Cookery Maven Blog

Madeline Island Ice Road

Every year, once the bay has frozen, there's a row of Christmas trees between Bayfield and Madeline Island. That's the sign that maybe, with the weather gods blessing, there will be a two-mile ice road connecting Madeline with the mainland. It's taken seven years but on February 24th I did it— I drove over the ice road to Madeline all by myself (and Will). We wanted to go to Big Bay Town Park if the ice road re-opened for business for our Sunday photo safari. Since Ted went skiing with Jack and Charlie at Whitecap, it was up to me to get the car (with all the windows down and seatbelts off) across the ice in one piece. I called Madelaine to inquire about tips and pointers for our voyage— she said drive slow and go between the orange cones (the road had cracked earlier in the week and the road had been re-routed prior to opening). I followed her directions to a 'T' and we made it across in one piece.

About half-way across we saw this guy fishing on the side of the ice road (officially Wisconsin County Highway H)—adds another dimension to the term 'road kill'.

The windsleds were parked at the Madeline Island approach, waiting for another chance to ferry people across in the window between hard ice and flowing water.

Of course, we brought George along for the ride. Will and I have decided he is the official dog of the Dougherty Photo Safaris. He brings elements of joy, vigilance and snowman manicuring skills to the adventure.

Big Bay Town Park didn't disappoint, it was definitely worth the ride.

The reflection of the shoreline in the water was framed by ice and snow. Everything seemed to be differing shades of grey, white and dark green but glimpses of the water outside the bay gave me hope for the eventual return of summer.

Since it was a monochromatic day, I decided to capture the delicate, crystalline structure of the ice and icicles.

The orange moss seemed eye-poppingly bright after spending ten minutes kneeling in the snow photographing icicles.

We decided to head back and my first thought was, 'what time does the ferry leave'? Then I remembered, we drove across the ice road and could leave when we wanted— a pretty unusual feeling on Madeline Island. We rolled down our windows, unbuckled our seatbelts and pointed the car towards Bayfield and home. It was another beautiful afternoon with Will and George, I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

The Leeward Side

Although you wouldn't know it by looking out the window today, Saturday was a taste of summer in April. I haven't been to Madeline since last fall and a picnic on the beach sounded like a brilliant plan. We stopped at the IGA, grabbed chips, cheese, crackers and a trashy magazine (People magazine is a prerequisite for a Mary Dougherty beach day) and boarded the ferry. The wind was picking up and the ride was a little rough. Big Bay Town Park was on the leeward side of the island and I knew we were headed towards a stellar afternoon.

Charlie asked me how old he was the first time he went to Madeline Island. When I said, three weeks old, he had an incredulous look on his face. It wasn't as crazy as it sounds, it wasn't my first rodeo and Charlie was an easygoing baby. The Madeline Island 4th of July parade is a not to be missed event for the Dougherty's. A little thing like a newborn baby was not going to stop us from going to the parade and watching fireworks from the boat!

George was the only dog invited. Actually, he invited himself. He was running around the house with his Chuck-it and a terribly earnest expression on his face. He ran outside before anyone could catch him and hopped in the car. Fortunately, the Cavaliers don't share George's enthusiasm for the beach. I gave them a few treats and left them at home without too much guilt.

The kids wanted to check out the waves and I wanted to visit the LaPointe Indian cemetery. We had an hour to kill before our return ferry trip, just enough time to make everyone happy. The waves were impressive, the wind was howling and the cemetery was beautiful in its decay. Our afternoon felt like visiting an old friend, Madeline holds so many memories for all of us. Recounting our shared past experiences and planning our future visits to the pool, Grandpa Tony's or the Pub gives me a sense of place and immense gratitude for all we have been given.