Rambling on the Quiet Side

When the frantic pace of end of summer hits – too many galleries I haven't visited, too many projects I've yet to complete (or begin), too many friends I haven't seen enough of – I seek solace on the quiet side. "The quiet side" is how locals refer to the eastern side of the Door County peninsula, away from the hustle and bustle of the towns on the bay, and following the path of scenic Highway 57 up to Sister Bay. I love driving this road that takes me past the wonderful family attraction The Farm, then through sleepy towns like Institute and Valmy and up to the waters of the greatest body of water I know, Lake Michigan. A stop at Cave Point is always a relaxing way to punctuate the afternoon, especially if you're lucky enough to go on a weekday when you just might have the place to yourself. Then, follow the curving road down into Jacksonport, a charming little town with a small beach, a cute main drag, and JJ's of Jacksonport. JJ's is a legendary Mexican dining spot, and I like to stop in for a bite before heading up to Bjorklunden to catch a Door Shakespeare show. Don't miss a stop in Jacksonport Craft Cottage, a warm and cozy shop that features Amish quilts and fine arts and gifts created by more than 100 artists. The Jaroshes, who run the shop, are also the friendliest Door County ambassadors you could meet, and they'll answer any questions or give you tips or suggestions on what to see. The road between Jacksonport and Baileys Harbor is beautiful. It winds through woods and passes Meridian Park, an geographically relevant spot that marks the 45th parallel, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Baileys Harbor itself is the busiest of the "quiet side" towns, but it manages to keep things low key. Everybody knows everybody, and what you can't buy at Nelson's Hardware....well, you probably don't need. There's some great specialty shopping and galleries in Baileys too, including Nathan Nichols and Co., who carry furniture, antiques and rugs and lamps form around the world. Northcote Clock and Stein Shop will please the German in everybody with their collective beer steins, glassware and cuckoo clocks. It's worth a trip, especially if you're traveling with kids who've never seen a real cuckoo! I like to pop in at the Harbor Fish Market and Grille for a glass of wine and an appetizer, or, if you're looking for one of Door County's most spectacular settings and vintage resorts, treat yourself to drinks or dinner at Top Deck at Gordon Lodge. By then, you'll be feeling fine after a quiet day on the quiet side, and – perhaps – ready to join the ratrace again on Monday.