Tag Archives: fires

Camping at Avila Hot Springs

IMG_8973Katie and I went to the Avila Hot Springs in San Luis Obispo, CA for a weekend of fun, exploration, and relaxation. Discovered in 1907 by oil drillers, the Budan family established these springs as a popular natural artesian mineral hot spring oasis. Today they offer RV campsites, cabins for rent, and what Katie and I chose, tent campsites.

We arrived at Avila Hot Springs as the sun was setting on a Saturday evening and pulled up to the admissions office. Katie headed inside to find out where our campsite was and soon we were unloading the truck and setting up our tent in nothing but flashlight, nearby campfire, and moon light. After our tent was set up and the firewood we would need for that night unloaded we moved the truck down to the parking area below.

We set the wood into the pit and made our first attempt at our fire. It was turning out to be a big flop. Our free wood was too dense to catch fire once we had a spark or small flame growing on the newspaper. We struggled time and time again with no success. Luckily our neighbors saw that we were having problems and offered us some lighter fluid. It was enough to get our fire and dense wood finally lit long and hot enough to continue for the rest of the night. We spent the rest of the evening by the fire making a few S’mores and staying warm until we figured it was time to go to sleep.

The next morning we made breakfast over a new fire made with more lighter fluid, egg and cheese burritos and hot chocolate. Most people were heading out that day and someone offered us some firewood since we were staying for another evening. Then we got to explore the campground. They have a massage room, hot mineral soaking pool, freshwater pool with two watersides, bikes for rent and even a small cafe. Katie was excited for their 20’x20′ therapeutic hot mineral soaking pool. At 104 degrees it is constantly being replenished with water from the natural artesian well beneath Avila Hot Springs. She could barely wait to get in, but held out until evening when the temperatures dropped and the water would feel the warmest.

We headed out to the town and explored a few areas. As it got later we headed back the the campground for dinner. We were determined to try to start the fire this time without lighter fluid this time, or at least I was. We lit the fire with our new wood and it was so much easier. We made our dinner, chicken apple sausages and banana boats for dessert and they were delicious. There’s no better way to cook a meal than over a campfire.

With our fire slowly dying we decided to go for a soak in the mineral pool and a swim in the freshwater pool. The mineral pool was so hot we quickly needed to cool down in the freshwater pool, but both pools were so nice and refreshing. One to relax your muscles and the other to cool you down. We stayed until the pools closed and then headed back to our campsite. A little poking and prodding and our fire reignited, ready to warm us up and cook a few more s’mores. The night was much colder than the previous one so we retired to our tent pretty late using it as long as possible to keep warm.

The following morning we made one last fire, cooked and ate our breakfast, and packed up our belongings. As we pulled away from the campground I couldn’t wait to come back. It’s definitely a place for people of all ages to enjoy.

Spooky Orbs at Jerome Ghost Town

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© Caroline Foley

About 45 minutes west of Sedona is the largest Ghost Town in America, Jerome. With a population of only 450 people now and over 15,000 at it’s peak in the 1920’s, it was a copper mining community sitting above the largest copper mine in Arizona and one of the fourth largest cities in the Arizona Territory also known as the wickedest town in the west. Between 1894 and 1899 it suffered four disastrous fires destroying large sections of the town. Much of what you see there today has been rebuilt and restored since then and more buildings are planned for restoration.

While in Sedona, my friend and I realized that there really isn’t much to do at night time. I had noticed a groupon for Haunted Ghost Tours in Jerome and since we were so close we decided to drive over and check it out. We found one of the few places that do it and signed up for a tour at 8:00pm. We made a quick detour to get dinner at a local restaurant, Grapes, and then headed to Ghost Town Tours to meet up with our guide, Scott, received our EMF “Ghost Meters,”and to get started on our tour.

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Our tour consisted of my friend and I and a small family with 3 children ages 6 to 15. They seemed just as excited to get started as we did. We turned our phones to airplane mode, readied our cameras, and headed out to our first stop right outside the store. I can’t remember the story, but I took my first picture and after looking at it later that night realized that it was the first picture with orbs in it. Wow, orbs in the first picture! Amazing!

We walked the short trek to the original town jail that has been sliding down the mountain and used to be located about 4 streets up. This is where we were told the first story I actually remember. A cute love story about a boy and girl from different walks of life. There are often sightings of the boy through the jail window as there was a fire and he didn’t make it out alive. We didn’t see anything or get any readings so we continued through the town.

We stopped at the old copper mining machine which was three times the size of the piece of machinery we saw. Scott told us about the town’s records and how many people died but only a few were buried at the graveyard. “Where did the rest of the bodies go?” he asked us. We can only assume that many were burned in the machine and made into the walls of the town. Surprisingly, there has never been a reading at this machinery on any of the tours and we were no different that night.

We continued on and the next stop was the theater, where the eagle fell off the building and someone on a trip was pushed down the stairs. Next to that is the Hotel Conner that had two fires neither which killed Mr. Conner and where men say that they feel uneasy staying in the room closest to the theater. We still didn’t get any readings so we continued on.

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We headed to the church where Scott lives and on the way he told us about the three hospitals in town. Since medical care back then was not what we have today, when people got hurt in the mines and it was serious without any hope of healing, the person would get 10 days to live and say goodbye to their family. It was the least the town could do to honor them and their time spent working in the mines. Today, it is said that after sundown within the hospital halls screams and moans of pain can be heard. Carts are still pushed down the corridors with doors opening and closing. There is so spiritual activity it is too much for any grown man to handle and stay the night.

We arrived at the church, but didn’t get any readings outside. We went inside and Scott told us about the priest that still walks the halls and how he doesn’t like it when people visit. Still no readings so we headed out to the back where psychics have said that there is a body buried, but no readings. Sometimes they didn’t have or couldn’t afford headstones so they would plant trees instead.

We continued on and Scott seemed kind of stumped. This was the first tour that he had gotten this far and hadn’t gotten a single reading along the way. We stopped again and he talked about the saloon fire. I suggested that we go over and check it out. He agreed and we headed that way. Something had drawn me to it earlier that evening and I was hoping there was something still there. We came to the front, but no readings. One of the kids started beeping and it was just the electrical meter, but as we walked away and held our meters we started beeping. It was crazy. Soon we were beeping everywhere, high, low, left, right, even out near the street away from the building. My hunch had paid off and Scott seemed super surprised. He had never heard of anyone receiving any readings there. Maybe hearing some cries of a woman looking for her child or a baby crying, but never any readings. We had found something new. I took multiple pictures all around the area and into the saloon and found orbs in many of them. The one at the backside of the building had the most. It was insane how much activity was there.

We continued to the edge of the town where the mexicans lived further down the mountain. Jerome was very segregated and the white people didn’t even count the mexican or blacks into their town population so who really knows how many people lived there. We got a few readings at this corner as they are in the process of restoring some of the buildings.

We finished our tour through the “Cribs District” in a back alley where all the buildings were are part of Jerome’s ill-famed “prostitution row.” With both brothels and bordellos were in this area and there was lots of fighting. The police officers were often just hired help to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. We didn’t get any readings here, but did hear another story about one of the bordello’s window girls dating both the mayor’s son and chief of police’s son. I won’t give away how that ended, but you can probably guess.

The Ghost Adventure Tour was so much fun. I would recommend everyone checking it out. There’s so much history in this little town and I plan on going back for sure. I know Halloween is far away, but if you plan on checking out this town as an additional Halloween scare this year you would be best to do it soon as haunted hotel rooms are booking up and ghost tours are close to being full already.

© Caroline Foley
© Caroline Foley