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  • Writer's pictureJulie Gile

My Biggest Regret of 2022

There is one gallery on my desktop I’ll never have the opportunity to deliver.

Our family has fallen in love with the most unpretentious spot in Door County. We’ve been visiting this gem of a place several times each summer/fall, and what made this place truly special was Captain John, the owner of the Door County Maple Grove Hotel, a cozy little place with a vintage charm.

Captain John had an amazing talent for storytelling, especially when he talked about his fishing adventures. My kids would sit around him, eyes wide open, as he regaled them with tales of his exploits in the notorious Death’s Door passage of the Door County seas. And the hotel itself was a wonderland for my kids - a garden full of juicy raspberries, sweet cherry tomatoes, lettuce and herbs, and gorgeous sunflowers, plus an outdoor pavilion where we could share breakfast and meet other travelers.

At our annual getaway to Maple Grove, my kids would run free and sleep hard, get excited about hot chocolate for breakfast in the pavilion, and completely forget about the iPad - quite the feat, my fellow parents will agree. And it wasn’t just the kids who loved Captain John, as he would share all kinds of hidden gems for our family to discover during our time in Door County.

Last summer, as always, we had an amazing time at Maple Grove, and I took some pictures of us experiencing the place and created a brand gallery to showcase the true adventurous spirit. I had planned to deliver a gallery to Captain John as a token of my appreciation and connect him with other families searching for a similar experience.

But fate had other plans.

A few weeks after we left Door County, I received the news that Captain John had passed away. It was a shock, and I felt a deep sense of regret that I had not been able to deliver the photo gallery to him. I had missed my chance to thank him for everything he had done for us, for being a kind and loving presence in our lives, and for giving my kids memories they will treasure forever.

But as I sit here today, I realize that this regret is not just about Captain John. It is a regret about life itself. We take so many things for granted - our health, our time, and our relationships. We assume that we will always have a tomorrow, a chance to do the things we want to do, to tell the people we love how much we appreciate them.

But sometimes, we don't get that chance. Life can be unpredictable, and we never know when our time will run out. That is why it is so important to live in the present moment, to cherish the people we love, and create the memories we want to have. We should not wait for a tragedy to remind us of the value of life.

As I write this blog, I realize that I cannot deliver these photos to Captain John anymore. They’ll sit in a folder on my desktop with nowhere to go. But I can spread his story, his kindness, his love, to our community. I can remind people that there are places like Maple Grove, where we can disconnect to reconnect, where we can find joy in the simple things, and where we can create memories that will last a lifetime.

And so, I leave you with my Google review of Maple Grove, a small corner of the internet where Captain John's legacy will live on. I will never delete these photos from my desktop, and I hope that you will take the time to enjoy them, and find a place as special as this to disconnect and reconnect with the people you value most.

Maple Grove is the kind of place where your kids can’t wait to get out of the car to check the garden for raspberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, sunflowers, or any other surprises that may be there. They run free and sleep hard, get excited about hot chocolate for breakfast in the pavilion and completely forget we even brought the iPad. It’s close enough to everything amazing in Door County (along with some hidden gems only Captain John will tell you about!) but also a world away so you can disconnect to reconnect and create the memories we always wanted together.

There is also a very neat outdoor pavilion in the center of the grounds where we have enjoyed sharing breakfast, swapping stories, meeting other people, and famous jam-okie sessions. We like to say this motel is ‘north of the tension line’ leaving lots of cares far away, and we usually have our next trip planned before we leave.

Local highlights:

*Newport Beach

*Charlie’s Smokehouse

*Kick Ash Coffee

*Twelve-Eleven Provisions

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