Monday, October 20, 2008

Put your Foot on the Breakers!

How does this happen? You write this articulate, witty, interesting piece of prose and than it vanishes out of thin air? I guess I just need to learn the ins & outs of Blogger and I'll get it right eventually.

The vanishing is quite apropos, I suppose, since this weekend was spent in Providence and Newport Rhode Island, highlights being mansions and ghost tours.
At any rate, to save you from reading my complaints of vanishing blogs, I'll instead entertain my readers with interesting stories of quintessential weekend escapes to New England in autumn. One of the biggest sacrifices I've made since living in New York has been my car. Just didn't feel like dealing with "alternate side of the street" and "no standing" rules and other vernacular that doesn't make any sense to my friends who don't live here. I've been sans wheels since 2002, so it is a real treat to be able to rent a car and follow the clan of "leaf watchers" north on I-95 for a brisk autumn weekend. So we got on the highway (more like a parking lot) and not dissimilar to a herd of cattle searching for the best grass, we followed the rest of the city dwellers bumper-to-bumper up to New England.
I love driving, but my friends tease me that I do not brake for things that I should. Things like red lights and stop signs and red arrows. But I thought those rules didn't apply anymore once you are out of the city and out of harm's way? Who knows. All I know is that I have a safe driving record and I get us where we need to go quickly even if there is traffic. Ask ANY single one of my friends and they will tell you my pet peeve is being late and people who are late. I am always on time and expect others to be as well. So if you've got a meeting with me, use your brakes sparingly!

The ghost tour was fun, but compared to the tour I took in Albuquerque over labor day weekend, the Providence one left a lot to be desired. I did capture some orbs (I'll explain in a minute), but the New Mexico tour was smaller, the streets were more deserted, the alleyways were more narrow, and the atmosphere was much darker and creepier. I might as well have seen dead bodies slumped over in the corners of the buildings, rotting away as fog rolled over.

But the Providence tour was interesting and I did learn some cool history. We learned about ghosts of famous Rhode Islanders like Roger Williams and Edgar Allen Poe. We learned the morbid little tale of Poe and his girlfriend who was Goth before Goth was cool. While all of her lady friends were wearing perfume to impress the gentlemen callers, she was wearing ether to ward off evil spirts. Sounds like a match made in heaven (hell?) for Poe, ehh? I love Poe and his fascination with the macabre. Which is probably why I love these ghost tours so much (I've done Savannah, Albuquerque and now Rhode Island.....and also the Jack the Ripper tour in England, even though that wasn't really a ghost tour. Still fits in the dark macabre category.)

Another interesting story was that of Samuel Slater who was dragged to his death by trolley down a steep slope leading downhill to Benefit Street. Legend has it that he haunts the area. (Okay, I have to admit before I go on- it wasn't really Samuel Slater....it was some other famous ghost of Rhode Island past, but I wasn't paying close enough attention on the tour. If anyone does know who this ghost was, please leave a comment.)
So what is an orb, you ask? An orb is an energy, a very loose form of a ghost, which appears as a circle in digital photography. First, it is important to know that I am a HUGE skeptic of such things. But after analysis of my camera and attempting pictures at supposedly non-haunted areas, I am reasonably convinced that these orbs are real. The best way to do it is to go to areas that people claim to have had strange things happen (cold temperatures, strange figures, an uneasy feeling, etc.) and start shooting photos. If you try this at home, however, be sure not to confuse orbs with dust, rain, or light, because all of these things leave similar looking circles.



This particular photo was taken in front of a building at Brown University that used to be an infirmary during the Revolutionary War. The building is allegedly haunted and people have strange things happen to them while they are there.

Also during my weekend my friends and I took a tour of the "summer cottages" (i.e. mansions) of the Vanderbilt's and the Astors.

The Vanderbilt's is by far the most impressive of Newport. They only lived at this 282729020 room mansion for two months of the year and they shipped in the ornate woodwork and decor from France to resemble the Italian Renaissance. Their mansion is called "The Breakers" and they call it this, because you can hear the breakers of the Atlantic ocean, crashing into the rocky New England shore.

The Astors had an interesting tour too, because everyone there was dressed in character and behaving as if the year were 1891. So they warned us not to ask John Jacob about the Titanic if we ran into him, because he didn't go down with the ship until 1912 and we might freak him out a bit to let him know of this tragedy in advance! The tour guide also noted that my friend Holly and I were quite progressive with our Turkish Trousers!

On that note, I suppose I should get back to the grind and work my Turkish trousers off. Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend.

PS- For those of you who have asked, YES, I DID mean to spell "rime" that way.....ever heard of Samuel Taylor Coleridge? Ever heard of "old English"?

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