If someone had asked me in August when I started long distance dating Matt what my predictions were for us, they would have all turned out wrong.
It hasn’t been a cakewalk, but it has been much more smooth sailing than I had anticipated it would be. Part of that came from our strong foundation of almost 5 years when we began long distance, but another large part of that comes from the mutual respect we have for one another and our career aspirations. We both chose the most prestigious option that we had out of where we were accepted for schools, and we believed would be a challenge for us, both academically and in our relationship. That was the case in some aspects, but in others it has given us a chance to grow independently and hold the time we do spend together in higher regard. Has our relationship grown stronger? not necessarily. I am, however, more sure of him than I ever used to be. We have faced more this year in the spectrums of distance, financial difficulty, the mystery of “what is my chronic disease”, the rigor of our programs, familial support issues on top of being twenty four with no current income. All of this, and my love for him has not budged, but only grown more every day. If that’s not stability, I am not sure what is. Encouraging and supporting one another in times of doubt has been especially important for us this year, and I think that has kept us strong and close despite the distance as well. That being said, I am probably the more demanding out of the two of us, so it’s mostly Matt who is having to make the adjustments. It’s also such a give and take, which we do often.
In order to make the time we do spend together more quality, we take small trips often. Short little weekend getaways that usually involve our love of running or something else outdoors combined with the chance to talk and catch up on our car rides, and explore a new place. Traveling is something we both hold near and dear to our hearts so spending time and getting the chance to do something we mutually love is always a lot of fun.
I stumbled across Door County back in January, actually. Its on the Peninsula of Wisconsin, the northernmost county past Green Bay towards the Canada Line. I was quickly intrigued by the small area, filled with lots of outdoor activities, the gorgeous coast of lake Michigan, state parks, wineries and farm land. I researched further, and found the cutest little Inn on the shore in Bailey’s Harbor. Each room has it’s own personality and style and you can choose your room online. I picked room 12 for us for the weekend. As we are both avid runners, we decided to visit Door County on the particular weekend we did, since the county was holding it’s annual half marathon and the run looked absolutely gorgeous.
We left Milwaukee around 1pm on Friday, since my flight got in around 12:30 and we grabbed lunch at a soup place (not mentioned because don’t exactly recommend). As we approached the shore and into Bailey’s Harbor we started to notice what looked like exhaust from a car.. but then we were the only car on the road for at least a mile in each direction, and we kept seeing the “clouds”. We drove onward and arrived to the Inn in about 3 hours. We pulled up to two pretty looking barn houses.
The front house has a few rooms, and the house next door holds the rest. we checked in, and as we were being shown to our room,the first mention of “Mayflies” were made. There were thousands of little mayflies, so think you couldn’t walk without going through swarms. They. were. everywhere. quote “the only problem this time of year is the mayflies”. In my head I am thinking, it can’t be that bad… its just bugs, right? like if there were swarms like this there would be much more attention on them. apparently not.
we walked up the stairs to our room, unloaded and tried to go for a walk, that ended quickly due to the SWARMS of thousands, and I mean literally thousands of mayflies. They were everywhere. In ears, mouths,and down my bra even with a closed jacket. We made our walk along the bay brief and decided to head across the peninsula to grab our race packets and eat dinner.
We drove about the 10 minute drive to the other side of the harbor and picked up our packets, where many other runners were doing the same. My t-shirt at a womans medium was made for a toddler, (seriously, can’t stand the “woman” fit, and I am a small person!). and I bought a Buff to help me rid myself of the mayfly problem (by that I mean wear it over my head through the swarms).
Right next to the packet pick-up tent was a restaurant where we got bruschetta (my fave) and Matt got fish. We ate and chatted with our waiter about what the hell to do about the flies. it was slightly comical looking back, but at the time I was having a fit. He told us this only happens once a year for about 7 days, and of course, we made our visit in the thick of it. He was also from Athens, which was quite the coincidence, but spends his summers up in WI. Meanwhile, I am googling and freaking out about the flies. I found articles like “mayfly swarm causes bridge to close in Chicago due to carcuses 6inches thick on bridge causing tires to skid”… lol what. However, apparently it’s a sign of fresh waters when they rise, so I should be more appreciative of the little buggers.
After dinner we headed back to the B&B , grabbed some warm tea and homemade oatmeal cherry cookies (really they were to die for) and retreated up to our room for the night. There is a whirlpool and fireplace in every room, and since it was chilly out we sat by the fire drinking tea and eating cookies before going to bed for the race.
We grabbed breakfast at 8, consisting of local cheese, eggs and yogurt (WI is THE dairyland) as well ashomemade muffins and granola, but I just had my little luna bar and some tea. The half started at 10 (super late for a half!) and we had to take a shuttle into the state park on a cute little trolley!
We checked our bag and headed in the cold to the race start! 10am and we were off! it was hands down the most gorgeous half marathon I have run to date. It ran along the coast, through forest, and it was mostly flat. No cars, only state park and cheerleaders (I like it that way). There were a couple of mayfly patches, but for the most part it was pretty clear! Matt grabbed some beer around mile 8 and some fried chicken at mile 10, but we ran the whole thing, and had such a good time. The wind felt amazing, and the temperature was idyllic. I have never enjoyed a half so much as I did that one. There were times where my breathing was pretty tough, but after my EMG from the week before, I didn’t want to push myself to go too fast, but rather just enjoy it.
After the race, we had a banana and headed over to the grassy green area where they were giving out cookies, kettle corn, free beer and a live band was playing. Matt and I got into it a bit over the beer/exhaustion/picture taking, but thats what makes it all the more memorable, lol. He grabbed his beer, I got a cookie and we sat and listened to the band play and people watched, sweat drying and becoming cool underneath the blue sky. (the sun when it comes out in WI needs to be accounted for). We got up, walked to the shore against the wind, before hopping back on the trolley and heading out (it was almost 2pm at this point!).
We got home, showered, and I cracked open the kettle corn and M&Ms, and we headed out to the wineries. The first one we went to (high rankings, and advertised everywhere as the door county winery and distillery) was all sweet wine, and super trashy. We left within 2 pours, and opted for Stone’s Throw winery, just down the street from our inn. We wine tasted in the busy place, and around 5pm as it was closing, Matt asked about a place we could eat dinner to watch the sunset on the west side. Knowing that I was craving pizza, when the Wild Tomato in Sister Bay was suggested, it was a no brainer. I gush over a good sunset and we had such a great day already, it seemed like a perfect ending.
The wait for a table was 45 minutes so I grabbed a glass of wine, and we waited and talked inside. We debated manning the cold, but neither of us was up to it. (it was in the high 40s, but probably felt like 30s with the wind chill). We were called and our cute little waiter was quick with everything. We ordered Caprese salad and created our own pizza…. which.. was around $40. How? well each topping was $2-3, and I never eat pizza, so I went all out. Basil, goat cheese, red onion, mushrooms, spinach and green pepper. Kind of like the savvy signature at YourPie… man, where was our Athens waiter from last night when we needed him? he would have understood.
We finished dinner just in time for the sunset. we walked out and moved the car, before driving along the harbor to find the perfect spot. we parked and watched from the car for 15ish minutes, but I hopped out bare feet and all on the deck just as it was fading to dusk. Matt joined me a few short minutes after as we watched the sky turn black, truly the perfect ending to our day.
We slept in Sunday morning, had our breakfast and decided to make our way back to Milwaukee. Matt had lots of studying, and I had the fun fulfilled weekend I had hoped for. I fell absolutely in love with Door County, and we agreed that the Door County Half will have to be our tradition yearly throughout Matt’s time in med school. It was one of those rare cases where everything went right (minus the lovely mayfly surprise). The perfect get away filled with all of our favorite things and some much needed quality time…
and yes, don’t worry, I enjoyed my leftover $40 pizza on the car ride home. It just couldn’t go uneaten.