Michael's Excellent Adventure
Day 19, 7-6-2002
I woke up and was served fantastic strawberry waffles by a Wisconsin state representative. We got a somewhat late start, but knocked off the first 40 miles to Ripon very efficiently, following a mix of back roads and highways. After that first 40, though, the highways got pretty bad. Fortunately, we went entirely to back roads after Fond Du Lac, our bottleneck on the south shore of Lake Winnebago. In the parking lot of a supermarket with the most amazing bakery I have ever had the pleasure to scarf donuts from, I called the ferry service, and found that there was no room on the next afternoon's boat. That left as our only reasonable alternative a midnight trip on that night's voyage, getting into Luddington MI at 5 am, so I took it. That left us until 11 PM that night to reach Manitowoc, plenty of time, and we didn't need anything like all of it.
Climbing up away from Lake Winnebago put us in what I consider to be the quintessential Wisconsin farmland, neatly arrayed, with farmhouses, barns, and silos all close enough to neighbors to keep each other company, as opposed to the starkly oppressive wide open spaces of North Dakota. "Cozy" is a word that springs to mind. Reaching Lake Michigan was a decidedly un-dramatized affair. Coming over a crest, the road opened up below us, we crossed a major highway, and then there it was, a freshwater inland sea, placid and expansive, without even the telltale salt tang in the air to announce itself. We skirted its edge up to Manitowoc appropriately, yet another charming Wisconsin town finishing the day with 130 miles, and spent a good deal of time eating a very nice meal in the Courthouse Pub. Then we went down to the water to wait for our boat at the dock, where we met two incredibly annoying bike tourists, boding for a long night.