Ghost Hunting

David (my son) and I have become very fond of the show Ghost Adventures, which airs every Friday night at 8 pm (CST) on the Travel Channel.  In this show, three film makers lock themselves inside a haunted location overnight, then use recording equipment to obtain some kind of evidence on otherworldly events. 

While the team on Ghost Adventurescan be annoying, they have inspired us to partake in our own ghost hunting. Not overnight and not in very scary places, mind you – I am way too chicken for that. I once visited the House of Torture at Scarborough Faire and was so freaked out, I clung to this strange woman, who in turn clung to me, and we both made it through only because we kept our eyes shut and our mouths screaming. Due to that terror-ific incident, I keep myself FAR away from anything too spooky, including slasher movies and unlit hallways.

No, our ghost hunting is much more mundane. Over New Year’s, David, Raymond and I visited the Fort Worth Stockyards and stayed at the Stockyards Hotel (I give this hotel 5 stars, by the way). We explored around the stockyards station, which consists of old hog and sheep pens that have been converted, for the most part, into restaurants and shops. Towards the now-defunct slaughter houses, however, the original ramps and halls remain pretty much intact. We poked around and caught these “orbs” on camera:

"Orbs" (either disembodied spirits or dust balls) at the animal loading ramp in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

"Orbs" (either disembodied spirits or dust balls) at the animal loading ramp in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

David was pretty excited to have captured what may be evidence from the other side… or evidence of bad air quality.

The next weekend or thereabouts, I took David to Boggy Depot State Park just west of Tushka, Oklahoma, and to Fort Washita, west of Durant, Oklahoma, to do some more ghost hunting. Boggy Depot is now a ghost town, but used to be the seat of the Choctaw Nation, then for a while, the Chickasaw Nation, until the town was abandoned when the railroad bypassed it and the Chickasaw Nation seat moved to Tishomingo. Fort Washita, founded in 1842, served as a supply stop,military depot, was an important camp during the Mexican American War in 1848.  

I had told David about a strange encounter I once had at the Boggy Depot cemetery, where I had smelled perfume around a headstone, and my camera had gone berserk on me. David wanted to see if he could replicate the experience, or at least find some other kind of unexplainable phenomena. I tacked on a visit to Fort Washita simply because I’ve heard a number of ghost stories about Fort Washita from different people over the years.

Nothing happened at all that day, except that it was bitterly cold, and my sunglasses broke when I played on the teeter totter (don’t ask). David did record some strange sounds on his Digital Voice Recorder, but that was it. We took some pretty interesting pictures, though. One gravesite was especially intriguing:

This child's grave at Boggy Depot is strange... the sandstone tombstone is worn down, so a new stone was placed in front of it. That in itself is not strange. Notice the broken lamp, however. Why's that there?

This child's grave at Boggy Depot is strange... the sandstone tombstone is worn down, so a new stone was placed in front of it. That in itself is not strange. Notice the broken lamp, however. Why's that there?

Just below the headstone lie shards of a fairly old, white plate. I could make out the name "Langdon" on it. The name was stenciled on the plate in blue, and then was glazed and fired, so the plate may have been a family heirloom. The deceased boy's last name was Langdon.

Just below the headstone lie shards of a fairly old, white plate. I could make out the name "Langdon" on it. The name was stenciled on the plate in blue, and then was glazed and fired, so the plate may have been a family heirloom. The deceased boy's last name was Langdon.

I don’t quite understand the artifacts.  I do respect that each family has their own unique way of mourning, and this may be remnants of their personal grief. The items are interesting and quite mysterious.

So, we didn’t find any ghosts, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop looking. There are a few more places to seek out wandering spirits around here. ..

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 3:56 am  Comments (5)  

Biking Around DFW

Train Station at Fort Richardson

The Rock Island Depot along the trail at Fort Richardson State Park

I wouldn’t call myself a real cyclist – I don’t wear spandex (Lord help the person seeing me if I did!) and I don’t look for challenging trails and death-defying grades. All I want is a smooth ride, pretty scenery, and relative safety as I travel around on my Sun 3-speed, beach combing bike. Yes, it has a spring-loaded seat, fenders and a basket. I never claimed to be cool.

While I enjoy riding around town on my granny bike, I also like to find quiet trails around DFW. Because I don’t want to do dishes right now, I’ve decided instead to regale my non-existent readers (? Maybe there’s one or two out there…) with a list of the good and not-so-good bike trails I’ve discovered. I’ll add more to the list as time and enthusiasm permit.

  • Texas State Trail between Weatherford and Mineral Wells (with trail heads in between, including at Lake Mineral Wells State Park). The trail is formed from an old railroad bed, so it’s mostly even. You can ride the trail all the way to the old depot at Mineral Wells, which sits in the shadow of the old Baker Hotel. There are many restaurants and stores along the way, but watch some of the road crossings, because motorists aren’t watching for you! Weatherford is 12 miles from the trail head at the state park; Mineral Wells is 6 miles away.
  • Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksboro, Texas: Even if there wasn’t a bike trail, this would still be my favorite state park, because the fort and its history are absolutely fantastic – scenic and interesting at the same time! The bike trail goes up and down some very rugged landscape and winds around Lake Jacksboro in a 12 mile loop. Along the way, interpretive signs and old ruins of bridges, mills, and baptizing facilities offer plenty of diversions. Some weirdness prevails, too, like this one house-on-stilts with a makeshift boat dock where 80s heavy metal is always playing at high decibles; and the airport and runway next to the trail that seem desolate and forgotten.
  • Lake Ray Roberts Greenbelt near Denton, Texas: I’ve been on this trail many times, and while it’s not my favorite – too many trees and not enough points of interest – it’s a great, peaceful ride with level paths and some unexpected wildlife (including cottonmouths). The trail goes all the way from US 380 east of Denton to Lake Ray Roberts State Park, which is about 11 miles all in all. You cannot access  the beach at the lake from the trail, but maps do not make that clear. More than once, I’ve had to tell people who were walking along the trail with beach towels in hand that theirs was a futile endeavor.
  • Chickasaw National Recreation Area at Sulphur, Oklahoma: The trail at this national park is not the best for granny bike riding, but it’ll do.  Lots of hills make this one a challenge, and the trail isn’t very long, either. However, it’s well worth the time because it takes you from the interpretive center to the smelly Sulphur springs from which the town gets its name. Another, foot-only trail leads to two bubbling springs that were encased in overly- enthusiastic stone work by the CCC during the 1930s.
  • Bonham State Park in Bonham, Texas: The park merely surrounds a very small lake and is really nothing to write home about, but the trails make for good mountain biking (rugged, stone-laden, and tight). I prefer a smoother ride where I don’t have to constantly worry about the next obstacle in the way, but to each her own. I did see a lot of insect and arachnid life while I was out there, including large wolf spiders and tarantulas. That’s an endorsement, by the way – I think spiders are cool. The only dangerous spiders in Texas are black widows and brown recluses, so the bigger, hairy ones, while creepy, are fairly harmless, though they may bite!
Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment