June 6, 2015 – Sunny, 70 degrees
Miles Today: 61
Total Miles: 1,857
Total States: 9
Today was the perfect day to cycle: seventy degrees and sunny with a light breeze that kept coming from different directions to cool and push me along. A day so good I slipped into Central Time and got an extra hour to enjoy it.
I dawdled around my hotel in the morning, enjoyed the complementary breakfast, and pedaled out just before ten. I spent most of yesterday and today on the Red Arrow Highway, an odd road in that it is a main thoroughfare, yet has no state number. It parallels I-94 from Kalamazoo to New Buffalo, sometimes as a narrow country road, sometimes as a four-lane highway. It also has these bizarre I-94 ‘Emergency ‘ signs posted all along the way. If there is an emergency on I-94, this byway isn’t going to offer much help. Regardless, Red Arrow Highway has little traffic, as I-94 is never more than a mile away.
Even on a cycle tour, the rhythm of weekends is different from weekdays. I don’t have appointments to meet with groups, but there are more people out and about for me to meet. I stopped at the intricate sand castle sculpture and wound up talking with Tim Ferrell, owner of Harbor Cabin Court about tomorrow. He is particularly interested our food system, and seemed disappointed that my on the road food regimen isn’t more discriminating.
I stopped by a small crafts fair with local honey and jams. I also learned that any road called ‘Lakeshore Drive’ would veer me off the highway, wind along wooded streets and Lakefront houses, and eventually bring me back to Red Arrow. Plenty of weekend cyclists filled the shoulder. Chris caught me just north of the Indiana line. We rode together for a few miles and swapped touring stories until he grew tired of my pace and sped off.
Long Beach and Sheridan IN are very nice beach towns; Michigan City is sleepy on a sunny Saturday afternoon. In Pines I met Zach, a convenience store cashier, who has the most radical view of tomorrow I’ve encountered to date. Sales tax rates and their application vary in every state, but I was surprised when he charged no tax on my purchase. Apparently it is his small way to subvert our monetary system, which he condemns as he collects cash from customers for gas and cigarettes.
Route 12 runs through Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for more than ten miles, though I only saw the water when I sidetracked to the main beach, which was crowded with sun worshippers on a clear day too cool for many swimmers. After a writing break, I made my way to the Miller’s Beach neighborhood of Gary, an eclectic, funky place where my warmshowers hosts Olivia and Ty made an awesome dinner of pizza, tortellini and Asian salad before heading out to view an art show in a converted grocery store, empty storefronts turned graffiti canvases, and enjoy fresh beer at the Eighteenth Street Brewery. Guys at the bar joked that Gary was the best city on earth. Maybe it’s seen better days, but I’ve been to worse places.