Saturday, August 13, 2011

Harry Potter & Gettysburg & ghosts, oh my!

A little over a week ago after seeing the final Harry Potter movie, I decided that I would devote all of my free time, which is basically all day and night, to reading Harry Potter. I grew up watching the movies (I was four when the first movie came out) and never felt the need to actually read the books until now. I borrowed all of the books I didn't have from my friend (for some reason, I only had books four and five). Since I was devoting all of my free time to the Harry Potter series, I turned a blind eye towards my blog and my anime-watching. It took me about a week to finish the entire series, averaging at a book a day. After that, I went on a trip to Gettysburg for four days and didn't have any access to internet. So I'm sorry for my abrupt disappearance from this blog, and I promise that the neglect stops now.

I just had to read Harry Potter, and my head was so filled with wizards and the like that I didn't feel any motivation to put fingers to keys and update my blog.

Now that I've returned from my trip to Gettysburg, and I've finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, I'd like to give some thoughts on the series as a whole...

J.K. Rowling has a way of writing that draws you in, latches onto you, and doesn't let go. Her novels were rich in detail and captivating until the end. It was difficult to pull my eyes from the pages and pay attention to other things.

Mostly, I just love all the details and descriptions put into Harry Potter. Everything is so well thought out that it feels real.

I do feel as if some things were better portrayed in the movies, though. One of my favorite things about Harry Potter was Quidditch, the unique magical sport played on broomsticks. This was definitely more exciting to watch on the big screen than reading in the books. Every game was dragged out to its full potential in the movies, whereas in the books, the games were sort of hard to picture. It's kind of a given, though... I mean, would you rather watch a basketball game or read all the details in print? However, the movies never fully explained the rules of Quidditch, and I found myself saying, "Ohhhh, so that's what they've been doing this whole time," when I read the actual rules of Quidditch in the first book.

I do find that, for the most part, I love the books and movies almost equally. All of the details were brought to life in the movies, and you couldn't help but fall in love with the actors as you watch them grow up on screen.

There were some things in the books that I wish J.K. had put more detail into, though. The first book could've used a little more detail, especially near the end. It was almost like she was saying, "First they did this, and then they did that, and now the book is over."

And the war at the very end was kind of confusing and rushed. I wish some of the characters who died had a proper death scene. Their deaths were so sudden that I couldn't fully appreciate all that they had done as characters. It was like, "Oh, look that character is dead. We're not going to show how they died, though.Sorry." There was just a huge rush of information and events happening that it was very easy to lose track of what was going on. I really wish she had dragged out the whole battle and given it a bit more description.

Anyway, enough of my Harry Potter ramblings!

My trip to Gettysburg was fantastic. I'm a huge history buff, so it was really fun reading about the battle and trying to picture all that had happened. As you walk around the battlefield, the air is thick with history, and you can almost feel the great deal of suffering that occurred there.

But definitely the best thing was going up on Little Round Top at 8:00 for the sunset and eating dinner on the huge boulders up at the top. Then, after the final bits of sunlight sunk into the horizon and the stars came out, the entire battlefield plunges into a thick darkness, which even in a car, scared the shit out of me. On the second day we were there, we went to Devil's Den, said to be the most haunted location on the battlefield, and tried to take pictures. However, our new camera wouldn't work. It had full battery, and it would take pictures, but the pictures wouldn't show up on the digital screen. When we left Devil's Den, the camera worked perfectly fine. Later that night, when we met up with a medium, she told us that there were confederate spirits there that weren't fond of photographers and a few people have even gotten their cameras knocked from their hands. Many contribute this to the fact that many dead bodies were moved by photographers after the battle to create a more dramatic image.
Little Round Top
famous picture of "confederate sharpshooter" in Devil's Den; the body was actually found about 40 yds behind it, but the photographers moved the body for a more dramatic effect... The rocks are all exactly the same (except for the small ones stacked)
Across from Devil's Den, there's a small rocky area with a creek running through it. This is the "Slaughter Pen." At about 9:30 (the park closes at 10 PM), we headed out onto a small bridge in that area and took a few pictures. The other end of the tiny bridge was a wall of darkness that gave way to a tall forest about 40 yards away. And above that was a moon that was almost full and glowed with an eerie radiance. There was barely anyone out there except for us, and all you could hear was the music of crickets. I took a few pictures and didn't get anything much, but on the third or so picture, I got a huge red orb with a distinct face etched into it. We were out of there in moments.
Bridge over Plum Run, otherwise known as "Bloody Run" In the background is Little Round Top. There was more underbrush around the stream when we were there.
 After that, we had planned on going into the wheat field for some more pictures.This was where thousands of soldiers were killed or wounded and the blood was said to be ankle deep in some places. We got lost on our way there and ended up going down several one way streets, but we finally got there, fifteen minutes before the park was set to close. There was literally no one out there and the warm summer air seemed unnaturally still. My mom kept asking if I wanted to head out into the middle of the field to the monument there, but I refused. It was pitch black and I was already thoroughly spooked.
The wheatfield
 At midnight, we went out on a ghost hunt with professionals. Before we went inside the Hoffman Mansion, an abandoned B&B, I thought to myself, "Oh, I can totally do this. No problem."

Then I heard the history of the place.

Apparently, it was a Union field hospital during the civil war, and it had the famous window where limbs were thrown out into the yard, creating a huge pile of bloody legs and arms. Not only that, but nine confederate soldiers were held prisoner in the cellar. Two men died there. Fast forward another sixty years or so, and a woman during World War II hanged herself up in the attic for reasons unknown. By this point, I was thinking, "Oh, well okay. I can do this...."
The Hoffman mansion; it's a lot larger than it looks

Then I heard the unexplainable events that have happened there, and I started freaking out. People have seen full apparitions, unexplained shadows, and some eight women (on different nights) have seen a full corpse. All eight of these women ran screaming and crying from the building and refused to enter again. The "investigator" who was telling us about this seemed skeptical, though, because none of them had gotten a picture of what they had seen. The ghosts there seemed to not like women because they would get their hair pulled, pushed and the like. The emotion there is so heavy that some people have been said to suddenly burst into tears and have no idea why they're crying. Some have even rushed out of the building and thrown up. There was also a service stairway in the back of the home, which was very narrow and that I refused to ascend, and someone on a past tour had gotten a video of a strange limbless apparition moving up the stairs with what appeared to be a mouth hanging open.

I didn't experience anything extraordinary there for myself other than the terrible feeling that churned in my stomach, which only went away once I had exited the house. We were also using dowsing rods, and upon asking the spirits whether they wanted us to leave, the rods crossed immediately, signalling a yes. I also got several orbs in the attic, and another woman got a very freaky picture of a face. It looked almost like a skull; the teeth were etched into it clearly. There was a second face in the corner of the photo which was distorted and looked like it had bursted into flames.

The worst was hearing that the B&B had been abandoned for having a bad reputation for supposedly having demonic spirits. Although TAPS disproved this, the fact that people thought the spirits were demonic was worse enough.

After the ghost hunt was finished around 2 AM, we had to travel down a road that cut straight through the battlefield to get back to the hotel, and we rolled the windows down to fully enjoy the sound of the crickets and whatnot. My mom swore she heard moaning and shouting, but I heard nothing of the sort.

I know this doesn't sound freaky in the least, and I would think the same thing while reading this if I had not been there, but my God. It was really freaky out there. Just thinking about it is making me shiver. Also, I may have experienced a bit more in the B&B if I had actually walked around with a bit more confidence, but I was deathly afraid of heading up the old stairs into the dark second floor. I did end up going up there, though, and it was really fucking creepy. There are several hallways up there that twist around into a sort of labyrinth. Apparently, the corpse was seen in this bathroom, which I didn't see because it's kind of tucked away into another room, but I heard it's large and spacious with floor to ceiling mirrors. Just imagine how freaky it
would be to see a corpse in full details staring up at you, reflecting in all those mirrors. I was glad to leave. >.>

Anyway, I'm back and I'll definitely be getting some posts up in the future.:)

Some more Harry Potter pics I found: