I always underestimate the amount of work it takes to get the multiple posts out covering the Haunted Trail of Tears each year. Thinking this is why I subconsciously put it off so long ha. The good news is the hard part is past. The prep/teardown (link here) and day walk (link here) posts have a ton of shots that all have to be processed and then I try to focus more on the details and backstory when presenting them. Today’s night walk post still has a ton of pictures which need even more work due to the limited lighting on the trail, however, I can just focus on the experience writing it up thanks to the those other two lead ins.
So, less words today, but hoping you enjoy a sampling from the big night. The Headless Horseman prop is the prop that gets the most attention throughout the night, both from our guests and us. The flaming pumpkin is quite the entertainer, but a hollowed out pumpkin full of kerosene in the woods takes extra caution.
Hit the jump to see the various sights on the Haunted Trail of Tears 2021
And we are back into this haunted March. In the last post I took you through the Haunted Trail of Tears 2021 prep phase and went ahead and covered the tear down while I was at it. It is time to once again to burn a hole through your browser’s image cache with the fun part of putting on this annual event – taking the run through and hitting some of the highlights and features our guests have come to expect to jump start their Halloween season. Today, the focus is on the “Day Walk” while I try to power through the work needed to get the “Night Walk” post prepped – yeoman’s work for sure.
Unfortunately, I forgot to get a shot of the Headless Horseman the first day of the two day event. Corrected this oversight the following morning, but the first pumpkin had already been through the burner ha! You will understand that more when you see the night shots.
The Headless Horseman (link here), has definitely been a guest favorite since making its debut a few years ago. He is placed up near the house instead of on the trail so we can keep an eye on the flames pouring out of the pumpkin. Last thing I need is to set the woods on fire – although that might actually be the only way to flush the rabid clowns out of there.
Those that have been following the March Haunt here at Intrigued are already aware that I discovered a huge gap in last year’s post cycle. I completely forgot to put the traditional recap of our annual Haunted Trail of Tears event. Not sure how that happened and I can’t even us the work crutch now that I’ve crossed my 1 year retirement anniversary. Admittedly, there was a giant sigh when this came to light as it is daunting work to get the images ready for such a post. The good news is the background tasks for the prep and tear down phases is now complete. Time to get that checked off my to-do list!
Each year the first item on the project plan is to open up all the trails in our woods. Since we have a large number of guests that attend, we want to make sure the trails are easy to walk, free of downed obstacles and even more important, falling hazards addressed. Adding to the importance is the fact the event happens mostly in the dark with little to no ambient light. The month leading up to the date requires a lot of time on Big Orange.
Mow all the grass/weeds down, haul off dead trees, smooth out the mole highways and cut back the god-awful invasive Multiflora Rose – a constant pain in my ass. At least our Locust Trees drop their thorns within the perimeter of the tree where the Rose sneaks under cover of night and plants itself where it can inflict the most pain. After a month of hard work and buckets of blood loss, the trails are in good enough shape and ready for a final mowing a couple of days prior to the big date.
During this same timeframe, night activities turn to prop prep. All the tubs have to be brought down from their storage racks in the outbuilding and those requiring assembly and/or batteries are brought down to the basement. That also brings on one of the bigger reoccurring expenses for the event – BATTERIES. Took this picture of a small portion of the required DC power. I stopped counting when I got to 100 9Vs, 35 AAAs and then 245 AAs.
Hit the jump to go behind the scenes at the Haunted Trail of Tears! (don’t be scared, we turned the lights on)
Hopefully with this latest barrage of non-wildlife posts, I am putting to rest all those false accusations Intrigued has completely gone to the birds. A quick count puts this at the 5th consecutive post featuring non-living topics. Some would say this is getting out of “hand”! Speaking of which…
Yep, we are bringing another Halloween prop project that was first introduced in last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. Halloween may only be a day in most people’s standard year, but around Intrigued it is 363 days a year (we have to take two days off from prop building in order to hold the actual two day event ha). Today’s feature was in the works for probably 3 years and the pieces were just not coming together very well. Made the head first, wasn’t really happy with it as there were issues during the foam filling process. Fixed that issue the next year, got the iconic Freddy hat and then ran out of time to build the Posey frame (link here and earlier versions here). It wasn’t until Covid (more accurately the Covid “response”) that it finally provided the spark …err needle to get me going.
Hit the jump to read about how the key element of this prop came to fruition.
March at Intrigued is slowly turning into October junior. This isn’t by any divine strategy (although a spring Halloween would be awesome!). Nope, this is entirely due to looking at my post queue and realizing I need to get my ass in gear and get at least LAST year’s Halloween related posts out. If not, it pretty much snowballs from there as the prop building is already in progress for this year’s event and before you know it I’ll be in full stress mode trying to get everything planned for the big event. How the hell did I get all this done when I was still working!?!
Whining about it, isn’t going to solve the problem, so let’s get to work. Today’s featured Halloween prop is another “upgrade” project.
Our Mini-Me dragon started out as a base prop that one of my nephews or nieces gave me for Christmas. Note to others, if there is ever a need for a gift idea, you can never go wrong in the haunt department. I picked up the daddy dragon the year before at Big Lots (will show that later). It was a more featured offering with lights in the eyes, moving mouth and various dragon related sounds. The Mini-Me version looked similar, but was lacking these additional features.
Hit the jump to see how this store-bought prop underwent a dramatic improvement before heading out to the haunted trail.
Hitting the non-wildlife side of Intrigued hard this month. I have way too many projects waiting in the queue and need to keep pressing if I ever want to see above the waterline this year. Priority one is to at least get through the Halloween related posts before we get deep into setting up this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. There are always at least two haunt projects in the works here which always draws one or two strange looks from the service people that come into the house for one reason or another. The regulars are used to it by now and some have even started giving me feedback on the finished props positioned around the basement. The new ones have a very worried look and waste no time getting their tasks done ha! Today I thought I would bring you the latest addition to the collection.
I call him Toxic Spidey and is an elaboration on a store bought skeleton spider my nephew and niece gave me for Christmas this year. They know my sickness, I mean affinity for all things scary. I am really fond of this new wave of props that have been coming out that focus on skeletal structures of smaller animals and insects. Note, they do give us quite the chuckle when they keep the cartilage features like ears – this spider is slightly truer to reality although thankfully larger than the ones we see out in our woods.
Hit the jump to see how this lifeless prop gets a brighter life.
Getting to crunch time. We are now officially under 8 months to Halloween and we still have LOTS to do to get ready for the 2022 Haunted Trail of Tears event (link here). Just realized I didn’t post the detail shots for that event – will get on that stat. Right now I wanted to focus on one of the props I built for last year’s haunt. Technically it is an “upgraded” of a prop that was several years old.
I had designed two Nightwings (link here) and was looking for a clever way to incorporate them into the haunt. Ron found this really cool Gargoyle at Home Depot and bought it for me to use with one of the wings. That heavy resin prop already came with wings so we just tried to cover them up. I also whipped up a stand the night before that year’s event to hold the Gargoyle and the mechanical wings. Trust me, it did look better at night.
After looking at for a couple of years, decided it was time to give it the presentation it deserved – the black plastic tablecloth covering didn’t fit the high standards we set for the trail. Bring on Project Cemetery Sentry.
Doesn’t that look a lot better!?! Thought I would walk you through the effort involved with the transformation.
Hit the jump for more details on the ’21 addition to the prop collection.
A little late on this post as my favorite holiday has technically come and gone. Actually, it was more like pushed out thanks to the merchants clearing their shelves of anything orange and black weeks before Halloween in order to start putting out their Christmas inventory. Quite sickening and really makes me crazy!
Yeah, like that crazy not to mention when I am crazy I get hungry and I start looking for food…
Whoa, whoa, whoa – you didn’t actually think I would eat these cute puppies did you!?! If I came anywhere close to these furballs with the fangs out Linda would drive a stake through my heart before I could say Let’s Go Brandon. Luckily there’s a way I can get the crazies under control and that’s by turning my attention to gutting this year’s pumpkin. Something about hacking away at a fake orange vegetable with a hot knife and a Dremel that soothes the soul. Figured I’d give you a quick walkthrough of the process that goes into producing my annual pumpkin.
Now this has been a very productive weekend. Thanks to Raven’s agility show, I’ve had what has becoming an increasing rare amount of time to just sit and chip away at the post backlog. Halloween is at the forefront of priorities as our annual Halloween Haunted Trail is but a few weeks away. Like yesterday, thought I would go ahead and detail the improvements and upgrades to another prop for this year’s haunt.
If you happen to recall, several years back (2017 I believe), we constructed the Dancing Zombie prop based on some linkage ideas we had found on the web. The core of the design was the offset wiper motor that would rotate the torso in somewhat of an ellipse incorporating a smooth forward/back as well as a left to right motion.
Hit the jump to read about all the new offseason upgrades to our Dancing Zombie prop!
Good hauntings all! As it is September, we are currently in full throttle preparing for this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears (link here). Truth is, the trail efforts are an ongoing effort throughout the year, researching ideas, building new props and unfortunately, rebuilding or upgrading props that didn’t live up to expectations. I covered the efforts involved in the Westworld 2.0 line rollout with Servo Man back in July of last year (link here). That line made its debut in the 2019 event.
Unfortunately, that version ended up experiencing a malfunction late in the evening. The best I could tell at the time, the fabric got caught up in the servos which added a bunch of drag to the mechanism – end result, nearly burned out servos. I got it put back together for the 2020 event and hauled it out to its spot in the trail. turned everything on and nothing. Apparently, something got knocked out of whack during the bumpy ride down into the valley. With no time to repair it, it simply became a static prop for the night – completely bummed, especially with all the offseason work that went into it. You can check out all the details in the previous post on that version, but wanted to throw in some quick shots just so you know the upgrades that were done for this year.
… and the simplified version showing the main linkages. Note specifically the neck area as that turned out to be where a lot of the issues turned up. That little neck on the servo was basically holding up the entire weight of the head and carrying all the torque for the rotation.
Hit the jump to see the latest additions in the Westworld 2.5 Posey line.