January 11 2018
A runner shares a personal essay documenting her years as "the runner" in rural South Dakota.
Door County has zip lining, diving, brewery and cave tours, all of which offer visitors chances to explore the county in ways tailored to their interests. One of the best ways to get an accurate scope of the peninsula’s size and beauty is on a boat. Door County native Matt Olson is the owner, founder and captain of Door County Adventure Rafting, a small operation that takes tourists speeding along Lake Michigan. After a wary departure from Bailey’s Harbor during which Olson jokingly played the opening verses of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Titanic-style, our fearless captain cued up Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and aimed the high speed boat and its seven passengers toward the open water.
Any one person’s boat tour experience will depend upon the weather of the day. There were moments when I had little faith that the hand grips I clung to would keep me inside the boat; it was a choppy day, and every time we hit a wave at an awkward angle, I was certain I was going overboard (I didn’t, nor did any other passenger). As the journalist on my right dug her nails into the leg of the journalist on her right, our captain kept the mood light, teasing, “I’ve never lost any passengers overboard–I always go back for them!”
As the boat caught air on the chop and blared classic rock tunes over the waves, its passengers had the opportunity to absorb Door County’s skyline, made green by the abundant trees with occasional lighthouses sticking out to warn nearing boats of the rocky coast they stood upon. In calmer, shallower moments on Lake Michigan, the water was clear enough for our group to peer over the side of the boat and glimpse old shipwrecks collecting algae beneath the surface.
Since Door County is so strangely shaped, more than 275 ships have wrecked off its coast—and many of those are visible by boat. One of the county’s 11 lighthouses, located on Cana Island, remains operable after nearly 150 years of service. Standing tall at 97 steps, the Cana Island Lighthouse is only accessible to tourists via a natural causeway that theoretically separates Green Bay from Lake Michigan (though, depending on the time of year, visitors might tromp through several inches of free-flowing water or travel by tractor from the island to the mainland). It’s also one of the spots to which the Door County Adventure Rafting tour pays a visit, bobbing along the water so visitors can take pictures and learn about the original Fresnel lens still in use.
Related: 7 Great Places To Run In New England