Sense of Place – The Perfect Travel Itinerary

By: Jeff Rennicke, Executive Director, Friends of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Ice formation coming off a sandstone cliff

Photo: Jeff Rennicke

Anyone who has lived here a while and bragged about the beauty of this place to out-of-town, sometimes skeptical, friends. has had the experience expressed so passionately in the poem “Until It Hardly Matters at All.” Included in the Big Top Chautauqua House show, “Take It to the Lake” this Lee Merrill poem speaks straight to both the heartfelt desire and utter frustration of trying to show off the place we love to someone who won’t stay around long enough to really see it. Guests are coming. You want to show them everything, take them every secret place that you’ve grown to love, let them bask in the glory that is your chosen place. But, they will only be here “one day, sometimes two” as it says in the poem.

Until It Hardly Matters At All

Foreigners come here … one day, sometimes two.
It is my heart’s desire to show them everything in one day, sometimes two.
Pulling maps from cabinets, running here, pointing there,
Always searching for hats and shoes and gloves, I lose my mind.

I take them to witness the clear speckled trout
That drift in the headwaters of Eighteen Mile Creek.
The trout are never there.

We go to be in awe of the floe ice
Smashed high against the red rocks of the Apostles.
The wind has taken the ice halfway to Canada.

Nothing is in its place. The maps lie.
Familiar roads turn into lost lanes, strange looks.

When the foreigners leave, they think that I am mad.
And it seems that I am,
For as they go, the ice comes back from Canada,
The partridge begin to drum by the enormous spring holes,
The trout swim out into the open unafraid.

All this happens
And I become consoled and grow less heartsick
Until it hardly matters at all what I can show to anyone,
Even myself,
In one day, sometimes two.

Lee Merrill

How would you design the perfect itinerary for a visit to show off what you love most about Brickyard Creek, the Apostle Islands, and the surrounding area? How would you fill your given “one day, sometimes two”? The sky is the limit. Money is no object. The only caveat is your guests will only be here one day, perhaps two.

Open the Itinerary form to design and share your perfect itinerary and explain your choices.