Home Away From Home: Door County, WI

April 18, 2023

We spent this past weekend in Door County, WI, a place that over the years has become a home away from home, even though we rarely stay at the same place. At breakfast one morning at our favorite place, The White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, we tried to remember all the times Door County has been our vacation, get-away destination. We listed at least 20 times, and I’m sure we missed a few.

For those of you who don’t know, Door County is a peninsula with Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other. Many have referred to it as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. That’s fine, but I don’t think it needs to be compared to anything–it is its own kind of time-out haven.

My husband planned the trip this time to celebrate my 75th birthday, which seems like a logical time in itself to reminisce and honor the past without neglecting the present or denying the realities of the future. We roamed favorite routes, as we always do, staying alert for sandhill cranes and turkeys, glimpses of spectacular water views, and the pink haze on the cherry trees, moving steadily towards blossom time. We noted what stores and restaurants were still alive and hopefully well, and kept saying, “Remember when…”

A kind of life review of our adult years.

Neither of us could remember how we learned about Door County or when we had first visited, but we obviously fell in love with it and kept returning–sometimes just the two of us, but also family times when our children were little. And later when our children were grown. The summer of 2010, when we lived in Madison, we rented a house for a month. Bruce came for the weekends, and our daughter and family came for a few days, too.

I spent my alone time reading and writing. (No surprise!)

When I was growing up and my family moved frequently, we always went to the same resort in northern Minnesota for a week or two before moving to our new home. That time served as transition time, easing us from one place to another. Whether my parents realized they were doing that or not, that week offered a touchstone, making what was changing and what was ahead and what was left behind not quite so daunting.

Door County has become a similar touchstone–a place where I mark the changes in our lives, not just as memories, precious though they are, but as a timeline of growth and development. I recall many leisurely dinners, lingering over what we came to think of as “daiquiri talk,” dreaming and imagining what our future might hold, could hold. In fact, Door County was where we realized that we wanted to retire back to St Paul and put a plan to do just that into motion.

This past weekend was quiet, for the spring/summer season has not yet begun, and I realized how much less I need “to do,” “to see,” “to visit,” in this stage of my life. How content we were to spend more time reading in our pretty room or on the balcony.

Note the cherry wallpaper! Cherries are a definite theme in Door County.

We have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries in Door County and have been there each season. We have each had alone time there plus been there with friends and family. I don’t need everything to be the same with each visit there, although I would be crushed if the White Gull Inn closed, but instead enjoy seeing the mix of old and new. We’ve been young there, and now we are old there. I feel the span of time there, and it is a good feeling.

Perhaps if we were still living in the home where we raised our family, a home where we lived for decades, I might prefer to vacation always in new places, to cultivate new places, new experiences, but instead, Door County has become the place of returning. The place where time is measured. It is the place where each time we leave, I think about when we might return to our home away from home.

One More Thing:

As we often do, when we are out roaming, we visit a library. I think if I were living in Door County, I would spend a good chunk of time in Egg Harbor’s library–with its water view and comfortable places to sit and read.

Not only were there books, but a charming seed library too.

An Invitation

Do you have a home away from home? A place that is an emotional tug? I would love to know.

6 thoughts on “Home Away From Home: Door County, WI

  1. I have strong urge to go home. The last was in early June a couple of years ago before all physical started interfering with life.
    The full is very strong to return & spend time sorting out life, it seems like a big mess now.
    So there will hopefully be 2 trips to the farm to become more grounded.


  2. We went to Door Co for our honeymoon…almost 38 years ago! We haven’t had a chance to go back. On our bucket list! Glad you had such a wonderful escape.


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