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.

Starting again

August 14, 2017, Thornbury, Ontario

Remembering that perfection is the enemy of the good, I am restarting this blog even though I’m not really ready. I plan to circle the north shore of Lake Superior in May 2018 after I pick up a brand-new, custom 13′ Scamp Travel Trailer in Backus, Minnesota. Much more on that later.

Currently, I am spending a week on the glorious shores of the Georgian Bay in the town of Thornbury. This is my second year here having fallen in love with the place and the town last August. Right outside my first-floor studio is the Thornbury marina and the Georgian Bay. It’s kinda paradise.

I am taking photos and long walks on and off all day. I had perfectly cooked basted eggs with crisp bacon and home fries for breakfast at The Orchid. I bought large nautical maps of Lake Superior and the Georgian Bay at Gyles Sales and Marine. I walked around this four-corner town visiting the wonderful Jessica’s Book Nook and buying a tuna curry sandwich for dinner at Ashanti’s. Locals are warm, curious and have eyes that crinkle when they smile.

I’ll post my own images here soon so stay tuned! For now hoping your life is good and includes travel to places near and far. I’m leaving you with an image of the area I found by Brian J. Gibson to give you a feel for the beauty of the Georgian Bay.

Lora Bay Park Aerial


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.