When we last left our heroes, they were heading northwest, further into the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. After our day that started in Manistique, with a morning visit to Fayette, and an afternoon swim in Escanaba, we were dry and on our final leg of the day, to Paulding. Yes, THE Paulding, MI. The one named after John Paulding, the U.S. Revolutionary War militiaman from New York. Of course, who else would Paulding be named after? Easy choice.
We checked into the Running Bear Resort, a small group of rustic cabins on US 45. It will not win any awards for most comfortable beds, but what it lacked in comforts it made up in sheer amount of beds. We could have doubled the size of our party and still been OK. Still a better experience than staying in a cheap chain motel. And it was not far from our next overnight stay, Toivola.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Before we could continue our trip, we had to survive The Paulding Lights. <Insert your own scary sound effect here.>
These terrifying, mysterious lights were first reported in 1966 and have haunted the area ever since. Brave travelers (such as ourselves) have driven down the dead end Old U.S. 45, back in the woods, to face these a potentially dangerous lights for over fifty years. Were the lights caused by the lantern of a railroad employee killed as he tried to signal a train to stop? Or an Indian spirit dancing along the clearing in the valley? Perhaps a will-o-wisp seeking to lead the unwary to their doom!
Or maybe it was taillights from cars on a stretch of Old U.S. 45 as they headed north, which was expanded in 1966, when the lights mysteriously started appearing.
Alright, the scariest thing about viewing the Paulding Lights were the mosquitos - they can be pretty nasty on summer nights in Michigan. But it's a place to be part of Michigan folklore and a fun place to spend a few minutes with fellow Michiganders doing something cheesy on a nice evening. And it by far the most interesting thing to do between Watersmeet and Bruce Crossing.