One of the benefits of being underpaid, overworked and under-appreciated is two months of paid vacation time and not having to return to work until August 2nd (which happens to be my birthday).
Although this was my fifth year in education, it was my second as a full-time literature teacher. To call it a “sophomore slump” would be an understatement. The past ten months took its toll on me. My kids were difficult, their parents nagging and the administration put plenty of pressure on us all — enough pressure to break many a seasoned teacher, much less this second stringer.
My previous vacations were spent wrapping up a BA in literary criticism. My first open summer without studies was last year, during which time I traveled Europe. That was a truly life-changing journey, and one that stays with me every day. But here I am with a completely empty summer ahead. What am I going to do? Well, I’ve decided that I’m gonna do a lot of writing — short stories and perhaps even an attempt at a novel. I also plan to drink copious amounts of red wine and read plenty of Shakespeare and other books I’d set aside for later.
One piece of planning eluded me, however. Since I’m no longer a member of a paranormal research group, how would I appease my supernatural demons? A summer without an investigation is hardly a summer at all. So, I found a happy medium. In celebration of the life of my soul brother, Dennis Hopper, I’m hitting the road.
I’ll choose top-notch paranormal “hot spots” within a day’s driving distance of Atlanta, fire up the hog (or the 2009 Honda Civic), stuff a bag full of illegal narcotics (or granola bars) and check out each of these locales, hopefully hitting one a week. My stops will be will be spur-of-the-moment decisions, each one occurring spontaneously. That said, here’s are a few places I definitely plan on going:
1) Sloss Furnace – Birmingham, AL: A relic of a steel rendering building from the early 20th-century, the Sloss Furnace is a reminder of an almost forgotten industry. In this locale, shadows are seen at night, people are pushed and slapped by unseen hands and voices are heard throughout the factory.
2) The Old Pink House – Savannah, GA: Once the home of a Confederate general and his family, The Old Pink House has become one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city. Located in Savannah’s time capsule historic district, this building supposedly has shadows that can be seen throughout the basement area (refurbished as a tavern), lights turning on and off on their own, and beer taps opening and closing all by themselves.
3) Chicken Alley – Asheville, NC: When Dr. Jamie Smith walked into Chicken Alley over a century ago to have a drink in a local tavern, he left in a body bag. Since then, the good doctor’s spirit has been seen hustling through the alleyway on more than one occasion. Today, the alley is ground zero for Asheville’s graffiti artists — a gorgeous location in an already amazing Southern city.
4) The Bellamy Mansion – Wilmington, NC: One of my favorite cities. Set on the Atlantic coastline, Wilmington’s beautiful scenery makes it a must-drive-through. The Bellamy Mansion is one of its oldest buildings. The ghosts of an unidentified elderly couple have been seen walking the grounds and second floor for decades.
5) “Hell Church” – Old Canton, GA: This will be one of the most difficult locations to find — “Hell Church” is a lost building set in the middle of nowhere. The only hint is that it’s set in the woods off of a nonspecific point of Highway 140. The building is decrepit, surrounded by headstones from the 1700’s. Rumors have it that Hell Church has been adopted as a Satanic worshiping site, the mutilated body of a boy having been found there in the 1980s. Shadowy figures, screaming voices from the woods and even cases of possession have been reported (I will go during the day).
These five locations will get me started, and I am sure I will choose more. I’ll be sure to post pics to The Contrarian as explore…