Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Blueberry Picking in Bayfield

Sunday night, overnight it got quite a bit cooler, and we even had to turn on the heater during the night.  But this was a welcome change to some of the hotter weather we had been having the last week or so.  Woke up on Labor Day morning to find a crisp, cool morning awaiting us, and it was so invigorating to go outside and walk around the campground!  Watched as most of the campers started packing up their sites to head home, and, as we remembered all those similar times over the years when we would be doing the same on the tag end of a long holiday weekend, heading back to work the next day, and silently gave a prayer of thanks that we're able to just continue this great vacation!

So we took our time on this morning, catching up on some emails and making some calls to arrange some visits with several friends, old and new, when we get to the Chicago area this weekend.  Then we unhooked and headed not far up the road to Blue Vista Farm, where they have a big Upick operation.  We drove up to this fantastic old barn, with lots of lovely flowers around the entrance, and some of the apple trees crowding right up to the edge of the yard surrounding the barn.  The trees were laden with apples, but here they won't be ready for picking until October.  Before we went inside, a woman came out and came up to ask if I ever played Santa.  So, as we told her about all the Santa stuff we do back home, she got more and more interested and animated.  Her husband came up from their car and they explained that they live in central Minnesota, but have a sailboat they've kept here for 30 years, so they spend some of each summer here.  She told us about their grandchildren and their two young great grandkids, so I gave her Santa pictures for each of them.  Well she was so excited, when they were leaving she and her husband just gave us both big hugs--so much fun to make connections with folks on this trip!

So went on inside and met some of the wonderfully friendly staff, who explained about all the berries whose seasons have already come and gone during the summer, and then showed us a map of the various sections of the blueberries.  They have sections divided into those that are certified organically grown, and the "regular" ones.  Even though they were somewhat more than the regulars, we opted to pick the organics.  The woman helpfully explained where the best berries were to be found in this patch and warned us about a hornet's nest in one section, which they had marked with some flags.  So off we went into the berry patch, each armed with a box, and boy, did we have fun!  We walked up and down the rows, looking for the biggest and fattest berries, and those that were a deep blue all around.  Lots of folks were out picking, and you could hear the happy voices and squeals of delight all around, as the sun began to warm up the day a bit.  It was still so refreshingly brisk that it was just a joy to be out in all this natural beauty--and bounty!  We loaded up as many blue berries as we could find room for in the fridge and enough to freeze some more.  When we went back inside to settle up, we also found so many different variations of fruit preserves they had made from the berries they raised, plus some delicious honey as well.  By now it was lunchtime, so we just ate right there in the field where we had parked, watching others have fun picking berries.  And what could be a better way to top off lunch than a bowl of blueberries picked by our very own hands just a few minutes before??!!

We asked the folks at Blue Vista if there were any farms around that sold produce and they directed us to a wonderful organic farm nearby, called North Wind.  We got there and saw all these solar panels, even on the vehicles and farm equipment!  Then we saw a sign that said "our homestead is powered by the wind and the sun."  How cool is that.  They even had a little electric car that was exactly like the one Trisha's grandmother had back in the '70's in New Smyrna Beach, FL, the first person in that area to drive an electric car--what wonderful memories that evoked!  Then we drove on to Washburn, another small town a few miles down the road, but discovered that, since it was Labor Day, most of the shops there were closed.  We had seen a write up of a couple places we had wanted to see, but alas, they were not open.  But it was just a gorgeous drive, and we had fun just being here.  We drove back to Bayfield and stopped at the fish market for some more smoked whitefish.  We thought it would be fun to find a place to have a drink and watch the day wind down over the harbor, so we parked downtown, now much less crowded that the weekend was over.  We stopped in at an interesting little gift shop and found something I'd never seen before--wickless soy candles.  We picked out one with a really fresh scent, named Lemon Pucker--what a name!  The lid said all you had to do was take the lid off and set it out, and it is supposed to last for 15 weeks--that means we should still have some candle left by the time we get back home!  Later when we got back to the campground we opened it up and it fills up the whole carhouse with such a wonderful aroma, and no worries about accidentally knocking over a flame!  After the shop, we found a bar that had a rooftop deck overlooking the harbor so we sat down for a couple of beers, watching some of the sailing charters coming in and unloading happy folks, and the place started to fill up with the locals--such a wonderful, happy atmosphere!  We came back to the campground and had a wonderful supper of quinoa with broccoli, corn and peas, a lovely salad with some sauteed tempeh and, of course a few delectable bites of smoked fish.  After supper we walked around the campground and met a lovely couple from Sarasota, and talked to them a while about possible RV parks to stay in their area, as we're thinking about heading down to Florida early next year.  They were a delightful couple, both retired and told us they'd been together for 20 years, after their respective spouses had died--as the husband laughingly said, married for 14 of those years, since they wanted to be sure it would last!  He's from New York City, so I can only imagine the lively times they have watching the Yankees and Red Sox play every baseball season!  Then we passed another couple sitting out by a campfire and stopped to talk with them, and they are from Athens, GA!!  They said they could hear us talking with the other couple a few sites up the road and just knew we must be from the south!  They are heading back home in a week or so, as she has to go back to work; he's already retired but she has two more years and then they plan to hit the road like we've been doing.  So we ended another glorious day, enjoying the absolute quiet of the campground while Trisha happily neared the end of a beautiful knitting project!

Blue Vista Farm, this beautiful barn that houses their sales room

 Boy, sure wish we could be here when these apples ripen enough to pick!

 These folks must have known that we would be coming and what Trisha would be wearing, 'cause all of these lovely flowers just matched her jacket!

Pickin' the berries!

Look at these goodies!!

 At North Wind, the organic farm; Trisha beside the little electric car like her grandmother's--on this one they added the solar panel to the roof for battery recharging; her grandmother would drive hers the 15 miles to Daytona, which was its range, and a gas station owner would let her plug it in to recharge!
 Solar powered tractor

Since we had forgotten to take the camera to the concert the night before, we stopped in at Big Top Chautauqua on the way back to Bayfield to get some pics

 As you can see this is set up at the base of a small ski lift

Recognize the woman playing the guitar?
 Here's a closer look!
 Bet you didn't know Santa was a fiddle player!!

 Lovely view of Lake Superior as we drove back to Bayfield
Shooting from the rooftop deck by the harbor, the boat with the red trim was the one that had taken us out to Raspberry Island the day before

 Sittin' by the dock of the bay, watchin' the time rooooll away . . .

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