Learning out Loud in Milwaukee, WI

Solo-trip planning

I haven’t done a truly solo trip in a long time; maybe never? The last time I can remember traveling without friends or family outside of a work trip was in 2011 when I went to Pécs after my grandpa died. I left on a Thursday and took a long weekend. Even on this trip, Danielle joined me once she was off work. So, with Danielle’s consent to solo-parenting for a few days, I decided to take a solo journey during my sabbatical for what seems to be the first time in my life.

I like traveling to weird places, and extreme places are my favorite kind. It’s kinda the only reason we became interested in South Point in Hawaii — to go to the United States’s southernmost point (in a state). A fun fact I enjoy whenever we drive through Wausau, WI is that it’s the center of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere (40ºN 90ºW). It’s also Wisconsin’s pole of inaccessibility. Milwaukee’s smallest park is about 3 miles from my house. It’s not much to write about, but it is a monument to an important, if largely forgotten, community in Milwaukee’s history.

Part of why I’m interested in these places is the juxtaposition between the superlative and the ordinary. Kaszube’s Park is tiny, hard to find, and in an unusual part of town for a park, but it’s otherwise pretty basic: a few trees, some picnic tables, and, in this case, an anchor. If I worked down there, I might go there to eat lunch. South Point, HI is wholly undeveloped apart from a pier for fishing and mooring.

I say that to introduce my destination: Washington Island, WI and Rock Island State Park at the extreme tip of the Door Peninsula, and site of the eponymous Lake Michigan strait: Death’s Door. This is easily Wisconsin’s most remote destination. Getting there requires a two hour drive to the very end of the Door Peninsula, then a ferry crossing. I’ll spend two days on the island and then head over to St. Germain to meet the rest of the family for Memorial Day.

As for what I’m doing, it’s a little up in the air. I’m staying at Jackson Harbor Inn and have a kayak tour of Rock Island planned. Recursive lakes being another obscure geographic interest of mine, I’ll probably bike out to Little Lake Natural Area. Beyond that, I intend to enroll in the Bitters Club at Nelson’s, do a lot of biking, and enjoy the outdoors.

I’ll have two weeks left on my sabbatical when I’m done, so this trip is also a bit of a final hurrah before real life starts again.