The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Saturday, December 31, 2011

KEEN Ambassadorship!

I love my KEEN boots. They kept my feet pretty happy during my 1000-mile hike. The boot on the left side of this photo has about 350 miles on it, the boot on the right is the new pair I got in Escanaba that took me all the way to Chicago.

KEEN has acknowledged my 1000-mile adventure and the work I continue to do to educate people about the importance of our Great Lakes by making me a KEEN Ambassador!

Check out their site HERE.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter on Lake Michigan

For many people, the Great Lakes are a summertime place, a place of heat and sand and cooling waters in which to play.

There is a certain beauty, though, of the lakes in other seasons. And a serenity to these waters after the first snow of winter.

Some people have never seen the shelf ice form on the lake and stretch out miles from the shoreline, quieting the waves. Some have never seen that ice break up in the spring to get tossed around by a late winter storm and stacked like crazy ice houses on the sand.

There was one Easter Sunday when my family drove to the lake and met up with some friends. The day was incredibly warm and the sun had thawed the frozen ground to the point where we could shed our shoes and walk barefoot on the warm sand. The ice, however, still decorated the beaches, large slabs of lake ice marooned on land and slowly melting in the springtime sun.

The lake speaks to us in all seasons and I am thankful for my time on the shores of Lake Michigan this fall
and winter.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tales from the Book Tour...Part 14

I had a great time on this last full week of my book tour. Events in Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago were packed, and I'd like to thank everyone who hosted my events and those who came out to hear a lecture or reading.

has spent time on the Heartland Indie Bestseller List this year!

Thank you all, and the Happiest of Holidays!

Support your local indie bookstore this Holiday Season!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Webinar takes on Clean Water Act rollbacks, invasive species, SS Badger

Click HERE to get access to a recent webinar about important issues
that impact our Great Lakes.

There are efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act at a time when our lakes are approaching a crisis due to invasive species, algae blooms, and other threats.

Be informed.
Contact your representatives in Congress.
View from the Empire Bluff Trail

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Author shores up lake trek with new book -

Nice review of my book from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Time on the Lakeshore

Here are some highlights from my time at the lakeshore this fall.

Even after encircling Lake Michigan with my footsteps and recording it in my muscles and bones, the lake continues to captivate me.

Next year I will undertake another 1000-mile hike in the Great Lakes region.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the Shadow of Giants

Two hundred years ago it was easier to move through Michigan by water -- rivers and the Great Lakes -- than to move through the land.

That's because the land had old growth forests that were dense and impassible in places.

While walking the lakeshore this November, I followed a stream inland, tracing the water's path as it meandered toward the lake.

The trees that lived near the stream shaded
the area and their fallen leaves decorated the surface of the slow moving stream.

This oak towered over the other trees.

It's not old growth, but it is a grand tree

and a glimpse of the past when this size
tree would have been growing in the

shadows of giants.

Monday, November 7, 2011

CMU Students Give Back

Last month I had the privilege of speaking to Professor Lorie Tuma's class at Central Michigan University. Her students are studying in the tourism and hospitality fields and many of them are also shooting for a leadership minor.

Part of the leadership minor is doing community service, and a large group of students headed north to give back in Rogers City, Michigan. The Purple Martin Nature Center & Lakeside Inn was recently certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat. The mission of the Inn is to not only provide an ultimate retreat, but for the owner, Cindy Vezinau, to fulfill a lifelong passion of providing a respite program to children in the foster care system.

The CMU students put in a day of hard work renovating the old building and working on the grounds of the center on the shores of Lake Huron.

. .

Renovation in Rogers City from EHS Life on Vimeo.

Next year, my 1000-mile hike will take me along the shoreline by the center. I will be sure to stop in to check on the progress of getting The Purple Martin Nature Center & Lakeside Inn renovated and open to do this important work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sand Landscapes

The waves of Lake Michigan constantly pulse or roll or pound the lakeshore, continually grinding stone to sand.

The reach of each wave on the sandy shore leaves a mark of wet-on-dry.

The waves often leave an edge where grains sorted by the motion of the water are left in a line at the crest of each wave before it retreats back into the lake.

The waves repeatedly flow over the land and these minimalistic landscapes are shaped and reshaped on the sand.

Sometimes they are embellished with a rock or feather.

Sometimes it seems there is fog in the distance.

...and sometimes the hills seem to stretch on forever.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Case Against Mylar Balloons

I have spent the month of October on the shores of Lake Michigan near the lovely town of South Haven, Michigan. It has been a wonderful time to reconnect with my favorite place while preparing for my next 1000-mile hike.

Every day, I have hiked a couple of miles in one direction, then returned to my cottage retracing my steps. And every day as I returned, I picked up trash along the shoreline.

Day after day I have picked up plastic bottles, aluminum cans and collapsed juice pouches.

The big surprise in lakeshore trash is the number of mylar balloons I have found. These festive inflatables take FOREVER to degrade. Some, like the one to the left, has all of the color worn off by wind and waves, but it is still intact. These three (below) were tied together and washed up together.

This photo is ONE DAY'S gathering of trash.

Sure, there is the expected plastic and aluminum...

and there were FIVE mylar balloons just this one day.

Oh no...

Et tu, SpongeBob?

Et tu?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rocks and Waves

Lake Michigan is constantly tumbling rocks.

The rocks of Lake
Michigan are a colorful mix.

Some were dragged along with the glaciers from the Arctic Circle and deposited here for the lake to work on for thousands of years.

Wave after wave tosses and tumbles, smoothing and washing these stones.

Everyday is a treasure hunt on the shore.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Visitors to the Lake House

I am spending some time by the lake...
and have had visitors.

I put up a bi
rd feeder that has been frequented by white-breasted nuthatches and rose finches.

My sons came out to walk the lakeshore with me...

as did Maija, my writer friend.

And, of course, there are always the gulls and waves to converse with.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Inland Seas

It is on days like today with high winds kicking up Lake Michigan that you can understand why the Great Lakes are called The Inland Seas.

There is such power in these waves.

The Great Lakes contain 90% of the fresh, surface water in America.

My BOGS boots and I took a long walk today in the surf.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Attack of the QUAGGAS!

One of the questions I often get at while on my book tour is:

What's the most pressing issue
facing our Great Lakes?

There are many issues facing our lakes including loss of habitat for wildlife, loss of buffering wetlands, toxic sites, invasive species (both present and threatening to enter the lakes), over-development of the lakeshore, and ongoing pollution.

But if I could magically fix just one thing, I would eradicate the invasive mussels in our great lakes. Specifically, the quagga mussels (in photos) that have so completely colonized four of the lakes and are eroding the foundation of the food web.

gives more details about how the quaggas have thrived in our Great Lakes. It is estimated that there are over 400 TRILLION quaggas in Lake Michigan alone.

That's TRILLION with a "T"

What can be done about the quaggas? Unfortunately, it would take a magic wand to get rid of these invasive mussels. They spread rapidly, filter food endlessly out of the water, and reproduce prodigiously.

From the article:

"Quaggas are causing the biggest changes we've ever seen in Lake Michigan," said Tom Nalepa, a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory who has studied the lake for more than 30 years. "The numbers are still going up. We are going to see more severe impacts."
The havoc they have created includes an increase in toxic algae, a loss of tiny plants and animals that fish feed on, a decline in prey fish, and skinnier game and commercial fish.

Short of a disease or poison that could be targeted at them in the lakes' depths, quaggas are here to stay, Nalepa said.

But they represent a lesson for the future.

Of the 186 invasive species in the Great Lakes, two-thirds came from ships in the St. Lawrence Seaway, which pick up ballast water in foreign ports and discharge it into the Great Lakes. "We need to cut off the tap," said Kerfoot.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Windward Shore

I have settled into a little cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan for a time. The season seems disjointed, though, with the unseasonably warm weather. We've had a stretch of seventy degree or higher days -- with two days pushing up against eighty degrees -- so it feels more like June and summer than October and fall. I just finished walking the beach for several miles, then turning back to retrace my steps back to my cottage.

It is odd for me to retrace my steps.

I am used to walking on and on and on...

It's been good hammock weather and I've been doing a lot of reading and writing here.

The first book I took with me to the hammock was just released by The University of Michigan Press.

It is by Jerry Dennis, the brilliant essayist whose work best captures the Great Lakes. This book is called THE WINDWARD SHORE: A Winter on the Great Lakes. It was a wonderful read and I'm glad I read it while the waves played background music along the shore.

Dennis has lived his life on the Great Lakes, mostly on Lake Michigan. He lives within sight and sound of the lake and he says:

"Day and night by the water -- it insinuates. Seeing it in all hours and in all seasons, hearing it even in your sleep, it changes you. You're reminded that everything is fluid, that time flows and carries us along from a springlike source to an oceanlike eternity. And although I know these inland seas are not oceans, I have followed them to an ocean and know the connectedness of waters -- and the connectedness of every other thing as well. And I know the lakes are treasures worth more than all the world's gold."

For this book, Dennis spent time in winter at several residences on the shores of the Great Lakes and tried to capture this least-celebrated season on the lakeshore. There are people who summer at the lakes who have never seen the many forms the ice can take in winter: frazil, shelf ice, pancake ice, boulders of ice and more. They've never seen a storm smash up the shelf ice, then toss it up into sculptures on the shore. They've never walked out on the ice and felt the waves pulsing beneath their feet.

Dennis captures this most harsh and beautiful season in this collection of essays. It's a book I'll pull down to re-read winter after coming winter.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tracks on the Shore

The sands of Lake Michigan temporarily records the passage of creatures there.

From bird parties...

To the crossroads of beetles....

To a crazy bird dance...

In a neat circle.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tales from the BOOK TOUR...part 13

This has been the busiest month of my Book Tour, and this last leg took me all the way to St. Louis!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Second Year Anniversary of Lake Trek Finale

Today marks the second anniversary of the completion of my hike around Lake Michigan, a journey of just over 1,000 miles.

It is amazing to look back on that
adventure. In some ways it feels like just yesterday, and in others so distant. It is nearly miraculous that the book about my adventure has been out for over six months, and I'd like to thank Crickhollow Books of Milwaukee and Philip Martin, my editor, for doing such a fantastic job editing and publishing the book.

I'd like to thank everyone who has embraced this book about "my" lake. A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH spent four weeks on The Heartland Indie Bestseller List this summer. And I've met hundreds of people on my book tour who share a love and concern for Lake Michigan and all of our Great Lakes.

What happens now? Well, I have many events still on my scheduled book tour (see sidebar here or go to The big finale of my book tour will be a week-long tour of Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago in early December. Then, I will begin training for my NEXT ADVENTURE.

Next year I will undertake another 1000-mile hike,
one that lets me touch all five Great Lakes.

Please "LIKE" my fan page on Facebook (if you haven't already) and tell me about YOUR favorite place on the shores of the Great Lakes. Which Great Lake is YOUR favorite? Which park is YOUR favorite? Where have YOU found the best rocks? Where is YOUR favorite place to walk the beach? What is YOUR biggest concern about our Great Lakes?

I will announce my hiking route soon here and on my Fan Page, so stay tuned!!

Friday, September 16, 2011


There is still time to be part of the largest beach clean-up in the world!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tales from the BOOK TOUR...part 12

I took some time to focus on my second book released this year, my novella, ATLANTA. And it seemed logical to launch the novella in Georgia. I was able to take my Lake Trek book along, too, and to introduce a Southern audience to both works.

One gentleman in Savannah came to my author event wearing an "M 22" t-shirt. Those of you who have traveled the NW corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula will recognize this as the designation of the road that winds through some of the most beautiful places in Michigan.

It is a joy to have had one book published this year, and I am thrilled to have a second book come out on the heels of A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH. My novella, ATLANTA, grew out of my years living in this Southern metropolis. I tried to capture the neighborhoods, the vibe, the lives, and the energy of this unique city. Though I only lived there for a handful of years, Atlanta still has a place in my heart.

If you live in Atlanta, Macon, or Savannah, please ask for the novella, ATLANTA, at your indie bookstore. If you live elsewhere, you can support Kazoo Books (a great indie bookstore in Kalamazoo) by ordering my novella from them through

My novella will be featured in the October issue of Atlanta Intown!
Look for it next month!
Thank you!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Decatur book festival

Having a great time at the DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL!

Tom Perrotta reading at the festival (above).

Stop by booth #314 and say HELLO!

Location:Decatur, GA

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Separation of the Mississippi and Great Lakes Water System

The alarms are finally going off regarding the environmental destruction caused by invasive species. Six attorneys general in the Midwest have called for a coalition to demand the separation of the Mississippi River system from the Great Lakes water system.

From the AP news story:

"...the officials invited colleagues in 27 other states to join a lobbying campaign to separate the two watersheds, contending they have as much to lose as the Great Lakes do from migration of aquatic plants and animals that can do billions in economic damage and starve out native species.

"We have Asian carp coming into Lake Michigan and zebra mussels moving out of the Great Lakes and into the heart of our country, both of which are like poison to the ecology of our waters," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said. "This is not just a Great Lakes issue. By working together, we hope to put pressure on the federal government to act before it's too late."

Zebra mussels (in photos) have caused the power industry BILLIONS of dollars in the 25 years they have inhabited the Great Lakes. The mussels clog intake pipes which must be continually cleaned of the tenacious invaders. The zebra mussels have also negatively impacted the fishing industry in the Great Lakes by disrupting the ecosystem.

If the Asian Carp enter the lakes and establish a breeding population, they will out-compete native and stocked species in the lakes. The round goby (an invasive fish transported from the Black Sea to the Great Lakes in ballast water) is already doing this to the perch in the lake.

Separation of these water systems appears to be a logical and necessary step to protect our nation's waters from invasives. Another no-brainer is to FINALLY mandate that all ballast water must be treated so that no new invasives get a free ride from the other side of the world to our Great Lakes.

To see the dramatic spread of the zebra mussel, click on the dynamic map HERE.