We left to the south and returned from the north. In doing so, we fulfilled the grandest dream of Magellan, the dream of circumnavigation. Our compass was GPS and our logic was simple. If we kept the lake always on our left and traveled continuously, we would eventually reach the place from which we started — Chicago, with its seismic chart of skyscrapers, protracted sunsets and canyon-like streets, closing the circle by visiting every beach and port on the greatest lake of all, Michigan.
I grew up in Glencoe, Ill., about a mile from the shore. To me, the lake was as mysterious as a biblical abyss. Had you asked, when I was 10, what was on the other side, I would have said Paris, or possibly China. When I was 12, my dream was to lace up my Bauer Supremes some winter day and skate clear to the distant shore.
Only later, when I learned that such an expedition would almost surely end in an excruciating death, was that dream supplanted by the more sensible notion of going all the way around and seeing from every side the great body of water that dominates the life of those who live within rock-skipping distance.