Friday, October 26, 2018

Beautiful Autumn in Michigan

"Autumn... the year's last, loveliest smile." - William Cullen Bryant 

Autumn allows us to enjoy a day through a kaleidoscope of quaint foliage. The sceneries are adorned with vibrant yellows, red and auburn leaves. Michigan is one of the states that you should travel during this season. With miles and miles of picturesque vistas, Michigan was declared by Nikon, the camera company, as the best state to take pictures of Fall colors.

This photo essay enriched with quotes will give you a glimpse of the beauty of Michigan during Autumn.

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." 
- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable…the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.” 
-Hal Borland- 

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and autumn was awakened.” -Raquel Franco- 

"I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze. The sweet chill of pumpkin, and crisp sunburnt leaves." -Ann Drake- 

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." - Stanley Horowitz 

"How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” -John Burroughs- 

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.”

“The heart of autumn must have broken here, and poured its treasure upon the leaves.”-Charlotte Bates- 

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." 
- Albert Camus 

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." 
- George Eliot 

“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour." Victoria Erickson- 

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." 
- John Burroughs 

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” -Samuel Butler- 

"Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale." 
- Lauren Destefano- 

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."- F. Scott Fitzgerald- 

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." 
- Emily Brontë- 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

My Ghost Encounter Story; A Chilling Experience

My childhood was predominantly filled with memories of my mother’s ancestral house. Mostly, it is because of the stories told by my grandfather about World War II and Bigfoot. But, those were not the memories that were imprinted in the deepest recesses of my mind. It was the one night that I chose to bury in the memory of a nine-year-old.

The old house must have been a little more than glorified but I looked at it as the giant that was looming to swallow me. I had no idea how many rooms but it was so huge that there were murals on the walls. The designs of the tables and chairs were so intricate that I used to pretend that they were castles of my dolls. In fact, you might find yourself easily lost in the convolution of dark corridors and towering walls and ceilings. There were two levels and I remember holding on tightly to the staircase railing fearing to fall down. It was perhaps one of the biggest in the town during that time.

The house was also my magical escape whenever carnival opens right in front of it during fiesta celebration. I would sit in the balcony and despite of my littleness, I felt like I could almost touch the people in the ferris wheel. Perhaps, that was the enticement that convinced me to sleep in the house that night without my sisters.

That was the second week of June, just a few weeks after my grandfather was buried and my grandmother was left alone in the big house. Since my grandfather died, my mother had been bribing us just to accompany my grandmother. We were all scared so nobody really wanted to sleep there.

That night, I could not remember how I ended up being alone with my grandmother. I tried to forget as much as I could the details of that fateful night hoping that it would change the course of what I experienced. The realm of ghost stories is not something I would want to dwell on.

I remember my father coming over to see me around 10:00 at night with a bag of chips. He told me before he left to go up in my grandmother’s room and try to sleep since I had school the following day. My grandmother would follow me upstairs once she’s done closing the store. The first floor of the house was converted into a variety store when my grandfather passed away.

Me with my grandmother, mother, sisters, brother, cousin and aunt.

I decided to eat the chips on the bed while waiting for my grandmother in the room. I was halfway done when I felt this tingling feeling arising on the back of my neck, and my whole body went cold. A hand was on my left leg. A very cold one with an airy feel on it. I put down the bag of chips, looked around in the dark and saw nothing. The huge cabinets with mirrors in front towered me but I saw nothing. The room has two doors but they were both closed. I was wearing shorts so I grabbed the sheet and covered my legs. I tried to shout but nothing would come out. No windows were open so there was no source of wind or anything. After I covered my leg, I felt it again. A hand, as cold as an ice with an airy feel on it was on my arm. I tried another scream but nothing came out. I was frozen and I could not even cry. I covered my whole body and buried my face on the pillow. Still, no sound would come out. Then, I felt it again at the back of my neck. Still, I could not scream. It felt like an eternity before my grandmother came to sleep beside me. I could not talk so I pretended to be sleeping and covered my whole body with the blanket.

How I fell asleep or how I managed to walk out of the room the following day was not clear to me. I think it was collective reluctance that blurred most of what happened that night. As a child, you are in charge of your imagination but one thing I was certain, what happened was not just a figment of my imagination. I remembered being back home, staring at the space while my father and mother were trying to find out what happened. I don’t think I said anything but there was an unexplainable huge purplish bruise on my leg and arm.

That house was long gone. It was sold when my grandmother died and the new owner built a new one. Sometimes, I try to convince myself it was just an imagination. But, I find myself holding an ice for as long as I can, feel my cold hand, and as always I am reminded that it did happen. That no matter how much I bury the memory of a nine-year-old, that night happened. And I feel scared again and I tremble in fear.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ludington State Park Fall Camping

Rainer Maria Rilke said that, “At no other time than autumn does the earth itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honey-sweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself...”

The other side of the dam. 

Fall is the perfect season to camp if you want to see the beautiful colors around you. 

It was a travel defined by being immersed in the glorious beauty of October when the verdure alternates between being crisply golden and fiery red. Valleys are aflame and trees adorned the transient beauty of everything around it.

We are blessed to have kind neighbors, Mark and Stacey, who allowed us to use their camper. The luxury of comfortable bed, complete amenities such as water, electricity and furnace was beyond what our grateful heart could express.

We are sincerely appreciative of Zack, Samantha and their kind family for allowing us to join their group. Of course, for the gift of friendship that Heather and Randy shared with us. The time spent with them was the best ever filled with love and laughter. Certainly, camping is a relaxing vacation if you are in the right place and with the right people.

Clear water and colorful trees are everywhere. 

Fishing is one of the activities that you can do and this is a famous place for salmon, lake trout, steelhead, and brown trout.

The Campground
Ludington State Park encompasses nearly 5,300 acres featuring lighthouse, forests, sand dunes, dam, and miles of clean water. Midwest Living magazine voted this state park as the Number one state park in the Midwest.

There are three modern campgrounds- Pines, Cedar and Beechwood- with a combined total of 355 campsites including three mini cabins. We Stayed at Cedar Lot 162 which is right beside the restrooms. All the sites have electricity and modern bathroom facilities.

The park has only remote tent sites but they don’t have electricity and toilet facilities are rustic.

Our first morning was spent biking in trails and visiting the dam. 

"The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry of bugles going by. And my lonely spirit thrills to see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills." -Bliss Carman-

One of the best features of the park is its trail system. There are eight separately marked foot trails that wind for 21.5 miles throughout woods and over the dunes. A paved biking and hiking trails runs along the Big Sable River linking the campgrounds to Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake day use areas, and the amphitheater.
Bicycles are allowed on park roads and the non-paved Lighthouse Road,
but not on any foot trails or cross-country ski trails. 

My husband with Sam's dog, Rosie. Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash and they are not allowed on the beach. 

Recreation passport: Just 11$ when purchased with your license plate registration renewal. $16 at State Parks.
Beautiful colors, clear water. 

Invasive insects and diseases have killed millions of trees in Michigan. 

20/30 AMP Modern Campsite $33 per night
50 AMP Modern Campsite $37 per night
Mini Cabin $52 per night

Check their official website for updated rate.

One of the picturesque sceneries you will see while hiking on the trail 

There are 21.5 miles of hiking trail, 10 miles of cross-country ski trails, a 2-mile bicycle trail and a 4-mile canoe trail. 

Hiking trails are generally very well marked but a map from the park rangers' station will come in handy. 

Beautiful views of dunes and water that never get boring. 

Father and daughter. Thank you, Sam for allowing us to join your group. 

One of the most romantic places you will ever find. 

Transporting firewood is not allowed because of the fear of invasive insects and diseases. You need to purchase on the premises or from nearby vendors who sell USDA-certified firewood.

The Ludington State Park dam. 

Big Sable Point Lighthouse was honored as 2013 Featured Lighthouse of the Year for the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival

The black-and-white striped, 112 foot lighthouse at the Ludington State Park stands proudly on the shores of Lake Michigan and remains a testament to lighthouse keepers of the past

You can purchase a Trex board that will be used in the new walkway around Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Each engraved board costs $100 and allows 25 characters on one line. 

SANITATION STATION: The station is located two miles south of the Big Sable River at the Camper Registration station. My husband was not aware of this so we drove directly to the campground and needed to go back and register. This is where you also fill your camper tank with water which we failed to do since it was our first time.

Thank you, Mark and Stacey for the camper! 

RESERVATIONS: Advance camping reservations can be made up to six months in advance. My husband’s daughter, Samantha, made our reservation three months prior since this is known to be a really busy place. Reservations can be made by visiting this website.

Morning walk with Heather and Randy. 

Best buds, David and Randy who prepared our breakfast. 

This giant fish was caught by this boy. Memorable way to end our vacation. 


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