Just When You Least Expect It…

A dark and stormy September day is perfect for an early autumn trail tromp in the North Kettle Moraine. Guaranteed to be muddy and solitary, it’s just us four, counting the dog, which Ron and I always do.

The point of the hour drive from Milwaukee is as much to get out as to get there.  Rainy days are great for adventures with friends.  Adam is the back-seat DJ and our black lab-mutt-mix, Elliott, alternates between hopping into the far back of the SUV and the vacant passenger seat.

Post hike, we’re happy and the dog is thoroughly soaked and muddy.  Rain-gear kept arms and midsections akin to dry.  Pants and shoes are soppy messes and guaranteed to steam up all the car windows.  Our spirits aren’t dampened in the least so I suggest a quick side trip to a nearby favorite, my self-proclaimed “most atmospheric cemetery in Wisconsin”, the Glenbeulah Graveyard.

I’d been there twice before so between the GPS and vague memories of the twisty dirt roads to where it’s hidden, we successfully navigate our way.  The Glenbeulah Graveyard is fittingly at the end of a dead-end road.  It looks like it’s been carved out of the woods and the trees are trying their best to re-take the hilly acre.

Earlier excursions to this Haunt Spot had been during bare bones winter and spring so this is a new season for me.  This time, I get to see Glenbeulah in all it’s leafed-out, crumbling glory.

We park just outside the gate and walk in.  To me, walking into this particular cemetery is like accidentally stumbling onto a horror movie set in the middle of no-where.  It’s so perfectly atmospheric.  The lanes are just wide enough for a small car – should you not have the fortitude to get out and walk.  It’s hilly and in places you can’t quite see over the rise.  This rainy, early autumn day is still mostly green with a few splashes of color.

The graves are fairly old – some dating back into the 1800’s.  The latest is from around 1970 or so.  There’s an air of disuse and many of the stones are broken off but I’m glad to see that some maintenance has been done since my last visit.  The grass is mowed, dead-fall branches are raked.  The fences around a couple of family plots are still rusty, but standing up more than laying down.

Almost all of the graves are within the cemetery proper – all but two.  We’d discovered these exiles on earlier visits and as Ron, Adam, Elliott and I near the trailhead, I cut across the graves and head in.  The trek is different than before.  The trail to these two monuments is now densely wooded on both sides so as soon as I step off, I’m neatly cut off from the rest of the cemetery.  I can see the monuments pretty quickly, so up I go.  At the top of the rise, there’s a huge pine tree and the two stones – one newer and one very, very old.  They’re both for the same family, so my impression is that the newer one was erected to replace the older one that had broken off, but they’d left the old one in place too.

I stop between them and, admiring the beauty of the woods and the day, I turn around with a smile on my face, ready to tell Adam about how we had discovered these two oddly segregated monuments.  I’m alone.  My companions are no-where in sight.  Neither had followed me but I had clearly heard footsteps on my heel as I walked along the trail.  The sound was so clear and distinct that I never questioned whether or not I was alone.

Perhaps I’m not.

I stand rooted with my hands over my mouth.  My giggling is an unnerving blend of delight, terror and sheer freak-outed-ness.  Holy Jason and Grant, Batman!  I just had an experience!  I tell people stories like this all the time and I just had one myself.

Just when you least expect it.

My three companions appear on the trail and, with the exception of the dog who doesn’t suspect but knows, I’m sure they think I’m a bit demented.  I’m babbling but manage to maintain some dignity as I relate what has happened.  Only just.  Perhaps.  Jury’s out.

Did I hear footsteps?  Was it an echo?  Sound does travel in odd ways in a hilly, wooded area.

Was this a paranormal experience?  By the strictest definition, yes.  It was definitely beyond the normal.

Am I freaking myself out?  Absolutely.  After all, that’s the fun part.

The rest of the meander is lovely and quiet.  Back exploring the cemetery proper, my eye is constantly drawn back to the trailhead.  Is that movement?  Do I hear something?  Where does that shadow come from?  One little paranormal experience and my imagination is in overdrive. I’m trying to be discreet in my ghostly glee and am failing miserably.  My fellow adventurers are kind enough not to taunt me overmuch.

It’s time to head home when we see the dog beeline for the car.   Back in Milwaukee, our feet are propped up in front of the fire and wine glasses are in hand.  A perfectly haunting autumn day.

Sweet Dreams,

Susan

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How Do I Keep From Getting Scared…

Here’s a secret.  I still get scared.  Every once in a while.

Over time, my personal scare-o-meter has re-set to a higher threshhold.  When you spend a lot of time checking out places that are reported to be haunted, it’s an occupational hazard. I’m not quite laissez faire, but I do approach most potential Haunt Spots with a sense of “okay, where’s my checklist and what’s this all about?” and dive right in.

Although we’re not in the business of gathering evidence, we record when we have a personal experience — sometimes on the back of our checklist or in the margins.  Sometimes, it’s a jumble of hurried impressions.  We try to be thorough and conscientious.

Recently, I was tooling around a cemetery.  You know, like you do.  We already knew it was going to be a stop in an upcoming ghost tour, but were poking around trying to locate a specific monument.  The researcher I was with is one of those people who has a special relationship with her camera.  If there’s a paranormal image to capture, she’s much more likely to get it than anyone I know.   So, what the heck?  I’ll click on her digital voice recorder for a bit so she doesn’t have to juggle them both.

It was an interesting (read unsettling) visit.  I’ve been in a lot of cemeteries and this one didn’t initially seem any more atmospheric than any other.  It’s got some great headstones.  There are mystery stories lurking beneath your feet.   You know, a cemetery.  I’d been there before, but this time something felt different.  Not right away.  It took a while.  Like something was gathering critical mass before we could feel it inching up our necks.

We spent a goose-bumpy afternoon there, joshing our way around the dead people.  Whistling a happy tune to keep from hightailing it back to the car in an embarrassing fashion.  Each of us glad not to be there alone.

Done – check.  Get out of there.  Drive home and off she goes to her house and I’m safely ensconced in my office.  Oops!  I forgot to give back her digital voice recorder.  Well, heck.  I’ll just turn it on and let it play while I check email.

What was that?

WHAT WAS THAT?

So, I’m scrambling on the internet looking for an on-line manual for the Sony ICD-B600 recorder.  How do I rewind?  How do I fast forward?  How do I find what I heard again?  How do I find ALL the things I’ve heard again?

It was a miracle I didn’t accidentally erase the whole thing, my hands were shaking so badly.  I’d never captured EVP’s like this before.  Heck!  I’d never captured ANY EVP’s before!  Another research partner of mine had, but not me.  And this was the mother lode.  Steve and Tango and Jay and Grant would have been salivating.

Okay, here goes…

We’d been among the graves a little while and had started to confess that we were each feeling uneasy.  The atmosphere had changed.  I asked the question, “Is this your area?  Do you want us to leave?”

“Yes.”

Only imagine a hissy, sigh of a yesssss.  You can also imagine, only it wouldn’t be your imagination, me peeing my pants when I heard that for the first time on the recorder.

There’s more.

Soon after, we’re talking about a distinctly growing feeling of unease.

“Get Out.”

OKAY!  Forget the “Yes”!  Did that whatever it is just say Get Out?  (on-line manual… rewind…) Oh yeah!  That’s what I heard.  Well.  Well, well, well.

What can I say to that?  First, I can try to slow my breathing, but then what?  I don’t want to go back to that cemetery.  It told us to Get Out.  The only correct answer is “Yes, Sir”.  And then you get out.  Like when the stupid family in the movie is told by the entity that’s trying to kill them to Get Out.  The answer should be “Yes, Sir” and you leave.  Period.  Of course, the family didn’t leave and look what happened to them.

But, wait, there’s more…

We had to go back.  We needed to film.  At night.  And, I haven’t even told you about the other freaky EVP’s.

Wanna go with us next time?

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

www.CaperCompany.com

3 Days of Halloween Ghost Walks!

There’s something about this place.  Something that keeps drawing me back.  Something that makes me keep digging.  My sixth sense is on high alert.  I just know that there are ghost stories here.

Guess what?

I was right.

It’s been a fascinating and frightening trip into this mysterious town’s haunted history.  Now you’re invited to join in the fun.  Presenting the…

1st Annual Port Washington Ghost Walk

Three nights only – October 29, 30 and 31 – delve into newly discovered paranormal tales of downtown and beyond.  Port Washington is only a 30 minute drive north of Milwaukee but feels like you’ve traveled back in time.

All the details are on the Caper Company website at http://capercompany.com/halloween2010.html.  There are two guided ghost walks to choose from – one includes getting inside one of the village’s most notorious haunts.  Both tours end up with a candlelit exploration of a local cemetery – a place where Caper Company Researchers have personally captured some pretty terrifying EVP’s.

Each excursion into the supernatural will be led by experienced Caper Company Researchers.  On Tour 1, you join me at 6 pm and Char Paulbicke at 7 pm.  Tour 2 is led by Jenni Glueckstein at 7 pm, Ron Scot Fry at 8 pm, and all of us at 9 pm.

Questions?  Feel free to email me at SusanScotFry@CaperCompany.com or give me a call at 262-498-5777.  Already know you don’t want to miss this?  Pre-purchase your tickets on line at the webpage listed above.

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry


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.

Would you stay overnight in a haunted hotel?

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 before me. Which meant one thing.  Lunch. A grilled ham and cheese sandwich later and I’m looking toward the road again.

The wonders 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 haunted, 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 restaurant 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?

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

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

 

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.)

An Excellent Halloween Haunt Spots Exploration

Welcome to our newest Guest Blogger “LM” — now known as the Infamous LM of Haunt Spots Tour Leader Extraordinaire fame.

LM has shared her wonderful write up of their Halloween Haunt Spots ghost tour exploration.  Enjoy, part the first …

(ghoOOOOOOOOOOoooost!   —  read on, you’ll get it…)

A Hard Luck and Loss Caper at Night 006

EB from A Hard Luck and Loss Caper

Susan —

We had an absolutely fantastic Halloween expedition! The entire group was thrilled to have had a day like last Saturday, and I was thrilled that something I planned actually worked out for once.

We ended up having one too many people to all fit in one car, so we split into two cars and then just regrouped at the parking lot of each location to huddle in my car and listen to the audio CD. Our token skeptic had a lot of fun chiming in with ”

OoOoOoOo…!” at various moments, as well as mimicking fake ghost coughing at appropriate locations. He also declared that, since it was Halloween, we couldn’t just say “ghost” — we had to say it “ghoOOOOOOOOOOoooost!” All day long. Every three seconds. Every rock, tree, and twig we came across was somehow a “ghoOOOOOOOOOOoooost!” Likewise, I assured him that it was a “ghoOOOOOOOOOOoooost” that kicked him in the shins repeatedly, rather than me. (No worries,though — it was all in good fun. After we were done for the night and headed home, he asked if we could please put the audio CD back in so he could listen to all the stories about the places we had just been. I asked if he wanted to skip past the M one, since we didn’t actually go there, and he said no — he wanted to hear it.)

The first two places we stopped, we didn’t find much in the way of activity. Rather, we just soaked up the absolute October beauty of it all. At least two of our explorers wanted to stay there for hours, I think, and thanked me repeatedly for bringing them there. We had one unexplained experience at WP — ironically, witnessed by our skeptic. Four of our group had continued down the path by the waterside, while two of us remained behind to take more pictures. As we went to catch up with the others, the skeptic reported that he’d seen a reflection of a person in the water and assumed it was us — but upon looking up, couldn’t see us approaching from where he stood. We thought maybe it was a trick of the angle or the brush obscuring the path and tried recreating it later, but we couldn’t.

(to be continued…)

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