"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Monday, June 8, 2015

Green Bay & Reflections on Stage 3

On the Home Stretch Now

From St. Ignace on the East to Green Bay - 330 miles
The UP is behind us as well as Mackinaw Island, the Tunnel of Trees, the Leelanau peninsula, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Watervale, and the Indiana Dunes. 

Riding in a Bubble

When we arrived at the Mackinaw bridge, slightly over a week ago, I said it seemed unbelievable that we'd come half way. Now we're coming now the other side of the lake, my side and it still seems surreal that we've done this all by bicycle. One pedal stroke after another after another and another. Each day the same comfortable routine, saddling up, pushing off, we're rollin'. We've consciously avoided watching TV or following the news. We keep somewhat in touch by e-mail, text and a few phone calls, but our contact with the outside world is limited and, rather one directional. In this way we feel connected to where we are, what we're seeing, who we're meeting, very much in the moment. That helps when we have 60 or so
Riding the board walk into Manistique
miles to ride each day. We're not waiting for the ride, the day to be over, instead we're enjoying the riding, the sights, the air and particularly the lake views when we get them. In a way its our moving bubble and we have one more week inside it. How, we ask will we be able to cope with reality? The daily demands of regular life might, I suspect, feel a bit overwhelming. So, for those of you close to us at home - pardon us if we seem to slip off to never-never land once in a while. But for now, we still have a week to enjoy, we have Door County and then the marvelous ride south along Wisconsin's shoreline. I did that last year in the opposite direction and can't wait to go back.

So What Can I Say About the UP?

Riding along Route 2
Note wide shoulder & protective rumble strip

I think both Will and I agree, we're glad to have done the UP, it was an essential part of riding around the lake, but we're not really interested in doing it again. Parts were absolutely beautiful, especially the eastern most section just outside of St. Ignace before we came to Naubinway. The reclaimed natural area around Manistique is peaceful, and the Garden Peninsula stunning with Fayette Historical State Park at the end. We enjoy staying in Nahma very much and will certainly try to go back. But most of Route 2 is long, straight, FLAT and wearisome for a cyclist. The shoulder is wide and clean, the traffic generally considerate, but the thing goes on forEVER!!! I suppose riding out west, with its long stretches in the plains might be similar and when I attempt that I'll have to harden my brain to handle it. But, for now I'm glad to leave the boring thing behind.

The people though were marvelously friendly. Every time we walked into a place, all heads turned to us, the new comers. What was our story? Where were we from? Where were we going? So of course we told them and then the conversation flowed and flowed, sometimes getting hard to stop. People marveled at our adventure but in this culture of cars, could not really comprehend riding a bike all this way. Many, many wishes for us to stay save I'm sure have carried us forward and surrounded our journey and we are thankful for them. I also discovered a great, unexpected base of ... PACKER FANS - kindred spirits all.

And so in the end I will say that I'll be back, but then by car. I want to bring Jim to see and experience some of these things, Fayette Historical State Park for one, the logging museum in Marinette, the Ojibwi museum in St. Igance, the Neville museum here in Green Bay. I want to stay again at the Nahma Inn and the House of Ludington. And I want to drink some more Widow Maker Black beer. (Why did I not get a picture of that?)

Coming Home to Wisconsin

When we crossed the bridge over the Menomonee River into Wisconsin I felt a surprising sense of euphoria. While I haven't lived in the state since 1983, I guess I still identify myself as a Badger or a Cheese Head. I'm a Packer fan through and through. Being in Northern Wisconsin takes me back to my familial roots as my Dad was born and raised up here before moving to Milwaukee in the 1930s. I identify with the folks in the lumbering business, their hardships, their passion for the woods. I love connecting my family roots with that lumbering history at the same time I mourn their lack of forethought and environmental wastefulness.

Entering Green Bay on Saturday we passed from wilderness into congestion just at the small hamlet of Duck Creek. I did not expect the sudden transition, but I what I also did not realize is that here - right here was where my great grandfather Peter LaBelle was born and spent his early childhood. Duck Creek came suddenly upon me. My connection to the place felt strong. I will certainly come back to Green Bay to explore more of it and my own history.

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