The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Monday, September 1, 2014

Increasing amount of Tar Sands oil coming into Great Lakes

I live in Battle Creek, Michigan, just a few miles downstream from the largest (~1 million gallons) tar sands oil disaster ever spilled on American soil.

Enbridge Energy was responsible for this spill in 2011, and they have been cleaning it up for the past four years. They tried to walk away from the job claiming it was complete last year, but the EPA called them back to continue efforts to remove the heavy oil sludge that had settled to the river bottom.

Info about this spill and clean-up here.

Enbridge has just received approval to almost double the amount of tar sands oil flowing through their pipeline that terminates in Superior, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior.

Info on this approval and how it was obtained is here.

A larger problem with the mining and transport of this oil product -- beyond the fact that is much more difficult and detrimental to our environment to refine than oil from other sources -- is that Canada is allowing the destruction of their boreal forests 
to reach these oil sands.

The boreal forests are one of the largest natural carbon dioxide "sinks" in the world. These temperate forests constantly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen.

For more info on this, watch this TED Talk here

I fear that we will reach a point where the cascade of environmental destruction will be irreversible. Where the change in our atmosphere will reach a tipping point and all of our efforts to backpedal will be pointless.

This latest move by the State Department to approve this increase in flow of tar sands oil into the Great Lakes is a bad decision even if there is never a spill into the Great Lakes.

If there is a large spill, 
then the decision may well be catastrophic.

It is one thing to clean up a river (it takes years and costs about a billion dollars -- details here), but how would one restore the Great Lakes once a million gallons of tar sands oil -- or more --  corrupts the largest fresh water system in the world?


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Misery Bay

I hiked the trails in 
on Manitoulin Island.

This park has some of the best examples of alvar habitat, these large, exposed areas of limestone.

Some still bear the scrape marks from the glaciers.




The horizontal lines are glacial scrapes


This is a rare "puddingstone" among all the limestone


The limestone along the shore has been shaped by Lake Huron


Many fossilized corals are exposed in the limestone


Here's a large chain coral


Limestone flats = Alvar 






Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back in the Day: A Manitoulin Island Game

While on Manitoulin Island, I met 
Marion Seabrook. She was born on the island (actually on an island in a lake on Manitoulin Island).

Marion's love of Manitoulin Island runs so deep that she teamed up with a local artist, Richard Edwards, to create a game, 
Back in the Day
based on the island and the rich history there.


Marion Seabrook explains the game to me at her home

Currency of the game, the Canadian "shin plaster" (because soldiers used to put them in their boots to keep the buckle from rubbing on their shins)

The game covers the history of the island in the late 1800s


Historic photos are an integral part of the game


When I got home, I played the game with my son, Lucas, and my nephews, Nathan and Seth.

Lucas locates the historic photo that correlates with the spot he landed on

These guys are serious gamers and they loved Back in the Day! 
 Nathan said, "Great game, and you learn things while you play." 
Lucas said, "This game is really fun."

Nathan (left) reads question to Seth (right)


The game board in play

Currently, the game is only sold on Manitoulin Island. You can find it at Jack's Farm Museum in Mindemoya (where Marion lives) or in Kagawong at Edwards Gallery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meldrum Bay Inn & Restaurant


You have to plan to go there...
it's at the far western end of Manitoulin Island.

But Meldrum Bay is worth the planning,
and you must stay at the historic 
Meldrum Bay Inn while you are there.

Built in 1878, the inn looks over the bay


Comfortable rooms...


...parlor...


...and dining room.

 The restaurant at the inn is open for lunch and dinner, so even if you are just in the area for the day, stop in for a fantastic meal.


A breakfast that will keep you fueled until dinner!


Many hummingbirds will visit while you eat on the covered porch.


Shirin is the heart and soul of the Meldrum Inn & Restaurant

The inn is family-owned and run. Shirin is a most gracious hostess. Her husband, Bob, is the chef behind the excellent food. Their daughter, Elena, owns the nearby country store and she also helps in the restaurant in the evenings.

There are hiking trails and the oldest lighthouse on Manitoulin Island nearby (and so much more).
To learn more about the Meldrum Bay Inn & Restaurant, click HERE.

Promotional consideration given.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cup and Saucer Trail


One of the most famous trails in Ontario is on Manitoulin Island.
It's called the Cup and Saucer Trail and the highest point on the island is on it. 





The views are awesome.



The trail follows the spine of the Niagara Escarpment, and this dolomitic stone is exposed in places.



I hiked this trail twice while on the island.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Woods and Waves B&B

While on Manitoulin Island, I stayed a few nights at Woods and Waves,
a B&B on the North Channel in 
the town of Little Current. 



This unique B&B has two bedrooms with a common area including a full kitchen (where you make your own breakfast from stocked fridge). This is a great set-up for families or even two couples traveling together.

Full kitchen/dining area/living room

Bedroom with windows facing the water



Second bedroom


Great wood burning stove

The property is right on the water and I fell asleep every night listening to the waves.

Sauna!

 And if you're here in cooler months, you can book some time in their sauna.

Magnificent sunset on property every night



Promotional consideration given

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Belle Isle

Belle Isle (located in the Detroit River near the city of Detroit) is the latest island I explored for my current Great Lakes Island Adventure.



My cousin, Milene (center) and sister Leslie (right) joined me for this hike


Statue of James Scott, real estate speculator

 The gorgeous Scott Fountain has been recently restored and now flows on the weekends in the summer months.

The James Scott Fountain


 Belle Isle has a rich history that I am researching for my Great Lakes ISLAND book.


The view from Belle Isle downriver


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

National Lighthouse Day


August 7 is National Lighthouse Day.

This day honors these beacons that have lit the way for so many vessels on the waters around and within the United States.

Here are just a few of the many lights I have passed on my 1000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures:



The Marblehead Lighthouse in Ohio was built in 1821


The Au Sable Lighthouse in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


Tawas Point Lighthouse


St. Joseph lighthouse


Grand Traverse Lighthouse

In early August, I went on a lighthouse tour in northern Lake Huron and saw these gems:


Cheboygan Crib Light


Fourteen Foot Shoal Light


Bois Blanc Island Light


Poe Reef Light



For more information on National Lighthouse Day, click HERE.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fellow Adventurers Visit


Fellow adventurers, 
Mary Catterlin and Amy Lukas
came to visit me to interview me for the documentary they are putting together about their Great Lake adventure. 
In 2012, they rowed and sailed a dugout canoe -- that they made -- all the way around Lake Michigan.


Mary Catterlin (L) and Amy Lukas (R) set up cameras for the interview

They had time to check out my Advanced Elements kayak. I was a little nervous about my little boat passing the test of having these two boating women try it out...


Mary takes the kayak out for a spin


Amy takes a turn at the paddle

...but they both liked it! Since the floor of this kayak is essentially an air mattress, they were quite impressed with the comfort factor.

I'll keep you all posted about opportunities to see their documentary when it is screening in the region. 
Find their FB page HERE.

Time enough for dinner, too!