​The Not-So-Lovely-Bones


Welcome to the Paris Catacombs. If you’ve ever wanted to be surrounded by walls of bones, this is the place for you.

But these bones are special—they are stacked directly beneath a light bulb (because no sunlight can reach them, nor has it in centuries). Thanks to the breath of thousands of live visitors and this light, these lovely, bright green fungi grow on the illuminate bone.

You’ll see dozens of signs warning you not to touch the bones, because no one wants you to damage the stacks and structures. Even if you’re feeling rebellious, I recommend you especially avoid brushing against these stacks: Biologists have sampled the velvety-green surface and determined that within this mass grows at least three species of bacteria found nowhere else on the planet.

Nowhere else on planet Earth.

What could those bacteria do to you and me? Oh, but the possibilities are deliciously horrifying.

Have a kiss in the catacombs if you dare!

Magic Places: Whitefish Point, MI

I have a special, fun, fabulous talent I use to annoy my friends and irritate people: I can “sing” my part of conversations to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot’s classic, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Once I get going, it’s almost impossible to stop:

“How are you doing? I am doing well, and I’m very much happy to meet you!”

“Please give me a six-piece box of nuggets, and a large Diet Coke would be lovely!”

Seriously. I can do this all day.

But the Edmund Fitzgerald was more than the 70’s greatest earworm: It was an actual shipwreck off the coast of Whitefish Point, Michigan, not far from Mackinaw Island. You can learn all about the tragedy at one of my favorite museums and parks, The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

The museum sits on what is known locally as the Shipwreck Coast, but you can’t tell it by the beach just beyond the building. It’s a quiet, rocky shoreline and you can slip right into the water if you care to. Or you can find a perfect seat of driftwood, carved by one of the kinder gods of the lake, as my son did a few years back. Pack a picnic, a journal or your e-Reader and sit awhile: When a god gives you a gift, it’s rude not to enjoy it to the fullest.