NEGAUNEE - Bigfoot, UFOs - believe the stories or not - people across the Upper Peninsula claim to have seen both.
Collecting these strange tales, along with other oddities about life in the state of Michigan, is part of the job for U.P. author Lisa Shiel of Lake Linden. She's written several books, including co-authoring "Strange Michigan" with Linda Godfrey, and has been a bigfoot researcher and a UFO investigator.
"There's a lot of deep woods (in Michigan)," Shiel said. "There's a lot of opportunity to see things."
Bigfoot and UFOs aren’t strangers to the U.P., according to local author Lisa Shiel, who has researched strange sightings for several of her books. Shiel gave a presentation at the Negaunee Senior Center Wednesday, during which many of those in the audience shared their own bigfoot and UFO stories. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Shiel discussed stories she's heard from others - as well as some of her own sightings - at a talk at the Negaunee Senior Center Wednesday afternoon.
So is Michigan weirder than other states?
"Oh definitely," she said, laughing. "I live here, so yes, I think so."
Bigfoots - large, hairy beings that walk on two feet - have been spotted in every state except Hawaii, as well as many other countries across the globe.
The U.P. has even had some of its own sightings.
"I've had a glimpse of something that might have been a bigfoot," Shiel told her audience. "I looked into the woods and saw a tall, dark figure step from one tree to another."
Others in the audience had their own stories to share about experiences with the mystery figure.
Jill Seppala of Negaunee said she grew up with her parents sharing the story of seeing a large figure stride across the highway in front of their car.
"It was their instinct that it was not a bear, not a human," Seppala said. "They both felt they had seen the exact same thing."
Having that story told by her parents has interested Seppala in bigfoot stories.
"I always like to hear about stuff," she said. "I don't necessarily believe all of it.
"My parents are not odd people, they're very normal."
Seppala said she may have even heard a bigfoot while camping one night.
Shiel said bigfoot noises are often described the same way - almost like a woman or a baby screaming or whooping.
UFO sightings are also fairly common in Michigan, with people reporting large black orbs hovering in the sky over highways or cities or often lights that hover in one place, then shoot away.
"I had my first UFO sighting when I was 14," Shiel said. "After that I started investigating sightings and interviewing people."
Those interested in learning more can visit Shiel's Web site at strangemichigan.wordpress.com.