The things we carried: Door County 2015

IMG_0816What’s a cargo bike? It’s a bicycle that carries things not directly related to the support of rider or machine during the ride.

To determine whether you have a cargo bike, consider what you’re hauling around with you.

Bananas? If you’re eating them on the go, you may not be riding a cargo bike. Couch? Unless it has wheels, you’re riding a cargo bike. Common bicycle tools? Not a cargo bike. Park repair stand? Cargo bike.

Books from two businesses on Washington Island, Door County, Wisconsin, back to your bed and breakfast in Ephraim?

Cargo bike. It just looks like a tandem.

Let’s see what we pulled out of the handlebar bag—and why we put them in there in the first place.

IMG_0817Picked up this book at Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm. The author is quite the celebrity, though in true masters-of-awareness style, we’ve never heard of her. Instead, we judged the book by its cover and a judicious skimming of its contents. Did you know a healthy blackcurrant bush produces nine pounds of fruit?

IMG_0819Here’s the first of three books from Fair Isle Books, formerly Islandtime Books. Michael Perry writes cleanly about the world he moves through and the people he lives among. And this year the Wisconsin pig farmer came up with a novel. Buying this book breaks the rule one of us has about fiction: either the author must be dead or the work must be short. (The other of us has read every stinking Harry Potter book.)

IMG_0822Dervla Murphy’s book, Full Tilt, Ireland to India With a Bicycle, is the most important bicycle book we’ve never read, even though it’s been in our library for years. So we had to pick up On a Shoestring to Coorg. This book will remind us to read the other one—or the other way around.

IMG_0824One of the uses of literature is to keep us curious about the uses of literature. It’s possible that an Italian born in Cuba in 1923 may have come up with a use we hadn’t considered.

IMG_6727A Sister Bay business owner once said that the Door County peninsula was unique in that everyone there meant to be there, because no one was on the way to somewhere else. What a great observation. It really stuck with us.

The next year, his store closed.

He went somewhere else.

You can carry a lot of things on a bicycle with a rack, bag or basket, but you don’t need any of those things if your cargo is time. Here are a few of the years we’ve picked up, pondered and carried around with us while riding a tandem in Door County.

1848:  Wisconsin becomes a state, and because of the shape of the border, this is probably the first year someone says it looks like a mitten, kind of like Michigan looks like a mitten with a bad toupee. Door County is Wisconsin’s thumb.

1859:  Ephraim’s Moravian church is built. The church is later moved to the first hill we ride when leaving town in the morning, maybe because someone thought we should have something to look at as we’re gearing down. (Wisconsin folk moved a lot of buildings up hills or across frozen lakes more than a century ago. Imagine: “I like it; I just don’t like it there. Hitch up the horses.”)

IMG_67381906:  Wilson’s Restaurant is established. Today it’s where you get ice cream before you cross the road to watch the sun set over Eagle Harbor because the sun sets over the harbor, not where you get ice cream. And if you think that sounds ridiculous, you need to take a look at your own commute.

1941:  As world events heat up across both oceans, a giant coffee pot is installed on Washington Island. It wasn’t that long ago that the pot served as an information booth. Whatever, it’s still hot.

1989:  The Washington, one of a fleet of ferries that connects the north end of the Door County peninsula with Washington Island, is launched around the same time we first visit the area. Not in our honor, mind you: sheer coincidence.IMG_6705

2007:  Ellison Bay’s Pioneer Store reopens, replacing the original 136-year-old building leveled by a 2006 gas explosion. The road into town is anything but level. At the bottom of the hill we’re going 40 mph. Pure coast–no pedaling.

2014:  It’s happened again. We’ve arrived in Door County after Wimbledon has wrapped up. But we’re not tennis fans. So why are we disappointed that it’s not playing on the screen at the Bayside Tavern?

2015:  First time we have dinner outside the Cornerstone Pub in Bailey’s Harbor. Unrushed. Calm. Delightful. How has this not happened before?

Notes: 1) Yes, that was my thumb in some of the pictures. I like how it kept you guessing. 2) If you missed the first external link in the story, you missed the story behind the design of New Belgium Brewing’s couch bike. Here’s another chance to catch a slow ride.


About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Co-Motion tandem, Report from the road and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The things we carried: Door County 2015

  1. rschurter says:

    Great post and I loved the slow ride video!

    • Thanks. Any time you can combine the “B’s,” in this case, bicycles and books, you’re having a good time. Other B’s of course include Bach, Benny Goodman, bagels, and behind the Slow Ride couch bike, a beer company. I may explore other letters from time to time. Drop by anytime.

  2. Julian says:

    Pull Dervla Murphy’s Full Tilt from your shelf and read it. It is (IMHO) a great travel and cycling book. One of my favorites.

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