Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chicago Fireboat & Tour of Sturgeon Bay

The most enjoyable commercial boat trip taken thus far has to be the Door County Fireboat Cruise aboard The Fred A. Busse. She’s docked at the Door County Maritime Museum and cruises the entire Sturgeon Bay; departing by the downtown bridge, going first to Green Bay, and then back-tracking to Lake Michigan through the canal.

The Fred A. Busse (Photo taken from website)

The Fred A. Busse served the Chicago Fire Department for many years, and was built in Bay City MI in 1937. Currently she is owned by Door County Cruises, LLC. The fireboat is 90 feet long, has a steel hull, twin screw propulsion Detroit Diesels, hydraulic steering control and carries 127 passengers. For you maritime buffs, check out the website: http://www.doorcountyfireboatcruises.com/

Capt. Linda & mate Rocky at helm

Our Captain is Linda, & her mate is Rocky; one very handsome fellow and reasonably good at posing. He loves to sit in the captain’s chair with Captain Linda, who, by the way, gives an excellent narration of the history along with the current status of the area. Rocky gets to live aboard full time – lucky guy!

Rocky's official home

It was especially nice to see everyone enjoying the tour. This little guy loved to stand up at the side of the boat & bark at the dogs on shore!

Content passenger!

The interior had many interesting artifacts & photos; however the light reflecting on the protective glass made picture taking challenging.

One of many interior displays

Originally we had planned on taking the morning tour, but Capt. Linda requires a minimum of 12 passengers. With the price of diesel fuel, you can’t run a tour boat at a loss. The afternoon tour turned out just right. Not too many passengers with lots of room to move around & the opportunity to meet fellow passengers.

Bob gives a BIG thumbs up!

Room to roam about & talk

View of the side of fireboat

Soon we head west & watch the downtown bridge open at the top of the hour.

We loved watching the bridge open

As luck would have it, prior to boarding, we drove out to the Sherwood Point Lighthouse & took some pictures, not realizing that we would be viewing this lighthouse from the fireboat when we reach Green Bay. What a treat!

Sherwood Point Lighthouse taken from the Fireboat

On the Lake Michigan side, we get to see the Ship Canal built by the Army Corps of Engineers & the US Coast Guard Light.

Original timbers used in construction of the canal

Coastguard facility at entrance to the canal at Lake Michigan

What can I say about boys and their toys? Here is a picture of what Bob says he wants:

Bob's idea of a yacht

And finally, if he saves his pennies, he may someday be able to afford this:

Reality, with luck!

What a teriffic day! It's hard to say "goodby" to Linda & Rocky. Thanks for taking us on a great adventure through Sturgeon Bay & the Army of Engineers canal.

We bid farewell to Rocky & Capt. Linda

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Door County, Wisconsin

The northeast corner of Wisconsin has a peninsula which, when observed on a map, appears broken. Eons ago, (geographically speaking) it probably did break apart. Today, the “broken” part is Sturgeon Bay. All of the area lying north of Sturgeon Bay is within Door County, and is known as a premier destination vacation spot throughout the Midwest. The west side of the peninsula is Green Bay & to the east is Lake Michigan.

The town of Sturgeon Bay lies on both sides of the bay; the historic part to the north & the newer part to the south. On the north side where highways 42 & 57 intersect, all chain businesses are banned. There are no Micky’Ds, Holiday Inns, Starbucks, etc. All businesses are privately owned & rooms are located in B&B’s or historic inns. This is what makes the area quite charming, aside from its natural beauty.

Bailey's Harbor - late afternoon

Our week’s stay is at Bailey’s Harbor a beautiful little village on the Lake side in a motor home park http://www.baileysgrovecampground.com/ within a short walk of the city. Although our cell phones produce a weak signal at the park, in town they are worthless.

A few short miles from the campground lies the Cana Island Lighthouse, one of the most well loved of the several lighthouses in this area.

Cana Island Lighthouse

It is here we meet a lovely couple who reside in the Chicago area who come to Door county often, in the winter as well, to take advantage of the terrific skiing. Hearty people, these mid-westerners!

Gary & Helen offer great insight into the area

No one comes to Door County without indulging in a fish boil. It is a simple dish of boiled red potatoes, onions & of course, freshly caught white fish. Tradition dictates a serving of coleslaw, and of course, fresh cherry pie, which the area is also known for. It is a tasty dish, probably mostly because seasoned melted butter is generously applied to everything that comes out of the pot. http://www.sandpiperfishboil.com/ The boil-over signals dinner is ready.

All for show - Ready to eat

Soon we take the ferry as walk-on passengers to Washington Island.

Washington Island Ferry

(http://www.wisferry.com/) This little island sits at the top of the Door County Peninsula, and makes a great one day trip. We choose not to take the car & let someone else do the driving.

The Cherry Train

The little Cherry Train (http://www.cherrytrain.com/) takes us on an enjoyable two hour narrated tour of the island.

Who is watching whom?

Bob checking out School House Beach

Implements at the Farm Museum

Exterior of building creats a moment of solice

The tour includes the Ostrich/Exotic Animal Farm, Schoolhouse Beach and the Farm Museum. We have very little time to see each in depth, but enjoy what we do see & the fact that we have a “day off” from driving. The view of the lighthouse from the ferry as we pull out of Gills Rock is also a bonus.

Lighthouse near Gills Rock

Sister Bay lies on the Green Bay side, and has much to offer in the way of nice shops, restaurants, & other amenities.

Portion of Sister Bay

Concerts are given at least twice a week in the summer, some free in the afternoons on the grass, and evening concerts are in a state-of-art facility. We don’t have time to see and do everything. This is supposed to be a week of rest & catch up after Oshkosh! And speaking of other amenities, did I mention the goats?

Rooftop dining

A feast for all

Yes, free munching & no lawn mower needed for the Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. We do a double take at this sight.

Bob & friend

Of course I think Bob cuts a handsome figure too!

The picture explains all

The next day we have an opportunity to see The Farm, located on Hwy 57 just north of where highways 42 and 57 merge. It consists mainly of baby farm animals geared to children, but who can resists more goats? Revisiting early farm implements, some of which Bob remembers from his childhood, is also a hoot.

Bob revisiting memories past

The balance of the pictures are just a few of our favorite implements & new found friends. Enjoy!

Beautiful old wood stove

Surely someone other than his mother loves this guy!

The sugar house

More tools of the trade

I wonder what the kitties would do with him

Do you really want to eat another pork chop?

He was telling us how handsome he is!

Coming soon: The Train Museum in Green Bay & The Fireboat in Sturgeon Bay!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

EAA AirVenture - July 28th to August 3rd 2008

Let the fun begin!

AirVenture 2008 consists of lots of aviation enthusiasts and lots of aircraft. This week over 10,000 aircraft will fly into Wittman Field & over 38,000 people will camp at Camp Scholler in motorhomes, pop-ups and tents. The remaining 600,000 plus people attending for the week come from all over the US plus anywhere from 60 – 80 countries.

New control tower commissioned July 2008

The first big event is the arrival of 1 of 3 Boeing 747's used to transport parts manufactured all around the world for the fabrication of the new Dreamliner.

Modified Boeing 747
As the days progress, more large aircraft fly into Wittman Field and are displayed for viewing. You can take pictures and actually touch and enter some of the aircraft.

Navy observation airplane

Osprey used by Special Forces

U-2 Spy Plane

Only hilo authorized for aerobatic flight

Nicknamed the Red Bull, this hilo flys an arobatic routine each day in the air show. Anyone for slow rolls and loops in a helicopter?

Always in the sky

Ford Tri-motor

You can buy rides in this Ford Tri-motor. Yes - Ford motor company use to build airplanes and flight attendants were registered nurses to care for the passengers. Getting air sick was common.

Missing man formation

Honda Jet with engines mounted on top the wings

Popular airplane - Cirrus

One af a kind paint job


Flown from the sea plane base for display

There are dozens of tents set up for how-to seminars and guest speakers. There are two outdoor theaters, one for aviation movies, the other for live performances each evening. Homebuilders usually fly in early to display their handmade planes, which are more beautiful than you can imagine.

Glasair 3 kit plane

Just like a model airplane you flew as a kid, you purchase the individuial parts, glue them together and go fly.


Hilo toy

Don’t forget the rotor-craft and what we call Bug-smashers! We love watching them come in on the grass landing strip using their feet for brakes. We think they have more fun than anyone.

This looks like FUN!

Set a world speed record over 350 MPH @ OSH

Capt Bob & Gloggle Bob

Dave & Stacey spend wedding anniversity At OSH

Neighbor Brooks homebound

F-22, P-38, P-51 in formation

Special permission was obtained from the Pentagon for these historic planes to fly together in formation.

Single engine jet for the common man

DC-3 used by the Liberty Sky Jumping Team

This DC-3 with a smile carries about 10 skyjumpers with various flags and is the start of each air show, featuring the world’s best precision aviators. They’re small, sleek, & fast.

Old Glory is about to land

Aero Shell performers

Having some FUN

One of kind biplane built for & flown by Sean Tucker

Sean Tucker taking a bow

After each performance, the pilots are taken in a red Mustang down the flight line so the audience can see each performer & show their gratitude. Applause is always welcome. These professionals donate their services to AirVenture each year.

P-51 ready to do battle with the enemy

On weekends, the war birds come out to play, staging mock bombings and formation flying. Sometimes there are over 70 planes in the air simultaneously. It is a sight to behold!

Japanese fighter

Bomb drop by B-25

B-25 landing after bomb run

Large bomb drop - you can feel the HEAT

B-17 landing after bomb drop

Victory formation

British Harrier jet

F-22 Rapter

The Rapter is the front line fighter with over 90 flying in the US inventory. At approximately $100,000,000 per copy - & 70,000 pounds of thrust, it can fly straight up immediately after lift off. Only the best get to fly these - a real crowd-pleaser.

Rocket plane

Actually powered by a rocket engine, the Rocket Plane was specifically built for air racing & will be flown in Reno NV. To slow down to maneuver around the pylons, the engine must be turned on and off. The engine has two speeds: on and off! Yes, it is extremely loud & a sight to see.

Electric motored plane

AirAventure Museum

Air show planes on display

Historic aircraft

SpaceShip One configuation on ascent

SpaceShip One configuation on descent

After 24/7 at Oshkosh AirAventure 2008 it is time to packup and fly home. Unfortunately we are not in this group. Maybe in our next life!

If you are an aviation buff, proceed right to the EAA website. If you have high speed internet, download the movie, Spirit of Oshkosh, narrated by Harrison Ford. It does a better job of explaining why we come to Oshkosh for the AirVenture better than anything we are capable of saying or showing you.

Next: Door County WI and Fish Boils!