After the ferry powers-down into Detroit Harbor…after the crew, ties up, drops the ramp, directs passengers in cars off-the-ferry/on-land-again—or, after you walk off the boat alone, stand around momentarily: “So where am I? What now?” After all this, there are some choices to be made.
You can start hiking down Detroit Harbor Road (with a small map in hand) and pretend to know where you are going. But it’s a long way from the ferry to Main Road where you think there might be something, and there is–the commercial heart of the Island, main drag. Then too, if you’re in a recognizable state of wandering somewhere…Islanders being Islanders, a special breed, there’s better than a good chance you won’t be on the road long before someone stops to ask where you’re going and tells you to hop in.
But back at the harbor, just off the boat, if you’re still uncertain, there’s a cherry train tour and other services waiting to show you the Island, take you everywhere, all the must-see sites. That’s easy, comfortable, informative, enjoyable enough, letting Island life, scenery, mystique just drift on by, with excellent commentary by a local guide.
You can also bike it. Rentals available, dockside. Or—find your way around the Island in your own car. Take a chance. Nobody’s been reported missing yet for very long among the Island’s population of 680 people. My personal preference: Driving the Island alone.
My route differs slightly every time I drive off the ferry. There are favorite restaurants, resorts, coffeehouse, bars, etc. that just might claim my early morning attention. There are all sorts of roads to revisit. To see if anything’s changed. (Usually not.) More than likely though, in summer, I will head first for Old West Harbor Rd. to a favorite ‘old Door County’ setting where I can see the water from the dining room, leisurely enjoy a homemade-breakfast…feel a little like the way it used to be. I find it hard to leave this scene—and often head for another old resort near by (no restaurant), just to saunter around the grounds a while, maybe strike up a conversation with the owner.
Suddenly it’s mid-morning. A race to poke my way all over the Island, places where I want to spend some quiet time again. Little Lake, for sure. Lucky for you to come upon Little Lake alone. Like Thoreau seeing Walden Pond for the first time.
Off to Washington Harbor, for a brief walk on the stunning Schoolhouse beach…smooth white stones, your clacking footsteps the only sound to be heard, as you gaze over the water…breathe deep. Then on the road again to Jackson Harbor, a particular favorite. Something akin to an old fishing village/harbor in the early days, with commercial fishermen in full gear, maneuvering fish boxes, maybe willing to talk. There’s still some of that left. I could easily spend the rest of the day here. So much of everything and nothing going on, all wrapped in the beauty and history of ‘harbor scene,’ fresh air, fishing tug, gulls, blue sky, blue water…and Rock Island, just over there.
Depending on time, I may head down along the East side of the island on my way back to the ferry dock and get there when I get there. “Dangerous.” I always get lost around here, roads I’m driving that seem to disappear. (I never carry a map.) Nothing connects to anything. Which is mostly fine, what I expect, what I’m looking for—more Island adventure. You can drive into some scenes around here and the center of the Island, which hold you fast…make you pull to the side of the road, get out, take a look around—and thank the Great Spirit you don’t know where you are at the moment. And you don’t care. You’re on an island. And you really like it this way.