Loreen Niewenhuis hiked 1,019 miles around Lake Michigan as a gift to herself. I understand that.
Getting Personal with Lake Michigan
Like an interesting guided tour, the author gives a combination of geographic and ecological facts, historical tidbits, and personal commentary. She is in love with Lake Michigan.
The beauty and wonder of the vast lake made her heart swell with joy. Her heart also broke time after time as she walked past nuclear facilities, abandoned steel mills, and scarring left by coal plants, lumber mills, iron mines, and other industrial polluters that have used the lake as a dumping ground for more than a hundred years.
Yet, she has hope. Many of the polluters are gone. Lake Michigan remains beautiful and wild, and progress has been made to clean up this unique natural asset.
How Did She Do That?
For sixty-four days, the intrepid Loreen walked every foot around the great lake over the course of seven months. In between, she scheduled breaks to rest in towns or at home, to see her son off to college, or to have gall bladder surgery. She slept in her hammock, but also stayed in bed-and-breakfast inns, questionable motels, and with friends.
Usually Loreen walked alone, meeting strangers and contemplating the lake, the small towns dotting the shore, wildlife, and roadkill. I enjoyed reading about each encounter. Sometimes a friend, fellow lake enthusiast, or a family member joined in her for ten miles or three days. Her husband and sons thought she was crazy, but in a proud way.
An Epic Adventure
I met Loreen for a minute at an author event at the Tinley Park, IL library. We bought each other’s books, but it took me six months to open A 1,000 Mile Walk on the Beach. I’m glad I finally did.
Half way through this chronicle of her journey, I decided I need my own epic adventure. Now I’m making plans to bicycle across Illinois. Why not? I can challenge myself physically, discover my state, and meet interesting people. Just like Loreen. Sort of. During my leisurely ride, I’ll visit small towns, learn about the history of the area, and feel the land in an intimate way. She would approve.
I admire Loreen’s audacity. After her hike, she says she felt younger, stronger, and more confident. She encourages everyone to shake up their lives and create their own adventures. Big or small.
Get started by reading A 1,000 Mile Walk on the Beach. It is Loreen’s gift to would-be adventurers, especially women.