Is it really 2021?!

The stunning Tobermory shoreline, Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada. (Note I do not “enhance” my images. The shoreline actually looks just like this!)

We all know the disaster that was 2020. And here it is June 2, 2021 and I am ready to get back to my Great Lakes life. So just now I updated, worked behind-the-scenes on my forthcoming blog fivebluelakes, and even sent out a Tweet @fivebluelakes. Thanks for hanging out and more to come.

Updated 6/3/2021

Dessert or work first?

I was married to a man who lived by the adage eat dessert first, life is uncertain. I wish I was that way because I would have kept posting this journey. But, alas, I have always believed it best to tackle the work first and then enjoy worry-free time off.

So that is the case here. I paused blogging to get some work done. In June I am creating and teaching five new two-hour workshops on one island in each of the five Great Lakes. I’ve completed Isle Royale, Beaver Island, and Manitoulin Island. This Saturday I teach Pelee Island and the following Saturday Wolfe Island. Then back here for dessert! Thanks to those of you following this blog despite my not widely promoting. Below is a sneak peak of things to come.

Islands outline the lovely Lake Superior

Manitoulin moments

It is Sunday, May 19, and I have been home a few days. I plan to finish posting this amazing trip, but it is going to take me a while. Tomorrow morning I leave for a fourth Great Lake with another ferry ride to a second island. While there I will not have Wi-Fi so I won’t be able to post again until at least Friday. Then I’ll be able get back to the stories and photos. For now, I’ll share some images from Manitoulin Island.

Because of the thin soils and hard rock below, I noticed that utility poles are often surrounded by large rocks inside a metal circle to keep them upright.

I’m always fascinated and love to photograph abandoned buildings weathering in place. I wonder about their history, who built them, who lived there, who left and why.

I found a few areas where you can drive right next to the tall layers of the Niagara escarpment, the remains of an ancient sea bed from millions of years ago that still embrace our Great Lakes like a crescent moon.

I keep thinking of Misery Bay and want to learn and share more. I’ll leave you with the beauty of the days while I was there enjoying the landscapes and people of Manitoulin Island.

Interviewing an islander during the pouring rain

It was Thursday and the rain would just not let up. Knowing it would rain, though, I had arranged to meet with Lyle at his farm at 10. In this way I would not interrupt his busy world nor my explorations on a good-weather day.

Wish I had taken more photos, but I do want to protect his privacy. As I got out of my car, I was greeted by a lovely old blind dog. Then Lyle opened the farmhouse door sporting a hair net. What?! I soon found out it was breadmaking day and he had just finished putting a huge batch of dough on top of the woodstove to rise.

He taught me that if you take the lid off slowly, it will come off clean.

We talked for over two hours and I found him to be so kind and intelligent and hilarious! I like to interview people who have lived on islands all their lives and this was Lyle’s case. He was born and raised on a farm practically across the street from this one.

I found out just how many talents and interests he has. He plays the fiddle, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, piano and sings. He plays in a band and even got a call asking them to play while I was there. He even tried to get me to sing “5 foot two, eyes are blue.” Lyle went right into the living room and started playing and I reluctantly sang the few words I know. But it was fun. Next time we meet I’m going to have the lyrics with me so I can sing with him.

Lyle is active in his church and looks over the cemetery. He told me his father and father’s brother married sisters and then shared the whole story around that. He talked many times about his lovely wife who I was able to meet as I was leaving. She even gave me a hand sanitizer to put on my key ring. Love having it with me.

Here he’s telling me a joke, one of many that even got this serious Norwegian laughing.

Much of what we discussed is for the book I’m working on, but let me just say I left as a friend. Before I left he called Mike and arranged for the three of us to meet the next day at the church across the street from where I was staying. The church Lyle attends. We were all to meet there at one to give Lyle time to dig a grave in the morning. Not kidding. Quite a wonderful human being.

Hiking the Coastal Alvar Trail-Part Two

Past the visitor center is the sign to the trails and the Coastal Alvar Trail is the red circle. The Trail was well marked and I found something interesting at nearly every step. These large local boulders were right at the start.

The steps must have been difficult to cut.

Here’s the start.

This is the underlying bedrock associated with alvar plant communities. Early in the year so I didn’t see rare alvar plants found here, Lakeside daisy and Pitcher’s thistle, not the rare Blanding’s turtle.

This shows the 1.3 kilometer-trail I hiked.

There were a tall white birch amongst the conifers.

I stopped often to capture the beauty and variety of the forest floor. Early in the year meant no insects, nice bonus.

Tiny white flowers and a typical alvar structure.

They are making this trail handicap accessible.

More forest floor. Endlessly fascinating on this walk.

The trail markers were easy to follow and junctions were clear.

I saw and heard only a few warblers and could not identify them. They were at top of trees flitting about and had stripes. I don’t think the song was captured and don’t know if you can see the warbler in this video. The bird was at the top left on the bare branches. I’m on my iPhone without Wi-Fi so difficult to tell.

More forest floor and then warning sign of leaning tree and the tree itself.

And then first glimpse of the water! Always fills me with such joy!

A lovely lookout and I signed the guest book. Wish I had added the weather information.

And here’s where I am on map and in reality.

It was lovely. High water and recent heavy rains meant sections of beach were flooded and inaccessible, but lovely as can be.

A memorial bench and confirmation of location.

Loved the pattern of branches on the sand.

Headed back and a few more of the forest floor. It was about a half-hour walk each way.

The last one is of the alvar bedrock. And here are some more.

And chunks of a bright white rock I have to look up. If you know, do tell!

Back to the beginning and there’s my solo car.

A memorable hike, so meaningful to walk on the alvar coast, one of the few on Earth, and on Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. Privileged.

The next day it would pour, but I’d interview a bread-baking, hilarious farmer who has lived on Manitoulin his whole life. The day after that a 9 a.m. phone interview of a retired conservation officer and then later met with a retired Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources field staff whose work included moving Canadian moose to Michigan via helicopters and crates on flat-bed trucks. I’ll fill you in when I have solid connection again. Right now I am on shores of Lake Superior near Batchwana Bay and without Wi-Fi.