WAHOO! Tomorrow I get to be back in one of my most favorite cities: New Orleans! Two years have been too long to be away from The Big Easy. I’m so excited to visit some favorite haunts (hee-hee–it’s one of the most haunted cities after all) and have some new experiences too!
I’m looking forward to walking Jackson Square, stopping at Cafe Du Monde and having a beignet. Visiting Bourbon Street just when the sun goes down–right before it gets too crazy–stepping into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to get a respite from the heat or relaxing to Steamboat Willie at Cafe Beignet. I’m eager to browse around The French Market, get some more Carnival Candles, and eat some good crepes! AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ABOUT MUFFALETTAS!
I also have my sights set on some new places: the Cajun/Zydeco festival in Armstrong Park, Faulkner House Books in Pirate Alley, and taking Haunted History Tour‘s Cemetery Tour. (I’ve been on their haunted tour a good few times–so much that I could probably recite the histories word for word, ha!) And, I also want to go to New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum–maybe learn more about a practice I’ve been curious about.
In 2017, I wrote a blog post called “A City of Many Colors.” In it, I described how I see NOLA, how I embrace its eccentricities wholeheartedly:
… that is what New Orleans is; she is herself, there is no other way to describe her. She embraces the creepy and weird, the adventurous, the musical, the artistic, the mystical, and makes no apologies about what experiences you may have. She is colorful, extreme, fantastical, and a city with her own thing going. I love every bit of her!
I am a different person than I was in 2017. I lost my dad, I’m working hard to accomplish a future I hope for my family, and I have come a long way in–almost–completing my novel. But I believe these things have made me more secure in who I am; I’ve become more confident in myself, no longer looking to celebrities, cultural norms, or random classifications to define me.
I’m a writer, after all.
I’m secure in me. And New Orleans has always been secure in her.
I’m glad to be back, girl. I’m glad to look upon that lovely city with fresh eyes, filled with strange, dark tales to tell and love–embracing of all different peoples–to be passed around.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler–Let the good times roll!
It’s funny how quickly time passes, especially when you get older. Here we are, headed back to New Orleans yet again! (It’ll be the fourth time for me!) Apparently, it’s going to be an adventure getting down there; tropical storm Cindy made landfall yesterday and the system is headed up here to Ohio. We’ll see if our plane gets delayed or not. Hopefully it won’t be cancelled!
Earlier I had a gent who was replacing my windshield wipers ask me what I love most about New Orleans. I always have trouble pinning down something specific in answer to those questions, but I would say, simply, I love the vibes. As a country gal with a back-door Catholic upbringing, I am not all I seem. I’m always pushing myself, headed on the next adventure; I embrace my eccentric spirit wholly, and, I like to think, people like that about me. I am myself.
And that is what New Orleans is; she is herself, there is no other way to describe her. She embraces the creepy and weird, the adventurous, the musical, the artistic, the mystical, and makes no apologies about what experiences you may have. She is colorful, extreme, fantastical, and a city with her own thing going. I love every bit of her!
This year, I’ll absolutely explore my usual haunts: Cafe Du Monde–BEIGNETS!– Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the Houses of Voodoo, and even the plantations! (It’s been a while since I’ve been to Oak Alley. I’d like to go back!) I’ll also explore some new locations: Kermit’s Treme Mother-In-Law Lounge, recommended to me by Dustin Pari, is definitely on my list. I also want to catch a cemetery tour and see Marie Laveau’s tomb. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.
Scenic shot at Louis Armstrong Park!
My sister-in-law and I at Lafitte’s!
2016 Late Night Beignets!
We’ll see what adventures I go on this time around. I’m sure, though, that it’ll be a fun, relaxing experience, as it has been the past four times! I do adore you, New Orleans.
Sincerely, as I prep for my departure, I am praying for those affected by tropical storm Cindy. May all souls in turmoil find strength, may you be blessed in your rebuilding. And may all those who have passed too soon find their ways to Heaven.
See you guys in a few weeks!
Your turn: What are some of your favorite locations/things about New Orleans? Comment below!
If you’ve ever taken a moment to pause one of my YouTube videos, you’ll find I have a lot of sayings floating around my room.
Roald Dahl’s quotation of “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you…” perches on the wall to my left as I type, while Josh Gates and Tom Hiddleston sayings flash above my mirror in the early afternoon sunlight. And that’s only scratching the surface of my decorated four walls! Whether they’re artwork or sayings from TJ Maxx, paintings friends have crafted, or a mural pieced together by my own hands, each piece of decoration on my wall has its own purpose, its own story to tell.
God, I love being in my room. Some people have told me that it’s too cluttered; that it’s good to clear out some wall space. However, while I have had my purging moments and have been deeply satisfied, my walls are truly a reflection of me.
Heck, whenever I change rooms (or houses), I’ll probably cover those walls with quotes too!
This month, a box quote that occupies the windowsill behind my laptop is particularly reaching out to me. I see it every day; it inspires me not only in adventure but in life.
“The best journeys answer questions you didn’t even think to ask.”
This quote is what I would pick to describe my most recent years. There have been some good, adventurous, life changing moments… and some that have been absolute crap. But all of them have answered questions that I didn’t even think to ask in the first place.
Funny how God works, isn’t it?
This Monday, actually, was an anniversary for me. Two years ago, I started talking to my guardian angel (Zadkiel) and really opened up spiritually. And that’s when things started making sense. It was kind of like a puzzle; I found answers to some weird stuff that happened to me in the past, I gained more confidence in who I was–and in my soul and spirituality–and the pieces all clicked together.
In turn, I started to see the magic in the world around me and I stopped wishing I was somewhere else.
Yes, I did actually have moments in my life where I prayed to God that he would whisk me away to places like Middle-Earth or other alternate realities where I could hang out with characters I loved. Where I could adventure, romance, and just escape the responsibilities of our world. Even at the expense of my own family.
But, now, in the present, I really do love our world, and I’m eternally grateful that I do. I love to explore it, whether through travel or spiritual work. (That’s where I find the magic; the best in human kind.) It’s not solely black and white. You can do something so much deeper than a 9-to-5 job and pay bills. We’re here on this Earth to do important; to love, to live, and maybe even to leave a legacy behind. God has put us all here for a reason, it’s up to us to find it and persevere.
The answers will unveil themselves as long as you’re open to them.
Elton Pope from Doctor Who said it best:
“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”
There’s so much to explore! There’s so many journeys to be had! We only have one life to live, what are you waiting for?
Bonus: a few days ago I published a video about how this past year has been over all with some extra words of encouragement for those going through tough times.
Hip hip hooray!
It’s here at last!
The week I’m in
Good ol’ N’awlins
It’ll be a gas!
– A quick, weird, possibly terrible poem by yours truly!
Yes! The marathon prep has officially ended and I’m boarding a plane to New Orleans! I’m honestly pleased and surprised at all that I got done. It surely gives me perspective of what a to-do list, a lot of elbow grease, and stubbornness can get done! I’m so excited; I haven’t written so much in ages!
Now is time to rest, recuperate, and enjoy the spoils of my hard work!
Honestly, there’s not a lot planned around this New Orleans trip. Really the only activity I reserved is seeing a psychic with my sister-in-law, which, hey, it’s NOLA and I’m always curious about what will be said! I know there’s also talk of visiting the shops (including the voodoo ones), seeing the bayou and going to a plantation, which I haven’t done since 2011. (Unfortunately Myrtles is too far away from the French Quarter, so that’ll have to wait for another time… again!)
Oh, and on another note, I definitely want to see what Pokémon GO looks like down there; maybe I’ll bring home some ghost Pokémon!
All I know is that we’re set to relax and explore, to soak in the wonderful blend of culture that is New Orleans. The music, food, accents, and, of course, legends that surround this place are amazing! It’s such a different vibe from my Ohio hometown, but I truly adore it. Plain and simple: I just love New Orleans!
Hey, also, if you want to soak in some NOLA vibes for yourself, check out the Youtube video I made last year:
I’ll definitely post another video, at some point during my week in NOLA, on my Youtube Channel and I’ll be sharing pictures, of course, over on Instagram which will then feed to my other social media accounts.
Hope you guys have a great week! New Orleans, here I come!
Sitting at my laptop.
Apple cider by my side.
GOOD LORD did the weather turn! Last week I was in 70 degree Gettysburg, this week: FALL!
Yes. YES, ladies and gents! Fall is back in Ohio! That wondrous time of year! Time for spooky! For a midnight walk in the woods! Leaf crunching! Hot drink of choice! Long sleeves! Cuddles! Halloween!
Yes… this is the time of year I enjoy most.
I only wish it had felt like this in Gettysburg. Something about tromping through the battlefields in a light jacket, browsing the historic downtown, crunching the occasional leaf. Well, I mean, some of that I did. However, even though the first day of Fall was last week, it didn’t feel like it until this week. Isn’t that what always happens?
Ah. C’est la vie. I still enjoyed being there.
I got to see urban legend hotspots like the Jennie Wade House, Devil’s Den, and Slaughter Pen. Check out the pictures I took:
I also took part in a public ghost hunt with the Gettysburg Paranormal Association. It’s one of the few paranormal societies I’ve found that offers to take anyone on an investigation. Almost every night of the year… you just have to buy a ticket. ($35 per person for 9PM to 11PM, $65 for 9PM to 12AM) The perk? You get to use their equipment, experience the haunted locations they take you to, and they give you a certificate from the society, saying you were with them. They also mail whatever evidence was caught that night to your home address. Which is also cool.
GPA aims to teach anyone from newbie to experienced investigator the ins and outs of paranormal investigating. Bonus: they expect you to try out the gadgets you see on TV. I personally was excited to try out a Spirit Box, Dowsing Rods, a temperature gun, and even the Flir camera.
I’ll admit: I was absolutely nervous about seeing a random, unexplained energy form on the Flir. But… I didn’t. It’s probably pretty rare. Lovely overactive imagination.
In the end, my tactics of investigation haven’t changed. I still enjoy walking around haunted locations and sensing the room. For me, I know spirits exist. I know there’s Beings out there we can’t explain. It’s exciting. It makes the world so interesting. Yes, I’m excited for the future where I have kids. But to know that the unexplained exists out there… well it just adds spice.
After all, Tolkien himself said:
“… always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’.”
Ah. Speaking of the unexplained, check out this picture:
The purpose of this Gettysburg trip was to get away, by myself, and explore a new location. Whether it be haunted or not. I wanted to have one last exploration before I settled in for the latter part of the year. The time where I really love to be home and write. Plain and simple. Fall brings forward ceaseless inspiration. Honestly, if I didn’t need to sleep or eat, I could probably churn out multiple books in this three month period.
So, now I settle in for the “cold months”, hard at work on my novel’s completion. It will be circulating to agents soon. I can’t wait for you guys to read it!
I’m sitting here, Layover with Anthony Bourdain playing in the background as I write this. His show has really become a favorite of mine. Second only to Expedition Unknown.
Like Josh Gates, Anthony Bourdain celebrates culture. However, he does it through food, while Josh does it through legends. Both are travelers, explorers, intellectuals, and passionate modern historians. With awesome personalities.
Now why is this relevant to my blog post about New Orleans?
First, excuse me.
I’M GOING TO BE IN NEW ORLEANS TOMORROW! FOR A WEEK!!
The first time I went to New Orleans was as a graduation present in 2011. I had my Bachelor’s degree in creative writing, the horizon looked endless, and I wanted to try something new.
Since Halloween 2010, I had really ramped up my interest in the paranormal. Thanks to Ghost Hunter’s Waverly Hills Halloween Special, I had, yet again, started researching into the things that go bump in the night. The things that still made my spine crawl at the possibility. Was that really a draft? Or was the door pushed by something else? What were ghosts? How do people investigate haunted locations?
I marathoned Ghost Hunters and continued my research into the paranormal field.
And then I came across Destination Truth, GH’s “sister show” with host — guess who — Josh Gates.
Yup. Actual quote there.
Long story short, both my interests in paranormal legends and travel were stimulated, as well as, distantly, my writing. Although, I will admit in the years between 2011 and the present, I was less inclined to write… and wanted to explore. After all, isn’t that what all post-college students do? Find themselves outside of the academic world in one way or another?
New Orleans helped me find myself. I discovered that there was a place in the world where people could be exactly who they wanted to be. That helps them discover it, in a place without judgement. In turn, watching all the eclectic, culture-filled people that live in New Orleans makes a person realize that the strongest criticism — the one we listen to and fear — is inside of ourselves.
New Orleans is… just so hard to describe. Seriously. Maybe, in fact, that’s the perfect description of the Southern Culture Hub. Jackson Square is always packed with a combination of tourists and street performers, mystics and shoppers. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can catch a traditional wedding party leaving the St. Louis Cathedral. There’s music everywhere and people dance to it… just because they’re moved to.
(Those are pictures I took in 2011)
But I’m also excited for the people I’m with to experience New Orleans. My brother, Camille, and Dan. As far as I know, they’ve never been there. (If my memory serves correct) And I’m really excited for Dan to experience his first major travel. He’s only had car trips before… so flying and New Orleans is going to be a completely different world for him.
I’m excited to return. To see New Orleans in a different light. New Orleans helped me become myself. The Wondering Writer who isn’t afraid to jump in the deep end.
Well, jeez. In case you guys aren’t following me on my social accounts (which you really should do *snerk*), it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Heck, month. HECK, 2015 ITSELF. Certain things are in motion; I’ve moved on from Fangirlish, and am in the process of leaving Dollar Tree, too. And I’m devoting the ENTIRE SUMMER to my writing — with a little break for vacay in New Orleans. EEE!
I’ve made a video about those changes and will be posting about it later. (The video itself will be posted later today)
This post, however, I’m going in depth with what happened at Ohio State Reformatory.
I do talk about my experiences in both of these videos, but don’t talk much about the “highlights” of the night. (PSA: this will be a loooong post, so I’ll split them up) SO HERE WE GO!
1. Meet + Greet with Josh Gates
Okay. So those who are new to the land of Katie, Josh Gates is a person I hold in high regard. Honestly, he’s my role model (outside of, like, my mom and other family members). I also tend to consider him a colleague. Although while I don’t have 96 countries under my belt, I think he’s a really excellent writer and a very passionate traveler. Which are traits that I possess too. Hence, “role model” and “colleague”.
So I’m in line at Ohio State Reformatory, waiting to meet Josh Gates (again). He’s, of course, the first table at the Meet and Greet. I fish out my copy of the “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” travel journal and present it to Josh. To my astonishment (which, like, I don’t even know why I was astonished: he is a traveler after all!), he starts flipping through the journal. He respectfully bypasses the parts that I’ve written in, which was very cool of him. (Even though he didn’t need to. The entries are only a page long, so they’re mostly full of “OMG I NEED TO GO HERE AGAIN” and “Here’s what we did”)
He stops at “EIGHT PLACES TO FIND THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FEMALES IN THE WORLD” and he starts verbally checking off places he needs to go to, and places he’s been.
Meanwhile, my mind’s going:
What were the places on that list? WHAT WERE THE PLACES ON THAT LIST?!
So I just… kind of… blankly stared… at… him…
Then Josh kind of remembered there was a line, proclaimed “I need this journal” and went back to signing it and taking a photo with me. (I made a mental note, and now have another copy of this journal to give to him next year – yes they are doing it again, and Josh will be there!)
So I go through the rest of the Meet and Greet, FINALLY get to meet Grant Wilson and have him sign “Seeking Spirits” which he co-wrote with Jay. (Jason, you’re next.) To be honest, I was kind of jealous that Dan got all the attention because he wore his “May the Schwartz be with you” t-shirt and Grant and Dustin especially geeked over it.
Here’s the photo-ops of Dan and I with Dustin, Grant, and Josh!
I’ll let you look those over a bit…
… Sweet, huh?
2. Q + A with Josh Gates (and others)
So after the Meet and Greet was over, everyone grabbed a seat for the lectures.
First, Josh HAD to take a group selfie (a la Ellen Degeneres’s Oscars). Hah!
My Q: Have you had any experiences with angels in your investigations?
I was overjoyed that John said “YES”. (Because while the Ghost Hunters believe in the angelic, they haven’t found absolute evidence of them — as far as I know. Which is expected cause ANGELS WILL BE FREAKING ANGELS. And belief is their thing, not proof.)
He went into detail saying that he’s been in situations. Specifically situations where he knew the “Angelic” had come in and “kicked butt” and left. Also he pointed out that angels tended to sound like shrill screeching in his ears. Which… yeah… that’s a thing that’s commonly reported. I mean the angels don’t sound like that to me, though, at all. They’re just like humans talking in my head.
(Zadkiel actually sounds a little like Jared Padalecki to me)
Next up JOSH GATES HIMSELF!! Hehehe. Okay. So THIS experience was THE HIGHLIGHT that kept me going the rest of the night.
Legit, I was SHAKING after this Q.
Q: What advice would you give to someone with low funds who wanted to travel more? (I guarantee to you it didn’t come out that smooth…)
Josh, I swear, LIT UP at my question. His advice came two-fold. “I could rap about this, you and me, for two hours!” He said. (*insert internal fangirl squeeing*)
#1: Take travel out of the “bucket” it tends to get put in to. “Just do it.” Set a goal, go forth!
#2: Get an airlines credit card. Josh confessed he used United because he likes what they did with the merging that happened a few years back.
He even offered to talk to me more about travel — to meet up later and give me more advice. I’m sorry to say that never happened. In hindsight, half of me expected it. I mean, Ideal being the kind of event it is (200+ people vying for Josh’s attention), I probably wouldn’t have gotten more than five minutes with the guy. PAH. Nope. Not even that.
Eh. C’est la vie.
Finally, Grant Wilson, Kris Williams, and Dustin Pari all took the stage together. Man, I have to say: Dustin was a COMPLETE riot! He was so hopped-up on sugar, he kept talking about restaurants and his favorite foods… making even Kris and Grant laugh.
(Sorry Kris about only getting half of you. BLASTED PILLAR!)
Q: What is your favorite story, whether you proved it true or not?
So this question randomly popped into my head. Originally I hadn’t planned on asking any questions at the Q + A. Not even with Josh. But away my brain went! And what else can I do but sate it?
Dustin’s answer consisted of a hilarious tour guide that told the gruesome tale about a father who had strung up his daughter in the dungeon and left her to die. “He was so excited about something so horrible!” Dustin exclaimed.
I liked Kris’s answer. I would’ve felt the same in her shoes. She talked about being in Berlin trenches and how they hadn’t caught a single bit of evidence of a spirit being there. “It was the only time I was relieved at finding nothing.” She said, “because it was a horrible way to die.”
And then there was Grant’s answer. Which amazed the whole crowd. Long story short (and without telling too many details — because this is his story to tell), he had helped solve a missing person’s case in New York City, using an EVP of a woman’s name.
I have to say: I was proud I asked these three that question. Especially with Grant’s. Because there were a couple of follow-up questions to what happened with the investigation. It showed why I like stories, urban legends, and storytelling in general. Tell the right story and it inspires people.
3. Evidence (including The Little Boy Shadow)
Things were quiet for me as we explored the Reformatory that night. I realized I had changed in the past year. As I’ve become more confident, and more spiritually developed, I was less concerned about documenting any paranormal phenomenon. In fact, I just wanted to be there. To be in a haunted location. To exist within the legends that surrounded Ohio State Reformatory. To exist within the story.
Which is why I admire Josh Gates. I think he does that too. Like, yes, everyone wants proof. But it’s less of a mandatory thing.
Still, some things did happen, a little bit in every location:
Here is my evidence video again, so you guys can follow along as you read:
Solitary with Kris Williams. Allison, Dan, and I started in this area. As the group broke off to investigate, I smelled a cigar scent wafting through the hallway.
East Cell Block with Grant Wilson.
On the second floor, Dan and I got an EVP of a prisoner saying “No” when Dan was musing about prison life “Not being so bad.” (Either this was in agreement or opposed to Dan’s comment. Personally I think the spirit was opposed) See my evidence video to hear this EVP.
Meanwhile, Allison was being groped on the first floor. Again. *snickers* Also see my video for an EVP correlating to that.
Administrative Wing with Dustin Pari. OKAY. NOW THIS WAS INCREDIBLE.
So Dan, Allison, and I make our way to this circular room. There’s one door, no windows, and a chair sitting in the center. This has been reported as the “most active room” in the Administrative wing. Allison immediately sits in the chair. I don’t really think anything of it; after all, we’ve been walking for the past couple hours with only brief respites.
What I don’t know is that someone has been singing in the background… and will continue to sing for a good two minutes. (See video) What you’ll hear on said video is me talking about a circular shadow moving across the wall. Nothing had flown in front of my flashlight, which was the only source of light in the room. Weird.
Eventually the singing fades away on my recorder.
But then Allison begins to talk about an “old injury” hurting — her foot. (This is also on the video) Again, later, when I’m at home, I hear the unmistakable sound of a child giggling. Which is absolutely creepy.
Now what isn’t on the video is what I experienced. I had no camera with me and for some reason my recorder stopped before this happened.
Dustin came into the room with a couple. He stood there for a few minutes, conversed with us, and then left. The couple stayed behind. Allison got up from the chair and the female of the couple sat there. The man flicked his flashlight around the room.
And then, silently, all of us turned off our flashlights at the same time and sat in the dark. Silence crept around us.
We sat there for a good minute or so. Our eyes adjusted. Any “imprints” we had on our minds cleared.
Then the man flicked his flashlight on.
And this is what I saw:
I swear. I swear to you. There was absolutely nothing at all to explain this shadow! I was the only one to see it. But I absolutely know what I saw: a small shadow figure, standing two feet away from the wall, in front of this man.
My theory is that this is the same little boy that I caught on my recorder. That he giggled at causing Allison’s injury to act up, and that he was about to prank this man, but I had seen him and brought attention to him, causing the prank to be spoiled.
In any case, Ohio State Reformatory is an awesome place. It is full of rich history, most of it violent and unfortunate, but still rich indeed.
Also if you guys are interested in this event, Ideal Event Management is DOING IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR! (Like I said before!) YEEHAW! I promise you: this event is totally worth the ticket price. Not only do you get to meet Josh Gates and the Ghost Hunters, PERSONALLY shake their hands, but you all get to INVESTIGATE with them!
Get your tickets, before they run out! See you next year, OSR!! Click the image below to go to the event page:
What did you guys think of my experiences? Have you been to OSR before? Do you believe in the paranormal?