A Haunted RV Park
Another Ghost Story
Normally I choose an RV Park to stay with for at least a one month minimum because of the much reduced rate that is charged for long term guests. Living the full time RV lifestyle was a decision based on economy, wants and needs. Oh, and budget. However about a year ago I landed in a quaint community in Georgia.
The sweet aroma of Magnolia overwhelmed every time I stepped outside and the Spanish moss hung thick in the Oak and Pecan trees. Exhausted from the drive I searched for a place to park for the night figuring I would be able to research and secure a more permanent site the following day. I passed a Super Walmart and saw several other motorhomes parked on one side of the large building and assumed correctly the management allowed overnight boon docking. I slowly maneuvered my rig into the lot and crept to a spot at the rear of the caravan.
While boon docking I leave all the slides in except for the bedroom otherwise I wouldn’t have access to my bathroom. And I don’t slide that one out all the way…after all it would only be needed for one night. Awnings, cooking equipment, chairs and the like are kept stowed out of respect for the retailer as well as the security and safety of my personal items.
Since so little needed to be done, I immediately took my dog Charlie for a walk and then fed him his dinner. A quick trip into the store found my dinner waiting at the deli where I purchased some fried chicken and a couple of sides then returned to my coach to eat on the steps with Charlie peering over my shoulder trying to grab a stray crumb or morsel.
Washing down a generous chunk of chicken with some ice cold Mountain Dew, I was suddenly accosted by three kids on bikes and a tall lean man wearing a cowboy hat, jeans, boots and a plaid shirt that was entirely too hot for the muggy southern climate. Beside him a pudgy woman clung to him as if she feared he would disintegrate. She was the Dale of his Roy. “Howdy friend!” the man exclaimed with great enthusiasm.
I quickly swallowed the chicken and screwed the top back on my drink while restraining Charlie and trying with great difficulty to keep him inside as he barked and cried to get out to protect his master from the intrusion. When he ran to the front of the coach to jump up on the wide dash where he had a better view I slammed the door shut and greeted my visitors.
Roy turned out to be Rusty Rhodes; a name I will unlikely never forget and his wife went by Misty. Rusty had his hand held out gesturing a handshake and as he proffered it said, “Where are you from? Where’re you headed?”
Before I got the words out of my mouth explaining I had no real plans and just planned on heading westward he interrupted and told me his life story which in a nutshell began when he lost his job at a chicken processing plant in North Carolina. With no income, no savings and five mouths to feed, they sold their doublewide along with the metal garage for $89,000 but he owed over half of that to the bank. They bought a gently used 2005 Thor Vortex fifth wheel toy hauler for around $25,000. It was the ideal solution he told me because the garage area would not only be a good place to store bikes and stuff but the kids could have their very own room closed off from him and the missus. Rusty already had a ten year old diesel dually with lots of life left on it being that it only had 130,000 miles or so on it and he kept it in really good shape. And he did. It was clean and looked brand new. The fifth wheel looked nearly new, as well.
Anyway, Rusty continued, “We hit the road full time ‘bout the beginning of the year just after the holidays…couldn’t much skip that you know…and my wife, she homeschools the youngn’s.”
I nodded my response when Rusty added, “I sure thought twenty grand woulda’ lasted longer. It’s getting a little slim already in that department…if you know what I mean.”
Again, I nodded and took a long drink of “Dew”. “Kinda’ lookin’ for work now but it’ll all work out in the long run,” Rusty told me.
This time there was a healthy pause so I said, “I don’t have kids and can feel the bite of our current economic environment, too. And I only have two mouths to feed…just my dog and me!”
The kids rode their bikes around and around obediently staying within view of their mom and dad. Rusty let Misty talk and when she did she said, “We try and stay at Walmart as much as possible…some places though frown on it but we’ve been here a couple days.” She then added, “We was staying in a nice little place ‘bout fifteen miles from here that charged only $200 a month but…” she hesitated.
“The price was great,” Rusty said clearing his throat. “It was this plantation and it backed up to an old church…well not the church exactly…it backed right up to the cemetery,” he continued.
“Two hundred a month?” I repeated.
“Yeah, it was a good price and pretty nice. Roads were a little rough goin’ in but sites were good and level and they mostly left you alone,” Misty announced still with a bit of hesitation in her voice.
Rusty lowered his voice and said, “We, we saw things. We saw things and we heard things…things that didn’t sound…well they just didn’t sound right if you know what I mean.”
I had no idea what he meant. The two hundred a month lingered like a comic strip speech bubble above my head. I wondered but didn’t ask about the amenities. Instead I asked if the park had a website or if Rusty had their phone number. He sent one of the boys back to his trailer to get the information and said, “It’s haunted, you know…”
The next morning we took our time getting ready to head out. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at a Waffle House that sat on an out parcel. Around 9:00 I called the “haunted” park and spoke to a real nice lady who said they were a small park--basically their backyard which could house seven units. And yes they had a few spaces available. I jumped at the opportunity and followed the explicit directions she gave me.
The owner’s directions were right on target. I pulled into the long gravel drive and carefully navigated around some of the larger potholes. It was rough but I’d seen worse in my travels thus far. The grand old mansion stood stately in front of me and I drove slowly past it as she had instructed. An ATV puttered alongside me while the woman driving it motioned me to follow. She led me to their “park” which was occupied by several travel trailers and one fifth wheel trailer. The ATV stopped and the lady directed me into a nice level site that indeed backed up to what appeared to be an overgrown and shady cemetery.
“Like I said on the phone, we don’t have a Laundromat or bathhouses but it looks like you probably have everything you need on board…and there’s a laundry in town just a few miles on up the road you came in on…,” the owner said as I emerged from the coach. She formally introduced herself as Rebecca and told me not to hesitate to call her if I needed anything. I handed her two hundred dollar bills and said she would bring me a receipt if I wanted one.
It was lunchtime by the time I unhooked the Jeep and set everything else up to my liking. I microwaved a couple hot dogs and “Googled” the area on my laptop. The planation was midway between Savannah and Augusta however I wouldn’t exactly called it a planation…it was an old Victorian house on forty private acres but it still looked charming with the stately oaks lining the drive in front of it. I could see us taking tours to Savannah and on up into the Charleston area.
A storm front had moved into the area so I tuned in the local stations on my TV and sat on the loveseat with Charlie curled up at my side to waste some time as the rain fell. We both dozed off into much needed naps. By the time we awoke it really was too late to do much of anything. The rain had stopped leaving its share of puddles around us. Since there were no roadways nearby and no traffic in the park, I let Charlie out of the motorhome off leash and we took a walk around.
Though there were several other units, they weren’t occupied. Apparently, Rebecca or someone had set them up as rental units. According to a sign posted on the front of one of them, they rented for $450 per month plus electricity which was very reasonable. I wondered why they were empty.
Just as Charlie darted past me I saw the rabbit he had seen. He loved chasing rabbits though if he ever caught one I’m not really sure he would have a clue as what to do with it. To my dismay I watched as he splashed through the puddles soaking his coat which desperately needed to be cut short. When he got almost out of sight I called him and told him to stay where I could see him and as he always did…he obeyed giving up on the pesky rabbit. When we got back to the coach I fed Charlie and ate a frozen pizza. We watched sitcoms and dramas retiring by ten o’clock.
Sometime around 2:30 in the morning I heard the wind picking up and I guess it was swirling around my raised antenna making an eerie noise that sounded like the cross between a wolf and an owl. I shuddered at the sound and so did Charlie as he whimpered and crept closer to me in the bed. I confidently whispered, “It’s just the wind. Go back to sleep.”
I love the south. Most of the year with some rare exceptions it is almost always pleasant outside and the next morning was one of those perfect days. A bright blue sky was dotted by puffy white cumulous clouds. A very light breeze kept the bugs at bay and everything was green even this time of year. The puddles from the previous day had dried so I let Charlie out and we headed toward the wrought iron fence surrounding the old graveyard not far behind our site. Though the grass and weeds were unkempt, they weren’t too thick. We followed the fence around to the front and pushed the tall gates open. Unlocked, they swung wide on rusty hinges squeaking and creaking their complaints to us.
Although there were plenty of things that frightened me, cemeteries and graveyards never did. Most were park-like settings that were not only the final resting place of those interned but often a pleasant place where family and friends could visit their dear departed. This one was no different. Wrought iron benches were spaced at even intervals throughout. Many of the gravestones were faded and unreadable and the cement monuments had black stains that ran down the sides from years of neglect. I strolled through reading the occasional headstone that had a partial epitaph engraved upon it. “It is the Lord let Him do what seemeth Him good,” for example.
I had walked around about half of the old cemetery when I turned back to see Charlie sitting and apparently staring at one particular headstone. I called to him but he wouldn’t move from his spot where he sat tall like one of those stone lions you sometimes see in front of stately homes. Again, I called my dog and when he still didn’t move I went to him. The stone slab was illegible and I knelt down beside my dog petting him. He seemed to sigh when I touched him and came out of his trance-like state. Everything seemed perfectly normal so we left the graveyard making sure the old gate was closed securely behind.
One of the greatest advantages of being close to broke and out of work is that you have plenty of time on your hands. And since Rebecca’s RV Park had no amenities and the television only received a couple of local channels, I started getting cabin fever before three days had passed.
It was that third evening when I decided to brave a visit to the cemetery at dusk just as the day crept towards the night. Charlie was comfortably sleeping in the coach so I locked the door behind me and headed back to the cemetery armed only with my Nikon digital camera and a tripod. The evening was just slightly cloudy but not so much that it hid the moon which shone brightly. By no means was I a ghost hunter but I had read lots of blog entries about orbs and other spiritual sightings in and around cemeteries and decided this would be great time to see for myself if they did indeed exist or if the many Internet photos were photo-shop creations.
I snapped the camera onto the tri-pod and set it in the middle of the graveyard just before dark and set the camera for a timed shot. I repeated this at random throughout the darkening cemetery and after about an hour felt as though I was not alone. Friends I keep in contact with had advised me never to do stupid things like go into graveyards at night…alone. Not because some spirit would grab me and pull me into the netherworld but because some kids might be using the church and surrounding area as a local hangout where they could drink and get high out of sight of authorities.
There were no kids drinking there that night, though. I was definitely alone. But there was this…feeling. A chill crept over my body and suddenly I realized I had goose bumps. Packing up the camera, I headed back to my patiently awaiting pup and the comfort of my home on wheels. Having stayed in more elaborate RV Parks with their lighted power towers and streetlamps, it was shocking to return to my site. It was dark! If it weren’t for the moon and the stars I would have been tripping over every twig or stone along my path. The moon kept creeping behind clouds making it even more difficult to find my way. I was glad I had left the outside light on my coach making it a veritable oasis of light. I unlocked and reached up to the door handle and as I pulled opening the door I happened to glimpse a refraction of light coming from one of the rental trailers. I turned off my porch light and stared in the direction of the trailer once again as my eyes got used to the dark and Charlie ran down the stairs past me. He was invisible, his dark brown coat blending with the dark. I knew he wouldn’t venture far so I went inside and flipped on almost every light flooding the night.
Having just opened a cold beer, I heard Charlie’s unmistakable whimper then a loud yelping and squealing coming from his direction. “Damn!” I said aloud. I rushed out the door and down the metal stairs with flashlight in hand to find my best friend in his apparent time of need. When I saw my dog I thought maybe he had stepped in some kind of trap because he was just sitting still, very still and upright staring into the dark…staring at the same trailer where I had seen the light just a few minutes earlier. Charlie was shivering like he does on the metal table at the vet’s office. The moment I kneeled beside him and touched him lightly he squirmed and then started licking my face like he’d just awakened from a trance. I said, “Coach” and he took off running to the motorhome…up the stairs and through the door I had left open. I took one more look in the direction of the trailer but saw nothing…no light…nothing.
Safely back inside our home, I flipped open the laptop and downloaded the photos I’d taken in the graveyard. I really didn’t know what I was looking for until I saw it on the third shot. There in the right hand corner of the shot was my first orb. My initial thought was that it could have been a smudge on the lens but it wasn’t on the previous photos… I certainly hadn’t seen anything when I was in the cemetery but I’ve heard that orbs move so quickly the human eye cannot always see them unless they want you to see them. After reviewing all the photos, I found three that had varying sized orbs…all a whitish color and slightly transparent. The most interesting characteristic about them was that they appeared to reflect their surroundings.
The night had grown cool. I clipped the leash to Charlie’s collar because he was so hard to see in the dark and we sat outside in the quiet night. My dog had taught himself to sit on top of picnic tables and did so when I sat at the wooden one Rebecca had supplied upon my arrival the previous day. Even with the lights on in the coach, the night sky was vivid. Stars shone brightly and the moon danced behind the ever present wispy clouds. Charlie was lying down behind me as I sat with my back to the table with the coach behind us as well. My view allowed me to see the entire “park” and the other trailers including the one with the mysterious light from earlier. There was no light now and Charlie seemed to be at peace having forgotten whatever he had seen that caused him to cry out as he did. Rusty Rhodes words crept into my mind, “It’s haunted, you know…”
In the coming weeks Charlie and I made it a ritual to sit outside near the witching hour watching and listening for anything out of the ordinary. I became comfortable sitting in the dark with the coach lights turned completely off. Occasionally, I would see a faint light emanating from the empty trailer or a stray orb venture from the cemetery very close to the edge of the RV Park. I had read somewhere that orbs will not follow an observer from a cemetery, however I had not heard if they would leave on their own to investigate and how far they could travel if they did so. Then again, it was like staring at a distant star. The more you stare the more it seems the star is moving or changing colors and eventually the mind believes it no longer to be a star but some kind of alien spacecraft. I probably was imagining things.
One particular night I had dozed off and was awakened by Charlie’s whimpers. The moment I saw the movement I broke out in a cold sweat. Emerging from the trailer we had been observing was the definite outline of a human form. I had the distinct impression I was looking at an officer of the Confederacy as it strode past us carrying what looked like the limp body of a child. I couldn’t move even if I had wanted to run after the apparition.
A couple of days after witnessing the “ghost” and I use that term very loosely; I returned from grocery shopping in a nearby community when I saw Rebecca sitting on her expansive front porch. I stopped to tell her what I had seen and get her reaction. The dress she wore was out of place or I should say out of time however it fit right into her GWTW lifestyle living in the old mansion. She smiled as I went up the steps and offered me some tea. I accepted and she leaned forward pouring a tall glass of the brown liquid from a glass pitcher with ice clinking as she did so. She allowed a few ice cubes to tumble into my glass which she adorned with a fresh sprig of mint. Though I wasn’t an avid tea drinker, the cold liquid hit the spot and tasted like the old south.
I told Rebecca about photographing the orbs in the cemetery and the apparition I had seen. She stared at me blankly and asked in a slow southern draw, “Maybe that’s why I can’t get anyone to stay here?” Then she abruptly stood and excused herself. The long dress she was wearing got caught on the screen door ripping it slightly but she ignored it as she continued indoors slamming the heavy oak door literally in my face. Unlike the stereotypical southern host, she rudely never returned to our socializing. I finished my tea and set the glass on the table then returned to my site.
Charlie was as always glad to see me and I knew that had it been anyone else he would have been glad to see them, too. Though he would bark and carry on when a stranger approached; once within petting distance, Charlie knew no strangers. He loved everyone and barked more fiercely as they departed voicing his sorrow that they were indeed leaving. I put away the groceries and then announced to Charlie that we were going ghost hunting that night instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to happen. He looked at me and cocked his head as though he understood what I was saying.
Now I say I’m not afraid of the unknown, the paranormal if you will. But I’m not stupid either. There was no way I was going to walk over to the trailer where I’d seen the apparition and even if I did, I don’t think Charlie would have. We drove. I parked between the trailer and the path the apparition had taking the last time I saw it. There we stayed with all lights and the motor off waiting in the dark in the somewhat safe confines of my Jeep. I was armed with flashlights and my camera.
I saw the light coming from the trailer just a few minutes before midnight. Almost immediately thereafter the confederate army officer strode towards us carrying the limp child in his arms. He was muttering something and I as I reached for the camera I froze. He was alongside the open window of the Jeep and I heard him utter, “Rebecca.” He faded into the woods.
That was the last time I saw the apparition. Our month had ended and I was anxious to head westward on our journey. When we approached the Walmart where we had met Rusty and his wife, I realized I had left a hefty electric deposit back at the mansion. I parked the motorhome and unhooked the Jeep since I didn’t want to make the fifteen mile drive back in the motorhome. Upon return, I was stunned to find the front gate chained and locked with really old looking and corroded padlocks. The house was covered with ivy and didn’t look like anyone had lived there for many years.
A call to the utility company confirmed it. No one had lived in the house for as long as they had stored their records digitally or had they ever been contracted to supply electricity to that address. The employee did relay to me that the Victorian mansion was known to be haunted.