Saturday, September 3, 2011
Holidays, Haunts and Hotel Rooms.
Well! I just got back from one of the best vacations of my life! I suppose I better recount it now while everything is still fresh in my incredibly tired mind.
First, there are a few terms you'll need to be acquainted with before I start the story of my past four days:
1. UP- Upper Peninsula; this is the other half of Michigan that no one on my side of the country seems to remember. It's that part of land that's not Wisconsin.
2. Yooper- This is the name for the natives of the UP.
3. Pasty- (Pass-tee, not Pays-tee); these are like pot pies, but a million times better and can be hand held. Also, the gravy goes on the outside, like it should.
4. Mackinac/Michillimackinac- Pronounced Mak-in-aw and Mish-ill-i-mak-in-aw.
Alright, are we good? Great! Let's begin.
We left Friday morning around 8:30, after stopping by the office to retrieve C's lost credit card. The entire trip up to Houghton, Michigan took about ten hours, with us stopping along the way for gas and doing our best to not stop for food. The trip up was a rather uneventful one, save for a few teeny towns (villages, more likely) and my first time driving over the Mackinac bridge! If you've never seen it, the Mackinac bridge is a sight to behold. Spanning much, much longer than our famed Golden Gate, this bridge is a lovely shade of green and crosses over one of the deadliest pieces of water in America. I also consider it to be one of the most beautiful. Standing in front of the bridge, on either the Lake Michigan or the Lake Huron side, is both humbling and awe-inspiring. I truly felt small, which is a hard thing to make me feel. I fell in love with the Mackinac bridge last July when I first visited Michigan. It was right there! I stood underneath it! If only I could've driven over it... but that would have to wait a year and a month. I took pictures in front of it, and that was fine then. We had an island to scurry off to. But I finally got my chance to drive over it (I have a thing about driving over bridges) Friday afternoon. It took so much longer than driving over the Golden Gate, and the view was spectacular! But where I really wanted to be lay over the six minute route over the bridge.
I fell in love with the UP long ago, when the two people I knew from there would use the accents and tell me stories of life up north. It's seemed like this mysterious other country to me (and apparently to a lot of people), and somewhere I would instantly love. And when the wheels of C's Honda Fit touched the ground on the other side of the bridge I knew just how in love I would be.It really does feel like you're crossing into Canada. There is a toll for the bridge, and I half expected the nice woman in the booth to ask for my passport. But we paid the $3.50 and zipped on in!
There are two things I immediately noticed about the UP: 1. That everyone is incredibly nice and everyone goes the speed limit (thank goodness. Michigan was starting to give me a complex), and 2. That Yoopers only eat pasties, pizza, smoked fish, ice cream and jerky. Sometimes at places that offer all of the above and have a moose on the sign out front. Yoopers, feel free to disagree, but you can't deny that as soon as you cross the bridge you're bombarded with pasty and ice cream shops all along highway 2. We were determined not to spend anything but gas money on the way to Houghton, however, so we forewent the pasties and played in Lake Michigan instead! The weather was perfect, slightly cloudy and with a strong wind. The water was chilly, but still felt nice on my tired feet. C took over driving, and we sped to Houghton. After all, we were on a time schedule.
Houghton is like any college town should be. It's full of students (especially when you get there the weekend before classes start), places to eat and shops to buy in. We stayed at a Travelodge that was less than ideal, but that's not the part I want to tell you about. We had just enough time to change, grab a bite to eat from a fast food place and hightail our way to Paulding, and the mysterious, freakishly regular light.
So, if you're friends with me you've probably heard me talk a lot about the paranormal. In fact, if you've known me for five minutes you probably have heard me talk of the paranormal. The Paulding Light is something I've been researching over the past year, pretty much when I decided to move to Michigan. If you haven't heard of it, the Paulding Light is a phenomenon that happens on a nightly (or near nightly) basis out in the wood between Watersmeet and Paulding, just off highway 45. Said to be an old railroad brakeman who died on the job, the Paulding Light is his lantern signalling long gone trains on the old railroad tracks. While I don't know if that's true or not, I can tell you that the light itself is very real. It came on a little after sunset, shining brightly in the distance (I'm terrible with distance, but it could have been a mile away), and then fading and flickering out. It repeated this process for some time, and eventually an entire crowd of fifty people had gathered to watch with us. Where we had been the only light at sundown, by the time we left around ten o clock, tens of people had come and gone and were still watching. That's not the only amazing part, however. The light (and this happened only after more people had arrived to see it) changed colour! Much like the lights on a train, or the lanterns a brakeman would've used (I'm guessing), the light changed from white to red more than a few times. It really looked like a train coming and going! I have no idea how long the light went on after we left, but we stood there for a good two hours, watching the light flicker, get brighter and change colour. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen! I've had my fare share of ghostly experiences, but this one goes right to the top!
Afterward, we made the hour and a half trek back to Houghton and got some sleep. Well, sort of. I don't do well the first night in any new place. I didn't sleep much, but that's no matter.
I'll be posting Day 2 of our haunted adventure through the UP soon!
*note: Picture not taken by us. Just hilarious.