Lake Superior
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153 Lake Superior July 22, 2013 I drove on a warm, sunny day from Ithaca, New York, to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I debated for a while about which route to take. One option was to cross the Niagara River in the vicinity of Buffalo , head across southern Ontario, then into Michigan, driving through the center of the state to the top of the mitt. The other involved crossing into Canada, then driving along the eastern coastline of Lake Huron, skirting the edge of Georgian Bay, and then westward. I chose the Canadian route, which was probably a mistake. Things are fine until Sudbury, when the Queen Elizabeth Way empties into the Trans-­ Canada, which is two lanes, within which are interspersed occasional passing lanes. It’s a busy road, slow going. I didn’t get to the Soo until ten o’clock in the evening. I had booked myself into a cheap room on the Canadian side that I found online, which, as far as I could tell, was right in the middle of town. But I couldn’t find it. Someone I stopped on the street wasn’t especially helpful. Eventually, I figured out that I needed to go around back and into an alley to find the entrance to the place. It was the dormitory for Algoma University’s medical school. The rooms were quite nice, although I had to pay cash, which required going back outside to find an atm. Once I settled in, the only dinner option seemed to be Tim Hortons, but eating at this point was an absolute necessity, so I had no choice. Lake Superior 154 July 23, 2013 Next morning, six o’clock sharp, I was back at Tim Hortons, this time for my traditional bicycle touring breakfast: two raisin bagels, orange juice, and a small coffee. Then I packed up the Volvo and drove to the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, which, I had discovered online, had long-­ term parking at reasonable rates. It was ten miles west of town, so I’d have to ride back in to get across the border into Michigan, since I had decided to start my trip by riding westward along the southern side of the lake. My reasons for doing this were only somewhat arbitrary: I had ridden the other three lakes in a clockwise direction, and I wanted to be consistent. It was as simple and slightly ridiculous as that. I parked my car at the lot of the small airport, loaded up my bike, and rode down the hill from the airport to Second Line Road and then into the city. It was a morning made for a bicycle ride, as I passed through fields and wooded areas into town. At the first shopping center I encountered, I stopped to buy sunscreen lip balm, an essential accoutrement that I had neglected to bring. I immediately noticed the higher Canadian prices. The Esser Steel Algoma plant is on the right as you head east. The plant was started by an American at the turn of the twentieth century and has been in continuous operation since then. But it hasn’t been easy going. The company had declared bankruptcy twice in the past two decades and was bought out by the Indian firm Esser Global in 2007. It’s one of seventeen steel mills still operating in Canada.1 I followed the signs down to the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, which I’d crossed from the other direction two years ago, when I had rounded Lake Huron. At that time, I’d stayed overnight at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, a somewhat drearier place than its Canadian counterpart, but it abuts the famous locks, which are a significant tourist attraction and definitely worth a visit. A steel truss arch bridge crosses the St. Marys River. It’s just under three miles long. Crossing by bicycle is allowed, but there Lake Superior 155 is no bike lane, just a narrow shoulder marked by a painted lane only on the north-­ to-­ south side. It’s wide enough to accommodate both car and even truck traffic and a bicycle. But on the day that I arrived, construction was occurring, which narrowed the lane considerably . Once I got up to where the construction started, which turned out to be the steepest grade of the bridge, I had to pull into the lane, preventing cars from driving around me. I imagined a line of angry drivers fuming behind...