The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Toronto's indie bookstore

Toronto!


As you all know by now, I am a fan of indie bookstores. While in Toronto exploring the Toronto Islands (yes, there are islands there), 
I found Ben McNally Books.

Interior of Ben McNally Books

What a great store! I bought two books on the history and geology of the area.

Window shopping

Stop in next time you're in this Great Lakes city, or check out their website HERE.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Second Anniversary of Great Lakes Walk

Two years ago, I completed my
1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk 
at Niagara Falls.


The dramatic finish line




The final miles were along the Niagara River 


Many friends and family members hiked these final miles with me


Gorgeous fall hiking!


The enthusiastic hikers!


video

Now, two years later, I am on the cusp of completing my 
1,000-Mile Great Lakes ISLAND Adventure
on Mackinac Island.

I'll blog about that finale soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Toronto Islands

I explored the Toronto Islands 
for my upcoming book. 
These small islands tuck up against Toronto's shoreline and are accessible by ferry.

Map of the Toronto Islands


The view from the islands back at Toronto


View from the ferry


Mature trees give these islands a lush, natural feel

They are a wonderful retreat for Toronto's residents and visitors.

Boardwalk along the Lake Ontario side of the island



Plaza and fountain on one of the islands


The ferry

Learn more HERE.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Green Door B&B, Brockville, ON


While on my Great Lakes Adventures, I've 
brought you glimpses of some of the special inns and historic B&Bs where I've stayed.
In the town of Brockville, Ontario, I came across one of the most ambitious building transformations I have ever seen.

The Green Door B&B used to be a church, the Pentecostal Tabernacle, built in 1929. 
Lynne and Peter Meleg purchased the empty building in 2005 and undertook a bold renovation. They detail the transformation of the building on their website HERE.

Entry to the Green Door B&B




Lynne & Peter in the brilliant kitchen


There are four rooms with private baths at the B&B and two apartments in the building that used to be used for Sunday School.

Dining area for gourmet breakfasts

Breakfasts at the inn were amazing. 
Here are some of their specialties:


  • Eggs Benedict, Green Door style. Mouth-watering!
  • Lemon ricotta pancakes drizzled with raspberry-maple coulis. Heavenly!
  • Asian-inspired poached eggs. A vegetarian delight!
  • Citrus French toast with berries, mint and warmed maple syrup. Yummy!
  • Gathering area -- check out those windows!

    The renovation preserved much of the large, open spaces in the building and the windows....
    the windows!
    The space is bathed in natural light.

    Gorgeous detail in the floor

    This is the perfect place to stay while exploring historic Brockville and the Thousand Island region of the St. Lawrence River.

    Private bath in my room


    I had the "boathouse room", and, yes, this was my private window

    Promotional consideration given.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    Boldt Castle

    Passing under the Thousand Island Bridge

    While exploring the St. Lawrence River, I hiked Heart Island, the location of Boldt Castle. 
    This castle is connected to great sorrow, because when George C. Boldt (owner of the Waldorf Hotel in New York City) was having it built as a gift for his wife, Louise, she died. The exterior of the summer mansion was finished and the interior was swarming with over 300 craftsmen working to complete the job.

    A smaller building on the island that housed the power generators

    Heartbroken, Boldt sent a telegram telling the workers to lay down their tools and leave the island. The building remained unfinished for decades.

    The main entry

    The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority obtained the island in 1977 and have been restoring the property ever since.

    Glass dome


    Finished bedroom


    View from the room


    Exterior still undergoing restoration


    Dining room

    It is quite a castle, and a fascinating story that I'll share more of in my upcoming book.

    Exterior


    The nearby boathouse


    Sunday, October 5, 2014

    The 1000 Islands of the St. Lawrence River

    I coordinated with a kayaking outfitter,
    to explore some of the islands in the St. Lawrence River.

    This company is based in Gananoque, Ontario. This special trip, though, was out of Brockville, Ontario, 
    to explore the Frontenac Arch. 

    Kayaking on the St. Lawrence River, a freighter passes behind me

     The Frontenac Arch is the ancient granite bridge connecting the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains. It is an incredibly biodiverse region and was recognized in 2002 by being designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
    National Geographic also recognized the area as a geotourism region. This recognizes the connection of tourism of the region the geographical character of a place. This connection "...should sustain or enhance the environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and well-being of its residents."

    Kayaking with the group through a narrows

    Lunch!

     They served a wonderful lunch, much of the food was 
    sourced locally. 

    We had lunch on Stovin Island


    The city of Brockville owns around 16 islands in the river here and maintains them for boaters to explore and even to camp on some of them. 

    Heading back toward Brockville

     Murray Golledge, a local kayaking expert and kayak builder, paddled with us and told stories of this stretch of river that he loves so much. He talked about "listening to the river" and he told me that the river often gave tests instead of lessons. 
    Murray said, "If you survived the test, then you 
    learned the lesson." 
    I certainly have some experience with that concept!

    A gorgeous day on the river

    The waters of the Great Lakes are on a slow journey to the northern Atlantic Ocean. All of these waters flow down the Saint Lawrence River -- hundreds of miles -- before merging with the ocean.

    Check out the Facebook Page for the Frontenac Arch Biosphere HERE.

    And connect with 1000 Island Kayaking 



    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Monarch butterflies

    Monarch butterflies are finally 
    having a good year. 
    Conditions this spring were favorable as the cloud of monarchs migrated north from their wintering grounds in Mexico into southern U.S. 
    The summer was also easy on the butterflies as the next generations migrated into the northern states. Many thousands of them make their way into the Great Lakes basin.
    MonarchWatch.org collects data and also sells milkweed plugs so concerned monarch fans can cultivate this important plant on their land.

    Milkweed is the ONLY plant that monarchs will lay eggs on. It is the ONLY plant that the caterpillars of the monarchs will eat.

    While hiking on Manitoulin Island, I saw the most beautiful milkweed plants: 


    The amount of milkweed growing along the migratory path of the monarchs has been declining for years and has caused a huge drop in the number of monarchs.
    Learn more HERE.

    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    What is a "seiche"?

    I wrote about the phenomenon of a "seiche" in my first book, 
    A 1,000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH.

    Earlier this month, weather conditions were perfect to set up large seiche formation on both Lakes Superior and Michigan.
    (For a report on the Lake Superior seiche, go HERE.)

    So, what is a "seiche" (pronounced SAY-sh)?
    From the NOAA website:

    Seiches are typically caused when strong winds and rapid changes in atmospheric pressure push water from one end of a body of water to the other. When the wind stops, the water rebounds to the other side of the enclosed area. The water then continues to oscillate back and forth for hours or even days. 

    In 1954, a large seiche formed in Lake Michigan that bounced off the eastern shoreline of SW Michigan, then rebounded back across the lake as a 10-foot wave that swept fishermen off the docks of Chicago. Eight people drown that day.

    For more information on this phenomenon and photos, go here.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Efroymson Conservation Center

    In September, I did a speaking tour for 
    The Nature Conservancy.

    One of my presentations was at their headquarters in Indianapolis, the Efroymson Conservation Center.



    Exterior of the center


    Though I've toured several gold LEED rated buildings, this is the first platinum LEED rated building I've ever come across.

    Lobby

    All the brick in this building and much of the wood was reclaimed and reused from the building previously on the site.
    Rainwater is captured and used by the green roof or the gardens around the center which are planted with native species. Storm water that falls on the property is also gathered via permeable pavement to be reused on site to water plants or to flush the toilets in the center.


    "Green" roof


    LiveWall planted with species native to Indiana

     Geothermal heating and cooling and a lighting system that automatically senses when it is needed are also components making this an incredibly GREEN building.