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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People’s Reactions to Haunt Spots Research

The day job calls today.  I have a Haunt Spots research route that takes me to 4 libraries in Ozaukee County today.  Oh, hurt me.  Let’s see if I have as much luck as I did in Cedarburg last week.

I never know what I’m going to encounter when I introduce the “P” word (paranormal) into conversations. The range of reactions are fastinating…

Nuts.  I don’t mind if people think I’m nuts because I can usually illustrate that I’m also harmless during the conversation.

Dismissive.  Anyone who’s turned away dismissively is frequently compelled to turn back shortly.  Usually as soon as they’ve had a moment to mull it over and eavesdrop on the rest of the conversation.

Bewildered.  This is always an act.  Everyone I’ve ever spoken with, upon reflection, has at least heard some sort of ghost story.  They just don’t want to admit it.  (see Nuts and Dismissive)

Intrigued.  They may not have any personal experiences, but they recognize that ghost stories are part of our universal folklore and have no trouble with me wanting to tell some.

Fascinated.  People who are open to the possibility or have had their own personal paranormal experiences. Often, fascination leads to enthusiasm.  That’s when I truly score!

If you’ve experienced the unexplainable yourself, it’s impossible to be truly and honestly dismissive.  It will always be a part of your consciousness.  You may want to deny it, but no matter how hard you try, you always wonder.  I know that I do.

Personally, I’m a friendly skeptic who loves a good ghost story.

What will I encounter today?

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

Update…

Wow, that was fascinating.

I got 2 more Dismissives who quickly handed me off to someone else to take care of.  I got 3 more Intrigueds – one was so cute.  She waited until the other reference librarian was looking for some books for me and took the opportunity to tell me her ghost story.

And I got a new twist on Nuts called Extremely Polite.  There’s that special librarian who obviously thought I was nuts, but she didn’t have any minions to Dismiss me to, so she had to help me because it was her job.

No spectacular new Haunts discovered, but a couple of cool leads — including a ghost town in the area.  I’m itching to get out there.

Today, I’m on the phone with people.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Happy Haunts,

SSF

Apparently, the Answer is “No, It’s Not Too Soon” for One Filmmaker

On December 2nd, 2009 a Haunts Blog posting asked the question, “When is it too soon to include a particularly heinous crime destination in a Haunt Spots tour?”  One of the examples was notorious Wisconsin murder, Ed Gein.  Although convicted of one single slaying, he gained huge notoriety for his hobby of digging up other corpses and creating trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin.  The formerGein farm property up in Plainfield, WI is rife with stories of ghostly activity.

An article in the January 2, 2010 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contained an answer to my blog question.  The article, entitled‘Ed Gein:  The Musical’ will have world premiere, is by Journal Sentinal reporter, Chris Foran.  He describes the film as a ‘ dark and somewhat controversial comedy’.  Uh-huh.  I’m a ‘dark and controversial comedy’ fan along with the best of them, but I suspect I will take a pass on this one.  Not even the YouTube trailer was enough to hook me.  It’s not graphic by any stretch, but it did induce a little queasiness.  It may have been the singing.

I stand by my earlier post.  It’s not my personal story, but in a Haunt Spots tour I’m privileged to tell it and get to choose how. Apparently, filmmaker Dan Davies thinks so too.  More power to you, Dan.  I think.

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

Caper Company Tours LLC

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

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.)

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…)

What’s Your Personal Primary Paranormal Sensitivity?

keeping an eye on ExplorersAt a recent gabfest of Caper Company Researchers and Explorers, we told spooky and fun tales of our Haunt Spots experiences.   As we chatted, a thread emerged.  It became obvious that each person had an individual primary type of experience or interaction.  This primary type of experience was not the only thing that happened to people, but it seemed more predominant than others.

It comes as no surprise that if you’re in tune with atmosphere, one sensitivity will exhibit itself more often.  There are Caper Company Researchers who always seem to capture EVP’s or unexplained phenomena in photos.  There are Explorers who hear things, smell things, feel things… you name the sense or experience and there’s someone who tunes into it.   I’m going to call this your Personal Primary Paranormal Sensitivity – or PPPS, for short.

I’ve had various odd things happen when researching Haunt Spots.  For me, a common phenomena is buzzing from electrical interference.  How about you?  What’s your PPPS?  If it doesn’t immediately spring to mind, think about your answer to the question, “What’s your ghost story?”   How do you tell your story?  Is it of strange noises?  Have you ever captured something on film?  That may be your primary sensitivity.

So, I’ve told you mine.  What’s yours?

Happy Haunts,

Susan

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?