Rediscovering the old Underground Forest after a very muddy Ninja drive through the Jordan River Valley in the rain

undergroundforestI know I have probably posted about this place before. It is a favorite place from my childhood. When I was a kid, we drove down from Da Yoop to Day-Twa or the Planet Ann Arbor or Lansing a few times a year and the Underground Forest was one of the few tourist-trap-type places our parental units would willingly take us to. I can still remember excitedly walking up those steps. We would go inside and the friendly folks there would take our quarters or whatever it cost. And then. We would step through the doors to the museum. Not sure if the photo shows this very well but the place is built into a hillside and so the museum was underground. There were carefully crafted dioramas of the aminals of our northern woods and I can only guess, based on memory, that the aminals were taxidermied. I think I can also remember the dank underground smell of the museum. I never cared. The Engineer and I loved that place.

And then the freeway was built. I’m talking about the I75 SUV Speedway, the road that this road warrior has a love/hate relationship with. It gets me up to Da Yoop and back quickly. Or not. The Underground Forest was on the old road that we traveled before I75. Traffic on the old road dwindled. I am not sure if the Call of the Wild museum in Gaylord is a new incarnation of the Underground Forest or not. I have been such a road warrior for so many years that I have never been to Call of the Wild but their dioramas look so familiar. If there is a connection, I wish they would post it on their website because this is one person who fondly remembers the old place.

Today we drove from the Houghton Lake group home north and west on county roads until we hit the western entrance to the scenic Jordan River Valley and we traveled through there on this beautiful rainy day. The roads were pretty darn muddy for our beeyootyful Ninja vee-hickle’s performance tires but we made it through. I remember earlier journeys in the beautiful blue POC and The Indefatigable. It is actually one of the places the beach urchins liked to go even when they were teenagers and, by definition didn’t want to spend time with parents.

And so, back through Gaylord where we visited Saturn Booksellers and the GG bought a couple of books. And then. Down the old road, US27 and I knew we were on the route to the old Underground Forest but I can never remember exactly where it is. So the GG was driving today and I was watching like a HAWK! And we found it and I relived my childhood memories again (da-da-da-da-da) and then we got back on the freeway at Grayling and we got groceries at Best Choice and old Doc Frankenpumpkin got out his cloning power carving tools and maybe there’ll be photooos later or tomorrow.

And we’re watching a Lawrence Welk re-run. Of all things.

Signing off from the Houghton Lake bureau,
Kayak Woman

3 Responses to “Rediscovering the old Underground Forest after a very muddy Ninja drive through the Jordan River Valley in the rain”

  1. Mac Says:

    Below Mackinaw City, huge stretches of the old roads would be bypassed with new four-lane construction. Whole towns would be cut off from the main highway, connected only through access roads and “clover leafs.” The coming of the highway spelled disaster for hundreds of mom and pop businesses like motels, restaurants, and roadside attractions cut off from the main traffic flow. Some, like the Underground Forest, an exhibit of mounted native Michigan animals in an underground hallway near Grayling, made plans to relocate. The exhibits became the Call of the Wild Museum in Gaylord. Others would struggle to survive, or would quietly fold their tents to make way for chain motels, restaurants, and gas stations at the interchanges.

  2. Margaret Says:

    It’s very sad that the charm and character of those back roads places disappeared–to be replaced by the sterile rest stops of the freeways. Such is “progress.”

  3. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Hey! I am so glad that you went to Saturn Booksellers. Jackie used to be a partner in that business in Gaylord. Her good friend is still the owner.