The wind picked up considerably as we approached the shore of Milwaukee. In fact, I started gripping my helmet to my chest in an effort to create some sort of warmth as the air pierced through my riding clothes.
On the bow of the ship, a young family clambered up to the railing and the kids squealed as the shore grew near.
The proud father picked up their toddler and held him up into the air his left hand resting just under his belly and his right sandwiched against his bum.
For a fleeting moment I feared the wind would catch him and send him flying through the air, but from below the captain sounded the horn and it sent them scattering away from the railing so all was good again.
The ferry slid into port and I clambered down to the lower deck to collect my bicycle. She seemed to have suffered no sea sickness and even made a friend in the form of a ladies steel framed cruiser.
As the four of us waited our turn to exit the belly of the ship, we discussed our travels. The lady and her cruiser were headed towards Osh Kosh to visit family and I towards Chicago.
When I told her my route, she chuckled and said I wouldn't be seeing the greenery of Michigan over here as it would be cityscape all along the shore.
That bummed me out considerably, but I figured she just misunderstood my route. Wisconsin is green and full of cheese...right?
Finally, feet and wheels on Wisconsin soil, I began my final quest towards Schaumburg. There were 82 miles between the hotel and I and not a lot of daylight to burn.
And as my route began to unfold, I realized the nice lady had been right.
There was a lot of flat, dusty blah and some dry meh and then some more dusty blah as I flew along the county bike paths heading south.
I could not see the lake or any real shrubbery.
As the miles progressed, I started feeling a bit wary as I passed through certain sections. It was a little sketchy and I kind of wanted to take my whistle out.
However, getting to my whistle meant stopping and I really didn't want to stop and stand around. So I kept pedaling with all of my might.
About this time, I felt a little forlorn and lonely and decided to bust into the Katy Perry playlist I had downloaded for free from Google Play Store.
There's just something about bubble gum pop that makes something sketchy appear comical. Add in a little disorientation from lack of proper hydration and you create the hybrid monster that I morphed into as the miles flew past.
Then, somewhere between "Fireworks" and "Double Rainbow", I ran out of water and my panic started clawing it's way back in.
There hadn't been a water fountain along any of the county pathways and I still had a good forty miles ahead.
I started bobble necking at each crossroads, looking for a gas station or convenience store, but there was little in way of convenience decorating those streets.
From out of nowhere...
A gorgeous dog park appeared on my right just off the path, complete with a fully functioning water fountain!!!
So happy was I!
I pulled over and quickly filled my bottle (from the people fountain, not the puppy fountain (the puppy fountain totally had a "scent")).
Elated by my sheer luck I bounced back into my "Katy Coma" and worked it into a new gear all the way to the Illinois border.
Where suprisingly, things shifted into an "everything is green & pretty" environment. My spirits were lifted and I began to enjoy the route again as I zig and zagged from subdivision to subdivision, side street to main road.
There were even some road cyclists out and I waved at them like they were long lost compadres.
They just nodded politely or ignored me, which I didn't take personally, I knew I was just really excited to see someone else in bike apparel!
And as the sun began to plummet towards the horizon, I found that I was just a mile away from the Renaissance Schaumburg.
I had made it! I was at my destination and it felt amazing!
As I rolled up to the driveway, I jumped off of my bike and gave an internal fist pump into the air. This had truly been an adventure and I was deeply satisfied with all that I saw and encountered.
It would take a few days to be able to come off of my "natural" high of arriving in Schaumburg. Which worked out perfectly because by the time I came down from my high it was time to ride into downtown Chicago to catch the train.
And then I was elated all over again as I rode in the "real" bike lanes and visited all the picture perfect landmarks that make up the downtown area.
In truth, on my way back on the train, it felt like it had been weeks ago that I departed on my trip. Each segment had so much to offer that it had made the entire adventure seem so enriched.