Dine With A Ghost

You know there are TONS of ghosts in NOLA. Ghosts, voodoo, spirits, you name it, they got it. Some stories are down right scary and some are a bit, hmmmmm, not so sure about that one – skinned rolled back to look like a caterpillar?? You can take the stories with a grain of salt or you can fully believe or you can relax enjoy the ride and who knows! Maybe you will feel a cold hand on your shoulder or take a picture and when you look at it later you do see some kind of apparition. I believe in ghosts. One day I will tell my ghost story.

I think the ghosts tours are pretty much the same no matter which company you choose. We saw people on other ghost tours and they were all stopping at the same places we did. Now you MUST read this in a spooky and sinister voice.

Here are the stops we made:

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum – In 1823, Louis Dufilho became America’s first licensed pharmacist and opened his apothecary shop on Royal St. But he is not the one haunting this place, that would be Dr. Dupas. The mysterious Dupas bought the pharmacy from Dufilho right before he died. According to legend, Dupas did many experiments on pregnant women and slaves. It was said, you would go in healthy, and never be seen again. It seems, he was conducting experiments on people upstairs, giving them large doses of his voodoo medicine. He is usually seen in a brown suit and likes to move potions around on the shelves and sometimes throws a book. I had a strange experience there while trying to take a picture of the inside. My phone did over 60 photo bursts, I’ve looked through them and maybe I see something near the back in the middle, but I’m not sure. What do you see?

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Zach Bowen/Omni Hotel – Zach Bowen joined the military to support his wife and two children. He did a tour in Kosovo and a tour in Iraq (parts of which were spent at Abu Ghraib), where friends say he changed. Upon return he became a bartender in the French Quarter of New Orleans and soon after he separated from his wife. He met Addie Hall, a fellow bartender and the two of them liked to party – drinking a lot and doing cocaine. Also, Hall was said to be a mean drunk and abusing Bowen. Hurricane Katrina hit and they were one of the few who stayed and weathered out the storm. Many people said that going back to “real life” after the tragedy of Katrina was their downfall. On Oct. 5, 2006, they got into a fight (Hall claimed he was cheating on her) and Bowen strangled Hall to death before cutting her up into pieces. He placed her head in a pot on the stove, her feet and legs were either in other pots or in the oven where he tried to cook the body parts. During the next two weeks he spray painted messages on the walls, wrote his five page suicide note and went out drinking, getting strippers and doing drugs with friends. Late October he went to the Omni Hotel, had a drink and then threw himself out of an upstairs window where he landed on the roof of a parking garage. Police found the suicide note and where to find Hall’s body. Some claimed he had been possessed by a demonic spirit that was terrorizing them from the voodoo shop that was below their home. Was it that? Was it PSTD from his two tours overseas? We will never know. But there are still claims that people see someone jump from the Omni Hotel window. The police will show up but there is never anyone there.

Muriel’s Restaurant – Here you can dine with a ghost. The restaurant that is now Muriel’s went through many changes, owners, etc. On March 21, 1788, the Great New Orleans Fire started on Good Friday and burned 856 of the 1,100 structures in the French Quarter, and one of these was a portion of Pierre Phillipe de Marigny’s mansion that was burnt. During the next decade the city was trying to rebuild and Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan purchased the property from Marigny. We will call him Antoine from now on (why did they all have such loooooong names back then). Antoine LOVED his home but he was a huge gambler. In 1814 he wagered his home in a poker game and lost. He was devastated and before vacating the premises he went up to the second floor and hung himself. Supposedly he haunts the second floor – he can be seen as a bright glimmering light. In the past he would throw wine glasses off tables, but ever since the restaurant set up his own table, leaving bread and a bottle of wine (he prefers Cabernet) every night the “tantrums” have diminished. You can have a private dinner with Antoine but you need to call Muriel’s to set it up. Whether or not Antoine will show up, it is still one helluva a good promotion.

The Ursuline Convent – I thought this place was truly freaky. Here is where vampires arrived from the Old World to the New World. This three-story Colonial masterpiece (no nuns live here now) sits behind a high wall with gothic gates and a big courtyard. In 1727,  France sent young women (very poor and possibly homeless) to help populate the city of New Orleans. When the girls arrived they came with casket shaped boxes supposedly holding their belongings and both (the girls and the casket boxes) were placed at the Convent for the nuns to watch over them until they found a husband for them to marry. Thereby earning them the name of the Casket Girls. After they arrived the mortality rate skyrocketed – because what was in those caskets were vampires. Once the girls found suitors the caskets were opened and were found empty. Dum dum Duuummmmmm. Fear of what had escaped from those caskets brought the Archdiocese to the convent. He had them immediately moved to the third floor, where to this day unless you are from the Vatican you cannot go up there. Plus, the shutters are continuously closed. And on top of that they have closed them with 800 screws EACH, that supposedly the Pope blessed. That’s 8000 Pope blessed screws keeping whatever needs to be kept in there! But locals have witnessed the shutters fly open in the middle of the night. I could stop there, but there is one more story to this. Back in the 70s a group of paranormal researchers came to NOLA to check out the convent. Two stayed overnight, in front of the convent to finish their research. The next day they were found dead, and drained of their blood. Drained of their blood!! Now, nothing can be found on the news about this from the 70s but the people in New Orleans say it happened.

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Alright, finalizing things up. If you watch American Horror Story you might have heard about this last one, or at least about the lady – Madame Delphine Lalaurie.

The Lalaurie Mansion – This haunted history is perhaps New Orleans most famous ghostly tale. For more than 150 years, the Lalaurie House is said to be the most haunted location in NOLA. Delphine married her third husband, wealthy doctor Louis Lalaurie in 1832. They threw lavish parties and everyone wanted to be invited inside their gorgeous three story mansion. People started wondering about all the slaves that were being bought – they saw them go in but never saw any go out. Once in 1833, a neighbor saw Delphine chase her 12-year old slave around the roof with a whip. The child jumped to her death and was buried in the courtyard. Investigators came to the house and punished Delphine with a fine and making her sell all her slaves. Unbeknownst to authorities she had relatives buy them and she got them back. In 1834 the truth came out. A fire was started in the kitchen by her cook who was chained to the stove. When authorities came they found a very grisly scene in attic – slaves chained to the walls, badly scarred and starving. It gets worse. Reports say one man had a hole drilled into his head with a wooden spoon sticking out (to stir the brains), another woman had her arms amputated and her skin rolled down making her look like a caterpillar, a woman with her stomach cut open and her intestines wrapped around her body and another had her arms and legs broken and reset so she looked like a crab. Horrifying! Gives me the creeps. After finding this an angry mob grew outside the Lalaurie mansion, soon Delphine and her children came roaring out in a carriage and Delphine was never seen again. Some say she died in France, some say she is buried in a New Orleans cemetery. After we left, Jeannie told me she had felt a very cold breeze go by her. Here is where most people do feel something or see something.

Spoooky stuff right there. And even if you don’t believe, it is still some fascinating stories. Next time I think I will do the vampire tour. Do you have any ghost stories? I would love to hear them. BOO.

 

 

Taliesin West ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the biggest names in architecture. I had only seen pictures of his marvels, but when I was in Phoenix my Mom and I went to his winter residence (and school) – Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. Of course he doesn’t live there anymore, Wright died in 1959, but it continues today as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, an accredited school. It was built and maintained entirely by Wright and his apprentices, making it the most personal of his creations.

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Taliesin is in Spring Green, WI and was his summer residence. He built it for his lover Mamah Borthwick, in part to shield her from aggressive reporters and the negative public sentiment surrounding their non-married status. Both had left their spouses and children in order to live together and were the subject of relentless public censure. In 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago a male servant hired from Barbados set fire and murdered seven people with an axe. One of those being Mamah and her two children. I could continue on but this post is not about Taliesin, it’s about Taliesin West.

With everything that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, he believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. Not to overtake but to become one with it. I love this idea.

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Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (his apprentices) began to “trek” to Arizona each winter in 1933. In 1937 Wright purchased the plot of desert land that would soon become Taliesin West. He paid $3.50 an acre on a southern slope of the McDowell Range, believing this to be the perfect spot to build: a residence, a business, and a place to learn.

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Drafting Room at Taliesin West

I am in love with this red door of the drafting room.

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He wanted Taliesin West to connect with the desert, the structure’s walls are made of local desert rocks, stacked within wood forms and filled with concrete. Natural light was used as much as possible with windows but no glass, only an open space for birds to fly through and sunlight to beam its rays throughout the rooms. Light beige canvas was used for the roofing and could be rolled up or down depending on the day.

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For Wright everything he did was intentional. He was fascinated with the petroglyphs found on the Taliesin West property, the clasped hands of the American Indian symbol of friendship. This is often referred to as the running arrow; however, Mr. Wright preferred to call it the whirling arrow. Found in many places around the property but seen here on a rock and near the water fountain at Taliesin West.

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Wright enjoyed entertaining. Almost every Saturday he would invite people over for cocktails, dinner, maybe a movie or a dance production. They would start in the Garden Room, one of the most popular rooms at Taliesin West. Here you have a long bench but also Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous butterfly chairs.

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Every year upon his return to Taliesin West he would walk around with making changes and shouting orders to his apprentices. Taliesin West was a continuing project for Wright, always changing things with new ideas and improving the space with different concepts. Throughout the years he added to the dining room and one brilliant addition was the cabaret theatre with six-sides in an irregular hexagonal shape, it provides its occupants a “95% acoustic perfection”. Someone in the very back can hear even the slightest whisper from the stage.

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Piano space cut into stone in cabaret theatre

And speaking of the stage, his apprentices would learn more than just architecture. The Taliesin Fellowship were taught to learn all aspects of life, integrating not only architecture and construction, but also farming, gardening, and cooking, the study of nature, art, music, and dance. He would have parties almost every Saturday and half of his apprentices would cook and the other half would serve and clean up. Or if he wanted a special dance or music set for his guests, the apprentices would learn the dance or the song and perform.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Taliesin West and would recommend it to anyone, especially if you love architecture. There are many different types of tours, we did the Insight Tour which lasted about an hour and a half. Ticket prices are $34 for advanced purchase but if you are an Arizona resident you get 50% off, so don’t forget to mention that if you are! Enjoy and I would love to hear about your favorites of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Taliesin West. 12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ. 480.627.5378

 

 

Ghost Town in Jerome ~AZ

I ain’t scared of no ghosts.

Jerome, AZ is touted as the “Largest Ghost Town in America”, as well as “America’s Most Vertical City”, sitting at more than 5,000 ft above sea level. It started as a copper mining camp and by the 1920s it was home to more than 10,000 people. Jerome’s personality has changed a lot from once a thriving mining camp between the late-1880s and early 1950s, the town is now a bustling tourist magnet and artistic community with a population of about 450. But its external appearances have remained much the same for the last 100 years.

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My parents and I decided to make a day of it. Jerome is about 100 miles north of Phoenix on state route 89A between Sedona and Prescott. Mom gave me the job of finding a cute place to stop on the way up for brunch. And I think I succeeded supremely. If you are looking for a super good place for breakfast or lunch food then try out Nora Jean’s coffee kitchen in Black Canyon City, AZ. I was extremely jealous of Mom’s patty melt with grilled veggies, Dad had a Reuben with homemade potato salad and I had a breakfast sandwich of egg and bacon on an English muffin. They had fresh, iced, green and peach tea, my newest favorite discovery of cold brew coffee and the lemon bars looked amazeballs.

Alright, bellies are full, we are decently caffeinated and ready for our adventure in Jerome. Did I mention it was a ghost town? I have a bit of an obsession with ghosts. I am believer, and a belieber. Hahaha. Ok, seriously. Let’s find some ghosts.

First stop was the Jerome State Historic Park. The Historic Park is located in the Douglas Mansion and boasts tons of artifacts and history of the town. Don’t miss the 20 minute video, which takes you through the history and development of Jerome – funny ghost narrator dude too.

Speaking of ghosts, when I checked my phone later I had 144 blast photos while I was in the Mansion. This blast photo thing happened on a ghost tour in New Orleans too. Kinda weird, right?

The outside of the mansion is gorgeous with lots of mining parts scattered around the area.

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I thought this model of the town with the mining shafts, faults, etc was pretty cool.

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Next to the Historic Park is the Audrey Mine Shaft. It is inoperable now but you can go check it out and even stand over the void of the 1,900 ft shaft!! No worries guys, there is a thick plate of glass and a metal crate to keep you from falling in. Thank goodness!

The Audrey was the center unit of the main United Verde Extension mine shaft. It was concrete-lined for fire prevention and was state-of-art for its day. The Audrey (I love how they call their mines THE Audrey, THE Edith … can there be THE Kim?) was the main ore hauling shaft. During the prime of its time, it would haul one up to the 1,100 ft level, the ore would then be dumped into a chute cut into the rock where the ore was loaded at the 1,300 ft level into carts which were pulled through a tunnel by an electronically driven engine for transport to the Clemenceau smelter in Cottonwood, AZ.

It’s truly fascinating what they did back in the day. Here is the Audrey.

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And just to give you an idea just how deep 1900 ft is!

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Isn’t she a beaut??

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After the Historic Park where a ghost took over my phone for a bit, and I stood over a 1,900 ft shaft, we moved onto the main drag of Jerome. It isn’t too hard to find, just keep heading up and when you hit all the art galleries, a few restaurants and a few hotels; you are there. Now it’s REALLY time to find some ghosts.

First stop is the Jerome Grand Hotel. This hotel on Cleopatra Hill used to be the United Verde Hospital opened in 1927 where sick and injured miners were treated. The hospital closed in 1950 and sat vacant for 46 years. The building had a reputation for being haunted with ghostly sounds of moaning and coughing. Plus a man named Claude Harvey was killed when he was caught under the elevator in 1935. Super scary.

At the Jerome Grand Hotel keep a lookout for a bearded man who wanders the halls, a young boy who likes to run around on the third floor, sounds and lights around the elevator thanks to Harvey and supposedly the hotel lobby is a place the spirits like to hang around and play tricks. Alas, we had a drink in the upstairs bar but did not see any strange people or occurrences. Great views from up there though!

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Next, we parked by all the shops and wandered around. It was Saturday evening and it was Art Night! Sweet, they had free drinks and snacks at every art gallery. And there are plenty of them: lots of great paintings, jewelry and a few oddities.

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You can stop by Mile High Inn which became home of one of the most famous ladies of the night during the 1900s. She was Madam Jennie Banters (reportedly one of the richest women in northern Arizona) and the inn became her popular bordello; Jennie and her ladies entertained many men during the mining boom in Jerome. She can be seen upstairs usually in the “Lariat and Lace” room. But there is also the phantom cat where guests stoop to pet the cat but then it suddenly vanishes. We stopped by the Mile High Grill (the restaurant below the inn) where I inquired about the cat. I was looked at like I had three heads and then I explained, “you know, the ghost cat”. “Ahhh, haven’t seen it in awhile but if you did it would be upstairs and not here,” she answered. Boo hoo and one isn’t allowed at the inn unless you have a hotel reservation.

We moved on.

In between more art galleries – more glasses of champagne and crackers with slices of cheese and pretzels and sometimes a little sandwich and one time shrimp with cocktail sauce; we walked around the tiny downtown and then ran into another of Jerome’s haunted places, the Connor Hotel. Rumor has it, the spirits come and go here.

But the rooms are haunted. Room 1 is said to be haunted by a lady in red and her friends. You may hear women whispering and laughing or she possibly comes to see you in your dreams. Scary! In room 5 people say they feel cold spots and the appliances like to go off by themselves. Reminds me of my freshmen year dorm room, my clock could “talk” and one time just went off and told us the time without us pushing the button. THAT dorm was defo haunted!

That’s it y’all. Jerome was so much fun even if I never experienced a ghost encounter. I’ll leave you with my pic of the Connor Hotel. Do you see anything strange in the windows??  OOOoooooooooOOOOOO

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Night Lights

I may or may not be over my jet lag.

What a whirlwind of fun from my recent travels to New Orleans and Arizona. Mostly it was to check in on my mom, who is recovering from a double mastectomy and starting radiation but also quite a lot of fun was had with Jeannie and my parents. Naturally.

Coming soon lots more information than you probably want on the exciting times of NOLA and AZ. Til then, enjoying this cool pic of coming into Phoenix, AZ at night. I really love this picture.

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Fritz’s Jazz Bar – NOLA

Hello there.

Just sitting here in Phoenix, AZ sweating my face off in lovely 100° weather, trying to recover from my weekend in New Orleans. We pretty much hit every spot to be hit so keep tuned. But wanted to share this video of Mike Fulton & John Royen from Fritzel’s Jazz Club on Bourbon St. It’s always a favorite place of mine for some most excellent jazz.

You know what I say – Turn it up!

Things To Bring – To a Tailgate

It’s TAILGATING time y’all! Time to gather up your friends, some brewskis, slap some dogs or burgers on a grill and enjoy. I like tailgating better than going to the actual game. There is something special about hanging out with friendly peeps on a beautiful fall day to enjoy some good ole’ American football. Speaking of which GO OSU COWBOYS!

I rounded up some things you definitely need for a perfect tailgate get-together.

  1. HOORAY SPORTS DO THE THING WIN THE POINTS – For those who don’t really follow sports but like hanging out, this shirt’s for you! Buy here with lots of different products available.
  2. This cooler is Amazing. Capital A. It has a Blender! Plus outdoor speakers, a USB charger, bottle openers and a lot more. Buy here.
  3. Sir Kensington’s is one cool company. All of their products are not only delicious but MUCH healthier. Their ketchup has 50% less sugar and NO high fructose corn syrup. Awesome. This one is my favorite – Sir Kensington’s Spicy Ketchup features chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and hint of coriander. Put this on your hotdog and hamburger NOW. Buy here for all their products
  4. You can’t go wrong with Velveeta and Rotel Queso. If you’re feeling really crazy throw in some chorizo with it! Available at most grocery stores.
  5. A portable, fold-up grill is exactly what you need for your next tailgate. Buy here
  6. This Killer Hogs BBQ RUB has won championships. Get it now. Buy here
  7. A flannel stadium blanket for sitting on those cold benches is needed for those colder autumn days.  Buy here
  8. The chef needs a beer and a cool apron. I like this one – SAVE WATER DRINK BEER. Buy here
  9. It is a MUST to have your football team’s banner flying around your tailgate. Buy here with lots of teams available.