In the best literary and television tradition, I left the last entry with a cliff-hanger. Yes, the engine pump was fixed, sort of…
The marine tech eventually arrived to replace the raw water pump with the rebuilt replacement from our Looper friends. He got the replacement in, only to discover that it had not been rebuilt as our friends had been told, and in fact it leaked worse than ours. The tech made several trips to the shop, and the leaking was reduced to a small drip with the admonition to keep a sharp eye on it. The tech was great, not only did he stay after quitting time to make sure the job was done, he also drove us to the restaurant, and absolutely refused to accept a gratuity.
Dinner at Republic Chophouse, a steakhouse, was very good, although it was second only to the Grand Hotel in cost! It is strange that Green Bay seems to be very much a foodie place, with outstanding and innovative restaurants, but no shops to buy gourmet treats.
This would be good place to address a family comment. Family, unlike friends who are usually more diplomatic, say exactly what they think, complimentary or not! Anyway, apparently the general consensus from the Dutch heritage side of the family is that “they seem to be always eating”. Well, this is somewhat true, if eating is defined as trying out interesting restaurants. We have always said that we are “eating our way around the Loop”, and trying all sorts of new eateries as well as local shops is a huge part of the enjoyment of the journey for us. Add in the fun of meeting new friends and sharing docktails, this is what Looping is all about. In fact, the expectation of closed shops and restaurants, or having to eat outside with plastic cutlery and paper plates, was the reason we stayed at home in incredibly hot Hilton Head last summer. Many of our readers have asked me for more food pictures, so I try to oblige.
Having had two pumps replaced this year, one for the fresh water system and one for the starboard engine, got me thinking about pumps in general, how important they are in our lives, and we don’t even think about them. There are pumps in your car, in your dishwasher and your washing machine. Your heating/cooling system may be a big pump. On a boat like ours, they play a vital role, bilge pumps, fresh water pump, shower drain pumps, washing machine, toilets, and 2 of our 3 AC units. We have a bicycle pump to keep air in our tires and top up the fenders when they get too squashy. Each engine has a raw water pump that cools the engine coolant and exhaust, and another inside the engine that circulates the coolant internally. Without these pumps, the engine would get hot enough to burn up the boat.
A noticeable feature of the entrance to Green Bay is the large colony of white pelicans roosting on the islands and outer breakwaters. American White Pelicans are one of the largest North American birds, with a wingspan of 9 feet and weighing up to 30 pounds. They nest in the interior, as far north as northern Canada, and as far south as northern California. They are migratory, spending winters in southern USA and Central America. During much of the 20th century they were absent from Wisconsin, due to habitat destruction by the draining of wetlands, and the use of DDT. They have now returned and their numbers are increasing every year. We have been seeing them all along the western coast of Lake Michigan and in Green Bay.
We departed Green Bay on the 10th as planned, and had a smooth journey to Menominee. The wind kicked up at the end, but we had a very wide slip in the marina and good docking help.
The city of Menominee is at the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The area was originally occupied by the Menominee Indian Tribe, but they were displaced and their descendants now live on a reservation in north central Wisconsin. In the 19th century it was a lumber town, producing more lumber than any other city in the United States. In the early 20th century, as the lumber business waned, other industries arrived. One of these businesses was Lloyd Manufacturing, which made wicker baby buggies. In 1917, Marshall Burns Lloyd invented an automated process for weaving wicker and manufactured it as the Lloyd Loom. This machine process is still being used today in the production of good quality wicker furniture. The downtown and waterfront have some beautiful old buildings, many of them restored, but the town has little to offer visitors. We enjoyed a decent meal at the best rated restaurant in an interesting historic building.
We left early and ran fast for a very choppy passage across Green Bay to the town of Sister Bay in Door County. This is a busy tourist town, with a large boating presence. We were early and had to wait out in the bay for our slip to become available while jet skis and pontoon boats whizzed around us and sailboats took full advantage of their right of way over all power boats.
We had an excellent meal in what I call a basket pub, that is, all the food is served in baskets regardless of whether you eat inside or out. I had the best lobster roll ever, and Dick really liked his fish special (it was walleye). The town is very spread out, with the grocery store and some of the shops at the top of a big hill, but it was worth the climb. On our return we stopped for cappuccinos in a place that advertised, “Come try the worst ice cream some lady on TripAdvisor ever had in her life.” The sense of humour was also apparent in one of the offered ice cream flavours, called “Exhausted Parent”, made with blueberries and a shot of bourbon.
I can’t find much information about Sister Bay, other than to note that it was once a farming community, now reinvented as a tourist destination. There is a common Swedish theme, and possibly the most famous attraction in the village is the Swedish restaurant complex that has a grass roof, typically grazed by goats.
In the marina we marvelled at the display of incompetence as a very new and expensive boat pulled out of their slip using thrusters. A bad miscalculation resulted in the dock being knocked right off its supports, damaging the boat in the next slip and a small runabout on the other side. When shouted at, the owner called out not to worry, he would take care of it, and he proceeded to leave the marina for his sunset cruise with friends and family on board. Well, he never returned. When we got back from dinner that evening there were 3 local sheriff’s cars in the parking lot, and a lot of discussion going on. Highly unlikely the man got away with it, his details will have been on file with the marina, and there were a lot of witnesses.
We made a quick run a few miles south to Fish Creek ahead of the weather kicking up. The harbour was tight and higgledy-piggledy, with a lot of very large boats. Through the evening the wind and waves really came up, and we felt sorry for all the moored sailboats as they bounced up and down. Some small boats had obviously come in to the harbour for dinner, and were tied to the wall, heaving up and down and scraping on the concrete, and with quite a dangerous crossing when they left.
Fish Creek is another tourist town with lots of interesting shops and restaurants, but in this car culture it is very spread out. We had a long walk to a highly rated pizza place. We chose different pizzas so there would be leftovers to take back to the boat. Dick liked his, mine was merely okay. On the walk, we passed a shop advertising, along with handcrafted gold and silver jewellery, long range rifles and suppressors. Only in America. We decided to give that particular shop a miss.
Temperatures were very pleasant, with slippers and a shawl needed for early mornings, but sunny with light breezes during the day. A wonderful change from the earlier heat and humidity.
Fish Creek is another tourist destination in Door County, with a more upmarket feel compared to Sister Bay a few miles up the road. Behind the village looms Gibraltar Bluff, a huge limestone outcropping that forms part of the western side of the Niagara Escarpment. The founder of the town, Asa Thorp, was an entrepreneur who bought much of the land in the area and constructed the first dock in 1855. Summer tourists began visiting by 1900, and the area became an upscale resort community.
We went for breakfast in the historic White Gull Inn. They offered a “cherrmosa”, champagne with sour cherry juice, an excellent beginning. I followed that with cherry French toast, also delicious. Dick was less adventurous and had an omelette. After breakfast, we wandered around the varied and interesting boutiques in the village. A music shop was a highlight. Not only did they sell instruments and sheet music, they had every imaginable toy, souvenir, Christmas decoration, model, or game you could think of, all with the theme of music. I was tempted by cook books that came in a box with CDs of suitable music to accompany the dinners. Dick was happy to find two pairs of comfortable shoes in a moccasin store, and I found a gorgeous ruana in the alpaca boutique. Outside the alpaca shop were, you guessed it, alpacas. The baby was just six weeks old, and as adorable as they come. It was a beautiful store with many choices, but we limited ourselves to the ruana and several pairs of socks. I also resisted temptation later in a wonderful ladies shop on the main street.
It was an easy run to Sturgeon Bay. There was a certain amount of confusion in the marina, as they discovered as we were about to dock that there was not room for us in the assigned slip. We were waved off and sent to another one (which happened to be the same one as our previous visit). We were surprised to find that our cleats already had lines tied on them, that we had to remove and set aside in order to tie our own. Shortly after our arrival, a large and beautiful sailboat was assigned to dock beside us, but it was too wide, and sadly made a large scrape along their beautifully painted hull before managing to reverse out. An hour later, the owners of the slip we were in returned from their cruise and were very surprised to find us occupying their space. They were nice about it, and were willing to dock in the space next to us after they had retrieved their lines, but this has been the story of the summer, marinas not having a clue how to manage their slips and transient reservations.
The St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lake shipping routes close for winter each year, as ice grips the waters and locks close for annual maintenance. Bulk carrier vessels, usually called Lake Freighters, carry heavy cargo such as limestone, iron ore, grain, coal, and salt to the 63 commercial ports around the lakes. Typically, although the St Lawrence River offers an outlet to the Atlantic, different ships carry freight on the Great Lakes from those that ply the world’s oceans. There are thousands of smaller vessels, but only 13 that exceed 1000 feet in length. The question is, where do they all go when shipping stops for the season? Some of them spend their winter layup period in Sturgeon Bay, which is called the shipbuilding capital of the Great Lakes. As we made our way through the inlet to the marina, we passed the huge yards, with several freighters in for maintenance, and I could see one under construction with the keel laid down and the superstructure being fabricated. There are huge drydock facilities, including two massive buildings where ships could be brought indoors.
We met another Looper boat and enjoyed docktails with them. The next morning the new engine pump we had ordered was installed, and Dick has carefully put away the leaky one to send out for rebuilding after the summer cruising is finished. I was able to join my friends for a game of online bridge in the afternoon.
We had booked a Segway tour for 5pm, and walked the mile in hot sun to the meeting point, only to receive a text that the guide would be late, which would have meant sitting around for an hour. We cancelled and re-booked for Sheboygan. I had prepared a meal in the slow cooker to be ready for our return. It was a white chicken chili, very tasty and definitely a keeper!
The next day was an easy trip to Kewaunee, and we had great help tying up on the town wall from our fellow Loopers who had arrived ahead of us. There were 3 other Looper boats in town that night, but they were all in a marina over the far side of the inlet, a long way for anyone to walk to shops or restaurants, and clearly intended to be merely an overnight stop. We returned to the cheese shop for more gouda and some Dutch cheese biscuits, and then went on to the fish shop to stock up on smoked salmon.
Dick and I toured the Ludington, a historic tug moored along the wall from us. This tug served in WWII, including participation in the D-Day Invasion in Normandy, towing ammunition barges across the English Channel. It is a sister ship to one that we saw (but did not go on board) in Oswego, New York. It was interesting to see that all the senior crew had cabins with single beds, a desk, and a sink, but all cabins, even the captain and first mate, had to share toilets. We didn’t see where the “ordinary” crew slept, likely in bunk beds, in an area accessed by ladder and below the waterline. As on today’s cruise ships, the higher the status the higher up in the boat the cabins were! Dick was fascinated by the engine room (of course), and was amazed to see that there was a turbo-charger on the 8-cylinder engine, something he had never imagined was available in the 1940’s.
Lives lost in the sinking of two schooner-barges off the shores of Kewaunee in 1886 resulted in the building of the Life Saving Station, active from 1893 to 1947. It is now a private home. Another beautiful historic building is the former Railroad Depot, built in the 1890’s. The depot closed when passenger service ended in 1957, and after being occupied by several businesses it became home to a very keen gardener. I could have spent ages just looking at the wonderful variety of stunning perennials and flowering shrubs.
Dick and Jim decided to check out a new local restaurant, to see whether we should eat there instead of on board. Naturally this check required tasting the beer and enjoying the ambiance. A menu was brought back for the girls to decide, and we all enjoyed a very good pub-style meal.
The run to Sheboygan was our smoothest trip this year, with water like glass and no waves at all. On our first evening we were invited to join Loopers for docktails with 3 other boats. We enjoyed great stories, everyone has amazingly different life experiences, and yet we are all sharing this journey. Now that September approaches, more of the Looper “pack” is beginning to make their way south on both sides of Lake Michigan, in anticipation of passing through Chicago and into the rivers after Labor Day.
We walked up the hill to the Black Pig, a gastropub with an interesting and innovative menu. The food was excellent, but unfortunately the appetizer and the soup all arrived at the same time as the main course dishes. Our young waitress was mystified when we refused the starters. The manager came and apologised, and the waitress also said all the right things, but it was abundantly clear that as far as she was concerned, putting all the food on the table at the same time was correct and we were just weird tourists asking for it to arrive in a different order! More and more we are experiencing this, to the point where we are having to order appetizers and drinks only, and then order our main course once we see the first dishes.
The next morning, we went for a Segway tour. The guide was on time and better prepared with interesting information about the town. All participants are asked to arrive 15 minutes early, to allow time for training on the Segways. On this occasion there was a family of 4 on our tour. Although they parked at the meeting place well in advance, they then left and did not return until nearly 10 minutes after the starting time of the tour. By the time they all had their training (it was their first experience on Segways), we lost at least 20 minutes out of the 2-hour tour. Vastly inconsiderate, but sadly common these days.
The city of Sheboygan was settled mainly by white settlers from New York and the New England States in the 1830’s followed by waves of German, Dutch and Irish immigrants. In the late 20th century, Hmong refugees from Laos and Southeast Asia settled in the city. Dick noticed that the majority of booths at the farmer’s market were manned by people of clearly Asian descent. The economy is diversified, with a number of industries. Johnsonville, maker of bratwurst sausages, and Kohler, manufacturer of generators and plumbing fixtures, are two of the best-known companies in the area. My first job, when I was 14, was working with my mother, who was the accountant at a Kohler generator distributorship in Toronto. I remember that in those first couple of summers I was paid cash, under a book-keeping line item “bathroom supplies”. I did get a very good grounding in double entry book-keeping, that served me well later when I was looking for work after graduation. Kohler built a model town around its factories in 1900, and to this day the village design and aesthetic are under the control of the company. It is a few miles inland from Sheboygan, so we will not be visiting on this occasion, although one day we would like to see it. Kohler also owns and operates the American Club in the town of Kohler. It includes a top-rated historic hotel, and two famous golf courses.
In the park near the marina are the remains of the Lottie Cooper, a 130 foot long Great Lakes Schooner that capsized off Sheboygan in 1894. She was carrying a cargo of elm wood. The construction is fascinating. The schooner was built in 1896 of white oak, held together with thousands of long iron nails.
The weather returned to being humid, and it was very hot in the sun, but we visited the few interesting shops in the downtown on our way back to the boat. In the evening we rode our bikes to the best rated restaurant. We had planned to get there in the dinghy, but Sheboygan, unlike so many towns and cities on Lake Michigan, has taken very little interest in developing its riverfront for visiting boaters. The former town docks along the riverfront have been destroyed by the high water of recent years, and it is clear there are no plans to restore them. There is a very wide path and boardwalk along both sides of the river, but strangely, bicycles are not allowed on the north side.
Our meal at Lino’s was outstanding. We were able to order and enjoy the meal in true Italian tradition, with shared antipasto, then a shared pasta dish, followed by individual main courses. Dessert and a cappuccino rounded out the meal beautifully. Everything about the restaurant was impressive, with Lino himself showing guests to their tables, and a finely orchestrated staff who worked together and gave prompt service without being intrusive.
High winds extended our stay in Sheboygan by two days, cutting into our planned four-day stop in Milwaukee. On our third morning, Dick decided it would be a good day for one of his signature breakfasts. Unfortunately, we were out of eggs, but Saturday is the farmer’s market in Sheboygan, so shortly after 8am Dick set off on his bike to shop. He returned with blueberries, carrots, fingerling potatoes, and corn on the cob, and as he unloaded it all onto the boat, he realized that the main reason for the excursion had been forgotten. No eggs. So away he went again, to find a convenience store, and then he had to wait for it to open. The eventual breakfast was delicious as always, but no mid-day meal was required!
In the evening we invited Loopers on board Nine Lives for docktails. It was rainy, so we all sat downstairs in the salon. 10 of us plus an 8-month-old baby and a little dog all fit quite comfortably and shared food and stories!
Following the final repair of the engine pump, Dick decided to give the bilges a good wipe out and clean. A highly respected AGLCA forum member had written that the ideal tool for getting the last of the water from the bilge could be found in the galley. (So far, I have restrained myself from contacting this fellow and taking him to task over his recommendation.) My turkey baster was duly used, and then kindly left back in the sink for washing up. Having washed it, I then presented it to Dick to keep for his very own for future bilge and other boat related usage. They do say we girls tend to marry a man who is just like “dear old dad”. I well remember my father using mum’s pristine pancake flipper to repair the fiberglass on his vintage Studebaker. The main difference was, dad replaced the flipper in the kitchen drawer, still with traces of goo on it!
Our run from Sheboygan was lumpy to start, and then smoothed out, but we ran at 17 knots the whole way, as the wind was due to kick up and there was potential for thunderstorms in the afternoon. We stayed at Lakeshore State Park, a lovely area surrounding a lagoon beside the Discovery Museum in downtown Milwaukee. The docks are very nice, and it is extremely quiet at night. The park is part of miles of new waterfront development, and is full of walkers, joggers, and cyclists from dawn to dark. Most Loopers chose to stay in a marina further along the waterfront, because this one has power only, no water on the docks, and no security, but we feel quite safe here and it is very convenient for downtown.
Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. It is ethnically and culturally diverse. There was a lot of immigration from Germany in the 19th century, and the city became known for its brewing industry. The city had an unusual beginning, as it began as 3 separate towns, Juneautown, Kilbourntown, and Walker’s Point. There was intense rivalry between the three, particularly the first two, culminating in the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845. It began when the Wisconsin legislature ordered a bridge to be built across the Milwaukee River, as the existing ferry service was considered inadequate. Five bridges were built by the rival towns, and in 1845, a schooner rammed into one of them, the Spring Street Bridge. Rumours spread that the ship’s captain had been paid to damage the bridge, and the “war” was on. The Chestnut Street Bridge was partly dismantled by angry townsfolk (the west warders), and collapsed. East warders then brought up an old cannon, although they didn’t fire it, but they did complete the destruction of the Spring Street Bridge and also dismantled a bridge over the Menominee River. Attacks continued for some weeks, and all bridge work had to be done under guard, but by December the enthusiasm had petered out (one wonders how much the winter climate contributed!) Three new bridges were ordered, and the three towns were amalgamated to form the City of Milwaukee. Even today, bridges across the rivers run at an angle that reflects the misalignment of the streets of the original towns on each side of the rivers.
The German immigration of the 19th century was followed by large numbers from Poland, and many Europeans from other areas, with each ethnic group congregating in the same area. Through the 20th century a large African American community developed, and also a Hispanic community. Sadly, the racial distribution and lack of opportunity has resulted in a high crime rate and exacerbation of tensions in the city. Fortunately, the downtown redevelopment areas are well lit and very safe for walking during the day and well into the evenings. Downtown is also very bike friendly, with many dedicated bike lanes along the major arteries.
We walked about a mile to an Italian restaurant in the historic Third Ward. This is an interesting revitalized area of mainly condos, both new-builds and sympathetically restored historic warehouses. It comprises the area between the Lake Michigan waterfront and the Milwaukee River, and in addition to many restaurants it is also home to trendy boutiques, art galleries, and theatres. Our meal at Onesto was very good.
The next morning Dick set off on his bicycle to explore, finding several interesting markets, especially one of the best Italian markets we have encountered. He brought home not only the balsamic pearls I had been searching for, but also the tiny pickled sweet peppers that have proved so popular at docktails. I spent the day preparing this installment of the blog, and enjoyed the chance to play bridge online with my friends in the afternoon.
In the middle of the game, I became aware that the boat was rocking far more than would be accounted for by a passing wake. I stepped up top to see that a dramatic thunderstorm was passing through Milwaukee, with high winds and the most amazing sky I have ever seen. The gusts were so strong that I was nearly knocked over as I stood on the foredeck to take the pictures. The winds were followed by lashing rain, worrying, because Dick was still out on his bike. In due course he sent me a text to say he was sheltering in a store while waiting for the rain to pass.
In the evening we walked over to the Rare Steakhouse. It is a very traditional steakhouse, with exceptional steaks and exceptional prices to match. We shared the accompaniments, and still had far too much food, so there will be some interesting leftovers for Dick’s lunch tomorrow. As we walked back to the boat I was intrigued by the “limit 2.5 tons” sign on the pedestrian bridge. I reached into my pocket to get out my phone to take a picture (with the Milwaukee skyline in the background), and discovered that I had failed to pick it up from the seat beside me when I gathered up leftovers, raincoat, and glasses as we left the restaurant. A phone called confirmed that my phone was waiting at the hostess stand, so Dick set off to retrieve it. He thought he might apply for husbandly sainthood for this sacrifice of part of his evening, but at this point I am only prepared to go as far as to forgive the regrettable re-purposing of my turkey baster…