Sam’s summer tour, day 10: Ludington to Pipe (bonus S.S. Badger Ferry edition)

It was the longest day; it was the shortest day. 

Relax, I didn’t SWIM across Lake Michigan

Although today’s travels took me the most distance in one day thus far on my trip, 60 of those miles were spent sailing the high lakes aboard America’s largest coal-fired steam ship: the S.S. Badger. 

Yo ho ho and a bottle of electrolytes

The four hour voyage was simply delightful. After two straight days of perfectly lovely, but pretty much monotonous tree-lined roads, I was THRILLED to finally see Lake Michigan again. 

And HOW!

Exploring the historic vessel as we made our way across the inland freshwater ocean provided even more stimulation. Apparently the S.S. Badger has a special deal worked out with the E.P.A. So it can continue operating its historic coal-fired engine. As a retro-minded semi-hipster/rabid environmentalist, I have some deeply conflicting feelings about that particular piece of historic trivia. 

Not conflicted enough to prevent me from playing Titanic. I’m flying Jack!
Thankfully we did not need these.

Fortunately, a rousing game of Badger BINGO on the upper deck provided the perfect distraction from my moral quandary. 

Coal-schmoal. Gimme O-69!

Four hours after setting sail, we arrived at port in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. 

It’s good to be back!

After getting my land-legs back underneath me, it was time to put a little more distance down for the afternoon. 

As always, google does NOT account for headwinds.

Normally this would be my cue to start whining about slogging against a wind from the southeast for 43 miles, but today I’m singing a different tune. 

Not that the wind didn’t make for some SLOGGING.

Today I was THANKFUL for the wind. Thankful because I watched that wind blow two storm systems directly perpendicular to my path, and I managed to avoid all but the most gentle rain droplets. 

Trouble ahead.
Trouble behind.

I felt like the luckiest pedaling pilgrim on the planet. Somehow, through a magical combination of atmospheric forces, furious spinning, and a soupçon of seriously good mojo, I literally out-biked the weather! 

Singin’ in the rain, my aunt FANNY.

I arrived at my camp on the shores of Lake Winnebago exhilarated, exhausted, and, most importantly, DRY. 

Life is good!

The county park where I’m resting my weary bones this evening features an observation tower to catch views of calm Wisconsin waters. 

It’s even taller in person.

Naturally, I needed to see for myself what the top of the tower had to offer. 

What’s UP?

The view from the top was well-worth the climb. 

Lake Winnebago! She’s no Michigan, but she’s pretty spectacular!

I noticed a plaque on my way down from the tower. The mantra etched in the metal is my new motto for life, on AND off the bike.  


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