It’s October, which means it’s time to plan something spooky—like the ghost adventures in your city or state. Yes, there are pumpkin patch festivals, haunted hayrides, and ghost walks in all corners of the country. And those are often worth attending. But to really get your heart pumping, plan a visit to a documented haunted destination. The America’s Haunted Road Trip series by Clerisy Press is your guide to the best nearby locales.
The haunted house in your neighborhood, the one that’s privately owned, is off limits. The number one rule of ghosthunting (aside from staying safe) is to never trespass. That’s why the books by Clerisy Press are perfect references. The ghost adventures presented in these books are open to the public.
Each state-specific book presents around 30 notoriously haunted places, from churches and libraries to restaurants and hotels. For example, Ghosthunting Colorado includes the Stanley Hotel, a site that isn’t only known for its ghosts but also as the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. With Ghosthunting Maryland, you’ll find a small municipal park where a haunted house—the one that provided the basis for The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty—used to be.
Of course, not every site or story is internationally famous. So the authors spend several pages on each destination, describing the haunted histories and their own ghost adventures. At the Regent Theatre from Ghosthunting Michigan, the author tells us that the cinema is reportedly haunted by a former projectionist. From Ghosthunting Southern California, we learn that the Mission Park Jail is believed to be haunted by several of the countless people who died there throughout the 1800s.
Armed with this knowledge, you can choose the haunted house or cemetery or lighthouse of your choice, based on location or based on which account creeps you out the most—or the least! Go alone, if you dare, or bring a friend, or make it party.
Ghosthunting books are available for the states of Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia; as well as San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country; Southern California; and Southern New England. You’ll also find the city-specific books Chicago Haunted Handbook, Cincinnati Haunted Handbook, Ghosthunting New York City, Haunted Hoosier Trails, Nashville Haunted Handbook, Spirits of New Orleans, Spooked in Seattle, and Twin Cities Haunted Handbook from Clerisy Press.
Every day, we are crowded by people, buildings, and traffic. Our mobile devices inundate us with text messages, emails, and social media alerts. It’s no wonder that so many of us crave an escape—a quiet, peaceful place to renew our spirits and recharge our bodies. According to author Sean Patrick Hill, that place is the Red River Gorge.
In the new edition of Hiking Kentucky’s Red River Gorge (November 2019, Menasha Ridge Press), Sean presents 28 trail routes that showcase the region’s unparalleled beauty. He guides readers to lush forests, secluded waterfalls, and brilliant wildflowers within the three geographic areas that make up “the Gorge:” Red River Gorge Geological Area, the Clifty Wilderness, and Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
“The Gorge is, in fact, a spiritual place,” says Sean. “Though the Gorge is increasingly busy during warm weather, there is still an opportunity to find silence. Many times of year, if not midweek in summer, you can have a large swath of wilderness to yourself.”
To that end, Sean provides a list of “Best Hikes for Seclusion” near the beginning of the book. One such recommendation is the Osborne Bend Loop of the famous Sheltowee Trace. The difficult but exhilarating trail roughly follows the canyon of Gladie Creek on its way to the Red River. The picturesque route even includes a view of a nice waterfall.
As Sean’s other “Recommended Hikes” demonstrate, the Gorge offers more than a quiet retreat. His curated lists include “Best Hikes for Kids,” “Best Hikes for Wildflowers,” and a variety of other selections.
“There are plenty of reasons to hike the Red River Gorge: exercise, sightseeing, bird-watching, backpacking, and more,” adds Sean.
Those reasons also include the famed arches.
“It can be argued that the real draw of the Red River Gorge is the rock,” Sean says. “With the most rock arches east of the Mississippi River, this area stands alone for scenery.”
The hikes detailed in this book cover every major trail in the Red River Gorge. They allow for day hikes of varying lengths, times, and difficulties. Each of the 28 entries includes ratings for scenery, trail condition, difficulty, and solitude. For each route, there is a full-color map, elevation profile, and photography, as well as an overview, route details, and driving directions.
“For the most part, if you undertake all of these hikes, you will have seen the best the Gorge has to offer,” says Sean. “I chose hikes not only for the value of destinations but also for exploration of the various topography of the Gorge.”
“It really takes only one good hike to fall in love with the Red River Gorge. After that, you’ll find yourself thinking about it again and again.”
Hiking Kentucky’s Red River Gorge ($18.95, paperback) is available wherever books are sold, including bookstores, gift shops, and online retailers.
About the Author
Sean Patrick Hill lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he spends time with his daughter, practices photography, and writes. As a hiker and backpacker, he has walked trails across the country, from the Pacific Crest Trail to the Appalachian Trail, including rambles in the Grand Canyon, the Delaware Water Gap, Yosemite National Park, the Rocky Mountains, the Olympic Peninsula, and the Oregon Cascades. In Kentucky, he tends to stick to the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (where he volunteers as a trail ranger) and the Jefferson Memorial Forest, though he will on occasion ramble as far as Pine Mountain, the Cumberland Gap, and, of course, the Red River Gorge.
The Constellations Activity Book is the unexpected answer to a question I hear at every elementary school visit: “What’s your best-selling book?” The students typically think I’ll reply with something more traditional, like a picture book, chapter book, or novel. But my top title is a collection of dot-to-dots and other games centered on the joys of stargazing.
Although I have more than 50 titles to my credit, writing books is my second job. By day, I work for Adventure Publications, a publishing imprint of AdventureKEEN and the publisher of the Constellations Activity Book. Back in 2011, I was in the midst of editing a series of state-specific activity books. (I was also the graphic designer and art director for those projects.) Needless to say, activity books were constantly on my mind.
For that matter, stargazing was too. A year earlier, in 2010, Adventure Publications had produced Night Sky by Jonathan Poppele. To say it was successful would be an understatement. It was a hit. We followed it with the Night Sky Playing Cards—which soon became our best-selling item.
Late in 2011, I was looking at an illustration of Ursa Major. It featured the famous star pattern with the shape of a bear drawn around it. Of course, a leap of imagination is usually required to see the figures that constellations represent. My first thought was that it would be an impossible stargazing guessing game for children. Then something in my mind clicked. What if children were shown those star patterns—but instead of guessing, the answer was revealed through a dot-to-dot?
It was such a good idea (if I do say so myself) that I was certain it must have been done before. I scoured the internet for the bevy of books that would burst my creative bubble.
To my extreme delight, I found nothing that featured dot-to-dots of constellations.
The next day, I pitched the idea at work. The response was… lukewarm. After a bit of hemming and hawing, management gave me the greenlight—with a limited budget for illustrations. They were not confident that it would sell.
Luckily, my friend Shane Nitzsche was a talented artist and a stargazing nut. I begged a favor off him, and he agreed to do the project—mostly because of the subject matter.
With him on board, I was left to create the book. I chose 26 constellations, wrote the manuscript, and put the book together—with a huge assist from the design team.
The end result is a fantastic, educational product. Each entry includes a dot-to-dot, a supplemental activity or game, a description of the mythology, and simple instructions on how to locate the figure in the night sky.
More than 7 years later, the Constellations Activity Book is still going strong. The interactive introduction to stargazing is available wherever books are sold.
My two boys aren’t exactly afraid of black bears. But we live in bear country, and we are thinking about moving a few miles out of town. While exploring a beautiful wooded property yesterday, we came upon some bear scat. When the boys found out, I could tell that they felt nervous. Buying a house is stressful enough without adding unnecessary fears. To ease their worries, we are going to celebrate these icons of our wild places in three steps.
1. Just the Facts
When it comes to feeling safe, the facts are on our side. A logical look at the information demonstrates that there is little reason to fear. According to the North American Bear Center (NABC), fewer than 75 people have been killed by black bears since 1900. Obviously, that’s less than one fatal attack per year across the entire continent.
While every death is tragic and should not be taken lightly, according to the NABC, many could have been avoided. In most cases, the bears attack because they are surprised and feel threatened. By making plenty of noise while moving around outdoors—not a problem for our two boys—the risk of a bear encounter is incredibly small. Keep a safe distance after spotting a bear. For older children (and adults), a can of pepper spray adds yet another layer of security that might help everyone feel prepared.
2. Books About Black Bears
More good news about these majestic mammals—they are adorable! Gather the family, grab a photograph-heavy book, and enjoy. My favorite option is Bears by Stan Tekiela. The pictures are spectacular, and the natural-history information is fascinating. The book also features brown bears and polar bears, an added bonus. The topics range from their furry coats to communication to hibernation. By the time the kids finish Bears, they will be experts who look forward to moving.
Admittedly, younger children might not appreciate the in-depth discussion (although they’ll love the photographs). For them, a book like Baby Bear Discovers the World might be a nice substitution. It still has Stan Tekiela’s photography, and it’s a heartwarming story about a cub who ventures into the wilderness.
3. Trip to the Zoo
With anxiety levels decreased and with interests piqued, the final step is to show the children real-live black bears. A visit to the zoo is a fun and safe way to see the animals lumber about. While their impressive size might be a jolt, their nonchalant mannerisms are anything but scary.
By this point, the children shouldn’t just be over their bear anxiety and excited about moving, they might start asking to get one as a pet! It’s proof that a little bit of information and experience can go a long way toward easing one’s fears. Hopefully, it makes buying a house (and seeing bears in the backyard) more exciting for everyone.
There’s plenty of buzz around our house; the grandparents are coming for the weekend. We are fortunate that my parents are only a few hours away. Yet it’s far enough that we only see them a handful of times each year, so when they visit, it feels like a holiday. To make those times extra special, it’s fun to plan an outing. Of course, you can go swimming at the hotel (if they insist on getting a room) or catch a movie. But if you’re looking for an idea that’s out of the ordinary, here are a few—courtesy of Adventure Publications’ Grandparents with Style series of guidebooks.
Visit a State Park
Opportunities abound at state parks: hiking, swimming, camping, and more. Plan a scavenger hunt, and let the grandparents and grandchildren work together to find everything on the list. Bring an identification guide—like birds, trees, or rocks & minerals—and try to identify what you see. Roast marshmallows and tell stories around a campfire. The bonding options that a state park provide are endless.
Ride a Train
There’s something awe-inspiring about a train ride. Maybe it’s the sound of the wheels or the steady rocking of the cars, but it appeals to all ages. Many places offer unique excursions that the grandparents and grandchildren will enjoy, including sight-seeing tours, dinner trips, and holiday-themed rides. If this option isn’t available near you, perhaps there are boat cruises with similar offerings. A limousine ride is also an excellent alternative.
Walk through a Cemetery
It might sound odd, but a walk through a cemetery is both interesting and memorable. It’s fascinating to study the different headstones, look for familiar last names (or specific relatives and friends who have passed away), and determine the ages at which people died. This will lead to plenty of questions and great discussions about the grandparents, their past experiences, and a healthy talk about mortality.
This is an ideal activity for grandparents and grandchildren to share. It is quiet, peaceful, and provides time to converse. Find a secluded spot, sit down near a stream, and drop a line into the water. A picnic lunch would be great too. Just remember to give the kids time to run around and play, or that special afternoon might become “boring.”
Check Out a Book at the Library
As impactful as it is simple, a trip to a library with the grandparents emphasizes the importance of books and the power of reading. Your parents and your children can browse together, discuss the many options, and choose the one (or several) with the most appeal. Then check out those books, bring them home, and spend some time reading together. It’s truly magical.
If you have your own ideas, be sure to use them when Grandpa and Grandma next visit. If you’re looking for more suggestions, the Grandparents with Style books are full of information.
The landscape is charred and murky. The horizon is torn by jet-black, leafless trees. The surrounding shrubs have burned to ash. Chimneys and large piles of soot are all that remain of the neighborhood homes—all but one.
In the midst of the wildfire’s destructive wake, a lone house stands. Its walls are a grayish and sticky black, and the ground around it is singed. Yet the home and everything within it have been saved. Some say it’s a miracle. Others call it luck. It is neither. The property was protected by careful planning and the implementation of a strategic fire-resistant landscape. The property was saved by firescaping.
In the new edition of Firescaping (October 2019, Wilderness Press), horticultural expert Douglas Kent shares secrets, tricks, and simple instructions that can help readers’ homes survive a wildfire. The practical, full-color guide introduces design and maintenance guidelines developed by dedicated scientists and firescaping professionals. It shares actionable strategies for reducing a property’s fire hazard, a practice the author is passionate about.
“Scientists, fire professionals, and ecologists such as myself now believe the worst is still ahead,” says Douglas. “Megafires, firestorms, and fire tornados are becoming a yearly phenomenon.”
Douglas has been on the front lines of many fires. Since 2005, he has toured, worked with, and spoken to fire-scarred communities throughout California. His book is invaluable for homeowners, landscaping professionals, and community fire prevention officials across the country.
“There are more than 46 million homes representing a population of more than 100 million in high fire hazard areas in the United States,” Douglas notes. “Sixty percent of all new homes are being built in fire country.”
Firescaping provides in-depth information about the various aspects of wildfire safety. For individuals, it delves into landscaping techniques, home defense against flying embers, and recommendations for everything from plants to driveways. For neighborhoods and communities, the book discusses such important considerations as road conditions, vegetation management, and recovery efforts after a wildfire passes.
“I hope everyone—homeowners and contractors, students and advocates—uses this book as a starting point for their journey toward personal safety,” Douglas says. “We can create safety. We just need to roll up our sleeves and get to it.”
Firescaping ($21.95, paperback) is available wherever books are sold, including bookstores, gift shops, and online retailers.
About the Author
Douglas Kent’s love affair with landscaping spans decades. He is an expert in ecological land management (ELM), the practice of designing and maintaining landscapes for specific environmental outcomes, such as carbon reduction, pollinator attraction, or waterbody protection. He has taught aspects of land management at the Center for Regenerative Studies at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, since 2008.
Douglas manages an ELM business with clients across California. The business has helped Douglas run four statewide education campaigns and participate in hundreds of landscape projects. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Fine Gardening, Sunset Magazine, and National Wildlife, as well as on HGTV and CNN Comcast. He has also written six other books on sustainable gardening practices.