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  • We’ve narrowed it down to the 2 best cherry pies

  • No question, here’s THE best beachy dog park

  • Should I blow my REI gift card on a YETI cooler?

CH-CH-CH-CHERRY BOMB

Door County, Wisconsin, that thumb of land sticking out into temperate Lake Michigan. Turns out, it has an ideal climate for growing cherries.  Yay confluence of water, winds and soil!  So, cherry everything here and I couldn’t be happier.
Getting here is a commitment–a 5-1/2 hour drive from the Twin Cities.  But once you are solidly on the peninsula, past Sturgeon Bay, the cherry bombing begins.
Roadside orchard stands along Hwy 42 sell pies, jams, donuts, salsas, and some other things you don’t really want cherries in. Face hole opportunities galore.
If you are a fan of the classic roadside face hole photo-op, and I think you are, I wholly recommend Vic Berger’s Twitter account featuring photos of cut-out  face holes around the world.

Back to the cherries, and the Montmorency variety of cherry to be exact.

They are tart and to my mind, they make an unparalleled puckery pie.  The kind a sweet scoop of vanilla ice cream begs for.  When I’m in Door Co., I eat these pies for breakfast, between meals, and truthfully, for meals.  I have vigorously debated the merits of Seaquist Orchard’s pie, in Sister Bay, vs. Wood Orchard’s in Egg Harbor, over multiple visits.

Does your taste bend toward Seaquist’s beautiful heart-motif crust?  Or the sugar sprinkled on the top of Wood Orchard’s pie that yields such a nice crunch?  I can’t be sure which is truly the best until more research is conducted.  But those are my top two, final answer.

PENINSULA STATE PARK
I’ve been coming here the week after Labor Day for years now, and I flat out love it every time.  The biking, kayaking, hiking, working off the pie. The 20 miles of paved & gravel paths are everything I want in bike trails.

Mostly flat.  Views of water and islands peeking through foliage.
Pull-offs call to the geezer in me with benches and a sunset view.
Cut through the woods to see the charming amphitheater and stage where you can see productions over the summer months.

 Pull off the trail for historic Eagle Bluff lighthouse, celebrating 150 years of service.  Nicolet Beach, the main beach with snacks and changing areas, is where you can rent kayaks and bikes.  All that bikeability makes the park pretty popular, but I’ve never found the trails too overrun to enjoy.

WORTH THE EGG-STRA MILE TO EPHRAIM

Ephraim is a tiny town (pop. 288!) just north of Fish Creek, and it could not be cuter.  Amy Hanten, who is from Milwaukee and known as “The Cooking Mom” recommended this next joint.  Tiny but mighty, “Good Eggs” serves up monster breakfast burritos.  Friendly cooks who wouldn’t be out of place in Santa Cruz make each burrito to order.  Dine on quirky surfboard tables in front, with bay view, or on the  patio in back.  Look for the egg motif all around while you take in likely the only meal you’ll need all day.  Cash only, but there is an ATM.

WHITEFISH DUNES STATE PARK 

No need to bury the lede: Here’s one of the best dog beaches Franz and Enzo have ever visited in the Midwest.  Whitefish Dunes State Park is south of Jackson Port on Hwy 57.  It’s on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula, with soft sand and a gradual entry into the water.  To get to the dog-friendly beach, you will need to hike about a mile south of the visitor’s center, past the people-only beaches.  On a sunny day, the color of the water here is positively Caribbean.  And the temperature, in the middle of summer, is sometimes close enough for Midwestern dreamers.

TO YETI OR NOT TO YET? 
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We were so done with draining soggy coolers and running for more ice.  It was time for the crappy cooler to go, time for a REAL upgrade. Sure, everyone’s all YETI’d up, and I will say they have a pretty cool flagship store in Austin, TX.  Product is shown in a full-on “environment” with taxidermy and a bar overlooking Congress Ave.  But a sweet store ain’t gonna keep the “Clawhammer” cold.  I decided to take my going-away-from-KMSP gift card to REI and buy one already.  Fortunately, it lives up to the hype.  Our food and bevvys stayed cold for four days with no added ice.  Even more impressive, some sodas (yeah, I’m from the East Coast) stayed cold for weeks back home on the patio.  At that point we were sorta using the YETI as an outdoor fridge.  Not a bad way to get your 300 dollars’ worth.  By the way, Clawhammer is a pilsner from Bailey Harbor-based Door County Brewing Company.  Clawhammer is also a banjo strumming style.  Hard to see on the can, but yeah, that’s what the olde tymers are doing.))

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