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Haunting Spirits

Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010, at 6:33 PM

We live in a vast universe, within a vast number of universes existing side by side. All possibilities exist.

Author Andrea Lankford has written a book titled HAUNTED HIKES: SPINE-TINGLING TALES AND TRAILS FROM NORTH AMERICA'S NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM describing various National Parks that have a reputation for being haunted.

Yosemite National Park -- The Miwok Indians claim an evil wind called "Po-ho-no" has the power to entice people to Yosemite's towering waterfall and push them over the side. Needless to say, the National Park Service has installed fortified safety railings overlooking the falls, reducing the mighty Po-ho-no to a puff-puff.

New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve -- The New Jersey Devil, a yellow-eyed creature with bat wings and a dragon breath, lurks in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. First encountered in 1735, this unidentified biological entity (UBE) has been seen by hundreds of people. Then again, lots of strange entities reside in New Jersey.

Virgin Islands National Park -- Jumby Beach is an idyllic place, unless you're a man and wander too close to Annaberg Sugar Mills Ruin. The historic sugar plantation is reportedly haunted by a female jumby (spirit) looking for love. Other female jumbies are also patrolling the same area. Hell hath no fury like a jumby scorned.

Mammoth Cave National Park -- Park rangers, using kerosene lanterns, have reported seeing apparitions on more than 150 occasions in this gigantic cave in Kentucky. Caves can be very spooky, especially on the inside.

Great Sand Dunes National Park -- Since 1950, visitors to this giant sandbox in Colorado have claimed to have seen UFOs (cigar-shaped red orbs, multicolored lights and black triangles) hovering above the dunes. But don't fret -- if you're unable to identify a flying object, Men in Black will show up at your door and explain it to you.

Oregon Caves National Monument -- In 2000, a psychologist spotted a Bigfoot watching his family. There is a substance within the cave called "moonmilk" which is said to be made by gnomes. And the Chateau is haunted by a jilted bride named Elizabeth. A Bigfoot, gnomes and a ghost -- there's a little something for everyone here.

Grand Canyon National Park -- A ghostly "Wailing Woman," in a white dress, often floats along the north rim, moaning about the husband and son she lost to the canyon. On weekends, she works the information booth.

Blue Ridge Parkway -- In 1891, a 4-year-old boy vanished in the Virginia forest while fetching firewood and his body was found five months later. Hikers along the Appalachian Trail who spend the night inside a nearby shelter claim to have been "annoyed" by the boy's spirit. Indeed, spirits can be very annoying at times.

Big Bend National Park -- Multiple apparitions roam the Chisos Mountains of south Texas (Chisos means "ghosts"), including a troop of Spanish warriors, a renegade Indian Chief and a steer seeking revenge on the cowboys who branded him. However, out of respect, ghosts never appear on John Wayne's birthday in Texas.

Chesapeake National Park -- In 1906, a miner was killed in an explosion near Potomac, Md. Two years later, a ghost with eyes of fire and a long tail was spotted crawling out of a shaft. Spirits known as "Tommy Knockers," not to be confused with Tammy Knockers, a stripper from Baltimore, have haunted the place ever since.

Other places also have their share of things that go bump in the night, and I'm not referring to the mice in the walls.

Graceland -- In the home of Elvis Presley, a ghost wearing a shimmering cape covered in rhinestones appears in the kitchen shortly after midnight every evening, with the faint sound of "Heartbreak Hotel" in the background, and makes a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Hollywood and Vine -- At the famous intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, in Hollywood, the ghosts of Marilyn Monroe and Tommy Noonan meet on the street corner during full moons to swap pie recipes.

White House -- During President's Day, the ghost of Richard Nixon wanders the halls of the White House mumbling, "I am not a crook." The ghosts of Rutherford B. Hayes and Chester A. Arthur are usually in the parlor discussing the merits of the Taft-Hartley Act and the balk rule in baseball as Nixon floats by.

Crescent Hotel -- One of the world's most famous haunted hotels is in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An Irish stonemason fell from room 218 during construction. In room 419, a ghostly woman introduces herself to staff or guests as a cancer patient, then suddenly disappears. Rooms 202 and 424 are also haunted. The sum of the haunted room numbers (202, 218, 419, 424) is 1263 -- on December 15, 1263, King Haakon IV of Norway died. A very curious coincidence.

Ghosts are just like everyone else -- some are good, some are bad and some are in dire need of a makeover.

In most cultures, people believe the soul moves on after death, from our earthly plane to another plane of existence. In some cultures, people believe thoughts or rituals can change the world, and that misfortune or illness can be caused or alleviated by disembodied spirits.

And some people keep their head buried in the sand so they don't have to deal with Tommy Knockers, Elvis or the Ghost of Christmas Past.

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Quote for the Day -- "I don't believe in death. In the multiverse, once you're possible, you exist. And once you exist, you exist forever one way or another." Paul F. Eno

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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghosts of Shadow, BlueJean, Bummer, Pepper, Buster, Mascara, Scout, Clipper, Poco Loco (my past dogs -- R.I.P.). His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111

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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.
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