The Wastelands

written in Manistique, MI by Chalk

July 20th:  from Indian River, we were only about 33 miles away from Mackinaw City (the “Tip of the Mitt”, where Line 5 crosses the Straits of Mackinac coming from the Upper Peninsula).  Normally that would be less than a day’s travel, but because we weren’t sure enough what the roads would be like, in particular whether more sandy roads would reduce our pace to a crawl, it seemed like a formidable distance.  As it turned out, most of the rest of the roads were well paved, and the next few days were much more manageable.

There are a lot of homes along Line 5 near Indian River.
There are a lot of homes along Line 5 near Indian River.

After spending the rest of that Wednesday catching up with logistics, most of us canvassed homes just west of I-75 and just north of where Line 5 reaches and passes through the Calvin Campbell Municipal Airport, the first of 4 airports the pipeline crosses on its way to Sarnia, Ontario.  From what we’ve seen/analyzed so far, it seems that this cluster of ~30 homes/buildings may be the densest in terms of people living by Line 5.  It’s also particularly vulnerable because of a waterway that feeds into Indian River that seems to run right along the path of Line 5.

On Friday night we stayed over at the home of a supportive connection near Levering.  She had an adorably small yet quaint and unique home which was well-decorated on the inside.  She spoke of a transformative spiritual journey she undertook involving walking for hundreds of miles, and remarked that she saw Bike the Line in a similar light.  It was humbling to hear someone speak of Bike the Line as more than just an activisty mission, as being more of a spiritual journey.

The very next day, we got to the Straits of Mackinac.  I’ve been there before, had the pleasure of seeing a massive body of water that I was actually able to drink from (which was a huge deal for me because I grew up near the undrinkable saltwaters of an Atlantic coast).  But to see my four other teammates reach the Straits and get to experience its beauty for the first time was itself exceptional, and brought new feelings.  I was thus compelled, on arriving at the Straits, to pass hugs around to every one of them and say “congratulations”.

About 12 miles from the Straits of Mackinac, the team views the Mackinac Bridge for the first time (barely visible here).
About 12 miles from the Straits of Mackinac, the team views the Mackinac Bridge for the first time (barely visible in the photograph).

I also said this knowing that three of the five teammates were stopping there, would not continue with us much further in our canvassing expedition (though one of them, Fred, later changed their mind and continued on with us for another week to Manistique).  It definitely changed the team dynamic to lose 2-3 vibrant personalities, interesting folks who brought and took back with them their backgrounds, skills and lived experiences.  I say this in Manistique having just said goodbye to Fred:  the team’s now down to two, Iona and myself, as we were when we began in Marysville.


A few hours after reaching the Straits that Saturday, we were gifted with the presence of yet more folks on a clearly spiritual journey.  A traveling opera theatre group known as Children of the Wild (COW) had been making its way west from Massachusetts to Minnesota, passing through the Great Lakes in the process.  Little clue had most of us Bike the Line folks that COW arranged to be at the Straits of Mackinac when we got there.  They arranged, prepared for and performed the Wastelands, what was easily one of the most well-done and meaningful performances I’ve seen in years.  What especially struck me was how amazingly thought-provoking it was… it wasn’t theatre merely for entertainment’s sake, but it seemed as though the performers were aspiring that their audiences would think hard about their ways and the ways of society, and act on what they learn in meaningful and socially transformative ways.  I was also very impressed by how well integrated the performance was to the space it was held at.  (Which, by the way, just so happened to be a mere block away from and in clear viewing distance of Enbridge’s brand-spanking-new Mackinac pump station.)  In fact, the Wastelands, as performed at the Straits, actually ended on Lake Michigan.  Literally.

The Wastelands, performance by Children of the Wild
                  The Wastelands, performance by Children of the Wild

Special thanks to them and supporting organization Great Lakes Commons for making all this happen!  And by the way, friends in Detroit should definitely attend their performance this Saturday at the upcoming Sidewalk Festival.  🙂


There’s more to this trip than any of us can ever write about.  But to briefly touch upon a few other things, we had a community bike ride the following day, then Children of the Wild and Great Lakes Commons facilitated a conversation about how groups can support one-another in protecting the Great Lakes and planet at large, and soon after most everyone left the site (which again, was right next to the newly-renovated Enbridge pump station which Raven Security was guarding), a Raven security person stopped me while I was biking off to converse with me about stuff.  I wasn’t sure where he was going with it since I wasn’t doing anything at all, but he was sure to tell me he recognized me from previous Enbridge events, and that he himself cared about the Great Lakes, was glad for protestors because they gave him business and that despite his work, he wanted the pipeline shut down too! Lol…

2 thoughts on “The Wastelands

  1. Found one of your flyers on a neighbor’s property gate August, 2 Tuesday while hiking with my Mini-Schnauzers. This was on 2231 Forrest Hwy Rapid River.

    1. That’s great! We hope you find the flyer informative and useful. Feel free to email us at to discuss more, including how to get involved in this fight!

      By the way, the State of Michigan just 2 days ago sent Enbridge a letter putting them on notice that Line 5 is being operated in violation of its 1953 “Easement” contract with the State of Michigan!

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