Thoreau says it best

A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

Henry David Thoreau in Walden

So enjoyed speaking about the Great Lakes yesterday to about 100 people at Washtenaw Community College.  Heartwarming that so many love the lakes and care about their condition and welfare.  Especially loved having friends Kathe and Susan there.  While I presented technical descriptions of  just  what a lake is, I still think Thoreau says it best.  Agree?

Staying informed

I am giving a lecture today at Washtenaw Community College on the environmental conditions of the Great Lakes.  I promised to post links to help those interested in staying informed about the Great Lakes find resources.

Staying informed

Great Lakes Information Network
Great Lakes Echo
The Environment Report (Michigan Radio 91.7 FM)
Tues & Thurs at 8:50 am and 5:45

My Twitter handle @aboutthelakes
My blog with Twitter @circlethelakes


Bicyclists Kris McNeal and Zach Chase pass half-way point

As I mentioned last month, Kris McNeal and Zach Chase left Duluth on May 1, 2012 intent on bicycling the 5,300 miles around the lakes in three months.  I just learned they’ve passed the half-way mark and are now in Michigan on the way to Alpena (click here for their progress map).

Can you imagine doing this?!  Very amazing.

You can follow their adventures at Big Water Bike.  Also watch for the documentary that will be based on their travels.

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.

A win-win situation

American Redstart © Skip Shand

One of the draws of the Great Lakes to me are birds. These magical creatures provide endless delight and my mother-heart wants to protect and cherish them all.  Neotropical migrants such as the American Redstart hold special interest.  So during my lake circles over the next five years I plan to see as many birds as possible as well visit organizations and places dedicated to birds, their conservation, and research. As I prepare for my Lake Superior circle tour this year I am researching and planning to visit highlights such as Whitefish Point Bird Observatory in Paradise, Michigan and Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth.  As this blog gains some traction I am hoping readers will share their favorite not-to-be missed birding places around the Great Lakes.

Japanese Crane collage by Jason LaFerrera

In the meantime, as an artist, I really like Etsy. Today I happened upon this lovely digital collage image of a Japanese crane on Etsy with all proceeds going to Red Cross for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief.  So purchasing this collage–which is an archival giclee print on watercolor paper–is a wonderful win-win of art and doing good.  The crane symbolizes longevity and was believed to carry the soul to the afterlife. The International Crane Foundation (ICF) happens to be in the Great Lakes basin in Baraboo, Wisconsin (northwest of Madison) so check out their amazing work on behalf of cranes.  Although the ICF will be a little out of my way, I plan to stop in on my Lake Michigan circle tour in 2012.

The Great Lakes Commission has put together a Birds of the Great Lakes Region page on the  Great Lakes Information Network.  I’ll be adding links to bird sites and information as well as other creatures over time.