Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rock Island State Park, WI : Island Exploration Part 1

Welcome back to Rock Island.
Well, we have arrived and settled at the campsite, now what.  Get out there and explore the island.  After all, you are going to be here for a few days.
The perfect place to start is the building that greeted you upon your arrival...The Boathouse.

The boathouse is a sort of gathering place.  It has information regarding the wealthy inventor and his family that built the beautiful buildings that grace the island. The furniture from their time is also still housed in the boathouse for you to look at. On rainy days, you can find people reading, playing games, or just chit chatting here. 

After you take all of that in, I highly recommend taking the hike around the island on the Thordarson loop Trail.  We always pack a light lunch to eat part way into our hike.  Remember, Rock Island hungry.   As you venture out make sure to take notice of the "bowling ball of the gods" as we have deemed it.

And a quick stop at the shelter.

 Then you can begin your climb past the rangers house.

This is the only building that has electric on the property.   While this hill is steep and seems to be never ending, there is a nice spot for a rest awaiting you at the top.

While you are there, take some time out to add your name to the carving board.
After your mark has been left, continue on your journey to the next stop.  You will come across a "fork" in the road.
As tempted as you maybe to follow it to the lighthouse, take some time and go the left.  Walk down the path and you will find some steps that lead to where an old home stood.

After you have soaked up the scenery from the shore and the remnants of the old house.  Go back to the sign to head towards the lighthouse.

As the little sign notes, this was Wisconsin's first lighthouse.  Every year volunteers take time to live in the lighthouse and give tour's to the visitors.  Not to shabbie of a job if you ask me.  Since they were always so courteous, let me give you a sneak peek inside.

Good thing he brought his binoculars or he would never see the ships coming in.  Close to the lighthouse there will be a set of stairs leading down the beach.  Since this is a lighthouse, you know you are on the high side.  If you feel up to it, go explore the beach area below the lighthouse.

After all those steps, the walk to the lighthouse, and the tour of the lighthouse, it is time for everyone to take moment and grab some trail snacks and rehydrate.  So grab a seat...and we will be back tomorrow for part 2 of the Island Exploration.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Rock Island State Park, WI : Island Living

Half of the fun is getting there.  Once you get to Rock Island you are suddenly on island time.  Island time basically means you are at discretion of the ferries to come and go from the island.  Also, the only other time you need to pay attention to is the time that wood shed opens.  There is no electricity on the island either.  There is one bathroom with flush toilets, which are solared powered.  The peacefulness and the wonderfully nice people make the entire adventure.
Where you call home will be any site that you like.  I am partial to water views.   Also make reservations as early as possible, sites fill up fast.  Pets are also allowed in the campground area just make sure to reserve a pet friendly site.  Sidenote: You will need to carry your gear to your site, which can be a mile walk.  I recommend you bring a garden cart to help out especially if a cooler is involved.

Once you get to your site, set up your tent and get settled in, make sure to take a look around.  When there is no electricity etc. it is fun to see if anyone found a neat little way to occupy their time like making the above or drawing little gardens on the rocks....aka a rock garden.
Each site is equipped with a firepit and a picnic table. And my husband can attest that there is a special kind of hungry that occurs on the island, it is "Rock Island hungry".

As much as I would love to fill this page with words about the beauty, seclusion, and wonderfulness of every single campsite that I was in on the island there is no way I could beat the pictures.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves, as each one is a view from one of the sites we have had.

If you are looking for some beautiful serenity in your life, Rock Island is where you need to be. Now go get those reservations made and stop back next week for when we venture around the island.
Part 1: Rock Island Getting There

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rock Island State Park, WI : Getting There

Today, I am going to share with you one of my favorite places in Wisconsin.  I love it here so much that I have gone 3 times already.  My fourth trip will be when my nephews get a little older to appreciate the beauty of Rock Island State Park in Wisconsin. The island is located off of the tip of the Door County Peninsula.  You can visit this island as a day trip for a hike, but I highly recommend staying a few days in the campground portion.  The only thing to be aware of is all the sites are walk-in sites, where you have to carry your gear to the site.  More on that soon..

With me recapping the three times I have been there, I will be breaking the blog posts into segments.  Today we shall focus on getting there.  Because as you read on getting there is half of the fun.

First and foremost for all trips, make sure that you have an experienced copilot who is up for an adventure. Mine would be Bullet  aka my backcountry dog.

Since you will be traveling up the Door County Peninsula, you will come to a point of whether you would like to take highway 42 or 57.  We always take 57.  It seems to be the quieter side of the peninsula plus there is a restaurant that we have a tradition of stopping at.
Another must stop on the way up is one of the geological markers.  It is set off on a little wayside.
Yep, you are seeing that correctly according to this I was halfway to the north pole.  Just a little further and maybe I could have had dinner with Santa Claus.
Another spot to check out along the way up is Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant. in Sister Bay.

The major draw to this restaurant are the goats that live on the roof. 

Make sure to take time to pull over or find a place to park to check them out.  I will assume that the food is good also since each time we drive past it is busy.   We never have stopped since we eat before we make it this far.   
Prior to making it to the tip of the Door County mainland do not be surprised if you run across a snake in the road.

No worries though this snake doesn't mind if you drive all over him.
Once you reach the tip of the peninsula, it is time for the car ferry that will take you over to Washington Island.   You can also take bicycles or just ride the ferry over as an individual.
The ferry ride lasts a long enough period where you can get out stretch your legs and enjoy the view for awhile.  More Information on the ferry click here: Washington Ferry
 Once you arrive at Washington Island, next is driving across the island to the "entrance" for the park.

Yes, you are reading that sign says "Rock Island Ferry".  It takes two ferry rides to get to this glorious state park.  It is well worth it.
And of course our obligatory pre-ferry pictures.
 My first time to Rock Island with my son and Bullet
The second time with my son, steppie and Bullet.   The third time we somehow missed out on a picture. 
Once you arrive at the ferry launch, you will need to park your car and unload your stuff.  This ferry takes people and gear only.  The cars remain behind in the parking lot and a park sticker is required.
The guys who run the ferry are absolutely awesome. They do a great job of loading your gear and making sure you get across safely.   Remember to tip your ferry captain.   They also allow pets to make the trip over on the ferry.  Which is a very good thing since I wouldn't want my Bullet to get jealous.
Or Chuck, even though he would much rather be on the couch.

And on occasion, you may find a stowaway penguin.
This long day of travel is well worth it though when you set your sights on the beauty of the island.
Stop back on Thursday for insights on what it is like on the island....and living on island aka ferry times.