Looking for the Old Door
This was going to be just another “Good Morning (or Afternoon or Evening) Door County” to send around with a photo of a local image (time and place)…late afternoon, hovering around cocktail hour, almost the end of the day, the sun just right…the character in the picture at rest, contemplating many things, including a possible toast to the moment with a good glass of wine in or near hand.
The old door he sought had just opened. He was back in place again (summer of 2012), a favorite Door County get-away, or more accurately “return to”…another one of those “best kept secrets” he tried to keep to himself. Only now, this moment, he was thinking…there are times, circumstances when he should not, could not be selfish about such disclosures, especially the present times as the county slowly but surely drifts away from what it once was to what its becoming, an upscale suburbia of manicured lawns, paved driveways, stone-pillared entrances, gated communities, lights to chase the night away…a setting no longer real, remote, rural, quiet, with a touch of the wild to the interior, and serenity to no end along its shorelines.
So here he was now where he wanted to be, almost no one around at the beginning of a late summer week, the season dwindling, enjoying the peace and quiet of one of the last of the old Door resorts…trying to keep it all to himself.
Whether he came here for just a drink or dinner, his ritual usually began at the Hof Bar/Pub (which reminded him a little of what the old Top Deck used to be at Gordon Lodge)…with a brandy old fashioned or glass of red wine in hand…and then outside to meander the grounds along the waterfront…then sit in peace and quiet out there a while, just soaking it all in…eventually making his way to the large screened porch and plunking himself into one of the many comfortable rocking chairs, where he could easily rock himself into the sunset or the night.
He still can’t believe, after all these years, (celebrating its 90th season this year!) that this place isn’t better known, more packed with guests, though he is uncertain how many of the rooms, cottages and guest houses may be occupied at the moment or throughout the summer. The prices are certainly reasonable. Plus you have THIS, he says to himself, taking in the incredible view. All THIS plus lodging, plus a restaurant with a good menu, with even a touch of the Germanic–serving sauerbraten and weiner schnitzel…how likely to find THAT anywhere else in Door? Then there’s the music, including an ‘oompha pa, pa’ little band that plays in the dining room most evenings…other music too…and a sand beach, a heated pool, tennis, bikes, fishing and rowboats, basketball and shuffleboard, game room and snack bar…a picnic area…a 36-hole golf course…
He takes his glass of wine and wanders around a little more, from building to building…from restaurant (only a handful of diners) to room after room, each more fascinating than the other, each with its own feeling and brand of the past.
How long can a place like this survive given the onslaught of high-end restaurants in the county, modern and expensive motels, condos, cottages? Not to mention (the real kicker for the man who has kept this place for himself for too many years): the possibility of this place closing…the resort torn town…all the grounds turned into another condos anonymous, unending?
With that foremost in mind, with that disrupting his quiet afternoon of just being there, here, back again in place this summer of 2012, with his glass of wine in hand, relishing the memory of what-used-to-be, but slowly invaded by dark thoughts of what-might-become, he decided now is the moment to let go of another one of Door County’s best kept secrets.
He decided once again, that one of these summers, especially one as crazy, hot, humid, overcrowded as this one…one of these months, July or August, when things get so overwhelming for him…too many phone calls, too many visitors, too many clogged roads, too long a wait in restaurants, too many relatives, old friends, new friends, students, writers, artists…wanting to do breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee or a drink…day after day (all wonderful and worth every moment of precious time, and he just can’t say no to any of them)…one of these summers he will pick up the phone, dial (920) 868-3000 or 1.888 281.8128…pack a small suitcase, a shopping bag of about a dozen books, his notebooks and laptop…get in his car, drive to 7715 Horseshoe Bay Road, Highway G., Egg Harbor, and rent a room at the Alpine Resort (www.AlpineResort.com) for at least a week–and never once leave the grounds. Just disappear, out of Door, in Door for a week or two.
Where the hell’s Blei?