The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tales from the Book Tour: Kalamazoo Book Club

Park Club, Kalamazoo

 A Kalamazoo book club invited me to join them while they discussed my book. They meet at the Park Club, a fixture in the city for over a century.

It's always fun and instructional for me to meet with book clubs. They let me know what parts of the book they most connected with, where they had questions, and if the book challenged or changed they way they think about our Great Lakes.

And a lovely lunch!

It was a privilege to meet with these thoughtful women.

Thank you all!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tales from the Book Tour: Clarkston School

A teacher contacted me from Clarkston, Michigan. She said that she had used my first book, A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach, as the basis for her ecology course at the Renaissance High School where she teaches.

"Can you come and speak to the students?" she asked.

Kathy Yeloushan, ecology teacher, introduces me to the group 

"Of course!" I replied. And that's how I met the  principal, teachers and students at Renaissance High School in Clarkston. The students were engaged during my presentation and they asked important questions about our Great Lakes.

Students check out the exhibits -- and my KEEN boots! -- from my adventures

 It is vital that the next generation care about our Great Lakes, so I was delighted with the interest these young people showed in my adventures and in our Great Lakes.

Kathy Yeloushan (left) with the curriculum she developed using my book 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Little Shop of STORIES, Decatur, GA

I love discovering indie bookstores when I travel. This week I was down in Atlanta visiting family and I went to the charming 

Interior of the charming store

Decatur is home to one of the nation's largest book festivals, the AJC Decatur Book Festival, held every August. 
This bookstore is primarily for the kids. It is a inviting store that does a wonderful job of inviting kids to explore
the world of books.

And a few books for the parents of all the kids!

And I was delighted to see they had a few books for grownups, too.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

City Lit Books, Logan Square, Chicago!

City Lit Books in Logan Square

Lovely space with fireplace!

 I love to discover new indie bookstores when I travel. This week I made it up to the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago to visit 
City Lit Books.
[2523 N. Kedzie Blvd.]

While the exterior storefront is understated, the interior is warm and welcoming. 

City Lit Books gives great insight into their books

Short stories by Chicago author, Abby Geni

And City Lit not only curates a fantastic selection of books, but their staff posts comments for many books on their shelves.

I found this new collection of short stories there.

(*Oh, and if you have time, pop in to Lula Cafe a couple doors down for a great meal!)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

5th Anniversary

Today is the fifth anniversary of where all of this  began! On March 16, 2009, I stood on Navy Pier in Chicago and then began my walk 
all the way around Lake Michigan.

My visit to Navy Pier earlier this month

This adventure became my bestselling book, 
A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach.

This year I will complete my third Great Lakes Adventure, this time exploring many of the 
wonderful islands
 of the Great Lakes.

In May, my journey continues on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. There, I will assist researchers with the Wolf-Moose Study.

There are thousands of islands in our 
Great Lakes and I've had fascinating experiences so far on this journey. I can't wait to share them all with you in the book
A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure.

The book will be released in 2015.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ice on the Great Lakes

 This has been a frigid winter with polar vortices, snowfall breaking decades-old records, and widespread ice formation on the Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan was just over 93% covered with ice on March 8, setting a new record.

Ice near Chicago

Overall, the Great Lakes were just over 
92% iced over on March 6, 
not quite breaking the record.

Windrow ice near Chicago

The lakes are dynamic, so the ice breaks up, gets pushed around, and then stacked near the shore making elaborate formations.

 Close shot of windrow ice

Peak ice coverage for each Great Lake this year:
  1. Lake Erie – 96.40% on March 6, 2014
  2. Lake Huron – 96.30% on March 6, 2014
  3. Lake Superior – 95.74% on March 5, 2014
  4. Lake Michigan – 93.29% on March 8, 2014
  5. Lake Ontario – 61.52% on March 6, 2014

Some reports stated that Lake Ontario has less ice coverage due to its volume-to-surface-area ratio, but this ratio is similar to Lake Michigan's which had higher ice coverage. I think it's more likely that the inflow from the Niagara River disrupts ice formation at the western end of the lake. The river also carries dissolved minerals from upstream into Lake Ontario which depresses the freezing point of the water. Another consideration is the effect of industrial and municipal usage and return of water at the western edge of the lake which may increase the temperature of the water. One additional factor may be the retention time for Lake Ontario which is only 6 years compared to Lake Michigan's 99 years. This means that the water in Lake Ontario is moving much faster than in Lake Michigan.

More information on ice on the
Great Lakes HERE.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grand Finale for My ISLAND Adventure

I have completed over half of my 
adventure exploring the islands of the Great Lakes...
and I've started to plan the FINALE of this adventure.

I invite you to walk the final miles with me on 
Mackinac Island on Sunday, October 26, 2014. 
[Or just be there to celebrate the completion of My 
1000-Mile Great Lakes ISLAND Adventure!]

If you'd like details, please e-mail me at:
with the subject: 
Great Lakes ISLAND Finale
and I'll put you on the list to receive details 
in the coming months.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

I will hike the 8 miles around Mackinac Island 
to complete my 1000 miles. 
We will stay at the historic
Grand Hotel
at a special rate.
*Note: Dinner will be a casual buffet. 
You will NOT be required to 
dress up for dinner on this date.*

Friday, February 28, 2014

WHERE You Buy Your Books is Important

I've blogged about the importance of independent bookstores, most recently here. And I've blogged about the indie bookstores visited while on my Great Lakes Adventures. I've even mentioned bookstores encountered when I'm not hiking, like my recent visit to Chicago's awesome Sandmeyer's Bookstore on Printer's Row. 

For a time, there were predictions that most bookstores would close due to the rise of the eBook (the sales of which have now gone flat) and the ease of purchasing books online. 

These predictions were wrong.

Shelf Awareness reports:

"Some 43 independent bookstores opened in 20 states during 2013, including a dozen established stores purchased by new owners and six branches of existing businesses."

(full report here)

Many established authors recognize the role indie bookstores have played in getting their books into the hands of readers. Some of those authors are now giving back. 

James Patterson, the wildly successful author of thrillers and, more recently, children's books, has pledged to give $1 million to indie bookstores. 

James Patterson

These grants are now being distributed. Read all about it here

And Sherman Alexie proposed that authors work at indie bookstores on Small Business Saturday. 

Sherman Alexie, the man with the plan

His plan:

"We book nerds will become booksellers. We will make recommendations. We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends' books. Maybe you'll sign and sell books of your own in the process. I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing)."

Many authors partnered with indie bookstores that day.

I consider my relationship 
with indie bookstores to be a 
lifetime partnership

As an avid reader, I cannot imagine a world without bookstores. They are places of wonder for me, places to discover new works by favorite authors, or discover a new author who will become a favorite. I value the expertise of indie booksellers and trust that when they put a book in my hands, it will be a wonderful read. 

As a writer, I partner with many indie bookstores to purchase the books I need to illuminate the history, geology, and other aspects of our Great Lakes. I absorb this information and then weave it into my books about my Great Lakes Adventures.

As a published author, I am honored that so many indie bookstores have placed my books on their shelves and into the hands of readers. As a thank you to the indies, I pre-released my second book to a dozen stores so they would have it before (Details here.)

Author and Indie Bookstore Partner, me, Loreen Niewenhuis

Remember:  Where you buy your books is important. Support your local indie bookstore, or find one in your region here.

And if you are a customer of, consider this article before you order from them in the future.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ice on Lake Michigan

There have been many reports about the remarkable amount of ice coverage on the Great Lakes during this frigid winter. The highest recorded total ice coverage on the Great Lakes is 94.7% from 1979 (the most modern data set only goes back to 1973). 

On February 12, the Great Lakes were 87% sealed with ice. 

Ice builds around Chicago's water intake

A witness to the freeze on Chicago's Navy Pier

Check out the remarkable growth of ice on Lake Michigan over a 4-day period this month here

Prevailing winds from the west tend to break up Lake Michigan's ice and push it across the lake to the shores of Indiana and Michigan. Large stacks of ice form along the shoreline.

Ice builds around Navy Pier

Ice floe meanders up the Chicago River

The ice coverage will reduce the amount of water that the lakes lose to evaporation this spring. Heavy precipitation this winter will flow to the lakes and raise them up to 11" this year.