Xunantunich Ruins

It’s been a while since I posted about a destination location, so I figured why not now? If any of you are like me, now is the time to think about and plan your next vacation. In honor of the new year, and to escape the cold winter here in Pennsylvania, I’d like to share one of my favorite places with you; Xunantunich Ruins in Belize.
A little off of the beaten path, we had to cross a river by a raft that  had me a little worried. Admittedly, I’d never crossed a river by a raft operated by pulley mechanism.


Thankfully, there wasn’t anything to be worried about and we made it across without any issues.
I don’t think that there was anything that could’ve prepared me for what awaited once we made it up to the ruins themselves. We didn’t have to fight against the crowds that gather at the more well known sites; we had the whole place to ourselves, and were able to tour everything at our own pace. At the time of our trip, they were still excavating some of the grounds, but it didn’t take away from the experience.




The largest structure of Xunantunich is El Castillo, and on the side of this ruin are sun god masks
One of the highlights of these ruins was that we were able to climb to the top of El Castillo. We wound our way through the narrow corridors and up the steep, twisting steps to reach the top. Once there, we were met with breathtaking views in every direction.


Xunantunich was a very quiet and peaceful place to visit. Being immersed in the culture and history surrounding this place was incredible, and I will carry this experience with me forever. If you ever find yourself in Belize, I highly recommend giving this location a try.

Haunted Histories 4 Part 2: Gettysburg Battlefields

Like I mentioned in the first post on Gettysburg the Farnsworth House Inn offers different kinds of ghost tours. One of the tours that we decided on was a tour that gives you the opportunity to use paranormal equipment to investigate one of the bloodiest battlefields in the area. Oddly, this also happens to be directly behind a local school’s football field.
Reading the descriptions of the tours offered now, the Farnsworth House Inn still offers a tour where you can use the equipment but the locations have changed a bit. Now, they offer the opportunity to investigate the basement, and after my experience there I would love to go back and take this tour!
On the night of the tour, my husband and I met up with the rest of those who had also booked this excursion. We did a quick tour of the area then we were broken up into smaller groups. Armed with dowsing rods, an infrared night-vision camera, and a digital voice recorder the four of us (we were paired with two teenage girls) set out onto the moonlit battlefield.
Dowsing rods are supposed to interact with the spirit’s energy whenever a question is asked. Ours were L shaped rods that we held  apart, and in response to a yes or no question they should either come together and cross or move further away. During this investigation, we didn’t get any replies using these.
As for the digital recorder, the guide collected everyone’s recorders for review. She had said that if she got anything good she would email us but we didn’t hear anything back.
At the time of this trip, neither one of us had watched many paranormal investigation shows so we weren’t at all familiar with the equipment. The groups were spread out over a large area and we were using the infrared camera. All of us stared at a black screen, not realizing that it wouldn’t show anything other than the infrared light spectrum. We continued walking, and out of nowhere a bright white figure materialized on screen. Thinking that it was the group ahead of us I stepped in front of the lens completely obstructing this incandescent form. When looking at it, it had the distinct shape of the human figure and we were even able to make out that it appeared to be wearing a forage cap, common to civil war era soldiers. We watched in awe as this being walked across the battlefield only to dematerialize into the ground without leaving any trace.
Keep in mind, this was the time of the low resolution flip phone camera so neither one of us even thought to take it out to take a picture or video of this unexplained event and the infrared camera frustratingly wasn’t equipped to record anything. Had we have known better, I would’ve used my digital camera that I had on me to document this.

Here are a few photos from our ghost hunt.


Orb in Gettysburg Battlefield


I don’t want to lead anyone on what I see in the photo below, so if you are able to make anything out feel free to comment below.
Under the football field bleachers
While touring the area, there is a respect for the grounds and the history that I haven’t felt before. It’s somewhere I would recommend going if you are into either history or paranormal. The monuments that are built to commemorate the great battle are miraculous and hold the memories of those who lost their lives during the Civil War.

Monument with large orbs


Haunted Histories 4 Part 1: Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Inn

Let me start out by saying I had every intention to only do one post for my number 4 Haunted Location: Gettysburg, but I feel that it would be better suited broken into 2.

It’s been almost 10 years since by husband (at the time we were just dating) and I went to Gettysburg. I had been there before with my family, but it was his first time visiting. On a whim, while googling places to stay I came across the website for the Farnsworth House Inn. Touted as one of the most haunted inns in Gettysburg, I was immediately interested and easily talked him into staying there. See, I’m the kind of person who believes in most things until they are proven otherwise but my husband is the complete opposite. For him, he is a skeptic first and foremost until he sees it for himself. This is probably how I get him to go along with all of my crazy ideas.

For this trip I booked us in the Custer Room, which is located outside of the main house with its own private entrance. At the time, I also booked two different ghost tours through their website. I’ll be detailing the first ghost tour in the 2nd post.


Inside the Custer Room

On night two, we were supposed to go on a walking tour of the battlefields but due to extensive rain the conditions kept us from continuing onto the walking part of the tour. Instead, they took us into the Farnsworth House basement where they told us stories of the property. The guide was very knowledgeable about the location, and the stories were extremely interesting. I hung on every word that was spoken until all of a sudden I felt pressure on my legs. I leaned over to tell my husband what I was feeling but I  just tried to play it off as dampness in the air. That was until the guide made mention of the spirit of a child that liked to sit on people’s laps in the basement. I couldn’t believe that more than one person had experienced the same odd sensation that I was feeling.

As the story of the child continued, the guide stated that he liked to move objects in the rooms as well; that if you left a quarter in one place you would find it on the bed. I was intrigued, and instantly wished we had left some change or something out on the nightstand to see if it would be moved when we returned.

Around 10:00 we made our way back outside and up to our room. I decided to wash my face, and when I looked at my hand I was missing my ring that I knew I had on when we left the room earlier. The ring had fit snuggly around my finger so I knew it didn’t just fall off, but I started to panic. I asked my husband if he saw it when we went to the basement and he said that not only did he see it, but had felt it on my hand. The entrance to the basement was on the outside of the house and since it had rained almost nonstop, there had been a giant puddle at the bottom of the steps. In order to make it over without falling into the water (which I am more than capable of doing) I grabbed onto his hand to make sure I made it over, and it was here that he noticed that I was wearing it.

Not wanting to wait till the morning to try to find the ring, we started out the door to retrace our steps. I turned to make sure that we had the room key, and across the floor something shiny caught my eye. I went over to it, and there behind the leg of a luggage holder was my ring on the floor. Now the first reaction would be It fell off of my hand, but the floor was tile and we would’ve heard it hit then roll to where it lay. I was relieved that we had found it, and I was anxious to get a good night’s sleep before having drive back home the next day.

But, as fate would have it a peaceful night’s sleep was not to be had. At about 2 am, I woke to the feeling of an icy hand grasping my shin. To this day, I can still remember what it felt like that night with the imprint of a hand lingering on my skin.



featured image from Farnsworthhouseinn.com

Haunted Histories Part 3: Alcatraz

To continue my 4 part series on haunted locations to visit, I would have to give Number 3 to Alcatraz. One of the reasons that I chose this place for my list is the extensive history of this island. As Fort Alcatraz it was home to Civil War soldiers, prisoners, and was also used as a lighthouse.
Between 1934 and 1963, Alcatraz is most widely known because of its time as a Federal Prison. During this period it saw its share of famous inmates such as Al Capone, “Machine Gun” Kelly, and the “Birdman of Alcatraz” Robert Stroud.
In 1969 Alcatraz was occupied by Native Americans for about two years after the government turned down their request to turn Alcatraz into a Native American cultural center and school. There are still reminders of this occupation around the island today.


Alcatraz just off of the Ferry
 As I poured through the websites for things to do in San Francisco this tour ranked as one of the most popular, and it was something that both my husband and myself always wanted to see. One suggestion that I have is if you are planning a trip ahead of time to get tickets as soon as possible; these tours sell out quickly. I think we booked our tour a few months in advance and all they had left were tickets for the day tour.
I’m really glad that we did get to do this tour on our trip because we were able to see more of the outer buildings than during the night tour. The tickets are booked by time selection so that they can ferry you over to the island. As long as you leave on the last boat, you can spend as much time there as you want.

Once you step onto Alcatraz island, a tour guide takes you up to the main building. During our walk, we stopped at different locations along the way; the Warden’s house and the Morgue for example. While we were there, restorations were taking place on some of the buildings because of damage from weather and salt water.


As you’re exploring the facility, the audio tour does a good job of guiding you to the different locations while you listen to personal accounts from previous inmates. It’s kind of like being thrown back in time to when the prison was up and running.


With the riots, failed escape attempts, and multiple deaths there is no doubt why this island is considered haunted.
Alcatraz Island at Night
Not long after visiting San Francisco for the first time, I found myself traveling back for a work function. Since we had the evenings off I was fortunate enough to book the night tour of Alcatraz. This time we weren’t able to tour the buildings around the main structure, but the hospital ward (which wasn’t included in the day tour) was open to us. Being there as the sun was setting cast an eerie feeling over everything. You could hear the sounds of cars and people projecting from across the bay, and the dimming light allowed us to experience what it would’ve been like for the inmates at night.
“Broadway” at night
One of the most unique aspects of the night tour, was the option of being locked in a solitary confinement cell with a small group of visitors. As we filed in, I made my way to the back so that I could stand as close to the wall as possible. The whole time we were locked in I couldn’t help feeling like there was someone behind me in the pure darkness of the cell.
Due to the time of our tour we didn’t have long to stay in the hospital ward, but I felt that this was by far the creepiest place in the entire structure.


After reviewing the pictures that I took of the hospital, I came across one that I believe has an orb in it, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Here are two pictures I took, one right after the other.
Alcatraz is a unique place to visit, and if you are ever in San Francisco I highly recommend that you book a tour to this island. If possible, book both the day and night tours to get the full perspective of what life was like on “The Rock”.
View of San Francisco from Alcatraz

Haunted Histories Part 2: Hill View Manor

Over the weekend my husband, our friend, and myself toured the Hill View Manor in New Castle, Pa. Before going, I watched the Ghost Adventures episode to get an idea of what we could possibly encounter. However, I never thought that we would experience what we did.

First, some back story… When the Hill View Manor opened in 1926 as The Lawrence County Home for the Aged, it operated as a poor farm. It was home to convicts just released from prison, unwed mothers, elderly, and the mentally disabled. One of the stories we were told while on the tour was about a man Eli Saurri who died in the original boiler room (We weren’t able to go into this section due to pipes that have fallen). They say that his friends found him drunk outside, and took him to the boiler room to sleep it off. Unfortunately, he died from potential alcohol poisoning and exposure.

Here is the entrance to the original boiler room



In the late 1960’s the building was renovated to become a nursing facility. One of the more notable deaths of this time was of a woman named Amanda. She was around 100 years old and blind. Staff put her room across from a hallway that led to the outside so that she could easily wheel herself out in her wheelchair to feed the birds. Our tour guide told us that there are actually two theories about how she died. One, she got confused (and made a few extra turns instead of going the straight route to her room) and ended up falling down the stairs to the basement. The second is that one of the other residents pushed her down the steps. They think this might have happened because there have been multiple EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) captured on the stairwell saying “pushed” or “fall”.

Our tour began in the main entrance. We opted to take a 3 hour tour; 1.5 hour guided tour then 1.5 hours of us just roaming the facility ourselves. From the moment we walked through the doors, there was a different atmosphere to the place. Original documents and furniture transported us back to before 2004 when the facility closed. There was even still a calendar of events that hung on the wall.


While walking the first floor, our friend got a feeling coming from a specific room near the nurses station. When he asked the tour guide if something happened there, the guide looked shocked. He was getting ready to tell us about this room; it belonged to Amanda. There was definitely some kind of connection between Amanda and our friend.

From the first floor, we went down into the basement. Our guide admitted that he didn’t like going down into the basement alone, and I’ll admit there was a different feeling down there than in the rest of the building. It had a heavy darkness to it that kept you on edge. Once there, the guide took us through the “Belongings Room” where they store things that the residents left behind.


This was the only section of the basement that any of us felt comfortable in.

Next, we went to the boiler room (not the one where Eli Saurri died). There is said to be a spirit of a man named George who inhabits this space. As the tour guide stood in the pitch black, he jumped and grabbed at his arm; he said that he felt someone touch him. Entranced, I hung on the stories that he told until I noticed a dark shadow behind him move from behind one of the machines. I stayed quiet, not wanting to draw attention to myself or whatever the figure could be. Not wanting to be left behind in the basement as the others walked away I vowed to go back once the guided tour was over to get pictures. (More on that later in this post)

We followed on for the next hour, listening about the history and taking note of the newer parts of the building as well as the ones that were falling apart. The Hill View Manor does offer Paranormal Investigations so things are moved around or set out to be used as trigger objects. I don’t think the 3 of us would ever try to use anything like that to contact the other side.

The guide left us on the 3rd floor, and we began to explore alone. Nothing happened while we were exploring this area.

Picture from the nurses station on the 3rd floor with a photo of 2 residents



We made our way back down to the 2nd floor. There was a section that the tour guide told us not many people go to because of what happened there. He said that a woman who lived at the poor farm with her son had been raped in the back room. We went down this corridor, and again you could feel an uneasiness surround you.

Another place we spent extra time is what’s called “Angelo’s hallway”. While looking through the rooms, we heard a few unexplained bangs and as I walked into the main corridor I heard a note from the piano two rooms over in the kitchen/cafeteria.

Angelo’s Hallway


While walking through the many corridors, the guide suggested that if we take a picture of a hallway to do it over our shoulder. Many people have caught figures while doing this. I followed his suggestion a few times through the manor, and got this.  Feel free to comment if you see anything.



There was one other room on this floor where all three of us experienced unexplained smells. In this picture, I highlighted a few areas that could be orbs. There is a fine line between an orb and a dust particle, but due to the shape and the brightness I don’t think these are just dust.

SAM_2606 copy.jpg

Outside of this room, something brushed against our friend’s hand.

Almost directly below this room is the Chapel on the first floor. The guide had said that people received EVPs if you read from one of the many hymn books that are out. I was sitting in the chairs facing the riser and took this picture. I’m not quite sure what the area highlighted is, but it was only in this one photo. I took the same shot multiple times.SAM_2611 2.jpgSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES


Before leaving this area I began to look through the hymns. Almost instantly I felt a coldness (like when you stick your hand in a bucket of ice water) on my elbow and an energy wave wash over me; it felt like someone was holding on to my arm.

We finished the tour of the first floor, again stopping at Amanda’s room before moving back down to the basement for my pictures of the boiler room. I led the way down the steps, and for some reason could not bring myself to open the door; I had to have my husband open it. The feelings that I had the first time we went down there were intensified for no reason.

Turning on our cell phone flashlights, we hurried back into the “belongings room” where a calm once again fell over us. We took our time exploring the different suitcases, tables, papers..all of us interested in different things. I was looking in a cabinet when I heard a loud growl coming from the corner of the room. Frightened for the first time in the 3 hours, I suggested going to the boiler room then leaving.

All of us stopped in the doorway to the hall, frozen in place, looking into the darkness. I pulled my camera out to take a picture as the others noticed something dark move at the end of the hall. I hadn’t seen it since I was looking down, but I snapped a picture and went to step forward when I saw a dark figure crouching across from the boiler room entrance. Sheer fear washed over me, and I couldn’t get out of the basement fast enough. Words can’t describe what I felt or saw in that moment.

So much for a picture of the boiler room… but I did get this picture of the basement hall. (The creepy bunny was left by someone) The bright lights at the end of the hall are reflections of my camera flash. Again, if you see anything please feel free to comment.



In all, if you are looking for a place that has history and is known to be an active paranormal location the Hill View Manor is definitely a place worth seeing.

Haunted Histories Part 1: The Winchester Mystery House

Many haunted locations also have a historical significance. Over the next few months, I want to highlight a few places that I feel are worth visiting. Feel free to comment if you have had any experiences of your own or recommend visiting somewhere. I’m always looking for a new place to explore!

First on my list is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. I was in my teens when I heard this story, and I made it a goal to visit. Two years ago I finally had the opportunity, and it didn’t disappoint.

For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, the Winchester House was remodeled by Sarah Winchester in the 1800s. After the death of her daughter and husband (the Winchester rifle manufacturer), she met with a psychic who told her to move west and build a house. By doing this, it would keep the spirits who attached themselves to the family (from the deaths of those killed by the Winchester rifles) happy. She took the psychic’s advice to heart and moved completely across country and purchased an 8-bedroom house. She immediately began construction on the property, and it continued until her death. She would overlook all renovations, changing the floor plans numerous times after consulting with the spirits in her séance room. In 1906, an earthquake shook San Jose and Mrs. Winchester became trapped in her bedroom. She felt that she had somehow angered the spirits, and closed off part of the mansion; it wasn’t until after her death that this section would be reopened.

The unique architecture now has 160 rooms, doorways to nowhere, stairways that go straight to the ceiling, a master ballroom, and Tiffany windows (only to name some of the features). This place boasts some of the most exquisite and random designs that I’ve ever seen, but every room adds a little more to the origin of how it became what it is today.

The Winchester Mystery House is best experienced in person. Nothing can prepare you for this monumental structure and its gardens. Honestly, I was expecting it to be off by itself surrounded by acres of land, but the area is actually very commercialized. Once we entered through the gift shop, the grounds and buildings on the property distracted from the noise outside the gates; the beautiful trees and gardens damper much of the sound from the outside.

We were able to take a tour through the gardens and outbuildings, the main house, and the basement. This “Grand Estate Tour” doesn’t look to be offered anymore, but there is a tour that might take you through all of these these places. We weren’t able to take photos inside the house but it is something that I will never forget. The tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and they didn’t mind answering questions. The rooms were amazing and many of the hidden features or little details were intriguing. By the end of the tour, we walked over a mile through the many rooms and corridors.

This location is said to be haunted, but during the tour we didn’t experience anything paranormal. However, there was a feeling in the house that had me looking over my shoulder; it felt like there was something present that caused me to be on guard at all times.

The Winchester Mystery House has been featured on many different Paranormal Investigation shows over the years, my personal favorite being Ghost Adventures where it’s been showcased on multiple episodes.

If you are in the San Jose area, this is definitely a place worth touring.

You can visit the website at http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com  to get more information the tours that are offered or more on the history of the building itself.


Adventures on the Gorge

Well, today I checked another adventure off of my bucket list… Zip-lining at the New River Gorge in West Virginia! This is definitely a great place to conquer your fear of heights or your fear that the worst is going to happen (ala Final Destination). But we survived!! No cable snapping or falling out of the harness, just pure euphoria after jumping off of the side of a mountain.  The longest zip-line that we rode was 3170 ft in length (the attached picture is from the top of this line) and per the guide is the longest zip-line east of the Mississippi River. I would definitely recommend trying this if you are ever in the area.

new river gorge

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