Wednesday, June 14, 2006

burned down cafe

Due to a mini-vacation over the past weekend followed a two-day conference in Minneapolis this week my ability to post comments here was severely restricted but I am back at my desk blogging away this afternoon so I hope you enjoy and perhaps even learn something new for your travels from my musings :)

Wow!! What a great weekend trip to the Apostle Islands area in Northern Wisconsin which is only a 4 hour drive from the Twin Cities of Minnesota. A group of fraternity brothers and their significant others/joy of their lives gathered to share a large cabin located on Madeline Island, the main island in the set of 22 islands in this national park area. The original explorers apparently could only identify 12 islands when they arrived thus the "Apostle" name as the legend goes.

We took the ferry boat from Bayfield, Wisconsin to Madeline Island where our cabin was located early Friday evening after traveling at a "velocity higher than local authorities would approve" :) so we could catch the 5 pm ferry. The evening was spent catching up with each others' lives and grilling buffalo burgers and steaks supplied by the one fraternity brother I had not seen for 6 years so the nostalgia was running high coupled with the beer consumption. On Saturday my girlfriend (JAN) and I completed a 6 mile run along a very quiet, tree lined road which was an ideal setting complete with the sounds of our iPods -- so much for the sounds of nature!!

The rest of Saturday was spent touring Bayfield after a ferry ride that convinced us that Lake Superior was too rough for us to charter a sail boat. JAN and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch sitting on lounger chairs on a sunny sidewalk followed by a walking tour of the city including two bed and breakfast establishments as we made plans for a return trip to the area. My overall observation was that while it was considered early in the tourist season for this area the Apostle Islands remain an undiscovered jewel by most tourists which is fine with me and that customer service in all the businesses we visited was top quality and very friendly.

Following another round of grilling and making smores on the camp fire (thanks to JAN for this great idea) on Saturday night our merry little band traveled the 3 miles down the road to a local institution, "Tom's Burned Down Cafe", which I last visited in 1998. Overall the place was still the same -- truly a burned down cafe with no walls or roof but sadly they have added a circus tent-like covering over a portion of the bar. As we entered the bar my fraternity brother Larry was asked by the door man if he wanted to pay the $4.00 cover charge (hey, live music buddy!) OR do 20 push ups so they could get in for free -- 20 push ups of course since $4 will get you a beer.

As we left Tom's that night I set my empty water bottle near the exit "door" so the door man said, "hey, what do you think this is , a recycling center.............." so I had to do 20 push ups to cover the recycling charge -- all was done with good humor of course so loosen up and leave your stress at home like I did that night. Okay, friends that know me well are probably laughing so hard they can't read beyond this paragraph but I am being honest.

Sunday was uneventful since our entire group simply packed up and went our separate ways to get home to friends and family.

The Apostle Islands remain on my short list of ideal vacation spots so I hope you have a chance to enjoy them but not when I am there so it doesn't get TOO crowded :)

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