Kyle and I are tour people. We love tours. We will attend basically any tour that is offered to us. You could say, “Hey, listen, I’m giving a tour of my living room. To participate, you’ll need this painter’s tape and this roller and this can of ‘Marshmallow Heaven’ and the tour will consist of you painting my walls,” and so long as you also give us a storyguide headset and one of those little metal buttons with the folding flap, we’re in.
Anyways, today I’m going to tell you about my all-time favorite tour.
It was the summer of 2008, and we were on vacation with my entire family on a little island called Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. As I’ve mentioned before, my family’s idea of a vacation is to ooze from beach to pool in between meals, while Kyle’s is to only stop moving when it’s time to sleep. After several years of sitting on lounge chairs waiting for something to happen, Kyle took it upon himself to schedule a series of group activities around the island – culminating in a GHOST TOUR on the eve of our departure.
By the time the GHOST TOUR rolled around, most of my family had come down with “I’ve-done-enough-participating-itis,” and so our group consisted of my mother, my sister, my husband, and me. Fortunately, our quartet was pretty eager for the trip, especially after Kyle showed us a brochure filled with pictures of the tour guides in ghostly colonial costumes carrying candlelit lanterns.
The GHOST TOUR kicked off on the sidewalk near the oceanfront. We paid our fees at the local general store, got our little metal buttons with the folding flaps (v good), and waited with the rest of the tour group – consisting of eight or so other adults and one ten-year-old boy – for the spookiness to start.
The sun had just kissed the top of the water, a golden haze mixing in with a rising fog. The tide was rising slowly, gently, joining the andante of ships’ horns and whispering winds. From down the street comes the bobbing, flickering light of two salt-worn lanterns.
“WELL, HI, EVERYBODY!” The first lanternholder shouted, her fanny pack clanking with each word. “ARE YOU ALL THE GHOST TOUR?”
“Yes!” Someone shouted back – which was unnecessary, as the lantern duo had high-tailed their way to us with the first “WELL, HI!” and were now standing in front of the crowd.
“Oh, shoot,” the second lanternholder said, realizing that the candles had been blown out by the speed of their movement. He pulled a flashlight out of the pocket of his khaki pants.
“WELL, HI, EVERYBODY!” The first lanternholder repeated. “I’m Terri, and this is Todd, and we JUST BOUGHT this GHOST TOUR this morning from the original owner, and you all are our FIRST TOUR GROUP!”
Now, if Kyle and I love tours, my family doubly-loves encouraging people in their new ventures. My mother straightened up and leaned in as if to say, “We support you, Terri and Todd.” Also, she said that out loud. The Kosiors, Silvermans, and Terri and Todd were very, very excited. All of our other tourgoers seemed…less than that.
Todd pulled out a deck of notecards, which he held in the hand with the flashlight. Using the unlit lantern as a walking stick, he gestured with his head down the path.
“That is how the elder Misses…” He trailed off, shuffled the cards around. “Let us take a step back in time to the seventeenth century.”
We strolled down the block, Todd pointing out/reading all of the various points of ghostly interest. Terri walked next to him, her own khakis swishing with her steps, listening intently and commenting, “Ooh, that’s scary!” and “Ooh, that’s really, really scary!” at various points.
We stopped in front of an unassuming doorway.
“Who here knows what a vortex is?” Todd asked the group.
Now, my mother might live in this particular plane of the universe, but she exists on a whole bunch of New Age ones that most of us can only learn about from Gwyneth Paltrow. So my mom raised her hand and gave a five-minute soliloquy on vortexes (vortices?), including two anecdotes from a book that she herself authored about the spirit and the living world intersecting. When she finished, the group clapped. She turned to Todd, who flipped through his notecards.
“That’s…right,” he said. He then pointed at the door. “This is a vortex.”
By now the sun had almost completely set, and so Todd aimed his flashlight at a cemetery in the center of town.
“This cemetery has the oldest grave on the island,” Todd said. “It’s been rumored that if you take a photo of it, you can often see spirits walking around.”
Our party’s ten-year-old stepped forward. He lifted up a disposable camera and snapped the shutter without looking through the viewfinder.
“Got it,” he told his parents. Kyle and Terri clapped.
With that, it was over.
We were offered discounted tickets to another island GHOST TOUR, but honestly, after that kid photographed the spirits we didn’t feel we could top the evening. We did, of course, go out for ice cream.
The photo above is of an advertisement for a different ghost tour. Kyle took this picture of me about 10 pounds ago.
This week’s news has stair climbers, backpack packers, and the first house in Fargo. Read on.
A group of airmen from the Minot Air Force Base presented a pair of flags to New York City’s Ladder Company 3, and then participated in a ruck march and a 110-stair climb in honor of the victims of 9/11. (KFYR TV)
Williston’s Brittany Landro and Megan Wold climbed Williston High School’s stairs for a total of 110 stories in commemoration of 9/11. (Williston Herald)
For the third year, two Bismarck organizations handed out 1,800 bags of clothing and winter jackets to those in need. (KX Net)
If you live in Williston, Feed My Starving Children is looking for volunteers to pack meals this weekend to help children in Uganda, Haiti, and Nicaragua. (Williston Herald)
Fargo’s first home, located on the grounds of Bonanzaville, has been restored. (Fargo Forum)
There are some shiny new domes in Williston thanks to volunteers for the Brave the Shave fundraiser, which raised money to fight childhood cancers. (Williston Herald)