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One roof or two?

My 1950’s home has recently developed ceiling cracks running lengthwise through all of the rooms.

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Q. My 1950’s home has recently developed ceiling cracks running lengthwise through all of the rooms. Recently, I had a new shingle roof put on, and the roofing contractor told me that I could save a little money by putting the new shingles on top of the old ones. I wonder if this could be contributing to the cracking of my plaster ceilings.

A. The new roof over the old is most likely the reason for the ceiling cracks. Some roofing contractors will put new shingles over old ones because it saves them time and money, but this is no benefit to the home owner. Your house was framed to handle the weight of one shingle roof, but not the weight of two. The extra load on the structure is placing stress on the rafters, braces and ceiling joists, and causing stress cracks in your plaster ceilings. At this point, your best option is to just live with the cracks, because if you patch them without relieving the extra load on the roof, the cracks will just come right back. Next time you are ready for a new roof, insist that the roofer remove all of the old shingles, felt, tar paper and any other materials right down to the plywood or boards and start from scratch. This will not only eliminate the extra weight problem, it will give you a better looking, tighter and longer lasting roof.

Charity 101

How to choose the best & avoid scams.

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Giving to others in need seems to be a natural impulse the world over. Many of us enjoy giving to causes, programs or research that we agree with and believe in; however, sometimes we are caught unaware and are asked to give by volunteers. We may love the idea of the cause but know little about the organization. Or we may like the idea, but prefer it were handled differently. So where do you go to find the best fitting charity and how do you determine if they are legitimate? Below we have compiled some things to consider when choosing a charity, such as when to give, how to avoid scams, and other ways to give to the community rather than a cash donation.

Before you Give

What Touches You? - It may sound simple (and it is) but one of the best gauges for which charity to choose should be what you are passionate about. What causes mean the most to you? What charities benefit research, education or programs you believe in? This should be your first consideration when choosing a charity. It will help narrow your choices and there is nothing better than having pride about the organization you choose. Who knows, that initial donation could lead to volunteering and becoming actively involved in something you really care about.

Take Control - Be proactive about the charities you choose to support. Don't wait for someone to come knocking at your door or spend money on reminders in the mail. Instead, take the first step by actively searching for charities that give to the causes you believe in. To begin your search, check out some of these sites: Charity Navigator | Guide Star | IRS Search

Money 101 - Find out where your donation goes and how it is spent. Most organizations offer easy charts and/or percentages detailing how much money goes to the cause, administration, events, publications, etc. Although you may like the ideas behind an organization, you may not agree with how they choose to spend the money. The only way to know is to check them out and if you can't find the information, practice our next point and ask questions!

Ask Questions - Don't be afraid to ask questions! Perhaps how they spend money on fundraising events is worded ambiguously to you. Or you are not certain if the funds will stay local or move nationally. Any questions you have are okay to ask. Sometimes people don't want to ask as they think they are pestering the volunteers and wasting their time - that is not the case! By thoroughly answering your questions, volunteers know they are ensuring your continued loyalty, confidence and support for their organization. If they don't want to answer, then consider someone else - there are plenty of charities to choose from.

Reputation - Find out about the charity's reputation. Have there been complaints about your charity? Are there accolades for your charity? Take some time to see what others are saying about the charity of your choice. Better Business Bureau | Charity Navigator

The Quick List - If you don't want to spend the time researching the charities out there, take a look at some of these lists to see how they are already ranked by organizations. American Institute of Philanthropy | Charity Navigator

When You Give

Dust Off the Checkbook - It is best to donate by check rather than cash or credit card. This way you can specify the money only goes to the organization. Always write the check - don't give any information directly to your bank account. Credit card is okay online if you really know the source is reliable. But be very cautious!

Guard Your Information - As with your bank account information, keep most of your information private. As you will read in the 'Signs of a Scam' section below, caution is unfortunately the best practice when donating money.

Ask if Your Gift is Tax Deductable - Not all charities actually count as a tax deductable donation. Although we realize this is not usually the impetuous behind giving to a charity, it is something to keep in mind if you do plan to claim it on your taxes - especially if it is a sizable donation. The charities won't be offended, just ask.

Get a Receipt - Even if your donation is not tax deductable, get a receipt. This will help you track your records and if you are ever unfortunately caught in a scam, it might help in developing a case against the criminal.

Think Ahead - Consider giving to the charities of your choice once a year or up to a certain amount every year. This will make it easier to choose a charity that you know rather than off the cuff impulse. Also, it will make it that much easier to say no to those who solicit your donations if you know you have already given as much as you want/can for the year.

Signs of a Scam

Appearance is Not Enough - Charity scams can be everything from a person with a jar asking for a particular cause to elaborate schemes that include personnel, office space, logos and image branding - all the signals of a legitimate operation. Thus, we say it again, it is important to do your homework before you give.

Know the Name - Many charity scams are set up using names very similar to bigger and better moderated charities. Be careful and take the time to double check that the organization you are donating to is the one you are really thinking of.

The Copycat - Unfortunately, even knowing the correct name of the charity may not be enough. Some scammers (especially in person) will claim to be from an organization they are not. The best option is to check with the charity to see if they are running a drive in your area before you donate.

Opportunity Knocks - The primary means for charity scams to get your money is by approaching you in person (i.e. at the grocery stores or going door to door), spam emails, and even telemarketing. To be safe, take the information about the charity down but wait to give until you have had a chance to check them out. If they turn on the high pressure "sale" when you mention researching them more, simply walk away. Instead, a legitimate charity will be happy to give you the information about their organization and where to find out more. As for emails, donating to unsolicited emails is never a good idea. Email is only a good option if it is from an organization with which you already have a relationship (usually a reminder to come donate again) or someone you personally know (i.e. participant fundraising for a benefit walk/run/etc.).

Too Much Pressure - Yes we just wrote it above, but it is worth mentioning again - high pressure "sales" from charities is a huge no-no. If they turn up the sob story, guilt trip, or state the need is now or never - be wary and just walk away. Most legitimate charities avoid high pressure tactics and have guidelines for volunteers against such tactics as they are just as glad to have raised the awareness if not always the cash.

Registration Please - It is good practice to ask a charity if it is registered and has a registration number. You can then use this number to look it up with the Better Business Bureau.

Misery Loves Company - Be very careful when giving after a large natural disaster or another event which rocks the community. At these times it is usually best to give through charities that have a standing reputation for helping. But again, make sure to check the name is not a quasi copycat. Be careful how you give the money - even when memorial charities are set up for a local family, you can donate through a bank with an established trust. Try not to let the headlines in the news sway you to give to the wrong person!

Allocation of Funds - Although this is not necessarily a scam item, some donators feel scammed when they find out so little of their money actually goes to the cause of their choice. To avoid this, research the charity to see how they allocate their funds. As we stated above, every charity is different in how it will choose allocate the funds raised. Some charities have high administrative costs and use fundraising to pay staff salaries. Others spend a great deal on advertising campaigns. Although neither is illegal, you may want to see if you agree with the amounts spent. You can find details on the individual charity websites or directories, such as Charity Navigator and Guide Star.

And the Winner Is - Another scam to look out for is the offer of a entry for a prize with your donation. This can usually be related to a scam, but also some legitimate organizations use this tactic. In this instance you may want to consider how much of your donation is going to fundraising gimmicks rather than to the cause at hand.

Other Ways to Give

Your Time is Worth Money - Don't have a lot of cash to give? A little of your time can help just as much or even more for some charities. Many organizations need voluntary workers to make their goals a reality. Most Americans consider donating around November and December when the image of helping out the local soup kitchen is etched in our minds. However, many organizations need help the rest of the year. Contact the charity you are passionate about and ask when you can be the most helpful. Have time but don't know where to participate? Try some sites like these to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Many of these sites let you search by interest - if volunteers get to share the love of one of their hobbies they are more likely to enjoy the experience and spend more time helping. www.idealist.org | www.volunteermatch.org | www.1-800-volunteer.org | www.getinvolved.gov

Take a Volunteer Vacation - Some college students have made headlines by taking volunteer vacations during spring break instead of heading to a party hot spot. But these vacations are not just for college students! Many seasoned travelers find these vacations a great way to learn more intimately about other cultures and give a little back in the process. Whether your passion is people, the environment, culture, language, or all the above, this might be the next vacation for you. www.globalvolunteers.org | www.volunteerabroad.com | www.globeaware.org | www.earthwatch.org

Play on the Web - Some online stores and searches will donate to charities if you use their interface. So why not take them up on the free offer? Do Great Good | The Hunger, Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest & Animal Rescue Sites | www.searchkindly.org

Consider Giving a Loan - A different way of 'giving' may be to actually lend capitol to the working poor. A new idea in micro financing gives funds to poor families who need a small loan to make their business ideas work. Loans can be as low as $25 and are actually paid back (unlike email schemes). The forerunner in this area is Kiva.org who started in 2005 primarily connecting lenders with 3rd world entrepreneurs. To find out more, visit their website www.kiva.org. This year, Kiva partnered with ACCION USA and the Opportunity Fund to offer micro loans here in the United States as well. For more on this option, please visit www.accionusa.org or www.opportunityfund.org.

Paint-On Insulation: Is It Truly Green?

Winter is here, and if that utility bill is high, you are probably already troubleshooting problem areas of your home.

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Winter is here, and if that utility bill is high, you are probably already troubleshooting problem areas of your home. One of largest contributors to drafty rooms is a lack of insulation. Insulation is designed to stop air passage through ceilings, walls, and the floor. The intention is to keep the right air where you want it in each season. Obviously, the windows and heating source are also important to maintaining an overall energy efficient program, but having the right insulation is a key factor.

In existing homes, it can be difficult to go back and insulate after the fact. If attic space allows, you can blow-in insulation. Under-floors and in-between walls can be difficult as well. Even with your best efforts, there is bound to be some location that is hard to reach. What if you had a product that you could apply from the exterior?

Sound a bit like science-fiction? SFGate highlighted the ingenious concept of Nansulate this past November. It is a paint-on insulation that suspends specially engineered particles with low-conductivity in an acrylic base. The particles are water-resistant, making the paint a weapon against mold and mildew. Unlike traditional fiberglass insulations, this new product is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

So how green is this product? The company promotes it as a major breakthrough in green endeavors. Not only does it contribute to creating more energy efficient homes, but they also make this statement regarding the safety of the ingredients: "Nansulate® coatings contain none of the ingredients contained on the EPA listing as Class I or Class II Ozone Depleting Substances, nor do they contain any ingredients on the listing for Global Warming Potential (GWP) that are non-ozone-depleting." The company is anxious to become accepted into the green marketplace. "We are pleased to see that our Nansulate coatings are becoming a brand name in the sector of Green Nanotechnology," stated Francesca Crolley, VP Operations & Marketing. (Nano Science and Technology Institute)

Sounds like a pretty good idea, but is it affordable to the average homeowner? Surprisingly, it is actually quite affordable. At $66 for 150 sqft of coverage, it is an inexpensive alternative to other forms of insulation. Especially if you take into account the ability to avoid opening up walls or crawling under houses. The paint can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or roller. It is applied to walls, windows, pipes, and water heaters, and can even be applied over existing paint.

Because this is a fairly new product and its composition is so different from traditional insulation materials, it is hard to do a straight-across-the-board comparison between the two. So far, however, those who have already used it report a 20-40% savings on their utility bills.

A relatively new product, the company is working hard to bring awareness to its presence. I, like many, was initially skeptical. It sounds a bit too easy to be effective. They offer several case studies to promote its efficiency, but each of us will probably have to try it firsthand before we are believers. It definitely sounds like it is worth trying-out. Fairly easy to install, why not see how it can help your energy efficiency this season? Request free estimates from a skilled painting contractor in your area to see what this product can bring to your home. More information at: CalFinder Remodeling

Pet Friendly Home by Homecheck

For many, welcoming a pet into the home is as joyous and significant as bringing home a new baby from the hospital.

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For many, welcoming a pet into the home is as joyous and significant as bringing home a new baby from the hospital. Pets easily find their way into our hearts with their playful antics and friendly companionship. When you decide you are ready for the responsibility of caring for a pet, it is imperative that you are willing to make adjustments to your living space. Preparing your home, pantry, and yard for your new pet is important to their well being and your ease of mind. This article offers pointers to those who are considering adopting a companion animal, or those who already have pets. Although the article focuses primarily on cats and dogs, many of the tips will work for most four legged friends. The tips may seem like common sense, but it may slip your mind to check for commonplace hazards when a new pet is underfoot exploring its' new surroundings. Many times we take for granted that things are safe or would be of no interest to animals. However, that adorable puppy running down the hall with toilet paper streaming behind him would beg to differ!

Part I: Preparing Your Home

When bringing a new pet home, the last thing anyone wants to think about is cleaning and proofing their home. However, taking a little time to do so will prevent headaches and possible heartaches. It will keep your pet, your prized possessions, and your sanity intact. This is true whether you are bringing home a new pet or adjusting an older one to a new home. Or, perhaps you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of losing possessions to a pet who has never had boundaries set up in the home. Whatever your reason, these tips will help proof your home for the new, old, and mischievous pets in your life.

Think Below the Knees
Get down on all fours and look around at the same level as your pet. There is a whole other world down at their viewpoint!

  • Think low! Remove objects on low shelves, coffee tables, and anywhere else that is easy access. Anything destructible, such as paper, books, anything made of cloth (i.e. laundry). It is much easier to 'chew train' a pet if they do not learn a bad habit of "where to look" for destructible goodies when you aren't looking.
  • Also think about food and snacks. Don't leave pop cans, candy wrappers, crumbs or anything else on a low counter. Leaving out these delicious tidbits can easily lead to "counter surfing".
  • Since kittens and ferrets may actually have the ability to walk on your counters, make certain to keep an eye on them when cooking. You may have food on the counter and the stove burners on - both can be dangerous. If you are a messy chef you may have a very happy kitty, but it could be dangerous if you don't keep an eye on them!
  • Speaking of food and snacks, make sure if you have smaller pets, like mice, that they are out of reach to your new puppy or kitten. Don't forget your fish - sometimes the idea that the aquarium is invincible can be tested.
  • Smokers - do not leave cigarette butts where pets may reach them. If eaten it can lead to nicotine poisoning and the filters aren't good on the digestive system.
  • Children's toys can be great fun for pets too! Make sure your kids realize they may loose their toy if it is left out and unattended. Also many toys may have small parts or can be easily broken into small parts by your pet which can be dangerous.
  • Overall keep you place picked up of daily messes. For example: Newspaper whether read or not is still fun to shred and eat. (Same goes for the mail!) Just got home from shopping? Put away the bags! Plastic bags can be either chewed and swallowed (pups) or can suffocate some pets accidentally (kittens & ferrets).
  • Sometimes pets will eat something that will require surgery to remove. Small objects to watch out for include rubber bands, balloons, beads, buttons, Q-tips, sewing needles, thread, staples, string, pantyhose and coins - to name a few!
  • Medication should never be left around the house. Make sure it is secure - just like with children!
  • Keep heating vents covered. Many pets love to snuggle up to these and you don't want your pet falling in.
  • Smaller pets like ferrets should be blocked off from holes and other hideaways - you don't want them to find a comfy spot and not come out! Also be certain to check under recliners before moving them as your pet may find it a nice place to hide out.
  • Plants should be moved to higher ground or blocked. Watch out for vine plants that your pet might grab and bring the whole thing down. * Some household plants are poisonous to pets. Here are a few: aloe verra, amaryllis, caladium, holly berries, lilies, mistletoe, mums, and poinsettias. For a complete listing check out the Poisonous Plants resource links.

Playtime
Unless they are sleeping, or eating, they are playing!! Some tips to make this non-stop action fun and safe for both of you!

  • Keep an eye on your pet at play with certain toys. Some toys don't hold up to your pets hunting prowess and become shredded in no time. Toys with squeakers are fun but many pets will work hard to remove them if your not watching. Just keep in mind if you are in the other room, you may never see them devour their cut up prey! A solution would be have toys for when you can see them and more durable toys for when they are in the yard, other room, or you are not at home.
  • Also watch older toys. If they don't fall apart they may actually be warn into sharp edges, don't let your pet play with damaged toys, they can cut themselves easily. Look before you step when playing with all our small pets. Try this pattern "Turn, Look, Step"
  • Some small animals such as rabbits are chewers and it normal to give them various chew toys such as: Cardboard boxes, empty oatmeal containers, bird toys, cardboard paper towel rolls, things to shred. Try to keep them away from your wooden furniture - they love wood! Instead wood sticks are available at pet stores.

Road Blocks
If they can't reach it, they can't eat it, scratch it, or all out destroy it!

  • Don't forget the garbage! Take the garbage outside or make sure you can close it away in a closet/room where pets cannot reach it. Not only will they make a mess rifling through all the goodies they can also hurt themselves if there are any rough objects they rifle through.
  • Keep some rooms closed. It is perfectly reasonable for there to be certain rooms that pets may not visit unless supervised. One obvious choice would be the bathroom (remember that puppy running down the hall with toilet paper - cute - but after the 20th time said pup turns from cutie to lil'-demon). If you don't have a door to a particular area look into getting a child gate or blocking it off with other materials.
  • If you have a mixture of pets you may not want them to be able to access certain areas of each others space. A prime example is keeping kitty litter from dogs, some seem to find the "deposits" tasty snacks. In this instance you can set up a roadblock for the dog that the cat can still easily climb over.
  • If your pet is especially good with its nose or paws you may want to get childproof latches. They will work well to keep them out of lower cabinets in your home.
  • Keep the lid down on the toilet, especially if you use strong cleaners. Small, curious pets may fall in and pets taking a drink can be poisoned by cleaners - some of them even contain anti-freeze!
  • Speaking of cleaners, here are some examples of cleaners that are really dangerous to your pets (to name a few!): ammonia, bleach, disinfectants, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, paint, rat/bug poison.
  • Keep electric cords out of reach or secure them to baseboards. When first home keep an eye on where your pet is at all times. Some may try chewing on the cords. You can deter this with a taste deterrent like "Bitter Apple", a mix of vinegar and water, or hot sauce. Or even better, block access to them altogether.
  • Speaking of cords, watch those drapery cords as well. Tie them up so all your window treatments aren't pulled to the ground.
  • Many animals are attracted to fire. The light of a candle or the heat of a fireplace will peak their interest. Make sure candles are never left unattended. For the fireplace make sure Fluffy knows just how close they are allowed to get for a good snooze - warm is good, singed is bad.
  • Keep the upstairs windows and any cellar doors shut. Young pets are just like children with their curiosity but can easily misstep and fall.
  • Be careful when working in the garage. It is best to keep them out and make sure you clean up thoroughly! Such toxins like anti-freeze are very lethal to pets - a drop the size of a dime can be lethal! (You hear a lot about anti-freeze, not only is a small amount incredibly lethal, anti-freeze is also sweet smelling and tasting to pets - they will seek it out!!)
  • Watch our for open dresser drawers, closets and other nice dark places, kittens are especially curious and many are drawn to these make-shift dens. Have you heard about the kitten jumping in the dryer? Its not a urban legend, be alert and check before you shut the door.
  • Another warm place kittens like to snuggle is on a car engine. If your kitten has access to your car (or the neighborhood cat for that matter) it may help pound on the hood of your car and honk you horn. If you don't want to do this every day try to limit access to your car.
  • One of my favorite words of advice when watching out for the sleeping kitten: "Locate your kitten before you sit down on the sofa or use the recliner." (Of course, depending on your house rules, that may go for your other pets too!)

Holiday Playground
The holidays are fun for everyone - including your pets!

  • Decorations should be up high or in rooms that pets have limited access.
  • Any holiday lights should be treated the same as other electrical cords. Get it out of the way or secured so your pets don't accidentally trip over them. Also keep a lookout and make sure they do not chew on them; again a taste deterrent like "Bitter Apple" will work.
  • Other holiday items to keep from you pets include: metal ornament hooks, popcorn strands, tinsel, angel hair (it is spun glass), and decorative artificial snow or tree flocking - to name a few.
  • Don't forget that holiday plants like holly berries, mistletoe, and poinsettias are poisonous!
  • Fourth of July fireworks are fun for us but many pets find all the racket frightening. One suggestion is to have treats nearby and give them treats whenever there is "Boom!" so they associate the noise with happier things (mostly used for dogs). Another thing to keep in mind if you are leaving for the festivities, don't leave pets alone out in the backyard. They may panic and do things they normally wouldn't do like digging their way out!
  • Many holidays include house guests that are not familiar with your pet or household rules. After introducing your guest to your pet, make certain you let your guests know not to leave doors open, feed table scraps or any other important household rules. If there are a lot of guests you may want to arrange a quiet place for your pet to retreat.

Home Alone
What do they do when you leave the home? Preferably it doesn't involve eating the couch!

  • Before you leave for a long day at work it is important your pet is calm. For dogs a good walk in the morning may be necessary. For cats a little play time will help with bonus energy. Teach your pet tricks and have them perform for you before you head out. Our pets sleep more then we do and getting rid of morning energy will help them settle for a nap while your out earning money to spend on them.
  • If you have a really active breed you may want to look into a dog daycare or walking service for a couple days out of the week. Taking your dog to a pet daycare is like taking them to camp. They get to romp with other dogs and usually come home tired and ready for a good night sleep. Many find that a few days out of the week is enough to hold them over on the days in-between.
  • Crates can be lifesaver when you are gone. If you have pet that is still undergoing training and is not sure of all the rules, a crate or restricted room is a must. Cautionary tale on the restricted room - we placed one of our pups in a room in our house as we went out to get a bite to eat. There was no furniture in the room except for her crate with her toys. When we came back she had climbed the crate and chewed the metal blinds on the window and also proceeded to dig up part of the carpet!

Part II: Preparing Your Pantry

Your kitchen is not only the place where you prepare your family's meals and sometimes serve them, but it is also the most widely used area in the home chosen by pet owners to feed their pets. U.S. consumers spend more than $11 billion a year on cat and dog food, according to the Pet Food Institute. And pet food manufacturers compete for these dollars by trying to make their products stand out among the many types of dry, moist, and semi-moist foods available. Pet food packaging carries such descriptive words as "senior," "premium," "super-premium," "gourmet," and "natural." These terms, however, have no standard definition or regulatory meaning. But other terms do have specific meanings, and pet foods, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), must carry certain information on their labels. Consumers can be confident that their pets are eating a nutritionally sound food if they understand the full significance of these labels.

Pet Food Safety
When determining your pets diet, be sure to verify that all foods have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Food & Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine
http://www.fda.gov/cvm/default.html

Menu Foods Pet Food Recall
http://www.menufoods.com/recall/

Pet Food Recall Frequently Asked Questions
http://www.fda.gov/cvm/MenuFoodRecallFAQ.htm

Table Manners
Don't feed table scraps to your pets. Many times people don't realize that some foods okay for us can be toxic or hard on the system for animals. Some foods to be aware of:

Alcohol
Chicken & Turkey Bones
Nutmeg Apples (stems & seeds)
Chocolate
Onion Apricots (seeds)
Coffee (grinds & beans)
Peaches (seeds)
Avocados
Dairy Products (large amounts)
Pears
Baking Powder
Fatty Foods
Plums
Baking Soda
Garlic
Potatoes (peelings & green)
Broccoli (large amounts)
Grapes
Raisins Cherries (stems & seeds)
Macadamia Nuts
Yeast
**Tobacco, although not a food, ingestion can be poisonous

Part III: Preparing Your Yard 

Your yard should be a fun and safe place for your pet to enjoy the outdoors, and maintaining it to prevent hazards is relatively easy. Although the outdoors may not be suitable for some pets, such as birds, mice, and rabbits, and those who stay in pens or restricted kennels/runs may not be able to enjoy your yard to its fullest extent, the tips below will address pets that have more freedom. These pets roam a fenced backyard or prowl around the perimeter of your house (i.e. small dogs & cats). Read on for a checklist of ways to make your yard safe and entertaining for your pets.

Yard Maintenance
When maintaining your yard you want to keep your pets in mind.

  • When working on the yard keep pets indoors. Our dogs like to chase the lawnmower - bad idea - so they now watch from inside. Some pets may be just the opposite and try either to attack the mower or try to escape in a panic - equally bad idea. Besides the lawnmowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and other loud tools should not be used when pets are around.
  • Be careful with other tools such as shovels, rakes, spades, etc. Some pets may try to "help" you do the yard work and can inadvertently be struck by these items.
  • Review the chemicals you use on your yard. Weed killers, bug killers/bait and other chemicals can be poisonous to your pets as well. Some you may still be able to use, however, you may need to let the yard sit for x amount of hours before letting your pets back out. Symptoms of poisoning usually include: vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes convulsions or unconsciousness.
  • Keep your yard clean of waste. Especially with puppies, they can get in the habit of eating their waste. Besides, you will both enjoy your yard much better if it is not covered in poo mines! For cats you should have an outdoor litter box. This will be easier to clean and prevent the cat from laying waste to your (or your neighbor's) flowerbeds.
  • Remove any ladders, tools or stacked piles (i.e. wood), etc. that young pets may try to climb or knock over. If you do keep the stacks in your yard, check that they are secure and cannot roll onto your pet. C
  • Consider carefully what you plant in your yard. Plants that can cause complications include: Rhododendron, Japanese Yew, Lilly of the Valley, Peach and Cherry Trees (pits) to name a few. See our links to Poisonous Plants for more details.
  • You may want to try to keep your yard clear of the bee family by getting rid of nests on your property. Your dog cannot escape bees flying through the yard, but cutting down their numbers may help. All dogs are naturally allergic to bee stings. Depending on the location of the sting they may have to visit the vet for medication. If it is on the mouth/head it can lead to swelling and difficulty breathing.

The Kingdom
Your pets will make your yard into their own domain. Make sure their kingdom is safe and enjoyable.

  • Check the fence of the yard for holes or gaps that may be an easy escape. Make sure your gates are locked and secured and guests and children know to do so as well.
  • It is best not to have any young pets around water unattended. If you have a pool or pond make sure to watch them around this area carefully. Some trainers even suggest teaching pets how to get out of the pool or pond early on, sort of a "Swimming 101" for the pet in case they get into trouble when your back is turned. If your pet does get into a pool, make sure they get a bath so none of the harsh chemicals can effect their skin and coat.
  • Most pets are sun lovers. If your pet likes to "sunbathe" keep an eye that they don't get too hot. Signs of heat exhaustion include: restlessness, panting excessively and drooling. The worst case scenario is the pet collapsing and eventually falling into a coma. To counter it, wrap them in a damp cool (not cold) towel and go to your vet or animal hospital.
  • In hot weather keep plenty of water. Refresh and refill it often. If you keep food outside as well make sure it does not sit too long. The heat may cause it to spoil and flies may contaminate it.
  • Make sure you have shade in your yard. You may even want to add a structure such as a doghouse for your pup to rest
  • Ask your vet to recommend a flea & tick prevention plan right for your pet. Depending on how much your pet is outside, where it goes, etc. you may need more preventive tools. It is imperative you ask your vet as many medicinal solutions are measured by your pets size, weight, age, etc.
  • Your pet may like to make or find a burrow to rest in. Block off crawl spaces under sheds or decks. You don't want them to get trapped or hurt by any debris you cannot see underneath.

Ideas for your Pet Friendly Yard
Below are just a few ideas of things you may do to improve your yard for your pet.

  • Placing markers around your yard for your dog to potty on or for your cat to scratch on can help save some of your other trees. Start by blocking the trees you want to save and place toys or treats by the markers you want them to use. Eventually you can train you pet to have a habitual like for that particular log(s)!
  • Prepare digging spots for your pets. For your dog it can be a small area of dirt and sand where you keep toys to encourage him to be there. For cats you can have one container/pot with catnip or another enticement. By keeping them interested in their designated digging spot they will learn to have fun there and leave the rest of your yard alone (most of the time!).
  • If you don't want your dog in your flower bed try a wooden or stone fence. Some dogs will learn to stay out of the area due to the road block, however you may need to supplement the roadblocks with additional training.
  • Dogs are going to do their rounds around "their" territory. This will leave worn paths in the grass. You may want to lay a nice stone path on their route to beautify it.
  • Continuing with a dogs tendency to make paths, for smaller yards you can make a maze path for them. Using placing flowerbeds and other structures you can create a winding route for them for their territorial routine.

Conclusion

Pets are a wonderful addition to the family and home. Taking time to prepare your home, pantry, and yard will make both of your lives a lot easier. It may seem like a daunting task at first, however, your pet will soon learn the house rules. You may even be able to reclaim certain areas of the house as your own once your pet matures and understands not to destroy your possessions. You, too, will learn a thing or two and will begin to naturally watch out for potential pet hazards. Eventually you won't even realize your new habits. It is simply part of the lifestyle change that happens when you adjust your life to accommodate animals in your home. Just remember to be pro-active, and you'll have far fewer headaches in the long run, with great company and lots of fun! Useful Links! | Adopt a Pet | Animal Care | Dangerous Foods | Find a Vet | | Pet Insurance | Poisonous Plants | Selecting Food | | Just for Fun | Adopt a Pet AdoptAPet.com www.adoptapet.com Millions of young, healthy, beautiful companion animals are euthanized needlessly each year because there are too many pets and not enough homes or people interested in providing food, water, shelter, medical care and LOVE to these animals. Use these resources to unite animals with loving homes. American Kennel Club www.akc.org The American Kennel Club, a not-for-profit organization established in 1884, maintains a purebred dog registry, sanctions dog events and promotes responsible dog ownership. Petfinder.com www.petfinder.org Search 193,550+ adoptable pets with our advanced search or our Quick Search. Locate shelters and rescue groups currently caring for adoptable pets. Browse our resource library and learn more about how to care for your pet. Post classified ads for lost or found pets, pets wanted, and pets needing homes. Sign up to be a volunteer to help your local shelter or rescue group. Animal Care Doctors Foster & Smith Pet Care www.drsfostersmith.com At Drs. Foster & Smith we care about the health & safety of your pet. That's why we've developed this resource for pet owners like you. Healthy Pet www.healthypet.com The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is an international association of more than 33,000 veterinary care providers who treat companion animals. Established in 1933, AAHA is well known among veterinarians and pet owners for its standards for hospitals and pet health care. PetEducation.com www.peteducation.com Fulfilling their commitment to provide pet owners with trustworthy pet care information, every Drs. Foster & Smith catalog contains up to 30 articles written by the doctors about the health and care of pets. Veterinary Partner www.veterinarypartner.com VeterinaryPartner.com is here to support your veterinarian and you in the care of your companion animals by providing reliable, up-to-date animal health information from the veterinarians and experts of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), the world's first and largest online veterinary database and community. Dangerous Foods PetEducation.com www.peteducation.com - Dogs, Cats Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism. PetPlace.com http://petplace.netscape.com/ Americans spend over $10 billion dollars on pet food for our pets. Despite buying the best food available, some pets would rather eat what we eat. However, certain foods can be dangerous to your pet causing varying degrees of illness. Some food is toxic due to ingredients and some by improper cooking, storage or poor hygiene. Find a Vet Healthy Pet www.healthypet.com Use Healthypet's Hospital Locator to find a veterinary hospital near you or nearly anywhere you want to go! VetLocater http://vetlocator.petplace.com/ Access to over 26,000 veterinary clinics in the United States and 2,400 veterinary clinics in Canada. Pet Insurance Pet Assure www.petassure.com Pet Assure, headquartered in Lakewood, New Jersey, is the nation's premier pet health care organization with thousands of veterinarians in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Conceived in 1996, the company mandate is to enable pet owners to obtain quality care for their extended family members, at an affordable price. PetCare Pet Insurance www.petcareinsurance.com PetCare Pet Insurance Programs start at under $10/month. It's a small investment that will help you prepare for a secure and happy life for both you and your pet VPI Pet Insurance www.petinsurance.com From unexpected illnesses and accidents to routine care for your dog or cat, we recommend the VPI Superior Plan and Vaccination & Routine Care Coverage. For those who want minimum coverage we also offer the VPI Standard Plan. Poisonous Plants American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) http://www.aspca.org Please note that the information contained in our plant lists is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather a compilation of the most frequently encountered plants. For general information on plants not included on either list, please feel free to contact us at napcc@aspca.org. Cornell University www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/ This is a growing reference that includes plant images, pictures of affected animals and presentations concerning the botany, chemistry, toxicology, diagnosis and prevention of poisoning of animals by plants and other natural flora (fungi, etc.). Cyber Canine www.cybercanine.com/toxicplants.htm Here are some of the toxic plants you should keep away from your pets. If you suspect that your dog might have eaten any plant that might be toxic, contact his/her vet immediately. Many common house and garden plants can be toxic to animals if swallowed. The symptoms can be diarrhea, nausea, or skin allergies. Veterinary Medicine Library www.library.uiuc.edu/vex/toxic/intro.htm This database was created by Mitsuko Williams (Veterinary Medicine Librarian, 1983-2003) in order to assist the University of Illinois veterinary students in identifying common plants that are toxic to animals. This database brings together information available in library books, plants grown in the Poisonous Plant Garden, mounted specimens of plants, and the reference notes for a toxicology course (VB320) which is taught during the fall semester each year. Selecting Food Animal Protection Institute www.api4animals.org/689.htm Commercial pet food is a great convenience for busy caregivers. You want the best for your companion animals, but with a bewildering array of foods and claims to choose from, how do you decide what's best for your animals? US Drug & Food Administration www.fda.gov U.S. consumers spend more than $11 billion a year on cat and dog food, according to the Pet Food Institute. And pet food manufacturers compete for these dollars by trying to make their products stand out among the many types of dry, moist, and semi-moist foods available. Pet food packaging carries such descriptive words as "senior," "premium," "super-premium," "gourmet," and "natural." These terms, however, have no standard definition or regulatory meaning. But other terms do have specific meanings, and pet foods, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), must carry certain information on their labels. Consumers can be confident that their pets are eating a nutritionally sound food if they understand the full significance of these labels. Just for Fun Neopets www.neopets.com Neopets® is the greatest Virtual Pet Site on the Internet. With your help, we have built a community of over 70 million virtual pet owners across the world! Neopets has many things to offer including over 160 games, trading, auctions, greetings, messaging, and much much more. Best of all, it's completely FREE!

More Spooky Vacations

Haunted Hotels, Inns and Castles!

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Today thrill seekers can go skydiving, cliff jumping, white water rafting or paragliding, just to name a few. Looking for a little adventure, but it's too wet outside to play? Why not snuggle indoors and thrill your imagination with a haunted vacation? Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend getaways. Perhaps a friendly ghost will fold your clothes and lay them out on the bed; a mischievous one might turn on the lights and radio at 2:00AM; or perhaps one with a chip on his shoulder might give you a little "bump in the night" to remind you he's there. You might find it a good laugh or a little fun to shake up the fall and winter humdrums. Below we have expanded a short list of haunted places to stay. We tried to collect from across the US and added in a few international destinations just in case you wanted a ghost with an accent! Enjoy and have some fun! International Haunts: Ireland: Ross Castle | United Kingdom - England: The Feathers Hotel | Scotland: Comlongon Castle | Wales: Ruthin Castle Alabama - Birmingham: The Tutwiler Hotel The History: The original hotel was built in 1914. This hotel was the grandest in the south for its age. Financed by Colonel Tutwiler, its luxury was meant to entice the American and Steel Institute to host its annual convention in Birmingham. Although the original hotel was imploded in 1974, the Ridgley Apartments, also owned by Tutwiler at their inception, was renovated in 1986 as the new Tutwiler Hotel. Either way, the good Colonel owned these buildings, and wanted to keep them for good... The Haunting: Colonel Tutwiler himself haunts this establishment. As long as you mind your P&Qs he will generally leave you alone. He likes to turn on the lights and stoves every night. The staff learned that if they politely ask him to turn everything off, he has been quite obliging. Of course after a renovation in 2007, there does not seem to be as much ghostly activity. Or perhaps the Colonel is just biding his time... How to see it: Although this building is about a century old, it recently received a $9.2 million facelift in 2007 - so all the creature comforts are here. To spend the night, click here. Alaska - Anchorage: Historic Anchorage Hotel The History: The original Anchorage Hotel was established in 1916. In 1936, an Annex was added to accommodate the growing population of visitors. It is this Annex that is now the current hotel and was recently renovated in 1989. Some of the most famous guests include Will Rogers, Wiley Post and artist Sydney Laurence. The Haunting: This is the place to "see" a lot of ghost happenings. Supposedly specters are seen in the halls and objects like to move on their own. TVs turn on and off and faucets are left running by the spirited guests. There is not a particular story other than an abandoned bride, who took her own life when her husband-to-be got cold feet. There is also reportedly a man who walks up and down the stairs, but his reason for staying around is unknown. How to see it: Although a ghost log is not available online, it is rumored to exist - why not check it out in person. All the modern amenities are available to guests. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Arizona - Jerome: Jerome Grand Hotel The History: Built in 1926, this building was originally the United Verde Hospital. The hospital was built to be fireproof and withstand blasts from the dynamite mining nearby. One of the best hospitals in the west, it unfortunately was phased out when the mining in the area began to slow down and closed by 1950. The building stood empty until 1994; it had been a time capsule and was unchanged for 44 years. It is now being restored as a hotel with many of the rooms already completed and open for guests. The Haunting: Being a hospital, there were many patients that perished in its walls. However, there were deaths of two orderlies that many believed was murder. There is also one recorded suicide. When the building lay dormant for 44 years, locals claimed they would still see lights burning in the vacant building. Since being reopen, more paranormal activities have been noticed. The most common is for guests to feel temperature drops and hear coughing or labored breathing in empty rooms or corners of their own guestroom. One ghost is said to be a woman who died in childbirth. She is upset that her child was buried in an unmarked grave and prowls the grounds looking for the babe. How to see it: You may stay in the hotel today. Room rates begin at $110 and go up from there. Being the highest point in the Verde Valley, it offers some great views. And if you're lucky, maybe a glance at a ghost or two! To spend the night, click here. Arkansas - Eureka Springs: Crescent Hotel The History: Founded in 1886, the Crescent Hotel started its career as a sleek and elegant hideaway for the Victorian wealthy. However, not able to stay afloat the hotel closed. It was reopened in 1908 as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. But this school closed in 1924. In 1937 it was opened as a hospital and health resort. Norman Baker claimed to have a cure for cancer but was met with scrutiny as it came to light that he had no medical education. He was later imprisoned on mail fraud. It wasn't until 1946 that efforts were made to reestablish the hotel. The Haunting: Perhaps the fresh spring water under the hotel attracts spirits thirsting for a little human interaction. This hotel has many different haunted areas from guest rooms, to the lobby, to the grounds. Guests have seen a women in the hall, a tall man knocking on the doors, and former cancer patients and nurses to name a few. A long list of guest experiences can be found at the hotel's ghost website. How to see it: The hotel offers history tours for groups of 10 or more. Ghost tours are available by Eureka Springs Ghost Tours. For reservations and more information click here. California - San Diego: Hotel Del Coronado The History: Babcock and Story built this resort to be the "talk of the Western world" in 1888. Since then it was visited by presidents, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Thomas Edison. The hotel was famous as a backdrop for "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The Haunting: According to the hotel website, the tales of ghosts started with the untimely death of Kate Morgan. She was a guest in November 1892 that never left. She came to meet her estranged husband but he never showed. Kate was then found dead on the hotel steps leading to the ocean. She died of a gunshot wound to the head that was officially deemed a suicide. To this day some speculate it was murder. She likes to slam doors and randomly turn on the TV. Some have also seen an indentation in the sheets as if someone was sleeping there. There are other ghosts in the hotel as well that love to flicker the lights, provide cold spots and make some random noises. How to see it: Of course you can stay at this stunning resort and enjoy the spa, golf course, pool or take some surfing lessons. To find out more click here (Kate's room was 312, then renumbered to 3312 and now to 3327 - check with staff to verify your request). Long Beach: The Queen Mary The History: Her maiden voyage was May 27, 1936 but with the coming of WWII she was refitted and used as a troop ship housing 5500 souls by May 5, 1940. By the end of the war she was used to transport as many as 12,886 war brides and children from Europe to the U.S. and Canada on six voyages in four months. More war bride voyages would follow. It became a cruise ship in 1963. By 1967 it was purchased for Long Beach, CA to act as restaurant and museum with the first hotel rooms opening in 1972. The Haunting: The first class swimming pool has the most recorded ghost sightings and noises. Many women dressed in 1930 swimsuits have been sighted. But the spirits like to wander and have been seen in many parts of the ship - especially the engine room where two men were crushed to death by the heavy "Door 13". Those who take the self-guided walking tour of the ship have been spooked more than once! How to see it: Brave enough? Click here to find out how to spend the night and sign up for one of the Attractions @ Night tours including the Paranormal Shipwalk Tour, the Paranormal Investigation Tour, the Dining with the Spirits (Dinner and Tour), or the Twilight Historical Tour. The tours are technically enhanced to make certain you get a few jumps and spooks. The hotel also hosts a 'Terrorfest' of haunted mazes on Halloween. Colorado - Estes Park: The Stanley Hotel The History: Six miles from the Rocky Mountain National Park, this hotel has amazing views and offers a serene escape. F.O. Stanley created this hotel after moving to the west when forced to by poor health. Besides the hotel he helped to create the sewer, power and water supply for the area. A recent claim to fame is that a stay in this hotel inspired Stephen King's The Shining. The Haunting: Both F.O. and his wife Flora haunt the hotel. They are amicable ghosts that enjoy hanging about the rooms they loved so much such as the Billiard room and Ballroom. Rooms 407 and 418 have reputed activity of lights going on and off, noises and of course rascally kids playing in the nearby hallway. One story relates some guests checked out early as the kids playing in the hall kept them up all night. When the hotel staff looked at the register there were not any kids as guests (at least not any live ones!). How to see it: Not only can you spend the night but you can sign up for a Historic Ghost Tour that tells you all the history that has created a haunted playground. The hotel has fun with the reputation, click here for more information. Connecticut - New London: Lighthouse Inn The History: Originally known as Meadow Court, this home was a summer retreat for Charles Guthrie. Built in 1902, it was turned into an Inn in 1927. Among such famous guests as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was Harry Rodvogin, a resident artist who lived at the Inn after his old friends Bill and Al Ronnick spotted him painting portraits on the street. Rodvogin is now recognized for the paintings he created and you can see his work in the local museums. The Haunting: One guest who hasn't left is the spirit of a bride who died falling down the main stairway on her wedding day. But she is rather harmless, she hangs out in guestrooms reading a book or walks around the halls looking a bit forlorn. Strange noises are also heard around the Inn on occasion but shouldn't disrupt a good nights sleep. How to see it: This Inn is now a resort offering such amenities as its own private beach and in-room spa services. To make your reservations, click here. Delaware - Bethany Beach: The Addy Sea The History: Built in 1902 by John Addy, this Inn was originally a family residence. After a wicked storm in 1927, the house was actually moved further back from the seashore. The original foundations were used as a BBQ pit and hang out until they were covered by sand over time. John Addy was a plumbing supplier and made the Addy house and his neighbors homes some of the most efficient and convenient in the area. This made it popular when it first became a boarding house in 1935. The boarding house was run by the Addy family until it was sold in 1975. The Haunting: Room 1 had a haunted copper tub - well until it went missing. The original Victorian tub was originally used by the Addy family. During renovations in the 1980s the tub was stored in a garage but went missing. The thief may have gotten more then they expected as the bathtub is supposedly haunted and rocks and shakes violently at times. But no fear, even with the haunted bathtub gone, there are still specters wandering the halls, random sounds and footsteps, strange whiffs of perfume and even haunting music all keeping the place "spiritually" active. How to see it: Enjoy the Victorian trappings, walk the beach or sit on the veranda on a rocking chair - who knows, maybe the empty one next to you will rock too? To find out more about staying, click here. Florida - St Petersburg: Renaissance Vinoy Hotel The History: Built in 1925, this resort quickly became a popular hotspot for the who's who of Hollywood and the sports world. After WWII the hotel was sold and became a St Petersburg social center, however it started to decline and was closed in 1974. After an extensive $93 million renovation in the late 1990s, the hotel was able to reopen with its original splendor and the ghosts came out to play. The Haunting: This hotel has ghosts aplenty that like to bug staff and guests alike. However, many of the stories of tragic fires and suicides are not seen in the hotels history. But that doesn't stop the ghosts from coming. Scott Williamson of the Cincinnati Reds tells a chilling tale of being pushed down into his bed by a male ghost from the past who shared the same last name! Other baseball players and coaches have reported seeing apparitions, randomly opening doors, faucets with minds of their own and even paintings coming to life - to name a few - for the full tales, click here. Of course I like the story of the historian giving a tour to a group of kids. When asked if the place is haunted, the historian said the 5th was supposedly. On cue, the elevator they were in suddenly went to the 5th floor and opened to an empty hall, no one was there and there is no explanation about why the elevator went there. Recently the TV show Ghost Hunters on SyFy reviewed this hotel. A clip of it may be seen at YouTube, click here. How to see it: Now owned by Marriott, you can learn more about accommodations and fun local activities (including a private marina and an on-site golf course) by clicking here. Georgia - Savannah: 17-hundred-90 Inn The History: This inn was actually built in 1820, not 1790. First a boarding house and later an inn, this home has had many owners and guests. One of these guests was Anne Powell. The legend says she was unhappily married at sixteen to an Englishman. She fell in love with a German sailor who left her "in the family way." She watched his boat sail away and then committed suicide by jumping from the window, landing on the brick pavement below. The Haunting: Anne Powell is the most famous ghost, believed to haunt guest room 204 from where it is said she jumped to her death. She doesn't seem to be a menacing spirit: she sits beside the fire, lays out guests' clothes on the bed or plays pranks on guests waking them up in wee hours of the morning by setting off the radio alarm. Another ghost in the basement kitchen and restaurant doesn't like women very much and likes to shove them around. But this ghost is countered by the ghost of a merchant marine who will help the staff turn the lights off at closing. How to see it: Savannah ghost tours stop here for a drink but you can go to the restaurant yourself and have a bite to eat. Or if you really dare, spend the night instead - ask for room 204! Savannah: Kehoe House The History: This home was built in 1892 for William Kehoe and his family. The large family (they had 10 children!) kept the home until 1930. After that the home became a boarding house, funeral parlor, and a private residence. In 1992 the home opened as a B&B, it changed ownership in 2003, but remains an inn with a B&B atmosphere. The Haunting: The main tragedy of the house (that we know of) was the death of the Kehoe twins who died when playing around the chimney. Children can be heard running the halls and some guests have even had children check in on them in their rooms. But if you don't see the children, their mother Annie is reputed to still wander the rooms, making sure to tuck in all the guests at night! How to see it: Why not spend the night? Ask for rooms 201 or 203. For more information, click here. Hawaii - Kailua-Kona: King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel The History: King Kamehameha lived on this same site until his death in 1819. The hotel just recently went through a major remodel in 2008 - perhaps the ghosts like the new surroundings? The Haunting: Guests claim to have seen or heard an ancient warrior on the upper floor of this hotel. He seems to shout want guests describe as "war cries." King Kamehameha spent his last years on this property and may be buried on the grounds or under the hotel itself. How to see it: This hotel is proud of its surrounding history and displays portraits and artifacts from past Hawaiian royalty and warriors alike. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Idaho - Boise: Owyhee Plaza Hotel The History: Yikes - built in 1910 is about all we could find. So we'll guess that the ghosts are the garden variety scorned lovers, accident prone brides/grooms, restless owners or ex-staff that can't leave or something along those lines ;) The Haunting: Guests who stay in the main building have reported seeing spirits in their rooms. Staff have seen ghosts run though other areas such as meeting rooms and in the basement. How to see it: Unfortunately, there are not that many haunted hotels in Idaho. So don't miss you chance to check one out in every state and make the Owyhee Plaza your next stop! Click here for more information. Illinois - Okawville: Original Springs Mineral Spa & Hotel The History: In 1867 a saddler named Rudolph Plegge noticed water from his well wasn't "normal." After various tests it was discovered to be a spring with magnesia in the water. Plegge used the springs to launch a healing bath much like the ones he knew from Baden Baden, Germany. However, a real hotel wasn't built until 1885. Sadly, in 1892 all the buildings burned. The hotel was rebuilt with the latest and greatest and has undergone several renovations. Continuing as a Mineral Spa, guests were encouraged to drink up (the water) for their good health. The Haunting: Guests have seen ghosts in their rooms. Staff sometimes hear unexplained noises in empty rooms or feel like they are being watched. There are two suicides in the hotel's history and another owner was found dead in one of the upstairs rooms. Charlie Birger and the Shelton brothers were gangsters who took a liking to the place in the 1920's - perhaps they liked it too much? There is also music that leaks through time and walls. Or maybe there is just something in the water... How to see it: Now the spa includes everything from Swedish message to pedicures. Want to check in? Click here to find out how. Indiana - Nashville: The Story Inn The History: This historic inn is located at the boarders of Brown County State Park and Hoosier National Forest. This inn and its collection of buildings is actually what remains of the town of Story that was established in 1851, set up as a lodging community. The Haunting: The Story Inn is haunted by a lady in blue who floats about the second floor of the general store that has been turned into guestrooms. There has also been activity in the restaurant below. A guestbook details the experiences of the spooked over the years. How to see it: Snuggle in for the night. If you don't want a ghost watching over you there are other cabins available in this small community. Click here to find out more. Iowa - Bentensport: Mason House Inn The History: This hotel was built in 1846 for steamboat travelers along the Des Moines River. Later, the Mason House was used as a 'holding hospital' during the Civil War for soldiers being transferred to Keokuk. It also served as a 'station' along the underground railroad. Mason House gets its name from the Mason family who owned the property for 99 years. The Haunting: Three of the owners have died in the building and there was also one murder in one of the guest rooms. In 1860 poor Mr. Knapp had been drinking and accidentally went to the wrong room. The occupant thought he was being robbed and stabbed Mr. Knapp in self-defense. The home had also been a 'holding hospital' in the Civil War and some patients may have died in the home. Also a Doctor renting a room in the 1940s died in the building. All in all, a great hangout for ghosts. The ghosts come in many forms. There are wisps of fog and cold spots to actual figures who appear and disappear from sight. There is a boy that plays tricks; he likes to rustle sheets and tug at guests as they sleep. There are footsteps, thuds and a woman in white. An abundance of ghosts and paranormal events for all! How to see it: Today you may stay at this B&B for about $80/night ($125 if you are staying in the restored caboose!). Request to stay in the main house on the 2nd floor (rooms 5 & 7) for the best chance of paranormal dreams! Ghost Hunting 101 and 102 classes are also available about twice a year and a Halloween Ghost Walk around Oct 31st. To spend the night, click here. Kansas - Beaumont: Beaumont Hotel The History: First opened as a stagecoach station in 1879, there has been bed and board here to care for weary travelers ever since. Of course when named the Summit Hotel in 1890, the cattle barons stayed indoors while the cowboys had to make camp outside. Later the hotel changed hands quite a few times but stayed open. In the 1950s an airstrip was added and flight enthusiasts still make the Beaumont a destination to visit today. The Haunting: Apparently it is a cowboy named Zeke who haunts the halls here. Legend has it that the hotel owner's wife ran a small brothel in the hotel. She became fond of one of her clients named Zeke. The husband found out it was not longer strictly business, became jealous, and shot Zeke dead. Zeke now likes to move furniture and set off alarm clocks in the middle of the night. Some have heard spurs jingling. And Zeke is one of those who likes to go "bump in the night" and has been heard thumping the walls now and then as well. How to see it: Not only equipped with its own airstrip, the hotel also sits next to a 10,000 acre cattle ranch. If you don't want to eat in the cafe indoors, take a wagon ride and try a campfire cookout. To find out more, click here. Kentucky - Bardstown: The Old Talbott Tavern The History: This establishment has been called the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. It started service in 1779 and reportedly boarded such famous tenants as Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James and even the French King Louis Phillipe. Used as a stagecoach and Pony Express station, it has seen a lot of coming and going. There was a large fire in 1998 which the hotel is still recovering from; however, they are still open for business. Amazingly, the fire uncovered underground tunnels, secret storage rooms and an old staircase that seems to go nowhere. The Haunting: People have reported seeing a women in a white dress - perhaps Mrs. Talbott herself. Another dark figure of a male has also been seen. The tragic deaths of the Talbott children may lead to some of the energy present. Out of 12 children, 4 died of illness, one died falling down the stairs and another took her life because of a broken heart. There are many pranks that happen such as keys being hidden or items moved around. Others have seen mist form in rooms. How to see it: This hotel has fun with its reputation and offers a Ghost Hunting Getaway Weekend with local ghost chaser Patti Star. Patti worked as the hotel's manager for three years and has become very well acquainted with the "residents." If you want to stay always book ahead, only five rooms are available. To book, click here. Louisiana - New Orleans: Magnolia Mansion The History: This home was built in 1857 by Alexander Harris. After Alexander died of yellow fever his widow remarried and sold the home to the Maginnis family. John Maginnis owned a cotton mill and it was whispered he was struck by lightning because of the cruel way he treated his employees. In 1939, John's daughter inherited the home and willed it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the home to train nurses for WWII and the Korean War. In 1954 the home was again sold into private ownership. Magnolia Mansion was renovated in 2001 and opened as a B&B in 2002. The Haunting: When renovating the home, the crew had to stop as an oily substance appeared over the walls. The owner then verbalized her plans for the place out loud so the ghosts would know exactly what she was up to. She told them she was improving the home and the ghosts would not be able to scare the guests away. This appeased them for awhile. However, ghosts are still reputed to slam doors and snuggle into bed with guests on occasion. Many guests have photos of orbs and a few extra faces from their visits as well. How to see it: This adult catering B&B offers a great escape to any non-smoker over 21 years of age. Specializing in romance with Elopement and Wedding packages, the B&B also has fun with their ghosts offering a Romantic Ghostly Getaway Package which includes a room, treats and ghost walking tours. For more information, click here. St Francisville: Myrtles Plantation The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794 but stories of haunting did not start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the haunting. Most of these seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that is just because the house is so haunted, people needed to make up some kind of explanation. The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a woman in a green turban who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim this ghost is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano. How to see it: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night. The choice is up to you. Click here for more information. Maine - Searsport: Watchtide The History: Built in the early 1790s, ownership transferred to Brigadier General Henry Knox in 1794. He was a trusted ally to George Washington and was the first Secretary of War for the U.S. After General Knox sold the property, it went through many owners, many of them sea captains who were involved in the shipping industry of the area. The house was an inn starting in 1917 to the 1940s when it then became a private home again. In 1994, the inn reopened and is still family operated today. The Haunting: Guests and a previous owner have reported seeing phantoms in period appropriate dress floating around the home. There are reports of music heard without a "source." Footsteps have also been heard. However, the new B&B owner says there does not seem to be as much activity of late. Perhaps it was the recent remodel that chased away or appeased the spirits. How to see it: Recently renovated, this B&B offers a great quiet getaway as well as easy access to many of the great sites around Maine. To make your reservation, click here. Maryland - Baltimore: Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore The History: This Art Deco building was built in 1928. The hotel was named after George Calvert, Lord Baltimore who was the founder of the Maryland colony. This hotel was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and although it has modern amenities, it keeps its historic setting with elegant furnishings and murals. The Haunting: There is a young girl in a cream dress and black shoes that has been spotted playing with a red ball or crying in the guestrooms. Supposedly a women committed suicide on the 19th floor. The elevator will go between the 19th floor and lobby with no one there to push the buttons. How to see it: To make your reservation and check in for the night, click here. Massachusetts - Fall River: Lizzy Borden House The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and latter acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality, even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior. And of course there was the creation of the rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an ax Gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done Gave her father forty-one! The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed and perhaps the same woman can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment such as lights and cameras have some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in if you want... How to see it: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University! To find out more, click here. Michigan - Marquette: The Landmark Inn The History: Although the hotel was started in 1917, it was not finished until 1930 as various investors worked things out. (It was during this time that legend has it the brothel girl met her untimely end - see below.) The hotel closed in 1982 as it was sadly outdated, however, after a large renovation project, it reopened in 1995. The Haunting: A 30 year old librarian was saved from spinsterhood when she fell in love with a sailor who worked on the ore boats. However, his boat was caught in a storm and all died. The librarian, who was staying at the Landmark Inn with him until they could be wed, refused to eat and soon after died. She now is often seen on the 6th floor, looking out the window for her love to return. During the construction of the hotel (1917-1930!), a makeshift brothel and bar were open. It was thought one of the girls was using her time with the men to influence their politics. Enraged, a drunk patron killed her and disposed of her body in an unfinished section of the hotel. She can still be heard crying for someone to dig her out. The lilac room seems to have the most activity for guests. In fact, even when the room is not rented, the phone from the room calls the front desk, with nothing to say.... How to see it: Stay in the lilac room if you're brave. Or have a drink in the haunted North Star lounge. To find out more, click here. Minnesota - Annandale: Thayer's Historic B&B The History: The Thayer Inn was already established when Gus Thayer and his wife Caroline settled in to manage the place around 1889. The B&B was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Haunting: Both Gus and Caroline haunt the place. Gus will leave pennies for guests. A picture of Caroline is said to change depending on her mood. There are also ghost cats that nibble at your feet and make a general mess with yarn. How to see it: Having a lot of fun with its haunted guests, this B&B offers ghost tours, mystery dinners and is owned by a psychic! Instead of spa services, you can order from a laundry list of psychic services from palm reading to past life regressions. To find out more, click here. Mississippi - Natchez: Monmouth Plantation The History: Originally built in 1818, the mansion was purchased by General Quitman, a Mexican War hero, in 1826. The home was almost burned to the ground during the Civil War when the Union won this area of Mississippi. However, Quitman's daughters pleaded loyalty to the Union to save their home (their father was a staunch secessionist). The house stayed in the family until 1914. The home then went into disrepair until it was recently restored after 1978. The Haunting: The General himself stomps around the halls and makes many feel his presence as guests and staff cannot shake the thought that someone is staring at them. He also shows up as a specter to let all know he has an eye on things. Since the new owners have restored the home to its antebellum decor, there seems to be less stomping by the imposing General. How to see it: Regardless of the haunts, this hotel offers luxury accommodation and a great escape. To find out more, click here. Missouri - St. Louis: Lemp Mansion The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922 when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances and three other men of the family committing suicide inside. The Haunting: With three suicides one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion started. However, the families odd history also adds fuel to the imagination. There is the rumor that William Lemp had an illegitimate son with down syndrome who was kept hidden in the mansion attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion and has the nickname "Monkey Face Boy." Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today. How to see it: Spend the night! Or take a tour if you're too scared... The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant to those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. To find out more click here. Montana - Pray: Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa The History: In 1894 Percie and Bill Knowles inherited a home near the hot springs and opened their doors as a boarding house as there were not any accommodations in the area yet. They built a hotel in 1900. In 1912, Percie teamed with Dr. Townsend and turned the hotel into a hospital. It would remain a hospital until the 1940s when it would begin to change hands. In 1974, it was renovated and again opened as a B&B. The Haunting: There is a woman in white who likes to wander the halls and spook the security guards. She also likes room 349 where she makes sure the rocking chair is always facing the window. Many think it is Percie making certain everyone is minding their manners and running her hotel/hospital efficiently. How to see it: Relax your spooked nerves in the day spa or natural hot springs. Or get some more adventure on a trail ride or a dog sled trek in the winter. To find out more, click here. Nebraska - Chadron: Olde Main Street Inn The History: This hotel was built at the end of the 19th century. Over a hundred years old it is now a family run (3 generations) B&B who first took ownership in 1969. The most famous story associated with the hotel is that it housed General Nelson Miles and his men before the Wounded Knee Massacre in December of 1890. The Haunting: There is a heavy footed ghost named Jack who stomps up and down the halls and stairs. General Nelson Miles and his men stayed here before the Wounded Knee Massacre. He was a pacer - perhaps the footsteps are Nelson's and not Jack's. How to see it: You can grab a drink at the saloon or stay the night. To find out more, click here. Nevada - Gold Hill: Gold Hill Hotel The History: Most likely this hotel was built in 1859 and is considered the oldest hotel in Nevada. Early in the 1860s the hotel was expanded as business was booming around the combined gold mining towns of Gold Hill and Virginia City. The boom ended after the 1870s and by 1930 only a few hundred people lived in this area. The Gold Hill Hotel fell into disrepair after the 1950s and went through major renovation in 1986. The Haunting: Being so close to the mine shafts, it is believed many of the miner spirits still visit the hotel. The nearby Yellow Jacket mineshaft opens right next to the hotel. A fire in 1873 killed 37 miners in this shaft. Footsteps are heard, and strong smells of cigar smoke and rose water perfume are often present with ghosts William and Rosie respectively. How to see it: This hotel offers rooms as well as lodges made from older buildings around the hotel. Take your pick and enjoy! To find out more, click here. New Hampshire - Durham: Three Chimneys Inn The History: The Three Chimneys Inn was built in 1649 as a residence for Valentine Hill. The home was used during the Revolutionary War to house munitions stolen from the British. The house stayed relatively privately owned and within about four different families. Extensive renovations were done recently in the 1990s. The Haunting: It is possible one of the ghosts is that of Hill's daughter, Hannah, who drowned nearby. Hannah seems to like to hang out in the dining areas and there is an unidentified gentleman spirit that hangs out there as well. The spirits here like to play with electrical equipment - many things just don't work in certain rooms. Furniture will be heard moving about in guestrooms where no one is staying. Also, there will be music heard from the dining rooms. The gentleman has been heard stomping around pacing and one of the spirits even shattered a water glass in the dining hall while dinner was being served. How to see it: Although built in the 17th century, you won't have to rough it here. An elegant stay along the coast and you might get to meet Hannah as well. Click here for more information. New Jersey - Ocean City: Flanders Hotel The History: This hotel was built in 1923 by prominent citizens in Ocean City. This hotel was the luxury accommodations on the boardwalk. The investors were hit hard in the Great Depression and the hotel was bought out by Elwood Kirkman in 1932. After a change of hands, the hotel was considered for a retirement community. However, this was opposed and the hotel stayed and instead was remodeled in 1996 and reopened in 1997. Some of the famous who have stayed at the hotel include Grace Kelley and Jimmy Stewart. The Haunting: Emily is the name of the resident ghost who likes to walk through walls and mess with the lighting. She can sometimes even be heard singing. If she is not signing, she may be spotted hanging around the grand piano or walking through the hall of mirrors. Overall, she seems happy to have all the company. How to see it: Come stay for a visit and enjoy the suites, ocean, boardwalk, and ghosts. For more information, click here. New Mexico - Santa Fe: La Fonda Hotel The History: Records show that a hotel, Fonda, was established here by the Spanish as early as 1607. With the establishment of the Sante Fe Trail in 1821, the hotel became a welcome destination at its end. The original structure is gone but the hotel that sits there now was built in 1922 and has been hosting weary travelers just the same but with a lot more elegance and comfort. The Haunting: This hotel has a selection of ghosts. There are various ghosts that stomp up and down hallways and stairways. There is the gambler who committed suicide by jumping in a well - the well now filled and covered doesn't stop the ghost from disappearing into the floor where he jumps again and again. There is also a young bride who haunts, wouldn't you know it, the wedding suite. Many of the ghosts for this hotel like to be seen, not just heard, as all ghosts have appeared visually at some point another. How to see it: Located in downtown Sante Fe, this hotel offers a great home port for touring. While touring about the town, perhaps you can explore a haunted corner as well! To find out more, click here. New York - Bolton Landing: The Sagamore The History: This hotel was originally built in 1883 to provide a getaway on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains. This historic building suffered two fires but was reconstructed in 1930. The resort was meant to be a retreat for the wealthy and is still neighbored by palatial mansions across the lake. The Haunting: This hotel has many ghosts including one of a little boy on the golf course! This boy chased balls and sold them when alive. He died in a tragic accident when he was hit by a car running after a ball. Now his shadowy form can be seen running after golf balls on the course. He likes to steal balls and laugh at golfers as they look for them. When they give up he tosses the ball at them, again, laughing. Other ghosts include the guest who come down from the second floor for dinner every night and wait patiently in the reception area before they literally vanish. Then there is the portly cigar smoker in the elevator who may not appreciate the non-smoking policy these days. How to see it: You can stay in the hotel, vacation lodges or a castle (if you have the cash!). Click here to plan your stay! North Carolina - Chapel Hill: The Carolina Inn The History: Owned by UNC, this inn was built by a UNC graduate in 1924. Throughout its history it has been used by the campus to host conferences, guests and alumni. Today the proceeds from the inn are given to the university library. The Haunting: Professor William Jacocks likes to haunt room 252. Although guests do claim to have encounters with the professor, the hotel staff say he has never frightened anyone to the point of packing their bags and running. Instead he is a friendly ghost who plays pranks such as holding the doorknobs so rooms won't open, rustling papers, and making the occasional noise. Some claim there are additional ghosts walking the halls and looming over their shoulder, but always more curious than menacing. How to see it: You can spend the night in this historic hotel; for more information click here. North Dakota - Anamoose: Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast The History: First opened in 1928, known as "White School," this bed and breakfast started history as a primary school. This model school set an example for the area. It used wind power and offered students hot meals and warm showers. The teachers and bus drivers stayed on site. There were two horse barns onsite to house the horses that pulled the school bus/wagons. At its peak, there were 100 students enrolled. The school closed in 1968 because of lack of enrollment. The Haunting: Legend has it that a superintendent and student died in a fire caused by a coal burning stove. The superintendent smoked cigars and the smell of cigar smoke still hangs in the air at times. Objects like to move by themselves around here and lights and even toilets work on their own. How to see it: Sage Hill was recently converted to a bed and breakfast by the current owners in 1996. Even remodeled, it has the feel of the old schoolhouse. Want to spend the night? To find out more, click here. Ohio - Granville: The Buxton Inn The History: Orrin Grainger opened "The Tavern" in 1812. This place has been a host to guests continuously ever since. The hotel's namesake, General Buxton, purchased the hotel in 1865 and gave the hotel a reputation for friendly service. In 1972, the current owners, Orville and Audrey Orr, helped keep the building from being demolished for a parking lot. Instead, the hotel was renovated and other old buildings in the neighborhood were also rescued. Famous guests have included President William H. Harrison, President Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, to recent celebrities such as Yoyo Ma and Jennifer Garner. The Haunting: A lot of the previous owners haunt the place. Grainger himself was spotted in the 1920s. Many of the ghosts here like to be seen and can be spotted roaming the main hall or sitting in the tavern. They sometimes like to make some noise as well and their voices have been caught on tape. Prefer animals? This inn is haunted by its very own ghost cat! How to see it: Whether you want to step into history and stay at Ohio's oldest continuously opened inn or if you want to play peek and boo with some ghosts, this is the getaway for you. For more information, click here. Oklahoma - Guthrie: The Stone Lion Inn The History: F.E. Houghton built this mansion in 1907. It served most of its years as a residence and later was turned into a funeral home. The only person to die in the home seems to be a young girl who died of whooping cough after receiving the wrong medicine. The Haunting: After turning this mansion into an inn, the new owners woke up at night to the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing. They called the police but no intruder was found. Soon after they realized they had their first "guest" who may be a small girl as she likes to take out the toys at night to play. How to see it: Ready for some fun? From a murder mystery night or perhaps a chance to see a real ghost, click here for more information about how to stay. Oregon - Yachats: Heceta House The History: This house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast built in 1894. Many families occupied the house/complex over time which included a post office, school and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of haunting. Many believe this is the mother of a child who fell off the cliffs back at the turn of the century. The Haunting: The ghost named Rue is said to be an extra caretaker of the house. She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game, she didn't want them playing cards in her house! How to see it: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the ghost, they have said guests have told them of strange encounters. To spend the night click here. Pennsylvania - Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Inn The History: A house was built here in 1810 and later changed to brick in 1833. During the Civil War, the Sweeney family lived in the home and the Confederates used the home as a shelter for their sharpshooters. The current owners purchased the home in 1972 and have worked on renovating the home keeping the early 19th century feel and history. The Haunting: Many ghosts haunt this home. Including Confederate soldiers who like to move furniture and stomp around the attic. Another soldier has been spotted carrying his wounded comrade to the cellar. He is heard singing to his dying friend as well. Mary, a midwife, likes to tend to anyone who is sick or distressed and may sit down on the bed next to anyone who seems to need the company. There is a small boy who died in a carriage accident out front and his grieving father who also haunt the halls. How to see it: Whether a Civil War enthusiast who needs a place to stay or interested in meeting some of the wandering spirits, this inn will fit the bill. This inn has fun with history providing ghost stories in their tours and theater shows. To find out more, click here. Rhode Island - Newport: Castle Hill Inn & Resort The History: The location for Castle Hill originally had a watch house as early as 1740 when it was used to watch the sea for ships during the war between Britain and Spain. The Americans used the same location during the Revolutionary War to bombard British ships as they passed. In 1874, Alexander Agassiz, an explorer and scientist settled here to better study the marine life. It was not only his home but a lab that housed research students as well. The Haunting: There is a girl spirit here who may have some connection to the original owner, Agassiz. She throws a bit of a tantrum now and then and has trashed some of the china on occasion. How to see it: This inn offers a luxury escape on the coast. For more information, click here. South Carolina - Charleston: The Battery Carriage House Inn The History: This house was built in 1843 for Samuel Stevens, a prominent lender in the area who helped local cotton farms finance their farms. In 1870, after the Civil War had ended local wealth in Charleston, Col. Lathers (of the Union Army) bought the home and had it remodeled to the current New York fashion, Second Empire. However, Col. Lathers was told he wasn't welcome in Charleston and sold the home in 1874 to Andrew Simonds, the great-great grandfather of the current owner. The Haunting: There is a gentleman ghost who may be the son of a former owner who jumped off the roof to commit suicide. But he is a gentle ghost and just seems to enjoy the company. There is also a headless torso who makes many feel threatened by his creepy appearance and moaning. He might be the ghost a pirate as some were executed close to the hotel. However it is just as likely he is a soldier from the Civil War. Some guests report seeing energy orbs or have electronics turn on when they are really off. Overall it seems rooms 8 and 10 have the most activity. How to see it: The owners of the hotel have not seen any of the ghosts themselves, but they don't mind if you want to try and catch a glimpse for yourself. Click here to find out more. South Dakota - Deadwood: Bullock Hotel The History: The Bullock Hotel was built in 1895 by Seth Bullock. Bullock had become Deadwood's first sheriff after James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock was killed in 1876 and the townspeople demanded some law and order. The hotel has since been remodeled and renovated to match the original as much as possible. The Haunting: Sheriff Bullock haunts his old hotel keeping an eye on things. Many guests and staff report feeling a presence of being watched and some have even spotted him in the restaurant and cellar. The sheriff often shows up when people are relaxing or humming - apparently not working hard enough. He then has a bit of a tantrum and throws dishes and glasses about. If he isn't throwing a tantrum, he also likes to mess with lights and other electronic devices. But if that doesn't get your attention, he may just tap you on the shoulder as you walk down the hall. How to see it: They have spruced up the hotel with all the modern amenities. Spend the night, play at the casino and have a beer with the ghost of Sheriff Bullock. For more information, click here. Tennessee - Chattanooga: Sheraton Read House Hotel The History: First named Crutchfield House, this hotel opened in 1847. Although the family was split about the war, the hotel was used by the Union during the Civil War. The hotel burned down in 1867 and was rebuilt. In 1926 the hotel was again destroyed (this time demolished on purpose) and rebuilt to what you see today. The Haunting: Legend has it that a Union soldier killed a prostitute in his room. However, the hotel burned in 1867, so perhaps it is not her ghost that is pestering people. Another story relates that it was the cheating wife who was killed by her husband in the 1920s. Regardless of where the ghost comes from, it seems to like room 311. You may have to specifically request this room as rumor has it the hotel only assigns the room as a last resort. How to see it: A hotel more interested in your comfort than ghosts, you should have a pleasant stay no matter who you "bump" into. To find out more, click here. Texas - Austin: Driskill Hotel The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995. The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke while he turns lights on and off. There is the ghost of a small girl, daughter of a Senator who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball - she can still be heard bouncing the ball today. How to see it: The hotel today offers all kinds of pampering. To find out more about staying, click here. Utah - Salt Lake City: McCune Mansion The History: This mansion was built in 1900 by a railroad tycoon named Alfred W. McCune. After leaving for California in 1920, the McCune's donated the mansion to the Latter-Day Saint Church. It was then turned into the McCune School of Music. It later became a Brigham Young University Salk Lake City Center and Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School. In 1999 it was purchased by Phil McCarthy who worked to restore the mansion and open it as a hotel. The Haunting: Music is said to still haunt the McCune halls. A small room under the stairs was used by the McCune's as a stage for hired musicians. The whole house would be filled with music but their guests did not know from where it came. It is said this music still fills the air from here. Other happenings include doors locking that are not fit with locks, doors opening on their own and lights going on and off on their own. How to see it: You can schedule a tour of the mansion through the Utah Heritage Foundation. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Vermont - Stowe: The Green Mountain Inn The History: This home was built in 1833 by Peter Lovejoy. The home changed hands and became a hotel in the later 19th century. Mark Lovejoy purchased the hotel in 1893 and renamed it The Green Mountain Inn. The inn stayed in service while having many different owners. In the 1980s massive renovations were done including the addition of clubhouses and townhouses with luxury suites. The Haunting: A tap dancer named Boots Berry haunts the third floor of this inn. Born in 1840, Boots was actually born in the servants quarters - now hotel room 302. He gained local notoriety after he stopped spooked horses from running away with the stagecoach. Boots was treated to one too many drinks and became a bit of an alcoholic and lost his job at the inn. Boots left the area and, as legend has it, was arrested in New Orleans where he learned to tap dance from his cellmate. After a life of a traveling vagrant he returned penniless. During a winter snow storm a girl was stranded on the roof of the inn. Since Boots was familiar with the area (right above the same servants quarters) he found a way to her and helped her to safety. He however slipped and fell to his death. Now it is said during winter storms you can hear Boots tap dancing on the third floor. How to see it: There is lot to do in the area and at the inn itself. Ice cream, chocolate and wine tasting - yes please! Click here to find out more. Virginia - Middletown: Wayside Inn The History: The Wayside Inn opened in 1797 acting in its early years as a stagecoach stop where travelers could get some rest and a hearty meal while the horses were changed. During the Civil War, the inn kept neutrality and served soldiers on both sides which probably helped to spare it from any real damage. The inn was renovated in the 1960s with modern amenities but added antiques to keep the history of the place. The new owners purchased the inn as recently as June 2009. The Haunting: Many of the ghosts here are soldiers from the Civil War. Both sides were welcome here and it seems liked their stay a little too much. The soldiers have been seen and also heard on occasion. Heavy footsteps or a conversation your not part of, just little things to let you know they are there. If you are going to stay, room 14 is said to have the most activity. How to see it: This inn offers old world charm with modern comforts. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Washington - Lakewood: Thornewood Castle The History: Thornewood Castle was built for Chester Thorne, a successful founder of the Port of Tacoma. This Tudor/Gothic estate was completed in 1911. Inspired by the estates in Britain, the stained glass windows were even imported from a castle in Europe. The castle has many different imports that add to the structure and contents of the building. One of the more interesting aspects is the "wishbone sticks" left by the Native American workers who helped in the construction. These sticks help to ward off evil and are found at the foundation in the basement. The Haunting: There are multiple photographs taken of orbs throughout the castle and reports of objects moving on their own. Tape recorders have picked up voices, one of an unknown child. One child did drown in the lake and is said to haunt its shore, perhaps they visit the house as well? Overall, the spirits at Thornewood seem to be a good natured sort. There is not a violent history attached to this home. Although the wife of Mr. Thorne is said to haunt the halls, this is more because she likes the place rather than she is out to get anyone. In fact, some believe Thornewood Castle acts as a vortex and can attract ghosts from the other side. Some guests have reported making contact with loved ones from their lives who have no connection with the castle. How to see it: You may stay in the castle as it is now a B&B. There are Candle Light Tours: for $100 and the cost of a room you can spend the night exploring the haunted halls with a small group of ghost hunters. To spend the night, click here. West Virginia - Parkersburg: Blennerhassett Hotel The History: William Chancellor designed and built the hotel in 1889. The hotel was luxury living and housed the First National Bank of Parkersburg in the front. The hotel underwent renovations in 1985. The Haunting: William is said to haunt the hotel and many can smell his cigar smoke as he patrols the halls. When his portrait was put in storage during renovations he acted up bit - climbing into bed with guests - to make certain he was not forgotten. Since his portrait has been placed back on the wall, he has been a bit less obtrusive. But William isn't the only ghost. Another gentleman ghost in a white suit likes to pop up behind you when you look in the mirror. I think I would rather hang out with William... How to see it: This hotel offers comfortable accommodations with an old world feel. They even have fun with their haunting reputation and offer a haunted weekend getaway in the fall. To find out more, click here. Wisconsin - Milwaukee: Brumder Mansion The History: George Brumder had the home built in 1910 for his son, George Jr. After they sold the home, the house was everything from a boarding house to an activity center for a Lutheran church. They used the home for office space, a theater, and later opened a coffee house with a live music venue. The current owners purchased the home in 1997 and opened the renovated space as a B&B in 1998. The Haunting: The Gold Room was once the room of one of the Brumder daughters who never married after suffering a broken heart early in life. She is said to still stay in the room, in fact she was quite appalled and upset when the current owner spent the night in this room with her dogs - no dogs allowed! Your dreams will be haunted if any dogs sleep on the bed! How to see it: It's a Bed & Breakfast, so take the plunge and spend the night - request the Gold Suite! You can even join a ghost hunting seminar or enjoy a haunted history dinner! For more information, click here. Kewaunee: Kewaunee Inn The History: Built in 1912 by William Karsten this inn is still commonly known as the Hotel Karsten. Father and son managed this hotel until William Karsten Jr.'s death in 1964. The hotel then changed hands and received various facelifts. The most recent owners renamed the hotel to the Kewaunee Inn at Hamachek Village in May 2008. The Haunting: The ghosts at the Kewaunee Inn didn't start to bug the living until after renovations started in 1966. The inn website mentions the triad of ghosts include William Karsten Sr, Billy Karsten III (who died at 5 years of age shortly after his grandfather), and Agatha the housekeeper. Agatha seems to be the most active, floating about the halls and popping up behind you when you look in the mirror! She doesn't seem to like men much - so any male guests be on your guard! William likes to have a drink at the bar now and then and Billy still runs up and down the hall playing. How to see it: Brave enough to spend the night? Click here to make a reservation. Wyoming - Cheyenne: The Plains Hotel The History: This hotel opened in 1911 to meet the needs of travelers, oil tycoons and cattle barons alike. Attracting all types of guests, presidents such as Harry S Truman and Ronald Regan as well as movie stars such as Jimmy Stewart and Debbie Reynolds have stayed here. The most distinguished visitor was an Arapaho, Chief Little Shield, whose portrait now is used as a type of logo throughout the hotel. The luxury of yesterday was recently restored in 2002. The Haunting: Legend says a newlywed couple and a mistress walk the halls here. The couple were on their honeymoon when the new husband went downstairs to the bar. When the wife followed she spotted him with another woman. The wife followed the two lovers to their room, shot them, returned to the honeymoon suite and then shot herself. Laughter and crying can now be heard in the honeymoon suite. The husband is seen wandering the halls and the basement. The mistress can't be missed, she wanders the halls in a fancy red dress. How to see it: Shake up your journey a bit and spend the night. To find out more, click here. Puerto Rico: Hotel El Convento The History: This former Carmelite convent named The Monastery of Our Lady Carmne of San Jose was founded in 1651. The nuns left this convent in 1903 and site fell into ruin until 1962 when Robert Woolworth purchased it to make it into a resort. The Haunting: Dona Ana was a noblewoman who lost her husband in the war with the Dutch and then turned to her faith. She donated the land for the Carmelite convent. It is said her spirit and those of nuns can be seen about the grounds and gliding through the halls. How to see it: For information about how to enjoy a luxurious stay with these faithful spirits click here. International Haunts: Ireland: Ross Castle The History: This area shows record of settlement since the Iron Age. The castle tower was completed in 1537 by Richard Nugent, 12th Baron of Delvin. A family loyal to the English crown for their title and rank hoped to received the extra boon of £10 given as encouragement for each fortification built in Ireland. In time the Nugents began to marry the once rival Celtic nobles especially the O'Reillys. In 1644 the castle was pulverized by Cromwellian soldiers in retribution for Myles O'Reilly's defiance. Restoration was begun by the family in the 19th century and the castle was later modernized with plumbing and electricity. The Haunting: The castle's founder, Richard Nugent was also known as the Black Baron and, you guessed it, he had a reputation for being quite unpleasant. The Black Baron had a beautiful daughter named Sabina who had the unfortunate luck to fall in love with Orwin O'Reilly (at this time still an enemy). Moved by love to give up their home, family and wealth, they decided to elope. However, as they made their escape by boat a storm came up and it capsized. Orwin died but Sabina lived. Crushed with heartache, she pinned away in Ross Castle tower until she finally gave up the ghost which in turn walks the halls to this day. She is said to sometimes be heard screaming! The Black Baron is also rumored to haunt the grounds and can be quite unpleasant. How to see it: Besides ghost hunting, you can go fishing, golfing, horseback riding, sailing, boating, hiking, cycling, go see the races or even take flying lessons! Plenty to do and see in a romantic setting. For more information about spending the weekend, click here. United Kingdom - England: The Feathers Hotel The History: The original building was built in 1619 and has been added to and modified since. First a private residence, it was changed to an Inn in 1670 after the English Civil War and would remain one for the next 200 years! In 1863 it changed to a hotel and started to acquire more land and expand. Why feathers? There are faded motifs of ostrich feathers on the outer woodwork still visible. They were a symbol of the Prince of Wales and en vogue at the time of construction. Not to mention the town of Ludlow was royalist even during the English Civil War. The Haunting: There is a female "guest" in room 211 who is known to bother women rather then men in the room, pulling their hair and letting them know they are not welcome. There are a couple gentlemen ghosts roaming about including one who is accompanied by his ghost dog! How to see it: You can join on a ghost hunting adventure either with Eerie Evenings or Haunted Breaks. Or you may opt to spend the night and enjoy the historic surroundings. For more information click here. Scotland: Comlongon Castle The History: This stronghold dates back to 1451 when it was constructed for the Murray family. The residents of this border castle enjoyed the profits of dealing in "the black meal" or modern day blackmail. They would kidnap wealthy neighbors and hold them in a dark pit until terms of the ransom were arranged. They would then treat the prisoner as an honored guest until the amount was paid. But business wasn't always that good and the castle later fell into disrepair until purchased by the Earls of Mansfield in 1880. During WWII the castle changed hands again and became an orphanage. Then after 1984 it was revamped into the hotel it is today. The Haunting: In 1570 Lady Marion Carruthers was hiding out in the castle trying to avoid a forced marriage to James Douglas who wanted her fortune. When the courts ruled in favor of James, she jumped from the tower to her death and subsequently became the castles resident ghost. She is still seen wandering the castle and grounds today, you'll know if you see her by her green dress. How to see it: Advertising mostly as a picturesque local for weddings, this castle has plenty to offer the general weekend escapists as well. Click here to learn about spending the weekend. Wales: Ruthin Castle The History: Legend has it that the original castle was a wooden fort lorded by Huail. He fought King Arthur and wounded him in the knee. A truce was called but Huail later mocked King Arthur and was beheaded. The first stone structure was put up by King Edward I in 1277 and the castle was owned by the crown off and on until sold by Charles I in 1632. The modern stone structure was built in 1826. However some of the older walls, dungeons and tunnels are still standing today. The Haunting: This castle comes with its own Grey Lady, dating back to the time of Edward I, this ghost was sentenced to death for killing the lover of her husband. Soldiers are said to still march around the grounds and prisoners long dead are still heard moaning in agony. How to see it: If you don't find ghost hunting or random spooks exciting enough, this castle offers other entertainment including medieval banquets (one even with a murder mystery theme!), golf, and romantic getaway packages.

Online Insurance

Is online insurance right for you?

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The Internet is a powerful tool for the savvy online consumer. You can review products, compare prices, research companies and purchase almost anything. Following this trend is the increase availability of insurance online. Insurance companies are providing coverage information, quotes and even contracts online. This includes automobile, homeowners, life, medical and even pet insurance. Insurance has traditionally been a high customer service field with direct human contact with your insurance agent. Because of the change in customer contact, the migration towards providing insurance online has not always been a smooth one. Instead companies are finding some tools work and others only cause frustration or confusion. Indeed, the availability of insurance online is still fluctuating and developing. Below we have compiled a few of the ways you can utilize online insurance options and determine if it is the right tool for you. Researching and obtaining insurance online is much easier today. Many websites now offer comparison tools that will provide quotes and coverage information (some of these sites are listed below). Keep in mind if you choose a carrier from these searches, you will then be contracting with that carrier for your insurance, not the original site. This will either be done by forwarding you to the carrier's website or the comparison site will forward your information to the insurance company and they will then contact you. Many insurers still prefer to have a representative call you and discuss your coverage over the phone. Although not the same as meeting with a personal insurance agent, it allows them to make certain you understand the coverage provided. Also, because buying insurance online is new, many companies believe that individualized customer care is still the best way to get your business and a follow up call still provides some of this customer service. The Pros There are many benefits for utilizing online insurance: Easy comparison shopping: Using insurance comparison websites you can compare coverage and prices on almost any type of insurance. You can also browse the individual insurance carrier websites once you have narrowed your search. Almost all companies now have libraries and tools for you to learn more about their services online. Your time is money: Shopping for insurance online can be done at any time of day. It is hard to get time away from your daily schedule to sit down and comparison shop with insurance brokers, or indeed, individual agents. Low pressure: Let's face it, many people find it easier to stand firm without the person-to-person contact. Users feel they can be more savvy and better informed when every option is at their fingertips rather then relying on an agent's account. Save money: Due to the time needed to comparison shop, the pressure to stay loyal with one company, and the uncertainty about other companies, some may lose money by staying blindly loyal to one insurance carrier. The online market allows for easy comparison shopping, less pressure, and research tools to learn more about other companies. By becoming well informed, you can either work out a better rate with your current provider or move to a new provider who offers better coverage for your dollar. Buying Auto Insurance? Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Click hereThe Cons Be aware of these complications when purchasing insurance online: Understanding coverage options: Without an agent to explain 'insurance speak' you may not know all the coverage you may need. This is especially the case for those getting insurance for the first time. However, if you have discussed options with an agent before and have a generally good idea of the type of coverage you will need, this may be something that is manageable with a little extra research. Is that quote really a deal: All quotes may not be equal. Take care to examine all the coverage included with quotes. The online quotes may help you narrow your search, but should not be taken at face value as not all companies offer the same 'comprehensive' coverage. Buying insurance coverage in your state: Not all states will allow you to purchase insurance online. Some allow you to get quotes but still require you to meet with an agent before signing any contracts. Also, because the internet clouds locality, you will need to make sure the insurance carrier is licensed in your state. Individual customer care: Do you really want to push 1, then 2, then 4 to talk to someone about your insurance coverage? Working with a local agent still offers the advantages of individualized customer service. This agent can offer coverage that speaks to your locality as it is more likely they live in your community. They will also have a better knowledge of the coverage their carrier provides and can help you understand all of your options. They may also be aware of more discounts available to you that you may not know to ask for online. In this way they can offer better individualized care. Whether you choose to shop for insurance online or not, you should look at your insurance carrier websites. Insurance carriers now offer detailed information about coverage online. In fact, once you have settled on a carrier you can often answer coverage questions, pay bills, get updates on claims and find useful tip sheets and information on how to better protect yourself and your property. A primary example of this is your health coverage. Most health insurance carriers still prefer you to sign up through your employer or an agent. However, once you have your coverage, they offer information about doctors, medical options, prescriptions, and claims. Considering health care is one of the most complex types of insurance used, their increasing online presence is an invaluable tool. To explore online insurance options more, please see the links below. More Information Online Insurance Comparison Sites Insurance.com http://www.insurance.com/ Quicken https://secure1.insweb.com/cgi-bin/gic.exe?id=UzB94xbaYQ-wpGWHlZbh8l8ZtxL&page=/gic/Quicken.htj InsWeb http://www.insweb.com/ Insure.com http://www.insure.com/ Insurance Company Rankings AM Best Company - Insurance Reports http://www.ambest.com/homepage.asp Consumer Reports (requires membership for ratings) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/insurance/index.htm Standard & Poor's Ratings http://www2.standardandpoors.com/portal/site/sp/en/us/page.topic/ratings_fs_ins/2,1,5,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0.html?lid=us_fo_ratings_insurance US News & World Report - Top Health Insurance Companies http://health.usnews.com/sections/health/health-plans/index.html State Insurance Regulators http://www.consumeraction.gov/insurance.shtml Online Insurance articles. http://www.onlineinsurance.com/ When purchasing any product online you always want to make certain it is an authentic website representing a verifiable company with a good reputation. Here are some tips for a safe and rewarding online shopping experience: Be assertive in getting answers about an online company you have not worked with before. Learn as much as you can about them and ask tough questions. Check reviews online, in magazines, with your Secretary of State/Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, or by word of mouth. Call them up and talk to their customer service. If they don't list a contact number be careful. Review posted company information, policies and the privacy policy. If they do not provide this online, you can move on or call them up to ask why. Make sure any payments are made in a website with https or other secured system. Keep a printed copy of every online transaction. Consider using one credit card for your online purchases/payments. This way you know which to cancel in case of fraud. Also, make sure the card is not linked to any bank account. Some prefer getting a pay as you go credit card for any online transactions. These can be found at any grocery store and can be refilled as needed. Keep your computer updated with anti-virus software, browser updates and spyware programs. NEVER provide personal information from an email they supposedly sent to you. This is a common phishing scam. Everything in the email will look legit but lead to a false site collecting your information. Instead call the company with the number on your contract - not the number given to you in that email! Initiate contact yourself. Go to their website yourself from the address they gave you on your contract. To be on the safe side, never go to their website from an email. Don't give account information to anyone. Your online providers have this information and if anything will be emailing you a forgotten password - never vice versa! Change your account passwords often; every six months to once a year. Use strong passwords with numbers, symbols, changes in case and at least 6 characters.