Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 2: Plantations in Saint Francisville.

Early on December 28, Lindsay, Avery and I woke up to start our journey! Unfortunately Shannon had to work today and the next day :(

There were a few plantations we wanted to see. They were located in Saint Francisville, an hour north of Baton Rouge. Lindsay and I headed up! On the way there it started to rain. And when I say rain, I mean it POURED! And when I say it poured, I mean it really poured. It was one of those rains where you have to drive 30mph because there is no visibility. The only thing we could see was white. Everything was just white. After a while it let up a little. While this was happening Avery fell asleep. So, instead of doing Plantation tours right off the bat, we decided to drive to the plantations and scope out which one we wanted to do a tour of.
The grounds at Rosedown Plantation. 

Lindsay with her scarf on her head
and camera in the plastic bag !
Lindsay and I soaked after a nice down pour! 
Although we couldn’t get out and explore due to the rain, it was pretty neat because we got a feel for Louisiana and the down pours! The biggest trademark of Louisiana that I took note of was the Oak trees. They had these branches that sprouted from low down on the trees that stretched out creating a large, spread out canopy. The most interesting thing about most of these trees is that they appear to have moss growing on them! And to my surprise it actually is moss! It is called Spanish moss! It is found growing on trees in the swamp due to the swamps heavy rainfall and high temperatures! These trees will grow along roads, their limbs hanging over creating a bridge while dripping their moss off of them! It is nothing like I have seen before! But like I was saying before, the rain made this trip. It was a hot rain, so I felt like I was in swamp land! Lindsay and I got out to explore a few times. We wrapped scarfs around our heads and prepared for the rain. Those scarfs did not last too long in the pouring rain, but it was the thought that counted! We even wrapped our cameras in plastic bags so we could run around in the rain! Oh how fun it was!

The first plantation we went to was the Rosedown Plantation. We still were not used to the mossy oak trees, so we had to stop and take a bunch of pictures of the road leading down to the plantation. Us Missouri girls are not used to this site!

Since we were just scoping it all out, we headed off to see other things! There is a historic downtown in Francisville, so we headed there next. There were the historic homes, and the cute, old shops, but my favorite discovery was the Grace Episcopal Church.

                                                                                     It was an old brick church with a metal fence out
front and mossy, oak trees looming over the whole building. Also, surrounding the whole church was a graveyard. All I hear about Louisiana and the south in general is that there is a lot of history. And history brings ghosts too! I did not want to stir up anything, so I snapped a few pictures while walking around and headed back. It was a good thing too! Like I said, it was pouring! First of all, the grounds at the graveyard were mostly flooded. I could hardly walk anywhere! Secondly, by the time I got back to the car, I was completely soaked and the down pouring picked up again!

Avery's sock over the heater. 
Avery got out too! We found out quickly that his snow boots were not waterproof… good thing we tested this out before Colorado! His socks were soaking wet, so we blasted the heat and put his socks over the vents. We are pretty crafty!

Next we headed to Myrtle Plantation. Lindsay and I both decided that we normally don’t like tours of places like this because they give you boring facts about the history and people you don’t know. But this place is a little different… It has been named one of the most haunted houses! Our interest in this tour changed just a bit after hearing this! After a measly $8, we were on our way! We did not do the mystery tour, but our tour did include a few ghost stories!

We started out on our tour with a few other people in the entrance room of the house. This was the only room where people are allowed to take photographs. Nothing really caught my eye besides the chandler that huge in the middle of the room! Next we moved onto one of the bedrooms, the Ladies room, Gentleman’s room, and the dinning room. Through each room we were given a brief history of each of the owners and what they did.

But that is not what we were there for… We wanted to hear the ghost stories! And here they are! Keep in mind that I am just repeating what I heard from the tour, so some of the information might not be exactly correct and there are several versions of the story as I have found while researching. Also keep in mind that this material may not be appropriate for all audiences... They are ghost stories after all! 

There are two main stories that I thought were significant. First, the Woodruff’s.

Mr. Woodruff lived at the Myrtle Plantation with his wife, and three kids; two of which are twins. Everything was going swell until Mr. Woodruff decided to have an affair with a slave girl, Chloe. He also made Chloe the nanny for his children having her stay in his house. Chloe, for one reason or another, loved to eavesdrop. Every chance she could, she would listen into Mr. Woodruff’s personal and business conversations… Until one day, Mr. Woodruff flung the door open and there was Chloe! As a punishment, Mr. Woodruff had one of Chloe’s ears cut off! She from then on wore a scarf around her head to cover up her missing ear. She was also kicked out of the house and moved across the land. Chloe plotted a way to get back into the house. The twin’s birthday was coming up, so she decided to bake a cake… and add a little bit of oleander, a poisonous plant to the mixture! Her intentions were to get the children sick so she would be invited back into the house to nurse the children back to health... by not poisoning them anymore. Well, she accidently put too much oleander into the cake and killed the twins and their mother. This stirred up everyone in the town because Chloe murdered two innocent children. Chloe was ordered to be hung. After her hanging she was thrown into the river. As they say… this was the perfect making for a ghost!

The second story: The Winters'.

One Friday night, he was at the plantation. Now, during a Friday night at this time, many people would be on the plantation; the slaves, guests, the whole family. Everyone. Mr. Winters was sitting in the gentlemen’s parlor room when he heard a horseman ride up onto the property. The horseman knocked on the door saying he needed the lawyer for business matters. Mr. Winters walked up to the door and was shot by the horseman. The horseman then ran off into the night and was never seen by anyone on the plantation. Mr. Winters desperately wanted to see his wife for the last time. So, he staggered across the gentlemens' parlor  room, across the ladies’ parlor room and made his way up the stairs, one at a time. Almost to the top of the stairs, he clasped and died on step number 17.

To bring it back to present day, here are some more stories: 

For tax purposes, the current owner of the house was walking around taking pictures of the properties. She was using a film camera, so you can imagine how long ago this was. When she had those photos developed, she noticed a figure standing in-between two buildings. She took the photo to a photo analysis who added contrast to the photo in order to bring the figure out. The photo analysis then measured the figure. The figure stands 5 feet tall and appears to be wearing a scarf around her head. Another thing that popped out when the photo analysis added the contrast is two more figures in the pictures. Outside of the children’s room, there appears to be two children sitting on the roof. Spooky! 

One of the rooms in the Myrtle plantation can be rented out. There are other rooms on the land that can also be rented out, but they are slave courters or additional houses that were built. So, when someone rents out the Myrtle Plantation room, they are the only people that have the key to the whole entire building! Most people will report hearing footsteps up the stairs. Some people will open the door only to find that no one is to be seen. Some people will count the footstep, but never has anyone counted more than 17 steps.

Another interesting factor about this plantation is the haunted mirror! If there was a funeral in someone’s house, they would cover all of the mirror with a sheet. The reason being is that when the soul leaves the body if it sees itself in the mirror it is said to get stuck in the mirror… making it haunted! There have been plenty of deaths in that house! The mirror appears to have several hand prints on it. Some say they can see a face in the mirror. One of the owners of the house ordered to have the dirty mirror cleaned. The mirror was wiped down; no luck. So, he took it down, stripe all the silver off the back of it, and put new silver on. He hung it back up and a few days later all of the hand prints appeared again. Like my tour guide said, if they are not on the front and they are not on the back, then they must be in the middle.

People have reported seeing ghost-like figures in their pictures of the mirror. Some say there are children on the stairs. There is a statue of a women’s head on the ledge in front of the mirror. One person took a photo and when they went to go look at that photo again, the women appeared to be looking off in a completely different direction.

Of course Lindsay and I snapped a few pictures of the mirror hoping to catch a glimpse of something. When Lindsay and I got back to Shannon’s house we were looking through Lindsay’s pictures which were uploaded on to my computer. Lindsay took seven pictures of the haunted mirror. One of them was really blurry, but the others were fine. We inspected the photos, but did not seem to see anything.

So the big question is: did we feel anything while we were there? Well, I have a few stories to tell!

Lindsay was the one who drove to the plantation, so she started to search her purse for the keys… and she couldn’t find them. She took out everything in her purse and still no where to be found. I thought for sure that they were be in the ignition of the car, or even worse that the car wouldn’t be there! We walked out into the parking lot and the car was still there, but no keys! And Thank goodness because the car was locked!

So, we retraced our steps. When we got there we immediately went to the bathroom, then I took Avery to the balcony of the house while Lindsay went back to the car to get something. Then Lindsay met up with us and we proceeded to buy our tickets and then started the tour. So, we checked the bathroom, nothing there. We made sure that we did not drop them while walking, so we walked exactly where Lindsay did. We went back into the room where we bought our tickets. Our tour guide was in there and we asked him if someone found any keys. He said that no one reported any missing keys. Lindsay thought that maybe she dropped them while she was looking at all of the gifts. So she started picking up some of the candles she looked at and the candy canes. They were no where to be found. After a few minutes, we found them. And where were they? Underneath one of their thick record books on the front desk… So, is possible that Lindsay put them on the counter and left them there? Yes, but how they got underneath that book is still a mystery to me!

Another small thing that happened while we were there… It happened after we lost the keys. We went into the house where we bought the tickets. Lindsay was ahead of me, so I closed the door behind me. When I closed it I was facing into the room, away from the door. I heard it make a noise and I automatically thought that the door just clicked, but did not close all the way. I turned around expecting the door to be open, but to my surprise it was tightly closed! I did not think that much of it. When we left, again I was the one closing the door. As I closed it, I looked at it to make sure that it was closing all the way. I shut it all the way and took my hand off of the handle. As soon as I did, the door opened. It moved maybe just an inch and then slammed close again. I am not sure why that happened. Maybe it was the pressure in the house or somehow the wind of something, all I know is that it was weird. It was almost like someone didn’t think I was doing a good job of closing the door and felt like they had to do it themselves. 

Those are my only stories I have that happened on the plantation, but it gets better! About a week after we went to go visit the myrtle plantation, Lindsay, Avery, Shannon and I were driving through New Mexico (“the land of enchantment.” It really has nothing to do with this story besides that this state is creepy anyhow). Lindsay was sitting in the back looking through her photos. And then she said “Why are there a bunch of black photos on my camera?” Sure enough there were six completely black photos... all of them were pictures of the haunted mirror. The only one left was the blurry one! Lindsay went through all of her other photos to see if there were any other black ones and there was only one. That photo was one of the photos we took outside of the plantation of ourselves! Lindsay pressed the “zoom in” button on her camera to view the thumbnails of the photos.  They had an “I” icon on all of the black photos. The photos were corrupt. The camera did not recognize them!! And this happened afterwards! They were on her camera at one point! Although I know that sometimes photos can become corrupt, it was just a little odd that the only time this has happened to Lindsay is when she was at the haunted house taking pictures of a haunted mirror…

I would advise everyone to go on this tour to see what they think! Or better yet, go on the ghost tour at night, if you dare!

Want to see if you can find ghosts in the pictures I took? Check them out here:
They haven't been touched by a photo editor!

In my next blog I talk about day 3. Lindsay and I head to New Orleans! Don't worry, things didn't get crazy... except we did get caught sneaking into a graveyard... 

The Awesome Trip.

The awesome trip is a three week (alright, almost three weeks) road trip I took with my sister, Lindsay, and my two year old nephew, Avery. We started it off by going down to Baton Rouge where are friend Shannon lives. We picked her up and headed out West!! We made several stops in Texas; Austin, Dripping Springs, and Sonora before we headed to Lordsburg, New Mexico for a night. It started to snow so we quickly went to warmer weather; Arizona!! First we went to Tucson and then to Phoenix. In Phoenix Shannon flew back home and Kaare, my brother-in-law and Lindsay's husband flew in. From there we headed to Sedona, Arizona and then to Las Vegas where Kaare's brother and sister-in-law live, Brennan and Katie. Next, we found ourselves in cold weather; Colorado! After a few short days we headed home to Missouri! 

Day one: Drive down to Baton Rouge.

To start off day one, Lindsay and I woke up early (8am is pretty early for me) in order to pick up the rental car and pack it up. 8am was apparently sooo early for me that I slept in until almost 9. This is why you don’t set your alarm at 3 in the morning. 

We used Hertz for our rental car. I was extremely surprised to find out that Hertz was at least $100 cheaper than any of the other rental places around us, and they had a great Triple A discount! I reserved the rental online with a quoted price.

Ford Fiesta! 
 Now, I was "quoted" a price, but it said that it could change at any time. I was skeptical. I thought for sure that we were going to get there and that Hertz was going to find something to charge us extra for! And I was right! We had the option to bring the car back with a full tank or we could pre-purchase 10 gallons (a full tank for our car) right then. The price per gallon was actually 10 cents cheaper than any gas station around us! They did sneakily make up pay more, but it actually saved us money!

There were three cars for us to choose from; a hatch back (way too small), a Ford Fiesta, and a Ford Focus. The guy working also tried to tell me that Ford Focus’s get better gas mileage than Ford Fiestas. Little did he know that I am a freak about my gas mileage and already knew off hand that that cannot be true. I have never heard anything good about Ford Focuses. So Ford Fiesta it was!

Ford Fiesta in the Mountains! 
Lindsay jumped in the car and quickly noticed that the front seat was awkwardly folded forward. She used the lever to push it back to a comfortable angle, but there was no budge! She then walked around the car to check it out. After a quick look around the car, it was very apparent that the tires were balding. She brought this to the attention of the worker and he simply said that all cars go through regular maintenance. He would not even acknowledge that there was a problem.

We inspected the tires and actually found out that they are not as bad as the originally appeared. They were only bald on the outside which could indicate an off alignment. Regardless of whether or not the tires were bald or if the alignment was off, Lindsay declared that she could not drive the car when the seat was in the position it was! I had to see for myself, so I sat in the front seat and tested it out. Sure enough the seat was practically folded and the lever did not do a thing! We were contemplating what our options were. Could we just get used to the seat? Were we going to have to trade it in for another car?  Meanwhile we were both trying to see what we could do for the seat when one of us pulled a different lever and the seat moved back! And everything was fixed!
View on the drive down. Compliments of my iPhone! 

The problem with the balding tires, besides the fact that they were balding and dangerous anyways, is that we were driving through Colorado. Everyone was already giving us trouble for taking an economy car to Colorado's mountain hill! We decided to watch the tires and if they were too bad, we would have to go to Hertz to get another car before we went to Colorado. Done! Everything was all good now and we started to pack away!

My little Kia Rio. Gorgeous, I know.  

Now, the main problem with this car, something we would have to battle the whole time is the size. We rented an economy car which meant that it was tiny. My tiny Kia Rio is way bigger than this car. We packed for a three week road trip anddd we were camping. That is a lot of supplies! There would be three adults and a child at all times in this car (except the drive to Baton Rouge). There was not much room to spare. We had to pack the bare minimum and still did not have very much room.

Welcome to Arkansas! One of the four states
 we drove through. Again, compliments of my iPhone! 
The drive down to Baton Rouge was not bad since we did have a seat open! And the drive seemed to fly by! On the way down Lindsay and I discussed what we should name the car. We could not figure it out just then…. I also managed to lose my sunglasses that day. Really the first day? But I am not complaining because last year I dropped my camera first thing on the trip..

The next day is about our first day in Baton Rouge. I talk about the plantations Lindsay and I went to go visit... and it includes a GHOST story!! It is not advisable for all audiences, but those who love a good ghost story (or a few) will love it! 
Mirror pictures from Mrytle Plantation. Do you see any ghost? 

Want to hear the story behind these photos?? Check out this blog: