For September’s Something New we visited Madeline Island, just offshore from Bayfield, WI. We actually did several new things this weekend so if we miss a month in the future, this month can make up for it! Ferries, mopeds, burned down bars and island time. There could be no better way to spend a weekend.
First, Bayfield. We’ve never been to Bayfield even though we’ve lived in Duluth for six years and EVERYONE who lives here has been to Bayfield. Not us, until now. We arrived in town just at sunset and came down the hill from the north. We rounded a bend and there was the town and the lights of the marina reflecting off a perfectly calm, glassy Lake Superior. Absolutely magical. We arrived just after a ferry had left and the next one wasn’t due in for another hour so we wandered around, found some shopping and had a drink. It was dark by the time the ferry came back. When we arrived on the island we just went straight to the campsite and commenced fire-building, brat-eating and marshmallow-roasting, as all good campers do. It rained a little bit as we fell asleep, but that just made it cozy.
We woke up the next morning around 10, used my brand new JetBoil camp stove to make coffee, took showers and headed into town to accomplish another new thing…
Mopeds! We rented a couple of mopeds and buzzed around the island for about three hours. It’s amazing how much fun that was. First we took the route recommended by the moped place to Big Bay State Park and spent about an hour and a half hiking around. I don’t need to say much about this experience. Just take a look at the photos:
Crystal clear waters of Lake Superior, sandstone shores and trees just starting to turn color
After leaving the state park we rode around on our mopeds aimlessly for another couple hours before heading back into town for some food and beverage. First we stopped at The Beach Club, right off the marina, and had delicious burgers and cheese curds, and a few tasty drinks. All the while enjoying this view of the marina and Lake Superior, with mainland Wisconsin in the distance. Here we truly embraced the meaning of the phrase, “island time.”
When we told people we were headed to Madeline Island for the weekend the first words out of everyone’s mouth were, “Go to Tom’s Burned Down Cafe.” Every single person told us to go there so after The Beach Club, we walked across the street and heeded their advice. Tom’s looks like it did, at one time, burn to the ground, but was then rebuilt with anything they could find to nail together. pallets, license plates, parts of boats and tarps, which is all covered by a massive tent above. It’s a strange, wonderful place that you feel instantly at ease in. Friendly, upbeat graffiti covers every surface that isn’t already covered with signs bearing cute sayings like, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.” They are not stingy with their pours at Tom’s, either. You will definitely get your money’s worth!
Back to the campsite for more brats and marshmallows. This time we decided to sleep under the stars and took the fly off the tent. We fell asleep looking through the trees to a perfectly clear night sky. The silence and beauty was interrupted, however, when a couple of owls snagged something for dinner that really did not want to be snagged and the rest of the night was fitful rest at best.
My biggest regret of the weekend, and it is a big one, is that we didn’t get to do any water activities like canoeing, kayaking or SUP-ing. And it cut particularly deep when we discovered, on our way out, the beach and a gaggle of canoes and kayaks for rent, were just a few hundred feet from our campsite and we didn’t even know it. Unfortunately it will have to wait until next time.