On Tuesday afternoon Innkeepers Jim and Joy started off on a road adventure into the Wisconsin hardwood forest area. It was a beautiful October Fall day with great temperatures, a bluebird colored sky, and beautiful turning leaves. Our ultimate goal was to reach Bayfield, Wisconsin and make a visit to our favorite orchard for some of the area’s finest apples.
As we drove closer to the Bayfield area and closer to Lake Superior, the leaves seemed to get more magnificent with each curve of the highway. The forest appeared to be ablaze in all of its Autumn glory. We eventually reached our destination which was Sunset Valley Orchards. We drove up to the apple garage store and waited patiently as it seemed no one was around. The garage store was full of bags and bushes and boxes of apples, apple butter, apple cider and lots of flavored jelly. Within minutes, Craig Johnson, the owner, greeted us. He had just returned to his house for a quick lunch and seemed happy to see us again. We visit his orchard every year to stock up on apples for the winter season.
We quickly asked about our favorite “Fireside” apples because they are a good fit for The Firelight Inn. Craig said that they didn’t have any picked but he quickly offered that if we wanted to jump in his Ranger 4×4 with him, he would take us out to the Fireside trees and the three of us could pick a box very quickly. We had never ridden in a 4×4 before and we were excited to go pick apples. We squeezed in together and off we went!
It was only a couple of minutes traveling the worn-down path and into the orchard. Craig drove slowly calling out the names of all the apples trees as we passed. He had workers picking bushels of Spartan apples and we traveled past them towards the Fireside trees. We had never had the opportunity to pick apples right off the tree and it was so much fun. Craig and Jim ate a apple as we picked and the box filled up fast. Jim said “It doesn’t get any fresher than this”.
As we rode back, Craig took us on an extended ride to a ridge to look at the beautiful Fall color and the expansive orchard. He also drove us to a grove of grape vine where he stopped and picked us some wild grapes. Craig has owned over 130 acres for a long time and he said that the grapes were planted before prohibition and were used for wine back in the day. They use them for jelly now. We munched on the sweet grapes on the ride back to the garage store spitting seeds and loving every minute of it!
After our orchard visit, we made our way into Bayfield and stopped at Maggie’s for a delicious lunch of chicken sandwiches, fries and mango iced tea. Then off to stop in a couple of our favorite stores and, of course, we had to stop and enjoy the beautiful dock, boats, Lake Superior water and the view of Madeline Island. Then a beautiful ride home through along Lake Superior munching on taffy and chatting about our great day.
Our guests at The Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek Bed and Breakfast will also benefit from this experience, as these apples will be used in many of our breakfast menus in the coming months. We would be happy to be your hosts and prepare Baked Apple Pancakes, Apple Muffins, Apple Cherry Breakfast Crisp, Apple Sausage Cheddar Strata, or Apple Breakfast Cake for you. We hope to see you soon!
Jim and Joy Fischer, Owners/Innkeepers
The Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek Bed and Breakfast