Monday, April 25, 2011

Mr. Increcible vs. Dandelions

All superheroes have them - that weakness that can stop them in their tracks, bring them to their knees, and sap their super powers. Superman has his kryptonite. And Mr. Incredible? He has these...

He sneezed for at least 10 minutes this morning....Ah, Spring!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gettysburg Ghost Hunt

Tuesday evening, after a less than stellar dinner, we headed off for our first, real ghost hunt.Gettysburg Paranormal Association, which operates out of the same space as Gettysburg Ghost Tours (look for the black cat on the sign), offers a few different options for ghost hunts. You get to play with the same equipment as the pros, which is really a lot of fun. Not being sure how Monkey Girl would react to a full-out ghost hunt, and not being quite sure what to expect, we opted for the family friendly hunt. (It's also one of the only ghost hunts in Gettysburg that someone under 13 can participate in.)

Soon we were outside at a nearby stream called Plum Run. Some of you may recognize Plum Run by it's newer name Bloody Run. They are indeed one and the same. The creek meanders through Gettysburg and down through the battlefield's Valley of Death. Apparently our location was where Union forces had gathered soldiers who were too wounded to be mobile but not in need of immediate medical attention. Unfortunately it rained a lot during those days of the battle, as well as during the aftermath. Plum Run overrunneth its banks and well...did I mention that these soldiers weren't mobile? Another terrible tragedy on top of all those that had already happened, making it a good site to try talking to the spirits.

Once we got creek-side, our guide, Bobby, told us the history of the site, letting us know why we were there. He then explained the equipment in his portable ghost hunting kit - brass dowsing rods, digital voice recorder, K2 EMF detector, green laser grid, ghost detector, an instrument that detected changes in temperature, and one other EMF detector that was kinda pricy (but I can't remember which one it was).

After our quick education in the various instruments and how they work, we set to work. The girls were hesitant to use the dowsing rods. In retrospect, it might have been interesting for Mr. I. to give them ago, which was something we would have done had we gone on a second evening of spook hunting. As it was, I was the one who mainly got to walk around talking to the empty (or not) air and wait for some energy to move the rods about. Surprisingly, I didn't feel all that self-conscious, which I think was part of the girls' problem. It can feel a little silly.

(Monkey Girl and my orb. :-) It's that circular light spot on the log just in front of her.)

(Mr. Incredible with the 'spensive EMF detector. Those are background lights in the distance.)

Whatever spirit(s) we talked to by Plum Creek were in a Mess-With-The-Mortals mood that evening, because they kept pointing us in entirely opposite directions when asked where they were. It was a nice way to get used to handling the equipment, though. And as you can see, I actually got a pic of what I think is an orb. Yeah, it might be a speck of dust or some moisture, but there really wasn't any of either happening that evening. Some of the other shots I took had lights in the background, so I really can't rully at out in place of some orbs in other photos, but that's not the case for this one.I was pretty excited when I finally noticed it.

We decided that spirits really didn't want to talk over by Plum Run that night, so our guide suggested we go to "The General's Death House" where the body of Major General Reynolds was taken after he died on the battlefield. Bobbie said he usually got good results there and that the General and his fiance, Kate, usually liked to chat. Off we went.

(Major General John Fulton Reynolds)

I won't bore you with a mini-lecture on General Reynold's, although he was, from what I can tell, a "soldier's soldier," who was shot while rallying the troops on the first day of the battle. His death came at a bad time, as he was a trusted adviser - and former superior office - to Major General George Meade. However, being the first causalty of the battle, his death also helped give the men something to fight for that day. His decision to help back up Brig. General's troops on the northwest side of Gettysburg gave the incoming Union troops the opportunity to claim that higher ground that made such a difference in the battle. (I came across a small bio of the general at a local gift shop the day after our ghost hunt and read it with great interest. I would have been prepared with intelligent questions had we gotten to go back.)

(Waiting until we can get the keys for the General's Death House.)

About a foot and a half from the left front door, the EMF meters that both girls were holding went off. Needless to say, they were pretty excited, since they had barely budged at the Run. Unfortunately, we didn't have a key to the house. One of the other guides was carrying it. We had a little rest in the back of the house until our guide thought the other group was close enough to go hassle for the key, which we did. Once inside the house, it was pretty neat. Servant's Olde Tyme Photography is one of those places where you can get an old-looking photo taken, complete with costumes and props, so there were lots of Battle-era looking things around, helping set the ambiance.

General Reynolds was actually willing to talk to us, although we were limited to yes and no questions with the dowsing rods. I just wish I'd known more intelligent sounding questions to ask and that we'd had more time. Mr. I. got some temperature fluctuations coming from the back room. We completely forgot to take any photos, so it was a good thing Bobbie was on the ball. I'm not sure what all he got shots of, but one of the last one's was of me sitting on a stool with the rods and this lovely orb floating just behind my head. I'm eager for them to get our hunt evidence up on their website so I can get a copy of it.

The hunt came to a close far too soon. We made sorta plans to have another one with Bobbie on the walk back to our car, but time and weather kept it from happening. However, I'd definitly love to go on another hunt with him sometime, especially back at Servant's. I've read bios of both Kate and Reynolds by this point and can think of some interesting things to talk about. :-)

Would I recommend a ghost hunt? Yes. I went in as an open-minded skeptic, which is how I approach much of the paranormal. And I had a great time and a lovely experience. It's nice to step out of your comfort zone every-so-often. Our guide was wonderful, knowledge in both how to go about a hunt as well as in enough of the history of the area to add some extra interest. He was also a lot of fun, taking to calling Monkey Girl "Monkey" pretty quickly on in the hunt. And he tried to keep track of where she was when we were crossing roads and such. As a parent I have to apreciate that. (He was a parent to a couple of young sons, himself, and coached peewee baseball.)

Definitely a fun point in the trip!