The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Day I Held a Lamprey

The United States Geological Service (USGS)
 has a research facility on northern Lake Huron dedicated to studying and controlling the invasive lamprey. This creature (it resembles an eel, but is actually in a separate class) suctions on to large fish and literally sucks the life out of them.

I interviewed Dr. Mike Hansen, Field Station Supervisor, for my second book. 

While back in Rogers City recently to give a talk at the library, I stopped in at the facility to see 
Dr. Hansen and tour the facility.

USGS Station signs

 Lamprey entered Lake Erie through the Welland Canal in the 1930s. Prior to this, the lamprey had populated Lake Ontario, but were prevented from moving into the other lakes by Niagara River and the mighty Niagara Falls.

Lauren (a communications rep) with the eggs from just one female lamprey 

A single lamprey lays tens of thousands of eggs. It is impossible to eradicate them, so controlling the population is the best option.

Lamprey are kept in these containers for study

 This facility studies the lamprey, organizes monitoring of streams and rivers where they spawn, and coordinates the treatment of waterways to kill lamprey when they are in the larval stage.

It's best to keep your eye on the lamprey...especially if it's got an eye on you

The multi-toothed suction mouth of the lamprey



Juvenile lamprey. Not so scary, but they'll latch on faster than the adults 

You can stop in and get a tour of the station located on Hammond Bay just north of Rogers City on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2pm, or by appointment.
Learn more about the station HERE
And read about this important work in my second book, A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Indies-Only Release of Great Lakes ISLAND Book


The indies-only release of my new book is timed with Independent Bookstore Day (May 2).

And here is an updated re-posting of my 
"Amazon is Evil" 
essay from 2013:

If you know me or my books, if you've met up with me on the lakeshore or hiking path or while I'm touring with one of my books, our conversation may have touched on the future of books or the importance of indie bookstores in our discussion of the Great Lakes. As an adventurer who has explored over 3,000 miles of the Great Lakes, I love talking to people about these vast waters encircling my home state of Michigan. 

And as an author (and avid reader), "bookish" topics 
are important to me, too.

I am encouraged in these conversations as more and more people are coming to understand the value of our Great Lakes and the importance of independent bookstores. These lakes are essential to life in the Midwest (almost 40 million people get their drinking water from them), and indie bookstores are vital to keeping literature rich and diverse. 

The Great Lakes nurture life, recreation, commerce, industry.
Our indie bookstores nurture our communities, pay into the tax base, are gathering places for discussion, and play an important role in launching new writers. 

Am I pushing the parallel too far? I don't think so.

People ask me how I got my book to be on the shelves of Barnes & Noble stores (B&N). The answer is that indie bookstores sold so many copies (my first book was on the Heartland Indie Bestseller List for several weeks in 2011) that B&N began stocking it. B&N will stock what SELLS because the big chain is interested in SELLING. They call their workers BOOKSELLERS. There's nothing inherently wrong with that business model, but the primary focus of this model is to stock books that will sell, not seek to enrich the book world by what they stock.

Indie bookstores want to sell books, too, but the people who own and work at these stores also tend to LOVE books. 

I was at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Michigan on my book tour this month, and doing book reviews to post in the store and online was part of the job description for the workers there. READING was part of the job. I've seen listings for positions in indie bookstores that read, in part, "...candidate must be well read..." (in an ad for a job at Women & Children First Bookstore, Chicago). I've seen indie bookstore people greet patrons with exciting news about a new book they know the patron will love because they've had long conversations with that person about books. Book conversations. 

Now, I titled this essay "Amazon is Evil" and haven't even gotten around to talking about Amazon.com yet. Let me first say that all the good things that the indies give to their communities (and even B&N supplies on some level), Amazon does not provide. They will not donate books for a fundraiser in your community or pay into the tax base. They don't provide jobs (in general) near you. 

But beyond being contrary to the smart-headed "Buy Local Because the Money Stays in Your Community" philosophy, Amazon.com has pushed their business model toward one of being a predatory marketer ("scan the barcode in the store and see what Amazon sells it for" sales pitching), a bully toward suppliers including publishers (they delisted some publisher's books if the publisher dared to disagree with Amazon's discount pricing [article HERE in New York Times), and -- Amazon's most recent move -- they've purchased GoodReads.com (article HERE) in order to market directly to the reader using GoodReads data and to push readers toward the Kindle.


From the New York Times:  

Amazon.com Inc., with a market capitalization of $117.48 billion, is the largest company in the Internet and Catalog Retailing sector. 

I don't have a problem with big businesses, but I do have a problem with a big business that actively tries to crush small businesses or actively bullies other sectors of the publishing world.

The consumer has the real power in this equation, though, because it is YOUR dollar that these businesses are competing for. 

_______________

Once again, I am doing an indies-only release of my new book. On May 1, the following independent bookstores will have 
A 1,000-MILE GREAT LAKES ISLAND ADVENTURE
a full month ahead of Amazon or chain bookstores:

  • Battle Creek Books, Battle Creek, MI
  • Black River Books, South Haven, MI
  • Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI
  • The Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor, MI
  • Dog Ears Books, Northport, MI
  • Forever Books, St. Joseph, MI
  • Great Lakes Book & Supply, Big Rapids, MI
  • Horizon Books, Traverse City, MI
  • Kazoo Books, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Leelanau Books, Leland, MI
  • Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
  • McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI
  • Michigan News Agency, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI
  • Reader's World, Holland, MI
  • [also The Nature Connection of Kalamazoo]
Please support your local indie bookstore or order your books through one of the many indie bookstores with online purchasing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tales from the Book Tour


The month of April has been busy!






I finished the final edits on the manuscript for my new book...







Seniors at the Georgetown Senior Center



...gave several lectures about my second adventure exploring all five Great Lakes...














Coopersville Library

...and began doing interviews for the new book.

Zinta Aistars, host of "Between the Lines" on WMUK

Zinta Aistars is the host of "Between the Lines" 
on WMUK. 



This interview about the islands of the Great Lakes will air on May 12, or catch it online (when posted) on WMUK's website.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Indie Bookstore in Battle Creek!

The store will soon have a new, blue awning

 Finally, Battle Creek has an independent bookstore!

Located downtown on West Michigan Ave., 
Battle Creek Books is brimming with great books both new and used along with newspapers, magazines and other merchandise.


Owner Jim Donahue holds up the merch!

The store also has a great space for events, and I will be a featured author here for 
Spring into the Arts, Friday, May 15
from 5-9pm (I'll give short readings at the top and bottom of each hour)
and
Saturday, May 16 I'll give my Great Lakes ISLANDS presentation at 2pm

Great space!

 Come to downtown BC and check out this great addition to my hometown!
Battle Creek Books is one of the indie bookstores participating in the "Indies Only" release of my Great Lakes Islands book.

Here I am with owner Jim Donahue

For the complete list of stores that will have the book on their shelves on May 1, 
go HERE.



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tales from the Book Tour



The beautiful events room at the Kzoo Library

I was honored to be part of Kalamazoo's Reading Together program. I was asked to give my Great Lakes Walk lecture to tie in with the book chosen: 

The Living Great Lakes, by Jerry Dennis.

Over a hundred people came out to hear about my adventures...


and my three books.

My book tour schedule is filling up as I add engagements with my new book:

A 1000-Mile Great Lakes
 ISLAND 
Adventure



Available at select indie bookstores May 1, 
then everywhere books are sold June 1.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Great Lakes Artist



Brodbeck's studio

I had the pleasure of visiting the studio of Mary Brodbeck, an artist based in Kalamazoo.





Brodbeck works with the Japanese technique of woodcut prints called mokuhanga in Japanese. She's worked in this media for over 15 years and has recently produced a documentary about this art called "Becoming Made." The Great Lakes feature prominently in her work.

 The documentary DVD 


 The documentary will be shown at the Wellspring Theater in Kalamazoo on 
Friday, April 10 at 6pm and 7:30pm.

Learn more about her work and her events HERE.


Brodbeck holds the woodcut for the print you see below 

Ghost pier in Lake Michigan


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fountains of the Great Lakes

In my upcoming book about the ISLANDS of the Great Lakes, I will take you to the
James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle.

During my winter in Chicago, I watched the city wake from its snowy slumber. The ice on the lake broke up and melted, and workers climbed up on Chicago's Buckingham Fountain to prepare it to have water flowing through its pipes once again.

The fountain is quiet all winter


Workers inspect the fountain...


...and ready it for the water to flow once again.


spring is in the air...

Most people see the fountain in the summer with water streaming, so you may not be aware of the effort it takes at the end of every winter to get it running once again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Six Year Anniversary

Six years ago, I began my first hike on Chicago's Navy Pier. The completion of that first 1,000-mile hike led me to undertake two more 
Great Lake Adventures.

Chicago's Navy Pier reaches out into Lake Michigan

Now, I've hiked, kayaked, biked or boated over 3,000 miles exploring the Great Lakes basin, the shoreline, cities and towns on the edges of the lakes, wild areas, and dozens of the islands afloat in their waters.

In this video, I take a moment to look back to where this all began.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Great Lakes Trail

You may not often think about the intersection of the Great Lakes and environmental law, 
but Professor Melissa K. Scanlan does.

Scanlan is the Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School and she recently published a paper exploring the need for and the feasibility of a hiking trail tracing the shoreline of all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

While writing this paper, Scanlan contacted me about the feasibility of establishing this trail. I was able to give her data and feedback on the accessibility of the over 2,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline I had hiked. 
Giving people MORE access to the shoreline can only benefit our connection to these vast lakes and encourage conservation of these vital waters.


From the intro of the paper:



BLUEPRINT FOR THE GREAT LAKES TRAIL 
by: Melissa K. Scanlan 

The Great Lakes are vast yet vulnerable. There is a need to focus the public’s attention on the significance of the lakes for the region as a cohesive, binational whole. To address this need, build on existing water law, and engage the public, this Article provides a blueprint to establish a Great Lakes Trail on the shores of the Great Lakes. The Trail will link together 10,000 miles of coastline and provide the longest marked walking trail in the world. It will demarcate an already existing, yet largely unrecognized, public trust easement and engage the public with their common heritage in the lakeshore.


Read the full paper HERE.