Friday, August 15, 2014

Vacations are Made for Plotting

My in-laws finally visited our house.  My husband didn't want to take them anywhere, but given the choice of taking them out or talking to them here (more like listening to them) for two days, he chose to take them out. They visited Lambeau Field, Starbucks (my husband's fuel), a bakery (major fuel for him), and a chocolate shop (to keep the in-laws busy).  That was the first morning they were here (Friday).  He took them to a movie that afternoon, because he'd run out of things to do already.  But what to do the second day (Saturday)?  They were leaving the morning of the third day which left an entire day open for the so-called 'talking' (more like listening because my sister-in-law likes to talk a lot--too much).

They wanted to see a cheese factory, but I could only find cheese shops.  The biggest of these is in Door County.  Door County is the part of Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan.  The biggest city is Sturgeon Bay, halfway up the peninsula.  Sturgeon Bay is 45 minutes from our house, but we'd never been there before, and we've lived here over ten years.  The cheese place is close to Sturgeon Bay.  So an hour up and an hour back...but what else should we do?  I didn't want to hear more stories of aches and pains or gossip about the rest of the family.

I had this great idea to go the whole way to Sister Bay, about two hours from here, almost at the top of the peninsula.  There's this great restaurant in Sister Bay called 'Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant.'  It's here:  and yes, that's sod and goats on the roof.  The building is now surrounded by trees, and it's right beside a major road.  Of course, when I told my husband I wanted to go two HOURS to Sister Bay, he got upset.  I told him his mom was almost 88 years old and she'd be thrilled to do something fun like that.  So he relented and sort of agreed but wasn't happy in the least.

We finally left, amidst fog and boring terrain.  Turns out, Door County only has a few thousand residents and LOTS of farmland/countryside.  Not much to see on the whole trip.  But the fog lifted and we finally saw sunshine, closer to Sturgeon Bay.

After a wrong turn (yes, hubby was angry about that, too), we got to the cheese shop.  People were chatty and happy there.  It was fun!  There were weird cheeses to taste and breads with dipping sauces, etc.  My husband actually smiled.  He really didn't want to go anywhere, but he liked the cheese place (he doesn't like cheese, overall).  This one chatty customer was from Green Bay and told me we HAD to go to the Cherry Festival in Jacksonport.  It started right at that time on that day and we couldn't miss it.  Where was Jacksonport?  Who knew.  But I had a map...and my middle kid was home with the Internet at her fingertips.  Turns out, it was on the way to Sister Bay, where my husband didn't WANT to go.  But I convinced him to go to the Cherry Festival, at least, for his mom.  His mom wanted cherries and made it clear we had to see more.

We drove up the Lake Michigan side of Door County (the other side is the Bay of Green Bay), and went right past the Cherry Festival.  But we'd have to park too far away for my mother-in-law and it'd be tough with her cane, etc.  So we kept Sister Bay.  Hubby wasn't happy, but when he passed a bakery, he seemed very happy.  "Have to stop there on the way back," he said, nodding at me from the driver's seat to the back seat (I had to give up my prized front passenger's seat to my mother-in-law, which meant I heard my sister-in-laws woes and tales for the whole trip).  At least he had a bakery to look forward to.

We got to Sister Bay, as did half the population of Wisconsin, I think.  It was packed.  But within minutes, we found Al Johnson's Swedish Bakery.  We HAD to see those goats and we did!  Very cool!  Here are two pictures.  Turns out, it's kind of hard to see them if they're not on the sides, which is kind of hard to do.

We went inside and they have this gift shop off to the left.  My husband was thrilled, believe it or not, because he could get away from his family.  Mother-in-law and sister-in-law opted to sit in the lobby to wait for our name to be called.  But hubby went into the gift shop.  He bought a very soft hoodie for himself and a recipe book for me on 'ebelskivers.' (here: They're rounded pancakes (like a ball) and can be filled.  I had to order a special pan to make them, but it's okay.

We finally got into the packed restaurant and the food was outstanding!  Our son and youngest daughter came with us (middle kid had her fill of the in-laws and opted to stay home...she got lucky and drew the longest straw).  Youngest daughter loved the restaurant because one of the waiters was adorable with some sort of accent.  She couldn't take her eyes off the guy.

We ate ligonberries, limpka bread (like a mild rye bread), home made swedish meatballs (to die for), and various pies.  By this time, my husband was rather happy, and after his fourth cup of coffee there (no kidding), he was ecstatic.  He ordered this humongous dessert of a hard meringue cookie, topped by about 1/2 gallon of ice cream, about four cups of whipped cream, and cherries down over it.  My son helped him eat it.  Here's a picture:

We left there, talked to some more chatty people who wanted to show us their vacation pictures to Yellowstone (hilarious!) and saw some more of the town.  Then we had to stop at the bakery on the way back.  It was delicious!  Here are two pictures of the outside (my youngest loved the flowers on the side of the building, so we had to get a picture of those, too).

Turns out, if my husband has a great time, he wants to visit again...SOON.  So when we got home, he and I booked a whole weekend in September to go back to Sister Bay, so he can eat at Al Johnson's again.  But this time, no in-laws, and I can finally plot and write while there.  There isn't a lot to do there, so it'll be fun. Two of the kids will be back at college, the dogs are going to their favorite kennel, and we're taking our son with us.  I'll have even more time to plot and write because my son and husband can play games and watch TV at night.  There are small shops there and of course the bay and Lake Michigan, but I'm looking forward to some R&R.  Thus, if you're trying to contact me in Sept., I might be watching goats on a roof or plotting out my next murder mystery.  And no, the in-laws won't be the victims.  Hmmm...

Have a great week!

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