Brugger and I received our first COVID-19 vaccinations on last
Wednesday, so we’re halfway there. Yay!
Saturday, March 20, 2021
At the ass-crack of dawn, we left Greensboro
for a long-planned visit
with Ms B’s folks in Midland, MI
. Happily, Del
got their rounds of shots several weeks ago, so, barring vile
variants or other unforeseen complications, they’re well defended against
death cooties. Regardless, Brugger and I isolated ourselves even more than
usual for the past week or so. As on our previous trip this past September
(see “Midland with a Twist
”), rather than fly, we opted to undertake the long drive. This time, we took
a slightly different route, which added a few miles but shaved some time. We
stopped a handful of times for pit stops, a picnic lunch, and a scant few
geocaches, and arrived in Midland just after 8 p.m. As is our custom, we sat
up fairly late with Del & Fern watching programs about good food, this
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy
. Kimberly and I particularly enjoyed this one, as it showcased a number
of locations we had visited on our trip there in 2019.
The Rodan Mobile arrives in Midland right at sunset
Sunday, March 21, 2021
A beautiful morning, and there are tons of new geocaches in and around
Midland, many right in the neighborhood. So, after a pleasing breakfast of
pancakes and bacon, I hopped on the bike and pedaled around to a few of them.
Quick finds, the lot of them. Following this little adventure, I made
revisions to a new short story for the anthology editor. And then... lunch
, a tasty and non-trivial quantity of food.
. Whenever we visit the Bruggers, it’s family tradition to hit Meijer to
stock up on supplies for the week. No breaking family tradition this trip. I
edition, so on a whim, I bought it. It’s evidently from 2019.
Anyway, I’m sure it doesn’t offer a word about Godzilla I don’t already know
(if you know me at all, you know I have been a devoted Godzillaphile since the
age of four), but it seemed novel enough to warrant picking up. It’s almost
funny that, after collecting daikaiju memorabilia for years, spending
thousands and thousands of dollars in the process, this is the first Godzilla
publication I’ve picked up probably in 25 years or more.
After the shopping, I hopped on the bike again, this time with Ms. B.
accompanying. We rode over to nearby Plymouth Park, hunted a handful of
geocaches (and met some friendly local geocachers), and then put in a few
miles pedaling around the neighborhood. Another mellow evening in the family
room for some quality family time, and my blood pressure is probably at an
excellent level tonight.
Ms. B. at The Labyrinth at Plymouth Park. She casts a mean
It was another beautiful morning fit for bike riding, but today I had a
slightly different plan. I needed to return to Meijer to pick up a couple of
items, so I headed out in the Rodan Mobile, snagged a half-dozen caches
around the Midland Mall area, and then did my shopping. Another
family tradition is for me to play chef for a day, and today was the day.
Del and Fern had seen pics of my recent bout with Bolognese and
decided it was only fitting I should treat them to some. So I spent the rest
of the morning in the kitchen while they went off in search of a new toilet
for one of theirs that had decided to go south. It’s possible I got the
better end of this deal.
And the verdict is in: the Bolognese was some pretty good shit.
After letting the big dinner settle, I finally headed out on the bike. Put
in quite a few miles this go-round, and picked up several more caches. Ms.
B. got a new laptop, so once I returned, we spent a little while getting
things set up. Lord, Microsoft used to be a pain in the ass. It’s now a
fucking ludicrous pain in the ass, getting in the way of almost everything
you want to set up that isn’t specifically Microsoft. There were words.
I have put in some lengthy bike rides in Midland, but I believe this
morning’s pedal set a personal record. I covered the entire northeast
quadrant of Midland and then some, snagging 19 caches (and failing to find
several others) in the process. Most of these were of the typical park &
grab variety, though a few proved a bit more interesting. One of them had
reduced some poor, unfortunate geocachers to naught but bones. At another
one, I felt I was being watched the entire time I spent looking for it. Near
there, at a church where the cache was hidden, a churchy muggle accosted me
and invited me to come for a visit on Sunday. On my long ride home, I saw
Ms. B. and the family in the car heading the other way — out toward
Clare to visit some antique shops.
Rarely has a shower, leftover Bolognese, ice cream, and fresh hot coffee been
For the afternoon, I made some forward progress in my
newest Ameri-Scares novel,
Georgia: The Haunting of Tate’s Mill.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Although I woke to another beautiful Midland morning, there was no cycling
on today’s docket. I had to deal with some of my brother’s estate business,
which ended up taking more time than I expected (and I had expected quite a
lot). Then our crew hit the road for Saginaw
, the Brugger folk for
antiquing, the old fellow for geocaching. Now, I would generally not
associate a place called
The Antique Warehouse
with a fantastic Italian beef sandwich, but this place has ’em. We enjoyed
an excellent lunch together and then parted company. Off I went for some
caches. The first was right there on the store’s property — or, rather, it
was supposed to be. After a lengthy search, I couldn’t find the damned
thing. I did find ample evidence of severe flooding, so I suspect the
container ended up in the Saginaw River
or something such. However,
from there, I went after several others, and succeeded admirably with these.
Once antiqued out in Saginaw, the gang wanted to visit
, a big old gift store in Williams Township, about midway between Saginaw and
Midland. I have cached around that area on other outings similar to this one,
and I did the same again today. Only one cache required me to walk a
significant distance. It was at this cache, when I had reached farthest point
from the car, that the bottom fell out. Big rain. Big, BIG rain. Big, WET
rain. Wet ME. Believe you me, I got wet.
Needless to say, as soon as I got back to the car, the rain stopped.
Before the rain: Old Rodan and the Zilwaukee Bridge over the
A fun fellow with ammo can we
discovered in the forest
Thursday, March 26, 2021
The morning turned out a bit gray and chilly, but Brugger and I went forth,
as we had planned, to the
Midland City Forest
, a short distance north of Casa di Brugger. Over 20 miles of trails wind
through the forest, and after a few trips out there, Ms. B. and I have set
foot on quite a few of them. This morning, we headed for a section I had
never explored before, so a good many caches awaited my attention there. I
managed to find most of those I hunted. There were tough caches, easy
caches, creative caches, fun caches. We found a man made of wood carrying an
ammo can around; a meteorite; a diamond in the rough; a birdhouse that
wasn’t; and a bridge with a troll under it. Well, there wasn’t a troll down
there until I went under the bridge, but... well... there it is. Ms. B. got
in a wee bit of nature photography, which she most enjoys. I tell you this,
I have exercised on this trip like I haven’t exercised in a long while, and
I can surely feel it — in a good way, of course, except maybe for the pain
Afterward, we set a course for
, which is one of those places you do not
fail to visit when you
are in Midland. Brugger ordered her usual Italian grinder
, which, as I
can testify, is one of the best sandwiches on earth. And I opted for a
Mango Habanero Steak grinder
, which, as I can now testify, is also one
of the best sandwiches on earth. A worthy rival to the Italian beef sandwich I
scarfed down at The Antique Warehouse on yesterday.
A little forward progress on the creative writing endeavors, a final trip to
Meijer, and what a fine penultimate day of our Midland trip this has been.
There are some rough-looking trolls in Michigan.
And the occasional meteorite lounging about in Michigan.
If you look carefully, you might see Ms. B. checking out real estate in
And if you listen, you might hear a chorus of peeping frogs making a
mighty racket in Michigan.
Friday, March 26, 2021
After a wonderful, relaxing yet invigorating week, our time at the Bruggers’
in Midland had come to an end. Ms. B. and I rose relatively early, loaded up
the Rodan Mobile, said our farewells, and hit the road, now bound for
, home of the infamous Mothman
. I had
visited Point Pleasant in September of 2018 while researching my
West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman
(see “Lair of the Mothman
September 30, 2018
). I had loved the place, the lore, and... of course... the geocaching! It
made for a perfect overnight stop on the long haul back to North Carolina. A
while back, I had made reservations at the historic
, where I had stayed on my previous trip. After a long and
less-than-relaxing drive — traffic was bonkers all the way down — we arrived
in Point Pleasant late in the afternoon. Pronto, we bolted for the
, so we might spend a little time there before it closed. I had explored it
in depth on my last visit, but Ms. B. was keen on checking out the plentiful
paraphernalia, especially props from the film, The Mothman Prophecies
. Once done, we walked across the street to the Lowe Hotel and checked in.
Since I was a return visitor, the proprietor was kind enough to give us a
suite for the same price I would have paid for a single room. (As an aside,
on the Lowe Hotel website, the header image with the room key is actually
the key to our
suite — which is officially what room 328 now
suite.) I can hardly recommend the Lowe Hotel
highly enough. The place is exceptionally clean (as it ought to be during
the pandemic); requires masks (as it ought to during the pandemic); and is,
above all things, haunted. As on my previous stay, I saw no ghosts,
but this hardly means they are not around. They simply don’t care to be
traumatized by the character of certain guests, whose names shall not be
Once ensconced in our lodgings — and feeling the great starvation — we
ordered a pizza from
, which has its own connection to the Mothman. In 1966, the first
individuals to witness the Mothman in the
, several miles north of Point Pleasant, fled the site and stopped at the
location that is now Village Pizza. Our pizza? Well, it was fucken good.
Once we finished our dinner, just after sunset, we hit the road once again —
this time bound for the TNT Area, which had provided me with a big day of
geocaching on my previous visit. Last time, however, I had experienced the
place only in daylight, and I was dying to experience it after dark. We
drove deep into the heart of the forest, once the site of a massive
ammunition manufacturing/storage facility. From last time, I recalled the
location of an open TNT storage bunker (these are called “igloos”) and made
tracks for it. Sure enough, there it was, its doors still gaping wide, its
interior as dark and creepy as all get out, just as I remembered (see
Interior of the Lowe Hotel, Point Pleasant, WV
Point Pleasant sunset, viewed from our window at the Lowe Hotel
View from Tu Endi Wei park of the bridge into Point Pleasant over
the Kanawha River
View of the railroad bridge over the Ohio River from the Point Pleasant
Since Ms. B. is less a geocacher than a sometimes-almost-willing accomplice,
on this night, I figured I really should refrain from geocaching in earnest.
However, one nearby cache looked particularly promising, so, once we quitted
the igloo, I set my sights on it. At GZ, I found a huge, flat rock, as
mentioned in the cache’s description. I located an opening underneath the rock
that appeared perfect for a good-sized container. Then, upon aiming my
flashlight into this gaping maw, I discovered, not a cache, but... a possum!
Possum gives me a pretty scary leer, for he clearly had not expected visitors.
Fortunately, he quickly vacated the premises. Seeing he was gone, I shone my
light back into the opening, and this time spied the cache. Using my hiking
stick, I was able to extract the container from its cubby. And once done, I
re-hid it in a nearby, equally secure opening so that Possum could settle back
in his preferred surroundings, if that was his desire. I hated to disturb him,
and I really hope he doesn’t hold a grudge.
From there, we drove back to the hotel. Ms. B. was particularly keen on
watching The Mothman Prophecies, so we
decided to stream it on my laptop. The film diverges considerably from the
“true” events, but it’s an exceedingly well-done movie, engaging to both
emotion and intellect, drawing just enough from the source material to tell a
compelling, original story. I love it. Along with
Night (Curse) of the Demon and John
Carpenter’s The Thing, it rates as an
all-time favorite fright film.
And thus ended our week-long respite from the world. Our drive back to
Greensboro turned out to be a bear — almost non-stop raging rainstorms,
generating roughly 600 billion metric tons of human stupidity on the highways.
But we arrived safely home, and this trip goes into my personal history book
as one of our best ever.
And so, for now, I shall bid you good night.
Inside the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant