Paranormal Road Trip 2014

And a scary trip to Walmart

I stopped in a different Walmart this afternoon.  I don’t usually go to this one because it’s on the other side of town from where I live, but I happened to be passing by so I stopped in for a “Birthday Candle” gift card.

I bought some school supplies for my son, which had to be rung up separately.  There was some problem with the machine accepting my Citi Executive card with a chip.  The whole thing shut down and had to be rebooted by a Customer Service Manager. After we finally got the charge to go through, the CSM said “Let’s ring your gift card up at another register”. I have gotten over most of my guilt/fear over buying VISA gift cards, but still….following her to another register felt like being taken to the principal’s office.  I have no idea why.

Anyway, she rang up the card for $500 and I once again inserted my Citi Executive card.  The screen said “Please wait” and then she said “Cash or debit only.”  My stomach flipped, but I Completely ignored her because right at that moment the screen said “Authorizing.  Please wait”.  I still said absolutely nothing to her.  Finally it came up with a signature line and the transaction was completed.

Yikes.  I’m not sure why she said that.  Maybe it’s something they have been told?  But the registers don’t seem to have gotten the memo.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….we have to keep riding this gravy train until it derails.  Do as much as you (comfortably) can now, because it could all end tomorrow.

Personally I will probably cut way back on the MS after I reach the spend for this 3rd Citi Executive card.  Other cards with smaller minimum spends I can reach without the hassle.  I doubt I will apply for another one with a $10K minimum spend.  At least, not for awhile.

And now, the road trip

In my Million Mile Secrets interview, I mentioned that I am the co-founder of a paranormal group called Gatekeeper Paranormal and that from time to time I may do some “paranormal trip reports”.  Well….here is the first one.

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, or TALA for short, is located in Weston, WV, about 5 hours from my home. And 5 hours is about my limit for road trips.  Any longer than that and I start to get cranky.

We broke the outbound trip in half with a stop in Pt. Pleasant WV, home of The Mothman.

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If you are not familiar with The Mothman, he is a legendary moth-like creature spotted several times in the Pt. Pleasant area in 1966 & 1967.  A book about these sightings was written in 1975 called “The Mothman Prophecies”.  In 2002, that book was turned into a Hollywood film starring Richard Gere.

The Mothman is also regarded as a harbinger of doom.  On December 15, 1967, one month after the first sighting of the Mothman, the Silver Bridge (connecting Pt Pleasant WV and Kanauga, OH) collapsed during rush hour, killing 46 people.

The Mothman has turned the sleepy little town of Pt. Pleasant into somewhat of a tourist attraction.  There is a Mothman Museum and a statue of the Mothman in the center of town.

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The Mothman Museum consists mostly of memorabilia from the movie with some old letters and newspaper clippings from the first sightings of the Mothman.  They also dedicate space to the story of the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

For $3 and about 30 minutes of your time, the Mothman Museum is nice break to walk around and stretch your legs.

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After saying hi to the Mothman, we drove about 15 minutes out of town to the “TNT Area”.  The TNT area is where 2 couples who were parked out there, reported seeing the Mothman in November 1966.  It is called the TNT area because during WWII, the area was used as storage by an ammunition manufacturing facility.  Scattered over 8,000 acres were many igloo-looking bunkers, disguised by a thick layer of earth.  After the war, the area was abandoned and is now a Wildlife Management Area.

So what are 3 girls to do in the middle of nowhere West Virginia?  Wander around in the woods looking for old ammunition bunkers of course!  Probably not the safest thing to do, but it was fun and we were so excited when we found our first bunker.

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Would you go inside?

They are really cool.  And produce a wicked echo inside.

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In 2010 one of the igloos (which contained 20,000 pounds of unstable material) suddenly exploded.  I’m not sure if they have all been cleared out now, but I did read recently that the area is on the EPA List of Priorites for hazardous waste clean-up!

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We escaped the TNT area in one piece and with no Mothman sightings, and continued on the winding roads another 2.5 hours to Weston, WV.

We checked into the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.  What can I say?  It is a Holiday Inn.  It appears new and was very clean and modern looking.  We had a large room with 2 queen beds and a sofa bed.  There was also a small wet bar with a refrigerator.  They offered a nice, hot breakfast in the morning.  Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage gravy and biscuits and very tasty, warm cinnamon rolls.

Since I was splitting the cost with friends, I paid for the room rather than redeeming points.  I earned 500 points as a Platinum Welcome Gift,  5x points on my IHG Mastercard (675 points) plus the 10 IHG points per dollar spent on the room (1380) plus 50% Platinum Elite bonus (690).  So in total I earned 3,245 points!  Not bad, considering my share of the room was only $36.

The Asylum

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Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was formerly known as the Weston State Hospital and housed the mentally ill from the mid-1800s until it’s closure in 1994.  The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990, but had severely deteriorated.  It was privately purchased in 2007 and the name changed to Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. The goal of the current owners is to restore TALA to its original grandeur and preserve an important piece of American history.  Even if you are not interested in the paranormal, the historic tours offered during the day are fascinating.  Money raised from the historic and paranormal tours goes toward restoration of the building.

I can tell you, they have done a great job on the areas restored thus far.  Their goal is to restore each floor with the decor of a certain era.  The first floor admissions and common area has been restored in 1920s style, complete with antique furniture and accessories.

As far as the paranormal aspect, we had a few personal experiences and captured some interesting EVPs.  Once we get them all analyzed, I will post them on our group page, Gatekeeper Paranormal.

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One of the unrestored wards. This picture was taken in complete darkness with an iPhone.

The Drive Home

The drive home is never fun, so we tried to make it more interesting.  During our investigation of TALA, we found out about Flinderation Tunnel.  It took us about an hour out of our way, but who’s counting?  Flinderation Tunnel is part of the 72 mile North Bend Trail operated by West Virginia State Parks.

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All sorts of urban legends and ghost stories surround the tunnel.  Everything from train wrecks, KKK murders and multiple ghost sightings.  Even a ghost train!  There is a cemetery located on top of the tunnel, but one member of the group wasn’t dressed to go hiking up hills and the ParaVan couldn’t make it up the gravel road/hill to drive up there, so we’ll save that for next time.

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I just love this picture! Is that the ghost train coming at me?

The tunnel itself was perfectly creepy.  The sounds of rocks crunching under your feet and water dripping from the walls combine to form the perfect audio matrixing of voices and the sensation of someone following you through the tunnel.

You can’t drive through West Virginia without stopping at a roadside restaurant called Hillbilly Hotdogs!  This is the craziest place I have ever seen.  They have a huge collection of junk and the property looks like a place you’ve seen on “Hoarders”.

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They serve a variety of hotdogs, including one called “The Homewrecker” that is 15 inches long and covered with chili, onions, bacon, cheese and about 10 other ingredients.  Nobody in our group was brave enough to try it.  I played it safe and got the “Buckeye Dog” (a chili dog)…what else would I get? Their french fries are those delicious, crispy crinkle fries loaded with just the right amount of salt.  You can also get them covered with garlic, bacon and cheese.

West Virginia is a beautiful state and I look forward to returning.  In fact, one of my favorite ski destinations is Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Thank you for indulging the paranormal geek in me.  I will soon return to my regularly scheduled programming of miles and points and family travel.

Happy Travels!