The Great Lakes Challenge
I wasn't quite sure which forum to post this in; this one seems as good as any.
So this morning I was considering that a group vacation which had been scheduled for June is now looking likely to be cancelled, which would leave me with some still-unaccounted-for vacation time for the year.
Thinking where I might like to road trip with this vacation time, it occurred to me that I've never been all the way around Lake Michigan--from my home near Indianapolis I've been pretty far north into the Lower Peninsula; I've also been to the Upper, but never too far beyond the Wisconsin border, and I always came up through Wisconsin. I've never been all the way around the Lake, never crossed the Mackinac Bridge, and that's something I'd like to do. I calculate that the trip could be done in just two days of solo driving, if I didn't stop for much, but to do it properly and actually see stuff along the way, I'd want to take three or four days.
"Well," said a little voice in my head, "going around Lake Michigan is a *start*..."
So I came up with the idea of a series of six road trips, set down some rules for myself, and called it "The Great Lakes Challenge"
The Great Lakes Challenge
Summary: Complete six road trips, one around each of the five Great Lakes, and one around all five.
1. Each of the first five trips shall complete a loop around a different one of the five Great Lakes.
2. A "loop" is a journey, entirely on the ground (car, bicycle, walking, train, etc.), beginning and ending at the same point.
3. For mathematicians and other nitpickers, yes, a loop divides the surface of the earth into two regions. Only the smaller of the two regions shall be considered to be encompassed by the loop. (No going in a circle in a parking lot and counting that as a loop which includes the entire surface of the earth except for a few square feet.)
4. During the first five trips, if the loop surrounds more than one of the Great Lakes, it only counts towards one of the Lakes within the loop. ("Purist" Variation: each loop must encompass exactly one Great Lake. For example, starting and ending at my home near Indianapolis, the shortest loop around Lake Superior also goes around Lake Michigan, and the shortest loop around Lake Ontario also contains Lake Erie. The Purist Variation would make my trips around Superior and Ontario a bit longer, as I'd have to choose routes for those two which do not also surround Michigan and Erie, respectively.)
5. There is no requirement to stay within any given distance of the Lake being circled--though it's probably a more interesting drive closer to the shore, rather than driving on major highways. (e.g., It's not required to go up into Door County, Wisconsin, when circling Lake Michigan, but it's recommended.)
6. The sixth and final trip in the Challenge is to make a single loop encompassing all five Great Lakes. While the first five trips, circling one Lake each, may be done in any order, the trip around all five Lakes may be done only after the individual trips around each Lake have all been completed.
7. Basic Version: complete all six trips regardless of the time between trips. Timed Version: complete all six trips within a one-year period. (One year seems reasonably challenging for someone with a full time job and limited vacation time and other commitments. For others with more free time, one year might not be that difficult.)
I think I'll try to do this over the next couple of years. Just the Basic Version--I might be able to manage the Timed Version if I waited until late in 2004 to start, but I don't want to wait that long!
Featured Post this week!
Can I stow away with you? We haven't seen enough of that country. I made your thread the featured post this week on RTA. Check out the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com">home page<a/>.
I've been planning the Lake Superior "loop" for quite some time -- spent some of my childhood up there and have always wanted to go back -- tried once in the late 70s but gnomes intervened and the plans were thwarted. Anyway, I never considered doing ALL of them. Hmmm.
One suggestion -- I have been able to obtain LOTS of information from state government websites, including free maps from most. You might try to gather as much information as possible on the areas (like Door County) that you don't know as well as others to plan your adventures in each location -- although it sounds like you already know quite a bit about the region. The tourist departments in each state typically mail their packages within a couple of weeks of your order -- so it doesn't take long to get. Bob
Another challenge for you
Memory is a tad sketchy -- but I recall talking to a local historian near Detroit that described a "graveyard" of lost Model T's that are sitting on the bottom of one of the lakes.
Back in the prohibition era, bootleggers would load the model T's full of liquor and then drive them over the ice in the winter to the states from Canada. Sometimes, the ice was insuficient for the weight and cargo and car would descend into the murky depths. I would love to know more about this place. Maybe you can find it for us?
Wow, the featured post! Thanks!
Anyway, since I posted this I poked a little more around the web and found out about the Mackinac Bridge Walk <a href="http://www.mackinacbridge.org/">(click on the "Annual Bridge Walk" link)</a> on Labor Day, and I think I'll plan the Lake Michigan loop so I can catch that this year. (Edit: Lake Huron would work for that too. Duh.)
I've also wanted for a few years to go to the Toronto International Film Festival, so I'm thinking I might plan the Lake Ontario circuit to hit that in September '05.
Since appropriate Road Trip music is a popular topic on these forums, I think Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" should be considered mandatory during the Lake Superior trip, ideally at a point when you're in sight of the lake. Possibly near the <a href="http://www.shipwreckmuseum.org/">Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum</a>.
Absolutely! The wreck site is about 15 miles north of Whitefish Point -- adjacent to Highway 17 on the Canadian side as it comes around the headlands there, just north of Batchawana Bay. That would be a good place to play that ballad as well.
The mysteries involved in that story have always captured my interest and imagination. What a horrible night that must have been.