Tag Archives: fairy trees

Episode 61…Ghost Kids and Their Peepers

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EPISODE 61…GHOST KIDS AND THEIR PEEPERS

Which came first…the haunting or the horror movie?

Join Tripping on Legend as they look into a typical roadside ghost in Dunnellon, Florida, that may be as far from typical as you can get. On a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere, with the Ocala Forest looming nearby, there are reports of ghost children walking alone and into the woods. Are they just imagination, something darker like Black-Eyed Children, or the remains of the spookiness of a film shoot?

And what does any of this have to do with Suzie and the Banshees?

And are all the filming locations of the horror movie Jeepers Creepers haunted?

Is there something to the darkness of the Ocala National Forest? Listen to our Astor episode where we first start to think something is up.

Here’s our episode on The Woman in White, another movie connected to urban legends in Florida.

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Episode 33…Why Are all the Women in White

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

Feel free to call our new phone number during our lives shows to get involved or whenever just to share a legend you’ve heard to ask a question at ((813) 418-6822.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Episode 59…Wandering Women and White Horses

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Episode 59…Wander Women and White Horse

Phantom hitchhikers are nothing new to the world of the paranormal.  What makes Julia any different?

With the summer winding down and Florida’s Haunted Love Stories at the printer’s, Christopher Balzano explores two Central Florida legends that did not make the cut for the book.  The first involves a white horse seen in haunted Sanford, Florida, where celery might have once been king but now ghosts are big business.  The second is a lonely Woman in White in Lady Lake whose backstory can’t be nailed down, but not for lack of decades of trying.  As we get more into the mysterious happenings it becomes clear there are signs that point to a dark cloud that has been popping up on our legend trips being involved in another one of our locations.

For a little more background, and some of the oddest and creepiest voices we’ve ever heard on tape, listen to our Sanford Episode…

Episode 18…Whispers and Screams from Shiloh Episode

Here’s our episode on The Woman in White which connects in an odd way to the story in Lady Lake

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Episode 33…Why Are all the Women in White

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

Feel free to call our new phone number during our lives shows to get involved or whenever just to share a legend you’ve heard to ask a question at ((813) 418-6822.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Travel Log: Witches and Murderers at Arbuckle Creek in Lorida

The only motivation more powerful than love is desperation.  Put in the wrong situation, a good man will do things he would never have contemplated.  Love may lift your heart, but desperation lowers it.  Too often the two play with each other and those soaring highs of passion can make one sink even deeper when it isn’t met by another person.   Put in a corner, what would you do?  What would you do if it was for love?

It’s unclear what brought the man to the bridge that night, but it was definitely one of the two.  He met the old woman by a full moon to purchase a love potion, but we do not know his motivation.  There may have been a specific woman he had his eye on or something more economic on his mind.  The old woman was well known by that time as someone who was well trained in mixing herbs and concurring the elements to make things happen.  No one uttered the word witch.  The people in the town were too dependent on her folk remedies and too use to consulting her to use that word, and there was nothing evil in her eye or suspicious in her actions to warrant that tag.  She was just an old woman who knew things, much like the medicine men of the Seminole who had been there before. 

Listen to the original episode where we discuss the legend..and some crazy love potions.

Episode 53…The Lost Love Potion of Arbuckle Creek

It’s odd he hadn’t asked about the price before he agreed to meet her.  It was steep.  In return for the love potion who would bring his true love into his arms, all he had to do was give her his firstborn child.  He was infuriated.  He grabbed the crone, swearing to anyone who might have heard them on that night that he would never give up his child.  In the struggle, she fell from the bridge and impaled herself on the cypress tree growing near the banks of the water.  He knew what he had done would condemn him, and who would miss the old woman anyway.   Weighing the body down with stones, he drifted the body out to the middle of the creek and let the body drop to the bottom and ran for a new town.

The next part of the story gets hazy.  Some say her ghost began to appear on the bridge, pointing to where her body lay on the bottom.   Others stories say by the time the man left town never to be seen again her body had floated back to the top, revealing his crime.  Most of the people who continue to see her don’t care which of the stories are true.  They just know she is still seen on the bridge, especially during a full moon.  It’s a story that’s been part of Arbuckle Creek long enough to outlast the town itself, and some modern reports say she may have gotten her revenge in death.  There’s more than one spirit on the bridge in Lorida, and they may still be playing out a deal gone bad seventy years later. 

When we hear a story like this, the first thing we try to do is relate it and see if the story makes sense with the area.  A story like the Mini-Lights shouts about the way the neighborhood views itself and its invaders or the story of Oak Ridge Cemetery makes sense given the setting.  This legend, while familiar in its elements, seems so isolated that there just might be something to it.  While we originally discovered the story on Haunted Places, there were enough whispers about it, and enough odd moments in the history to make it worth going out.

The town of Lorida is itself a ghost town, another victim of the train boom and its own geography.  There was obviously something odd going on there before it had been settled.  The Seminoles, trying to make their way south during their early period of migration, suffered major causalities trying to cross the lake nearby.  They ended up naming it Lake Istokpoga, which means “Lake where someone was killed in the water.”  The towns grew up around the body of water, and while those who called it home seemed to enjoy the land while they lived there, it rose and fell in less than a hundred years. 

The town was first settled in 1910 when people began to settle around the bank of the lake.  There was plenty of land to graze and open space, so roots began to be put down.  The name was changed from Cow House to Sunnyland to the Hamlet of Istokpoga.  The name stuck, but when the Acline came through and started a small settlement to coincide with their rail stop on the other side of the water, people began to get confused over which was which and mail began to get lost.  Mary Strokes, who ran the post office at the time, suggested the name Lorida.  The town found its footing in farming and cattle and grew as the trains came through and roads began to be put down.  The town itself has never become as popular or populated as some of the ones around it, with Highway 98 being the only way in and out of town.

It’s unclear how well the story of the witch is known in the town.  It feels too old to really take place during the timeline of the town.   Rich Newman in his book Haunted Bridges: Over 300 of America’s Creepiest Crossings dates the meeting at 1945, but when I followed up with him he was unable to remember when he had heard that date.  The current bridge was built in 1965, and we were unable to find any concrete evidence on when the bridge became concrete.  The legend takes an odd turn though.  According to almost all versions of the story, the witch began to be seen on the bridge not long after her death and plagued the town enough for them to try and stop her nightly appearances.  A mob formed, traveled to her shack in the swamp, and burned it to the ground hoping that would stop her.  It did not work.

That would be enough, but there are other stories that paint a more complex picture of what might be going on there.  The woman has been known to mess with people’s radios, appear on the bridge to passing cars, and float over the sight of her murder in the form of ghost lights.  However, there have been two other ghosts seen at the spot.  According to a follow-up comment on Haunted Places, and echoed a few other places online, a man and a small boy have also been seen there.  These two have been known to duck under the bridge and out of sight and play with the poles of people who try fishing there.  Could it be that the murder did indeed take the potion from the dead woman and use it?  Is he paying the price in death of he and his son being trapped on the spot of the broken deal?

Listen to our recap episode of the trip…

Episode 55…Three Ghosts, Two Trippers, and a Haunted Bridge

All of this was on my mind when I began preparing a love potion for us to use at the bridge.  After consulting longtime friend and witch extraordinaire Marla Brooks, I began cooking up a potion we would use to try and connect with the old woman whose spirit might be trapped there.  Using Marla’s advice and a combination of recipes online, I created a potion consisting of red wine, apples, salt, rosemary, and a few other ingredients that were recommended.  While I was not able to chant over the mixture while it was brewing like the directions said, I did play old 1980’s power ballads, still being slightly silly about the whole thing.  I left it out overnight during a full moon and hoped it would be enough. 

In keeping with the connecting theme, I bought three candles were fragrances consistent with conjuring spirits.  One was of lilac, another was of cherry, which also related to love and the legend, and a third which was a mix of several of the other flowers and herbs Marla’s book, and another I consulted, had talked about. 

By the time we had made it out into the field, things had changed.  Perhaps it was the effect of the potion and making it, perhaps it was consulting with Marla herself, but I was starting to see the haunting slightly different.  There is a long history of deals made with witches or deals made with the Devil for personal gain in folklore.  Rumpelstiltskin had asked for the same payment for his services. They almost all go wrong.  Our angle had been to play up the witch aspect of things, but it was more clearly a murder scene we were traveling to.  We would use these witch elements as a way to try and communicate with the spirit, making her comfortable and more willing to speak with us, but instead of spending time with the folklore on the witch side of things, we would try and talk to her and see the story from her side. 

The moon was low and bright yellow by the time we got to the bridge.  Following Marla Brook’s advice, we lit the candles and recited the incantation she gave us, changing the words slightly to match legend tripping and not investigating:

The Witch’s Circle of Protection

Have everyone stand in a circle and one person shall read this:

Guardian s of the North, Element of Earth, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation.

Guardians of the East. Element of Air, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation.

Guardians of the South, Element of Fire, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation

Guardians of the West, Element of Water, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation

This next part should be read and repeated by the participants, one line at a time.

God and goddess, Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides

Be present with us during this investigation.

Bless the circle and keep us protected

No unwanted entities are welcome here

Only pure, divine beings are invited into our space.

The circle will close on its own with the investigation is over

Spirits will return to the light

There shall be no attachments to any of those here tonight.

The Circle is now cast. So Mote It Be. (or Amen)

Potion

A small pinch of cinnamon, a petal of rose, the sweet taste of apple, that’s how the love grows. And for those who taste this potion, they shall feel that warm emotion.

We set up next to the bridge on the boat launch.  As we said the incantation, we poured the love potion around us, casting a protection circle, saving some for dumping off the bridge. 

For a location so far out in an unpopulated part of Florida later at night, the bridge was busy.  The loud moaning of the cows around us sounded like ghostly agony, like dinosaurs, and added to the creepiness of the location.  The longer we were there the more we understood an alligator was tracking us from the water.  Cars flew by, crowding the road as we tried to cross it. 

The reports of the man and boy are centered around underneath the bridge, so we explore a bit.  It was covered with graffiti and mold with the alligator close by.  We then made our way onto the bridge to try and talk to the woman and dump the remaining love potion on the bridge and into the water where she was thrown and landed. 

It’s always hard to take moments of a legend trip and say we touched the ghostly part of the story.  We do not look for evidence but often get it, but more often than that, we have only our feelings and impressions to go on.  For example, only two times during the trip did we hear nearby dogs violently bark.  The first was when we cast the protection spell and the second was before we left and I spent a few moments closer to the water talking to the woman and the two males.  It meant something at the time, but nothing solid.

Almost all of the old love potions we had explored going into the trip had made a point of talking about the power of menstrual blood as a powerful element.  As soon as we had finished the incantation, Natalie, who was at the tail end of her period, felt a very tangible change in her flow.  It normally would not have given us pause, but the timing and the connection was too on point for us to ignore.

Then there were the fireflies.  Ever since our trip to Mounds State Park where we had experienced a rash of these insects which led us to a Pukwudgie encounter, we had become aware of connections to the paranormal and to folklore.  When we had stepped into the area where we were going to cast the circle, three appeared, hovered near us, and then disappeared. 

The other odd thing happened while we were physically on the bridge dodging the speeding cars as we spilled the remaining potion.  While looking across to the other side where her body was thrown, my eyes played a trick on me.  Imagine shining a light into your eyes quickly and seeing the darkened figure of the flashlight when you close your eyes or look away.  My eyes saw a man take three large steps before stooping down to a smaller figure twenty feet away.  He looked like that kind of shadow.  I watched this happen three times before experimenting with the lights we were using to see if I could recreate it.  I couldn’t.

Lastly, we had three odd lights appear, not from the insect world.  We had established that there were three spirits at the bridge, confirmed to some degree by the fireflies earlier in the night.  At one point when I went closer to the water, three odd lights appear in pictures Natalie had taken.  Not that odd given that we had three candles lit nearby, so a camera might pick them up their reflection.  However, in a series of pictures taken seconds apart and without moving the camera, they rise up in the frame with precision.

Most folklore comes from a need.  It may be trying to explain something or trying to teach the history or an important moment to the community.  There is something you can track, which is why they are so appealing to Tripping on Legends.  We understand ourselves by understanding the story.  At Arbuckle Creek in Lorida there is not lesson to learn, no message to the town or reflection of community.  There’s a woman on a bridge and a father and son.  There are just a few ghosts and a story told to explain them.  If context building understanding, you won’t find it there, and maybe the fact you can’t means the story itself is more truth than tale. 

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com. 

Now you can also call us on the all new Tripping Line at (813)418-6822.

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Travel Log: The Fairchild Oak, Ormond Beach’s Suicide Tree

It would be easy to say there was a curse.  Too many things had gone wrong, too many things continue to go wrong,  but at some point you need to take a step back and realize when you try to carve a new world out of a swamp or maintain a European lifestyle in a world of people who are strangers, heartbreaking moments are bound to happen.  When we look at a location and see tragedy after tragedy the first instinct might be to rank it as tainted somehow and call in the Warrens.  When something within that location is recognizable, say a tree that seems out of place and dwarfs everything else around it, a villain arises and takes the brunt of the blame when stories start to be told. 

The Fairchild Oak in Ormond Beach is right out of Central Casting.  It’s overwhelming size and twisted branches, mixed with a story here and there about spooky happenings, and it’s no wonder it has become one of the more popular legends in the area and a have-to-go spot for those examining the weird in Florida.  Imagine two points connected by a road.  On one end lies local folk figure Tomokie and on the other a tree famous for inspiring such feelings of sadness you might not make it out alive.

The history of the area is a mixed bag of success and failure, which makes sense all things considered.  In 1804, James Ormond was granted a stretch of land near New Smyrna Beach on the east coast of Florida in gratitude for his hard work on the seas.   Tensions between settlers and the Timucua were already  strained by that time, but there doesn’t seem to be too much drama between them and the plantation, which he named Damietta.  He appears to have enjoyed moderate success.  In what would be the first blow for the family in the New World, he was killed by a slave in 1817 on his property.

In 1924, his son James Ormond II who had left to go back to his native Scotland moved to what would eventually be named Ormond Beach and established his own plantation.  He had an even better relationship with the Native Americans still in the area, said to be friends with some of the most influential players in the Seminole War and Florida history.  While no one is entirely sure the exact circumstances of his death, James II was found dead underneath an oak tree on the property in 1829.  The death, whatever happened, was gruesome enough for his son to comment on it for years afterwards.  The story now is that it was a suicide, although there is nothing to justify that story except what has been told about the tree in the years since.  His son buried him on the property at what is known today as Ormond Tomb Park. 

Over the years the grave has been site of vandalism and ghostly activity, some of which might be sparked by fact his son chose to place his father on top of an existing Timucuan burial mound.  This might be a case of the sins of the father falling upon the son.  While there is deep history of mound disturbances leading to paranormal activity, this doesn’t seem to fit Ormond’s personality.  All that is written about him conveys a sense of harmony with the native population, so it seems odd that he would have disturbed mounds to create his plantation or that his son did not have permission to bury him where he did.  The location of the tomb, however, fits with the folklore of restless spirits.

Property shifted hands over the next few decades until it was purchased by Norman Harwood in 1880.  By all accounts, Harwood was a nasty character.  He was a large, imposing man who was said to lack social graces and social connections.  He had come to the area on the heels of some failed business ventures in Minnesota and continued his streak of bad luck in Florida.  The man has since become a thing of legend in the area, with equal stories being told of how he tried to swindle the locals and how he was swindled by them.  Five years after arriving in Florida he was also found dead on the property.   Again, there is some confusion about how that was done.  Some said he hung himself from the same tree Ormond had while others say he shot himself under it.  Alice Strickland’s “Ormond on the Halifax,” which features first-hand accounts, said he died in his bed.  Not to be derailed by a bump in the folklore, some reports combine the two and say he asked his bed to be moved under the tree and then killed himself.  His death made national papers and is said to have warranted a 200,000 insurance payout.

Episode 35…A Gloomy Sunday at the Fairchild Oak

The lore of the oak was solidified and was given a nickname by locals.  Dubbed the Harwood Oak or the Haunt Oak, it had a reputation for dark figures running around the grounds and ghostly bodies swinging from the branches.  Perhaps the more disturbing stories involved not phantoms by psychology and made it a popular spot for legend trippers.  It was said if you sit under the tree voices in your head will begin to whisper to you, encouraging you to kill yourself.  Like the Assonet Ledge in Freetown, people who come to the park to this day are said to have their sunny dispositions damped by coming into contact with it or resting in its shade.  It is said that since Harwood’s death dozens of people have killed themselves at the tree or took their lives after spending the day near it.  Of course, none of these are confirmed, but people still refer to it as the Suicide Tree.  It was this reputation, already firm in the mind of the people in the area, which led to parks advocate Eileen Butts strategically changing the name to the Fairchild Oak after a famous botanist who has visited it and insisted it be saved. 

On December 11, 1955 it was renamed with a ceremony and a few months later that part of the old plantation was dedicated Bulow Creek State Park.  A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, or in this case a tree by any other name would still inspire darkness.

I had spent considerable time at the Assonet Ledge, explored the hanging trees at Dudley Road, and braved the Devil’s Tree in Port Saint Lucie, so I felt confident these stories were more legend than reality.  Natalie, always with a positive outlook, and I would be safe from hard.  We decided then to trip the tree with another urban legend known for its deaths; the famous Gloomy Sunday song.  Written in 1933 by Hungarian songwriter Rezső Seress under the name  “Vége a világnak” or The “World is Ending” the song is rumored to be the most deadly tune ever written. 

While the lyrics were changed a while later by László Jávor, and again for the American recording, people on both sides of the Atlantic have been said to be thrown into unexplained grief and sorrow when listening to it, with reports of between 19 and 36 suicides being directly connected to it.  Seress is said to have committed suicide years after the release, although this might be due to the growing legend his legacy had on people and the horrible conditions of his country.  The most famous American recording of the song by Billie Holiday was said to have cursed her, or been a reflection of deal she had made with the Devil, and led to her fame and contributed to the tragic circumstances of her death.  Since its publication and release, different versions of the song have been banned by radio stations and governments looking to protect the public from the Hungarian Suicide Song.

When you enter Bulow Creek State Park, you are immediately hit by the enormity of the Fairchild Oak.  There have been Timucuan artifacts found there dating back 2,000 years which some say place the tree at that age, but the more realistic estimate is somewhere between 250-300 years old.  In that time the tree has snaked its way into the sky and branched out dozens of yards in each direction, with its limbs twisting back to the earth, creating overlooks and hiding places.  A thick copper wire connected to a rod adorns the top and assures the frequent Florida lightening will not hit it.  The rest of the park consists of smaller trees and nature trails, but people come for the Oak.

It was a busy Sunday.  The park was filled with bikers from Canada who we continued to see down up and down the Old Dixie Highway when we travelled to Tomoka State Park later in the day.  The loud revving of their motors made it hard to concentrate on any voices inside our heads, and the general sunny day and the positive vibes of the people surrounding us made it nearly impossible for us to be depressed, even as we stood under it and played Gloomy Sunday.  We asked a few people in the park if they knew the reputation of the park they were exploring, but none did. 

Two unexplained moments did happen while we were there.  As soon as we entered the shade I began experiencing a headache that lasted until I was back in the car.  This has happened at several different locations to me before, and I never know just how much weight to put into it, but it was worse at Bulow Creek than it ever has been before.  Similarly, Natalie was having issues.  During the Gloomy Sunday part of the trip when we were playing the song and listening for suicidal suggestions, her back began to hurt from the way she was sitting near the tree.  She placed her head on it and was hit with a searing pain when she made contact.  It went away when she moved her head back away from it.

The second odd experience occurred while we were making the Facebook Live video of the song.  After playing for a little bit, the feed went out completely.  Once the song was done, it came back instantly.  We kept track of the reception the entire time we were there, and everything not involving Gloomy Sunday went through.  It was just those moments.

Later when we talked to a Ranger at Tomoka State Park, he said he knew nothing about those legends.  He did however say that people had spoken lately about hearing tree rapping and whispers about Skunk Ape roaming the trails around the tree like in Myakka River State Park

Sometimes people need a focus for their grief.  In the 20th Century people in Eastern Europe turned to a song, an extreme example of becoming sad by listening to sad music you searched out because you were sad.  It becomes a cycle and the focus becomes the scapegoat.  For over two hundred years people have been mystified by what might be living at Ormond Beach.  It’s a seductive location with dreams of success but too many obstacles and mysteries.  The oddness might go further back, as evidence by the Native American folklore born there and the disasters they documented.  The scapegoat there takes several forms, like a giant statue or ghost lights down the road.  The most intimidating, the one that seems to stay rooted no matter what catastrophes happen around it, is a large tree, standing like a guardian watching it all. 

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com. 

Now you can also call us on the all new Tripping Line at (813)418-6822.

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Episode 57…Shamans, Fairies, and Philippe Climb the Mound

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Episode 57…Shamans, Fairies, and Philippe Climb the Mound

 

Natalie Crist and Christopher Balzano find their way to Philippe Park in Safety Harbor to explore the legend of the Shaman of the Mound and the other spirits said to climb the temple mound at dawn or in times of need.

With Dr. Brandy Stark of S.P.I.R.I.T and Urban Legends of Pinellas County along with her paranormal pug, the Trippers explore the scared Tocoboga mound of Safety Harbor in hopes of experiencing the ghosts there and try to solve the riddle of who it might be.

Listen to Episode 56 of Tripping on Legends, Safety Harbor Isn’t Safe from Everything, to get some of the background info on the legend trip.

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Episode 56 of Tripping on Legends, Safety Harbor Isn’t Safe from Everything

 

Listen to the episode of Paranormal Pets recorded in the park:

https://petliferadio.com/Paranormal_player97.htm?fbclid=IwAR0VTuYNNaAGT6RG_4NV7y0uqVqf4oDHTjnPn_GfGUKCStDhyEqJeh75gy8

 

Remember to follow the legend trip associated with this episode at #HauntedMounds on our social media.

 

There’s also still time to show your support for Ella and her OM team as they try to make their way to the World Finals in Michigan…

https://www.gofundme.com/y757dk-om-world-finals?fbclid=IwAR0QCodxtCrMGrjMNgEyEsmb4XpAlWxnyN_a68WjEEXuIcCgtTCCIgmnOQs

 

Dr. Stark’s Urban Legends of Pinellas County Site:

http://urbanlegendsofflorida.homestead.com/home.html

 

Mark Muncy’s Page

asset-1501539757233

 

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

 

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at:

www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

 

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

 

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

 

Instagram: @SpookyTripping