Haunted Ghost Tours – Why You Should Go!

Haunted ghost tours have sprung up all over the country.

You may have seen haunted ghost tours in your town or when on vacation. My first tour was in Richmond, Virginia. A woman with a long black cape advertised outside the Edgar Allen Poe house. Two hours later, she led our group through the most historical parts of downtown Richmond. She told stories about the community while pointing out the most historic of buildings. Among the many tales, I remember hearing about the Opera House fire and how a horse and carriage, carrying the Governer’s wife, slid down the icy pavement from the Governer’s Mansion and crashed. After that, I was hooked!

7 top reasons why I love ghost tours:

To become acquainted with a new place.

Many tourists take buses to get their bearings when traveling. I love haunted tours since we stop at each location to hear a story. Boston’s Ghosts and Gravestones combined both walking and busing since there was a lot of ground to cover. It’s a big city!

Haunted ghost tours and why you should go

We went to several historic locations including graveyards where we discovered Paul Revere’s grave; the small one with the flags.

Boston graveyard

To learn about the town’s history.

In New Orleans, we learned a lot about the sinking city, how it burned to the ground and was rebuilt. I enjoyed hearing about its unique culture including a hint of voodoo. Woven throughout were tales of surviving ghosts who still lurk at night.

angel shadow projected on church

See the string of lights on the balcony? They only showed up on film. I have three more pictures like this one!

New Orleans unexplainable lights

To learn about heinous crimes and the infamous evil-doers responsible.

Towns come to life when ghost tour guides spin yarns about perpetrators or the more colorful characters of a town. Suddenly, we’re no longer walking past a historic home from the 1800’s, but are glimpsing a part of the past that shaped history.

Bar Harbor Ghost Tour

To tour historic buildings.

In New Orleans, we toured a restaurant and bar notorious for ghostly visits.

New Orleans spooky speakeasy

In Breckenridge, we toured an old hotel and a home. There is a lot of activity in Breck since graves were dug next to the poor soul who died. Nearly every time they excavate for a new building’s foundation, they find human remains. Creepy or what?

the brown hotel

My first haunted indoor tour took place at the Stanley Hotel. You have to read about my experience to believe it. Or maybe you won’t…

To make discoveries.

While in Bar Harbor, our guide took us to a dark street. A man had written several notes and tossed them into the wind on the street, then went home and hung himself.

One man from the tour peered into a hollow in a tree and discovered this! Could the mason jar contain a note? No one was brave enough to find out…

mysterious jar in a tree stump

To exercise.

Whether you fly or drive to a location, it feels good to get outside and stretch your legs. Most tours take around two hours so you cover a lot of ground.

To get your heart pumping.

There’s nothing better than a good ghost story to tingle your spine. I especially love when I’m familiar with the history, but haven’t heard the paranormal and unexplainable details.

Back in 2008, they moved a little girl’s body from a backyard grave in Breckenridge to the Valley Brook Cemetery. That night, a wind shear tore down trees in a swath all the way to the cemetery and blew down the Victorian iron fence. Right before her grave, the wind changed direction and continued to knock down other gravestones and trees. I remembered reading about the damage in our local newspaper!

What to bring:

Whether it’s autumn, winter, spring or summer, tours are generally at night. Bring a jacket, a water bottle, and wear comfortable walking shoes. Pack a camera to take photos along the way. Most important, bring an open mind.

This photo gave me a heart attack when I got home from a ghost tour in Bar Harbor, Maine. Then I realized it was taken while the group was still in the theater. Ha!

Spooky Theater Bar Harbor

Have you been on a haunted ghost tour? Would you consider going?

Related Posts:

Haunted in Bruges! Photo Essay

Ghost Walk – A Breckenridge Ghost Tour

Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Click for more Wild Adventures!

 

Inspired by Stephen King Country – Maine

Stephen King and Maine inspired me when visiting two weeks ago, but probably not the way that you think. It’s the perfect state for King to live in and produce books. A certain kind of books. Horror. Sometimes vacations aren’t at all what we expect.

Our first stop on the tour of Maine.

After flying into Bangor for our 30th wedding anniversary, Danny and I rented a car and drove right to his house. Okay. That sounds super creepy and stalkerish, but it’s a town landmark. Go ahead. Google, Bangor Landmarks. It’s on the list along with Paul Bunyan’s statue, (Dang, missed that one), and the Bangor Historical Society, with Chipotle Mexican Grill at the top of the list. Bangor has a population of 32,000.

As I drove up West Broadway, there were several cars parked along the wide avenue. Some voyeurs took pictures through the glass of their vehicles. Not us. We walked up to King’s gate. The wrought iron contained a spider and web, a dragon, and a capital K, just in case you weren’t sure if you had the right address. Exposed to the street, the home seemed to invite onlookers, as opposed to the house next door which hid behind a thicket of bushes and trees. The weather was perfect. Drizzling with a touch of fog.

Stephen King's House

Then we ate lunch in downtown Bangor. An advertisement for a play at the Penobscot Theater hung in the window. My favorite of all of Stephen King’s work, MISERY would open on Thursday night! We bought tickets for a mere twenty-seven dollars. I wondered if The Man himself would be in the audience.

In the meantime, we explored Bar Harbor, Bucksport, Camden, and Rockland and found a few bookstores. Each had a section set aside for Stephen King’s books. Some were like shrines.

A storefront in Bangor advertising Stephen King Tours.

IT displayed in Bangor store window

“He’s prolific,” said a young waiter. “He writes every day and sticks to a routine.”

Curious, I looked it up. According to an article written for Open Culture, King ritualizes writing time like some prepare for bedtime.

He’s quoted as saying in Lisa Rogak’s Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King:

“I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning,” he explained. “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.”

Maine is a summer vacation destination.

We arrived in October! Somehow, we didn’t get the memo.

Some shops and restaurants had already shuttered. We stayed at the gorgeous West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor and discovered nearly the entire island including the hotel would close in another week or two.

Until then, cruise ships deposited eight to ten thousand people on shore EVERY DAY! Older people filled the sidewalks, gift shops and restaurants in the quaint downtown. Sometimes I led Danny into the street to pass them.

Because of the older median age of the tourists, warning signs lined the trail in Acadia National Park.

What steep grade and sharp curve?

Quaint meaning super dinky.

After leaving Acadia, I looked up towns to visit. A blog post with Prettiest Towns in Maine came up at the top of the feed. I perused the list. Portland was too far away and so was Kennebunkport. Blue Hill was sort of on our way back to Bangor. We arrived and drove past a gas station, a co-op, a gift shop, cafe, and beautiful harbor surrounded by nicely tended homes and yards. We drove back and asked a customer coming out of the store with a bag of groceries. “Where’s the downtown?” I asked.

“This is it,” he said.

Most of the towns were like that. We rarely saw fishermen on the lakes or active boats in the harbor. I had always dreamed of going to Maine to embody Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote and ride my bike. We only saw one biker since the hills were killer.

Every town seemed to hold its collective breath.

I thought fall color would be at its peak.

Because of warm and dry weather, most leaves were still green and many had already dropped. That happened in the Colorado mountains last fall. We arrived on their first rainy day.

We found colorful landscapes in Acadia.

Fall in Acadia

We encountered more cemeteries than people.

We could drive for miles and never see another vehicle or police car. The entire population of the state is around 1.3 million.

One of many cemeteries in Maine

Between the ghostly quiet towns and the huge expanse of undeveloped forested areas, goosebumps rose on my arms more than once.

I described the isolation to my son who said, “Maybe it will inspire you to write a book. It sounds like a great place for serial killers.” Right after his comment, I noticed Patterson’s new book, HAUNTED, about this particular variety of killer set in Maine. He must have traveled there in October.

 

Winters are tough. The state depends on summer tourism. We ran into an enthusiastic local in Acadia National Park who raved about wintering among the shuttered towns. “We sled and cross country ski. It’s beautiful in the winter.” The Mainers were very friendly, positive people reminiscent of the Midwesterners I grew up with. We really enjoyed meeting them.

MISERY in Bangor.

On Thursday night, the Penobscot Theater filled and the lights dimmed. After the first few lines, the words, “I’m your biggest fan,” were uttered by the character, Annie Wilkes played by AJ Moonie while grateful and drugged out Paul Sheldon, played by James Konicek, groaned in pain. Moonie nailed Kathy Bates’ portrayal of the deranged nurse and I could almost see James Caan in Konicek’s pained expressions as the crippled victim.

Here’s what surprised me.

In the super intense parts of the play where Annie became brutally violent, the crowd tittered, giggled, and a couple guffawed. Every time someone made a bodily sound it woke me from MISERY’s spell.

When I mentioned it to my son, he remarked that sometimes people react inappropriately when fearful. The scenes were super realistic. I cringed several times, so that could be true.

I’ve been to children’s productions where the audience showed more respect to a cast by not talking. Maybe Mainers don’t get to the theaters very often where we are all instructed to sit quietly. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.

It didn’t throw off the actors. They never missed a beat. Maybe they’ve witnessed this many times before. The small ensemble cast of three would make Stephen King proud.

We scanned the audience but King didn’t make it to that night’s performance. I’m sure he will take a stroll to the theater sometime between now and November 5th. I bet he’ll love it. We did!

Inspired by vacationing.

The irony of the setting hit me afterward. King chose Colorado for MISERY, even though I found Maine a better location in many ways. I could imagine super fan, Annie Wilkes, lurking in a clapboard house under the canopy of gnarled oaks just waiting for her chance. Both places endure winters with lots of snow.

Stephen King and I almost physically ran into each other many years ago in a fitness club. We both said, “Oops, sorry,” and kept walking. At the time, he consulted on the mini-series, THE SHINING which took place at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. THE STAND took place in Boulder. He must have been inspired by his trips to Colorado. His latest release, SLEEPING BEAUTIES, co-written with his son, Owen, takes place in a poor Appalachian town. Perfect.

Danny and I almost left Maine a day early. Instead, we drove to Camden, one of the highlights of our trip. I took this photo as we headed out of town.

The harbor in Camden, Maine

Life being ironic, as usual, we got stuck at the airport due to thunderstorms in Chicago and a stubborn baggage door. We had to stay an extra day!

Instead of flying through Chicago that Sunday, we traveled through New York. I remembered my son’s words when starting the four-hour trip home from JFK. “Maybe Maine will inspire you…”

I pulled out my cell phone and began to write.

Maine highway

~~~

Have you ever gone on vacation with completely different expectations? What’s your favorite King novel? Have you seen IT in the theater?

Related posts:

Invaded and Homeless in Paris: Photo Essay

21 Thrilling Movies for Halloween!

Haunted in Bruges! Photo Essay

Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

 

Haunted in Bruges! Photo Essay

While traveling in Europe for the month of June, I looked forward a night in Bruges, Belgium. Little did I know the gorgeous and ancient Hotel Patritius was haunted. We picked the wrong room.

The road to Bruges

You may have heard of In Bruges, a famous movie about a repentant hitman, Ray, (Colin Farrell) who finds himself in Bruges where he and his partner, Ken, (Brendan Gleeson) wait for instructions. As the movie continues, we find out Ken loves Bruges and chose the spot for a reason, but Ray hates everything about the place. The black comedy includes vignettes of this gorgeous and historic place, so it stayed on my radar.

The Bruges Village before dusk

After checking into a family suite on the second floor above the winding staircase, we went out for a stroll. For some strange reason, while walking on patterned cobbles amongst the decorative brick buildings and breath-taking sights, I couldn’t shake loose the jangly feeling of anxiety.

The stairway from the top in Bruges

I have found that places have a certain energy. In Bruges, it was overwhelming. After a few hours of walking the streets to get our bearings, a bucket of savory mussels, and a pasta dinner, I settled in and relaxed.

That night I slipped between the cool sheets. I floated along with the random images of the day while making plans for tomorrow.

Haunted in Bruges

All of a sudden, a beautiful woman appeared in my thoughts. She wore a gold satin gown and a necklace which reflected the light which shone from a window behind me. Her pale face matched the almost white-blonde hair piled upon her head. She stood in a formally appointed room next to a small table. We locked eyes as she slipped out of sight below me. None of this was terribly strange, but…

SHE WAS UPSIDE DOWN!

I bolted upright in bed while trying to shake this bizarre image. I’d never had a thought where an image was upside down. EVER. My heart pounded as if waking from a nightmare. She hadn’t moved or floated in space. Gravity placed her and the table in the room. How weird was that???

My heart slowed over time. Soon images of all kinds of people dressed in seventeenth-century attire appeared randomly in my mind and I drifted off to sleep.

A view of our haunted room

The next morning, I recounted the dream and figured out why she was upside-down. It wasn’t her, IT WAS ME! Held between two people, my head hung backward. As I was removed from the room, I saw the woman slip from view.

Part of a haunted family room in Bruges

We packed up and checked out downstairs. I asked the Innkeeper about the history of the place. He told us it had been there for centuries.

“By the way, you stayed in our most haunted room. Many guests have seen a beautiful blonde woman walk between the bedrooms.”

“What?” I recounted my story, which wasn’t something I perceived in reality, nor in a dream. Rather, it was an alarming thought that freaked me out.

“It sounds like her,” he said and took our enormous key fob with the dangling skeleton key.

Later, I thought about how agitated I had been when first arriving in Bruges. What if I’m sensitive to the many souls caught between this world and the next? Who knows? I’ve never dreamed of anyone upside-down before or since. And what was up with all those costumed people in my thoughts before I fell asleep? I hadn’t seen anyone dressed in period attire during our entire trip.

Pretty postcard Bruges

Would I go back? Absolutely. Not only was it gorgeous, but the history was something I would love to delve into. Maybe I could discover something about the woman in the gold dress and the person who was physically removed from her chambers…

Check out the painting on the left.

Another hotel in Bruges

Have you ever vibed out while on vacation? Have you been to Bruges?

Related posts:

Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

Invaded and Homeless in Paris: Photo Essay

A Day in London with Charles Dickens: Photo Essay

Scotland’s Culloden House, Loch Ness and Barb Taub’s Arran Island: Photo Essay

Click for more wild adventures! 

Autumn And An Early Arrival!

After a week in Wisconsin, I packed up and headed to the Rocky Mountains to see the autumn colors. What I didn’t expect was an early arrival.

Silverthorne fall color with Lake Dillon

These are drive-by shots, meaning, I jumped out of the car to shoot the picture. Don’t worry. No aspens were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Color peeks out from the trees.

The color was stunning due to the clouds and slant of the sun.

Clouds build over the colorful aspen trees

I made the unfortunate decision to stop for lunch while the clouds continued to build.

Fall color in Silverthorne, Colorado

I thought I’d head back up to hike and take more photos.

Autumn in colorful Colorado

Instead, stormclouds descended on the mountains and an icy wind blew.

And then this happened. Click on the photo to listen to the thunder snowstorm!

It’s still snowing. There’s an inch on the deck. If it lasts all night I might have to go sledding tomorrow! I’ll keep you posted.

September snow on the deck

What’s the weather like in your part of the world? Are the leaves changing or is spring arriving?

Click for more wild adventures!

Related posts:

An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter

Bike Hike to Bridal Veil Falls – Photo Essay with Altitude

To Hell You Ride – A Photo Essay that Ends in Whoa!

Invaded and Homeless in Paris: Photo Essay

When I planned the trip to Europe, I wanted to wing it in several countries, but not in Paris. The last thing I wanted was to panic and become homeless during high season. I booked an Airbnb near the Arc de Triomphe two months in advance. Super cute and fairly modern, I thought it would be the perfect location for touring Paris for a week. I would never have guessed it would be invaded.

Arc de Triomphe

Once we arrived in Paris, there was a problem with communication. We sat at a nearby café and tried to get a hold of the host. It took a while to find the apartment and the key. When we finally entered the apartment that evening my husband, Danny, and I were pleasantly surprised. It looked exactly like the photos on the site. We settled in and I set up my computer.

The host had left a couple of water bottles in the fridge so I walked across the room to quench my thirst. That’s when I noticed something. Something crawling on the counter. Ants. Okay, so a couple of random ants isn’t a big deal, so I sat back down at the computer.

When a few more ants found the computer cord and crawled to my laptop, it creeped me out. I walked to the cupboards and opened one. The clean glasses were crawling with them. Euw! We were booked for a week. What would we do? I didn’t want to spend hours cleaning. I called the host, but he was on vacation. What? I always thought there was supposed to be someone available.

This is a screenshot from a video I took for Airbnb and the host. Continue reading

A Day in London with Charles Dickens: Photo Essay

A day in London exploring Charles Dickens and his haunts.

A visit with Charles Dickens made the top of my list as I traveled by train from Gatwick to London. So far, the trip to Europe had exceeded anything in my crazy imagination. I brought comfy shoes and planned to walk everywhere. After recent terror attacks, I hoped it would be enjoyable and police presence wouldn’t spoil the mood. Quite the opposite happened. I discussed how Londoners fight terrorism. So very simple, isn’t it? (Adopting the English manner of speaking to get you in the mood.) Instead, the city was filled with families enjoying the day. Any sort of trepidation melted away in the London sunshine.

The Grange Wellington Hotel, chosen by the crew from the Bloggers Bash, proved to be a great location for sightseeing. Many tourist attractions were located nearby.

First stop: Buckingham Palace.

The timing couldn’t have been better. As my husband, Danny, and I approached the Palace, the Changing of the Guard began. I didn’t know they had a marching band too. Very cool! I walked by the gate and snapped a photo while security kept me moving.

I wonder what that little boy is thinking. Did toilet paper stick to my shoe?

This photo needs a caption: Continue reading

How Londoners Fight Terrorism

While Danny and I prepared for our trip to Europe, we heard about the terrorist attack in Manchester, England. Our whole vacation started with London at its heart. I would attend the Bloggers Bash on June 10th.

We didn’t change our plans.

Instead, we drove from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Scotland when I noticed London trending on Twitter. To be honest, a second terrorist attack so soon after Manchester gave me pause. Was it an outbreak?

We didn’t change our plans.

After a fabulous week in Scotland, we flew to Gatwick airport and took the train to London. I wondered if police presence would be everywhere. Would any of the tourist attractions be open? Would we have to stick around the neighborhood of the Wellington Hotel?

The fabulous Bloggers Bash was the next day. We planned to take London by storm on Sunday. I brought my most comfortable walking shoes. I wanted to see Buckingham Palace, check out my buddy, Chuck, I mean Charles Dickens’ haunts, and go to Covent Gardens.

As soon as we walked out of Victoria’s station, I was struck by the number of cute little children, dressed to impress.

How Londoners Fight Terrorism (1)

And just like that, I was over any doubt or fear.

Of course, we didn’t change our plans.

When I asked people in London how they felt about safety, they all said, “We have to live their lives.” One man said, “Americans are scaredy cats.” True that. I was, but not anymore.

My suggestion to Americans?

Travel to London or Paris or wherever you want. It’s the only way we win. Terrorists want to destroy our way of life. When we change our plans because we’re afraid, they win.

Have you changed your vacation plans because of recent events? Would you?