Friday, February 24, 2012

Wisconsin Werewolves

The Legend Trippers Journal

Wisconsin Werewolves


Werewolves. I may have had some grandiose plans as a child that never came through to fruition, but werewolf hunter? Let me think back…astronaut…race car driver…police officer, yeah I think I saw myself doing those things at some point. Well that last one not so grandiose, but if you know anything about me now, it just doesn’t fit. I could have never guessed that I would be on the trail of a large hairy unexplained creature sighted in several counties of south eastern Wisconsin. Then again, the more I think about it I remember hanging topographic maps of the ocean floor from the area consisting of the Bermuda Triangle on my basement walls. That along with some really cutting edge research I had been compiling on dragons, all at the age of seven or so was really going to take me places. But here I am, sitting in front of a roaring fire in zero degree Wisconsin winter weather, burrowed into a snow bank that is the result of a record snowfall year. At least I’m not alone in my insanity. 

With me on this shall we say crisp legend trip in no particular order, long time friend and fellow outdoor adventurer to many a desolate destinations in our days John Albrecht. Brandon St. Germain braves the insanity as the only one among us with anything close to resembling an applicable science degree. Chad Lewis co-founder of the Unexplained Research Publishing Company rounds out the adventurists with respectable degrees. Kevin Nelson long time researcher of anything and everything occult and of course myself already established sitting in the snow bank. So more specifically how did we all end up investing this particular weekend of our busy lives to the wintry pursuit of werewolves?

I think it’s Chad’s fault…I mean doing. It all started with a conversation between Chad and I regarding winter camping. It was something he had never partaken in, so plans were made, gear was readied, and all we had to do was wait for winter and the predetermined weekend. Word quickly spreads of such an adventure among adventurists and the list of attendees quickly grew to a respectable number. Having the paranormal interests we most all have allows us to multitask in these situations. But what outdoor legend should we trip to this snow filled January? A phone call later to Linda Godfrey author of The Beast of Bray Road and Hunting the American Werewolf and we were up-to-date on the most recent cryptid reports in the area. It was settled, we would be seeking to place ourselves in the path of a large hairy yet-to-be-identified creature. The creature had been sighted in the area we were headed for around 100 years, longer if you can believe some ancient oral traditions. 

Our caravan of three vehicles strong is on the road. After the few required stops for such an expedition, gas for the vehicles, food for us, bait for the reported creature and of course booze but only to keep the fridged edge at bay after the investigative responsibilities are completed—probably. Wisconsin winters can bring snow on a regular basis and today was no exception. The several inches of fresh snow still on the roads only causes one near accident between our caravan of four vehicles. The further off the beaten path we stray in search of our final fury destination, the snow of a few inches turns into drifts of a few feet. Plowing through those with plowless vehicles we all miraculously make an area that we deem fitting. Unpacking the vehicles only to re-pack our bodies we make way into the wilds to build our base camp for the night. 

With plenty of light left, we make two base camps. Several tents in a small clearing through the woods and a second out on the middle of a frozen lake. Chad, Kevin and I dredge our way through the sometimes nearly waist deep snow to set up motion cameras surrounding base camp one on land. We even go as far as hanging some raw chicken in a tree a ways from camp hoping to lure anything in for several cameras mounted nearby to capture. In the news before we left, the DNR had finally, after years of outright denials, conceded that Wisconsin is now home to at least one or two mountain lions. The news helps this trip by adding an additional danger element just in case some mysterious 7 foot tall hairy creature that has been known to attack 1 ton cars isn’t enough, we have zero-degree snow-filled weather coupled with bears and now mountain lions. We keep with the equipment and split roving teams hoping to happen upon something that would shed light on the recent rash of unidentified hairy creature sightings. Late into the evening and then further into the next morning we all stay hopeful, even taking some plaster casts of prints we found in the snow. Brandon with the large professional shoulder mounted camera is required to make most trips twice, getting footage and back up shots for later editing options. 

A few dozen….ehh…I mean few nips of the flask around the fire later, we all wind down for the evening. I make a couple trips into the eerily quite winter woods needing more fuel for the fire. Chad breaks the peaceful silence with wrapping large pieces of wood together known as wood knocking. This has been reported in many locations that also have Bigfoot type sightings. We are hoping for a response or perhaps to lure something in so that it might linger long enough in front of one of our many motion cameras mounted in the woods. 

The final morning comes with a clear sky and colder temperatures. After literally thawing boots and pants both in order to make them pliable enough to put on again, we make our final rounds. Pull the remaining plaster casts, and check on the bait. Not surprisingly the bait doesn’t even have a nibble on it. Rounding up the motion cameras and breaking two separate camps in the welcomed morning sun took less time than setting them up. Though this is no ones first wilderness investigation for a cryptid creature, it is another opportunity for us all to experience what has been reported from this area. The comradery and the challenge, coupled with the possibility of what if, brought us here. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time.

The woods are someplace always familiar to me. For most people they are happy to have for local parks and day hikes. It is when they grow dense and dark people avoid. They are very much two entirely different realities for most, one welcoming and the other genuinely ominous. For those few in the Wisconsin area that have had face to face encounters with something they could only best describe as a werewolf, this area will always hold a third and terrifying reality only few could ever imagine. 
Until next time, remember, adventures come to the adventuresome!

Noah Voss (Bio)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Point Pleasant West Virginia

The Legend Trippers Journal
Point Pleasant West Virginia
Chad Lewis and Noah Voss on Legend Trip.
Autumn in the states brings many a mundane thing. For the avid legend tripper it also harkens the utmost forbidding foe of atmosphere building weather. Visions of dark and stormy nights. Full of jagged lightning bolts silent as they are sudden. With each lightning strike the the unusually thick and eerily low lying fog is illuminated revealing dancing dead leaves. The disorienting flashes cast many a devious looking shadow, but only for an instant. The shadows appearing in a new location with each burst leaving your thoughts running away from sanity to imagine what if. As if by design a crack of thunder snaps you back to what is in front of you. Brings you back to reality or drown out our screams for help in the night? This last trip we had plenty of dark nights in the middle of nowhere and even a stormy day or two. Unfortunately for us the two never joined forces to give us that perfect trifecta of terror. 

Fortunately we were adventuring through areas rich in their own terror filled history. There were deserted coves hiding the Lake Monster of Lake Erie. The hope of coming face to face in the pitch black woods of Pennsylvania with whatever was piloting the Acorn of Kecksburg. Maybe rolling away for good at two gravity hills. Of course there's always the chance of being tormented for the rest of our short days and long nights by the Mothman of Point Pleasant. 

Mothman, that’s the one for this journal entry. I’ve read the book, watched the movie and followed the work of John A. Keel since I was able. To say the least I was a fan. We were looking forward to checking out the Point Pleasant area ever since we had realized we would be in the West Virginia area. It’s nothing for the legend tripper to opt for a small four state rerouting of your entire 18 hour drive back to the homestead just to hit the rolling hills and open valleys that the Mothman once laid claim to. It wasn’t so long ago that nearly everyone in the smaller town was reportedly seeing a large black winged monster. Point Pleasant has a classic two block main street that is no more than a few doors deep. Some of the same townsfolk that still walk the street saw it everywhere. In the sky swooping down to torment their cars, at the TNT factory, and reportedly even in some of the towns people’s dreams. After a mere six hours in the truck Chad Lewis author and co-author of around nine different books, myself a weary traveler of 20 states this year alone, and Terry Fisk co-founder of Unexplained Research LLC, author, and guru of past life experiences arrive in Point Pleasant. The first thing we are all taken by is the size of the town. Not a large town, but notably larger than we had all been visualizing, most likely thanks to the movie. This was a semi impromptu stop on our legend trip only having realized we could hit this area a few days earlier. For this reason we opt for some recon to find where our limited time is best spent. It doesn’t take long and we find ourselves parking on a main street that could be in most any town in America whose population is under 10,000. A short walk reveals several statue plaques, one museum, and around a dozen super friendly locals that all leave us much more informed than we were only a mere 45 minutes earlier. With two different maps in hand we head out for the old abandoned TNT factory. 

Statue on Main Street Point Pleasant, WV
I won't lie. I may have almost been giddy. I can’t help but feel a little like I’m in the middle of a Scooby Doo episode as we wind down an ever narrowing road. We head towards the old abandoned factory on the edge of town. As the vegetation slowly creeps in, onto and over the country road our map tells us we have arrived. After turning around several times and backtracking to the location we were told “you know you’re there when we see the spray painted dead deer.” What turns out to be super faded graffiti on a metal beam that actually says “dead deer” and not a rotting corps, we know we have arrived. Grabbing some gear, camera, gloves, and whip in case I’m forced to go mono e mono with Mothman we quickly spread out into the thick woods. The going our own way, is really starting to seem like a plan I’m not in the loop on during these legend trips. To be fair it could just as easily be that everyone is excited and full of anticipation and as a result we all un-empathetically take off and spread out doing our own thing. Honestly it does add to the mystique of the adventure,. This is probably as a result of the potential danger in losing sight of your fellow adventurers in a completely new location, coupled with the unusual and unsafe history that they seem to always have. 

I stumble upon a trail. I pause here and there to take some video footage and still pictures. Then, I hear an unusual sound. I freeze in place straining my ears and eyes, demanding more from them. At first I can’t quite place it as my senses heighten. My heart speeds a bit with hope of encountering something truly unexplained. I start to move again, discerning an echoing, booming sound. Maybe, yes there, that was a voice. Not a normal conversation on the phone voice, but a distorted and muffled one. I think of course to Chad and Terry who I haven’t seen for long enough. Continuing to move forward the sound becomes slightly less distorted as a dark silhouette in the woods starts to form before me. Larger than myself and covered in vegetation. 

As I move closer it becomes apparent that I have found a bunker. They are common to this area that by nature had to store ingredients and final products that were extremely explosive. Here I meet back up with the cause of the unusual noises, Chad and Terry. Moving past the large rusted metal door I nervously notice a large pile of metal containers as I think to myself "I wonder what I’m breathing in right now." The small entry gives way to an expansive cement room with a small hole in the top center. I as everyone else whoever dares this far can’t resist speaking aloud. The reverberation of sound waves is similar to standing in any modern day rotunda, though the environment and history of this location along with the potential health concerns create an entirely unique experience. Further exploration of the woods revealed numerous other similar bunker like structures. For us there was too much to explore and not enough time. We headed out as quickly as we found our way there. Stopping at a few other documented sighting locations along the way. The fair grounds, the Mothman car chase that the last time I heard it had the car being chased over 100 mph, and of course the Silver bridge where many people lost their lives when it collapsed. We have appointments to keep back in Wisconsin, and bills to pay. With a good 12 hours left to drive that day we point the vehicle in the direction of home. As we head out of town our conversation meanders forward to the next time we are in Point Pleasant. We all hope it is sooner than later. 
Noah Voss investigates Point Pleasant West Virginia

Ahh yes, the potential for great peril was there all through our adventure. This last trip through nine different states and dozens of paranormal hotspots left me only wanting and waiting for the next call to hit the road. 

Until next time, remember, adventures come to the adventuresome!
Noah Voss (Bio)

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Lost Port of Ulao

The Legend Trippers Journal
The Lost Port of Ulao

This, the inception of the legend tripper’s journal could start many ways. But how to start something so full of potential, and wrought with reality bending experiences? Should I introduce the resumes of those normally along on these wild adventures? No, that would use up all the words of the journal without giving due credence to those travelers. Perhaps the research that goes into the legend trip before we even leave? No, too academic and dry for this column. The scientific equipment and metaphysical tools taken along to help quantify data, or just increase the mystery factor? No, I’ve got for that. So hell, let’s just jump in with the adventure!
Todd Roll
Ulao, Wisconsin, 2006. It was the hottest weekend on record for the last decade with heat indexes reaching 115°. There are seven legend trippers that make up our normal posse, in any combination of numbers. Introducing the heat stroke victims for this particular three day expedition into the Wisconsin wilds starts with Todd Roll. He was co-founder of Wausau Paranormal Research Society who has been quoted in all forms of the media on his work in the paranormal fields over the last three decades and friend to the friendless Romanian Gypsy. Sean Bindley an intrepid paranormal investigator along with intermittent MC for the traveling “Unexplained Conferences,” and simply to much of a man for even the worst vampire in Wisconsin. Richard Hendricks, co-author of “Weird Wisconsin,” co-director of the Wisconsin Paranormal Research Center and the only sole I've ever witnessed berate a man with badge as said man wrongly, rudely, and ridiculously accused his innocent friends of a crime. Myself driving and lastly but not least Mr. Kevin Nelson who you may have seen during his appearances on the Discovery Channel’s Mystery Hunters, and Travelers shows, ABC’s Scariest Places on Earth and literally the most feared wand maker west of the Mississippi. Over the last few tangibly sun dripped days we had already searched through haunted woods watching for reported Satan worshipers, toured a sanctified Catholic castle covering a super secret serpent, refilling our diminished holy water surplus after Sean’s vampire run-in, investigated an abandoned and haunted school and now Ulao. 

Sean Bindley
We had done our research and as we neared our best guess as to where we were wanting to go Kevin shared some background on our quarry: “it was primarily a logging town that had huge piers set in Lake Michigan connected to its own lumber mill.” Rick added a grisly account he found, “yeah the owner’s daughter had ridden the sleuth between the mill and water…with deathly consequences at the bottom that were reportedly gruesome as they were tragic.”

Kevin Lee Nelson
Of course an adventure wouldn’t be nearly as fun without some misadventures first. We had a generalized idea from general people of where this once booming port town, turned ghost town actually lied. Driving in and out of new neighborhoods, deciding who should risk the next round of trespassing tickets we happened upon a state park. On our newly found public land we set out with excited expectations, under a high and hot sun, down a rocky trail, and into a thick and thistled forest. I immediately fall behind attempting to be both adventurer and videographer, devout in documenting what could always be our last prying step. In true horror movie form our group of five quickly splits up and spreads out. Thankfully we have radios and even two of us remembered to grab them from the vehicle before we eagerly piled out into the middle of nowhere.

Todd’s voice quickly muffled by the thick woods and the all to occasional breeze, “dead men don’t need radios.” Already hours into the hunt for the Ghost Town of Ulao we had no signs other than the one of a nearby namesake road. Miles from the vehicle we eventually regrouped, then paused inches from a 200 foot cliff. Todd, Rick, Sean and I scope out the best path down the rocky face. I hesitate calculating the odds of me making it down without breaking either of my two cameras I’m lugging. In my hesitation, Kevin leaps off to the first minuscule ledge and scrambles to the next. A perilous hour later and minus one man Todd, Kevin, Rick and I all get a boost of adrenaline when we spy several objects in a row protruding the waters' surface. They start at the shore and disappear into Lake Michigan. 

Noah Voss
Our step quickens along with our hearts. Kevin and I cut our way up several tiered rocky faces covered in thick undergrowth. Rick dives into the water exploring what remains of the once bustling piers. Kevin and I are the first to yell “Foundation!...we’ve got stone foundation” The stone foundation is a classic first sign a seasoned explorer watches for when on just such an expedition. We find the saw mill still littered with relics from a time past covered in rust and fighting against the woods that want to reclaim what was taken from them over a hundred years earlier. Todd films the find from the shore as Kevin and I make our way back down from the structures. I take the video camera from Todd just as we are buzzed by two small air craft no more than a stones throw above us. There is an annual air show further down the shore and an annual UFO festival further up the shore. Where they might be going too or coming from is anyone’s guess. 

One mystery solved and the map to the Lost Port of Ulao filed nicely in our mental archives we head back. The shadow of the climb up, now ahead of us and the air is only getting thicker. With five hours of sleep split between the five of us for the weekend, that number is only lessened by the amount of spirits shared. Despite our less-than-stellar athlete sleeping-habits we conquer another huge obstacle.

Once back to the vehicle the five-way heat stroke starts receding. It’s a good thing too as we’ve got a surprise appearance at that annual UFO festival that turns up another unusual sighting, along with a planned assembly the following day where we participate in a wizard’s rite performed over sacred native effigy mounds. 
It truly is all in a day’s work for the adventurer. The end of this legend trip only brings anticipation of what and where we will find on the next one.
Until next time, remember, adventures come to the adventuresome!

Noah Voss (BIO)