Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rock on...

I love me a good exploration.  Though this post has little to nothing to do with soap, other than I used some before leaving the house this morning, I like to write about life sometimes, and the things I fill mine with.

Every day, I find something new to love about the destination fate steered me to.  Nobody gets why I love the things I do, or understands how my hubs and I can spend every adventure together, just the two of us, and just have the best time.  After just two weeks short of 600 years together, it just operates like a well-oiled machine.  I finish his thought, he knows how I feel without asking. Every pilot needs a great co-pilot. No one else to have to think about, no bickering from people who don't share the same interests, no hosting and accommodating....nothing but pointing our compass in the direction of what makes us happy.  It's never been that way up til now and we are enjoying it immensely.

Michigan typically isn't the first image that pops into one's head when thinking of states in the US to spend exploring.  It doesn't have the majestic mountains of the Tetons in Wyoming, Or the pristine beaches and volcanic regions of Hawaii, but it does hold a special magic all it's own.  We learned of a place in the thumb region, not too far from where I live, that is home to the only known collection of prehistoric native american petroglyphs in the state.   Even the word "Michigan" is actually an Algonquian indian word for "big lake", which of course, refers to our Great Lakes.  I can get lost for hours, in places in history.  Imagining who walked the land before me.  What their lives were like.  I also have native american heritage, so whether finding this place was some romantic notion of connecting with a portion of my ancestry or just a fun afternoon, really didn't matter.  There's also an element of spirituality in these places for me.  The ghosts of Devil's Tower took my breath away. If I ever felt any connection to a religion or belief system, the things I have learned and read about the native americans, have resonated the most.

The petroglyphs lie in the middle of a wooded historic site.  They are carved into a rocky outcrop of sandstone, tucked away on 240 acres. They've been sheltered by a fenced in area and wooden pavilion to protect it from vandalism and elements.  I will never understand the need to carve a spectacularly detailed penis into a 500 year old treasure.  Usually, it's etched right next to the telltale Douche calling card - empty 40's of Pabst Blue Ribbon.  


To my surprise and delight, when we hiked the short distance back into the woods to the site, a guide, who looked disturbingly like the unholy love child of Richard Dreyfuss and the principal from Ferris Bueller, was starting a tour...he also had him some epic halitosis....

I have forgotten his name, so for the purposes of this blog, let's call him "Hal", for short.   ;)

So Hal started the tour over when we walked up, which was awesome of him.  One snotty bitch in bike shorts (but no bike) felt compelled to challenge him on his credentials right off the bat.  Like he hangs around tourist sites in khakis and Indiana Jones hats just to fill visitor heads with blatant misinformation.  The site itself is bigger than I expected.  It is an oblong mound of sandstone maybe 30 feet in length, chained off to prevent even more morons from attempting dirt angels on it during the presentation.  

I learned that the "glyphs" were discovered after great fires swept the area in 1881 and were uncovered when the land was burned to the sandstone.  Archaeologists estimate them to be somewhere between 300 to 1000 years old.  So about 4 years older than Madonna.  The surface of the rock is covered with various icons, easily recognizable when Hal pointed them out with his BigMetalStickOfImportance.  I was transfixed by the stories while hubby meandered around the perimeter, distracted by anything shiny.  He does that. 

 I learned about the Water Panther that was a powerful, malevolent spirit, with a spiny back, who took the form of a mountain lion with horns.  It lived in the lakes and caused terrible storms by thrashing it's tail.

I learned about the more well known icon, the Thunderbird also carved into the rock here.  The Thunderbird would rule the skies and gather the clouds with one flap of it's mighty wings, shoot lightning from it's eagle eyes and send thunder all around it.  Difficult to see in my photo...

I learned about what Hal explained was one of the most important icons in the rock - The Bowman.   Who, in fear of losing cultural identity, shot their heritage into future generations with his archers hand.

Most fascinating to me, were the Windwalkers, spirits that led one into the afterlife.  Depicted as very long stick figures.  Not exactly Bob Ross, but paintbrushes and happy trees weren't invented 'til much later.

We took a trip to Mexico back in 2003, and visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum.  The Mayans drew hands with 6 digits in their carvings, and the same 6 fingered hands are carved here.  It is believed that an ancient human race had polydactylism - or 6 fingers or toes.  I knew a kid in junior high, named Michael Fulton, that had 6 toes.  He could also turn his eyelids inside out and blow air out his tear ducts.  Freak.

There are several humanoid glyphs too...

There is much more than I can ever adequately share here.  There are birds and whorls and canoes telling stories of great travels.  It felt special and certainly sacred to the native americans who come there and leave prayer offerings to the Great Spirits in exchange for blessings.  I wish I could talk to some of them.  So much more to learn about.
Bye, Hal....thanks for the tour.

After the petroglyphs, we hiked 1.5 miles into the trail for other sites along the way.  It was a beautiful day despite the mosquitos and bad humidity hair.

Next, we hopped in the jeep and headed up to Harbor Beach.  A sleepy coastal town with the largest freshwater harbor in the world.  I don't know this for a fact but that's what hubs tells me and his brain is LOADED with useless information things he's read, so if you're a bettin' man - take the bet.  It's located on the eastern side of the "thumb", about 125 miles from Detroit.  It is also home to the beautiful Harbor Beach Lighthouse.

Who doesn't love lighthouses?!  They're just so romantic and mysterious.  Guiding lost ships to shore....tales of lightkeeper ghosts....and the Great Lakes are home to 115 of them.  Goosing my already burgeoning desire to learn to sail, there were several beautiful sailboats anchored in the harbor as we walked the length of the boardwalk.  It is virtually impossible to be stressed out here.

I noticed the water in the harbor wasn't very deep.  Several kids and one fat lady rockin' a purple one-piece, were barely submerged beyond the waist, 100 yards out.  Now, I'm not much of a swimmer.  If forced to label it, I'd say I'm more accurately a sinker.  However, the paddle out to the lighthouse looks totally doable to me.  Next weekend, we plan to load the canoe on top of the Jeep and make the ride out again, to get in the water and float out there.  See it there on the left?

It was an amazing day, and every day like this makes my heart smile.  The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.  
Last one to the lighthouse is a rotten egg!