Words versus Pictures, More versus Less

Jeffrey here.  Recently we posted an assortment of photos not previously published, to give you a sense of the sights you are missing because we simply can’t share it all.  Tonight I’ll give you a slightly better look at some of the people of whom we ordinarily can show you only a glimpse.  But it means I must write at more length.  Like Pascal, I lack the time to make it short.

Every day I pedal for hours regardless of weather and terrain.  June sunsets on the Upper Peninsula at the western edge of the time zone are after 9:30 PM, which means we often ride until late.  Then I have to find food if I can, and write and illustrate the day’s events in a hurry.  Sometimes I don’t post until after midnight.  Speed means quality is compromised.  Some readers like photos, others prefer text.  Whether in Joey’s voice or my own, I try to strike the right balance.  I beg your indulgence.  My work is flawed.  It can only hint at the richness of the sights and conversations I experience on these Rides.  If it merely satisfices – satisfies and suffices – then I have done well.

We are in Escanaba, Michigan, on Lake Michigan.  Look carefully and you’ll see this evening’s double rainbow!


We started our day in Manistique, by yet another moose statue.  Warned that mosquitoes would attack me if I stop near woods – and woods are everywhere! – I tried to buy some insect repellent.  A clerk told me all stores in town were sold out!  Chuck, a natural gas worker, overheard and gave me a new can from his van.  “You’ll need it more than I will,” he said.  What a nice guy!  Not to repay him, but to make a gesture in return, I asked if he could use Candian money (yes, he goes fishing in Canada), and gave him what was left from our recent visit.  Chuck’s son Brandon, working with his dad for the summer, is studying psychology and intends to earn a master’s degree in social work.  He’s a kind soul like his father.


We passed the 1915 Manistique Lighthouse, a historic water tower and cabin, and typical lakeshore sandy terrain.


A bridge was under repair, so a local suggested I take a detour.  Somehow the GPS led me to a closed road.  “Closed for cars, maybe,” I said to myself, and figured the trike would get around the problem.  Nope!  There is no bridge over that stream.  It was too wide and deep to ford.  I turned around, waved down a car, asked directions, and added about 5 miles to the trip.  But I found U.S. 2 again.


Most of the road was through thick forest, like the past couple of days.  But we came to lush open fields too.


At a rest stop, the trike and I attracted a lot of attention from mosquitoes and travelers.  I dealt with the mosquitoes with a good dose of repellent (thank you, Chuck!).  That freed me to speak with the travelers, all of whom approached me as I cooled off in the shade.


Charlotte and Tom live in Wisconsin.  Tom is a pastor, and was chaplain at a South Dakota prison for 9 years.  Tom asked me what we mean by “human rights.”  I explained Human Rights First’s missions.  Like David, whom I met yesterday, Tom is deeply troubled by abortion.  As I did for David, I explained that American law protects women who seek to escape forced abortions, but those women still have to prove their claims, and Human Rights First stands for providing them with lawyers.  Tom also is concerned about the cruel illogic of American immigration law in other areas.  He has a friend who fled violence in Guatemala, has become highly educated and productive in the U.S., and is being returned to Guatemala by our government, where his friend may meet a violent death.  Tom is a people-person – a good thing for a pastor – and he doesn’t like cruelty.  I hope he joins with his fellow pastors to get our lawmakers to follow their consciences on the treatment of strangers.  Tom gave me a religious tract to read, which I have read as promised.  I am touched by his concern for me.


Wayne and Ina have been married more than 60 years, and still love to travel together.  They tried to retire but still work in the family timber business in Indiana.  They asked, and I told them, about Human Rights First.


Jocelyn works with the mentally disabled and volunteers on a Twin Cities human rights commission.  Randy is a long-distance truck driver.  They were headed by motorcycle to Mackinac Island.  They were very interested in the Ride.  Jocelyn and I agreed that an important part of the Ride is talking to ordinary people about immigration and asylum issues.  Lots of money and power are invested in maintaining the status quo.  But if enough ordinary people get disgusted enough with the patent inhumanity of leaving lawyerless asylum applicants to fend for themselves, things might change.  Jocelyn said her Human Rights Commission ought to consider a similar approach to getting support for its initiatives.


This evening I spoke with Ray, a veteran of the first Gulf War and a regular bicycle commuter, who works to maintain the physical side of a major company’s Internet system.  We met while we both were admiring the double rainbow.  Ray’s father immigrated legally from Mexico, and eventually lost his job to an unauthorized Mexican worker who would work for less.  Ray is sympathetic to refugees and to economic migrants too.  Yet Ray fears that even if unauthorized immigrants are authorized to work – so they safely can complain and so become harder to exploit – they will be desperate enough to undercut Ray and other American workers.  We agreed that it is difficult to balance these competing needs.


Not only immigrants and residents have competing needs.  I hope that tonight, I balanced the competing needs of readers who want words, who want pictures, who want more and who want less.  One can’t please everybody.  But I try!

And now, to sleep, perchance to dream.  For the blog doth murder sleep.

Joey will return tomorrow after another day on which we will keep Lake Michigan on our left.

4 thoughts on “Words versus Pictures, More versus Less

  1. There is a horse running today at the local track named LAKE MICHIGAN. What a hunch bet. It’s a joy reading about your adventure. Keep up the good work.

  2. Jeff, you find diverse yet like-minded people everywhere you go! It really seems that if we all pull together we can make real changes for human rights.
    P.S. To continue your research on Yooper culture after your trip, watch the hilarious movie Escanaba in da Moonlight! You’ll find pasties and all. 🙂

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