Friday, November 1, 2013

Annual Halloween Ghost Hunt

Just got back from my annual "world's fastest ghost hunt" at the haunted little German cemetery in the wooded valley below my house and was stunned at how active it was tonight! This is especially striking when compared with last year, when it was almost completely inert, and I am trying to figure out what might be accounting for these differences. 

It was a very dry, clear, cool night, in the 50s, completely moonless, giving perfect visibility of the stars but very little usable light (although I avoided using my flashlight at all). I spent about 20 minutes between the cemetery and the nearby ruined house and during that time took 76 photos. Following are the ones with the most profound anomalies, all orbs as far as I can tell -- some of them very profound. 

This was the second picture I took and initially seemed to confirm my theory that it is sometimes possible to "surprise" ghosts and get images of them immediately upon arriving at a site. I felt a presence and corroborated it with photos, however, throughout the duration of my visit. 

Evidence of a spiritual presence is as associated with the trees at this site, at the orb in the upper right corner suggest, as they are with the actual burial plots. 

I have on numerous occasions gotten anomalies around this tree and wonder if it was used for a hanging at some point; it really does almost feel as if a ghost was living in it. 

I heard noises and got a creepy vibe south of the cemetery, toward the seasonal stream that was running strongly as a result of the recent heavy rains, and am not too surprised to have caught these orbs in my photo. 

This shot I took during my departure from the grove containing the cemetery seems to reveal something watching me! As with a number of things associated with tonight's investigation, this was the first time I have noted this happening at the site. 

I was stunned when I saw this image, which almost seems to seethe with spiritual energy! I have never caught anything of note at this ruined structure previously so this came as a bit of a surprise. I did sense some sort of a presence as I passed it during my approach to the cemetery but decided to reserve flash photography of it for my exit from the area. 

A small orb can be seen hovering over the ruined farmhouse in this alternate view of it. 

As is often the case with investigations in which I was exposed to spiritual entities, I was very hungry by the time I made it back home. Also, apropos of nothing peculiar to tonight's venture, it occurred to me that, for whatever reasons, I have never captured a partial orb cut off at the edge of a picture ... 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beyond Texas: The Rocks Ghost Tour (Sydney, Australia)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Had the opportunity to explore some of the oldest haunted sites in this port city with the Rocks Ghost Tour the evening of Friday, Oct. 11! Between expert guide Lachlan McWilliam, the horrifying stories of the community's early years, and the genuinely haunted nature of many of the sites it was an exciting and enjoyable night and a great way to kick off the Halloween season. Following is a taste of what we experienced, which I will discuss in greater detail in my next appearance on the Psi-Fi Radio Network and in a more detailed report to come. 
Above, tour guide McWilliam on Observatory Hill, possibly the most haunted spot in Sydney. Yes, that is a convergence of orbs! My images up until and after this point were completely clear with just one exception and it was only here, at the site of an old fort and a place used for hangings, that we detected anomalies of this sort. 

Above left, tour goers peer into a basement formerly used by an undertaker; center, the creepy and cluttered basement of the Hero of Waterloo, the oldest pub in Sydney (and where we had a few glasses of Guinness at the end of the tour); right, a glimpse into a home with a well into which bodies from animal fights were thrown. 

Above left, McWilliam near a home where a cuckolded husband killed his slatternly wife and where her spirit has been seen walking -- and where we picked up a faint orb, in the upper right corner of the image; right, an apartment building built on stilts to preserve an archaeology site where thousands or artifacts and numerous sets of bones have been found. 

Ghosts aside, one of the things that impressed me most about the Rocks Ghost Tour was the number of sites it had access to, which far exceeded anything I have experienced on a similar activity in the United States. So, all things considered, when you are in Sydney there are not too many better ways to spend an evening in a fascinating historic quarter of the city -- all the more so if you have the opportunity to do so this most haunted time of the year! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Varhola Appearance on 'The Paranormal View'

If you missed my appearance on the Paranormal View when it aired live Saturday, you can still check it out in archive! Among other things we discussed my books on Virginia, Maryland, and Texas, my upcoming adventures in Hawaii and French Polynesia, and more. I had a great time on this show and know you will love it! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beyond Texas: Gen Con Indy Paranormal Events

Following are the paranormal panels and seminars I am organizing for the Gen Con 2013 convention, being held August 15-18 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana! 

Ghosthunting Indiana (Thursday, August 15, 4-5 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, Hay Market B Room)
Join local ghosthunters and Michael O. Varhola, author and series editor for the “America’s Haunted Road Trip” travel guides, for this seminar on some of the most interesting haunted sites in Indiana.

Ghosthunting 101: Introduction to Ghosthunting (Friday, August 16, 2-3 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, Victoria Station Room)
Join author Michael O Varhola of “America’s Haunted Road Trip” and a panel of experts for an interactive introduction to ghosthunting. Learn the basics and have your questions answered by experts. 

Ghosthunting 102: Equipment and Investigative Techniques (Saturday, August 17, 3-4 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, Victoria Station Room)
Join paranormal researcher and author Michael O. Varhola and other ghosthunting experts and lean about the equipment and methodology of effective ghosthunters. There are almost as many ways of ghosthunting as there are ghosthunters! This panel discussion with paranormal researcher Michael O. Varhola and other ghosthunting experts looks at everything from “naturalistic” means of ghosthunting, to those based on psychic ability, to ones heavily dependent on equipment like cameras, recorders, EMF meters, digital thermometers, laser grids, and night-vision devices. 

Be sure to also check out the other events being organized by Kettle of Fish Productions this year at Gen Con, including a number of live-action role-playing games using my Skirmisher Publishing LLC's Cthulhu Live rules system. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Comicpalooza 2013 'Paranormal Track' Events

Following are the "Paranormal Track" events I am organizing for the Comicpalooza fan convention, being held May 24-26 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston!

Cryptozoology 101

Join world-renowned Cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard for an examination of "X creatures" in Texas and around the world, from Bigfoot and Chupacabras, to Yetis and the Loch Ness Monster, and many more. Time: Friday 3 p.m. (1 hour)

Ghosthunting 101: Introduction to Ghosthunting
Join author Michael Varhola, editor of the “America’s Haunted Road Trip” series of travel guides, and a panel of experts for an interactive introduction to the subject of ghosthunting that will examine the basics of this popular phenomena and answer questions from attendees. Time: Friday 4 p.m. (2 hours)

Haunted Pub Crawl
Hear about spirits while imbibing spirits in some of the most haunted and historic watering holes in Houston! Time: Friday 7:30 p.m. (3.5 hours)

Ghosthunting 102: Equipment
Experts from the local Pasadena Paranormal Research Team and other investigative groups will conduct this hands-on workshop that introduces attendees to the various sorts of equipment used by ghosthunters, including cameras, recorders, EMF meters, digital thermometers, laser grids, and night-vision devices. Time: Saturday 3 p.m. (1 hour)

Ghosthunting Texas
Join experts from the local Dawn Paranormal investigative group and other organizations for this seminar on some of the most interesting haunted sites in the Lone Star State — to include ones in and around Houston and the things that some of the participants have experienced at them! Time: Saturday 4 p.m. (1 hour)

Ghosthunting 103: Investigative Techniques

There are almost as many ways of ghosthunting as there are ghosthunters! In this panel discussion paranormal researcher Michael Varhola and members of the Pasadena Paranormal Research Team, Dawn Paranormal, and other groups looks at everything from “naturalistic” means of ghosthunting, to ones heavily dependent on equipment, to those based on psychic ability. Time: Sunday 2 p.m. (1 hour)

Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country
Join author Michael Varhola for an exploration of some of the most fascinating haunted sites in San Antonio, Austin, and the Texas Hill Country and get a sneak preview of some of the things that will be appearing in his book on the subject. Time: Sunday 5 p.m. (1 hour)

Monday, April 1, 2013

March 'Michael Varhola Show' on Psi-Fi Radio

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the monthly "Michael Varhola Show" on Psi-fi Talk-Radio! If you missed it live then you can still check it out in archive.

As usual, we covered a lot of ground on this best and quickest two hours of the month. Among other things, we discussed sites I have been investigating for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country, my latest book project for the America's Haunted Road Trip series of travel guides, to include my recent foray onto the Devil's Backbone, a local haunted highway. We then went on to observe an Easter theme by talking about Bunnyman Bridge, a truly terrifying site in Fairfax County, Virginia, that has a bloody legend associated with it and which I wrote about in my Ghosthunting Virginia; to talk about animal ghosts and what their characteristics might be; and some updates on the "Paranormal Track" programming I am organizing for the Comicpalooza fan convention, being held May 24-26 in Houston, to include booking cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard to run a seminar on "X Creatures" in Texas and beyond.

And thanks to host Donna Stewart for playing Johnny Cash's classic "Ghostriders in the Sky" during the break! That song always gives me a chill and is a great theme song for anyone ghosthunting in Texas or the Southwest.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Devil’s Backbone (Blanco County, Comal County, Hays County)

"One of the first places I explored after moving to Texas Hill Country was the Devil's Backbone, a haunted highway that runs along a ridge line that used to serve as a cattle trail and now corresponds to Highway 32. Parts of this road seem mysterious and haunted under the best of conditions, and it is little wonder that it should have ghostly lore associated with it. 

Lone hunters and hikers exploring the trails that wind along the slopes of the Devil's Backbone have reported seeing the apparitions of Indians following closely behind them. Some local residents also claim to have seen ghostly cattle ranchers driving their herds through the hills or the ghosts of Spanish monks. Yet others have told of spotting phantasmal troops of Confederate cavalrymen and hearing the sounds of pounding hooves outside their homes but afterward finding no evidence that any horses were actually present." 

That is an excerpt from my chapter on the Devil's Backbone Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country. This road is about 23 miles long and, while most of it runs along the northern edge of Comal County, its western end is anchored in Blanco County and its eastern end in Hays County. I have driven along it many times and investigated it in whole or in part on a number of occasions. Most of the pictures that follow are from a mobile nighttime investigation of the road that I conducted on the evening of March 28 leading into the morning of Good Friday, March 29, 2013, while the ones of the Devil's Backbone Tavern are from a visit on September 8, 2014. 

Left: This is the western end of the Devil's Backbone, where it intersects with Highway 281 -- and where I was welcomed on journey by an orb that turned up in my very first photo! Right: Numerous memorials along with Devil's Backbone are devoted to those who have perished on the winding country highway. This one is at Green's Hollow, about six miles from the western end of the road and one of four convenient places for investigators to stop.

The historic hamlet of Fischer is located about halfway along the Devil's Backbone -- and, incidentally, some six miles from my house -- and is another of the convenient places to stop along the road. Its main features are a post office and an old general store that is now run by the Fischer family as an antique shop.

Several memorials, some dating back to at least 1991, are established at a picnic area about four miles from the eastern end of the Devil's Backbone. This is the third convenient spot for investigators to conduct operations along the highway. Presumably the people whose deaths are remembered at this location did not all actually die in the rest area and are instead memorialized here because of the ease of visiting the spot and maintaining shrines at it. 

The Devil's Backbone Tavern, located near the eastern end of the road that is its namesake and one of the four convenient stops along it, is itself haunted and has a wealth of paranormal stories and incidents associated with it. Incidents people have reported include the jukebox coming on and playing songs people were talking about, pictures flying off of walls and striking people, and disembodied footsteps. It is also the subject of the irreverent "Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern" by musician and comedian Todd Snider, who during a performance explained how he came to write it:  

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 'Michael Varhola Show' on Psi-Fi Radio

Had a great show with Donna Stewart and Kristal Preston during my monthly spot on Psi-fi Talk-Radio! We always cover a lot of ground on this show and it is frequently the best and quickest two hours of the month. Among other things, we discussed my new Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country book project and the kickoff of my research for it, Donna's Ghosthunting Oregon, and the upcoming Comicpalooza fan convention, being held May 24-26 in Houston, and for which I will be running a full track of paranormal seminars and events. We were also pleased to have Comicpalooza founder John Simons join us and talk about some of the other great things he has got planned for the convention this year! Anyone interested in listening to the show can check it out in archive.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Austin Pizza Garden

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- With a contract in hand for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country, my wife Diane and I headed out Wednesday, February 20, to visit Austin Pizza Garden! I have been visiting, investigating, and researching haunted places throughout the Lone Star State since 2009 and some of them will appear in the book, but this was the official kick-off to the fieldwork I will be doing for the next year or so.

Austin Pizza Garden is located in a 115-year-old building that was run as a general store by a former Texas Ranger and veteran of the state's bloody Indian Wars. Today it has a widespread reputation as a haunted locale and has been investigated by paranormal research groups that include Texas Spirit Seekers. It is also restaurant with great ambiance that serves terrific pizza, so we were able to have a nice lunch while we were there gathering information for the book.

Thanks to manager Brian Ahart, assistant manager Jimmy McFeeley, Frank, Mike, and the rest of the restaurant staff for making the start of the research for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country productive and enjoyable! Now to get started writing the chapter about it ...

Austin Pizza Garden is located at 6266 W Highway 290, Austin, TX 78735; phone (512) 891-9980.