The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunset from Leland

Here is another clip of a sunset, this time from the beach at the city of Leland. From this vantage point, the sun sets between Pyramid Point and the Manitou Islands.

This area is probably my favorite stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. The Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore is along here and the stunning Leelanau Peninsula. The land here shows the obvious shaping of the glaciers that pushed through this area, then receded several times over 10,000 years ago.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lake Michigan Sunset

While up at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, I was treated to some spectacular Lake Michigan sunsets. I filmed this one across Cathead Bay, just southwest of the lighthouse.


**For a real master photographer's eye on this gorgeous area, check out Ken Scott's work**

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Mystery of the Grooved Rocks

While volunteering up at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, I took some time to walk the shoreline. The director of the lighthouse pointed out an unusual stone in the shallow water near the lighthouse. This tan colored stone (first photo) had been worked at one end to form a groove. The story behind a rock like this was that the Native Americans would groove rocks along the shoreline where they wanted to tie up their canoes. This rock would probably been stood on end so that the groove would be on top, ready for a rope to be looped around it.

I hiked the 5 miles from the lighthouse to the other end of Cat Head Bay, and on that point found this second rock. It also looks like it has had grooves worked into it, and it was near the point which would have been a land feature easily recognized from the lake.

This second rock was quite large. My boot is in the shot to give a sense of its scale.

On the hike back from the point, I was treated to this fireball sunset.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are You the First?

I was often asked as I walked around Lake Michigan if I was the first to do this. I had heard of many people biking around the lake and had read several books have been written by people who have driven around all five Great Lakes. It was back in February, though, when I heard a rumor about a woman who had walked around Lake Michigan, and possibly all five of the Great Lakes. And I finally had some time to track down the woman behind the story.

She is Josephine Mandamin, a member of the Anishinabe tribe in Canada and she did, indeed, organize and participate in a Water Walk, taking on one Great Lake a year between 2003 and 2008. This epic undertaking was prompted by a prophesy from a tribal elder that the waters of the Great Lakes would die within 30 years if action wasn't taken on their behalf. Mandamin's action was to raise awareness about the problems facing the lakes by walking around each one. She was joined each year by a small group from her tribe on her walks. They walked mostly on main roads so that they would pass through communities where Mandamin could share her message that "the water is sick...and people need to really fight for that water, to speak for that water, to love that water."

While I walked mostly alone and mainly on the shoreline, I hope that our paths overlapped at some point. It would be my honor to have followed in this amazing woman's footsteps, and I share her concern and love for Lake Michigan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Lake Gives Apples

On my way back home from the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, I stopped in at an apple orchard. Christmas Cove Farm grows over 240 varieties of apples on their land near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.

There is rich history with many of the varieties grown there. The Zabergau was grown as far back as the 1700s in Germany. Snow has its roots in France even further back into the 1600s.

was a variety spread through this country by none other than Johnny Appleseed.

And Thomas Jefferson cultivated the Spitzenburg variety at Monticello.

Michigan -- especially the west side of the state -- is known for its rich agricultural tradition. This bountiful harvest is linked directly to Lake Michigan. It is the deep, fresh water of the lake that mediates the weather for this growing zone, and the glaciers that formed the lake also shaped the land for agriculture.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Independent Bookstores Near the Lighthouse

I had the opportunity to visit two independent bookstores during the week I was volunteering at the lighthouse. Brilliant Books, in Suttons Bay, was a store that I had stopped in while on the Lake Trek. This time, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Peter Makin. We had a nice chat about his store and independent bookstores in general.

Brilliant Books was running a book fair while I was there. A percentage of the proceeds were going to local schools. At a time when Michigan's economy is struggling and school budgets are being slashed to the bone (and beyond), it was encouraging to know that Brilliant Books was pitching in to help local schools.

Peter also invited me back to do a reading and book signing during their Friday Night Series at Brilliant Books. I'm honored to be asked, and will look forward to being part of this series next year after my book has been published.

And then I stopped in at Dog Ears Books in Northport. There I met Pamela and her dog (whom I assume is the 'Dog' in the 'Dog Ears' title). This store has a large collection of used and new books and I found a signed copy of Jerry Dennis' It's Raining Frogs and Fishes.

I'm a big fan of Jerry Dennis' work, so it was great to hold this out-of-print title, then take it home with me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

To the Lighthouse...

I spent last week living and working at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse located on the northern tip of Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula. This lighthouse warned sailors of the shallow waters and guided them into the safety of Grand Traverse Bay from the 1850s until it was decommissioned in the 1970s.

We volunteers had a variety of tasks over the week. We staffed the gift shop and museum, put up decorations for the holidays, raked leaves, and helped install new museum displays.

Of course, there was time to hike the lakeshore and watch the sunset from the lighthouse tower. It was a full week, and I'll be posting more photos and stories soon.