Between the Memorial Day weekend of 2013 and Labor Day 2014, I made a total of 27 trips to 136 Great Lakes Basin islands. These were all of the islands I could find, accessible by ferry or bridge, in the Basin–which includes the connecting rivers/straits as well as the five Great Lakes themselves. On each of these island trips, I was accompanied by a woman friend or relative, who provided another pair of eyes through which to filter the island experience. What amazing island adventures we had!

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Author Maureen Dunphy on Belle Isle in the Detroit River

In the very beginning of this project, just before I took a few trial island trips–and long before I knew just how many islands were accessible by ferry or bridge in the Great Lakes Basin–in a journal entry, I wrote what I now think of as my “island manifesto.” I wrote that journal entry, dated July 7, 2011, sitting in the driver’s seat of my car just before I headed off on my first pilot island trip, one in a month of trips visiting the 15 islands closest to my mainland home. I posted the journal entry within the week as my first blog posting, entitled “Collecting Islands.”

After those 15 island trips, another two years passed before I had the capital saved and could take the time off from gainful employment to officially begin my island project. The two years of visiting 136 Great Lakes Basin islands and then another year of writing about these islands has changed me significantly in many ways. Among them, my occupation has changed; I now spend my days helping other writers get to where they want to be, leading “Getting There from Here” prose writing workshops  for Springfed Arts, as well as coaching writers to achieve their own writing goals and providing editing services through my own business, Dunphy Consulting Services.

Although I’m spending more time on the mainland these days, often at night and occasionally gazing out my study window, I dream of the wonderful islands I’ve visited and of the island friends I now have.  No doubt what the poet Rachel Lyman Field wrote about her island experience in If Once You Have Slept on an Island is true for me as well:

“. . . Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.”

And you can experience this island magic, too. If you are fortunate enough to live in the Great Lakes Region–one of the eight “Great Lake States” or the province of Ontario–you’ve not got far to go to board a ferry or cross a bridge to your own island adventure. And if you live farther afield, you just might want to plan a trip that brings you closer.

To help you get started, welcome to Great Lakes Island Escapes!