Tour du Lac

Two days after starting our summer vacation, Robyn, Zoë and I headed out on our summer long bicycle tour around Lake Michigan. We returned 50 days and 2400kms (1500mi) later . It was a fantastic summer and a great contrast to our year in Delhi - lots of camping and remote areas.

We were far from sure we'd complete a loop around the lake and tentatively planned to take a ferry back once we got half way around. However, our daily range increased as we got into better shape and Zoë got used to the routine. We started off doing 40-50kms a day and finished the last week doing 90-100kms each day.

Zoë was an abolute champ! We couldn't imagine that she would be so adaptable. She almost never complained, despite some days of almost 10 hours in the Chariot (her child carrier). She mostly slept, but generally sang when she was awake! She sometimes goaded me on hills, "Go faster!" We tried to stop every hour for at least 10 minutes and we stopped at playgrounds a lot. Of course she loved camping and also the periodic hotels, where there was sometimes a pool and other great novelties, like ice machines! A few weeks into the trip we traded out Zoë's books and she chose a couple of new ones herself, "Froggy Learns to Ride a Bike" (cute) and "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation!" (was she trying to tell me something?)

The route was mostly flattish, though the northern part of Lower Michigan was a significant exception. We got very lucky with the weather, with few mosquitos and only a couple of rainy days. Our favorite part of the trip was the people - we met so many friendly people. It was also very fun to see a few friends and family in Door County.

I loved the contrasts we found along the lake. Big cities, small towns and long sections of National Forest. Three days of urban riding around Chicago and Gary, Indiana was quite a contrast from the rest of the trip. We could never have managed it without 5 weeks touring under our belt.

We had some cold weather! Two seperate weeks featured temperatures in the 50s, with a few days of 95+ in between! When it was cold, we had to put on everything we brought with us!
Teaching Zoë to skip stones in Door County, where my parents visited us for a couple days.
One of our favorite stops was 2 days on the small state park island of Rock Island off the very tip of Door County. We liked it so much we decided to stay for an extra day. Since there was no food on the island, we had to eat what we had - a day of peanut butter and jelly crackers! We used the entire second day to hike the perimeter of the beautiful island.
Chris, Lisa, Kim and Rebecca visited us in Door County for a couple of days, where we spent a day wine tasting. It was fun to see friends!
Robyn was slightly traumatized by our hotel in downtown Green Bay, which featured bullet proof glass and sketcy tenants. I just thought of it as a Bed and Breakfast without the breakast and with a theme of "Crack House." We slept with a chair propped up against the hotel door.
We get our first look at my newborn nephew, Kiran. We were excited to get the news! Our iTouch has been amazingly convenient for keeping in touch, WiFi is so easy to find these days.
A great trail near Petoskey, Michigan.
We mostly ate out of restaurants, though Zoë loved this one night that we cooked hot dogs and s'mores on the campfire.
Indiana was mostly an urban hell hole, though it was also a bizarre mix of the urban and wild. We biked through Indiana National Dunes, where we saw this deer.
Biking through Indiana. I wish I had gotten some pictures of the burnt out buildings, broken roads and urban blight of Gary, Indian -, but I was too scared to stop!
Robyn bikes on a bike lane in Chicago with the Sears Tower in the background. We were extremely impressed with how bicycle friendly Chicago was and resolved to live some day in a city as bike friendly.
On one of our last days, we biked two hours more than usual to get to a KOA campground I found on the Internet. When we finally got our sore bums there, we found 'KOA Orthopedics'!
I loved Zoë's creativity. Here she is playing 'Dr Ruchika' (our school doctor!), with her "Doctor's things", which are mostly bits of plastic she collected along the way. Water bottle caps, for example, serve as band aids.


We mostly cycled on roads, but loved to use rail to trails whenever they were available.
Road construction interrupted our route near Fond du Lac, but a sympathetic farmer suggested a route around the construction through his fields.
Since there were no bears around, we thought it would be ok to leave food in our child carrier over night... but 3 pesky raccoons had dinner by tearing through the side of the carrier. I had to get out of the tent at 1am and face off with them - they were completely unfazed by my presence. It took a couple hours for them to finally leave.
There was beautiful shoreline the entire route. Rocky on the Wisconsin side and beaches on the MIchigan side.
The ferry to Washington Island.
Zoë looked homeless! We only had a few clothes for her, which were always dirty and baths were often in Lake Michigan!
Mosquito slaughter in our tent! Other than a couple of nights, we had surprisingly few mosquitoes, a lot less than last year.
We had some beautiful camp sites, this one in Upper Peninsula Michigan. The most remote ones were often the best.
Biking the shoreline of Upper Peninsula Michigan. Most of our week in UP was spent biking through dense remote forests, until we got to this coast line near the eastern side.
Hitting 1500km around Muskegon, Michigan.
We tried to take Zoë to playgrounds a couple of times a day. Our favorites were the ones on the beach - light houses were sometimes a bonus!
Our diet hit a new low at the Indiana Dunes where we had Fosters and Hagen Daaz for dinner!
We had a fantastic time on our rest day in Chicago! We were very impressed with the city. This picture is outside the Aquarium where I paid $50 for Zoë to view sharks, whales, sea turtles and a reef - she was mostly impressed with the miniature water fountain for kids!
Zoë helps me plan the next days route.
Since I wore my stinky bike shirt each day, it got so smelly it STILL smelled even when it had been freshly laundered!
2400kms and 50 days later, my father welcomed us home with two cherry wheat beers - perfect!
page created on July 22, 2009