A couple of weeks ago, we spent some time camping at Newport State Park on the Door County Peninsula. Our hike-in site was also a paddle-in site, so we were able to take a variety of day paddles from our campsite.
One day, we did the 25-mile round-trip to Washington Island, with stops at the Northport ferry landing and the former Coast Guard station on Plum Island. As we rounded the tip of Door County, we saw piles of what appeared to be white sand along the shore. Upon closer inspection, we realized they were mounds of zebra mussel shells. This Great Lakes invader has made the water clearer, but with an unfortunate side effect: More sunlight now penetrates deeper into the lake, encouraging the growth of cladophora algae, which washes into shallow areas and smells disgusting.
It was a sad aspect of an otherwise delightul discovery: Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, Door County still boasts some beautiful, sparsely visited natural areas. You can catch the sunrise from one side of the peninsula and the sunset from the other. You can paddle all day and see very few boats. You can pop into town for a latte, or retreat to your campsite and feel like you're far away from civilization.