Yakking in a Pond

A few years ago, my husband, kind fellow that he is, tried to find me the perfect present. Here is the back story: my husband is terrible at gift-giving – he’s the worst! He gives up before he even gets started. Cards and flowers are out of the question, because a decision must be made. He can’t do that well because in his mind, they are still presents. He used to ask our young daughter at the time ‘what to get Mommy?’ at every major event throughout the year. He still texts her even now that she’s married. Somehow, he came up with the idea that a kayak would make the perfect birthday present. A kayak? I was astonished. I still think he had help from someone.

I have always loved the outdoors, having traveled all over the country and across the world in my twenties and thirties. Then, I met my husband and had two wonderful children. I settled in the area, accepted a Children’s Librarian position to be close to children of all ages and stopped a lot of my traveling. But, I have always loved canoeing, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving and boating – anything having to do with the water. The Lake Erie region and Maumee River Corridor are perfect for all of these activities.

Lake Erie and Maumee Corridor Books

Ohio's Lake Erie public access guidebook : Rivers edition
The Great Lakes at ten miles an hour : one cyclist's journey along the shores of the inland seas / Thomas Shevory
In the watershed : a journey down the Maumee River / Ryan Schnurr

A kayak it was to be. I am rather tiny in stature, and this was going to be a problem too. But after much searching, falling over in boats way too massive, not to mention the improbability of me even lugging the thing (anything over 35 pounds, forget it), I made my choice. It was three stress-filled months of arguments, tears, laughter, and then simply picking one. Much like pointing your finger blindfolded onto a map and hoping your choice was going to have 4-star accommodations at a 1-star price-tag – it didn’t, but it was a gorgeous boat.

Books on Kayaking, Michigan and Ponds

The Art of Kayaking by Nigel Foster
Michigan off the beaten path : a guide to unique places / Jim DuFresne ; revised and updated by Jackie Sheckler Finch
Building natural ponds : create a clean, algae-free pond without pumps, filters, or chemicals / Robert Pavlis

We now live at a lake in Michigan during the summer months. It’s a very small lake, with an even smaller pond, round and quiet, with safe and easy access for beginner kayaking.

However, the pond is so small my brand new sky-blue kayak at 14 feet barely could be turned around with any ease! And that is where my dear, kind husband plopped it. It weighs 26 pounds, and I can manage it just fine, but he didn’t think I had it in me to try carrying it to the lake, in addition to sitting in it and paddling it.

Do you know what it is like to have a toothpick placed flat into the bottom of a cup and try to turn it around keeping it flat to the bottom? It’s not easy. My husband wouldn’t let me take it out of our “cup” for two years by myself for fear of my drowning. Remember, I am a certified scuba diver, and excellent watercraft enthusiast, including jet skier, and he knows this. I was allowed the comfort of sitting in it, attempting to steer the thing, and hoping to not get stuck in the cattails along the bank.

I am still married, still have the kayak, and I am proud to say allowed to use our small lake now as my refuge from the chaos of the outside world. My husband still has a phobia of my imminent drowning, so I am not allowed to take the thing to any river, lake, stream and especially not Lake Erie. Every time I place my kayak rack that I bought on my car, it mysteriously gets taken down. The kayak gets put back onto its hanger in the garage, which I can’t reach (my husband placed that strategically too high for me to get to readily without a ladder). But, the ladder is another tale. I am going to sneak that boat out in the middle of the night one of these days. Kayaks, ponds and marriage. Strange bedfellows.

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Haunted Midwest Travel for Those Who Dare!

I don’t know about you, but I come from a long line of non-scaredy cats! You just can’t spook my family and friends, much as you may try. And yet, they all love scary movies, books, and places!     

My mom’s probably not going to be super happy about my sharing this – but my love affair with all things spooky started in elementary school, when she and my dad made the mistake of letting me watch The Exorcist. They had guests over and I heard the voice of my beloved babysitter Missy – so I crept out to see her, and they let me stay up and watch it with them. I was PETRIFIED, but have been feeding the need to be scared ever since.      

Like my family and friends, I too have a passion for all things scary – Halloween, haunted houses (real and fake), horror movies, and the like. My best friend and I even toured one of America’s most haunted places – The Waverly Hills Sanatorium. It was really cool to walk through the place, but I was (and always am) disappointed that I neither felt nor viewed anything of the paranormal sense. Others in our group said they did…which leads me on my continued search.      

So, do ghosts really exist? I don’t know, but I will never stop trying to discover the answer!     

If you’re like me, and you love to be scared, here are a few regional locations you can visit to get your spooky fix, along with some companion books and movies! 

Ohio State (Mansfield) Reformatory, Mansfield OH   

Have you seen the movies The Green Mile, Tango & Cash, or Air Force One? All three films feature footage of the Ohio State Reformatory!      

This sprawling and legendary prison has been featured in countless TV shows, documentaries, and books, including on Season 3 (episode 4) of the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and Season 1 (episode 5) of the National Geographic Channel’s Inside Secret America: Ghosts.      

The reformatory was opened in the early 1900’s and closed officially per a United States Federal Court ruling (the Boyd Consent Decree) in the 1990’s. During its time in operation, more than 150,000 prisoners passed through its doors. Many died due to violence, influenza, tuberculosis, or other diseases. One of the most tragic incidents associated with the Ohio State Reformatory occurred in July 1948, when the farm boss, his wife, and daughter were kidnapped and shot by two parolees known as the “mad-dog killers.”     

I’ve not yet had the chance to take one of the reformatory’s public ghost hunts, but I did attend one of their Murder Mystery Dinner Theaters. It was a blast and the food was surprisingly delicious! I highly recommend it.

Related BooksThe Haunted History of the Ohio State Reformatory by Sherri Brake  The Ohio State Reformatoryby Nancy K. Darbey

Loveland Castle, Loveland OH   

Did you know there’s a castle in Ohio? Well there is, and it’s really cool…and apparently haunted. It also has an interesting story as far as how it came to be!      

The castle was built by Harry Delos, who constructed it (mostly by hand) “as an expression and reminder of the simple strength and rugged grandeur of the mighty men who lived when Knighthood was in flower.” Loveland Castle has a sense of humor about its ghostly grounds too – the “Activities” section of its website reads:      

Ghosts.  If you believe in ghosts…the Castle has them! If you don’t…fine, be that way! Either way, you will find pictures of the Castle’s ghosts and ghost stories galore at the Castle! 

Related BookOhio Historic Haunts: Investigating the Paranormal in the Buckeye State by James Willis  

Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville KY  

Waverly Hills Sanatorium has a rather sad history. In the early 1900s, the Board of Tuberculosis Hospital constructed a sanatorium that could accommodate up to 50 tuberculosis patients. Eventually, tuberculosis reached epidemic levels in the surrounding communities, and the sanatorium was expanded to accommodated over 400 patients.      

At its height, Waverly Hills was known as one of the most advanced tuberculosis sanatoriums in the country. Despite this, most of the patients succumbed to the disease and (as was common practice) were often subjected to painful and bizarre “treatments” such as having balloons surgically implanted into their lungs.  

Waverly Hills has been featured on Season 3 (episode 18) of the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters, and Season 2 (episode 5) of TLC’s Paranormal Lockdown. As far as hauntings, the most prolific sightings surround a boy (dubbed “Timmy”) who plays with a ball along the 3rd floor as well as sightings in room 502, which is believed (and was told during our tour) to have been the location where a nurse hung herself as a result of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy in 1928.

Today, Waverly Hills is owned by “historical and paranormal enthusiasts,” Charles and Tina Mattingly who operate the sanatorium as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, offering ghost tours, a haunted house, and laser light shows.

Related BooksHaunted Hospitals: Eerie Tales About Hospitals, Sanatoriums, & Other Institutions by Mark LeslieHaunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums : Inside the Abandoned Institutions for the Crazy, Criminal & Quarantined by Jamie Davis  

The Masonic Temple, Detroit MI     

If you haven’t ever attended an event inside of the Masonic Temple, I implore you to do so! It is the world’s largest Masonic Temple – an absolutely beautiful and magnificent Gothic revival building with 14 floors and 1,000 rooms full of winding stairways, secret passages, and ornate sculptures and lighting.      

In fact, the Masonic Temple is so grand that its construction is said to have left architect George D. Mason bankrupt. Unfounded gossip also says that as a result, his wife left him and he committed suicide by jumping from the top of the building – however, in reality Mason died in 1948 at the age of 92.      

That hasn’t stopped it from being included in most “haunted Michigan” lists, nor has it detracted interest from numerous paranormal investigative teams, including 313 Paranormal, the Marter Paranormal Research Team, and the Erie Shores Paranormal.      

Other notable paranormal activity that’s been widely experienced are slamming doors, knocking, and other random bumps in the night. If you’re interested in taking a tour, the Temple offers building tours or if you really want to ramp up the spooky factor, why not attend one of the most beloved Halloween parties in the world there – Theatre Bizarre – which is held each year inside of the Masonic Temple!

Related BooksDetroit Ghosts by Mimi Staver  Ghosts of Southeast Michigan by Kristy Robinett  

Disclaimer: The information included in this blog post is for educational purpose only. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library does not endorse any businesses featured in this blog post.

Originally posted at http://www.toledolibrary.org/blog/haunted-midwest-travel-for-those-who-dare by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Heather H.

Explore Vancouver Mountain

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