Thursday, June 14, 2012

BC2012: A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach by Loreen Niewenhuis

Since I was traveling along the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan earlier this month, including Green Bay, Door County, and Sheboygan, I thought it would be good to read this book about a woman's walk around the perimeter of the lake. Unfortunately, most of my vacation reading consisted of tourist brochures and guidebooks, so I was unable to finish this book during my own journey. It's looking to be a weak month for BC2012.

This is yet another printed volume based on a blog I hadn't heard of (which currently documents the author's latest trek -- go back to 2009 in the archive to follow her around Lake Michigan). I was disappointed that there were no photographs, and I had to wait until literally the last page of the book to learn of her blog and its "many photos." Argh! That information should be in the Introduction for anyone who wants to follow along with the photos on the blog as they read the book.*

I'm trying not to bash her too hard for bypassing the Door Peninsula, which IIRC she never explains. That seems like a major geographic feature to ignore, especially considering her dedication to sticking to the lake shore elsewhere. She didn't even go to Sturgeon Bay**; she just arbitrarily cut a diagonal southeast from Green Bay to Manitowoc. It appears that she was more interested in hiking 1000 miles along the lake rather than hiking the whole perimeter of the lake.*** Oh well, I suppose that's her loss (as well as the readers'). And having spent several days in Door County recently, I think it's a big loss.

Despite those complaints, it isn't a bad book. I learned a few things about wildlife and land use, and I'm sure some of her thoughts and observations will come to mind the next time I'm walking along Lake Michigan.

Something I thought was cool: the author's appendix list of independent bookstores she has visited around the lake includes Sandmeyer's Bookstore in Chicago's South Loop, which is where I bought her book!

* The only excuse I can think of is that weird "meta" thing where writers wrestle with whether to acknowledge their writing within something they are writing. But I was wondering throughout because she'd sometimes refer to people who were following along with her adventure. How where they following along? IMHO she should have revealed the blog right upfront, but maybe she thought that would have obliged her to write about updating the blog, and you can see how that weird meta thing can get complicated.

** At least then she could have argued that the combination of the canal and the bay make the rest of Door County into an island, albeit man-made, which could justify skipping it.

*** In that case, the subtitle of her book should have been "One Woman's Trek on the Perimeter of Lake Michigan" instead of "One Woman's Trek of the Perimeter of Lake Michigan".


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