Big Birds, Firefighters, and Michael Jackson

Zip ties can do amazing things, but one was no match for

zip tie around the rack and frame

zip tie around the rack and frame

the job of holding up Laura’s seven pound sleeping bag and saddle bags packed with mostly obsolete items, for example a sippy-cup that was her ‘bowl’. Laura biked to a hardware store to pick up some nuts and bolts while I cruised around town, happening upon some free live music on the campus of the University of Michigan. Laura met up with me, and we enjoyed the first beer I bought legally in the United States as we watched a band cover Old Crow Medicine Show’s, ‘Wagon Wheel’. The following morning we biked almost a hundred miles to the outskirts of Kalamazoo where we pulled into a fire station to ask if we could crash in back of the station. The fireman didn’t care so we relaxed on the warm pavement before setting up the tent on some grass next to the parking lot. Impressed with Ann Arbor, we anticipated that Kalamazoo would be just as cool. We got there, and the coolest thing we saw Your browser may not support display of this image. was a giant bird landscaped out of bushes and flowers. Maybe we did not give the town enough of a chance, but my attempts to find someone to blog about were not successful. After following a lead but coming up empty we decided to get back on the bikes, anticipating a bike path that spans the rest of the state from Kalamazoo to the coast of Lake Michigan. Bike paths are wonderful, especially when you enter them from a busy road and all of a sudden are relieved from having to keep your peripheral vision in focus every second, readying yourself to react to a rogue car.
We ended up at Benton Harbor for the night. Our campsite was a strip of grass above some train tracks on a residential side street. June2009 421After having stopped for ice cream at least three times during the day I was hungry for some greens and chowed down on a yellow pepper and some lettuce as we watched the sun set over the lake. In the morning we were brought coffee by the granddaughter of the lady who lived in a nearby house. We were also given the mugs that the coffee came in. I am still not sure if their mug cabinet was overflowing, or if they did not want to use them after two random kids traveling on bikes put their lips to them. It was easy to navigate the rest of the way to Chicago because we just had to follow the coast. In the morning we rode by Warren Dunes State Park, so when we saw signs for Mt. Baldy we thought we should stop and check it out. Mt. Baldy is a humongous pile of sand, the biggest sand dune on the Southern shore of Lake Michigan. It is constantly retreating from the shoreline as winds move the sand toward the parking lot and highway. We left our bikes in the parking lot and hiked into the water, having to run down the steep north side of the dunes.
Mt. Baldy from the back

Mt. Baldy from the back

Understandably so, we have not swum as often as we would have during our average summer. Lake Michigan made up a little for what we have been missing, but we still had to make it to Chicago so we hopped in the saddle and pedaled on deeper into Indiana.
All I knew about Gary, Indiana was that the Music Man took place there, where seventy-six trombones marched down the street or something like that. Laura reminded me of the lyrics to some of the songs, and we sang them gaily but naively amidst a depressed, crumbling town. We realized this as we spent over an hour circling the town looking for Michael Jackson’s childhood home to no avail. We were aliens to the people sitting on their porch, we could tell they probably did not get many bike tourists swinging through their neighborhood.
After a couple of gun shots rang in a nearby alley we decided Michael Jackson’s house was not worth seeing so we kept on trucking to Chicago, again following the coast to eventually meet up with a bike path that took us a couple blocks from our host, Kelly’s house.

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