1 thing I DIDN’T expect after visiting Waverly Hills Sanitarium

I’m sure it’s a whacky coincidence but about 3 days after I toured Waverly Hills Sanitarium and MILDLY dissed the tour in a totally FRIENDLY way, I became bed-ridden with a horrid upper respiratory infection.

Whacky coincidence, right?! Hah. Hah. Hah…. GULP!

Hmmm… haunted abandoned tuberculosis sanitarium

+DSCN5076

Wide-eyed and impressionable tourist with the best intentions ever

+

A SLIGHTLY cynical but ultimately SUPPORTIVE review

=

Home in bed with a nasty, nasty, icky infection in my lungs, throat and head.

Go fig. Coulda happened to anyone for any reason. I’m SURE nothing followed me home…

Happy Haunts,

Susan

ps. What do you think? My cough’s not sooooo bad.

Advertisements

Some Spooky Summer Fun

Psychic-Magic Magazine’s Summer Issue is out and yours truly has an article in it!  Granted, it’s a wee more tongue-in-cheek than the usual fare for this e-zine, but hey – so am I!

I had a lot of fun writing the article “Would You Stay Overnight in a Haunted Hotel” and having it come out in re-print at this moment in time is just a big old spooky reminder – I’m ready for a haunted road trip.

Back in June, I found a place I’d like to go – on purpose – overnight – with lots of back-up.  I think it’s time to put that road trip together.  In the meantime, here’s a re-print of the original article…  (Enjoy!)

WOULD YOU STAY OVERNIGHT IN A HAUNTED HOTEL?

By Susan Scot Fry

Not me. Not on purpose, that is.

I’ve done it by accident.

I’d just finished with my 4 month business incubator and had a brand spanking new biz plan in my lap. It was heavy, so I did what I always do when facing a life transition. Road trip. I packed an overnight bag, just in case, and headed north.

My first stop was a labyrinth in West Bend. I’m a fan and had been looking for a new one to check out, so it seemed as good a place as any. If you like your labyrinth overlaid with English country cottage charm next to a busy street, then this one will do it for you. Me, not so much. But, hey, at least I made it there and walked it. It’s all part of the road trip experience. The endless possibilities of ‘where next’ lay be-fore me. Which meant one thing. Lunch. A grilled ham and cheese sandwich later and I’m looking toward the road again.

The wonder of traveling with a GPS means that you’re never without a nearby antique mall. One mall leads to another, kind of like M&M’s or BBQ potato chips, and I’m far enough northwest to wonder, “Do I turn around and head home or commit to an overnight somewhere? Hey, I’ve never been to Fond du Lac. That’s on Lake Winnebago. I’ve always wanted to see Lake Winnebago.”

That’s how I ended up in Fond du Lac’s haunted hotel. It’s just the sort of place I’d pick, too. Not because it’s haunt-ed, but because it’s a very old building in the old downtown, and it’s reasonably priced to boot. It’s got a bar and a res-taurant on site. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. I’ve struck gold!

Now it’s a Ramada, but it used to be called the Hotel Retlaw. When I checked in, alarm bells went off in my head. Where had I heard about this place before? Why is this so familiar? Why does the place feel peculiar? Well, duh, Susan!  It’s on just about every haunted places index I’ve ever read. It wasn’t until I was in my room that it dawned on me. A cell call to my husband, who did a quick search on the interwebs, confirmed my suspicions. I’d checked into a haunted hotel.

I might have wondered about ghosts even if I’d not had my suspicions googled. The hallways were creepy and a bit disorienting. In my room, it felt like something was at either door—the one from the hall and the one from the bathroom. I did a lot of whistling a happy tune, which is what I do when I’m para-nervous. “Oh, la, la, la, it’s all my imagination, la, la.”  At about 12:30 that night, I forced myself to turn off the light and try to get some sleep. Try being the operative word.

Fond du Lac and environs has some stellar hauntings, so I’m sure there will eventually be a Haunt Spots tour of the area. I’ll save the full story of the Retlaw Hotel for then.

So, the question remains. Would you stay at a hotel simply because you knew it was haunted? I might, if I weren’t alone and if I had the nerve to explore more.

You?

Caper Company’s Haunt Spots tours are your chance to explore Southeastern Wisconsin hauntings. Haunt Spots tours are * Self-guided audio tours; * Multi-destination road-trips; * Available almost any day you choose; * You explore at your own pace; * A whole new kind of ghost tour. Susan Scot Fry and the Caper Company team (it takes a village to raise the dead) are living the dream. Please visit them at www.CaperCompany.com.

Is it Too Soon?

KnifeEd Gein?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Jeffrey Dahmer?  Probably.

The 14-year old boy who was brutally killed in Whitnall Park?  Yes.

You won’t be surprised to discover that, in the course of researching Haunt Spots, I run across a lot of murders.  Sometimes, it’s a fit of passion that ended tragically.  Sometimes, it’s more extreme — as illustrated by these first two names.

If the crime occurred long ago, the energy of the area may have become tolerable and the crime has passed into folklore.  There’s no magic number of years, though.  The boy mentioned earlier was killed in 1974, but there will need to be many more years before his story could be considered for a Haunt Spot.  The energy is too painful.  His story is too heart-breaking.

There are still plenty of bullys to encounter.  On the “A No Safe Haven Caper” tour, Explorers go through a mini-cleansing before leaving one Haunt Spot.  It’s for their well-being and my conscience.  No-one wants that meanie to follow you home.

Conscience does make cowards of us all, Hamlet, Act III Sc. 1.   Hey!  I’m not a coward!  My conscience is a personal gauge of right and wrong.  Far be it from me to censor anyone, but I’m responsible for the quality of your experience.  It’s my job to help Explorers have a good time.  If I think a Haunt Spot is too dark or too fresh, I’ll ask other opinions.  Thus far, the opinions have all agreed.  There are a few locations that you may never see.

They aren’t my stories, but I get to tell them.  I do so with a sense of adventure but also a sense of care.  So, no you don’t get all the haunts.  Some should be left, if not in peace, in respectful solitude.

For now.

Happy Haunts,

Susan

Super Light for Spectral Detection

Confession — it’s all about the day.  Sunny day, everything is sharp.  Cloudy day, everything is movie-set atmospheric.  Either way, we win.

Another confession — It was this time of year when I got hooked on researching Wisconsin haunts.  Night time chill didn’t matter because we went out during the day.  The natural atmosphere of some of the places we explored was ramped up to the nth degree when combined with the look of bare trees or the dusky cloud cover.  Those impressions are such a part of my memory that when I re-visit a Haunt Spot later, I’m often surprised at the difference.  If a place has got it, it’s got it — but this time of year is special.

Be Brave and Happy Haunts,

Susan

 

The Possible Passing of “A Hard Luck and Loss Caper”

EB from A Hard Luck and Loss Caper

Heads Up!  Have you been considering experiencing Caper Company’s first Haunt Spots tour “A Hard Luck and Loss Caper” for yourself?  You may want to go soon.  Recent news articles indicate that the first destination may no longer being accessible as of April 2010.  So, what’s the rush?  This Haunt Spot is all outdoor exploration, so when this spate of good fall weather finally turns winter-foul, it may make outdoor explorations a little more of a challenge.  Right now, this stop is good fun for spooky adventures during the day and into the night.

I’ve long suspected a possible shelf life on our access to this creepy area.  It’s one of my favorite places to explore though, so it had to be on Caper Company’s inaugural ghost tour.  I’ve been out there several times and get a chill every time.  It’s a massive, old, red-brick building complex and looks like you’re walking onto a movie set — but perhaps not the sort of movie where everyone makes it out alive:)

Now, it’s looking more and more like this complex may be restored, renovated and re-occupied during 2010 starting with the completion of the land sale in April.  Oh, to be able to get into the area during renovations!  It’s widely reported that that’s when paranormal activity kicks into high gear.

I’ve got to get out there again myself.  One final farewell.

Happy Haunts,

Susan

Haunts in Ozaukee and Walworth Counties

There are wonderfully chilling reports of paranormal activity in Lake Geneva, Delavan and Whitewater that IMy 'Dream' Haunt Spot suspect are going to make for some creepy Haunt Spots tours.  I’m itching to check them out.  Same for the Cedarburg, Mequon and Kaukauna areas.  So, here’s your heads up — it’s field research time for that countryside and I’m looking for suggestions.

What are the ghost stories that you’ve heard for Ozaukee and Walworth Counties?   The Haunt Spots rules…

A — Haunt Spots focus on spaces that the general public can get into — which saddens me a teeny, selfish bit because I adore haunted residence stories.  But alas, if I can’t ever send an Explorer there to check it out for him or herself, I must be strong and refrain.  Except perhaps when sitting by the fire in our library with the lights turned low.  Then I get to indulge to my hearts content.   But I digress…..

Rule 2 — We steer away from any haunting in a place that requires you pay an admission fee.

3rd — There is no rule 3.

So, what are your ghost stories?

And, Now — The Conclusion of LM’s Halloween Haunt Spots Adventure

Welcome to part 3 of 3.  LM and her crew of intrepid Haunt Spots Explorers have made their personal paranormal connections and are inspired to think of those who’ve affected them…

“One of our group members has suggested that next Dia De Los Muertos, (not today, unfortunately, because it’s a bit too last minute,) we go back out there for a proper Day of the Dead picnic. I asked if this means we have to cook for 4,000 and she laughed and said no — just as long as we have SOMETHING there for them to pay them proper memory and respect. I pointed out that they probably don’t eat much anyway, what with being transparent and all.

All in all, the entire group agreed that it was a fantastic day, and couldn’t stop talking about how the person who decided not to go with us was silly and had missed out on an amazing experience. I was so happy to have been able to share that day with them, and to make them all so happy too. Like I said, things that I try to organize generally don’t go well — parties, excursions, adventures, etc. But this worked out VERY well. (Oh yes…thanks for including nearest addresses and GPS coordinates on the itinerary, as well as descriptions of the area. In classic “me” fashion, I got us lost at least once on the way to every single location, but we were still able to find our way there.)

Thank you so much for this, and I hope to post our pictures soon. (You will LOVE the one of our youngest expedition member at the EB, suddenly struck by a “writer” moment where she just HAD to sit down and take out her notebook.)

Happy November to you, and thanks again on behalf of my friends for a fantastic Halloween!”

— LM

(PS from Susan…  No, LM — Thank YOU!  And, by the by — the spirits of PF are happy to have met you and your friends.  They look forward to your next visit.)

LM’s Halloween Haunt Spots Adventure… Part 2

And, LM’s Halloween Haunt Spots Exploration continues…

(More ghoOOOOOOOOOOoooosts!)

After WP, we stopped for food at this AMAZING Indian restaurant about 6 miles away from the park. Tiny place, looked kinda sketchy from the outside, but it was incredible. (Royal India Restaurant. Tell your friends.) Two of our group pulled out a notebook and started an impromptu Nepali / Hindi language lesson, which our waiter eavesdropped on and must have decided he liked us. We all got free chai and a free appetizer.

I wasn’t sure how much further our group would want to continue, seeing as it was cold and dark and at least two of them were not wearing appropriately warm footwear or coats. I asked them if they wanted to continue to the last location, or just skip it and go home now that we were all warm and full of comfy food. They all insisted they wanted to continue.

PF was by far the most active place we went. By the time we got there, it was well past nightfall, though the moon provided some decent light. (Oh — and we met up with another Caper tour! We met this couple at WP and asked them to take our picture, then encountered them again at PF. This was just WAY too much coincidence, so I asked if they were on your tour and they said yes. Our skeptic, on the other hand, insisted that they were “ghoOOOOOOOOOOoooosts!”)

Walking out into PF was a bit creepy for several of us, simply by virtue of the fact that we knew we were walking over unmarked graves. We got to John Schwab’s headstone at the center and stood there for awhile, talking and taking a few pictures, and then I stopped and realized something.

I realized we were alone. Just the six of us. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been a particularly profound thought, except what I realized was that this entire time, I had been feeling as though we were standing in the middle of a crowd. It was so matter-of-fact that I hadn’t questioned it before, but at that time I stopped to think about it. This was not, in fact, a crowded plaza — but it sure felt like one. I asked if anyone else had the same feeling and they all immediately responded that yes, they did — they just hadn’t wanted to mention it, or weren’t sure how.

All except our skeptic, of course. In stark contrast to us, he said he felt VERY alone — like his back was exposed, and someone was about to steal his wallet. He was exceptionally creeped out, and I think it was pure politeness to the rest of us that kept him from demanding that we leave right then.

Then, as soon as we crossed outside the fence surrounding the field, the feeling went away. For all of us.

(to be concluded in part the third)

Introducing “A No Safe Haven Caper” — An Audio Preview

Welcome to the World!  Introducing our newest Haunt Spots tour, “A No Safe Haven Caper”.  All new audio stories and adventures await the final key ingredient — You.

In this newest exploration of Wisconsin’s ghosts, you will experience a haunt so deeply rooted that the spirits moved with theHaunt Spot From "A No Safe Haven Caper" buildings, trek haunted trails with their own legend trip, and investigate a tragic road to nowhere.  This tour includes one Bonus Haunt Spot — a haunted theatre.

Details…

Time of Day / Access:  All destinations are accessible during daytime hours.  The first destination must be explored by 9:00 pm, and the third and fourth by 10:00 pm.  Explorers must be able to walk uneven terrain and to cover at least 1 mile in distance. Exploring after dark will require flashlights – and a big sense of adventure.  Estimated total tour length is 3.5 to 5 hours.  We suggest that you arrive at your first Haunt Spot no later than 6:30 pm.

General Tour Area:  The tour route begins approx 15 minutes west of Milwaukee and then heads southwest down I-94.

Starting Points:  Caper Company provides directions from Milwaukee, Waukesha, Madison, Mequon, Racine, and West Bend.  Other starting points are easily available upon request.

Special Tour Price: Only $26.00 per downloaded itinerary.  Offer expires 12/31/09.

Click the link to hear an audio snippet for the first destination on “A No Safe Haven Caper”.

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

Caper Company Tours LLC — What’s Your Ghost Story?

There I Was, Innocently Checking Out Our Final Haunt Spot…

Hey, I’m just beta testing here.  Now’s not the time for a paranormal experience.  Oh, yeah?

Last night, we were checking out the final destination in Caper Company’s newest tour “A No Safe Haven Caper” – scheduled to debut on Thursday.  We need to make sure that the written directions will get you where you need to go, that the Caper is all do-able, etc. Check — check — check.  Couple tweaks here and there and it’s looking good.  We’re on track to get this baby off the launching pad.  Haunt Spot From "A No Safe Haven Caper"

(actual stream of consciousness) “Oookaaay…  what’s that smell?  OMG!  It’s the smell I described in this tour at this destination.  Is it?  Yes, it is!  It’s an honest to goodness confirmation of one of the reports of paranormal activity for this Haunt Spot.  Yes!  Wait!  Augh!  Get me out of here!  Hey, does Ron smell that too?  Yes!  Wait!  He never detects anything paranormal.  Does that mean that this place is especially potent or … what?  Who cares!  Get me out of here!”

This experience reminded me of something one Caper Company fan wrote to me recently about how it doesn’t matter how many time she visits this Haunt Spot destination — something always seems to happen.  Ditto.

When you least expect it.

What’s Your Ghost Story?

Susan