Terror on the Highways: Planning a paranormal road trip

Terror on the Highways: Planning a paranormal road trip
March 24, 2009
Vince Wilson
There are so many haunted and creepy places in the US I am sure I will be able to keep this column going for a very long time. I have visited dozens of places and yet only a small fraction of the total number of ever increasing spooky locales. I know that I will never be able to visit them all within my lifetime. That's not going to stop me from trying though!

To begin with, a road trip has to be reasonable. You must first calculate the time and distance and multiply that by the stress levels of those driving with you. Yes. I said driving with you. Because a road trip never involves a train or plane and only involves a boat if it is a ferry. Otherwise it is not a road trip. Back to to stress and distance, you need to make sure your traveling companions are up to the task before you hit the road because these are the friends you will be traveling with for hours on end. If you have a friend whose nickname is Stinky, best to leave him at home. In fact, keep the trip a secret from him and then feign ignorance when you get back.

If you have a friend whose nickname is Stinky, best to leave him at home. In fact, keep the trip a secret from him and then feign ignorance when you get back.

So, distance and time. I recommend keeping your trip under ten hours if possible. So if you are thinking about visiting the Queen Mary and you live in DC, best to go the non-road-trip way and fly. After you have picked your ultimate destination, you can start looking at places to stay on the way to beat the monotony. I suggest either going to the Haunted Places Directory online or buying Haunted Places: The National Directory: Ghostly Abodes, Sacred Sites, UFO Landings and Other Supernatural Locations by Dennis William Hauck. Your ultimate destination should be where the majority of your haunted adventure will take place with one or more photo-ops along the way. Lunch or dinner should definitely be planned at of your stops. Plan well and you can have lunch near a well known paranormal hot-spot like the Bell Witch Cave and have dinner at your final stop - the Myrtles Plantation.

Next you will need to decide on your vehicle. Whenever possible it is always best to take just one reliable and comfortable vehicle over driving in multiple vehicles and meeting there. Taking several cars will almost always mess up your lunch plans when one car is still 60 miles down the road. If you are taking more than five people total, than a van would be best. If you don't own a van and neither do your companions, than you would be advised to rent one. Splitting gas and the cost of the van five or six (or more) ways will greatly save on cost and would still be cheaper than flying all of you.

At this point you need to decide if you are staying in a hotel or not. Although I love camping, I am usually stuck with tender-butts who cringe at the idea of (gasp!) sleeping without central air! You know who you are! When I went on a trip to the Waverly Hills Sanatorium (my third time) we left at 1:00 AM and arrived, after some stops, around 1:00 PM. The investigation of the Sanatorium was until Midnight. Therefore, we rented some rooms and got some shuteye before the big eight hour event. Without that sleep, we would have been dead on our feet. We split the cost of the rooms (there were three people in mine) and it didn't come to much. Although we only used the room for seven hours, it was worth it.

Alright people, repeat after me: GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM. I know some of you are saying, who needs that! I have my trusty map books and they haven't let me down yet! Well, obviously you have never taken a wrong turn down an unfamiliar exit on a 600 mile trip. People get distracted and tired. When you are in an unfamiliar place valuable time can be lost when having to pull over and look at directions. Sometimes you may not even have a point of reference! A GPS though always knows where you are. TomTom and Garmin GPS devices are two of the best ones out there. You can program your entire trip into them with stops and everything. Some models will warn you about bad traffic conditions as well.

After you have your gear and cameras and friends you will need snacks. The less messy the better. Chips and nachos are popular, but you will be cleaning up your vehicle for a long time. Try hard boiled eggs and bite-sized cookies. Anything you can stick in your mouth in one chomp. Your drivers (assuming you will rotate drivers) may need some caffeinated soft drinks and coffee. The earlier you leave, the better. If you are going to a town and/or area of the country you have never been to before, it would be a good idea to get there with some time to enjoy the local scenery and cuisine. After all, if you are going to New Orleans, you have to eat some gumbo! Looking for Al Capone's ghost in the Windy City? You have to go to the top of the Sears Tower and have some pop and a deep dish pizza afterwards.

The drive back is usually a straight drive with maybe two stops for food. Please email me with any good stories about haunted road trips you have been on!
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