The next morning, we cleaned up, and with sincere thanks for the opportunity to stay and spend time with Hank and Beth, we head for Bayfield, Wisconsin. Our destination is a B&B called the Thimbleberry Inn, happily situated on 400 feet of shoreline just west of Bayfield. It is a very pleasant place with only four guest rooms. Sharon and her husband Craig run the place, and while they are trying to sell it (they would like to retire), they still run a classy operation. Each evening, we get dessert in the form of some freshly backed goodie, and then at 8:00 am each day, a pot of coffee and tea is brought to our room with a muffin of some kind (again, freshly baked) to whet our appetites for the full-on breakfast served in the dining room upstairs half an hour later. Sharon, in addition to being an excellent baker and chef, is very informative about the town, and environs.
After we got there, we took off straight away to get the ferry out to Madeline Island, one of the many Apostle Islands that surround the Bayfield area. We parked and got on board just as the ferry was leaving. The island is one of the larger ones in the grouping, and has a bit of history about it. Almost immediately after getting off the ferry, we saw the museum of the island’s history, so of course we had to investigate.
It is an interesting museum, with many artifacts found on the island, a film of the island’s history, buildings from its historic past (taken apart and rebuilt on the museum grounds), and more exhibits of a historical nature. The one that caught my eye was a whole corner and wall devoted to showing step-by-step how to build a birch-bark canoe. As birch trees are common to this area, and water is so prevalent, this was in times past the best material to build transportation out of. The four old buildings from the past were built together so that we could walk from one to another without going outside. As Gwen said, this took away from the authenticity (and confused the visitor), but it made the going easier in inclement weather. Inside were antique tools, lamps, furniture, weapons, and household artifacts.
The film on the history of the area was not your straight-forward sequential first-this-happened-then-this happened story. It talked and sang about the people who lived there, and if we hadn’t gotten a good lesson in the Indian-French-British sequence of time and occupation built around fur trading and exploitation of other natural resources from Ft. Michilimackinac, it would have been exceedingly difficult to follow. The main difference was the coming of the wealthy folks from further south in Wisconsin (Milwaukee, for example) who used the island as a summer vacation spot. This reminded me (although not Gwen, surprisingly) of the winter visitors to southern California (Pasadena in particular) around the same time (the end of the 19th, start of the 20th century). These wealthy families devoted time to making the place entertaining for themselves and their children while they were there.
We found ourselves closing the museum at 3:30 (central time – we had forgotten we were no longer in the eastern time zone until we reached the B&B), and then meandering around just long enough to catch the next ferry back to the mainland. We went out to dinner at a restaurant recommended by Kyle’s friend Suzie, the Rittenhouse Inn. The maitre d’ gave us the menu verbally, something I have never experienced before. He waxed poetic about each element on the menu, and easily convinced me that the 5-course option was preferable over the 2-course option. Gwen had the 2-course, as her stomach just doesn’t stretch to five courses any more. Indeed, the food lived up to the superlatives used by the maitre d’. I had a cup of their cream-based chowder, with whitefish and trout, a trout-sprinkled salad, leading up to a generous filet of trout sitting on a bed of Israeli couscous. For dessert, I had a rum-drenched butter pecan ice cream. There was a raspberry sorbet before the main course to clear the palette. Gwen had a spinach salad (followed by a donated sorbet just because I got one), and lamb chops on a bed of basil-flavored risotto. The vegetables were carrots in a honey glaze and asparagus spears. Of course Gwen was saving herself for the dessert served at the B&B afterward. And well she should have been, as Sharon’s baking skills fully met the advertising as well.
When we got back, sure enough, Sharon had baked us a marvelous treat for my second dessert. Yeah, too much food, but how can you say “no” to such a treat? Oh, well — that’s what vacations are for!
Not too much to picture today, but I still have more of those pictures from the Agawa Canyon train trip.