Next Friday (March 11, 2011) at Brilliant Books in Suttons Bay, Loreen Niewenhuis will release her book, A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach. The book chronicles her walk around the shoreline of Lake Michigan and her observations along the way.
ABSOLUTE MICHIGAN: What prompted you to do this?
LOREEN NIEWENHUIS: I’ve always felt connected to Lake Michigan. It has always been the place where I relax, walk, and recenter myself. When I turned 45, I wanted to take on something large, something that would challenge me on many levels. So, I pulled out my maps of Lake Michigan and plotted a 1000-mile route around it.
ABSOLUTE MICHIGAN: What was your favorite stretch of Michigan beach?
LOREEN NIEWENHUIS: I fell in love with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Leelanau Peninsula all over again. The natural beauty is amazing, the towns are very connected to the lake along this stretch, and there are several excellent independent bookstores along the way.
You can read what Loreen has to say about the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore on her blog, and here’s a brief excerpt from the book.
North of Portage Lake, it soon gets rather remote and the shoreline becomes rugged with high, wooded dunes flanking me to my right, with the expanse of calm lake to my left. There are miles without any signs of civilization, and I pass curious tracks along a small stream that look like a bobcat made them. Not a mile from the stream, a severed foreleg of a deer rests, bloody, on the shore.
A bobcat couldn’t take down a full-sized deer. To forestall the obvious conclusion that something even larger had killed it, I think up a “Clumsy Deer Scenario” where the deer trips, conks its head on a rock, and is eaten by the bobcat.
Oh, clumsy, clumsy deer!
Then I think about all the times that I have stumbled on the trek so far, over icy rocks, through roots grabbing at my feet, over piles of driftwood. I begin to feel little ravenous cat eyes on me, waiting for me to blunder, stumble, and conk my head. At home, I have a 15-pound housecat who has some rather feral moments, so I am sure I can fend off a bobcat â€“ as long as I have my walking stick and my wits about me.
There are wild cats bigger than bobcats in Michigan: cougars. And I don’t mean the Demi Moore type. These big carnivores â€“ over 100 pounds â€“ have been seen all over the state. Cougars are genetically programmed to jump on the back of their prey and clamp their jaws on the neck, working their incisors between the vertebrae to sever the spinal cord so their prey will stop struggling. Then: dinnertime.
My main consolation was that I’d probably not see a cougar come at me. It would be over before I had time to say, “Venison is DELICIOUS!” I hope that my larger pack would protect me, or somehow make me seem less of an option for a cougar dinner.
Or, maybe, the cougar would knock me over, pack and all, but I’d have time to pull out my pepper spray and spray the cat and not myself. And I wished for a big cat that did not think pepper spray would make me taste even more delicious.
Visit Loreen’s website A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach for more including photos, excerpts, book signings and ordering information.