Monday, November 10, 2008

A Long Day's Journey into Night...

The past several days have been so jam-packed with things to do that I didn't have time to write about each day as it happened. I will, however, do my best to recap last week and this weekend in a more condensed version.

Wednesday marked my first experience traveling Greyhound. I've always been the "don't knock it 'til you try it" type, so I kept an open mind. The first leg to Columbus was definitely better than I had expected from word of mouth. Few passengers made for a quiet trip, though it was what could be described as a teeth-rattling journey. Every bump on the road seemed exaggerated by the bus, sending a ripple of rattling metal and intense vibration throughout. At times it was a scenic experience, but I was grateful to get off for my brief wait in one of my old home cities.

From there, it was on to Dayton in a packed bus, sitting with a motley mix of people. A younger man sat across from me in a sweat suit, carrying a brown paper bag. Having known a diverse range of people in my life, I knew he had recently been released from prison. He talked on a cell phone, along with a dozen others, while the tinny sound of music escaped from head phones nearby. After more than an hour of journeying, we touched down in Dayton. My friend Earl was there waiting. I met his partner Chuck and unwound at their house near Germantown. After a long day of traveling, much of Wednesday is but a blur. We had ourselves a lovely meal of stroganoff and watched a few old films before retiring for the long day ahead.

Thursday became a day of exploration. With the pleasant weather, we took a bit of a haunted tour of the Dayton region, based on a few notes I had taken prior to departure. We stopped at the old Sorg Mansion and Sorg Opera House to snap some photographs and marvel at the beautiful architecture of the old neighborhood. Sorg House loomed over the skyline like the House on Haunted Hill, with its intricately carved stonework and wrought iron gates. It had recently been sold to an unknown owner, so getting a peek inside was out of the question. We did stop at the local Obama headquarters to chat with the volunteers packing up before heading out for a bite to eat. Later, we went through Woodland Cemetery, home of dozens of fantastic haunted tales, and wandered among the tombstones. The Wright Brothers rest there along with many notable names. And I was quite pleased to see the famous stone of young Johnny Morehouse had been repaired (a vandal had removed the dog's head from the old stone, but it had apparently been recovered and reattached). Back at Earl and Chuck's, I put my culinary skills to work and made chicken paprikash. Even without authentic Hungarian paprika, it turned out splendidly.

Friday was a dreary day, but we managed to wander Germantown Cemetery and have a conversation with the groundskeeper (who debunked the majority of the hauntings) before setting off for Dayton again. Given the shift in temperature, we stopped at a store so I could buy a sweater (I hadn't packed for cooler weather since the forecast I glanced at claimed warmer weather would prevail) before stopping to visit the Patterson Homestead. The museum was open so we had an opportunity to take a tour of the house, given by a nice and (extremely) bubbly guide. Through her torrent of historical information, we did manage to ask a few questions and she was very open to telling her personal experiences of the hauntings and invited me to investigate the place when I return. We grabbed a late lunch near the University of Dayton before returning to their home for some photography and a bite to eat. Earl and I headed out to Miamisburg to pay a visit to Library Park, a former cemetery with a documented ghostly legend from the late 1800s, and stood for a long spell on the steps of the old Carnegie Library chatting about everything under the sun.

Saturday was a more relaxing day. We met with Earl's photographer friend Rich for lunch at Brio in The Greene, chatting about the paranormal and eating what can only be described as a delicious and very filling meal. We spent some time browsing the nearby bookstore (unfortunately, none of the books I was looking for were on the shelves) before Earl and I returned to the quaint countryside near Germantown to get ready for dinner with a few of his friends. There were problems making reservations, but we managed to get a table thanks to the quick thinking of Tim and Trent. We had a splendid time at Tim's birthday dinner, though my shyness did rear its head. Tim and Trent were wonderful people: intelligent, witty, and at times hilarious. I did receive a few jibes for being the youngest one there, which came out more so later at Tim And Trent's house during a brief tour of their abode (Trent pointed out various celebrities in photographs who had been famous "before I was born" and smartly commented with a smirk that I could Google the names later). We munched on ice cream and cookies and chatted about spooks (they believe their house is haunted) and politics before returning to Chuck and Earl's to hit the sack.

I bid farewell to Chuck and Earl on Sunday before heading back north on the packed Greyhound bus. During my three-hour layover in Columbus, I had coffee and pastries with clairvoyant Rebecca Muller and her husband. The were both very nice people great to converse with regarding hauntings, orbs, and everything else. They noted how dead downtown Columbus has become and grumbled about the stupidity of the city's drivers as we weaved around closed roads and orange barrels. We spoke of famous hauntings and TAPS blunders before I returned once more to the station for my final bus... and not a moment too soon, for they began boarding only minutes after I arrived. A few hours later, I found myself in rainy Akron again, headed north and grabbed a quick bite to eat before collapsing into bed.

Overall, it was an incredibly wonderful experience. Both Earl and Chuck were gracious hosts and excellent conversationalists. The friends which I had the pleasure of meeting were all just as witty, fun, and whimsical. Of course, as is often the case with travel, there never seemed to be enough time for everything, but I know it won't be my final visit. Yes, Dayton is an imperfect city, but it has its gems. I took from it some very fond memories and plenty of things to contemplate. The tarot readings Earl and I exchanged on Sunday morning were quite interesting and enlightening as well. It may take me a while to digest the entire journey, but it was a welcomed break from the monotony I sometimes find myself trapped in.

But now, it's time to get back to work...


artsyguy said...

I already miss your wonderful, stimulating, uplifting presence, Ken, but our ghosthunting together those few days was a magnificent experience, & I already look forward to more sometime in the near future. I can also safely say your visit broke up the monotony of my usual crazy life, so much gratitude for that as well--as you say so well, back to work....xoxo

Jeanne said...

Sounds like you had a great time, kiddo. Hope it recharged your creative batteries!