The Glaciers’ Treasure Trove: A Field Guide to the Lake Michigan Riviera
by Jacqueline Widmar Stewart
Most people won’t pick up a travel guide for casual reading. Travel guides are aimed at target markets. When you look for a travel guide at the bookstore, you’ll see that books about the same area can give you very different takes on the same place. The Lonely Planet guides, for example, are aimed at the young “backpacker” audience, while Rick Steves’ guides have a more middle-aged, middle class reader in mind. The author of The Glaciers’ Treasure Trove: A Field Guide to the Lake Michigan Riviera has a very narrowly targeted audience in mind — ecologically-minded travelers visiting the Southern shore of Lake Michigan.
The Lake Michigan Riviera is a stretch of lakeshore running roughly from Porter, Indiana to New Buffalo, Michigan. The guide book focuses on five lakeshore parks: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes State Park, Michigan City’s Washington Park, New Buffalo’s Lakefront Park and Warren Dunes State Park. The guide links these parks by discussing their shared geological legacy, prehistory and the conservation pioneers who ensured that these parks would survive industrial development. While the guidebook is mainly concerned with lakeshore parks, it does include some inland parks like Warren Woods State Park and Pinhook Bog, which showcase rare geological features.
The best travel guides will be easy to read and will give you a sense of place before you arrive. This guide does provide a lot of useful information. I like the way Ms. Stewart combines the story of the area’s geology with the early drive to preserve habitat. I also appreciate the obvious passion the author brings to her work. I get the feeling that the author really wants the reader to come away from her guide motivated to explore the region and excited by the unique geology of the region.
While I appreciate the effort and passion of the author, this guide could be better if the writing flowed better. There were times when I wondered how I got from one place or topic to another. It’s almost as if the author is assuming that the reader is already somewhat familiar with the area. The second half of the book, which gives suggestions on hotels, restaurants, and shopping, could have been much better. The suggestions are simply lists of names and addresses with no commentary on why they are worth a visit. A few words on each location would be very useful to a traveler unfamiliar with the region.
Lexicus Press: wwww.lexicuspress.com