% with expected peak this week, the weather was supposed to be nice on Saturday, so I packed up my camera & headed out for my mini road trip.

The Door Peninsula is the little thumb of land that sticks out into Lake Michigan north of Green Bay.  It’s about 90 miles from Green Bay out to the very end at Northport, to go any farther than that you have to get on the ferry to Washington Island (which I would love to do sometime but alas, it was not to be on this trip).  It was a long drive from Sheboygan, about 3 hours each way, but it’s a beautiful area & there’s plenty of little lakeshore towns to visit along the way.  It’s been 3 whole years since I’ve been north of the 45th Parallel so I was glad to get back!

WI-42 & WI-57 both wind up into the peninsula, I ended up taking 57 there & 42 back, both are great drives.  The only unfortunate thing is that I think half the state decided to go leaf-touring on the same day, plus half the little towns were having farmers’ markets and/or fall festivals so there was a surprising amount of traffic to deal with.  Sister Bay is a town of less than 900 people but there must have been thousands at the fall festival, all having to walk a long way from where they parked to downtown, none of whom seemed able to keep themselves or their dogs out of the road.  I think a weekday would have been better, although it would take a whole camping trip to properly experience everything.

I visited the farmers’ market in Two Rivers (self-proclaimed birthplace of the ice cream sundae), ate lunch in Bailey’s Harbor, & finally made my way all the way up to Northport to watch the car ferries for a bit.  Northport sits on the passage between Lake Michigan & Green Bay, a strait known as Porte des Morts or Door of Death.  The true origin of the name is unknown, but may derive from the oral histories of local Native American tribes.  It is appropriate today because this area may hold more shipwrecks than any other patch of freshwater in the world.  I’d really like to get back up there when I have more time (and maybe it’s warmer!) to visit the islands.  Pilot Island has a really cool-looking abandoned lighthouse that I could see from the mainland & looks like it would be really fun to check out.

On the way back down the peninsula I stopped at Door Bluff County Park & Ellison Bluff State Natural Area, both of which are very small but also free and had great views out over the lake.  The County Park is far enough off the main road that you start to think maybe you missed it but no, it’s there, keep driving.  I ended up spending 11 hours wandering around & it wasn’t nearly enough time!  Hopefully someday I can go camping up there & really get some proper exploring done.

 

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This Week in Awkwardness

I made it back to Florida in one piece!  All went well right up until I got off my train in Orlando, only to find that my duffle bag had not made it onto my train in Alexandria.  Fortunately it was just on the next train but I still had to wait around for two hours just hoping it would be there.  Also, Amtrak ripped a hole in it, which is currently covered with duct tape.  I have a little time off before the new semester starts, so I’m just trying to relax a bit when I’m not at work before my hectic fall schedule starts.  It’s good to be home.  I feel like I’ve been gone forever but also like I never left, it’s weird, like I just imagined that I was in Maryland for two and a half months.


Added to the Travel Map:

Wreck of the Francisco Morazan, South Manitou Island, Michigan – a freighter that ran aground in a storm.

Vasa Museet, Stockholm, Sweden – world’s only preserved 17th-century ship, raised from Stockholm Harbor.

Wanli UFO Village, Taiwan – mostly abandoned resort neighborhood of Futuro & Venturo houses.

Hunot Gorge State Reserve, Shoushi, Turkey – wooded canyon with waterfalls & medieval village ruins.


Crossed Off the Travel Map:

Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Virginia

Williamsburg, Virginia

Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown, Virginia

Jamestowne Settlement, Jamestown, Virginia

Journey: Amtrak’s Silver Star

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Orlando, Florida to Alexandria, Virginia – 934 miles

Coach class on the Silver Service trains uses single-level Amfleet cars, so the view isn’t quite as good as on the double-decker Superliner cars on some of the long-distance routes but it was still a lot of fun and I spent pretty much the whole 18-hour trip just staring out the window.  The Silver Star and Silver Meteor use the same tracks for the most part except that the Star swings west to hit Columbia and Raleigh, while the meteor takes a more direct route through Charleston and Fayetteville.  Neither has any ocean view at all.

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The historic Orlando station.

I didn’t have anyone next to me until the station before my destination.  There was supposed to be someone but…I guess they lost them.  The car attendent kept wandering around going “where is my Philadelphia?”  Pretty sure they got off in Florida and never got back on.  Great for me, probably not so much for them.

I got on in Orlando in the evening, fell asleep as we were crossing into Georgia, and woke up two states later just inside North Carolina.  We passed through several major cities and all sorts of tiny adorable towns.  The only sad part was that it was dark out for such a big chunk of the trip, on my way back I’m going to try & book it so that I go through those places during the day, and the ones I already saw at night.

The Silver Star isn’t exactly the epitome of comfort but I arrived in Alexandria on time (!) the next afternoon having spent $117 and basically no effort in the process.

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Field School: Week 1

I survived my trip to Maryland!  It was about 18 hours from Orlando to Alexandria, Virginia, where the head archaeologist picked me up for the drive down to St. Mary’s City.  St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a small, rural school with pretty much nothing anywhere near it except the museum site where I’ll be working.  I like it though, the campus is beautiful and very wooded, it reminds me of Michigan.

We had three days of lectures on field methods, history, and some of the artifacts we’ll encounter, then two days in the field.  Yesterday my group learned to use the surveying equipment, plotted a new square & started taking off the topsoil, today we finished the topsoil & dug through a layer of pea gravel that nobody expected to be there.  We haven’t found anything really big but in sifting all of that dirt we came across lots of little bits of brick & coal, some nails, & a few pieces of ceramic & clay pipe stems.  Digging holes and picking through dirt really is the best thing ever.

So here I am for the next couple of months.  Should be interesting!

This Week in Awkwardness

Do you want to show off your obsession with Stranger Things AND help the National Endowment for the Arts?  David Harbour’s t-shirt does both!

I started working on my trip to Maryland.  I’m planning on taking Amtrak’s Silver Star from Tampa to Washington, D.C., so I FINALLY get to go on another train adventure.  Or the Silver Meteor, but that would require taking a bus from Tampa to Orlando – bleh.  It’ll be some silver celestial body anyway.  Then I was contemplating possibly getting to D.C. a day or two before I’m supposed to move into the dorm and seeing some things.  Hopefully they’ll send me a schedule of any field trips we’ll be taking over the summer, maybe the stuff I want to see is stuff they’ll be taking us to see anyway.  Probably not the International Spy Museum though.  That I’ll probably have to do on my own time.

Maryland will be the fifth state that I’ve lived in over as many years – that seems kind of insane, it feels like forever since I left Tennessee but that really was just in 2013.

Train trip, new state, digging stuff up – should be a good summer!

This is my 100th blog post!

Also I’ve been thinking about a graduation gift to get myself in December.  Maybe a GoPro.  They shoot time lapses and they’re waterproof, two things my Canon M isn’t capable of without modification.  Could be fun.

I’ve got my class schedule all planned out for MY LAST SEMESTER O_O.  Finally I’ll get to take some in-depth archaeology courses, up to now the offerings have just not worked out for me.


Added to the Travel Map:

Tangalooma Wrecks, Moreton Island, Australia – shipwrecks just off the beach.

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar – wild rock formations.

Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah – tons of rock art.

Longyearbyen, Norway – northernmost city in the world.

International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C. – pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Barron, Washington – ghost town.

Canyon Falls, Alberta, Michigan – waterfall in a canyon.

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah – 100,000 archaeological sites.

Bagan Archaeological Zone, Myanmar – the “Plain of Pagodas,” 2,000+ temples.

Ōkunoshima, Japan – this is the island with the zillion rabbits, but I’m more interested in the ruins of the poison gas factory.

Museums of St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is one of a handful of pretty little cities out on the peninsula between Tampa Bay & the Gulf of Mexico.  With beautiful beaches & palm-lined streets it’s been a tourist destination since the beginning of tourism.

The Museum of History is on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier, which juts out into Tampa Bay & is currently closed for construction.  It’s a small but interesting museum, $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $9 for children, military, & students (this was the first place I got a discount with my student ID!).  Their permanent exhibits include an Egyptian mummy, general area history, aviation, a few signs about pirates, and for some reason two rooms filled with nothing but autographed baseballs.  When I went in April they had a shipwreck exhibit on that showed models & artifacts as well as the technology involved in finding the wrecks & retrieving small bits from them.

Just around the corner is the Museum of Fine Arts ($17/adults, $15/seniors/military, $10/children/students), which holds many works from some of history’s greatest artists in its permanent collection.  After viewing ancient pieces from all over the world, I found myself in the presence of three genuine Monets.  Unlike most art museums, they welcome photography in their permanent collections.

Event: Live Oak International

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Every year in January horse drivers & jumpers come to Ocala from all over the world to compete at Live Oak Farms.  It’s become quite a festival, they have food trucks, vendors, even the Budweiser Clydesdale were there, all hooked up doing laps around the show ring.  It was a lot of fun except for the woman sitting next to me during the jumping saying “You can do it horsie! Oh that’s OK you’ll do better on the next one!”  It was the horse show equivalent of those people who talk to the characters during movies.