Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Florida, Jacksonville 45 Minutes Of Terror


As is often said, one should not judge a book by it's cover. The same can be said of Night Terrors Haunted House in Jacksonville, Florida. Located in a strip mall on a busy street in Jacksonville, the outside entrance will lure you into a false sense of “how bad can this be, probably just a waste of money.” If those are your thoughts going in, you would be dead wrong, that is if you even make it out.

For the sake of comfort we make arrangements to go in with another group in line with us. That plan quickly falls apart when we are denied the option by the door keeper.

We must face this journey alone. As we are sterilized by military personnel and told that zombies have been reported loose in the area, a personal conflict develops between us. Who is going to be our group of two leader? Personally, I think I can better protect us by being a follower.

For the next 45 minutes our roles change multiple times not by choice but because one of us is a faster runner and stronger pusher than the other. Navigating dark and narrow hallways as zombies and clowns haunt us has at least one of us screaming at one time or another with both of our hearts racing a mile a minute.

Unfortunately, I was unable to capture the terror on video. However, I can tell you that even after returning to our car, we were still sweating and breathing as if we had just escaped from hell.

If you are not afraid of having stuff scared out of you or you are comfortable wearing “Depends” then Night Terror Haunted House is definitely worth the price of admission.



SAMGHOST 149As we prepare to leave Jacksonville after dark, there is one more stop we must make. It is at an Elementary School that is no ordinary school. Located near the I-10 and I-95 underpass, the old Public School No. 4 has some unverified stories behind it that has given it a haunted reputation.

From a furnace explosion that killed half the students in the 1960's to a principal that went crazy and ate students he kept in a meat locker, just looking at the building gives me the creeps.





As we set off to explore the fenced in building, I leave our car ready in case we have to make a quick getaway. I am just not sure who or what might be looking back at us from the dark shadows of this legendary place of evil and terror.




Monday, October 29, 2012

Florida, A Not So Haunted Lighthouse


After about a three hour drive from Savannah, Georgia, we arrive in the nation's oldest city St. Augustine, Florida. We are not here to discover “The Fountain Of Youth”, at least not on this trip but we are hoping to spot a goblin or two at the reported haunted St. Augustine Lighthouse.



SAMGHOST 123As we drive through town the weather is so nice that I am sure if there are any ghost that haunt the old lighthouse they are probably out and about enjoying a lovely afternoon.

Even with almost dashed hopes, we pay the US$9.75 and enjoy learning about the old fishing and shrimping industry in this part of Florida.










Although there is nothing scary happening at the lighthouse the views after climbing about two hundred winding steps is definitely worthwhile.



SAMGHOST 129I am just glad that I don't have to carry a 30lb bucket of oil up 219 steps in order to keep the lighthouse lamp burning.

Year round there is an After-Hours Paranormal Tour for US$25 person which allows you to climb the lighthouse at night. I am sure this tour would give you a better chance of a haunting experience than the one we did for US$9.75.





For now, maybe checking out “The Fountain Of Youth” is not a bad idea as I think I just saw a wrinkle.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Georgia, Crystal Beer Parlor



SAMGHOST 121Following a recommendation from a local tour guide, on our last day in Savannah, we head over to Crystal Beer Parlor for lunch.

The Crystal Beer has its history deep in the prohibition era as it was an old “speakeasy”.





Today, it seems like it is doing as much busy as it did back in the 1930's. However, today we can consume the once prohibited liquid legally. Although moonshine like “Bathtub Gin” is no longer available, you can still find some old time stuff here like Iron City Beer, Schlitz and Ballatine Ale.


SAMGHOST 105Interestingly Ballantine Ale was the first beer that sponsored the New York Yankees on television. Under its cap you can also find something interesting, a puzzle.









SAMGHOST 107Red Rice, Fried Chicken And Sweet Corn



Crystal Beer offers a few lunch specials and one grabs my attention. Fried chicken with red rice and sweet corn for $7.95. So delicious it should probably be illegal.



SAMGHOST 112For sure sinful, their Savannah Mud Pie. A great way to finish any meal here.

With leftover from a way too huge homemade meatball sausage, we hit the road smiling and stuffed.

Our next stop, a haunted lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida.






Georgia, Savannah Walking Ghost Tour


With our Spanish friends Calimochos in hand, we leave the Savannah Riverfront headed somewhere across town for our “Walking Ghost Tour” rendezvous point. Although the street lights are dim, in the distance we can see a small gathering of people in the area of where we think we should be meeting.

From reviews online, for $30 per person we have chosen to do our tour with Sixth Sense Ghost Tour. At about 9:30pm there are about twenty of us gathered at Clary's Cafe at 404 Abercorn Street in search of discovering some of Savannah's deadly past.



SAMGHOST 066Our first stop is at Jones and Bull street where we are told stories about a building facing us. Nothing particularly scary although some interesting stuff.

We are shown some pictures of what are believed to be ghosts that appear in some of the building's windows. Even with the help of my friend Calimocho and drawing on my huge imagination, I see nothing.







SAMGHOST 070Mercer Williams Haunted Home



Our tour continues criss crossing a small area of Savannah with story telling stops at places like the Mercer Williams house (Midnight In The Garden) and the famous Savannah Fountain. We are told that bridal parties pay about $1500 to have pictures taken at the Savannah Fountain which interestingly is placed on top of an old morgue in a tunnel just below it.




SAMGHOST 073For me, our next to last stop is the most interesting. An old hospital where we are told 666 patients died during a historical yellow fever out break in the city.

Although situated in an area with plenty of room to expand, the city in recent years relocated the hospital outside of town because of its spooky past.

Today, it is planned to be turned into a law school which indeed is very scary.




Although we took the tour for the thrill of it, I think the same effect could have been accomplished much cheaper especially if someone followed us around in a “Scream” mask.

There are numerous Ghost Tour companies in Savannah with all types of price ranges which I think from a tour stand point would not make much difference.




SAMGHOST 075I would add that once we got back to the hotel and spent more time with Calimocho in looking at the pictures we took, we are convinced there was a ghost looking at us from a third floor window of the old hospital building.

Or maybe, it was just a future personal injury attorney.








Georgia, Sweet And Musical Savannah


Besides its haunting reputation that has drawn us here, there is another side of Savannah that is literally sweet music to my ear and tummy.

For me, no visit to Savannaj would be complete without a slice or two of Vinnie Van GoGo pizza. Probably, the best pizza in the city especially when it is savored on a beautiful evening listening to local musicians perform near City Market.


SAMGHOST 062From City Market, we take a stroll down a set of steep stairs to the riverfront. Here a trip to River Street Sweet is a must. Just watching the fresh pralines being made, original and chocolate is at least 500 calories.

A few free sample bites and your diet is busted for the day. Of course, you can always start your diet tomorrow.











SAMGHOST 060With our liquid Spanish friend Calimocho, we sit outside of River Street Sweet and pass some time enjoying the riverfront.

In about an hour or so we'll be going with Calimocho on a tour that we hope will take us into some of Savannah's haunting pass.







Monday, October 22, 2012

Georgia, Tybee Island Lighthouse



SAMGHOST 047For a $8 admission fee, we are about to climb a piece of Georgia history. Completed in 1736, the Tybee Island Lighthouse is not only the oldest lighthouse in Georgia but it is also one of the first public structures completed in the 4th state of the Union.








SAMGHOST 039View From Tybee Island Lighthouse



After 178 winding steps, we are taking in awesome views of Tybee Island. I watch as a few huge cargo ships head out to the Atlantic Ocean. I am surprised to learn that Savanna is the nation's second busiest shipping port behind the combined New York and New Jersey Port Authority.

Back from about 200 feet above sea level, we pay for parking and then head out to the beach area. I am drawn to an information sign near the beginning of the path to the beach. It is cool to discover that this part of Georgia is where Loggerhead Sea Turtles come to nest from May to October.



SAMGHOST 049Did you know that the sex of baby turtles is determined by nest's temperature? Of course, girls are hot and boys are (very) cool.

Out of the thousands that are born here, only a small percentage will survive their beach birth to make it back to the sea.






It is a beautiful afternoon along the shore with a gentle wind giving the waves their soothing sounds. Along the beach there are swings were you can just relax and take in the calming views as small flocks of birds fly overhead.



SAMGHOST 052With a low tide it is easy to walk the wide beach area with just a few spots were pools of the cool ocean water remains.

The low tide also provides an opportunity for beach fishing. A couple sets up a pair of rods and beach chairs in the sand. Lucky, them.









SAMGHOST 053Surfers At Tybee Island Beach



At the far end of the beach from us there is a rock breaker where just on the other side surfers are enjoying some wave action. It is not Hawaii but it still seems like a lot of fun along the shores of the Peach State.




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Georgia, Tybee Island Museum


Our “Ghostmobile” arrives in “The Most Haunted City In America” while Count Dracula and a few of his friends are still taking their afternoon nap. Since we still have some time to kill before hopefully our next scare, we venture to the outskirts of town.

Not too far out of town we end up on Tybee Island. With a rich history tied to bootlegging and numerous wars, I am sure Tybee has some scary stories of its own.



SAMGHOST 011Our first stop at Sundae Cafe turns out to be something we are not expecting.

Instead of ice cream and sundaes, a Southwest Chicken Salad and a Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Homemade Potato Salad has us kneeling over with culinary excitement.







SAMGHOST 008Southwest Chicken Salad




We are almost dying with envy as we see the huge portions of other meals delivered to other patrons. It is killing me that I did not order the seafood platter that comes with freshly made hush puppies.


SAMGHOST 012Although not expecting to find any goons or goblins, after a late lunch we visit the Tybee Island Museum to see what we can dig up.












With artifacts from the War of 1812 to a diving suit with a helmet that weighs 35lbs although the museum is small, it does often a chance to learn a bit of early Georgia history. Climb a few set of stairs and you can get nice views of Tybee Island and our next destination, the historical Tybee Island Lighthouse.



Georgia, A Scary Road Trip


Although over the years we have spent many miles on the road exploring the land of the free, this is the first time we have set out on a road trip to scare ourselves. Our first scare begins just Northeast of Atlanta where strange creatures of the night roam an almost full parking lot just waiting to greet us.


My Ode To Getting Scared On The Road


Alas, it is that time of the year when for most of us goons and goblins will soon appear

From eating tons of candy, to drinking batches of witches brew


SAMGHOST 003Welcome to Netherworld








SAMGHOST 005Maybe your worst nightmare, or just a good Halloween scare