View from the Saddle

Fast enough to get places, but slow enough to see them–that’s what I enjoy so much about travel by bicycle. The saddle may not be comfortable, but the views provide the reward. Traveling over 800 miles in 11 days has heightened my geographical senses. Slowly peddling a great distance, one gets to play landscape detective: what’s changing and why?

 

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Guerrilla camping in the majestic white pine forests of northern Wisconsin

 

The northern hardwood forests began to become infiltrated by beech and maple, warmer clime species from more fertile soils found further south. Farm country spontaneously erupted from the sylvan wilderness. Along the lakeshore, farmland eventually gave way to industrial cities.

The landscape shifts imperceptibly, but gradually, determinants of the physical and cultural environment. Any given day I could find myself peddling down a rural country road or meandering on a dirt track through a mature forest.

 

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Traveling through a forested corridor along the Eagle River Trail in northern Wisconsin

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Following the route of the railroad on one of Wisconsin’s many rail-to-trail paths, the Glacial Drumlin State Trail linking Milwaukee to Madison

 

The weather changes also, with it bringing different moods to the landscape. Bright sunny days can make the terrain warm and inviting; cool, cloudy days present a somber melancholy air. Staying alert to the changing light environment rewards the onlooker with a multiplicity of panoramas, an ever-evolving sensory scene.

 

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A diversity of clouds fill the sky above Green Bay

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The rainbow after the storm: rural Wisconsin after a thunder shower passes

 

The culture shifts along with the landscape it inhabits. Forest land gives way to farm country. Tourist towns and sleepy hamlets lie tucked under the lakeside bluffs on the Door County Peninsula. Large industrial cities occupy important harbors on the Michigan lakeshore. Out in the hinterlands, a lone water tower on the horizon signals an approaching town.

 

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Riding the Mariners Trail into industrial Manitowoc, Wisconsin

 

Along the way I pass through areas of local history and interest. Where did the inhabitants of Oostburg come from? Why is there a village of Wales in the Wisconsin countryside? Roadside markers provide insight on the history of each small settlement. By car, it’s an inconvenience to stop and learn; by bike, it’s a welcome break from pedaling. Roadside harvest stalls showcase the seasonal agriculture and nourish the famished biker. A destination of interest, no matter how modest, is worth stopping along the way.

 

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The spiral staircase leading up the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County

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View from the top: Potawatomi State Park’s 75-foot tall observation tower

 

Beautiful nature abounds if you go out and seek it. Along the tracks and trails, nature displays her splendor. These places call out, beckon you to come close and linger.

 

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Dolomitic Limestone formations at Cave Point County Park, Door County

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Stopping for a swim break along a sandy Lake Michigan beach–Point Park State Forest

 

The long journey is never about reaching the destination; it is about the process of discovery along the way.

 

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Posted on September 15, 2016, in Bicycle, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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