9.29.2014

Jim's Apple Farm, Jordan, MN - Gourd-dammit, that's a lot of squash!

This past Sunday, during an unusually warm fall day, I headed out to Jim's Apple Farm (aka, The Big Yellow Barn) in Jordan, MN. It was easy to find (how could you miss it?) and seemed to be humming right along as I pulled up about noon. There is no shortage of things to see and buy. They seem to specialize in a number of things (is that possible?):

> Fall yard accessories - hay bales, corn stalk bundles, squash, pumpkins, gourds, etc.






The Hubbard Blue - This was a new and spooky one...
> Taffy - man, did they have three dozen different kinds


> Licorice - man, did they have two dozen of their own flavors, plus other versions from around the world



> Soda - they have an amazing selection of rootbeers and other oddballs to rival anything I've ever seen. I mean, signs never lie, right?


> Pies - if you want to make your family happy, serve pie. They have fresh and frozen (take n' bake) available, in a number of varieties




> Kitsch - this place oozes nostalgia





Oh, and don't forget...
> Apples - more varieties than you can shake a stick at, all loaded into bags and ready to go in the retail store.

Don't forget this either - they only take cash or check, but they have 5 ATMs in the store in case you forget. They will be open this season until December 2nd, so plan it out right and get everything for your fall needs here.

9.27.2014

Madeline Island, Part 4 - The Way Back

As I packed up and got moving around 9am the next morning, and though I really felt as though I'd short-changed myself and Madeline Island, I was a bit excited to be on the ferry again. I planned to catch the 9:15am ferry back across the channel to Bayfield and find breakfast.




A peek inside the control room (through the window)

You can just make out the fatbike in the back of my car. E-brake "ON", please!
We did have one new, exciting thing get on the boat that morning...





Ship-shape. A second later the two occupants popped out to enjoy the views during the crossing on the "poop deck"
... what a way to start the morning. This guy did it as if it was like putting on pants. These vehicles also get charged by the foot for passage. Can't be cheap.



Once back in Bayfield I quickly found my way to Big Water Coffee Roasters, which I'd seen the day before. It looked like any "big city" coffee place, so I had a hunch it would be right up my alley. Boy was it.



Now fueled up, I jumped back in the car for the ~5-hour drive home. I had made a number of firsts on this four-day weekend trip and already started to plan my next trip back.

9.26.2014

Madeline Island, Part 3 - Hidden Beach

As I'd mentioned in Part 2, I happened upon a hidden beach at the turn-around point of my bike ride. I decided to get off the bike and explore a bit. This is something I feel I'd normally do, but maybe there's something about being on the island that makes this more likely for anyone.




The waves were crashing quite hard and the sand looked inviting, it didn't take much for me to move down to the beach... (you get video today)


Plus some "stills"...

I attempted to make some sand-writing art, but it wasn't easy with the crashing waves that seemed to creep further up the shore while I stood there...
It worked out alright
Now, back to the hotel for the night...


Part 4 soon, The Way Back...

9.25.2014

Madeline Island, Part 2 - Island Views

As I only spent one night on Madeline Island (which is too short!), I decided to take it easy for the most part. I got situated in my room at The Inn on Madeline Island about 3:30pm and decided I needed to go for a ride on the fatbike I had with me, especially after more time spent riding in the car.

I hopped on and cruised the downtown strip, then headed out onto Middle Road (clever name) and got a better feel for what the island is really like.


The 14 mile long x 3 mile wide island, which is the biggest island in the Apostle Islands chain, becomes very quiet and serene in a very short amount of time. I'm pretty sure this is why most people go there, eh? There are small homes on most of Middle Rd., with land and houses for sale as well. I also passed what I've now come to know as a world-renowned art school, the Madeleine Island School of the Arts. I may have to check out their classes next school year, which only runs in the tourist season and all classes are 5 days long.

So, I thought I'd show some shots of this ride, with a special selection of shots saved for the next post. Drink it in...

For sale - you in? I'll go halfsies.

Croquet field right downtown

I don't think you can fake this kind of weathering 

At my turn-around point, I found a hidden beach...
One of the best sunsets I've seen in a long, long time

Madeline Island, Part 3 up soon...

9.24.2014

Madeline Island, Part 1 - "How do I get there?!"

Tell me you've heard of Madeline Island - you haven't!?!?!?! That's ok, until I moved to MN and got to know some folks over the first few years, I had never heard of it either. But it's a shame now that I've gone - I should have gone much much sooner than last weekend. It sure seemed like a wonderful place to me.

First though, you have to get to Madeline Island. I mean, they don't put "island" in the name for nothing. It's an island in the middle of Lake Superior, part of the 22-island Apostle Island chain, that actually has no road access. And you're thinking, "No road goes to it? That's crazy in this day and age!" Well, it might very well be, but I think it suits the two towns and people involved just fine. Those two towns are Bayfield and La Pointe, WI, by the way.

Here's where we start:

You kind of get in your car and aim for the upper arm-pit-like corner of Wisconsin. Of course, this area of the country, as a recreation destination, is anything but the arm pit. Simply put, it's a beautiful part of the US. Perhaps one of those "last remaining, unspoiled" deals and all that.

Now, once you make your way to the small hamlet of Bayfield, WI, you need to get down to the docks. "Why?", you ask. Well, to get the ferry over to Madeline Island of course. You didn't think we chartered you a plane, did you?

This simple port greets pedestrians, bikers, and autos using the ferries:

I didn't find it too intimidating, or hard to find, but it doesn't hurt if I tell you how it works before you go. Next, get your round-trip or one-way ticket for the ferry:

I purchased the round-trip, with car, for one. (that's actually my little gas-sipper in the pic above).

Then, you wait until the crew tells you to drive your car on the ferry. Yes, you get to drive right onto the ferry for the ride over. It was pretty easy. If you can park a car in a tight garage space, you can do this. I don't have great pics of this as I was doing the driving, onto a ferry, not a good time to snap selfies. But, here's some of the layout on the craft:





Pretty little maids, all in a row... to save my life if the ship goes below...


Yes, sit in the guest lounge if you find it too windy for the main deck. But, on the deck you can see the lake, from all angles, as you make the 20 minute ride over to Madeline Island (aka La Pointe, WI). Don't blink, you might miss something:














You glide into "Mad Isle" and come to a safe stop. Of course, once the gate is down, you can drive your car right off onto the island (or walk, or ride your bike). Get ready to explore!

Welcome to serenity... Madeline Island, Part 2 soon...







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