Weekend Getaway: Haunted Tunnels, Bigfoot, UFOs, Hemingway and Fall Colors Galore

Happy Samhain and Celtic New Year!


David and I made another getaway to Traverse City, our second year going the weekend before Halloween. This time we also explored further north to Charlevoix and Petoskey. I saved this recap for today, because it contains so many spooky and Halloween-type details. Usually, Traverse City is my happy place. I love how I feel with so much water around, and even before our first trip there, I sensed a kind of vortex energy due to the sheer number of Reiki Master Teachers who live there. I don’t know where I first saw evidence of the concentration of RMTs, but to me the high number in a relatively small town seemed significant. I’ve referred to Traverse City as the Sedona of Michigan.

For this trip, David cooked up a different itinerary than our normal TC jaunts. On our last trip there, two different people mentioned “The Commons,” a combination of high end condos, low income housing, elder community and shops — all in the renovated Traverse City State Hospital. Both people marveled at how you’d never know it was a former insane asylum, and one of them claimed to be as sensitive to energies as I am. She said she went on a tour and couldn’t believe how they “got rid of the energetic residue.”

This stoked our curiosity, because I am so averse to insane asylum energies that I can’t even comfortably go on the same side of town as one in the Kalamazoo area. I had no idea about the one in our area, but when we very first visited Kalamazoo together, we happened to go on that side of town. I told David the vibe was “too oppressive. I could never live here.” Then we went to New Moon, a no longer in business magic and metaphysical shop in a different part of town, and I said, “OK, I love it here now. Just keep me away from that other area.” I don’t drive, and I don’t pay attention to directions, but whenever we pass through that other area, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, my heart constricts, and I turn to David, “We’re near that place again, aren’t we?”

Given that background — along with my dad’s frequent threats to institutionalize me whenever my intuitive messages challenged his reality and especially for painting portal doors — I can’t believe I agreed to tour The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. We arrived, and if we hadn’t already bought tickets, I would have insisted we turn around. I told David, “Ummmm, the residue’s not gone!” He agreed it felt institutional, and I mentioned how I don’t like any institutions: schools, jails, church basements … they all feel the same to me, with varying degrees of oppression. David was really excited about the tour, though, so I decided to lean into the discomfort, face my fears.


The Village TC Tour was very well done, and they’ve done a phenomenal job restoring this historic structure. I suspect most people would not feel the way I did, because everything looks really nice. Also, the founding philosophy of “Beauty as Therapy” made this state hospital unique from the start. We learned how each bedroom had a large window and all the common areas had 13 foot ceilings and huge windows to bring more nature and space inside. A working farm provided fresh flowers on the table at all three meals, and the dining room featured fine linens and resort level table service. Work as therapy included farming, engineering and creative endeavors. Our tour guide, who grew up in Traverse City, shared fond memories of school field trips to visit the patients.

As the tour progressed I learned reasons for my unease. In the initial meeting area, I got so hot and claustrophobic that I almost left the tour. The floor felt so oppressively hard on my feet that it locked up my throat and nose, almost like all of me compressed between the floor and ceiling. Others had on coats, but I kept stripping off layers. Finally, the guide said, “This hallway used to be a rat infested hell hole that was so hot no one wanted to be here long.” Aha! Once that clicked in, I felt better. OK, just a time bleedthrough. I felt much better when we went outside for the rest of the tour.

If you’re not overly psychic and happen to go to Traverse City, it really is a fascinating story. They have gorgeous art on display, local crafts, and are restoring the most diverse arboretum in Michigan. They also have big plans for the dilapidated buildings. The history brings up all sorts of philosophical questions about what it means to be human, how to treat those with mental illness, and what warrants preservation efforts. But for me, the tour pushed a lot of buttons. I almost skipped the tunnel part, because I just knew they’d be haunted.

Sure enough, they were. I felt it right away, and then the guide turned off all the lights and told everyone to start filming or taking rapid fire photos. Orbs. I knew there’d be orbs. Dead people tend to like me. They gravitate towards me, and I didn’t want any of them following me home, so I started chanting in my head. I find that sacred chants act as repellents to any energies (or even bugs) I don’t want to interact with. They worked again, and we made it through the tour without incident.


After the tour, I needed more of our normal Traverse City nurturing — water, crystal shops, delicious food, books, beauty. That’s why I go to Traverse City. A bottle of coconut water and about a quart of regular water quenched the bizarre dehydration I felt after the tunnels. Then we headed to Nawbin. We found and bought some Merlinite stones, and both of us noticed a sudden “invasion” of UFO and Bigfoot paraphernalia. They still had crystal skulls, but these ones were all alien head crystal skulls. Patches and stickers had images of UFOs and lines like “U.P. Oh” with a UFO beam shining down on Michigan. (U.P. = Upper Peninsula.)

I didn’t know this would continue as a theme, or I would have snapped some photos there. It didn’t feel too freaky, but we both noticed and commented on not having seen those sorts of references there before. We went downtown, and saw more and more Michigan UFO and Bigfoot references. Another spooky recurring thing happened with smells. I have the nose of a bloodhound. I tend to smell things that only animals smell, and once I smell something, I often cannot forget it. I feel soooo grateful for whatever “protection” surrounded me on this trip.

We ate lunch at the co-op, and I went to use the bathroom. The woman stepping out of it slammed the door and said, “Just so you know, I did not make that SMELL. It was there when I entered. I don’t know WHAT that is, but I wouldn’t go in there if I were you. It’s bad. Like, Otherworldly bad.” She shuddered as she walked away.

I thanked her, thanked the Universe, and opted not to use that one. I wouldn’t have thought much of that, but the exact same thing happened when I wanted to use the bathroom at a different metaphysical shop.

An employee stopped me before I opened the door and said, “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you. Like reallllllly, don’t go in there.”

“Why?” I asked. “Is there something wrong with your bathroom?”

He shuddered and got a scared look in his eye. “Yeah. I don’t know what came out of the person who used it. I don’t even know What. That. Was. I’ve been burning incense in there for an hour. That stench is not a normal stench. Some kind of Public Health issue. You do not want to go in there.”

Again, I opted not to open that door, but it was a curious thing. After that, I told David, “I need our normal Traverse City fun.” He agreed and we had a lovely dinner at Poppycock’s and a nice early evening back to the hotel. By day’s end we felt our usual Traverse City happiness and respite. The next day we headed up to Charlevoix and Petoskey. All this time, even with the oddities, profound beauty surrounded us.


David wanted to go to The Little Traverse Historical Museum, in an old train depot right along Lake Michigan. This tree greeted us in the parking lot …


… and this sign greeted us at the entrance:


They had just closed for the season, so Bigfoot was as far as we got. We headed up to Petoskey State Park, where David foraged the beach for Petoskey stones. This State Stone of Michigan is a fossil/rock made from 350 million year old coral. Michigan used to be a whole lot warmer! While David collected rocks, I stood Faery-combat-boots-deep in the Lake, drinking in the fall colors around glittering water. Ahhh!

We spent a lot of time in the car this trip, but the views looked like jewels. I don’t know which trees get silver leaves in fall, but we saw a lot of those. None showed up in photos, but they looked like gateways to Faerie amidst the orange, yellows and reds. Each turn of the road got more beautiful, and I kept saying, “Yummy, ohhhhhh, yummy” like I was eating and drinking in the views. At one point, I rolled down the window, hung my arm out and just snapped photos as we drove. I feel bad, because none of these even begins to capture what we saw. It felt totally enchanted.





We made our way to downtown Petoskey, where I met young Hemingway:


For a small town with incredible scenery, Petoskey packs quite the literary punch. Ernest Hemingway summered here from boyhood until he got married, and he held court at the bar of City Park Grill. When we entered, he was still holding court:


We ate lunch at a table nearby, and it’s times like these I realize I don’t live in the “normal” world. David got up to take photos, and when he sat back down, I said, “Hey, so it just occurred to me, maybe they only put the skeleton out for Halloween.”

David tried so hard not to laugh: “I love you.”

“Oh. So you already thought of that?”

David: “I really love you.”

Me: “Well, you know … that was his chair! I thought they were honoring him, so no one sits there in case he wants to visit. Like setting a place for the Ancestors, letting him know he’s welcome.  … It’s for Halloween, isn’t it?”

Ever so sweetly: “Yeah.”

At that moment, the people next to us got up to leave, and I caught sight of the woman’s shirt. It featured the Robin Wood Moon card on a black background. She told me she “got it at a metaphysical shop in Charlevoix, but they just went out of business.” 😦

Seeing a life sized Tarot card appear right at our table seemed like a mega version of a card spontaneously leaping from the deck. Since we didn’t even have a deck with us, this felt extra loaded. One of the Robin Wood Little White Book interpretations of the Moon card is “stay on your path for safety,” and that phrase has flooded my awareness every day since early September when I’ve been on synchronicity and precognitive dream overload. Following intuition and committing each day to following my path keeps me from experiencing the horrible stenches of life, even when they occur just a sliver of reality away from me. Instead, I get to tune in and enjoy the stunning beauty that co-exists moment by moment.


We wandered around downtown Petoskey for awhile. They have a great bookshop with local authors. The shops were having a decorating contest, and we enjoyed their creativity.


Like our Michigan Staycation with Friends, I saw another three owls and an owl clock, except this time, the three owls and owl clock appeared in the same piece.


We headed further north to “The Tunnel of Trees,” aka MI119, from which some of these photos come. Again, none of our shots captures even a glimmer of the colors and forms, but hopefully your imagination can fill in the more vivid details. We turned off The Tunnel of Trees and got even closer to the Lake. Feeling that huge body of water behind the bright forest colors left me in awe.


Just as we reached the corner to turn back onto the Tunnel of Trees road, I felt, then saw two deer in the woods. You can just barely see them below. The encounter seemed surreal and holy, right before we joined the rest of traffic.


We made our way south to Charlevoix, home of the famous Mushroom Houses.



It seemed a bit like Hobbiton, and the Mushroom Houses also reminded of the cottages in Carmel, California. We drove a new way back, with very windy, tree lined roads, and David kept saying, “This is Pennsylvania driving!” We both grew up in Penn’s Woods, and one reason we love this part of Michigan is that “it looks and feels like PA, but you get Lake Michigan.” Something about the woods and the water feels so magical, but also like coming home. We arrived back in Kalamazoo very late, having spent a mere 40 hours away.

As usual when we head up north, time seemed to stretch itself much longer. This trip felt a little weirder than our previous trips to Traverse City, but it remains a favorite getaway. I loved Petoskey so much that I’m sure we’ll add that to our rounds. For me, the closer I get to the boreal forest and big lakes, the better I feel, but it’s also nice to live somewhere with everything at our fingertips.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed our spooky, beautiful, magical adventure. Happy Halloween and Blessed Be!


10 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing!!!!

    I can feel the energy from the asylum photo

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Notes from David:

    pdf of the Hemingway brochure – http://mihemingwaytour.com/files/3313/3856/1330/HemingwayBrochure.pdf

    Site that the brochure comes from – http://mihemingwaytour.com

    Chicago Tribune article “From bar to barber shop: Visit Hemingway haunts in Northern Michigan” – https://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-hemingway-northern-michigan-petoskey-travel-0702-20170613-story.html

    Tour Hemingway’s Michigan – https://www.michigan.org/article/road-trip/tour-hemingway-s-michigan

    Michigan Hemingway Society’s list of sites – http://www.michiganhemingwaysociety.org/hemsites.html

    Michigan Hemingway Society – http://www.michiganhemingwaysociety.org



  3. Posted by thymia17 on November 2, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for sharing your trip highlights – and I don’t like asylums either, but was so touched on a visit to Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Farm years ago when he showed the movie “Beautiful Dreamers,” about Dr Maurice Bucke and Walt Whitman. Some of Dr Bucke’s treatments for the mentally ill were not compassionate (women in particular!) but others were – and the movie focuses on those. Going outdoors into nature, including beauty in patients’ lives, etc.



    • You’re welcome, Thymia17. I took a graduate level art history class my senior year of college. It was supposed to be on the history of photography, but who knew that the history of photography was so intertwined with the history of hysteria and women in insane asylums, or that men often locked up their wives when they hit menopause?! I learned way too much about the “treatment” of women under those circumstances through that class.

      I’m glad to know there are at least some other examples of decent treatment of the mentally ill — although until recently, women really did seem to get short shrift. Growing up, and especially in early adulthood once I knew the history, my dad’s threats were not kind!



  4. So loved this post Laura.. and how strange about those toilets.. and being warned both times not to use them.. So when that tarot card came into view on that lady’s T shirt , and you said these words.. “Following intuition and committing each day to following my path keeps me from experiencing the horrible stenches of life, even when they occur just a sliver of reality away from me. Instead, I get to tune in and enjoy the stunning beauty that co-exists moment by moment.”…

    And that dearest Laura is the best thing any of us can do… Enjoy each Moment by Moment…
    Loved all of your images.. the mushroom houses and the woods, beautiful autumn colours… Here we have had rain and more rain and terrible floods in our region.. but thank goodness we live on a hill..
    Sending lots of love and hugs in your direction… And the love between you and David shines out in your words..
    Take care and Blessings your way Laura.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person


    • Thank you, Sue! Yes, one thing precognitive dreams have taught me is to learn to stay as present as I can in the moment.

      That’s difficult with all the bleedthrough; however, I believe that’s a major teaching of my current dreams, too. Appreciate each moment. You don’t know how long you have with each person or in each situation. That sense can make you crazy, but it can also encourage you to treat each person as well as you can and to appreciate each moment or each situation as fleeting. Somehow that brings everything into the right focus … and keeps away the stenches! So much love to you … and stay as dry as you can. We’re glad to live on a hill, too, as parts of Kalamazoo get flooded a lot. ❤

      Liked by 1 person


  5. […] Tarot cards appear without intentional use of any deck. In my Weekend Getaway to Traverse City post, I shared how the woman next to our table at lunch turned around and became […]



  6. […] of us, like we had grown beyond our former “happy place.” We haven’t been there since October 2019, which was also a good, but spooky weird […]



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