In which Stephen paddles his canoe from Cheboygan to Alpena, traversing the northeast Michigan coastline. This is the period in which he begins to develop his antagonistic relationship with the type of fly we call the mosquito. He’ll be horrified tonight when I tell him that there are about 60 species of mosquitos in Michigan, and even though malaria has been eradicated in Michigan, mosquitos still infect animals with various diseases. Mr. Daniel Hager in the Mackinac Center for Public Policy quotes Alexis de Tocqueville on this topic from his writings of a visit to Michigan in July, 1831,
“ Tocqueville encountered Michigan mosquitoes in force between Pontiac and Saginaw on a barely perceptible trail through the nearly impenetrable forest, where they were so fierce he couldn’t even pause to write in his notebook. After a day of hunting near Saginaw, “surrounded by a cloud of these insects, against whom one had to make perpetual war,” he spent a night that was, in his words, “one of the most painful of my life.” He was overwhelmingly fatigued, but the buzzing and the biting kept him from sleeping.
Tocqueville later wrote that he had “never experienced a torment” like mosquitoes, which were “the scourge of the American solitudes.” He agreed with the surveyor’s assessment: “Their presence would suffice to render a long sojourn there insupportable.”
On the brighter side, Stephen is developing lightening fast reflexes and an acute sense of hearing for tiny whining sounds. As he was extolling the virtues of his tent last night, he said, “if this tent gets a hole in it, I’m a dead man.”