Trip days: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10-12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
My alarm went off at 7:30 and as I usually do I rolled over turned it off and promptly went back to sleep. I awoke again shortly before 9:00am and to my chagrin it had started raining. Must be the man (or woman) upstairs trying to tell me that I should get up when my alarm goes off. I waited for the rain to die down a little bit and quickly packed up. Ack. The Pinery Provincial Park campground is backed up against some dunes and the ground of the tent area is sand... and wet sand sticks to everything. Certainly doesn't make for easy clean packing of wet camping gear. "Ah yes, that was nice and unpleasant. Okay then, on the road!"
I was delighted to find the rain clearing up near Sarnia and the bridge to Michigan. Unfortunately traffic at the border crossing was backed up a 1/4 mile or so on the bridge. It looked like I might be waiting for a while. Suprisingly things moved along quite quickly and I had maybe a 15 minute wait at the most.
The border guard looked at my passport, looked at me (unshaven for the past week), looked at my bike, and as he wandered around my bike asked what my license plate number was. I acted like I was thinking hard, "uhhh, I think it's 707210." He walked back in his little booth, handed my passport back and asked where I was from in Washington. "Belilngham, a bit north of Seattle." He replied, "I know exactly where Bellingham is, I used to live in the Dalles in northern oregon." What is it with people all over the place having been to Bellingham. I swear. He waved me on with "have a good trip." Wow, a U.S. border guard that wasn't a complete a-hole. That's a first.
I headed west on interstate 69 through the infamous Flint, Michigan and down to interstate 94 heading west from Battle Creek towards Chicago. I quickly tired of the bumper to bumper semi-truck swarm heading west so I cut south down to highway 60 running west to Niles, Michigan where I got onto highway 12 which runs around the south end of Lake Michigan through Michigan City, Indiana and through Dunes National Park. Speaking of semi-trucks I saw a 46 wheeler today. Amazing -- the truck was all wheels. It had 11 axles with two wheels on each side, and the front steer wheels. I also saw a number of 42 wheelers. They all seemed to be hauling some sort of heavy scrap metal or other heavy load of riff-raff.
Southern Michigan is nice in a midwest sort of way. Once off the beaten track onto the backwoods highways, in a way I took on a new appreciation of country town middle america. With all the hustle and bustle of the big cities, interstate traffic, and the high speed american culture, here are little islands of slow paced simple life. Men in safety uniforms ushering school children across the street with stop sign in hand, quaint people working in their quaint gardens in their quaint yards on main street, mom and pop grocery stores and hardware stores. All the things that make a community a community and not some consumption driven disjointed abstract image of a community.
As I blazed west I stopped to check my map and, seeing that the temperature was a healthy 68 degrees, I removed my gloves and rode 'naked' until I got onto the Indiana East-West Toll Road. What a nice afternoon has sprung out of such miserable beginnings of a day.
Once on the Indiana East-West Toll Road, which turns in the interstate 90 toll road into Chicago proper, it struck me how historically industrial this area is. Let's just say that the industrial revolution, probably from the war effor in WWII, has left its mark. Large rusty machinery from the 40's era loomed all across the landscape. Everything from old style pulley mechanism vertically lifted bridges over waterways to empty old rail road stations and factories of yesteryear. It's an interesting clash of old meets new south of Chicago and into northern Indiana.
I got off the I-90 toll road at 22nd and headed east to Lake Shore Dr. which runs north south between the water side of downtown and Lake Michigan. Traffic was pretty miserable for the first bit, but cleared up a little ways along on N Lake Shore Dr. I followed Lake Shore past the Aquarium, Navy Pier, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the sky scrapers and high rises of downtown Chicago. Chicago really does have a striking image and style the I've never really noticed before, and the lake shore is infested with wonderful parks, jogging and bicycle paths, tennis courts and soccer fields, and scads of people out enjoying the weather and scenery.
Once north of downtown and onto Sheridan Road, the wonderful oak tree lined streets and prestigious looking homes of southern Evanston come into view. The Northwestern University area of Evanston is extremely nice. Oh woe is me who will never be able to afford to live in a home such as these. What a great area, though a bit posh.
I managed to find my aunt and uncle's, Alex and Marilyn Meloy's, home in western Evanston without much fuss. It's good getting to see them. Of the Meloy's I seem to see them more than any of the others, though still not often. I like to think that Alex, aka Axel, has all the wit and humour of the Meloy family without all the irritating rough edges of my father. Alex is a funny guy, an apt backgammon player, and he has a taste for "Old Style" milwaukee beer which upon trying I would have to compare to Schimdt's. Which, without getting into all the nitty gritty details, is definitely good enough to drink!
A good dinner, a few beers, and a bit of a loss at the backgammon board, I kicked back and caught some of 2 Wheeled Tuesday on SpeedTV, and eventually called it a night.
Total Mileage for Day: 312
©2003 John Meloy <firstname.lastname@example.org>