The Coast of Lake Michigan Looks Extra Oceanic in This New 'Linear Map'
October 21, 2015 7:14 PM   Subscribe

When I visit Lake Michigan, I feel staggering incredulity: How is this not an ocean? Driving between cities around its 1,400 miles of shoreline—say, from Chicago to Grand Rapids—emphasizes the lake’s vast scroll, since the only way to go is around. A new map captures that experience.
posted by cthuljew (72 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
That really is a super cool map, and beautifully executed. The article mentions that there's "lots of math" involved, and I wish they'd gone just a tad deeper into that part. I don't even know what to google to find out more.
posted by WCWedin at 7:35 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ask and ye shall recieve. (Scroll to the bottom for bonus Lake Superior map.)
posted by rodii at 7:37 PM on October 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


Oh man, that link is way better.
posted by cthuljew at 7:42 PM on October 21, 2015


And recieve ye a another link from 'something about maps' to Project Linework.

(Waves to Rodii)
posted by clavdivs at 7:48 PM on October 21, 2015


Absolutely wonderful! I have an irrational love of strip maps (much to my partner's irritation whenever we're driving anywhere) and it's great to see this expansion and evolution of the concept.
posted by coleboptera at 7:54 PM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love this. Thank you for sharing it!
posted by parrishioner at 8:02 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


"For in their interflowing aggregate, those grand fresh-water seas of ours,- Erie, and Ontario, and Huron, and Superior, and Michigan,- possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many of the ocean’s noblest traits; with many of its rimmed varieties of races and of climes. They contain round archipelagoes of romantic isles, even as the Polynesian waters do; in large part, are shored by two great contrasting nations, as the Atlantic is; they furnish long maritime approaches to our numerous territorial colonies from the East, dotted all round their banks; here and there are frowned upon by batteries, and by the goat-like craggy guns of lofty Mackinaw; they have heard the fleet thunderings of naval victories; for leagues and leagues are flanked by ancient and unentered forests, where the gaunt pines stand like serried lines of kings in Gothic genealogies; those same woods harboring wild Afric beasts of prey, and silken creatures whose exported furs give robes to Tartar Emperors; they mirror the paved capitals of Buffalo and Cleveland, as well as Winnebago villages; they float alike the full-rigged merchant ship, the armed cruiser of the State, the steamer, and the beech canoe; they are swept by Borean and dismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave; they know what shipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, however inland, they have drowned full many a midnight ship with all its shrieking crew."
posted by Iridic at 8:02 PM on October 21, 2015 [20 favorites]


I remember seeing the circle tour signs when I was a kid. I asked my Dad if we could do the one for Lake Michigan. He said, "No son, that would take a long, long, long time."

I still want to do it someday.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:04 PM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not that long (by car anyway). I've never followed the circle tour route, but I've rounded Lake Michigan a couple times. It's a pleasant long weekend.
posted by wotsac at 8:11 PM on October 21, 2015


Iridic, where is that quote from?
posted by overglow at 8:13 PM on October 21, 2015


Chapter 54 of Moby Dick.
posted by Iridic at 8:23 PM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Someone hates Milwaukee.
posted by miyabo at 8:23 PM on October 21, 2015


Great stuff...thanks! We love our lakes here, it's always interesting to feel/see/hear a new perspective.
posted by HuronBob at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wish the post was feeding traffic to Daniel’s excellent write up of his process directly, instead of Citylab. Gorgeous work, and he's always been one of the better things about the annual NACIS cartography conference.
posted by migurski at 8:48 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


From rodii's link:
[large image of equations]

Fortunately, Wolfram Alpha outputs equations as images, so I didn’t have to re-type all this. Unfortunately, Wolfram Alpha outputs equations as images, so I did have to re-type all of this when I actually wrote the code to make the map.
posted by tickingclock at 8:56 PM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Although the typical Chicago-to-Mac features conditions that would be called moderate compared with ocean racing, Lake Michigan often stirs up a real blow. The 1970 race, in which 88 of 167 starters failed to finish, many of them dismasted in the high winds, made a convert of no less a helmsman than Ted Turner. An accomplished ocean sailor long before he won the America's Cup in 1977, Turner brought American Eagle, a 12-Meter yacht he had converted for deepwater racing, to the 1970 Chicago-to-Mac race. As the story goes, Turner, with characteristic bravado, feigned nervousness when someone mentioned the potentially rough weather ahead, making it clear to all in earshot that he was not afraid of any lake.

American Eagle crossed the line second. But after being battered in winds of more than 50 m.p.h. and pounded in succession by ample, tightly packed waves, Turner reportedly expressed a newfound humility for the power of the Great Lakes. ''I hereby publicly retract anything and everything I have ever said about inland sailing,'' he said.


I've crossed that water more than a few times by water and air and driven many hours north and south of Chicago along its shoreline. It is an amazing secret that I don't know why isn't talked about more.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:06 PM on October 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is beautiful! On the broader subject of localized, human-scale directional systems I remember back when I lived in Duluth on the shore of Lake Superior, the street grid (and the general development of the city) was dominated by the lake and aligned to it, which was about exactly 45° off the cardinal directions. So street directions were often "upshore", "downshore", "uphill", and "downhill". (Although the latter two might be "toward lakeside" and "toward hilltop" more often.)
posted by traveler_ at 9:08 PM on October 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Downtown Minneapolis is the same way, with the river being about 45° off cardinal. Except here everyone just gets angry when they have to talk about directions in downtown instead of having some clever system like that.
posted by cthuljew at 9:10 PM on October 21, 2015


I had to navigate Ontario earlier this season, you get 7-8 miles offshore, and it's the ocean, I don't care what anybody says.
posted by valkane at 9:19 PM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I rounded Lake Michigan for the first time a couple of months ago, and I gotta say ... I like beer. (Seriously, there's some great beer near some great bike trails.)

Also, Superior, they said, never gives up her dead when the gales of November come early.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:46 PM on October 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Downtown Peoria is also on a river-dictated diagonal grid instead of the normal orthoganal grid of the rest of the city, and we react with confusion, rage, and terrible directions referring to buildings torn down 50 years ago and streets rerouted a decade ago.

Also I need that linear Lake Michigan thing as wallpaper.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:57 PM on October 21, 2015


How is this not an ocean?

Yeah... ummm... have you seen an actual ocean?
posted by pompomtom at 10:17 PM on October 21, 2015


It's a pleasant long weekend.

Indeed, it’s how we spent Labor Day weekend 34 years ago. A day to to drive up the left side of the lake from Chicago (managing to acquire the only speeding ticket I’ve ever received in the process), a day to explore the UP and eat pasties, and a day to drive back down the other side, with various stops on the way. It’s quite a lot of driving, but not extreme, and they keep on improving the roads so it gets easier.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:21 PM on October 21, 2015


Have you seen the Great Lakes, pompomtom? They're called that for a reason.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:23 PM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


They're called that for a reason.

That's pretty much my point.
posted by pompomtom at 10:39 PM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Read both words.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:49 PM on October 21, 2015


I live in Grand Rapids and don't really find the lakes incomprehensible. I have no difficulty realizing I'm driving around a lake when I go from GR to Chicago. Maybe it's because I grew up on Lake Huron near the bridge? They're great lakes, but really, they're just lakes.
posted by scrowdid at 12:14 AM on October 22, 2015


No sharks. No salt. Therefore not an ocean.

Just better.
posted by miguelcervantes at 12:36 AM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


My family has lived on the south shore of Lake Superior for many, many generations (interestingly, I’m related to the Ojibwe chief Kechewaishke, mentioned in the link rodii posted, so that was a nice surprise), but I’m still blown away by its size anytime I travel any considerable distance along it. It can be hard to believe that I can drive 8 hours and still have not even made it even a fraction of the distance around a single lake. I find the entire experience incredibly humbling.

At one point, I decided I wanted to do a road trip circle tour of Lake Superior, but I realized I could get to Washington State or many other western states driving a similar amount of miles. I’ve tried explaining this to friends from other parts of the country, but I feel they don’t truly understand. I really appreciate these maps, though!
posted by giizhik at 1:09 AM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


pompomtom, when you're standing on the shore of lake michigan and looking around you can't tell the difference by sight - you just can't
posted by pyramid termite at 2:19 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, yeah, if you're 6 feet tall, the horizon is at 3 miles. That doesn't mean every 3 mile pond = the ocean.

It would need to be grey and foreboding and contain sharks and what not.
posted by ftm at 2:27 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's an ocean? If it's the smell of salt and the threat of tsunami, then no, the Great Lakes aren't like oceans. If it's an expanse of water that makes you feel small -- something you can get lost in, something that reminds you that your human problems are nothing, that the world is bigger than yourself, something that humbles you or calls you to adventure or promises to swallow all your secrets -- then I think they're like very much like oceans.
posted by yomimono at 2:59 AM on October 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


C'mon, you could make the case for them as small freshwater seas, but oceans? Oceans are typically bigger than continents, while the Great Lakes are smaller than the average medium sized country. An incomplete list of enclosed bodies of water by area in square km:

2.5 million Mediterranean Sea
438,000 Red Sea
436,402 Black Sea
415,266 Baltic Sea
371,000 Caspian Sea
82,414 Lake Superior
69,485 Lake Victoria
59,600 Lake Huron
58,000 Lake Michigan
32,893 Lake Tanganyika
31,500 Lake Baikal
posted by kersplunk at 3:45 AM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


This was a neat story from last summer: Ontario family swims in 5 Great Lakes in 1 day.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:37 AM on October 22, 2015


I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico and went to the beach nearly every summer on the coast of the Carolinas. So maybe technically the Great Lakes are not oceans, but when I moved up to Canada nearly seven years ago and went out on Lake Ontario on a ferry, I was surprised and pleased by just how immense it is. I didn't expect it. To me, lakes were always decent-sized bodies of water, but they were never...gigantic.

The Great Lakes are gigantic. They boggle. They dazzle. And you are reminded of just how amazing and strange the world really is that these are considered lakes.
posted by Kitteh at 4:45 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm intrigued by the war on similes in this thread. That's our new thing now?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:51 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's no war on similes. If it were a war, there would be soldiers and generals and weaponry and whatnot.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:56 AM on October 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


This is cool. I'm at work and I've not given this the attention it truly deserves. Is there a link for purchasing said map any where? If not, there should be.
posted by Fizz at 5:11 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fizz: There is a poster on Zazzle.
posted by carter at 5:32 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up next door to a retired ship's engineer who sailed first as a merchant marine sailor in World War II and then spent his career on the Great Lakes. He always swore that the Great Lakes were tougher to sail than the North Atlantic because storms blew up much more quickly and the weather patterns in general were less predictable on the lakes.

Ah, nostalgia, from my high school's Alma Mater where the team nickname was Steelmen:
On the shores of old Lake Erie,
Where the coal and iron meet....
posted by etaoin at 5:34 AM on October 22, 2015


I find the difference of opinion here interesting. For myself, and it seems like some others having grown up on a Great Lake, I just always thought that's what a "lake" was. I know I learned in school that they were super large, and I did indeed see smaller ones in cottage country & whatnot, but I never saw it as an ocean (Ontario specifically, but the rest as well when visited on camping trips, etc.).
I remember once seeing a tourist on the beach in Toronto marvelling at the water, and calling it an ocean; I was young, but I giggled... I had not yet seen an ocean, but it somehow seemed different in my imagination.
And the first time I saw an ocean? WOW! Somehow, it just felt (and smelled) very distinctly different than the Great Lakes.
I love water, and gravitate to the lakes, rivers, oceans, etc. when I travel... thanks for the maps, they are beautiful.
posted by Laura in Canada at 5:40 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is not called The Tiny Oceans.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:42 AM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Jim Harrison likes to point out in his books that Lake Michigan is so cold that people who drown in it don't swell up and float like they do in other bodies of water. They remain on the bottom, perfectly preserved. Except, they might lose their eyes, eaten by fish. I don't know if it's true, but it's spectacularly creepy.
posted by valkane at 5:56 AM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love maps and always have. The linear one kind of breaks my brain, and it's really fascinating me. It says a lot about my cognitive biases and the way I've trained myself to think about geography. I'll come back and consider it more later because right now AAAAAA.
posted by norm at 6:33 AM on October 22, 2015


Well, yeah, if you're 6 feet tall, the horizon is at 3 miles. That doesn't mean every 3 mile pond = the ocean

I work on the 40th floor in downtown Chicago with a lake view. 20+ mile horizon. Still can't see the other side.

Also, hydrologically, Michigan and Huron are one lake, so any volume or area stats should combine the two.
posted by hwyengr at 6:34 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bouncing off of Laura's comment: I first really experienced a Great Lake (Huron) when I was 21, even though I had been born and raised in the region. Got to go on a sampling trip on a small boat.

To me: seeing water stretch into the horizon, whether it'd be ocean or lake water, is an experience in itself. Smell is definitely a thing, but IMHO, after seeing the Pacific visiting my sister in Japan, the visual experiences are comparable: endless water, and waves, and beautiful sky views.

The big difference being I had to take a JET across the Pacific to have a ~comfortable trip to see my sister. Meanwhile: around the Great Lakes, we just drive around them.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:40 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


valkane: "Lake Michigan is so cold that people who drown in it don't swell up and float like they do in other bodies of water. They remain on the bottom, perfectly preserved"

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I've done the Superior circle tour on a motorcycle with a friend and his wife. It ended up being 3000 miles including the round trip to get to/from our start/finish point just outside Superior, Wisconsin.

We camped almost the whole way. It was fun and I'd definitely would like to do it again.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:21 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Chrysostom, I think you're right, I think it was Superior that Harrison was talking about. Honestly, I get 'em all mixed up, even though I live on one of the great lakes.

A joke around here: "Great Lakes? Yeah, I dunno. They're okay."
posted by valkane at 7:23 AM on October 22, 2015


Great post. Also: rodii!
posted by languagehat at 7:47 AM on October 22, 2015


I work on the 40th floor in downtown Chicago with a lake view. 20+ mile horizon. Still can't see the other side.

But you certainly can when you're flying into/out of O'Hare. I have done this with my own peepers.

I love the great lakes, but they're so distinct from oceans. Flying from Buffalo to Chicago, for example, is basically a flight over Lake Erie. And you can very easily see both sides of the lake, and a loong way down it. It's nothing like the experience (which I admit I haven't had for more than 30 years) of taking off and leaving land behind and there being nothing but water for hours. The thing that's impressive about Lake Erie is how late into the spring there is ice on it. Likewise, you can stand on the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto and see across to the lights of... I guess it must be St. Catherine's or Niagara-on-the-lake. Again I have done this with my own Mark I eyeballs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, people. There is no suggestion by anyone that Lake Michigan is literally an ocean or should be called an ocean or classed with oceans. You're responding to "When I visit Lake Michigan, I feel staggering incredulity: How is this not an ocean?" This is an expression of emotion, specifically of incredulity. The author is saying how it feels (to them) to experience Lake Michigan. If someone says "That was a monster home run," do you respond "Actually, a monster is an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening, not a home run"? Can we possibly get off this embarrassing, MeFi-as-Comic-Guy derail and get back to how cool the maps are?
posted by languagehat at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


I have to admit that well before the discussion here, the author's expression came across to me as really fake-ily breathless and annoying.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2015


I grew up on Lake Michigan. When I first got to stand on an ocean beach, I noted that looking to my left, right, and straight ahead, all one could see was water--just like home. So I wasn't really that impressed.

Yeah, if you think about it, the next continent is a hell of a lot longer slog than Wisconsin is, but you have to know that.
posted by stevis23 at 8:46 AM on October 22, 2015


Likewise, you can stand on the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto and see across to the lights of... I guess it must be St. Catherine's or Niagara-on-the-lake. Again I have done this with my own Mark I eyeballs.

I stayed just outside St. Catharine's over Labo(u)r Day - on a clear night, you could clearly see the lights of Toronto. I imagine you'd be able to over in Niagara-on-the-Lake, too.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Great Lakes do not seem to be well named, but neither does the Mississippi River. The fact that the Mississippi was once (and will again be) the Inland Sea escapes its "River" name
posted by eustatic at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2015


I had the pleasure of seeing Daniel Huffman present this map at NACIS just last week! Like migurski said upthread, his work is always a highlight of the conference. There's a lot of really exciting inventive work coming out of Madison right now. If I was just starting out in cartography, it's where I'd want to be.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I grew up on the north shore of Superior, so water that just goes on and on and on is something I take for granted. I didn't see the ocean until I was a teenager, when I lived in Belgium and visited the North Sea. I was really excited. The ocean! But then, it was just water stretching across the horizon, which I'd seen a million times, so it was kind of a letdown.

On the other hand, when my uncle brought his Cape Cod raised young bride home to meet my grandmother, she was completely blown away by Superior. It really is a matter of perspective.

I think it has to do with expectations. When I think lake, I picture Superior. All the little bodies of water--the dozens of Diamond Lakes and Echo Lakes and Cloudy Lakes, never mind the hundreds of thousands of tiny unnamed lakes people's camps were on--they were lakes, but not, you know, LAKES. But I guess if your idea of lake is some little beach you used to go to, you might see it differently.
posted by looli at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up on Lake Michigan before moving to the East Coast. Upon swimming in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time and ducking my head under the water, I surfaced and yelled to one of my East Coast friends, "WHY WOULD YOU MAKE THIS SO SALTY?! WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?!"

I remain convinced that salty oceans are a great inconvenience.
posted by clockbound at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


from the article:
Driving between cities around its 1,400 miles of shoreline—say, from Chicago to Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids, despite what their tourism people would have you believe (e.g. show up at the Grand Rapids airport and you'll see mural-sized pictures of lighthouses on the wall) is really nowhere near the lake shore -- it's a full county (and about 40-50 miles) inland. The people of Ottawa and Muskegon Counties, which stand between Grand Rapids and the Lake, are not willing to cede their claim to the shore to a city which, until recently, was routinely "accidentally" discharging untreated sewage into the lake (via the Grand River) after heavy rains.

from looli's response:
All the little bodies of water--the dozens of Diamond Lakes and Echo Lakes and Cloudy Lakes, never mind the hundreds of thousands of tiny unnamed lakes people's camps were on--they were lakes, but not, you know, LAKES.
I know this is my own rule and not recognized by anyone else, but when I'm talking about a Great Lake without using its full name the word gets capitalized: e.g. if I'm going to Lake Michigan, I'm going to the (capital-L) Lake. If I'm going to a smaller body of water I'm going to the lake. So it's interesting to me to see others also use capitalization for emphasis of the difference in scale.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2015


As a transplant from Nova Scotia, it took me years living in Toronto to come around to begrudgingly love the lake. Sure, it's not the ocean, no killer tides and there aren't creatures as big as a house down there somewhere, but it does give you that same feeling of mystery and beauty. There only thing I miss are the waves, and the warm September ocean waters.
posted by beau jackson at 12:48 PM on October 22, 2015


Grand Rapids, despite what their tourism people would have you believe (e.g. show up at the Grand Rapids airport and you'll see mural-sized pictures of lighthouses on the wall) is really nowhere near the lake shore -- it's a full county (and about 40-50 miles) inland

you have a good point, but it's actually about 31 miles from downtown GR to kirk park on the lakeshore - go out m45, keep going where it ends at us31, at the end turn left, one mile
posted by pyramid termite at 4:58 PM on October 22, 2015


I'm a Newfoundland transplant in Toronto, and the Great Lakes are incredibly unheimlich for me. Superficially they resemble the ocean that surrounded me for the first 23 years of my life, but the waves are too small (at least compared to the open North Atlantic). Most importantly, though, the smell is wrong. You walk on the shore back home for a little while, you lick your lips, you taste salt.

That said, I do consider the Great Lakes to be one of the natural wonders of the world . . . they're an astonishing natural feature in their own right.
posted by erlking at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2015


(Hey clav, hey 'hat! Nice to be remembered from Beyond the Grave, as it were.)
posted by rodii at 7:48 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've done the circle tour around each of the Great Lakes. Twice. It's well worth it, if you can manage the time. The very first one I did was Michigan, in 2004. I did that in six days, which wasn't nearly long enough for all the things you could do. (And it could even be done in three, if you wanted to do a lot of driving and not a lot of stopping and seeing things, but I fail to see the point in that.) Most of my subsequent trips were around the two-week mark. I separated the first cycle (2004-2008) from the second (2010-2014) with a single trip around all of them in 2009, but that had a higher driving-to-sightseeing ratio than I cared for, and I probably won't try that again unless I can finagle 4-5 weeks for such a trip.

The fact that I did them all a second time should tell you all you need to know about how much I love doing that. The variety encountered in such a trip is just amazing. From grand cities to small towns to farmland to rugged wilderness. This year will mark the first year in over a decade that I'm not doing a circle tour — given the choice between going back to places I loved, and traveling to new places I've never been before, the latter won out...barely. There's a part of me that very much misses doing another circle tour this year. I fully expect I'll do a third cycle at some point, but there are other places in the world I want to see too.

Just don't ask me which is my favorite. That would be asking me to pick my favorite child. (Er, hypothetically, since I don't have children.) Each of the five lakes has its own character, and each is charming in a different way.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:31 PM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


there aren't creatures as big as a house down there somewhere

Well, not that you've seen anyway.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:05 AM on October 23, 2015


I've done the circle tour around each of the Great Lakes.

I've done Michigan and Superior and was thinking about Huron this summer but didn't quite get it together. What is the Huron trip like? Specifically, what's the east shore of Georgian Bay like?
posted by rodii at 7:52 AM on October 23, 2015


I want to squeeze in one more comment at the end of this thread. I love going to Presque Isle (not an isle) at Lake Erie, the most shallow and, probably, least Great. I don't care. I have lots of ocean experience and, on a hot summer day, building sandcastles with my daughter, listening to the waves crash and sea gulls scream, I'm at the ocean. (Experiencally)
posted by firemouth at 9:15 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Specifically, what's the east shore of Georgian Bay like?

Eastern Georgian Bay is completely spectacular right down on the water, but from the highway you'll see nothing but trees and rocks and rocks and trees for the longest five hours of your life. The 400 from Waubaushene to Sault Ste. Marie may well be the boringest stretch of road in the world. (You know something has gone terribly wrong in your life when you're over the moon with delight to arrive in Sudbury.)

As much as it's totally cheating, I would very strongly recommend taking Hwy 6 instead and experiencing Georgian Bay from the western side, up the Bruce Peninsula and across on the Chichimaun to Manitoulin Island.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:32 PM on October 23, 2015


(That would also bypass a lot of the cottage country clog you're very likely to encounter in southern Georgian Bay in the summer.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:39 PM on October 23, 2015


Yep, I'm in agreement with Sys Rq — there's not a whole lot along that stretch of road, although Parry Sound is worth a mention. If you're there in late July or early August, there's the Festival of the Sound, a classical music festival held in a beautiful concert hall which, improbably, is in the same building as the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. There's also a boat tour of Georgian Bay that operates out of Parry Sound.

As something of a completist, I drove that stretch both times, but I wouldn't fault you if you took Sys Rq's advice to drive up the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory and then took the ferry over to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island (or the reverse, depending on which way you're circling the lake). The Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island were some of my favorite parts of my Lake Huron trips — there's lots of good hiking on both, and Manitoulin is host to several First Nations Pow Wows throughout the summer.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2015


(Belatedly) Yes, I've done the Bruce trip many times. I love Tobermory and Manitoulin. I'm hoping to get east of Sudbury, though, and also see Killarney, so what the hell, might as well do the completist thing. The trip around Superior has its long stretches too, but I would happily do it again. And once you've driven across the Dakotas and Montana a few times, nothing in the east will ever feel truly far. Thanks for the responses though!
posted by rodii at 7:23 AM on November 20, 2015


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