While we travel a lot, we seldom do cross-country driving. Now we had picked up a trove of dishes from cousin Juliette and it was the only way to get them up, driving from Florida to New York. We took our time. None of those “We can do it in 18 hours” bragging trips. We were leisurely driving on the highway, listening the radio and eating chips, drinking Coke, the American way. Stopping here and there.
It was Halloween time, end of October. We had picked up a couple of places in advance for overnight stays. The first one was in St. Augustine in Florida. Old historic town, filled up with school kids on day tours. The Hilton was a beautiful place built up with several individual houses as one complex. We slept well.
Next stop Savannah, Georgia. Old mansions, the city is divided with squares, parks scattered on every couple of blocks. Madison Square, where we sat on the same bench where Forest Gump once did! Spanish moss was hanging like spider webs from old trees. We took a horse and buggy ride for sightseeing, since we only stayed there one night, Gas lights were flickering in the historic riverside after dark. Slightly spooky. I had one of the very best meals ever there, shrimp with grits. Heavenly!
In Charleston we did not have a reserved hotel. I like usually old historic houses, bed and breakfasts if possible, I get enough of 5 star stays because of my work. So a stop to the Tourist Office was in order. I explained our wishes and in no time were booked in “King George IV, exactly what you are looking for!” she said. Off we went.
The Inn was a block off King Street. Gravel covered courtyard, an inviting little garden. Balconies. Sweet! I stepped into the office, told the lady we would like to stay one night. “One night? Everybody ALWAYS stays at least two.” she smiled. “No, no, we only have one night scheduled in our travel this time, as much as we would love to, but no, thank you.” I turned to my husband for credit card. He was nowhere to be seen! I found him in the yard talking on his phone, telling our daughter he is NOT staying here! The place is spooky! A black cat ran across the yard. “THAT’ S it, we are leaving!” ” Don’t be silly, the place is charming!” We sign up and are shown into our room. Flowered wallpaper, fireplace, chintz, very Victorian. I liked it. I don’t want to live like it, but love to stay in one of them on vacation. My husband usually gives in.
We settled into the room and contemplated where to eat. I wanted to change the travel clothes to something nicer. Where is the suitcase? Did we take it from the car? Where is it? My husband stepped out the door and voilà , there it is, neatly outside our door! Strange! Dressed up we left the room. Going down the stairway from second floor, a few steps down, there was something on the step. What? “It’s my cell phone!” he said. “How in heavens…?” Strange!
Charleston is really, really beautiful! The town sits on the water. We swung on the huge swings on the dock. There were most beautiful houses with pastel colors, well-preserved, pale blue porch ceilings. Palm trees. Soft breeze embraced us with a slight musty smell of lowlands. Sort of the way the marshland smells in Finland. People were friendly, they picked up a conversation easily. We walked and walked. Maybe we stay one more night? And so we did.
My husband went to sleep before me. I like to read before turning the light out. Next to the fireplace were some books. Guest books! I started to read. Everybody loved Charleston! Even a Finnish family of four, I read. But what was very prominent to the writings were: “We did not see the ghost…”. “I hope I can see the sea-captain..”. “My mother saw the ghost going down the bath room steps…”. “We saw the sea-captain going towards the toilet…” “We saw him!”. “We saw HIM!”. Three books! My husband was snoring deeply in his sleep. I have to admit I was a little scared. The shadows were moving behind the chair. There were sounds…Shall I wake him up, or not? Shall I turn the lights out? I pulled the pillow over my head and let the heart beat calm me into sleep.
In the morning, I asked my husband he wanted to write something into the guest book. “Why? What do the other people write? You write, you are better at that!”
“OK, then. We did not see the ghost…HEY…where are you going?” ” We are out of here!” My husband was out of the room like a lightning, the suitcase flew out with him! He was gone! He does not take these supernatural stories too well.
After breakfast we inquired about the stories. Yes, this is a haunted house. There is an old sea-captain here. He was in our room for years, but the bed was moved to another floor recently, and he moved with the bed!
The King George Inn is included in the yearly ghost tours in town.
We continued and stayed next in Alexandria, Virginia. We slept with lights on. We had just visited the most haunted towns in America, without really realizing it. And during the Halloween, for crying out loud!