We were destined to spend the day surrounded by water. The first variety came out of the sky. The weather forecast made it abundantly clear that we were going to encounter rain this morning. And it wasn't wrong. Although the skies were dry when we left, it soon began to drizzle. Rain was not far behind and continued off and on for the duration of our ride. But still, it could have been worse. The temperatures were mild enough that we didn't get cold, and the wind was light.
Our early departure worked to our advantage. By the time we arrived in Manitowoc, the rain was tapering and a strong NW wind had picked up. We both agreed that we were better off getting wet than battling that headwind. And we were glad that we had pressed onward yesterday leaving only a show trial 23 mile ride today.
Walking around the harbor in Manitowoc was pleasant and offered plenty of sights. We were fascinated by the “fishing kayaks” we saw. Powered by foot pedals and very stable, they gently maneuvered around the harbor. We even saw one such fisherman land an active, jumping fish. The Farmers Market provided a colorful contrast to the dreary day. And we were able to see the USS Cobia up close by the Maritime Museum. It is one of 28 subs built in Manitowoc that saw action in WWII. We completed our walking tour at Manitowoc Coffee, where we gradually began drying out.
The afternoon brought our second water immersion experience. In this case, we boarded The Badger and spent four hours in the midst of Lake Michgan, crossing from Wisconsin to the Michigan side. The Badger was built in 1952 to carry rail cars across the lake, which it did until 1990. Just two years later, it began its new life as a car ferry. The thick black smoke that belched from its smoke stack nearly became its downfall when new EPA regulations were enacted. However, installing an ash retention system on its coal-fired steam engines kept the ferry in business. Just this year it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, and continues to make four crossings daily in the non-winter months.
Not long after departing from Manitowoc, the skis cleared and the day became hot and sunny. We spent most of the voyage out on deck where our clothes dried quickly in the sun. I reclined in a deck chair with my book for the afternoon. And I considered it a personal victory to be able to tolerate the waves that rocked the boat from side to side.
As the day ended, we were drawn back to the water one more time. Now in Michigan, our coastline faced west. Walking back to our motel after dinner, the sky was filled with fantastic cloud formations, highlighted by the last light of the day. And there at the horizon was the sun's finale, glowing red between lake and clouds.
From the early raindrops to the sun's retreat, it dominated our day. Water, water everywhere.