Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paranormal Parties

A paranormal pal of mine, Donna Marsh, recently let me know about a new business venture she's embarking on: Fun with Donna, which among other things hosts paranormal parties.

Photo by Michael Pohl from stock.xchng


Fueled in part by, I admit it, watching Ghost Hunters, I met Donna when I attended one of her Basic Ghost Hunting Workshops a couple of years ago. I dragged Wayne with me, who thinks I'm a bit cuckoo about all this ghost stuff but humors me anyway, and even he had a great time. Donna's very warm, personable, and entertaining. I imagine attending one of her parties would be quite the blast!


The main crux of her business is actually adult toy and goody sales. She caters to every kind of setup you can imagine:

  • Ladies Night Out
  • Bachelorette parties
  • Wedding showers
  • "Divorced Diva" parties (for the divorced woman who wants to celebrate her freedom)
  • Couples
  • Romance (learn tips and tricks for enriching your sex life)

However, as any good business person would, she's also added her own unique spin. Since she is a sensitive and a ghost hunter and understands people enjoy exploring this aspect of life, she also offers the following for paranormal parties:

  • Ghost hunting (in your home or at an off-site location of your choosing)
  • Seances
  • Psychic and medium readings
  • Spell crafting

For more info on the specifics of each, visit the "Parties" link on her site.


I think using haunt jaunts as fundraisers is an extremely clever and fun way for organizations or clubs to raise money, but Donna's putting a twist on it. She'll put her talent to work in a gallery-style psychic reading for your guests.

I see a lot of possibilities here. Including perhaps pairing this up with a ghost hunt too. All you'd need is a hotel or bar (or some other place with purported activity) to donate the space, sell a few tickets, maybe serve some food and drinks and voila! A really unique fundraising event people are sure to talk about long after.

For more info on fundraising parties with Donna, visit the "Fundraising" link on her site.


And of course if you do attend one of her paranormal parties, I'd love to hear all about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where to Find Ghost Hunting Tours

On my post about ghost tours, Autumnforest (from Ghost Hunting Theories) made a comment about how she advises people interested in ghost hunting to try a tour on for size first. She even stated how her group, MVD Ghostchasers, conducts ghost hunting workshops four times a year.

This is a wonderful idea. More and more I'm seeing such groups offer opportunities like this. Sometimes you have to join the group (usually it's a modest annual fee to do so), but other times you only need make a reservation for the night of the hunt. (Again, usually there's a nominal cost involved, about equal to what a dinner and/or movie out might cost you.)

Another nice thing about ghost hunting with an established group is they often provide access to equipment it might otherwise cost you a small fortune to buy. That way you're not pouring money out for a hobby you discover you have no interest in.


  1. Try the Shadowlands List of Local Ghost Hunters, Investigators and Researchers
  2. Check out the Society for Paranormal Investigation's list of ghost groups
  3. Scan's list of Paranormal Investigators
  4. Search for ghost hunting meetup groups in your area on (Alternately, you can find ghost tracking groups on also)

However, some haunted sites that draw tourists on their own also offer ghost hunting. Sometimes it's in conjunction with a paranormal group, sometimes it's with a ghost tour company. Sometimes it's just offered by the place itself.


  1. One Feather Productions - Spirit Adventure Tours (conducted in a variety of areas, including Sedona, Tombstone, Santa Fe, the Oregon Trail, Gettysburg, St. Augustine, and Great Britain).
  2. Preston Castle - Overnight ghost tours conducted in conjunction with Ghost Trackers Paranormal Research Group (Tour offered June-November).
  3. The Whaley House - A 90 minute investigation led by the San Diego Ghost Hunters.
  4. Walking Ghost Tour and Ghost Hunt - Look for ghosts in Old Town San Diego.
  5. Queen Mary Paranormal Investigation Tour - Try your hand at hunting for ghosts aboard this famed ship.
  6. Lizzie Borden B&B Weekend Paranormal Retreats - These are offered in conjunction with Haunted Times and there's only one weekend left for 2009, September 4-5. (Click here to read a blog I wrote about other locations where Haunted Times holds ghost hunts.)
  7. Haunted Tours at Historic Fort Wayne - Take a tour of the fort, learn its history, then stay and search the grounds for evidence of what still lingers.
  8. Copper Queen Hotel - Every Thursday night the hotel offers guests to do more than stay the night in Bisbee.
  9. Old Montana Territorial Prison - It's a tour where they turn the lights out and take you to five of the hottest of the prison's hot spots. They encourage you to bring your camera, video recorders and other ghost hunting devices to see what evidence you might capture.
  10. Haunted Detroit Tours - The tour guides come equipped with digital camera, infra-red thermometers, and EMF detectors for your three hour ghost hunting adventure of Metro Detroit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Make Reservations Now for October Ghost Tours

The time to make reservations for ghost tours in October is now. I discovered this thanks to my friend Amy. She thought it'd be fun to do a ghost tour with a group so she started asking people if they'd be interested.

I think initially she had in mind to do one any old time, but many people (including myself) said, "Oh, you mean around Halloween? Sure, that'd be fun."

But Amy wasn't so sure we could reserve places now for sometime in October. Nashville Ghost Tours was ranked #5 by the South China Morning Post. She thought they might already be booked up. However, she made a call and was told if she booked now she'd be guaranteed a spot for October.


I'm not sure exactly when we're going yet, but I'm looking forward to it. However, if you're also interested in gathering a group of friends to do a ghost tour in October around Halloween, might not be a bad idea to make your reservations now.


  1. Haunted America Tours Top Ten - the ten best tours in the country as voted by the people who've taken them.
  2.'s List of Ghost Tours - One of the most complete listings of ghost tours on the web.
  3. - This might be the first chain ghost tour operation. It operates tours in Gettysburg, Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA; Ocean City, NJ; and St. Petersburg, FL.
  4. Angels & Ghosts - This one is also a pretty comprehensive listing source. Also includes not just U.S. tours but international ones as well.
  1. A Ghostly Experience (presented by Ghost Tours of St. Augustine)
  2. Chicago Supernatural Tours (guided by Richard Crowe)
  3. The Original Ghosts of Gettysburg
  4. Baltimore Ghost Tours
  5. The Original New Orleans Ghost & Vampire Tour
  6. Eureka Springs Ghost Tour
  7. Savannah Ghost Tour
  8. Bulldog Tours (Charleston, SC)
  9. Salem's Best Ghost Tours
  10. Candlelight Ghost Tours of Frederick (MD)
  11. San Francisco Ghost Hunt
  12. Haunted Texas (Austin area)
  13. San Antonio Ghost Tours
  14. Ghost Tours of Galveston
  15. Old Towns Most Haunted (San Diego)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Become a Ghost Tour Beta Tester

Here's an interesting opportunity for some of you Haunt Jaunters out there: a start-up company specializing in ghost tourism is looking for ghost tour beta testers.

This opportunity came to my attention because of a comment left on one of my postings about paranormal tourism. My interest was piqued and my curiosity prompted me to contact the poster.

Which I'm glad I did because she made me aware of a new company she's launching. I'm sure it'll be profiled more later, but for now I can write about how she needs beta testers to test her product.


It's a self-guided tour package which will be going up for sale in southeast Wisconsin. From what I gather, it's a collection of Haunt Jaunts you follow at your leisure. (See why I was intrigued?)


The southeast Wisconsin area.


Between July 26 and August 8.


Susan Scot Fry of the Caper Company


If you do this, I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know how it went.

Or, better yet, if you'd like to guest blog about your experience, I'd love to have you do that too. Just drop me an email at or leave a comment here so I can get in touch with you about it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Improving Ghost Hunting Investigation Techniques

Autumnforest left some wonderful comments on yesterday's post that of course got me thinking about other ways to improve ghost hunting investigation techniques.


Autumnforest brought up the very astute point that just as people are assigned certain duties within a ghost hunting group (such as lead investigator, case manager or tech manager), investigators should be assigned certain tasks when out in the field.

It seems so obvious, but I know of very few groups where one person is in charge of taking EMF readings all night, another in charge of monitoring temperature fluctuations, yet another is responsible for EVP work.

But other scientific studies do this, break out the work and have people dedicated to specific tasks. Very good observation on her part. Leads to less contamination of evidence.


Another thing she brought up was the EVP she'd captured of a kid. It was of bootsteps I believe, yet the kids at school didn't believe her. Even now many grownups would be hard pressed to.

Even though I've never heard the evidence myself, I'm 99% certain she didn't fake it. I think Autumnforest was ahead of her time even back then. She might not ever be able to convince the doubters but I think there's a crucial clue to legitimizing EVPs from her experience.

I believe I read before that she caught the EVP by sitting on the top of the stairs of the home she was growing up in at the time. This memory was triggered by something else Autumnforest said in her comment on yesterday's post. About how even GH, as much as they strive to be credible, still potentially contaminate a lot of evidence by moving around too much. They operative word is sit.

Now many times I have seen GH and GHI members sit while conducting EVP sessions. But I've also seen them start them while walking or while standing. I think a way to produce better, less contaminated results would be to (a) conduct them while sitting and staying as still as possible, and (b) conduct them in front of a video camera.

That means if a two-partner team is in the room during the EVP session, both people are accounted for on screen. That way no one can say it was the person behind the camera murmuring something and "creating" the EVP.

This can be accomplished a couple of ways:
  1. Either both investigators wield cameras and keep them trained on each other the while time, or
  2. If they're sharing a camera, placing it somewhere and then positioning themselves in front of it together.

Also, I hate to say it, but if it truly is an EVP, it should show up on both the voice recorder and the video camera. However, I also agree if the ghost only approaches the voice recorder and speaks softly into it and the video camera isn't close enough, I could see how the camera might not get it.

Still, I think evidence is the most legit when you have more than one source capturing it and too often it seems opportunities to do this (or try and do it) are missed.


Another thing Autumnforest's comment made me think about is something from my college days: every experiment always has to have a control group. I have yet to see or read about any ghost hunting group using control methods to help verify results.

What made me think this was Autumnforest has a theory (well, a bunch of them really, that's why she blogs about them at Ghost Hunting Theories), that people can influence an investigation as much as the weather, time of day, or the moon's phase. It's an interesting theory, and I'm hoping she'll find a way to test it if she hasn't already, but it made me think of something else from my college science course experiment days. People themselves can corrupt data.

How to correct for corrupted data? Why, you set up a control group of course!

But how do you set up a controlled environment when ghost hunting? I'm sure there are other ways, but here's two I came up with:

  1. The knowledge and background investigators have about each location should be minimized as much as possible. The case manager and the lead investigator(s) should know the hot spots and reports of activity, but the rest of the team members shouldn't. The lead investigator should assign the other investigators to certain areas but shouldn't tell them what to look for. Why? Because if you think about it, there's already a kind of corruption factor to begin with. It's called the expectancy factor. Investigators who know about a location will have preconceived notions of what they expect to experience and thus up the chances of doing so through self-fulfilling prophecy.
  2. Investigators should not discuss experiences as they're happening. I've seen Jason and Grant do this from time to time on GH, but there's definitely room for improvement. Say a team of investigators hears something, like a voice. It's okay to say, "Did you hear that?" but instead of saying, "I thought I heard X" both should write it down on separate pieces of paper and then compare results during evidence review. (Or, in GH's case, for entertainment value the investigators could hold up their papers for the camera.) And to up the credibility factor, both investigators should be visible on camera, their backs to each other (or somehow make it obvious they can't see what the other's writing), and then hold up the paper. This would help validate experiences when investigators hear knocking, bangs, voices, etc. And in the case of voices the gender, whether they heard them laughing, screaming, moaning, or saying a word should be noted. (Example: I remember an episode Jason and Grant were investigating a tunnel, I think at the Stanley Hotel. Even the cameraman's camera picked up the voice of a little girl. It would really make such an experience even more credible if Jason and Grant wrote down separately what they thought they heard. In this case if they'd both written little girl laughing there'd be no denying it.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Movie for Zombie Fans: Dead Snow

This post has nothing to do with Haunt Jaunting, but I came across a movie zombie fans might like to know about: Dead Snow. (I'm a sucker for zombie movies, so I was excited when I ran across this one.)


It's about eight medical students who spend Easter break at a mountain cabin in an area they learn was occupied by Nazi soldiers during World War II. The Nazis tortured the locals and stole their gold, which was put in a box the medical students find. The Nazis were chased into the forest where it was presumed they froze to death, but guess what? They're not dead. They're the living dead and they've come back to claim their gold.


It made its American debut at this year's Sundance Film Fest. As horror movies go this one got decent reviews for being a good blend of camp, humor, and gore.

Oh, and you might have picked up on the "American debut" part. Dead Snow is a foreign film. Not sure if it's Swedish or Norwegian, though. Fandango says it's presented in Swedish with English subtitles. But on the Sundance site it says it's from Norway. (Do they speak Swedish in Norway? I thought they spoke Norwegian? Or am I showing off my international ignorance again? Wouldn't be the first time...probably won't be the last...)

At any rate, it was released in June. If it's not still showing at a theater near you, it'll likely be available for rental very soon. I just added it to my Netflix queue.

Ghost Adventures: Moon River Brewing Company

I finally had a chance to watch Zak and crew's investigation of Moon River Brewing Company last week. (Or, rather, the episode of it that was aired last week.)


I was sort of put off when Zak said something about Savannah being one of the most haunted cities and the guy he was talking with corrected him and said, "No, Savannah's the most haunted city."

Savannah's beautiful and I'm not going to bag on it, but I'm not convinced it's the most haunted city. What about Charleston? St. Augustine? Boston? Salem? New Orleans? Gettysburg?

However, I did some research. Savannah does have the right to make such a claim since the American Institute of Parapsychology named it America's Most Haunted City in 2002.

(However, I'm wondering if the organization's biased at all. I tried to figure out where it might be located. The "contact us" page lists a P.O. Box for somewhere in Georgia. Not to discredit the AIP. I'm just always skeptical about who's behind what.)


I was sorry to see them utilizing that word gun again like they did in the Castillo de San Marcos episode. Hokey, hokey, hokey.

And as far as Nick's so called possession...maybe more a matter of acting for effect. (Which is also why I think they use the word gun.)

Which is a shame. They'd probably have a decent shot of coming up with some good evidence if they played it straight. When TAPS investigated there I remember the creepy shadow figure they caught down in the basement behind the pool table. I was really hoping the Ghost Adventures guys wold get something like that too.


Click here to read a great recap of the show by Julie for Ghost Hunters Investigations.

Click on the clip below to watch a scene with the hokey word-database gun.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Questioning Convincing Evidence

I've been thinking a lot about convincing evidence when it comes to definitive proof that ghosts exist. Sure the TAPS team of Ghost Hunters fame have captured a lot of interesting and thought-provoking evidence, but have they captured actual proof? Have any ghost hunter groups, whether on TV or otherwise?


The trouble with so much of what's on TV is the trust factor. Especially when the guys of Ghost Adventures start using things like that word box of theirs. (I'm sorry, but their explanation of how it works --"spirits manipulate their energy to pick out relevant words to communicate with"-- just doesn't cut it. And then they have the gall to claim that's scientific evidence? I don't think so.)

But gimmicky instruments aside, can we really trust what we're seeing? Or hearing as is more often the case? How do we know that they're really catching EVPs? How can we trust that it's not tampered with in some fashion or that the evidence isn't manufactured or staged somehow?


I want to believe in ghosts. After a couple of the experiences I had at both the Shilo Inn in Utah and then down in St. Augustine, I believe something paranormal happened.

I also know others have had similar experiences in other places. (Or even at the same locations in some instances.) The trouble is capturing the proof of what our mind's have experienced.

I know that's what paranormal groups are trying to do. Or debunk what happened. I get that. And while I commend Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and all of the other paranormal investigation groups out there who have brought a more scientific element to the quest, I see room for improvement.


More and more as I'm watching the various ghost hunting shows or evidence presented by paranormal groups, I find myself wanting to believe but instead donning a skeptic's hat. Here's ways I think would help legitimize evidence and make it more convincing:
  • COLD SPOTS: When cold spots are felt, thermometers should be immediately wielded and the incident documented with some kind of camera, either digital still or camcorder. I get so frustrated when I hear someone say, "Ooh, I feel a cold spot!" but don't do anything about it. That's the perfect time to break out equipment and see if you get anything. (I've seen some of the investigators on Ghost Hunters do it every now and then, but even they don't do it as consistently as they should. Or if they do it's being edited out before airing.)
  • DOUBLE SHOT APPROACH: I realize orbs, mist, and the like isn't always visible to the naked eye and oftentimes only shows up in evidence review. However, I have a hard time buying any of it as evidence if only one camera catches it. Theoretically, if something's really there and two cameras are taking pictures of it (be they both still cameras or video or a combo thereof), the evidence should show up on both cameras, right? But time and again I see evidence being claimed as real when only one camera caught it. Like perhaps a digital still camera caught something, even when video cameras were rolling but nothing came up on that. If it's really there, more than one camera should be capturing it. (If you take a picture of a landscape with two different cameras, both will capture the same trees, grass, flowers, et cetera, right? So why should different standards apply for ghosts or orbs?)
  • EXTENDED INVESTIGATIONS: For entertainment sake I understand many of the TV show investigations can only take place on one night. But for scientific research sake that's not really legit. It's kind of like an archaeological dig. You wouldn't send a team of archaeologists out to a sight and expect them to recover artifacts in 12 hours. Sure they'll dig up some things, but it's doubtful they'd find the true prizes or insights into the place in that time. Ghost hunting is no different. It takes patience, repeated visits, perhaps even lengthy stays to really have a chance at digging up anything. I'd be interested in following the progress of an extended investigation at one location rather than these quickie one-night-stands where they hope and pray it'll be an active night and they'll catch something.
  • IMPROVED DOCUMENTATION OF MANIFESTATION TIMES: I'd like to see better documentation of when things actually happen. This one falls more on the shoulders of the people who live, work or play at the haunted sights. Rather than just relating stories of experiences, they need to note times and dates of when activity occurs. If investigators knew when something was likely to manifest it would up their chances of capturing convincing evidence. (I liken it to the geysers at Yellowstone. Take Old Faithful for instance. As noted on the Geysers of Yellowstone site, it erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for one and a half to five minutes. People have a fair idea of when to stop by to see it blow. The same should apply to residual hauntings. Theoretically they should happen with more predictability than an intelligent haunting, and thus should render quantifiable "viewing" times.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ghost Adventures: Eastern State Penitentiary

The Ghost Adventures team had pretty big shoes to fill when they headed to investigate Eastern State Penitentiary. That was one of Ghost Hunters best shows. (The first visit. I don't know if I was as impressed with the evidence from their second visit.)

One thing I'm coming to notice about the Ghost Adventures guys is something AutumnForest related in one of her posts at Ghost Hunting Theories: Zak, and Aaron and Nick thrive on taunting spirits. But that wasn't all I noticed.


It was the thing that stood out at me the most though. And what really stood out to me in this episode was that Zak seems to want to provoke evil spirits in particular. (Although, this is the first episode I've been able to watch in a couple of weeks. I've missed shows since the Castillo de San Marcos thanks to hiccups with our DVR. Maybe he's emphasized his desire to rile up the evil ones in those too. It just hit me from this episode though.)

I know taunting is a technique used to provoke spirits into responding, but Zak made it clear this go around he's not just hoping to capture evidence of any old ghosts. He's looking for the evil, mean ones.

I'm not sure why, though. Is he trying to make that his thing? Like his way of making the show stand out and that be his niche in the business? Or is he hoping it'll make the best entertainment?

Who knows. Maybe all will be revealed in future episodes.


Zak was talking with Sean Kelley, Eastern State Program Director, about how many deaths had occured in the prison. Kelley said he could show him a death ledger with hundreds of deaths.

That's when "hundreds" got repeated in a back and forth "Hundreds?" "Hundreds." "Hundreds?" "Hundreds." volley that just cracked me up.

Yes, Zak. It's completely plausible in a jail that had been around since 1829 that hundreds could have died there.


Speaking of that death ledger, Zak reading through it made for another of the show's more humorous moments. He was reading the causes of deaths and came across one he just couldn't help but comment on: death by masturbation. (Actually, it might have been suicide by masturbation. I can't quite recall how it was phrased.)

Zak then went on to say he'd never heard of death by that before. Hmmm...must not watch the news. I don't know about suicide by masturbation, but I've seen reports on accidental death by masturbation. (Wasn't David Carradine's death thought to be because of that?)


I'm not gay, nor am I offended by gay jokes, but I am sensitive about making them. (Or not making them.)

I couldn't help but wonder how any gay ghost enthusiasts watching would feel about comments Zak made about the shower. One of the witnesses they interviewed talked about how she'd been in the shower area and soap had slipped, she'd made a comment, and that's when she'd felt a slap on her butt.

Zak said something to the effect that a place where being touched on the butt happened would be the perfect place for Aaron to investigate on his own later that night. Which reminded me of another jail they'd visited where an inmate had been ganged raped to death and he'd placed Aaron in there alone, too.

At any rate, both times he made cracks that might not be appreciated by some. And poor Aaron's the butt of the jokes, but he seems to take Zak's haranguing in stride.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ghost Tour de France

With the Tour de France well underway, I thought it'd be interesting to take a ghost tour of France. The trouble is, I had a hard time finding ghost stories from France!


I figured finding ghost tours in France, or ghost stories from France, would be as easy as finding them for England. It doesn't seem that the French have embraced the concept of ghost tours in all their historic places as readily as the English have, though.

Paris had one, but the rest of France seems like an untapped market for anyone looking for a place to branch out into paranormal tourism.

Still, I did find a few places that would make fun Haunt Jaunts if you happen to make it to France. (Not to mention they just look like neat places you might like to visit period, ghost enthusiast or no, if you're ever over there.)

  • Disneyland Paris - The children's section has had reports of "mysterious vortex of energy" haunting the area.
  • Monts d'Arree - The locals have a spot they deemed the Gates of Hell because of all the ghost sightings. Legend has it a little girl was sacrificed by devil worshippers there. Her ghost, along with a demon dog, are the ones most frequently reported. (Interesting to note: A nuclear reactor was built on the site, so if you find that start looking for ghosts!)
  • Basilica at Domremy - Joan of Arc's ghost is thought to haunt here.
  • Versailles - Marie Antoinette's entire court is said to haunt the gardens of Trianon.


  • Best Western Bretagne Montparnasse - Stay in Paris and have a hauntingly good time with a ghost said to wake you from your dreams to find a bright, wispy blue hand and arm over your face.
  • Paris Catacombs - On the Shadowlands site it says there was a video camera found with footage showing a terrified man running from something unseen, but the man was never found. Sounds like the Blair Witch Project to me. But of course with so many bones, all of which were transplanted from other cemeteries, there might be a restless spirit or two lurking down there...
  • The Eiffel Tower - Did an angry boyfriend throw his girlfriend to her death after she refused to say yes to his proposal of marriage? Her ghost is said to be heard first laughing, then saying no, then screaming as she falls to her death.


  • Brissac Castle - This is one of the castles in the famed, fairytale land of the Loire Valley. It's dubbed "The Giant of the Loire Valley" because its seven stories make it the tallest of France's castles. Said to be haunted by Jacques de Breze's wife, Charlotte and her lover, who were killed together.


  • Mysteries of Paris Ghost Tour - I wasn't kidding when I started off saying the French haven't caught on to the boon of paranormal tourism yet. The cities first ever ghost tour just opened this past Spring. That blows me away given all of its history. I think of all the ghost tours in our oldest cities, which are just babies compared to Paris. But it was comforting because it explains why I had such a hard time finding ghost tour info for other French cities --they likely don't have ghost tours yet! (I smell opportunity for any of you ex-pats or wannabe ex-pats.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

State Tourism Offices Realize Haunt Jaunts Boost Revenue

Recently I wrote about how some historical organizations are using haunt jaunts as fundraisers. Now I've come across an article about how state tourism departments are realizing haunt jaunts as revenue streams.


Yesterday I read a great article by Marty Roney on called "Alabama's 'ghost trail' may scare up tourism dollars." It was about how the Southwest Alabama Regional Tourism and Film Office plans to promote Alabama's Black Belt with a "ghost trail."

It's going to be set up as a driving, self-guided kind of tour. They'll have a website featuring ghost tales starting with stories from Dallas, Perry and Wilcox counties. More stories will be added as they're gathered.

They're hoping it encourages people to frequent this part of the state, which is more economically depressed than other areas of the state. (Not sure if that means it's more economically depressed overall, or if it's just not attracting tourists. That may be about to change.)


The Southwest Alabama Regional Tourism and Film Office took its cue from other cities that have realized that a good ghost business brings in tourism bucks. Some of the cities listed in the article that enthusiastically promote ghost/paranormal tourism included:
  • Mansfield, Ohio (Specifically mentioning the Ohio State Reformatory, which you might have seen in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" or on an episode of Ghost Hunters.)

  • Richmond, Virginia

  • Cape Fear area of North Carolina

  • Long Beach Island, New Jersey

  • Houston, Texas

It'll be interesting to see if more and more tourism offices start promoting haunt jaunts or ghost trails or the like to attract visitors to their states. If not, they should seriously consider it. If there's one thing us ghost enthusiasts like to do, it's travelling to track down ghosts.

That means spending on gas, food, and sometimes even lodging at our destination. Not to mention if the haunt jaunt itself charges a fee, like many museums, prisons, and historic homes do. Oh yes, there's definitely revenue to be realized by catering to us haunt jaunters.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recap of Haunt Jaunt to Gulf County, Florida

We're back from our Haunt Jaunt to Gulf County, Florida, otherwise known as Florida's Forgotten Coast. All I can say is, I don't know what was harder to find: a place to eat or a ghost.


Actually, finding a place to eat wasn't all that hard. It just seemed that way because we stayed on Cape San Blas. The nearest food was in Port St. Joe, 20 miles away. (With the exception of a couple of smaller restaurants, one right across from where we stayed and the other in Indian Pass, maybe 10 miles away. But both were closed when we tried to frequent them.)

After swimming, body surfing, scalloping, snorkeling, and walking on the beach working up an appetite, driving 20 miles on a hungry belly made it feel like there was no food to be found.


There isn't a whole lot to see and do in Gulf County. That's part of its appeal. If you want a nice, relaxed, laid back beach atmosphere, it doesn't get much more laid back than Gulf County.

In fact, on Cape San Blas it was even hard for us to get cell phone reception. (Wayne got better than I did. I could sometimes get one bar, but I couldn't really get a connection.)

However, besides just enjoying the beach, we did take in some sights.


We checked out the Cape San Blas Lighthouse (pictured above). I was really hoping for some ghosts there, but the woman (who's name I unfortunately did not get) who sort of stays out there and runs it and the adjoining Sleeping Beauty Gift Shop assured me there are no ghosts out there.

"I've heard all the legends but I can definitely say I've spent enough nights out here to know ain't nothing haunting this place."


We strolled around Port St. Joe's historic downtown area. Reid Avenue is akin to a Main Street area with shops and such. It's kind of in the process of being revived. There was an old theater that might have had some promising ghost stories, but it was all closed up and for sale.

However, we haunted Joe Mama's Wood Fired Pizza. (406 Reid Ave, Port St. Joe, FL) Man, that pizza was grub! We made sure to eat there twice during our visit.


Also twice we headed over to Apalachicola. Dumb dumb me could've had a Haunt Jaunt t write about there if only I'd thought to check out another haunted travel site first, the Shadowlands Haunted Places Index.

I saw the Gibson Inn when we were walking around the town and had said to Wayne, "Maybe I should get a picture of that place and go inside and ask if they have any ghosts."

But it was hot, we were both thirsty, and Wayne wasn't much in the mood for my "ghost shenanigans" as he calls them. All he wanted to find at that moment was a cold drink.

The next day I checked that index and saw that, yep, the Gibson Inn was listed. Apparently a ghost of a captain haunts room 309 and a lady ghost (thought to be one of the Gibson sister's who ran the hotel in the 1920s) haunts the second floor. As well as sometimes messes with the phones.

Oh well, missed out on that one.

But I can recommend Up the Creek Raw Bar for delicious, fresh seafood. Not to mention it was very reasonably priced. We ordered a dozen oysters on the half shell, a pound of steamed shrimp, a cup of crab soup and a dozen clams in a butter/wine/garlic sauce all for $30. (And that included two teas, sweet of course!)

Also, there were two other big pluses about Up the Creek: (1) it was a doggie-friendly dining establishment, and (2) it boasted an amazing view. We had left Murph back at our digs on Cape San Blas, but had we brought him he would've been welcome to enjoy the view of the water with us on the back deck. And they would've even provided him a fresh bowl of water if he was so inclined.


I would've haunted the volleyball courts they had here if we'd known about them earlier. Sadly, we didn't discover the much more happening St. Joe Beach and Mexico Beach scenes until the end of our visit when we headed to Toucan's our second-to-the-last night for dinner.

Again, no ghosts here. But Toucan's made for a great place to eat. We were seated at a table right next to the beach. (On their outside covered patio. We enjoyed the sea breeze keeping the temps mild, laughed at the sea gulls begging for scraps, and our entertainment was watching the surfers ride the waves.)

If we were more the drinking/bar types, their upper deck is apparently the hip hoppening place to hang at nights.


After having been to more active haunted beach jaunts like St. Augustine or even Charleston, I can safely say Gulf County and the Forgotten Coast is not a happening haunted destination.

However, if you want great fresh seafood, in particular oysters, or if you're looking for uncrowded, unspoiled beaches that also happen to be pet friendly, Gulf County is the place for you.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Flashes in the Dark Publishes "My Nightmare"

I'm very excited to share that Flashes in the Dark published my flash "My Nightmare" yesterday.

Yep, I'm still away but I hijacked my husband's computer really quick this morning to make sure my story had been published. Then I figured why not share it here. That way I could still publish something while we take this little vacation of ours. (We haven't had much luck finding any Haunt Jaunts I hate to admit or I'd surely be sharing that instead!)


"My Nightmare" is the first story I've had accepted for publication in about two years now. I hadn't had much time to write fiction there for a while, or submit, so this is a big deal for me.

It started about two years ago, I was both writing for and working with an agent to find a publisher for my manuscript, The Ghost of Laurie Floyd. That left me little time for short fiction.

Then, a little over a year ago, my mom got sick and I moved her to live with me so I could care for her in her final days. And then there was my hitchhiker...

Those things not only ate up my time, but they devoured my psychic energy. I just didn't have it in me to sit down and write.

But when I did feel better and had time, this was one of the first stories I banged out.


The ironic thing is, this story is based on a real recurring nightmare I was having about my mom, who died last year on July 3.

The editors didn't know that part. They just randomly selected the publication date.

I haven't had the dream in a while, so I'm hoping that means my mom is now finally resting in peace.

Still thinking of you, Mom.
In Memoriam of Dorothy Mroch October 4, 1931-July 3, 2008

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Haunt Jaunts at the Movies: Trailers for Upcoming Releases

Sometimes the best kind of Haunt Jaunt (especially in the heat of summer) is to an air-conditioned movie theater.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm supposed to be on vacation. I am. But before I left I decided I didn't want to totally abandon my blog so...I thought I'd post something a bit different than my usual fare.

Growing up, I loved summers not only because I was out of school, but also because it seemed I went to see more movies. The scarier the better. Always have liked horror movies, probably always will!

Here's some trailers for a few upcoming releases I'm looking forward to: Orphan, Zombieland, and one I found thanks to a post on Above the Norm, Shutter Island.

Not all of them will be out this summer, but they'll all be out soon enough. And hopefully they'll all be as good as they look in their trailers! (That always sucks doesn't it? When the trailer really gets you hyped up for the movie, but the actual movie stinks. Hopefully these won't do that!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Haunt Jaunts on Vacation

As I wrote last week, we're heading out on a Haunt Jaunt to Gulf County, Florida.
For those who have been following me, I just wanted to give you the heads up that my posts may be sporadic, or even nil, until we get back. (Sort of depends on if we really have an Internet connection where we're staying. I'm not sure I'll make a trip somewhere just to find one if not...)
Hopefully if I don't relate any Jaunt info from the road, I'll have some good entries for when we return!
There will be one post, either Friday or Saturday, relating to ghosts that I'll make. But it's not a Haunt Jaunt...just something neat I want to share.