Nowhere Near the Great Lakes

I’ve been in Duck, North Carolina, at the northern end of the Outer Banks, since last Saturday. I leave here in the morning to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my Mom and sister Wendy in northern Virginia. I traded my Florida timeshare for a week here at Ocean Pines. I’ve done this previously five or six times treating my Mom and step-dad to “a week at the beach”. This year my step-dad needed to work so I decided what the heck and went on my own. I’ve taken this week to truly rest, regroup and not do much of anything.

I lucked out by getting a 3-story unit right on Currituck Sound with decks off my bedroom and the living room above. Duck is the nicest town in all of the Outer Banks, which is mostly overbuilt, stripped of vegetation, ugly strip mall after strip mall and lots of traffic. (And last year my Mom and I got ticks while out looking for the wild ponies leading to my Mom being on antibiotics for a month and me watching for that red bullseye). But everything slows down in Duck where the speed limit dips from 45 to 25, mature trees and vegetation frame the two-lane road, charming shops out-compete the kite and t-shirt chains and terrific restaurants abound like The Blue Point and Elizabeth’s Café and Winery. I’ve seen red fox while having dinner at Aqua the same day I walked alongside the Atlantic with sandpipers and pelicans. It’s quite lovely.

But this year I stayed close to “home”. I have been staying late in bed writing in my journal, reading, watching the waves on the Sound. I never do this at home or on vacation. Most days I have done a short hop to buy cooked shrimp for dinner, look for books and pick up a huge blueberry muffin at my favorite Cottage Bookstore, have fried oysters for lunch at Awful Arthur’s or enjoy Tasting Tuesday at Tommy’s Market. In years past I’ve done the typical tourist thing going to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, various lighthouses of the Outer Banks including Hatteras way south, or to the north in Corolla the wonderful Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and tour of the Whalehead Club ( much more interesting that I anticipated). So this year I thought I would just stick around Duck and do some beach walking. Instead I found myself staying in my timeshare reading and watching the Sound and doing research for my book. But on Thursday I decided I best get to the beach. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong day because this white-skinned Northerner was just not ready for the scorching 90-degree rays of sun. So as soon as a biting fly started in at my ankles (I’m an insect magnet), I packed up and left

The interesting thing about the beach, though, was the Atlantic left me feeling deeply homesick for the Great Lakes–any one of the lakes, all of them, just a Laurentian Great Lake. It just doesn’t feel right here even though in years past I’ve truly enjoyed the Atlantic. I want to get to Lake Michigan and start my circle as soon as possible. This means dewinterizing Ecovision and getting her spic and span for the season as soon as I get back.

Currituck Sound hasn’t had that effect, hasn’t made me feel lonely for the lakes. Below I’ve posted an early evening photo of the Sound taken from the third-story deck of the living room. It’s been so restful here and I’ve made wonderful, healthy simple meals. I’ve also done inner work and some writing and cleaning up of computer files. I downloaded a free trial version of InDesign, did a few tutorials and even created a 4×6 postcard for my boat photography business I’m starting up this year. Turned out nice, but such a huge learning curve! Geez. Not sure how deeply I want to get into InDesign.

While here I haven’t made any of the major decisions I had hoped for other than reconfirming my love of the lakes and desire to be near them and protect them. Well, that’s pretty major. But I’ve been feeling quite stuck for it seems like years with too many interests and projects while still working four days a week and teaching a few Great Lakes classes at night.

So the sun is low on the horizon, birds on the Sound are calling to one another and the deck chair is calling to me. I promise to get back to regular posting very, very soon.


View of Currituck Sound from Ocean Pines timeshare in Duck, NC

Adding people and projects to this blog

Tom Cook

I’m finally ready to start adding other initiatives and conversations to this blog.  I’m starting with Tom Cook who is the new chair of the Michigan Nature Conservancy’s board of trustees.  He’s a real lake lover who walked 460 miles in the Upper Peninsula to foster conservation and raise funds for the Nature Conservancy. I’ll add a link to his blog in the right column, or just click here.  You can follow his Tweets @tom4tnc and click here to read what he said in an interview about his role as chair.

Here’s a 10-minute video explaining the significance of The Big UP Deal that Tom Cook describes on his blog as “a large, innovative, and very complex deal to protect over 271,000 acres of forestland in the UP”:

<p><a href=”″>The Big UP Deal</a> from <a href=”″>Ravenswood Media</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Listen carefully to the explanation of restoration forestry and the landscape approach.

There is so much wonderful work going on in new and innovative and complex relationships and partnerships.  The Michigan Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy of Canada were key partners in my own Great Lakes island project.  They are carrying it on in significant ways long after our grant from the Great Lakes Regional Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ended. There are literally hundreds of unsung heroes/heroines who have dedicated their lives to improving the care of the Great Lakes and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with many of them.  They found in government, the private sector, universities, nonprofits, and just on their own.  I’ll share and link to as many people and projects over the next few years as possible.

Another lake journeyer on expanded trek

Loreen posted a map of her 2012 adventures

I’ve been following the journey of Loreen Niewenhuis since she started walking Lake Michigan in 2009.  I also read her book about the walk that I purchased at my local Ann Arbor independent bookstore, Nicola’s.  Then today I read an update about Loreen’s 2012 adventures in an article by Catharine Hadley.  All I can say is wow!  Hope you take the time to read the article especially about how the walking makes Loreen feel.  I share those feelings and I’m sure they will resonate with others.  You can follow Loreen’s journeys on her blog and by liking her on Facebook.

In terms of my own journey around the lakes, plans and preparations are in full swing.  Spring fever has a strong hold on me and I’m excited about my August adventures circling Lake Superior.  Right now I am completing various projects at home and in world of digital photography.  Then in a few weeks I’ll have my motorhome, Ecovision, dewinterized and upgrade her house batteries.  I’ve begun making detailed plans for the journey as well as writing a Great Lakes islands book proposal that I sketched out years ago and has now been requested by a publisher.  Much fun and, of course, lots of hard work.

Fortunately, I have 25 years of Great Lakes policy work to draw on and I’ve been to various locations around all of the lakes.  I was born in Detroit and began boating on Lake St. Clair with my family when just a baby.  I have lived all but three years of my life in Michigan, which is the heart of the Great Lakes ecoregion.  Over time I have grown to love the lakes more deeply and to become even more committed to their long-term conservation and well being.  They still take my breath away.

Very soon I will start sharing here regularly so please stay tuned.  You can sign up to follow this blog and also check out the full scope of my various activities including photography at  In addition to @circlethelakes, I Tweet @aboutthelakes and @abouttheislands.