5.20.2011

Portage


   So from the comforts of Wisconsin I went east, through the small waterfront towns until meeting the mass of Lake Michigan. In Manitowoc I loaded the bike into the belly of an old steam ship, the S.S. Badger. I rode up the long auto ramp and lashed the bike to the steel grate along the floor. The insides of the ship were dark and noisy, and the heat of the engine drew beads of sweat from my forehead as I worked to secure the Honda.

   Higher up on the main deck a swift breeze cooled things down and I searched for birds as we pulled out of harbor. Only a few loons bobbed in the water, but I earned a few moments of amusement spying on the odd assortment of passengers on board. I made three circuits around the ship, doing my best to avoid conversation with a verbose motorcyclist I'd met while tying in below.

   The ride across Michigan was four hours, and I was feel a bit stifled by the crowds, so I went looking for a quiet corner to repose. I discovered a small crewman's ladder to the uppermost deck. There was a small chain and some warning signs, but I feigned ignorance and climbed up quickly.

   The top was beautiful and completely empty. From the safety of a small alcove behind the bridge I was totally secluded, out of view from everyone, and with everyone out of view from me. It felt suddenly like I was the only one aboard. I took off my boots and sprawled out on my back, lazily reading the last few pages of The Merchant of Venice before falling into a warm sleep.

   Soon I was across, and back in the saddle. The day was fading but I didn't have far to go. Juniper was near, on her way from Canada, where her patience had burst and sent her driving southwest to meet me. I took the road north from Ludington, admiring the red setting sky. The smell of summer was all over the countryside, and I knew that I was on my way towards something good.

S.S. Badger

Those bicycles look scared, no?

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