I sit back in the boat as the tiny hamlet of Ephraim, Wisconsin disappears behind me. Lake Michigan is a vast expanse of water. It lulls me as we move slowly through the water. I’m with a group of travel writers and we’re all full of questions, but tired enough to appreciate the couple of hours we have on the water. Our guide tells us that in the haze far off in the distance — about 20 miles away — is the Michigan shore. I take his word for it, lean back and enjoy the cool breeze blowing off the water.

Sailing in Door County

Sailing in Door County. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

We pass miles of seashore — some sharp limestone cliffs, some gentle hills covered with sea grass and trees, other sandy beaches filled with children. Have you ever noticed how kids love the water, squealing with delight even when us grownups shrink away from the icy fingers of water chasing our toes? Ah, to feel that innocence again even for a few moments.

After a casual circle on the lake, we head back to Ephraim. I’m sad to leave the water, but eager to explore the village. I head toward town and make it just across the street from the marina. Then I know I’m lost. Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor. I knew the hot spot was a favorite for locals and visitors alike. I knew a local family ran the restaurant. What I didn’t know was how great it would smell. Yummy. “Ice Cram” the sign shouts at me. It’s been a hot day and that sounds great. And that smell…

I make my way to a small outdoor table on the patio and peruse the menu. And that smell grows closer as the waitress passes with a tray laden with food. Big, juicy hamburgers, sizzling fries, tall cool milk shakes. Ahhh. Now the place is perfect. And the true definition of “Americana”. I drool over the burger but know I have dinner scheduled in just a couple of hours. Instead of the burger, I force myself to stick to ice cream.

I bypass the super sundaes, skim over the malts and shakes and floats. (They make their own root beer and heard it’s great, but I’m not a root bear fan.) There. I find just the thing. A junior sundae. I order a plain ‘ole hot fudge sundae—throw in the whipped cream, what the heck—and stress to the waitress that I want it extra small.

My eyes pop open and my mouth drops when the waitress returns—with my extra-small, junior sundae. It sits at least 6″ tall and ice cream and hot fudge ooze up when I dig in. Undaunted, I forge ahead. And somehow I manage to devour the entire thing. The ice cream was just soft enough to bring out that creamy texture and there was enough hot fudge to leave me completely satisfied.

I finish up while watching the water and the boaters coming and going. I finally get up, stretch, and waddle off—to meet my dinner companions for even more of the great food I found in Door County, Wisconsin.

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