Lake Michigan
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105 Lake Michigan Lake Michigan’s name is derived from “Mishigami,” the Ojibwe word for “great water.” I had decided for somewhat arbitrary reasons that it would constitute the third leg of my tour. I had already completed Huron and Erie, I wanted to save Ontario for last, and Superior would take too much time, as the summer was starting to run away from me. This would be a longer trip than the circling of Lake Erie that I had completed earlier in the summer, and it promised interesting contrasts, from the relatively unpopulated northern shore, which constitutes the southern shoreline of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to metropolitan Chicago in the south. Fortunately, I wouldn’t need my passport to travel around Michigan, because it’s entirely within U.S. borders. By surface (but not by volume), it is the largest lake contained within the borders of a single country. From a bicycle-­ riding perspective, Michigan poses a couple of unique challenges. It has a number of peninsulas and bays, which require decisions about how closely to follow the shoreline . I hadn’t felt the need to follow every nook and cranny of the lakeshore, but Huron’s and Erie’s shorelines are smooth, posing fewer choices. I wasn’t leaving with a definitive plan about how I would handle things but hoped to balance time considerations against a determination to see as much as possible. A second challenge is that Michigan lies along a north–­ south axis. When I circled Lake Erie, I found myself riding west into very strong late-­ spring winds, which then provided welcome support riding back the other direction. With Michigan, I was guessing I’d experience less direct head-­and tailwinds. Not wanting to deal with the complexities of flying into and bicycling out of the huge Chicago metropolitan area, I chose to fly Lake Michigan 106 to Milwaukee from Syracuse. About a mile from the airport there is a scrum of inexpensive motels, and I booked the cheapest. I was happy my room was on the first floor, where just outside, through a sliding glass door, was the motel parking lot, which was ideally suited for my purposes. I had to break my bike down to get it on the plane, which required putting everything back together in the motel room. The S & S couplers that I had installed allow me to break the bike apart to get it into a suitcase, but that requires deconstructing it almost completely. It’s of course easier to get it apart than back together again. It took me less than an hour to get parts back into their appropriate places, but I would need to do some adjusting before leaving the next day. The motel parking lot would be an ideal place for that. Also, the motel was right on the bus line into the city. When I returned to Milwaukee, I planned to spend another night in the same place and spend a day touring the city. July 22, 2012 At seven o’clock, when I pushed my bike through the glass doors to the motel parking lot, it was already getting hot. Ozone permeated the atmosphere, no doubt partly the result of traffic flowing across nearby Interstate 94. I rode around the lot, adjusting gears and breaks, double-­ checked the room for stray items, dropped the room key off with the clerk, and headed east on Thirteenth Street into Milwaukee. Small businesses of various kinds lined the street but turned into modest frame houses as I approached the center. At Oklahoma Avenue, Thirteenth Street ends, which I found a little confusing, but eventually I made my way to Sixth Street, which continues eastward. Spanish-­ language store signage and a collection of Mexican restaurants give testament to the ethnic character of the neighborhood. Next, I crossed under Interstate 94, which runs like a gash along the western edge of the business district. Like so many interstates, it fractured the urban core, and in Milwaukee it provides an ugly and inconvenient obstacle Lake Michigan 107 to streets lined with stately, solid nineteenth-­ century Germanic-­ styled buildings. I stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts for a couple of bagels, some juice, and coffee. The break gave me a chance to get my bearings. After breakfast, I traveled the short distance to the lakefront, where a breeze took a little of the edge off the midmorning heat, which was, it seemed, only just starting to build. At Lake Park, a...


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