The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Keynote Speaker

I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting for the Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire, Michigan.

This conservation area protects almost 1,500 acres along the beautiful Grass River, the waterway connecting Clam Lake to Lake Bellaire 
(see the previous blog post for a look at this important preserve).
The meeting was held at Shanty Creek. 

Shanty Creek overlooking Lake Bellaire

Executive Director, Haley Breniser, introduces me

Over 100 people attended this dinner meeting

I enjoy speaking to crowds of any size to share my love of our Great Lakes. I have travelled to eight states for speaking engagements and am currently booking events for 2016.

[contact me at to inquire about your events]

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grass River Natural Area

While up north last week, I toured the 
Grass River Natural Area 
near Bellaire, Michigan.

Grass River connects Clam Lake to Lake Bellaire in the chain of lakes that also includes Torch  and Elk Lakes. 

This conservation area has a nature center with many exhibits about the area:

Display of bird nests

Display of SKULLS!

Microscopes to examine specimens up close

 Grass River Natural Area protects almost 1,500 acres. 80% of that is wetland habitat (mostly cedar swamp). 250 acres are upland forest with pine, maple, elm, spruce and fir.
I hiked the boardwalk and trails there with Haley Breniser, the Executive Director of the center.

Haley Breniser, executive director, on the boardwalk

We walked half of the 7 miles of trails through the preserve.

Wood frog on the boardwalk


A family enjoys the area by racing leaves on the river


 Grass River Natural Area protects a vital part of the Great Lakes watershed. These wetlands are vital to cleansing water as it moves through the chain of lakes. 
The center here offers events, classes, and even summer camp opportunities. 
Learn more HERE.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Van Buren Reads!

A county in Michigan has chosen my first book, 
A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach
as their "One County, One Book" selection!

I'm honored! 
This is the second time a county has chosen one of my books to read together.

To cap off this community read, I will give my Lake Michigan presentation at the Lawrence Conference Center [located at 490 South Paw Paw Street in Lawrence, Michigan] at 7pm on Tuesday, October 6.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tales from the Book Tour

August has been a fun month on my book tour.
I met with a book club in Dowagiac, Michigan at this historic church:

Sacred Heart of Mary historical church

Then I gave my Great Lakes Walk presentation at the library in Fowlerville, Michigan.

The library had a "LittleFreeLibrary" outside!

The "turn off your cell phone" moment

I am now booking speaking engagements for 
I give dynamic presentations of each of my three Great Lakes Adventures
[Lake Michigan, all five Great Lakes, and the Islands of the Great Lakes].
Many venues have booked me for return engagements to give another talk.

Email me at to inquire about me speaking to your group or in your community.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Book Tour UP NORTH

One of my favorite corners of Michigan is the area around Traverse City. You'll find the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore nearby along with picturesque lake towns like Northport, Glen Arbor, Empire, Leland, and Petoskey.

Petoskey (home of McLean & Eakin Booksellers)

How lovely, then, to combine and family reunion with my book tour here in late July.

My niece and nephew (Alison and Julian) on the Empire Bluff Trail

Speaking engagement in Alden

Book signing at Horizon Books in Traverse City

Some serious gaming at the lake house

Great indie bookstore in Northport

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Stateside" with Cynthia Canty

I've been on "Stateside" several times, interviewed by Cynthia Canty. 

It's always an incisive and enjoyable conversation.

This time, I remembered to get a photo at the studio:

In studio with the host of "Stateside"

A big thank you to Cynthia and her staff at 
Michigan Radio!
Stream the interview HERE.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Detroit Area Book Tour

I headed to the east side of Michigan for 7 events in mid-July.

My first talk was to the Rotarians who meet at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Just prior to this meeting, I was interviewed by Ted Everingham for his cable show "Great Lakes Log."

War Memorial building

Interview with Ted Everingham for Great Lakes Log

President of the Rotary Club

Library in the War Memorial

I traveled all over the metro Detroit area. Libraries and a new indie bookstore -- Pages Bookshop in Detroit -- hosted me for the remainder of my events.

Warren Library 

Salem-South Lyon Library

Romeo Library

Plymouth District Library

Pages Bookshop

Events pamphlet for the Ann Arbor District Library featured ME on the cover!

The Detroit Free Press listed these events as one of the "Best of the Best" things to do in the Detroit area during this week!

I am beginning to book events for 2016, so if you have a library, group or club looking for a speaker, please contact me at:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tannery Bay

Tanneries (places that cure hides into useable leather) use a lot of water in the tanning process, so historically they have been located near bodies of water. 

There was once a tannery on the shores of White Lake in NW Michigan (the towns of Whitehall and Montague are on the shores of this inland lake).

A developer has been trying to build condos on the old tannery site for years. It took time to do the clean-up on the site, then it took time to get the money together to fund the project.
He named the development "Tannery Bay."

Discarded signs for the development 

 Some of the machinery from the tannery still sits on the shoreline here:

Huge tumbling drums where the hides were mixed with chemicals

Told you they were huge...

 Some of the details of the tumbling drums: 

Inside one of the tannery drums (through a spider web)

Equipment from the tannery

 Discarded bricks

Discarded equipment

 Tanneries were responsible for a lot of chemical pollution both in small lakes like White Lake, and also in the Great Lakes (White Lake drains directly into Lake Michigan).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Restoration of White River in NW Michigan

After my presentation in Montague, Michigan the library had arranged for an interpretive walk along the White River.

The White River as it approaches White Lake

Jeff Auch (former executive director of the Muskegon Conservation District) led the walk. Funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) helped restore wetlands, exhume materials from the historic city dump, and plant native plants in the area. 

Jeff Auch stands on clear evidence of the lumber industry in Montague

Jeff points out where the old city dump used to be

Wetlands are a natural cleaning area for our waters and are vital for maintaining the health of the Great Lakes. White River flows into White Lake which flows directly into Lake Michigan.

Japanese Knotweed is an aggressive invasive plant found near these wetlands

As it matures, the stems resemble bamboo