Archive for the ‘Travel’ Tag

I Love Camping….Psych!

First of all, sorry for the “psych!” I was just reading something about bad trends from the 90s, and while it talked about stuff like Jnco Jeans and tribal tattoos, I’m remembering all the really bad slang from that era.  Booyah!

Okay, so we went camping last weekend.  Actually, technically, it was a float trip, but there was camping involved.  And I’m fine with the floating part, but it’s the camping that I’m not quite as much in love with.  It totally bums me out too, because I like to think that I’m comfortable wherever I am – in the city, country, suburbs, the ghetto, the backwoods of Missouri – wherever.  But the truth is, I’m not.  I’m definitely not comfortable sleeping in a tent in the backwoods of Missouri (cue banjo music from Deliverance).  And if I’m going to be totally honest, I’m probably not super comfortable in the ghetto either.  Just saying.

Anyway.

We camped.  We canoed.  I survived.  Barely.

Rather than give y’all a run-through of the whole weekend, I’m just going to highlight a few adventures and happenings from the trip.

1. The Bathrooms

Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t really do the bathroom justice.  I couldn’t get a good angle for the photo, plus I was sort of scared to go in any farther.  What you can see, though, is the moldy shower curtain that served as a door on the stall.  Behind that moldy curtain was a teeny, tiny space with a toilet, an empty toilet paper roll, and a whole bunch of grody (90s slang alert!) bugs.  Oh, and these instructions:

The fact that they find it necessary to tell people to do something as basic as flush the toilet says a lot, I think. 

2.  The Accommodations

This really wasn’t that bad, as far as tents go.  Not that I’ve stayed in a lot of tents, but it was pretty comfortable.  There was plenty of space, and once I got past the heat and humidity inside the thing, not to mention the rank odor of 4 unshowered people, it wasn’t THAT bad.

3. The Food.

This was my second favorite part of the whole trip.  Why?  Because it involved s’mores and campfire pies.  Duh.

Here’s a s’more:

And here is Trent transcending reality and going to an otherworldly place where only chocolate and marshmallows and joy exist:

Oh s’mores….how I love you. 

My dad, who organized the whole trip, also introduced me to campfire pies.  I have no idea if this is what they’re actually called, but it fits.  You take two buttered pieces of bread, put them in the two halves of a pie iron (butter side out), sprinkle both pieces with cinnamon and sugar, top one slice with pie filling, then put them together and stick ’em in the fire.  And then magic happens.

Buttery and crunchy on the outside, and warm pie filling on the inside.  Oh mama.  By the end of the weekend, I think I put away a record number of s’mores and campfire pies.  I also cried when I got on the scale after we got back.

4. Ricky Danny

This is my dad, Dan.  After driving like a maniac throughout the Missouri hills this weekend, he’s now known around these parts as Ricky Danny.  Never in my life have I felt as car sick as I felt driving through the Ozarks with this man.  Even 3 pregnancies with weeks of nonstop nausea had nothing on this ride with Ricky Danny.

5. The Canoeing

This was….interesting.  There were some definite good parts, but there were some definite bad parts too.  Here’s some of the good stuff:

There was tons of natural beauty here.  People can make all the jokes they want about the Ozarks and the hillbillies that live there, but maybe they’re onto something.  When you look around and all you can see for miles are trees, mountains, caves, rivers, lakes, and about a million stars at night, it sort of makes all the ugly things in the world disappear.  It puts you in a state of bliss.

And then, while you’re riding peacefully in your canoe in that state of bliss, overcome with the beauty of the scenery, your husband suddenly steers you into an overturned tree at the edge of the river and your peaceful world comes crashing down because spiders fill your canoe, sending you into an absolute shrieking panic that nearly overturns the boat, and then said husband yells at you to “calm the f**k down!” and then you get pissed at being told to calm down when clearly the situation calls for mayhem, and becoming completely freaking unglued is the only logical response.  Whew. 

So that was the bad part of canoeing.

Obviously, I didn’t get any pictures of the spiders or of that particular moment because I was too busy screaming and trying to eviscerate the icky spiders with my oar.  Please accept my apologies.

6.  Going Home

My favorite part of the whole trip.

St Louis: Part II

So I fascinated you with tales of ghostly adventures at the Lemp Mansion during the first part of our trip.  Are you ready for some more supernatural encounters?  Don’t answer that.  It’s totally rhetorical.  I know you’re foaming at the mouth to know more.

Okay, so after the Lemp tour, I was talking to one of the SI guys (for all you ghost hunting rookies, SI stands for Supernatural Investigations…they’re a local paranormal group), and he said that we should drive up to Alton, Illinois because it’s supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the Midwest.  He specifically mentioned the McPike Mansion, which is known for paranormal activity.

So we headed up to Alton the next morning.  It was only supposed to take 20 minutes to get there, but for us…..well, I’m sure you can guess.  It would have been totally out of character for us to know exactly where we were and reach our destination in a reasonable time.  Being utterly lost once again actually turned out to be a good thing, though, because we discovered the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries:

We discovered the Fountain of Youth!  Who would’ve thought this legendary pool would be smack in the middle of East St. Louis?  Based on the some the people we saw in the area, certainly not us. 

I’m 30, and Amanda’s 29, so we were kind of excited to come across this fountain. Plus, we were pretty thirsty since we’d been driving around aimlessly in 97 degree heat.  Suffice it to say we were ready for a nice big gulp of magic water.

Um……what the hell?  Where is the age-defying, wrinkle-erasing, sag-eliminating miracle water?  That sign is false advertisement, and I want my pretend money back.

Ugh.

Completely discouraged, we loaded our aging bodies back into the hot car and tried to find the way to Alton.  And finally, we did.  9 hours later.  The SI guy had given me general directions to the house (and by that I mean he told me what street it was on), but I knew it as soon as I saw it.

Now, just a little back story….I called the owners of the McPike Mansion before we left to see if they did tours.  They do, but they only do them once a month, and it wasn’t their time of the month, so to speak.  But they said we were welcome to come and take pictures and wander around outside. 

So that’s what we did.  We went up to the house, snapped a few pictures, peered in the windows, wandered, and marveled at the architectural wonder of the house.  Not really on that last part.  We were actually too busy being nosy.  I did ring the doorbell a couple of times in hopes that someone would answer and let us tour the inside anyway, but no one did, so we continued on with our photography session and window peeping.  In fact, we were so caught up in looking for ghosts that we didn’t notice the door creak open and a man come outside. 

“Can I help you?” he said.

We both jumped a mile.  “Oh, hi!” I said.  “I’m the one that called earlier, and we were just taking pictures because you said it was okay, and I know you aren’t doing any tours today, but….”  I continued to talk because I  have a problem with that; he just stared at me.

“I don’t do tours,” he said.

This puzzled me.

“Ummmm…..like never?” I asked.

“No. Never.”  He was beginning to look annoyed.

“Well….this is the McPike Mansion, right?”

“NO.”  This was stated very emphatically and with a hefty dose of irritation.

And that was all we needed to hear before we started giggling uncontrollably and ran away.

Four blocks down, the real McPike Mansion stood.

Whoa.  In terms of creepiness, this house can definitely kick that other house’s ass.  There was an energy with this house, and you could feel it. 

And guess what was in the back?

A broken up crypt in the woods!  Eek!  There was a little path that led into the woods, and in this clearing was the crypt.  Let’s go back to the path, though, because there’s something you need to see.

Here’s the path:

And here’s the path again.  This was taken about 1 second after the first pic, so the position has only changed slightly.

WHAT. IS. THAT?  Do you all see this misty-like figure?  Do you?  Someone please explain this to me, because it’s creeping my shit out.  Me and Amanda stared at this photo for a long time and decided that it’s a ghost.  It is written.

We left not long after that.  Not because we were scared or anything, but because we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.  And I had to pee.

Alton itself has a lot of stuff to do, supernaturally-speaking. There are a few haunted tours that include some nearby homes, a church, and other locations, and there’s even a torture museum.  That’s right, a torture museum.  Unfortunately, no tours were availalbe and the torture museum was either closed or the person that was supposed to be answering the phone was stuck in the iron maiden or something.   Who knows.  But Alton is on my list of places to go back to, and now I know exactly how to get there.  Yay me!

That pretty much concluded our trip.  Husbands and kids were starting to wonder when we’d be home, and the 8,000 texts demanding an ETA were enough to get us on the road.  A very interesting disgusting game of “Would You Rather…?” ensued, and while a sign for White Castle significantly delayed our journey, we made it home in not-record time, thoroughly grossed out (Amanda, you have a sick, sick mind), but completely satisfied with our quest for the paranormal.

Until next time, would you rather tour the Lemp mansion alone at 2 a.m. while sipping a glass of liquified cockroaches, or attend your next major family function in the nude, singing and dancing the Macarena every 10 minutes until it was time to leave?

St. Louis: The Short Version, Part I

Just kidding!  Did you guys seriously think I could do a short version of this story?  Because I can’t, so here’s how it went down, long version style:

Thursday, 10:14 a.m.:  I pick up Amanda, and I”m only 14 minutes late.  Woot woot!
Thursday, 10:37 a.m.:  We finally leave after loading up Amanda’s 19 bags for a 2-day trip.
Thursday, 10:39 a.m.: The Cheetos and gummy bears make their first appearance.
Thursday, 11:05 a.m.: I have to pee.
Thursday, 11:59 a.m.: I have to pee.
Thursday, 12:37 p.m.: I have to pee.

Okay, I’m stopping now.  I don’t want to write a play-by-play anymore than you guys want to read it, especially when 90% involves me stopping to pee…

and us being lost…

Anyway.

I’m not going to go in exhaustive detail about every aspect of the trip, because I know you guys don’t really care about the Budweiser brewery tour, or the narrow alley that me and my umbrella got stuck in, or the homeless guy that told us he was a white Barbie in a black body and I gave him $2 and then he asked for more.  Whew.  I know what you REALLY care about is the ghost stuff.  So let’s do this.

Our tour of the Lemp Mansion was scheduled for 9:30 p.m., and the night was perfect for ghost hunting.  Actually, I think any night is perfect for ghost hunting, but that’s just me.  So we go inside the mansion, and it is freaking packed.  Wall to wall people, just yapping away and disturbing all the spirits.  “Ugh,” I snobbishly think, “Get these cattle out of here.  Only the truly passionate ghost hunters can be here.”  (I didn’t really think that, cause that’s kinda mean, but maybe my thoughts drifted along those lines, I don’t know. Anyway.)

So the person working at the front desk told us that we had plenty of time to look around, have a drink, or use their really weird bathroom if we wanted to.  I wanted to.

There’s just a free standing shower in the middle of the bathroom.  Isn’t that bizarre?  And there’s a bidet to my left that’s not pictured.  Amanda tried it and said it worked just fine.  Another reason why this bathroom was particularly interesting to me is that I’d read somewhere that numerous women had reported seeing a man peeping over the top of the stall at them…..and ghostly man…..a man called William Lemp, Jr.!  Muhahhahahaha!!!!

After spending far too long in the bathroom waiting for Lemp to come check out my badonkadonk (which he didn’t, the sly bastard), we headed to the bar, where we met this guy named Eeyore.  Hi Eeyore!

 

Eeyore was pretty cool.  He told us his life story, called the other patrons bad names, and kept a steady flow of drinks in front of us, free of charge.  I really don’t even drink that much, but I like free stuff.  I would like to flatter myself and say that he did this because he thought we were a couple of MILFs, but around 11:15 , I came to the conclusion that he was trying to keep us distracted from realizing that our tour was about 2 hours late.  We didn’t really mind, though, and he did tell us one story of a paranormal encounter that he had in the house.  One night, he’d been out very late and decided to crash at the mansion.  It was the slow season and there was no one else there, so he just headed up to one of the bedrooms.  Right as he was about to fall asleep, he heard someone whisper his name.  He chalked it up to his imagination, then drifted off.  Around 3:00 a.m., he suddenly woke up with a weird feeling.  Just then, the whisper came again, only now it was right next to him.  He could sense a presence standing next to him on the side of the bed; every hair was standing on end, and he was covered in goosebumps.  He was too scared to turn over and look, so he just stayed perfectly still and waited for it to go away.  Eventually it did, and he left shortly after, but he’s never stayed alone in the house again.

Spooky, huh?

Finally it was time for our tour to start, so we all assembled in the dining room for a few instructions and to get our infrared cameras.  Then they pretty much let us loose.  We were all right with this because we didn’t really want to stay with the group anyway, and I didn’t want all their yammering on my voice recorder and video camera.

We headed up to the 2nd floor, and it was pitch black up there.  You couldn’t see anything except the dim lights of people’s cameras.  Almost immediately, I felt a cold spot and got super excited.

“It’s really cold right here!” I exclaimed. 

“That’s because you’re standing next to an air conditioning vent,” said our tour guide.

Oh. Thanks a lot, Mr. Debbie Downer.

There were, however, a few different areas where it felt very cold, and believe me, I looked around for vents.  There weren’t any near me.  That leaves room for only one explanation……supernatural entities were near me. Very near.  And here’s more proof: as soon as we got up there, several people’s, including Amanda’s, camera batteries drained.  I know for a fact Amanda’s camera was fully charged, and it just immediately died.  OMG, right?

The 3rd floor of the mansion is supposed to be one of the places with the most activity, and we weren’t disappointed.  As we were wandering around, Amanda suddenly felt something hit her arm, and then a small scrath appeared, and the next day….A VERY OMINOUS LOOKING BRUISE.  There was no one around her at the time, and she swears she didn’t hit it on anything.  I believe her.  Also on the 3rd floor, my voice recorder mysteriously started playing back stuff that I had been recording, and I didn’t push any buttons.  Other people in our group reported feeling sick to their stomachs, but that could’ve been the fried ravioli they were serving downstairs.  It seemed kinda old.

The basement was the next stop on the tour, and this is where the old tunnel entrance was that led to the caverns underneath the house.  The Lemps used to use the caves for brewing, but the caverns also housed a swimming pool and bowling alley at one time, and William Lemp III used to host parties down there.  Apparently, a lot of shenanigans involving – gasp! – prostitutes took place during these parties.

But I digress.

Here are some pics from the basement:

See the orbs?  Also note the Lemp emblem on the floor.  That’s where the tunnel was.

Another orb photo.  But here’s my favorite….look at the expression on this guy’s face:

He’s all, “Oh hhhheeeellllll no!  I am gettin the f*ck outta this basement!” 

Okay, so are you guys ready for the coolest part of the whole trip?  The part that would solidify my belief even more that supernatural beings are among us?  The part that I would replay over and over again after I got home because I was SO f’ing excited? ARE YOU READY?

Yay! Me too!  Check out this video….the whole thing is almost 8 minutes long, but you can fast forward to the cool parts if you want.  The first one is at the 5:25 mark.  Listen closely.  Then go to the 7:25 mark (is it weird that both instances happen on 25? I think so) and watch closely.  Also, if anyone watches the whole video and can tally up how many times Amanda talks about her camera dying and then coming back to life, I’ll give you a prize.

Wow, you guys have no idea how excited I was to get a for reals EVP!  I played it everyone at work, and they all laughed at me.  But I don’t care if they don’t believe me.  I believe me, and I know what I heard.  First I heard a deep breath (not me), and then I heard something that sort of resembled a human voice but sort of not…..and there was no one around me!  And that certainly wasn’t me.  Holy creepanoli, huh?  And then that flash of light…what was that?  It wasn’t my camera.  It happened too fast, and I was panning slower than that.

So. Freaking. Awesome.

So that pretty much wraps up the first part of our trip.  After the basement tour was over, they kicked us out and we drove around for 45 minutes trying to find our hotel.  St. Louis really should consider making their streets easier to navigate.  Maybe I’ll send an email to their City Council or Chamber of Commerce or whatever.

Or maybe I’ll just listen to my EVP 95 more times. 

Part Deux will be posted soon…..

I’m Back and I’m Not Possessed by the Spirit of William Lemp. Damn.

Me and Amanda just got back from St. Louis the other day and you know what?  NO ONE CARED.

Seriously, I thought there might be a banner in the yard, maybe some confetti and party poppers, but definitely throngs of people hiding inside waiting to scream, “Welcome Back, Chandi!”  I mean, I was gone for 36 hours.  SHIT.  You’d think someone would notice.

But they didn’t.  Instead, I returned to a dark house filled with dirty dishes, cereal ground into the carpet, and cat barf on my side of the bed.  Oh, and Trent developed a new obsession in my absence.  He wants to build his own motorcycle.  Youtube is going to teach him how. This should be entertaining.  That reminds me….I need to call our State Farm guy to up his life insurance policy.

Anyway.

I’m going to post a longer blog later about all of our paranormal and not-paranormal experiences in St. Louis.  I just wanted to let you all know that I wasn’t possessed by a spirit entity.

Toodles for now.

Tomorrow!

Just wanted to do a quick post because I’m SUPER EXCITED about tomorrow!  Want to know why I’m super excited?! Do ya?! DO YA?!

Okay, fine, I’ll calm down and tell you.  I’m super excited because tomorrow me and my BFF 4-eva Amanda are heading to St. Louis to do some ghost hunting!  That’s right, baby, bona fide ghost hunting, and at the Lemp Mansion, one of the most haunted places in America.  Here it is:

Okay, I’ll admit, it looks kind of harmless from the outside, but I can tell you with certainty (and I haven’t even gone there yet) that this place has some serious activity.  I’m not going to go into a long history of the house and the happenings there (even though I could, and I kinda want to, but I’m trying to practice more self-control), but let’s just say several people have died here, as well as a dog (a ghost dog!), and there was some real unpleasant sh*t that went down in this place.  So yeah, it has all the necessary ingredients. 

Fist pump!

I’ve got all my equipment ready to go, too.  Doesn’t that make me sound like a pro? “All my equipment”….oh yeah, I like that sound of that.  Too bad it just consists of a camera, video camera, and voice recorder (for EVPs).  I don’t have an EMF detector, night vision scope, thermal scanner, or any of the hardcore stuff.  Yes, things are lacking in my life.  But this isn’t going to stop me in my investigations into the paranormal.

Other necessary items we’re taking:

  • Swimsuits
  • Twizzlers
  • Diet Dr. Pepper

And that’s it.  We’ve got all the important stuff covered, don’t you think?

Okay, friends, that’s all I’m going to say about this, because I plan on telling ya all about it when we get back.  Food post coming up soon!