GRAND HAVEN, MI to WISCONSIN DELLS, WI

It was a cool, cloudy, and dynamic morning on the shores of Lake Michigan. We had a short window in between showers so Mark Van Putten and I seized the opportunity for a morning bike ride. I followed Mark on one of his daily loops, a neat little run through iconic Michigan backyards, river channels, old industrial artifacts, and farmlands. I never knew that flat could be so lovely. And flat it will be (mainly) for the next thousand miles. 

I was pleased to see a mural on the outskirts of Grand Haven. 

image.jpg

I imagined how much fun it would be if graffiti art became ubiquitous on silos, barns, and tractors across America. Maybe some day.

If graffiti art represents the twenty first century, then surely old railway structures represent the nineteenth century. Here's an industrial gothic railroad storage facility.

 

 

image.jpg

Jim Harrison's novella "The River Swimmer" describes a young man who essentially lives with fish and swims very, very long distances. It takes place on a river in Michigan. I wondered if it might have been upstream from here.

 

image.jpg

Near the end of the novella, the river swimmer swims to Chicago!! To do so, he would have to swim across Stupendous Lake Michigan, the remarkable fresh water sea. I'm still in awe of the size of the lake. In my parochial Northeastern mentality, all I can think to say when I stand on the shore (using my best Yiddish accent) is "Who Knew?" It's one thing to see the lake on a map, or to fly over it. It's another to stand on the shore. I booked a ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee, so I could experience the great expanse of the inland sea, but midway through our bike ride I received an automated call notifying me that the trip was cancelled due to predicted high seas and winds. 

 

image.jpg

Wherever you ride, you encounter modest industrial activity. You need some crushed limestone?

 

image.jpg

Juxtapose this with the new sustainability industries. Just a few miles from here there's a green roofing company.

image.jpg

And just another reminder of how flat it all is!

image.jpg

With the ferry cancelled, I had to rearrange my route. I wanted to avoid Chicago traffic as much as possible so I headed south, picked up I80 (ugh!) just east of Gary, battled trucks and aggressive drivers until Joliet where the road thinned out a bit. I turned north near LaSalle, Illinois and travelled the straight highway to Wisconsin.

I love moving through weather fronts. There's a big High in the Southern Plains pumping warm air northward. Michigan hadn't gotten the memo as it was on the northern edge of the warm air mass. That explains the cool showers. By the time I reached Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, the temperature rose to 86. It felt great!

And then somewhere north of Rockford, Illinois the temperature plunged to 64 in the space of two miles.  

I pushed on to the Wisconsin Dells where I found an out of the way river lodge, enjoyed the Wednesday special dinner at a local pub (Perch, Baked Potato, and Cole Slaw) with an Amber Ale, and fell asleep to the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma Thunder. 

I woke up on the Wisconsin River. I'll study it for awhile before driving over to Aldo Leopold's shack.

 

 

image.jpg
1 Comment

Mitch Thomashow

Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence. Currently he is engaged in teaching, writing, and executive consulting, cultivating opportunities and exchanges that transform how people engage with sustainability and ecological learning. In August, 2011 Thomashow became Director of the Second Nature Presidential Fellows Program. This new program is designed to assist the executive leadership of colleges and universities in promoting a comprehensive sustainability agenda on their campuses. Fellows provide executive consulting on climate action planning, long-range financial planning, organizational leadership, curricular implementation, and community investment. From 2006-2011, Thomashow was the president of Unity College in Maine. With his management team, he integrated concepts of ecology, sustainability, natural history, wellness, participatory governance, and community service into all aspects of college and community life. This included construction of The Unity House, the first LEED Platinum President’s Residence in North America, and the TeraHaus, a passive house student residence, as well as comprehensive campus energy planning, an integrated approach to growing food on campus, and a new academic master plan. Previously from 1976-2006, Thomashow was the Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Antioch University New England. He founded an interdisciplinary environmental studies doctoral program and worked collaboratively to grow and nourish a suite of engaging Masters programs, geared to working adults. Thomashow is the founder of Whole Terrain, an environmental literary publication, originating at Antioch University New England, and “Hawk and Handsaw,” a journal of creative sustainability, published at Unity College. He serves on the boards of Orion Magazine and The Coalition on Environmental and Jewish Life (COEJL). Thomashow is a founding organizer of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD), a national organization that supports interdisciplinary environmental studies in higher education. He provides ongoing consultation to the Sustainable Endowments Institute and their new Billion Dollar Green Challenge program. His two books have significantly influenced environmental studies education. Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist (The MIT Press, 1995) offers an approach to teaching environmental education based on reflective practice—a guide to teachers, educators and concerned citizens that incorporates issues of citizenship, ecological identity, and civic responsibility within the framework of environmental studies. Bringing the Biosphere Home, (The MIT Press, 2001) is a guide for learning how to perceive global environmental change. It shows readers that through a blend of local natural history observations, global change science, the use of imagination and memory, and philosophical contemplation, you can learn how to broaden your spatial and temporal view so that it encompasses the entire biosphere. His essay (2010), “The Gaian Generation: A New Approach to Environmental Learning” provides provocative new concepts for teaching about global environmental change. Another essay (2012) “Where You At 2.0” reasserts the relevance of bioregionalism for digital age learners. A recent essay (2013),“Sustainability as Turnaround” is a case study of his work as president at Unity College. with mandolin.png His new book, The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (The MIT Press) provides a framework for advancing sustainable living and teaching in a variety of campus environments. It will be available in January, 2014. Thomashow is currently working on two writing, networking, and teaching projects. Improvisational Excellence suggests that improvisation emulates the patterns and processes of the biosphere. It’s a series of essays linking play, music, and observing nature to the paths of everyday living. It is the philosophical basis for Thomashow’s workshops on global environmental change, music and nature, and ecological perception. Wilson’s Library is a series of prose poems depicting extraordinary moments during the history of life on earth. Thomashow lives in the hill country of southwest New Hampshire in the shadow of Mount Monadnock. He loves to explore the fields, forests, wetlands, hills, and lakes of Northern New England where you can often find him on his bicycle. His recreational interests include basketball, baseball, board games, jazz piano, electronic keyboards, musical composition and recording, guitars, hiking, and lake swimming.