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.
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.
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.
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.
Wherever you ride, you encounter modest industrial activity. You need some crushed limestone?
Juxtapose this with the new sustainability industries. Just a few miles from here there's a green roofing company.
And just another reminder of how flat it all is!
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.