By Bob Difley
It’s a proven fact. We humans like to be frightened by movies, books (try reading a Stephen King novel without glancing behind you and turning on all the lights), and anything that does not present a real danger. And ghosts in all their forms (real? and perceived) have been haunting us mortals since the first caveman spotted St. Elmo’s fire. Haunted houses, old hotels, abandoned warehouses, creepy cemeteries, even a covered bridge in Vermont all have their own unique resident spirits, and many locations offer guided Ghost Tours.
Even some campgrounds have their resident specter, as a camper in a campground in the White Mountains of New Hampshire found out. Late one night while sitting by his campfire, he saw a naked, gray, man-like creature with backwards legs several yards away in the woods. He shined his light in the creature’s direction, whereupon it disappeared into the trees. A year later, the man camped in the same campsite, and at about two in the morning, the same creature reappeared. He seemed to study the man for a few moments, then when the man tried to approach him, it again disappeared.
Other tales of the supernatural revolve around incidents of violent death, like that of Blackbeard the pirate. In a bloody battle between Edward Teach, the real name of the notorious pirate, and two sloops of the Royal Navy at “Teach’s Hole,” his hideout on Ocracoke Island off the coast of North Carolina, it took five gunshots and 20 saber wounds to fell the formidable pirate. The victors cut off his head, hung it from the bowsprit, and threw the body overboard. As the body hit the water, the disembodied head shouted: “Come on Edward,” and the headless body swam three times around the ship before sinking out of sight.
Blackbeard’s ghost still haunts Teach’s Hole, searching for his missing head. Sometimes, the headless ghost floats on the surface of the water, or swims around and around and around, glowing just beneath the surface. The strange light sometimes seen coming from the island has been called “Teach’s light,” and on nights that the ghost light appears, you can hear Blackbeard’s ghost roaring, “WHERE’S MY HEAD?”
Some places have more ghosts than others. Southern cities like New Orleans and Savannah seem to have a large share of ghosts. Charleston, South Carolina, claims more than 18 identifiable spirits, including the ghost of Lavinia Fisher, who along with her husband ran a boarding house outside Charleston. Whenever a solo boarder showed up, they murdered him in his sleep and stole his belongings. When finally caught, Lavinia went to her hanging in her wedding dress and has since been seen at various places around the city, including her last residence – the Old Jailhouse.
Interest in ghosts, legends and folklore in this country has never been higher, as evidenced by the number of organized ghost walks that are offered not only in major cities, but also in smaller towns.
As RVers, we are especially fortunate to be able to travel to and camp at many different locations, enabling us to visit the area’s ghosts and take local ghost walks. It is a way to learn about the culture, history and legends of an area while having fun doing it. And one of the best parts of a ghost walk is the people that lead the walks. Most are knowledgeable about local history and culture, and entertaining actors at the same time, telling anecdotes and bringing old folktales to life. These walks are not like the created Halloween haunted houses where people leap out at you in frightening costumes trying to scare you.
Many ghost walks do not allow flash photography as it ruins the mood for the other participants. But if you decide to roam about after the walk and try a little ghost hunting on your own, experienced hunters advise that believing in ghosts is not necessary. However, a negative attitude will convey negative energy, maybe inhibiting the ghosts from appearing. Since not every ghost hunt will be successful, ghost hunters suggest trying again during unusual weather, such as lightning storms, or at a darker phase of the moon. Good luck, and may the spirits be with you.
To find ghost walks wherever you camp, check with the local chamber of commerce or tourism bureau (some even have discount tickets), or go online and Google search “ghost walks” and your location, such as “ghost walks Baltimore.”
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon.com.