Arrived in Tobermory

I left Ann Arbor quite late at 11:30 a.m. I never seem to be able to get out early no matter what work I do ahead of time. But it was a blue sky day and the drive, while long, was pleasant.

Going from the US to Canada on the Blue Water Bridge was the fastest I’ve ever experienced. I have a Nexus card–requires a security check and $50 for five-year card–that should get me through faster, but today there were four or five in the Nexus lane and no line at all in the regular lanes. The agent was nice and interested in my island to work.

I stopped at the Exchange House and got $258.50 Canadian for my $200 U.S. I worked in Windsor for five years and I’m always fascinated by the fluctuation in exchange. Obviously it’s really advantageous to Americans to be traveling in Canada right now.

If you’re not familiar with Ontario, this part along eastern Lake Huron is flat as a pancake, scraped clean by the glaciers. The landscape is that of rather large active farms that are now dwarfed by wind turbines. I stopped in one town, Kingbridge, that had more wind turbines all in one area than I had seen on the entire drive.

Another characteristic of Ontario are yellow brick homes, churches, and buildings.

I was giddy to find baby segments of the Frontenac Arc. More on this later when I get to Manitoulin Island on Tuesday.

I got to Jim and Karen’s Eagle Wing Airbnb almost exactly at 7 PM. They both came to greet me and had given me the larger space because I’m the only one right now. The three of us carried up my various briefcases, suitcases, and totes mostly filled with books, notebooks, computer and iPad, and chargers. It’s so lovely here and they couldn’t be nicer.

I headed to town to have a light dinner at the Princess Dining Room.

I ordered my favorite: whitefish with just a little lemon and served with rice and veggies. I brought half back to Eagle’s Wing and will enjoy tomorrow along with the vegetable soup.

The sun what setting and I couldn’t help but stop and take photos of the ferry I’ll be riding on Tuesday out to Manitoulin Island. There is a small island just east of the ferry dock. I’ll see if I can find out more about it tomorrow.

i’m getting better about stopping along the way. I’m really focusing on that this trip. The rewards are often small and touching like this rose that caught my eye. I hurried back to try to catch some of the glow on Eagle Harbor and it did not disappoint.

A small angel lighted my way.

Heading to Canada

I have a lot to catch up on here, but I wanted to let folks know that I’m heading to Canada tomorrow, May 5. I’m planning a 10-day trip starting with Tobermory at the very tip of the Bruce Peninsula. I’ve been there before on a four-day wildflower photo safari. Think flower-pot islands, shipwrecks, sea caves, orchids, water birds, sailboats, and (unfortunately) blackflies. I am hoping I don’t run into blackflies this trip because I get a big goose eggs that lasts eight weeks. Just in case I’m packing the head net I bought there during the photo safari. Regardless, it’s a fantastic area and I can’t wait to get there and start this Plan B journey.

Researching Sweden today

alvar with blueprint 69012-004-26185916

Alvar Aalto in his studio (Source: Brittanica)

I am creating and teaching a new course to adult learners through Washtenaw Community College on Scandinavia Islands and Architecture. This combines two lifelong passions. I studied architecture for a short while before realizing I wanted to first work to save Nature. So that is what I’ve been doing since the 1980s. Yet the interest in architecture and design has remained constant from the age of sixteen.



From Iitalla: “Alvar Aalto created his iconic series of glass vases in 1936. Inspired by the waves in water, it has become a staple of modern Scandinavian design. Each Alvar Aalto vase is unique and mouth blown at the Iittala glass factory in Finland.”

Last week was week one of this new course and I gave an overview of Scandinavia and covered Finland. My favorite architect is Alvar Aalto of Finland and this put Finland at the top of my travel bucket list decades ago. However, I unexpectedly fell in love with Paris on my first trip and I have traveled to France five times. (More on Aalto in another post. He was not only a marvelous architect, but designed furniture and other items like this vase. I do own the vase as well as a poster of his initial sketches of it that I had framed.)

But finally, in May 2019, I’ll be enjoying traveling to Finland (technically not a Scandinavian country), Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. I’ll be traveling by rail and ferry taking photos, talking to people, taking notes, and blogging. I also hope for a day trip out of Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia via ferry.

Meanwhile, here are a few facts about Sweden from my research this week:

  • Largest country in northern Europe, fifth largest in Europe, and 55th largest in the world
  • Population is 10,030,777 as of Friday, March 8, 2019 with 1.1 million in Stockholm’s urban area
  • Land area is 158,400 square miles with 80 percent forest and less than 8 percent arable
  • Water area is 15,400 square miles with 97,500 lakes
  • Coastline is 2,000 miles long with 221,800 islands and about 1,000 inhabited islands
  • Stockholm is actually made up of 14 islands with 50 bridges and the Stockholm Archipelago is made up of about 30,000 islands

More later! You can start to plan your trip to Sweden here. Thanks for visiting! 



Islands and architecture on another continent in 2019

On May 1st I fly to Helsinki for three weeks in Scandinavia. My focus will be on visiting islands and viewing architecture and I can hardly wait. I’ve been researching and making plans for about six months. I will have a rail pass and travel around Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway taking you with me. I’ll be on and off many boats and ferries and enjoy Constitution Day in Norway with my cousins on May 17.

I also created a brand-new Scandinavian Islands and Architecture course that I started teaching today (March 5) at Silver Maples in Chelsea, Michigan. I will teach it again in April at Washtenaw Community College’s main campus. I’ll start sharing here some of what I teach. And this Thursday evening (March 7) I start teaching my Understanding the Great Lakes class on main campus. That’s always a great joy.

Meantime I have been developing a new website and blog under a different name. I will post that here unless I decide to just keep going and developing this one :) I have never promoted this blog, just kept it low key and personal. But as I get back to traveling around the lakes, taking photos, and interviewing people for my book and blog, I suspect it will take on a life of its own.

So stay tuned, and glad you’re here!

By the way, Henry is now 11 and doing great. I’m trying to figure out a way for us to get around the Lakes this summer. We both miss our travels together.

Restarting again, anew

While I have continued to work on my Great Lakes islands research and even have hired a part-time research assistant, I have not been able to cirle the lakes since I sold my motorhome a few years ago. I hope to rectify that with at a least a few targeted car trips in 2018.

In the meantime, I am conducting interviews and doing extensive research starting with Lake Superior islands. I am uncertain if I will continue posting here or on a new blog that will focus more on my book on the islands of the Great Lakes and what I am learning from these interviews and research.

So for the few of you possibly still getting these posts, thank you and stay tuned :) As always, please do contact me with ideas for people to interview, islands to study or issues of importance to the islands of the Great Lakes.


So interesting to find the world organized toward narrow and exclusive categories. As I integrate my life and interests, I’m struggling to express this integration through social media, blogs and websites. 

  • I am a writer and photographer, but Facebook forces choice of only one. And that’s just the beginning. 
  • I do travel, landscape and abstract photography sprinkled with images of food and the everyday beauty of life. 
  • I write essays and nonfiction with a little poetry and the beginnings of a memoir centered on my love of the lakes and islands. 
  • I blog here with three or four other blogs in various stages of development or abandonment. 
  • I Tweet @aboutthelakes, @abouttheislands and @circlethelakes plus have a few others on hold. 

So stay tuned to see which blog and social media stream holds promise for pulling the expression of my life and art and loves into a beautifully braided stream. 

The vulnerability of being off-line

In everyday life I’m never long away from being online and able to communicate via mobile phone, email, Facebook, text messages, Twitter, blogs and so on. It’s so much a part of my life that I give these connections little thought. So finding myself last Thursday night without good connections stopped me in my tracks.

First of all I stepped back in time by staying at an inland RV campground called Plymouth Rock. I mean, Plymouth Rock?! I’ve been to Plymouth Rock and it wasn’t in Wisconsin. But this Plymouth Rock certainly is.


I ended up at Plymouth Rock because of a very late start from the unpleasantness of Illinois Beach State Park. I didn’t want  to get to a campground I had never been to after dark and I wanted one with a decent shower house.

I guess I misread or misunderstood Plymouth Rock on the All Stays app I frequently use and really like. It wasn’t until I was on the road for awhile that I realized that the campground was very far away from my circle tour. It was already about 3 so half-heartedly I laid to rest plans to drive and stop at various lakeside locations and resorted to the fastest route my GPS could get me to Plymouth Rock.

I was tired when I got there at 5 minutes to 5. The woman who I had talked to on the phone and who greeted me was so nice. This late in the season I had my choice of many sites with electric. It did feel a little strange because they were laid out around the circumference of a circle of trees and you parked on grass. I found the site she had arbitrarily given me to be just fine so took 503 I think it was. Not much to it, but an easy hookup of my power cord to an aged but working system.


It certainly felt like a step back in time. The picnic table was made of concrete, which I found odd and too cold to want to use. The campground was dated with dozens of seasonal park homes with decks and screen porches. There was a corral for golf carts and several outdoor pools with one and a whirlpool still open. It was chilly so no takers. I took care of Henry then checked out the shower house with plans to use in the morning. It seemed small and in need of updating, but clean. I met and had really nice conversation with a couple who have no permanent  home base but travel in many parts of the world doing various things. At Plymouth Rock they had been selling zone memberships for RVers. Next they were heading to Ohio to sell See’s Candy then to on to Spain where they have rented a house for six months.

Henry and I had a relaxing evening. In fact I stayed up quite late and Henry Boy patiently waited laying his head down on my journal that I had put on the bed. His sweet adorableness inspired me to just crawl into bed. Could you resist him?


As with all good plans, in the morning they changed. I had prepaid reservations for three nights at Peninsula State Park and called to confirm. I had only been able to reserve a site without any utilities and for three nights that felt like a stretch this time of year. However, the staff person mentioned that if I got there at 10 am if one with electric was available I might be able to get it. So my plans for a leisurely morning with shower were abandoned and I was on the road and actually got to the park office just a few minutes after 10.

When I got there she marked me down as second on the list. Nice! But everyone had showed up so not even one of the 130 sites with electric were available. Darn. But I could try again the next morning, Saturday, as long as I arrived again at 10 am.  Geez, I thought, not being able to get out and about until after 10 would reduce my time exploring the Door Peninsula. And it did.

With this inauspicious beginning, the next few days on this important Great Lakes peninsula were both marvelous and seriously disconnected. Hence no posts here until tonight because I’m back to reliable Internet and at a campground! More on my journey in the next posting.