Middles get a bad rap. No one ever says “the beginning and the end of the book were good, but I really liked the middle” or “my favorite part of the marathon was mile 13 and 14”, or “you know, my favorite part of making an angel food cake is when it's baking in the oven. Baking it is much more fun than actually eating it.”
But sometimes the middle is just where you are. Sometimes, for reasons such as visiting family, you end up right there, in the middle, as in in the middle of the country. Sometimes, even though you might want to be touring ruins in Rome or eating lobster in Maine or snorkeling in Hawaii, you end up in the middle of nowhere. Because, well, sometimes you just do.
So we boarded the plane in San Francisco and that was the question from the two teenagers as they made their way into row 27, seats B and C. “Exactly what is it we are going to do when we get there?”
There is Algoma, Wisconsin, a sleepy little town on the banks of lake Michigan. Sleepy, as in many of the storefronts are boarded up. Sleepy, as in no ice cream shop, no movie theatre and no hospital. Sleepy, as in not one single hotel with a name you would recognize and worst of all, no grande, extra hot, non-fat caramel latte with a double shot.
They do, however, have “The Pig” as in the Piggly Wiggly and on Thursdays at “The Pig”, donuts are only 15 cents.
I’m telling you. This is the middle of the middle. A whole new way of life for those of us who feel comfortable on the edges. “There’s nothing to do here,” the kids complained as we drove through town.
"Sure there is. Your dad grew up here," we said convincingly, "There are plenty of things to do." We decided now was not the ideal time to tell them that he ran away from this wonderful place at the ripe old age of 16.
"Yeah, sure there is."
“Stretch,” we said to them. “Think of it as an adventure. It’s going to be fun."
They rolled their eyes.
We piled in the car and headed north on county trunk “S” to Door County, “Cherry-land” USA. North past Wienke’s Market. North, past Renard’s cheese factory. North past silo after silo, cornfield after cornfield, orchard after orchard, winding our way up a two lane road past miles of the greenest, most fertile farm land you ever saw.
With the car windows open and the wind blowing through our hair, we sang Bob Seeger’s “Hollywood Nights” at the top of our lungs as we listened to the WDOR's adult contemporary format. The kids snickered.
And just as we began to get lulled by the scenery, just as we began to find our stride, the road turns and we came across what all the fuss was about, what everyone who lives in the middle knows, Door County is a place to go. From Sturgeon Bay to Sister Bay, through Fish Creek and Ephraim and Egg Harbor you go, past antique shops and fudge shops, farm stands and restaurants with goats grazing on the roof. And on every corner perennial gardens, overflowing with the most vibrant, lush, magnificent colors these eyes have ever seen.