Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Abandoned Houses

While on a weekend trip to Ohio last weekend, I made a pleasant discovery. Thanks to phones with the ability to access both web pages and navigation systems, it is easy to look up attractions coming up along your travel route. This allows me to combine travel with another favorite of mine: ghost towns and abandoned houses. I actually located a ghost town along our route, North Milan, and we stopped by. Disappointingly, there’s relatively little to see- just a small small graveyard. I don’t think my husband was very impressed with his first ghost town, but we’ll keep trying. I’ve been interested in ghost towns for maybe a couple years now, but my fascination with abandoned houses is really a life-long obsession.

When I lived in Walla Walla, there was an old house on a lonely road surrounded with the most beautiful weeping willows. The inside of the house was pretty much ravaged and destroyed, but out back I find a small camper that was untouched. Inside were the various accouterments of camping life- including a toothbrush, comb, blankets. That was one of my first experiences with a truly abandoned house. The house is now completely gone and a brand new housing complex has gone up in its place.

While in Mexico on our honeymoon, my husband and I took a walk down Meroma beach and found an interesting abandoned house alongside the half-finished and elegant two-story open concrete structure with a purpose that we couldn’t quite determine (House, resort, theater?  From what we later saw people saying on forums, it was going to be a private home, but money ran out during construction. This is, however, only one of several stories going around).  We did take a few pictures, but this couple actually used the place as a stage for their wedding photography.

A few weeks ago while biking nearby our neighborhood, we passed an abandoned house almost invisible past the trees and overgrowth along the side of the road. We didn’t have lights to see inside (the windows were all boarded up), but we did poke around outside, where there was a full tennis court and a couple of outbuildings.

After discovering various websites dedicated to listing various ghost towns around the country, I began to wonder if there was such a following for abandoned houses as well. It’s easy to find a few abandoned houses nearby, but if there was some sort of list for places you might pass by while traveling, that would be even better!

Anyway, I have begun to search for such a thing- and yes it does exist!- and have so far found a really interesting site for abandoned houses in Ohio. I go to Ohio every once in awhile since one of my best friends lives there, so maybe I’ll be able to visit some of these places soon.  Not Mudhouse Mansion, though, as the current owner seems to be a little too likely to call the police on anyone who tries to explore her decrepit property….  Franklin Castle, considered the most haunted house in Ohio, seems a little more promising.  I’m disappointed by the author of the site’s inability to find the secret passageways when he explored the house, though.  I’d have to say that that would be the biggest pull for me.  I LOVE the idea of secret passageways, rooms, whatever! The sad thing that I keep coming across, however, is that many of these houses, even the ones that some people were just recently able to explore, have since been torn down or in some way been made inaccessible.

I will definitely search for abandoned houses in my area to explore, and I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, enjoy the tales of this Ohio explorer as he tells stories of his exploits in some of the most famous (and haunted) houses in his state.

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November 26, 2010 Posted by | Abandoned Houses, Franklin Castle, Ghost Towns, Mudhouse Mansion, North Milan, Secrets Maroma Beach | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mr(s). Clean

It might take me less than 1.66 years to become this....

I’ve always been a person who likes neatness, cleanliness, order, and organization. In my first apartment I just happened to have a roommate who was even more fond of neatness, cleanliness, order, and organization than I. Belongings left in common areas for more than 2.2 hours would magically appear in a pile in front of my bedroom door, once a week cleaning was of supreme importance, and I swear that she would clean the bathroom after me sometimes when she might have thought I didn’t do a good enough job. All of this sort of solidified the neat clean person in me and I became a beast (for those of you who realize that I’m exaggerating, try not to blow my cover). My next roommate was quite the opposite of the first, and suddenly I was experiencing a reversal of roles as I played the cleaning Nazi to my unsuspecting new comrade (no pun intended). :S (She later became more conscientious about household chores than I, for which I do not wish to claim responsibility)

Thankfully I have been able to temper my preferences after years of learning that when living with others, their style of keeping house may not coincide with my own (and reminding myself that I’m not married to them, thank goodness), and that that’s ok! (The differences part, not the married part, though that really is ok too… I’ll just quit now…)

When I move to Michigan, however, I’ll be living on my own without roommates for literally the first time in my life. Without the necessity of tweaking my insanity in order to coexist with other women sharing my kitchen, I have semi-terrifiying visions of myself turning into a hyper-vigilant neat freak, bent on keeping every speck of dust in its rightful place. I can only imagine how my cat would suffer with her long luxurious fur which might look a little dusty to a wild cleaning eye. There would be benefits, of course, such as the gleam in my boyfriend’s eye as he gazed with approval on the evidence of my superior housekeeping skills, but do I really want to go there? Giving in to the neat freak psychosis would make living with someone else again all the more difficult. I’d really like to plateau somewhere between Anal Angie and Sloppy Suzy. My worries about this aren’t tempered at all by my recent frenzy of organizational escalation. People, the other day I, seriously, I organized all my shirts, sweaters, and dresses by color in the order of the rainbow!!! For some of you this may be normal, but I have NEVER done it before. If I start alphabetizing my drawers, I may have to check myself into the psych ward. I lie awake at night envisioning my new home and in my mind it’s the vision of perfection and cleanliness. This vision blocks out the fact that I have pets, am clumsy, get lazy, and am easily distracted.

On the other hand, and this is much more comforting, perhaps the renewed urgency for organization is a symptom of moving. I do believe it’s a lot easier to know what I have and where it is, and to decide what I do and don’t need to haul across the nation, when it’s all nicely organized, alphabetized, colorized… Is anyone with me on this? Before I go on a trip- before I even begin to pack for a trip- I feel a deep deep need to clean and straighten. Then it’s so simple to pluck certain items from their natural habitat and pack them neatly away into their suitcase. I have a friend who’s boyfriend seems obsessed with deep cleaning the car before taking a roadtrip, so I think I may be onto something here. My mother also spends the wee hours of the morning before any trip doing everything she can possibly think of to do that she has written on a massive list (and it will make your head spin around in perfect circles). I must have gotten some of that genetic material from her. Recently this phenomenon has been directed toward my clothing, but I expect it to spread shortly to other areas of my living environment, maybe to my food pantry (that’s an extremely glorified term for what I have) or (oh NO!) bookshelves! I’ll keep you updated. It’s always my dream, though, before embarking on any kind of travel, to achieve ultimate organization and cleanliness… a goal that always seems just barely out of reach….

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Love for Travel, or Travel for Love?

I’m excited about my entire Christmas holiday.  At first, I was a bit aprehensive.  My ex-boyfriend is coming to my parents’ house with me for five days and I was worried that people wouldn’t understand what was going on and that it would be awkward for me, him, or those unknowing somebodies.  Now I’m just sad he’s not staying longer.  I haven’t brought a friend home for years.  It’s exciting!  Anyway, I’m toying with the idea of giving you some background information here.  I usually never include material regarding my love life in this blog, but sometimes I wonder if that’s a mistake.  It is, after all, the most noteworthy aspect of my life in some respects.

I shared some of my thoughts on heartbreak recently with my friend Midori, and she put it her dating advice blog. I think love and travel will always go together in a way. Whether it’s the brief encounter with an exotic stranger or the poignant correspondence with a love you pine for at home, even those who travel to escape love cannot really do so.

For those of you who read my Poland blog, what you didn’t know was that I left out a long and dramatic love affair- so long, in fact, that it far outlasted the span of my year in Poland. I think it has lasted for longer than either of us had originally imagined. While I was there in the land of cold sea breezes and cauliflower soup, I resumed conversations with the boyfriend I had left behind when I graduated from college and fled North America. The lengthy late-night/early-morning international phone calls rekindled a romance (had it ever really died?) and by February I knew that I was really in love. I dreamed of the day when we’d be face to face and I could tell him how I felt. Two months before I was set to return home and after one of the most romantic gestures I had ever received, we were once again a couple and I knew that he was in love too. Happily. …Or so I thought.. until two weeks later when I got that “we need to talk” phone call and it was suddenly and agonizingly over. He was simply driven by inexperience and fear at that point, but I couldn’t understand and it made the last few weeks in Poland extremely difficult. Having a broken heart and in the comfort and familiarity of home is nothing to having it ripped out in a foreign and largely unfamiliar land. A part of me wanted to stay, though, as I wasn’t returning home to the happily-ever-after that I had envisioned, but instead to a cold and uncertain reality. It’s impossible to describe the many ways in which this situation affected my year abroad. Or the ways in which it has shaped my life since then. Love has such an impact on every aspect our lives, not the least of which are our decisions to travel. I have friends whose travel is actually directly propelled by the need to escape love (or the loss of it, rather).

Through all of the drama of getting together and breaking up, dating other people, and living on different continents, this college boyfriend and I have a friendship that has triumphed and come out stronger than ever before. About a year ago we broke up for the last time and I finally decided that it was time for me to go on with my life, to stop opening myself to the pain that our relationship kept inevitably causing me. After three years, he just couldn’t seem to figure out what he really wanted and I thought it cruel to allow myself to wait any longer. It was no big surprise, however, that he remained one of my closest friends. We have a friendship that defies all the norms, all the expectations. That is probably why when he told me this fall that he not only was still in love with me, but was ready to offer me his heart without fear, I had to carefully consider him once again.

This Christmas is partly an attempt to redo a bit of the past, to do some of the things we wish we’d done then. And it’s partly a chance to reconsider the decisions I thought I’d set in concrete. They say that you learn so much about a person when you travel with them. if you knew just how strong a bond he and I share, you’d understand my hesitance to throw it all away- especially when he’s doing everything right, every single little thing…

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vacation Draweth Nigh!

In just four days I’ll be getting on a plane and I’m fairly itching with anticipation. It’s like that feeling you get when you’re on the phone with your mom and you’ve been talking about 1.75 hours and your boyfriend is there and you need to say goodbye but she wants to tell you one last (really lengthy) thing, and you just want to hang up and jump into Mr. looking-hot-today’s arms already. Or when you’re sitting in class, there are just two lousy minutes left on the clock, you’re thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch because you’re STARVED, and the teacher decides to “quickly” cover the last couple of slides in his powerpoint, which are loaded with tons of information that you’d like to blow off but know you should really pay attention to and even write down.

There are three days left of work in the lab, three days of wrapping presents and packing and cleaning. I’d rather spend those three days playing in the fresh snow that fell last night, baking Christmas cookies, and sitting in front of a fire watching Christmas movies. Alas, it is the real world and I have responsibilities.

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming Soon….

Next month I’m doing some more traveling! 😀  Nothing too exotic- just a family trip to Texas and Missouri over Christmas…. with my ex-boyfriend!!! And after that- Disneyland! With…. the aforementioned ex……

I’ll keep you posted!

November 21, 2008 Posted by | United States | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Riding Greyhound- Day 3

Last night I finally got so sick feeling and tired that I laid all our luggage down in the bus station and sprawled out across it. And I actually fell asleep. Around 1am we finally reboarded our bus. I was so thankful to be one of the few people on the bus without a seatmate. Unfortunately, my sister had someone sitting next to her, which made me feel really guilty. Still, I fell fast asleep for about four and half hours until a stop woke me. The woman sitting next to my sister moved to another seat, so she got to sleep some too, and I slept again for three hours. I’m currently in Boise, Idaho. When we were driving in, I looked around and saw how “northwest-ish” it looked and this powerful feeling of home swept over me. I felt happier than I ever believed I would to be close to Walla Walla again. Our bus is still about an hour and a half late, but we’re close now, so it almost doesn’t matter. Everyone looks happy and refreshed in this part of the country. I feel happy and refreshed. I met a woman who got on the bus in West Virginia, has been on for three days, and has to get back on Saturday.

There is seriously no limit to what might happen on Greyhound. A non-US citizen from, well, some other country, who speaks only Spanish was called off the bus along with a translator this morning. After a few minutes the bus driver came down the aisle, “Ok, which one of you jackasses stole this here man’s wallet? He’s not a citizen and all his papers are in there!” It came to light very quickly that the “jackass” had thrown the wallet down the toilet. A flashlight was found and the offending article was fished out and deposited in a plastic bag, after which items that had fallen out of the wallet were also fished out. Needless to say, much laughter and expressions of disbelief surrounded the event. It added to our hour and a half delay.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , | Leave a comment

Riding Greyhound- Day 2

Using the bathroom in the bus while the vehicle is in motion is not unlike trying to ride a mechanical bull. I hope my fellow passengers couldn’t hear my exclamations and proclamations as I struggled to maneuver in there. The second day of bus riding and fantasies of burritos are growing very strong. Every town we stop in hates vegetarians, as I haven’t been able to find a burrito without chicken, bacon, or beef. I’ve started going for my sister’s arm because it now looks like a burrito to me. If I don’t get a burrito at the next stop, I may loose my mind. After buying Wyoming postcards, I realize I already bought some on the way down. Probably the exact same ones. In Salt Lake City at 11:30 PM they tell us there will be a 1-2 hour delay.

First-timer: “Is the bus always like this?”
Us: “YES!”

My sister has decided she might as well wash her bangs in the sink. Meanwhile, a woman who’s been waiting here for six hours creates havoc among other innocently waiting passengers. The security guard hits on all the women.

Guard: Are these your carry-on bags?
Sis: Yeah.
Guard: You’re really hot!!
Sis: What…What?!
Guard (laughing hysterically): BET THAT WOKE YOU UP, DIDN’T IT!
Female passenger: What, we’re delayed two hours? Tell me you’re joking!
Guard: Yep, that’s right. Gives you plenty o’ time to spend with me! (wink, wink)

The information counter shuts down for the night. Some smokers get locked outside the station- hehe- and my sis chats up some short dark-haired dude. I just realized that I’m developing a fever… and a sore throat. Perfect.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , | Leave a comment

Riding Greyhound- Day 1

I like learning about people by listening to their conversations without the inconvenience of having to take part in them. No, that’s not a fancy way to say I like to eavesdrop. I merely appreciate the auditory diversions that are offered to me. It’s fun to try imagining a visual representation of the person based on their voice and story before actually seeing their face. Drug dealers, ex-cons, and fugitives of the law- those are your greyhound seatmates. The man sitting beside my sister made a not-so-discreet drug deal over the phone. He’d just gotten out of prison in Mississippi… for possessing a trunk-full of drugs, of course. The man in front of her had fled the state for 8 years to avoid several warrants on his name. Lovely.

September 12, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , | Leave a comment

Home Again, Home Again

I’ve been back for a week now, and I’m able to stay asleep all night. That’s always nice. I still have some kind of funky thing going on with my stomach, but I plan to bombard that with charcoal for a few days and see what happens. Maybe I just need to get back to my little home in College Place and return to my little routine. I’m currently on the bus with my sister on our way to the northwest.

The other day we were in a restaurant and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the large percentage of overweight people- something we just didn’t see in the Philippines. Some people were frighteningly skinny there, in fact. Oh, and I still get excited when I go into a public restroom and find toilet paper present. Otherwise, I think the culture shock is wearing off.

I think my wireless card has just died and I’m mourning that fact acutely.

Because of the Philippines and my experience there, I’m a little closer to identifying with my church the way I want to and need to. I understand now, when I stand under a hot shower each night, why most people in the world will always consider it a privilege- one they may never even experience. I’m beginning to really get why circumstance and possession don’t decide state of mind. I’ve been to Asia- check one off my life list! My faith is stronger. I know about 10 million things a sarong can be used for (I’d put it on my list of things to have on a deserted island). I made new friends (including one I can visit when I journey to Hong Kong). I’ve had more practice making life work in spite of some more difficult aspects of my personality. I have a tan. I’ve smiled so much my face hurt and I couldn’t change my expression. I’ve been humbled.

I’ll always be thankful that I listened when God said “Just say you’ll go”, and I’ll remember the generosity of the people who funded my trip. They made it possible for me to be really blessed and enriched.

September 11, 2007 Posted by | Philippines, United States | , , , | Leave a comment

Jet Lag Time!

After a horribly long Tuesday during which I traveled solid for at least 31 hours (following a mere 5 hours of sleep), I finally arrived back at my parents’ house in Texas. I proceeded to sleep that night and all the next day. During the one hour I was awake I felt horribly sick, a feeling I’m still struggling with. Somehow, traveling forward in time was not nearly as difficult as traveling back. I’m finding the task of readjusting my body to the correct days and night very arduous. Not helping I’m sure, is the fact that my stomach seems to be in rebel mode. Half the time I feel just fine and the other half I’m losing a good meal. I’m so hungry right now, but I’m trying to let my stomach rest a little. I had some juice this morning and if that digests alright, I’ll have some gentle foods for lunch. Food, yum… All I want to do is to eat large quantities of potatoes and veggie links and strawberries and waffles and other goodies, but it seems my body does not agree. Unfortunate difference of opinion. I may have a bug, but I think my systems are just really stressed. Note to self: get good sleep before the next longest day of my life.

I did have time to marvel about the different worlds I’ve been in lately. It’s like night and day, but I can’t even describe why. It could be the presence of hot water, but maybe it’s the fact that I can sit here in this house and not see anyone except my three family members for several days. Or that we have a dishwasher.

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Philippines, United States | , , , | Leave a comment

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