Let's face it. A ghost tour, that is, a tour of "haunted" spots, is a bt of a snipe hunt. The chances of you actually seeing or experiencing some sort of "phenomenon" are slim and, of course, it comes with no guarantee of seeing anything . . . save a tour guide trying to keep you entertained to the point where you don't start to think, and I paid good money for this?
It really is a hard gig, made harder when the spirits don't want to cooperate. The only time when you can count on them to appear is when summoned by Madame Leota, and she was no where in sight last night.
I have been on ghost tours in a number of cities. I enjoy them because I like hearing stories and history. That is not surprising. Mankind has been telling stories meant to amaze and frighten each other for centuries before the advent of television and video games. We like "wild" stories. And, more deeply rooted, we want to believe in ghosts because no one wants to think that they die and that's it. No mas. The eternal, dreamless sleep.
And actually experiencing some sort of weird, inexplicable shit? Icing on the cake. I don;t expect it and I don't mind, so long as the stories are good . . .
That being said, the ghost tour with Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours was unique in one aspect, but lacking in another. First, the good:
The tour allowed you to be the investigator. You know all those cool gadgets that we have seen Jay and G. and Zak play around with? EMF detectors? High frequency radios to hear - hopefully - ghostly voices? They have them and let you play with them. No heat deterctors because - alas - as is with most public ghost tours, all activities occur outisde and not in buildings. So if you have ever wanted to be a ghosthunter and try to determine, man, am I spiking due to activity or exposed wiring?, this is the tour for you. Our tour leader, J., did a good job of explaining we were working together as a team, so between his equipment and our cameras (let's face it, be it DSLR, point-and-shoot, or iPhone, everyone has a camera), maybe we would catch "something."
Did we? Well, I don't think so, or rather, maybe we did not catch enough. No orbs appeared on the cameras of the group, and while there were a few moments of "I think I got something on the EMF!", nothing really materialized. I will say this, there was one moment when Katherine and I were goofing around with the radio frequency thingie. The idea is that you can ask the ghost a question and they use the frequency between stations to answer; I guess it is easier for them. We were at the site where two men - post-Civil War but one had been with the Union and the other with the Confederacy - has an argument and the one shot the other. I asked the question, "Are you two together in the afterlife?" and suddenly a very distinct and loud, "NO!" came across, even to the point where Katherine, who was holding the device, felt a tingle go through her hand and up her arm. Well!
But here is where there is some room for improvement. The pace was somewhat slow and since it started at 10:00 pm at night and lasted over two hours, people were getting tired. I noticed some of the folks just weren't into the whole EMF meter thing and I believe they came on the tour to be entertained . . . by history, by stories, delivered with a bit of a flair, and maybe, just maybe, see a ghost. At times the walk felt more like a trudge (I can't fault the guys for the weather - if you want to go one a ghost tour in Tennessee in July, you are going have to accept the fact that the weather could be hot and sultry, as it was last night). The delivery of stories needs some work, as well as the stories themselves - yes, a lot of research was done but I am not sure the people want to hear that much detail - or, at least, give us the Reader's Digest version; as someone who has appeared in court to argue cases before ADHD-afflicted judicial officers, brevity, brevity, brevity!
And . . . pick a different path. Walking around modern buildings where previously stood older buildings and hearing the stories about the now gone older buildings is not really that much fun. Especially when we are by a federal court house and have to be admonished not to point cameras towards the building. I have wandered through the streets of Old City in Knoxville - at least there, if nothing else happens, cool stories and funky atmosphere make for a good time.
Now, J. did say that they are in "beta" mode. I propose that they consider offering two tours: one for the would-be investigator and one for the tourist. One geared to cool devices and limited in the number of people attending, the other more of a larger group with stories galore. In fact, the business side of me even thinks you can charge more (the tickets were only $20 apiece) for the "investigator's tour."
Now, knowing that my biological brother is coming in Thanksgiving, would I drag him on it? Oh, yes, most definitely - Greg likes that sort of thing and he is always up for some paranormal happenings (well, he does live in New Jersey, after all). As for adopted baby brother coming this winter - naw, John isn't a believer and would probably get us kicked off, making somewhat snide remarks as he did in the Whaley House in San Diego (Docent: "I've seen spirits here." John: "After how many margaritas?").
And as for you, gentle reader? Aw, go for it - always keep an open mind and enjoy the history of a beautiful old downtown, in Knoxville. Also cool - meeting spot in the Market Square offer you great opportunities for a fine meal before the tour! Plus, during the summer - free Shakespeare plays! Culture, dining, spooking - all in one evening!
Phellow Photogs: a pain to shoot - go with a high ISO, and all the accompanying noise, or use flash? I didn't wnat to drag around a flash unit, so I used my on-camera flash. I have captured "things" before using both methods; the only advantage to non-flash shooting is the ability to take multiple shots without having to wait for a flash unit to recycle. And, of course, I do it in RAW, baby!