NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Newport State Park Bug-Me-Not Test Results

When I mentioned buying the Bug-Me-Not spray on my post about The Ridges I had some folks wondering whether the natural concoction worked or not.  As we discovered on the Lynd Point trail loop in Newport State Park the answer to that question is...kind of.

To reach the Lynd Point Trail Loop you start out on the Europe Bay Trail.  Once we got into the mosquito infested woods, it was best to keep moving if you didn't want to get bitten.  Even with the spray on they were deterred, but there always seemed to be a few who would land anyway given the opportunity.

I did get to spot a few new wildflowers to check off my list, including this Blue Bead Lily.  I know it doesn't look like blue beads now, but it will get cute blue berries later in the season.  It's probably the plant I saw while at Bear Head Lake State Park in Minnesota and didn't know it at the time.

While in Door County I also saw plenty of Canada Mayflower, but this shot below was the keeper due to its composition.  Canada Mayflower looks nothing like regular Mayflower. It more closely resembles Lily of the Valley and I've seen its berries before too.  The immature berries are cream and red speckled, which deepen to a dark red.  It also is very similar to False Solomon's Seal/Starry Solomon's Seal, but you can tell the difference by the 4 petals on the flower instead of 6.  Flower identification isn't easy, let me tell ya.

Know what else we saw a lot of?  Slugs.  Everywhere.  No wonder the mosquitoes were thriving, the dampness was pervasive.  Yes, that's a word, if you don't believe me look it up.

Something else that was pervasive in Door County is Thimbleberry.  I'd never heard of it but noticed it was well represented in the mural I saw in Baileys Harbor our first day in town.  Once it started blooming it didn't take me long to find out what it was and I was glad to have that mystery solved.

The plant is a good understory shrub that does well in sun or shade and unlike its relative the raspberry does not have thorns.  Compared to the raspberry plant the leaves and flowers are larger and it grows in lovely soft patches that lined trails and driveways all over Door County.  The berries aren't as tasty as raspberry, but are still edible and are used in cooking.  Another interesting sidenote I stumbled across online is that the large leaves can be used as toilet paper if needed while hiking.  Good to know.

I couldn't find any information about Lynd Point itself online.  There were a couple of side trails that went out to the shoreline, but the trail mostly stayed inland where the mosquitoes were hungry.

Even though there wasn't much to see we hung around the shore a few minutes to escape the pests and the stifling humidity under the canopy.

I was so desperate for an excuse not to go back into the woods that I searched for lichens to photograph.  I didn't find the kind of variety that I saw at The Ridges, but I did find this tiny little still life.  More on my lichen finds in an upcoming post.  Trust me, it'll be interesting...I hope.

While on the trail we heard some cranes calling and made our way out onto the Point to see them.  I don't know if they had young with them, I didn't want to get close enough to make them take wing.

Slugs and Cranes whet your appetite for more critters?  Saturday's Critters should have a few, but that's all that we saw that day.  A little further on we found a side trail that went out onto a more open spot on the Point.

I was wearing all the clothes in an attempt to deter the flying menace.  It helped.  However, I was soaked in sweat.  When we got back to the truck I hauled off my shirt before even getting in the vehicle.  The look on Wayne's face was priceless!  I was wearing a sports bra, for heaven's sake I see ladies jogging down the road in those things.  I was quite the eyeful as we drove out of the park with my shirt hanging out the window in an attempt to get it dry enough to put back on.  Sorry, no picture, you'll just have to do with the mental image you come up with on your own.

Adorable Beach Heather/False Heather

Newport State Park has a handful of rustic campsites and along this trail we passed two of them.  Can you imagine camping in hordes of mosquitoes without any facilities?

Shells make up the "beach" on the Point

They also have at least one "bike" site, which we swung past on the Europe Bay section on our way out of the woods.  All sites are primitive walk-to sites and there are no shower facilities or a dump station at this park.  However, I did find a website with a review from someone who camps here with some great tips if you'd like to give it a try.

The final word on the bug spray was it needed reapplying every 30-40 minutes and was only efficient as long as you kept moving.  Apparently the frequent reapplication is common to natural deterrents, which I don't understand considering I had to wash our clothes three times to get the smell out.  Every year I try something new, and it always comes down to trying to avoid their habitat altogether is really the best option.  This year that is more difficult as breeding conditions seem off the charts, presumably due to our late spring thaw and the excessive rain we've received since then.

It was hard to keep an eye out for new plants as we speed walked through mosquito-alley, but I did grab a shot of what turned out to be Creeping Dogwood also known as Bunchberry.  This relative of the Dogwood only grows to about 8 inches, which actually looked rather large compared to other wildflowers I've spotted this year.   Not only was the bloom cute, but the arrangement of the leaves was very pleasing as well.

Always happy to see a patch of Columbine!

There is lots of hiking at this park, and the Europe Bay Trail is even mountain bike accessible.  Next time we come to Door County I'd like to bike all the way out to Europe Lake and the fall when the mosquitoes have left town.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Scrumptious Sunset

Remember way back when I mentioned a coffee shop in Egg Harbor?

The Chocolate Chicken was my favorite food find in Door County.   Delicious coffee and they serve ice cream and fudge too!  If you want to try their coffee you can order my opinion they beat Door County Coffee Company hands down.

Yet another egg at the marina

In the week we were there we stopped in 3 times, and not only sampled their coffee but of course I tasted their chocolate and baked goods too.  It was all good, but the truffles were the best. They also make chocolate chickens and white chocolate deviled eggs that were so cute, but I forgot to take pictures because I was so busy stuffing my face.  The last time we stopped in I stocked up on some decaf to make at home and Wayne got some ice cream to enjoy while we waited for sunset.

It wasn't ideal with the clouds low on the horizon, and for some reason I'm incapable of taking good sunset shots, but it was still a nice way to pass the evening.  Sunset watching is one of the few ways to get me to sit still for a little while.

Wayne was the impatient one this time, as the sun dipped behind the clouds he kept pestering me to get a move on, but I was trying to capture the soaring gulls backlit by the vibrant sky.

Egg Harbor ended up being one of my favorite spots on our trip.  Let the Illinois crowd have Fish Creek, I say.

Not only did I stock up at the Chocolate Chicken, but I stocked up on jam too.  Seaquist Orchards won the jam sampling tests so far, especially their cherry butter.  Wood Orchard Market has some good stuff too, especially their Cherry Strudel.

Today I stopped at Trader Joe's on my way home from Harrington Beach State Park and my tasty find was their dark chocolate almond toffee.  Thankfully I live an hour from the nearest TJ's or I could be shopping for all new pants in a couple of weeks between those and their peanut butter cups.  Don't worry, I bought peaches and oranges too, though I'm laying off the cherries for awhile after our time in cherry country!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cana Island

If you make the trip out to Baileys Harbor you can't leave without visiting Cana Island Light. It's $6 each for adults to access the 8.7 acre island's grounds and keeper's quarters.

We skipped the climb to the top for the extra $4 each and made our way out to the shore for some of the best views in Door County.  Views from the top are overrated in my opinion.

Don't mind the bugs flying around they won't bite (much), and watch your step on the loose limestone surface.

Just turn around now and then for views of the lighthouse as you pick your way around the shore.

There are cairns everywhere,  and gulls too.

Lots of plants were growing and blooming in all that rocky, sandy soil that I didn't see in the other places we visited in Door County.

I was so grateful to Wayne for letting me drag him around on the rocks that I even blew him a few kisses.

I loved these tiny pink flowers against the speckled limestone...Cranesbill maybe?

And Dame's Rocket may technically be invasive...but who could resist that riot of color on roadsides and rocky beaches alike?

To top it all off we rescued a turtle who was foolishly trying to cross the road where people were flying by without paying much attention.  I don't know if the publishers of the Door County Visitors Guide had any idea their publication would ever be used as a turtle scoop, but I'm sure they'd approve.

I'm way behind on posting, life keeps getting in the way.  Funny how that happens.  Tonight I'm actually solo camping at Harrington Beach State Park, but I have so much more to tell you about Door County still!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meet the Naturalist

Our last day in Door County we visited Whitefish Dunes State Park.  When I went into the visitor center I noticed that Striped Coralroot was blooming in the park.  I asked at the desk where I could find some and the next thing I knew we had our own Naturalist giving us a tour!

Carolyn and I discussing camera equipment

Sherry asked for a picture of me wearing the other hat I bought so she could weigh in on which she liked better! The sun was out quite a bit in Door County, but it did rain heavily overnight a couple of times, which is great for wildflower hunters like me.

On our way out to the spot a weasel ran across the path, but I missed it since I was scanning all the wildflowers we passed looking for some new ones.  Carolyn took us right to the Striped Coralroot, pulling invasive plants and doling out information on the ecology of the area as she went.

This was my first sighting of this orchid, and like others of its kind it produces no chlorophyll and relies on fungi for sustenance.  This orchid can withstand cold but not heat, so is plentiful in the north but not the south.  Remember, orchids do not transplant well, so don't attempt to dig one up and move it to your garden if you see one in the wild!

Not wanting to endanger any of the habitat I wasn't able to get up under the blooms to see if any were open, but am pretty happy with the pictures anyway. Now that I know how to find them next time I'll set up my tiny gorillapod and stay awhile.  Think that's the end of our tour?  We asked for a recommendation on hikes and points of interest and the next thing we knew we were being instructed in brachiopods and other fossils.

There was a display of rocks with fossil examples and we got an explanation of most of them.  My favorite was the honeycomb coral.

A shallow warm sea covered the area 425 million years ago.  The earth was quite a different place then, and what is exposed now in Wisconsin was not only underwater, it was near the equator!  Click on this link about the Silurian period to learn more.

Of course Carolyn also took us out to see where the sandy beach transforms into limestone cliffs, pointing out a patch of Bugleweed along the way.

The sun wouldn't be out for long, fog was on the way in, but I thought it lent a nice touch to the view.

Just north of Whitefish Dunes is Cave Point County Park which we did not have time to visit.  Sea caves line the limestone cliffs there and most people bypass it because it's not as heavily advertised as the state parks. Have to leave something for next time, right?  

It wasn't all about us on our tour with the Naturalist, Carolyn was trying to find a geocache and having some trouble with her GPS.  Wayne chatted with her about it while I wandered around shooting pictures, and they finally got it working and found the geocache.

Wayne was interested in the whole process and got a firsthand lesson in what it's all about.  Me, not so interested in the whole geocache thing.  I have my own list of items to hunt down, I don't need to add more!

We've learned a lot of things in Door County, but the best one is ASK, ASK, ASK!  If we didn't keep asking questions, look at all we would have missed.  Carolyn was a great sport and I'm glad we got her out of the office to see what was blooming.  Can you believe the Wisconsin State Park system currently only has 7 Naturalists?  Let your legislators know that funds for our parks and the education they provide the public is a priority!

It doesn't end here, there was so much to see in our morning at Whitefish Dunes that I have to split it up into a few different posts. I will mention that the park does not have camping facilities, but does have a beautiful reservable shelter whose interior is made from local white cedar and has a fieldstone fireplace.  This park is very popular due to the sandy beach, and a great place to cool off when the heat of summer sets in.

Biking Baileys Harbor

Door County is a great place for a bike ride, if you don't mind sharing the road.  It's Wisconsin, so you have a nice shoulder to ride on and this time of year you can still smell the lilacs.

Door County is farm country, lots of orchards but some cows too.

The cows look a little different here

We left the campground on our bikes one day and rode into town for a look around.  We ended up on Ridges Road, ready to see what was on the other side of the Ridges Sanctuary.

The sides of the road were lined with wildflowers, including a tall patch of Canada Anemone.  When I stopped to get a better look, I noticed something a little odd about one of the blooms.  Click on the picture to see it better!

I thought the center of the flower looked irregular, and then it moved.  There was a spider trying to hide from me.

I waited him out and he came back to sit in the sun.  I wonder is he using the color of the stamens as camoflauge on purpose?  Spider identification is very complex, but it appears to be a yellow crab spider.

This is what he looked like when he first caught my attention.  I wonder what kind of insects he's able to get in that location?

I could have watched the spider all day, but I was probably scaring away his dinner.  We continued our tour, mostly seeing driveways to private beach homes, but we also passed the Yacht Club which was pretty empty this early in the season.  As we sped along we saw lots of yellow lady slipper, including quite a few double blooms.

Patches of Indian Paintbrush brightened things up here and there too.  I didn't even know we had that in Wisconsin!

There's a little public beach we stopped at that was loaded with Indian Paintbrush.  We stayed a few minutes, just enjoying the sound of the waves and the gulls before heading back to the campground.

We stayed at Baileys Grove Travel Park and will stay there again if we revisit.  The owners were very friendly, the sites were nice sized for a private campground, and the mosquitoes weren't a problem there either.  The only downside was the site we were in was right across from the doggy potty area.  Don't book sites 808 or 809 if you don't want to see a steady parade of doggy behinds.  If you have a dog the site would be perfect!

Internet was a little spotty that far from the office as well, so I took my laptop up when I did laundry.  A few lessons learned for when I make reservations at campgrounds in the future.  If you're looking for us at future campgrounds, just keep an eye out for the Nomadic Newfies sign we bought in Gatlinburg last fall!

We're home now and Wayne's working a double shift today.  What am I doing?  It's raining right now, but maybe a know how restless I am.  Wayne's working over the 4th of July too so I made reservations for some solo camping up at Governor Thompson State Park.  Hope the mosquitoes have started to calm down by then or it might really be a LONG weekend!