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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Another Day, Another Island

~Monday, August 2, 2021~

Day 414

Woke up to a very smoky morning, but this time, we’re smelling it. Since my man holds an interest in anything weather related, he found a U.S. “smoke” map online that shows exactly the direction and the intensity of the smoke. Sure enough, not only is Wisconsin in the path, it’s also in the “red”. Not good. So it looks like our exploring today won’t be as appealing, but we’ll just have to make the best of it.

There is a ferry service (the Madeline Island Ferry Service) over to Madeline Island which runs about every 30 minutes or so. The ride over….only about 20 minutes $16/person and $27/auto. So we made the 25-minute drive to the ferry building in Bayfield and since we had Sadie, decided to take “Hank” onto the island as opposed to bikes. We made the right decision. To fully experience the State Park which is 6 miles from the ferry building, and the Town Park which is 6.5 miles, you need a car. If your wish is to just stay in La Pointe (where the ferry service drops you off), there’s no need for a car since you’re only minutes from the museum, gift shops and galleries, hiking trails, and restaurants.

We decided to head to the beach at Big Bay State Park, on the island. We got to the entrance of the park, paid our $11 when we decided we better check if dogs were allowed on the beach. Oh no! We should have known better never to assume that. I promptly went back and asked for a refund since it was clear to us that beach-going was not on today’s agenda. The attendant was very nice, but explained once you’re “in”, there are no refunds, but did suggest an alternative loophole. There is a section 5 in the park where dogs are allowed to swim, but it’s not really a beach per se. We’ll take it! It’s a very pretty park as we saw while walking the Bayview Trail to Big Bay Point, where it gets even more beautiful. There are amazing cliffs of rock, all inviting you to jump off them into Lake Superior. There were groups of people scattered at different spots taking part in this. We finally found a spot where we could watch the jumpers and let Sadie swim.

This particular section of rock was almost beach-like with its easy slope into the water. There are also rock tunnels that you can swim through. Very cool! It was quite entertaining for Sadie and for us. We hiked about another mile on the flat Bayview Trail which continues on even further with beautiful views of Lake Superior, but decided to turn around since there was a lot to see on the island in our limited time. Too bad, the air was so smoky today. 😢

Since all we’d had was a banana muffin for breakfast, we were starving. Restaurant selections are quite slim, especially on Mondays (something to keep in mind). We were wavering between getting goodies for a picnic lunch or stopping somewhere. We chose the latter since we didn’t want to wait. The Inn & Pub has a nice outdoor patio overlooking the marina, dog-friendly and has a modest selection of sandwiches, burgers and salads. It fit the bill. Jeff ordered a burger, me a veggie sandwich. Their side of potato salad was delicious.

Now that we’re fueled up, we’re ready to hit the town. But first, is a stop at the most peculiar looking bar

called Tom’s Burned Down Cafe. Intrigued, we had to go in. Again, we were met with mask protocol or proof of vaccination. We had our vaccine cards where we were given a bracelet to wear. I guess now it’s easy to tell who's been vaccinated and who has not (although some may just not have their proof with them). This place is like something out of Key West. You couldn’t design it any better. In fact, you might pass by thinking it’s a junkyard. There’s no way this restaurant would fly in California with its metal patched flooring and exposed wiring. OSHA would have that place shut down in a second. But that adds to its funkyness and charm. We found the perfect plywood and street-sign backed chairs to enjoy our tropical ice-cold beverages…..the Island Punch and a Mad Island Tea (a twist on a Long-Island).

Next, we toured Main Street which runs along the marina, listened to some live music, discovered the 1901 Catholic Church and the 4-ton propeller which was salvaged from the tug “Ashland”, a working vessel used to tow log rafts on western Lake Superior in the early 1900’s. The last ferry was 8:00 p.m. so we decided around 7:00 to call it a day and head back. If we had to do the island all over again, we would have done things a little differently. We would have brought a picnic, brought our swimsuits to spend more time at the water jumping off rocks and exploring water caves then end up at Tom’s in the afternoon. If you plan on dining out, we wouldn’t recommend coming over on a Monday. But the plus was less crowds. On the ferry ride back, we had the back windows rolled down for Sadie. She was quite the attention getter as several people came up to the car to pet her. Spoke to a guy from South Dakota where he’s lived for years, enduring miserable winter after winter. Not sure why people stay in those conditions. I think you can best bet, that state will not end up in our top 5 of moving possibilities.

A few minutes after we got back, Gina, our host, stopped by to see how we were doing and to drop off a little gift. Great minds think alike as we had a gift for them as well. I had given her the homemade banana muffins I made the night before and she gave us a very cool shoulder strap cover for our seat belt she had made herself. She even embroider-stitched the Lance insignia on it; perfect….. from one Lance owner to another. How sweet of her! Apparently she is quite the sewer, owning numerous machines where her husband swears she collects them more than uses them, though she insists she uses most of them. I can’t wait to check out her “sewing room” before we leave.

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