Category Archives: travel

We’re Moving To Portland!

No reason to bury the lead, Rene and I are moving to Portland, OR in May and we’re really excited! We’ll be blogging and videoing and maybe even Snapchatting the process, so make sure you follow us on all of that (links below).

Here’s the announcement video:

Social media links:
Curtis Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CurtisAndersenFanPage/

Curtis Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curtisandersen/?hl=en

Curtis Snapchat: TVs Curtis Andersen

Rene Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReneBordelonFanPage/

Rene Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/renesrevolution/?hl=en

Rene Snapchat: Rene Bordelon

 



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Filed under adventures, in real life, moving, rene, travel, update, video, YouTube

New York Part 2: Friendly Inspiration

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The last time I was in the city was over ten years go. The city is quite a bit different than it was then. I’m quite different than I was then. Before I really enjoyed being in the city, but I didn’t feel like I was a part of it. It was a location and I really couldn’t see myself as being included in it. I was an outsider looking in on the swirling mass of activity that was the city. I felt far more included this trip and that was primarily due to the fact that we had so many friends there to help bring us in.

When Rene and I got to New York we were surprised and delighted to find that we knew a lot more people in the Five Burroughs than we realized. Nearly all of them are artists in one way shape or form and doing things that we found either inspiring or motivating. I’ve actually been struggling with this post because there’s a part of me that wants to share all the cool stuff we did and all the cool people we did it with – just toss it out into the public and share, but the other half is having a really tough time being like, “these are the people we saw and here’s what we did with them.” It feels a little too personal for a public forum.

Pictures, however, I’m very comfortable sharing. So I’ve created this slideshow of cool stuff we did with cool people who I hope we see again very soon.

See you next time.

 

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Adventures in the Pacific Northwest

 

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Rene and I are visiting friends in the Pacific Northwest (or PNW for those in the know. I was not in the know and was very confused. I thought everyone was saying that they were “pwnd.”) We’re collecting footage and images for an episode of “Rene & Curtis Get Lost… In Portland,” but here are a few sneak peaks.

More later when I’m not rushing out of a hotel room.

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See you soon.

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A Quick Glimpse of Chicago

Chicago is a WONDERFUL city and Rene and I had a great time! There is an energy to the city, a creativity, and a friendliness that we fell in love with. Although we only had a few days in the city we got a decent glimpse at it. Warning: This is a picture heavy post!

Naturally, we saw yellow production signs. Once you know to look for them you see them everywhere. I believe that this was for Transformers 4 currently being shot downtown.

There’s all kinds of great architecture in Chicago. This clock struck Rene’s and my fancy.
Then we headed over to Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, to see the views. My mom used to work in Sears Tower and it was neat to finally see it.

On the 103rd floor they have four glass outcroppings called “The Ledge” built by the same team that built the glass viewing deck over the Grand Canyon. It’s a bit nerve racking to be over 1300 feet in the air directly above nothing but asphalt and sidewalk. Standing in The Ledge isn’t all that bad, but sitting down adds a whole new element of terror. It really changes the whole experience. Neither Rene nor I were brave enough to jump, although we saw other people do it. And the view…!

We spent a lot of time in the Theater District, mostly for the gluten free donuts, but we’ll get to that in a sec.

And we visited Navy Pier, one of the top tourist attractions in the state.

We hung out with Juliette of Verona.

And we played mini-golf. Rene got two Holes-In-One!

Here’s a video I caught of Rene’s first one:

A lot of what we did in the city was eat. And in the morning we had donuts – particularly donuts from Do-Rite Donuts where they make gluten free donuts that taste better than regular donuts – that’s not a joke!
This is a Dunkin Donut. It tasted the same as I remember them.

We had Dunkin Donut Coffee every morning!

The gluten free donuts are so popular that we had to call and reserve them in the morning. This was the last one.

Needless to say that the architecture is amazing! We took a river boat tour and got a great views.

We saw the sights and ate more donuts. They really were that good!

Oh, and of course the dirty martinis!

We did quite a bit in three days, but all it really did was whet our appetite for more.

Thank you, Chicago! We had a great time!

See you next time!

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Filed under Chicago, Get Lost, rene, travel, video, YouTube

Chicago & Creativity

Over the weekend Rene and I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago. I delivered the Think Fast seminar at the National Auctioneer’s Association Conference. We had a fantastic time in Chicago, we loved so many things about it, enough for it to be a completely different post later. Today I want to talk about the conference.

The point of the conference is continued education for the benefit auctioneers who attend. They get a chance to brush up on skills and learn new techniques. I was invited to help share improvisation techniques to aid in crowd control and auction flow. We did a series of games designed to keep them from second guessing themselves and to engage the creative centers of their brains. 
These are very personable people with gregarious personalities. They have a performer’s mentality and a salesmen’s drive. They write their own scripts, interact with people constantly and do the job of being both a host and performer.  These are creative people, but many of them had forgotten that. 
When I was first approached about speaking at the conference one of the specifics that was mentioned was to help come up with snappy patter and one-liners. That’s a tough thing to do for other people in a general way. When writing comedy it’s best to write to your subject. General jokes create general results. Specific jokes create specific results, better results. The fact of the matter is that they really didn’t need my help coming up with clever or snappy patter. Every one of the people at that conference has all the ability they need, they just needed the confidence to trust themselves. 
And that’s really the point of it all. So many people forget in the course of what they’re doing that part of why they are doing whatever it is they are doing, they are doing it because they had an idea about it. Something triggered their creativity and got them to where they are at. 
Now I know what some of the more cynical of you are thinking, “What about people in menial jobs? What kind of creativity got them there?” And, ok, I’ll give you that the job itself may not be the end goal, but they got that job for a reason. They needed to pay for something and that job is going to help do that. Everybody has their reasons. And sometimes the motivation can lead down some convoluted paths that distract you from the ultimate goal. All the more reason to get refocused! 
During the exercises you could see the spark light up as they remembered that they already knew how to do this stuff. They brought their own talents out and they got excited! It was really neat to see. Tools are great but seeing people use them, effectively, is always better. 
I think that we can all forget sometimes how to use our talents, at least to their full extent. It’s easy to get caught up using them in certain ways, simple ways. Sometimes you don’t get challenged, worse we don’t always challenge ourselves. Talents are different than skills. Skills are learned, require practice and can fade from lack of use. Talents are innate. The stick around whether we want them or not. Skills can enhance a talent, but skills can never replace a talent. 
I have heard it said, and it makes a nice poetic notion, that when you teach you learn as much as you pass on. I definitely learned some things during the conference. While talking to them I was reminded that I haven’t really been utilizing my talents as much either. It was motivating. I saw what it was like for them to be making a living doing what they love. That was inspiring. And I was pointed to a Facebook group all about grilling and barbecuing. It looks delicious!
So I put it to you, use your talents. They don’t need to make you famous, but they can make a difference, even if that difference is just making you a little bit happier. 
But that’s just me, what do you think? Let’s talk in he comments. 
See you next time!

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Filed under career, Chicago, commentary, consulting, creativity, doing new things, education, getting started, happiness, inspiration

In Chicago!

I will be teaching a seminar in Chicago this weekend called Think Fast – Using Improv To Improve Your Performance. I’m really excited about it, hopefully this will be the first of many seminars, and I’m also glad to be able to explore the city a little with Lovely Wife Rene!

Today, however, was a travel day so I’m really tired and ready to sleep. For all the up-to-the-minute updates about our adventures in this great city follow us on Twitter:
@ReneBordelon – she’s going to post a metric ton of stuff!
@CurtisAndersen – here’s hoping I remember to take pictures. 
Normally I’d put a picture of the city, but I haven’t taken any yet, so instead here’s where we ate tonight. It was our big “first night” in the city. 
See you next time!

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Vacation is over, so we watched Ghost Shark.

Image Copyright Syfy

Somehow I feel like I should probably feel bad about this.

We had a wonderful time this weekend, got to spend a lot of time with my family having a great time at the beach. So what do you do when vacation is over? Well if you’re Rene and I you do your best to not let it really end.

A trip to visit the nieces and a quick stop at El Torito for “end of vacation” nachos is a good way to start. A nap isn’t bad either. But the thing that seems to have capped off the day? Ghost Shark. 
There’s no good reason why. The plot is thinner than a desperate Hollywood starlet and the effects aren’t as good as what I could do on Rene’s MacBook but for some reason we couldn’t turn it off. It’s like the Honey Boo Boo of the shark-sploitation scene. 
Does it bother anyone else that I can use shark-sploitation and you know exactly what I mean?
It looks like Syfy did a shark movie marathon today. I could do the research to confirm, but, as I mentioned, I’m trying to drag out vacation and research is just a bit too “work” to happen right now. 
So what do you think of this rash of shark movies? Good fun or the fall of western civilization? I look forward to your thoughts. 
See you next time!

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Filed under movies, rene, social commentary, society, travel

No Excuses, Only Results

Rene and I did some shooting this week for a new project. It’s a travel show that has been sitting in the back of my head for a while now. We haven’t really done anything with it, frankly, because we haven’t been able to afford to. No mystery challenges, no equipment problems, just cost. For a while I thought that’d we’d sell the idea to the Travel Channel and maybe be able to host it.

Well the Travel Channel didn’t buy it and so we decided it was time to do it ourselves.

And that’s really what I wanted to get to in today’s post, waiting for permission.

One of the things that I preach is “finding a way.” “No excuses, just results.” My students hear it and more than one of my friends in the pit of their despair has heard me say it. Rene, my poor suffering wife, has heard it often enough that she knows when it’s coming. But as often as I say it, it’s something I don’t always do myself. When it comes to the entertainment industry it’s easy to look for “the way” to do things. Following steps. For example: If I want to make a TV show then I should 1) put together a pitch 2) build a package of materials 3) put together a sizzle reel and 4) present to the appropriate company to get the budget and crew to make the show. These are simplified steps, but you see what I’m talking about, right? Also, that way is REALLY hard! Super hard! Unless you are Mark Burnett or Chuck Lorre there’s no guarantee that you’re getting anything even to pilot. So what do you do?

Conventional wisdom would suggest getting a job at a production company or waiting until you are a celebrity and then hoping for a development deal. These options aren’t much better than the first. So this year I’m not asking permission any more.

We’ve had a lot of projects that have been sitting idle just waiting for someone to say yes. “All we need is one!” has been a popular mantra, but that “one” hasn’t come yet. It might not ever. Waiting is not a position of power and it doesn’t help get anything done.

If I were talking to me I’d tell myself that waiting for money is just an excuse and nobody wants excuses, they only want results. So that’s what we’re going to do now, generate results. With the help and support of my wife and our friends we have started a series of projects that will be released come hell or high water. Whether it be on the WiggyWebs YouTube channel or some network does magically come along and sweep something up remains to be seen, but we’re doing them and that’s that.

Financing schminancing – production levels will be at whatever we can beg, barrow or steal. Thankfully we have some very talented friends with some very nice toys. And in the end, if what we do is really good and lots of people watch it, the projects will start paying for themselves and then we just need to keep cranking stuff out (fingers crossed).

I know this isn’t a new idea, hell there’s a whole community over at YouTube of people who got this way before I did, but I’ve finally gotten on the train. And maybe by talking about it you can get on the train too.

Besides, Rene and I had a hell of a lot of fun shooting this weekend and that in and of itself was worth it.

See you next time!

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Filed under Andelon, Get Lost, travel, video, Wiggy VonSchtick, wiggy webs, YouTube

Never Again, United! Never Again!

I will never fly United Airlines or any of their affiliates ever again.

Ever!

Rene and I recently flew United as part of a work retreat to Hawaii and it was the third and final time we will ever use them. Hell, the only reason we’ve flown them the last two times is because someone else purchased the tickets. I could re-hash the story for you, but I feel that my complaint letter will do better:

May 9, 2013
United Airlines Customer Service
To whom it may concern and that should be anyone who is related to the customer service department all the way up to the corporate executives.
My wife and I recently traveled on your airline for the last time. Ever. We have never experienced such consistently bad customer service, and these recent flights were not the only times. The last three times I have flown on United, only once by choice, we have been extremely dissatisfied; not to mention yelled at, dismissed and watched as other passengers were treated as badly, if not worse, than we were. Frankly, I’m shocked that you remain in business at all.
While our flights to and from Hawaii were ridiculous and our treatment completely unacceptable, I feel that it is important for you to have some context as to how my wife and I have been treated by this company in the past and why, when we discovered that our flights to and from Hawaii were on United airlines, we were immediately put off.
My wife, Rene Bordelon, was a member of your frequent flyer program, Mileage Plus, from the late 90’s through the early 2000’s. She made multiple trips to Australia and has fond memories of those flights. She racked up a lot of miles.
In 2009 we cashed in some of those miles to fly to Utah to attend the Sundance Film Festival. On the morning that we were to leave my wife received a message that our flight was cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. We called in and when we spoke with the United representative she was only willing to put us on a flight that left two days later. Due to the fact that we had no place to stay, and no offer was made by your representative to help, we asked if we would be put up somewhere while we waited. The representative said no. Since we would be missing work in addition to now having to find a place to stay in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival, an impossible task, we told her that was unacceptable. She told us that because we had used miles for our tickets we were not a priority.
That’s right, you’re representative told a LOYAL frequent flyer who had spent THOUSANDS of dollars on international flights and EARNED the miles that she used that she was NOT A PRIORITY! It took over an hour and her continued excessive attempts to try and make us stay two extra days we were finally re-booked for a flight that morning.
When we got to the airport there was only one ticket agent working for the whole United ticket counter. There were many people trying to leave that morning, and the lack of desk personnel meant that we were all running late. Thank God the employees at Salt Lake City airport were on the ball and professional. They are the only reason why many people were able to make their flights. Flights they were only late for because you failed to staff the ticketing desk correctly.
The real kicker of the whole 2009 experience, besides the fact the my wife’s loyalty to your airline was completely disregarded, was that after all the effort we had to put in to get the flight in the first place the flight was then DELAYED OVER TWO HOURS! When we got home we called customer care to tell them how horrible our experience was. They blew us off. That was the last straw. From that time forward we decided that we would not fly United by choice ever again.
There have been two times since when I have flown United, and each time it was only because someone else purchased the tickets.
In January 2011 I was flown to Connecticut for work. I was booked on United. Because of the memories of 2009 I was cautious. For my return trip I was unable to check in online. My flight was early, 5 in the morning, and I was unable to get anyone on the phone. When I got to the airport I was told that my ticket was returned and that I was no longer booked on the flight. No one would help me. I had a confirmation in hand showing that a ticket was purchased, but no one would help me. I was grateful that, finally, a United ticket agent, from the other side of the airport, was able to help me. Even she agreed that there was no reason why my ticket “vanished” and she essentially re-booked me on the flight and actually escorted me through security so I could make it on time. I wish I had her name because of all the people at the ticket desk she was the only one willing to help me. All the other agents just told me I was out of luck. ALL OF THE AGENTS! It was abysmal. Had that single employee not been working that morning I have no idea what I would have done.
That brings us to this most recent flight. We were flown to Hawaii with the confirmation code ATR9CP. Originally my wife and I were booked with seats together. Our flight was changed three times! No reason was given. When we got our final confirmations we were no longer seated together. We were on flight 670 April 28, 2013. Online we were unable to move our seats back together without paying an upgrade fee for “economy plus.” I don’t understand why our seats, that were booked together, were suddenly no longer together. The flight was booked with my wife and I on the same reservation. You, United Airlines, changed our flights multiple times and yet somehow got us separated! And let me be clear, I do not want the same excuse that my wife received when she filed her complaint. I do not want to hear that I am merely guaranteed a seat on your flight, I want my booking honored. I expect that if you are going to make changes to a flight you do your best to make sure that my experience isn’t modified. It is already hell to fly, so the additional problem of you not being to handle your seating correctly is not only disappointing but unacceptable.
Not being able to make the seat change online we made sure that we were early to speak with a ticket agent. When we arrived at the airport the check-in line before the security check point was chaos. There weren’t enough real people and the do-it-yourself terminals were not helpful – especially in regard to changing our seats. When we got to the gate my wife and I watched as the ticket agents were rude to the five customers ahead of us, most of them with similar complaints of – “we were separated from our parties”. The agents wavered between being disinterested and downright rude. There was one traveler, it was clear that English was not her first language, and she was trying to get clarification on something having to do with the flight. What got my attention was the yelling from the ticket agent, I tried to get her name but her name tag was covered and she was not forth coming with it. She kept repeating “Sit down, ma’am” with a raised voice, even though the woman was far from being rude or aggressive. When I approached the counter I was pleasant and respectful and when I asked if we could be sat together I was dismissed and told that my best option was to trade with another passenger. This was repeated with at least three other sets of couples. As I mentioned, there were seats available – the economy plus seats and other regular economy seats. We did not expect an upgrade, but there’s no reason why these seats couldn’t have been offered to Mileage Plus members allowing my wife and I to sit together. It was not a full flight. Several stand-bys were able to be seated and there were empty seats on the flight. We were fortunate enough to find a single traveler who was willing to upgrade from a middle seat to my wife’s aisle seat, but why did we have to do it at all?! Our seats never should have been separated in the first place! Watching all the separated families made it feel like United made it a point to separate everyone. It was ridiculous and embarrassing to see a company, who’s return business relies on happy customers, treat everyone so poorly.
This put a sour taste in our mouths for the beginning of our vacation, a honeymoon for us.
Our return flight also had us separated, by nine rows. We came back on flight 1215 on May 6, 2013. Since we had very poor luck getting our seats changed on our arrival flight, we weren’t holding out much hope for the return. It’s sad that we had to dread the flight home before we even got to the airport and not because we were leaving an island paradise, but because we knew that we’d have to deal with United personnel.  When we arrived the ticket agent at check-in flat out told us that the flight was full and no seat changes would be possible. He was at least polite about it, but it didn’t set us up for a good flight. When we arrived at the gate we were told that that flight had been oversold and that they’d require two volunteers to take a different flight to San Francisco. No mention was made of any kind of offer to cover the inconvenience, just “Hey, we need to people to go to San Francisco.” I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that no one was jumping up to take the flight. Again we watched as family after family tried to get their parties put back together, including ours; each time being met with a “no.” Seriously, and I’m actually asking for an answer, why is it so hard to keep groups together? Clearly you are re-seating people on the plane when you change a flight. Wouldn’t it make sense to re-seat according to reservation? There is no reason why my wife and I shouldn’t be able to sit together on a 5-6 hour flight.
Once on the flight the attendants were grumpy and surly, muttering things under their breath as they passed by about other passengers. We heard them, even though they were trying to be quiet. And I’m not even going to bring up how ridiculous it is to charge $25 per checked bag and that your food choices do not make up for the fact that I must purchase food on a flight over 3 and a half hours long. If you can’t afford to treat your customers with respect and train your employees to at least act like they care then maybe you don’t need to be in business.
There’s an old corporate adage that every time someone complains you lose eleven customers. Well I’m complaining, and I’m holding you to a higher standard. I’m telling everyone. I want to turn eleven into 11, 000. I’m telling anyone I can about our experience. I’m posting it online. I’m writing articles about it and I’m throwing it out on all the social media. I’m sending this to the Better Business Bureau and anywhere else I can file a complaint. I want everyone to know that people that fly your airline are merely cattle so they can make better choices in their air travel. Other airlines manage to get it right. JetBlue has always been wonderful to fly; I’ve loved my trips on Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic; so I never need to travel on your airplanes again. You have continued to drop the ball repeatedly in terms of customer service and it doesn’t take much of a Google search to find so many other people who have had similar experiences.
You failed, United. I’m telling everyone. I’ll never fly you again.
Curtis Andersen

Turns out we are far from the only people who have had problems with United – there’s a whole Facebook fan page dedicated to how much they suck: United Sucks.

They have a tendency to kill dogs on their flights. These two garnered national attention.

And they break guitars:

He has multiple songs about this and a nice statement. He’s Canadian and here’s his YouTube channel: Sons of Maxwell.

I want to take comfort in the fact that other people have had trouble too, but unfortunately every story has a very similar ending – United doesn’t care and won’t do a damn thing to make it better. So, as far as I’m concerned, they need to go out of business.

That’s why I hope you’ll join me by saying Never Again to flying United. Maybe, when the airline is shut down, the employees who are able to get new jobs in the air travel industry will get proper training from a better, more customer conscience carrier.

Go to hell United.

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Filed under advocate, boycott, never again, rant, rene, travel

Romantic Evening on The Queen Mary & Ghost Hunting! Part 2

Creepy hallway to our room. Seriously, the only thing down here is our room. The hall is as long as it looks… and dark!

As much as we enjoyed our romantic time on the Queen Mary, we also dipped into some of it’s more mysterious fun. The boat has a long and colorful history, starting as a luxury liner and then being commissioned as a troop transport in World War 2 before, again, becoming a luxury liner. When you’re an active mode of transportation for over 30 years things happen and sometimes those things are tragic.

A simple Google Search shows how popular stories of haunting on the ship are and the owners of the boat have definitely done their best to capitalize on that. There are multiple ghost tours on the ship, including some very high end (read: expensive) ghost investigation tours. All of them travel into the deep bowels of the ship and explore the haunted places. We did two of the tours: The Ghosts and Legends Show and the standard Haunted Encounters Tour. After we make a couple more movies/TV shows maybe we’ll do the Dining with the Spirits experience.

Before we go much further I feel like I should let you know where I sit on the whole idea of ghosts and spirits.

I’m a skeptic.

This will probably surprise many of you who knew me years ago, but with age comes wisdom and even though I cannot deny that I have seen somethings that were not readily explainable (I’ve been thinking about doing vlogs of those stories for Halloween) I’ve definitely come down on the side of skeptic. That isn’t to say that I don’t believe that strange things happen, quite the contrary.  As I mentioned, I’ve seen some crazy shit – undeniable, crazy shit – but what I doubt is that there is an intelligence behind it all from the “other side.” There are so many things that we don’t know about electric fields and how they interact, hell, there’s a physics guy that can make a whole room full of furniture flip out, just like poltergeist activity (video coming when I find it). Point is, people coming back from the dead? No. Strange energy phenomenon that we don’t understand yet that freaks us out? Yes.

Still, the paranormal has always fascinated me since childhood, and I still get that giddy feeling when it’s time for ghost stories. So how could we turn down tours of one of the most famously haunted places in the world?

The first show, The Ghosts and Legends show is truly just a show. They go through the history of the ship, there are special effects, you visit the “super haunted” first class swimming pool, but it’s all, literally, smoke and mirrors. If you want safe spooky fun, this is definitely the way to go.

The next tour we took was the Haunted Encounters tour. This was much more our speed. It’s an extensive tour of the ship and it’s bowels and as you walk the guide tells you stories about the ship in general, not just the ghost stories – although the ghost stories take center stage. I don’t want to recount those stories, cuz you should go on the tour yourself, but here are the pictures we took. Let me know if you see anything in them, I certainly didn’t, but it was a very good tour.

OK, actually there is one weird thing that happened to us on the tour that was not a part of the tour. You decide what it means. We left the first class pool through a side door on the lower level and proceeded down into the recesses of the ship. Right outside the door to the pool there was an office door; a regular modern office, as we’d come to discover. As I walked past the door it opened and closed very quickly. It startled the rest of our group and one man asked if I had done it. I told him no and that I assumed someone was going to come out but saw us and decided to wait until the tour had passed. The man who asked walked back to the door and opened it, revealing the office inside and no one there.

Honestly there was probably a person there before and they did have enough time to walk to the other end of the office and leave another way, but it was creepy and a very neat experience to have on a ghost tour.

Is the Queen Mary haunted? I don’t know, but it is spooky and spooky can be a lot of fun! Enjoy the pics!

Many of these are from the first class pool because we had lots of access and it was a super dark. Oh, and here’s a short video:

 These pictures are of the exit to the changing rooms. A lot of activity happens here apparently.

This is the changing room hallway. Apparently there is a “vortex” at the other end where entities can come through to our world. That vortex happens to be near the active exit of the changing rooms.
This is a replica of the old spa service menu.

Original furniture

 The engine room.

This isn’t haunted, it’s just the propeller and it looks like it’s haunted.

These pictures are from the old boiler room. Top right is one of Rene’s pictures with a mysterious white streak zooming through it.

See you next time!

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Filed under ghosts, rene, travel, video