Cover

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Title page, Copyright page

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pp. i-iv

Epigraph

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pp. v-vi

Contents

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pp. 7-8

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Introduction: An Unexpected Idea

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pp. 1-18

Oddly enough the genesis of this book, and the journey that it recounts, was sparked while I was sitting in my apartment in the capital city Ulan Bator, after nearly a year of teaching at the National University of Mongolia. It had been an exciting, exhausting, and productive year. The courses that I had taught had gone well, and I had established positive connections with my colleagues and a number of students. Although I hadn’t mastered the Mongolian language, I’d made some inroads, and I had learned...

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Lake Huron

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pp. 19-60

I decided upon Sarnia, Ontario, as the place to begin my trip around Lake Huron, primarily because it is the shortest drive from my home in central New York, and it is close to the U.S. border. Also, I discovered that it had a train station with a parking lot where I could leave my car, at no cost, “at my own risk.” Ideal. The risks seemed minimal....

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Lake Erie

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pp. 61-104

It was sunny, humid, and very warm as I started my trip around Lake Erie. My departure point was Westfield, New York. I grew up south of there in Jamestown and spent time during my youth shambling around with friends through the nearby Chautauqua Gorge, drinking beer or getting high, or hiking and swimming. The area was crucial to colonization of North America. What is now Westfield was first visited by French explorers in the early seventeenth century as they were seeking a water route from the Great Lakes into what they knew was a vast river system to the...

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Lake Michigan

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pp. 105-152

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...

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Lake Superior

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pp. 153-196

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...

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Lake Ontario

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pp. 197-236

In the summer of 2014, I embarked on a trek around Lake Ontario, the last of the five lakes for me to circle. It’s the closest to home, and it’s the lake with which I am most familiar.
My first relatively long-distance bicycle tour was the Iowa RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) in 1989. The race introduced me to the concept of longer touring over multiple days, camping along the way. The next summer, I packed up my old Fuji road bike with a sleeping bag...

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Conclusion: Future Prospects

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pp. 237-242

Finishing my circling of the Great Lakes generated a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, but I also felt something of a letdown. Where to now? My immediate impulse was to start over again. Because, really, what else would provide a comparable experience? After some consideration, I decided that I should give it some time before I repeat the journey. Twenty years from now, when I turn eighty, seems about right. By then, as a retiree and...

Notes

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pp. 243-253

Author bio

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pp. 254-256