Monday, October 5, 2009

September 23

I woke up just after 6 a.m. I started boiling water for my instant coffee and equally as instant oatmeal. The sun wasn’t up yet. In the darkness, I thought about my potentially smelly and probably hungry little black and white friend trolling around somewhere in the sandy brush between me and Lake Michigan.

He didn’t show up. My coffee and oatmeal were ready as the sun finally decided to show up. I didn’t realize sunrise was this late. Now that I’m thinking about it, the sky has been dark whenever I’ve woken up at or before six lately. I don’t have much sunlight to work with on this trip. This might become problematic when I am fifteen miles away from a camp site and it’s getting close to 5. I’ll just have to deal with this. I am dealing with it, actually, hence my sitting in this hotel lobby at 7 a.m..

I can’t live by my own time, I have to live by the sun. Maybe that’s when people first stopped getting along with the earth, when they started living by their own time and not following the sun’s. Tyler Bee, from the Bee Hive Art Collective, referred to this as “living linearly in a cyclical world,” I think he perfectly articulates what I need to avoid doing this trip. Hotel’s don’t exist cyclically. Well, they sort of do, but only in how they putt new coffee in the pot every morning and clean the rooms when guests leave.

I’m drinking their coffee right now and about to eat some oatmeal and fruit. I’m going to fill my water bottle with orange juice before I leave, too. I like to mix orange juice and water. This mixture is a lot like a sports drink, but without the high fructose corn syrup. This combination is just how I like it—natural and delicious.

But now I’m getting waaay ahead of myself.


Leaving the camp site, I took route 32 north for a couple hours. I quickly passed into Wisconsin. Randy, who I talked to yesterday on the trail, lives in Wisconsin. I was right on the Illinois Wisconsin border.

I found another bike trail in Wisconsin. I thought This is too good to be true. This won’t last long. I took it. The trail took me all the way to Racine, Wisconsin. In Racine the trail had an offshoot off into town, the “Lake Michigan Pathway,” it was called.

I’m touring the Lake Michigan coast. Of course I took this route. The “Pathway” led through a peaceful Racine residential area. Apparently there is a not so nice part of Racine, or at least there exists three drunken “fishermen” who cannot possibly live in the part of Racine I the Lake Michigan Pathway goes through. They told me this was a bad town. They weren’t really fishermen, I just found them drinking at a picnic table near a dock, on Lake Michigan. They kept offering me beers and hamburgers and telling me I needed to read Into The Wild. They kept arguing with each other. They were like little children, all fighting over the attention of one preschool teacher. But little kids are nice, and these men were very kind as well. They certainly meant the very best in everything they did and said to me.

They kept insisting I get this bike map from the library. One of them went with me to the library, he was a bit racist:

“You can’t leave your stuff on your bike while you go inside, the niggers will take it in a second. If you’re gonna be quick, in and out, I’ll watch it for you”

“Okay, but I’m still gonna lock my bike. I don’t know you either. Even though, I do want to trust people I just met like you, I just can’t” I replied.

And then he went off into a drunken diatribe about not trusting strangers, etc. Good advice, but I could tell he was bitter from something. He seemed like the type that once didn’t follow the advice he had just given me. He seemed the most sober out of the three “fishermen” (least drunk is probably a better way to put it, he was still tanked, but seemed to still have some coordination, enough to ride his rusty bike with me 100 yards to the library). And he gave me the best directions. His name is Ricky, he’s the scrawny one on the right in the picture.

The trail guide they all insisted I get was kind of cool, I guess. I had hoped there would be longer routes, but they’re all just 10 mile loop “tours.” I’m going to use part of one route when I get past Green Bay. That will be tomorrow, I hope.

According to the news it's going to rain tomorrow; tomorrow might be another motel night if its rainy. But tonight I’m staying at a campsite on Lake Winnebago.

Shit I’m getting ahead of myself again.

I stopped at a cool coffee shop outside of Racine. The place looked like a house. There wasn’t a parking lot—only a driveway—with a bike rack next to the wheelchair access ramp. I ordered a smoothie. I sat outside, in a garden, under a tree, and ate a cliff bar while enjoying my smoothie. A guy came over and started talking to me. He was with the group of four who seemed to be this place’s only customers besides me. At least I think he was with that group, he might have lived there, he just seemed so comfortable at that house/coffee shop. I guess the whole group could have lived there. Oh well, he was very friendly, and wanted to know where I was from, where I was going, et cetera. He also rides bikes, and his friend had just done a month long tour in Colorado.

Sounds awesome to me.

I pressed on. Those drunk guys took up a lot of my time. Oh well. I rode through Milwaukee, which seemed like a cool town. Maybe next time I should plan my stops better. I could’ve got some great food in Milwaukee and probably maybe a free place to stay with my friend Kyle’s friends, who are in a band that I let stay at my apartment one night last year.

But instead, I just rode through Milwaukee. I did get to enjoy their bike lanes. And I got lost, thus forcing me to see more of the city than I planned.

I stopped at a Caribou Coffee where a cute girl sold me an orange juice and an Odwalla “Green Machine” juice. Fort Washington is a lot like any other suburb in the world. I felt like I was in Naperville, or St. Charles, or Palatine, or Darien, or Downer’s Grove, but I wasn’t in any of those places. I was in some suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I wrote down the wrong name in my journal. I certainly didn’t stop at a Caribou Coffee in Fort Washington and sleep in Fort Washington, because I rode about 2 more hours after that orange juice and green juice break. Maybe it was Whitefish Bay, or Fox Point, who cares. The girl was pretty, had a cute, timid smile, and was very nice. Usually nice isn’t a very complimentary adjective for someone, in my opinion, but when they are a total stranger, it’s a huge compliment. Do I look intimidating in a cycling jersey and shorts? She seemed shy. Oh well, she filled both of my water bottles for me even though the water cooler was on my side of the counter.

And then I got to Fort Washington. This is a cool town with lots of restaurants that have a lot of meat, especially fish. I ate at Subway. I bought some hummus from a grocery store to “beef” up my sandwich.

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