I've been away from Xanga for a little over a week. I was also away from Facebook, my computer in general, and home. Joyouswind and I made a quick trip down to Arkansas for a combined mini-vacation (pretty much just one night and one morning) and three short visits with my mom. Short visits are best for Alzheimer's patients.
The mini-vacation was for Krysten. She took a week off from work to go with me and wanted to do something "vacationy" and since we've been celebrating her birthday all month (it was a milestone), I agreed to spend one night and one morning in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We got off the interstate somewhere in the eastern third of Missouri and took winding, hilly back roads to Mountain Home, Arkansas so Krysten could grab the oldest geocache in the state. I'd already found that one a couple of years ago, but it's a cool cache and we had time, so we did it. As we headed west from Mountain Home to Eureka Springs, we passed through the town of Harrison where, by some quirk of fate, I had cell phone service, albeit with data roaming. We stopped at a tourist welcome center and Krysten found a brochure for Eureka Springs. She was flipping through it and happened across an ad for the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour and got all excited about it. I'll admit, that was something I'd wanted to do the last time I was in Eureka Springs with Bookmark61, but either we didn't have time or the tour was full - I can't remember. Since I unexpectedly had phone service, I called the 800 number on the ad and purchased tickets for that night's tour.
We arrived in Eureka Springs around 4:30 or 5:00, checked into our hotel and relaxed for a few minutes. The tour was to start at 8:00 PM and around 6:00 Krysten was getting antsy to find a place to eat dinner so we wouldn't be late for the tour. We considered a few places, finally settling on the Sky Bar on the 4th floor of the Crescent Hotel since it was where we wanted to be. The Sky Bar sounds kind of hoity-toity, but it's really just an upscale pizza joint with a great view. We ordered sandwiches and drinks, were able to eat without rushing through dinner, enjoyed the view from the veranda, and a few minutes before 8:00 we wandered across the hall and sat down on one of the old church pews lining the hallway outside the ghost tour starting point. We waited and waited and I commented that it looked like we were the only ones on the tour. About 8:05, the woman who leads the tour showed up, unlocked the room, entered it and locked the door behind her. A few minutes later she came back out in costume and asked, "Are you waiting for the ghost tour?" We said we were. "The 8:00 tour?" Yep. "Wow, you got here really early! You should find something fun to do instead of sitting around waiting." Krysten asked, "What time is it?" The tour guide replied, "About 7:15." That's when we discovered neither of our phones had switched to Central Time Zone.
I have a new cell phone - a Galaxy Note 4 - that takes better photos than my camera. The battery was rapidly running down, so we went out to the parking lot and sat in the van with my phone on the charger so I could use it to take pictures and leave my camera in the van. At a little before 8:00 by the van clock - which I'd changed to Central Time Zone around Chicago - we returned to the 4th floor of the Crescent and found quite a crowd waiting for the tour to start. We arrived just as the tour guide unlocked the door and invited everyone to come in and sit down. She told us stories about the hotel known as the Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks and the ghosts that are believed to inhabit it. There is the 17-year-old stone mason from Ireland who died in a fall during construction, the little girl who fell from the top of the fourth floor staircase to the basement floor, the little boy who died of appendicitis, the woman in white who either fell or was pushed from the fourth floor during the hotel's stint as a college for women, the cancer patient from the hotel's stint as a hospital, the quack who called himself a doctor and claimed he could cure cancer, and even the hotel cat who lived there for over 20 years.
One of the first stops on our tour was the staircase where the little girl fell. Nobody saw it happen, but the banisters are low - built for the shorter stature of the general population 130 years ago - and just from looking at the layout, I'd guess she climbed up onto the railing and tried to stand up.
Poor baby; that was a long fall.
One of the most haunted rooms in the hotel is Theodora's Room - Room 419. Theodora was a cancer patient during the hospital era. Her room is booked months and months in advance, but on that night, it was empty. We got the special bonus of being allowed to go inside Theodora's Room. Most of the rooms in the hotel have been updated with modern king-size beds and flat screen TVs, but Theodora's Room has been kept painted and decorated in the style of the rooms during the 1930s. The walls are a dark turquoise with gold stars painted on them, like a stylized night sky.
According to the tour guide, Theodora likes her room kept neat and messy guests might leave the room and return to find their bags packed and placed in front of the door.
On the second floor, we heard about Michael, the Irish stonemason who fell during construction of the hotel and landed in what is now Room 218. He supposedly plays pranks on guests and staff members, pulling covers off the bed during the night, getting fresh with the women... nothing vicious. This is where the only kind of scary thing occurred on the tour. Everyone was standing around Room 218 and the rooms flanking it. Krysten and I and a couple and their son were at the end of the group, well back from the doors to the rooms. There was a short hall to our right, at the end of which was a pair of glass doors leading out onto the veranda. As the tour group moved forward, the five of us were trailing behind and just as we were crossing in front of the offshoot hallway, the glass doors banged open and shut quickly - two times.
As we worked our way down the floors, I was getting excited. I've known for several years about the morgue in the basement of the hotel and was looking forward to finally getting to see it. Back in 2005, the TV show Ghost Hunters filmed an episode at the Crescent and captured images both in Theodora's Room and in the morgue. We walked down the staircase to the basement, through the spa area, past the laundry room, and into a narrow hallway.
We gathered in the room where bodies of cancer patients were picked up to be shipped home. After a showing of the Ghost Hunters clip, we were divided into two groups. One group went to the autopsy room, and the group Krysten and I were in went to the meat locker, where the infamous Dr. Norman Baker stacked bodies sometimes for months while he continued to bill the families and send letters from the patients who had been duped into signing blank papers when they filled out the hospital admission paperwork.
After we'd been locked in the meat locker for a few minutes, we were released to visit the autopsy room. It was eerily lit with black lights. Our guide had one of those Ghost Buster gizmos that's supposed to pick up electromagnetic energy. She'd tried to get it to work on the banister of the fourth floor and the door to Room 218 and in Theodora's Room, but it was stubbornly silent. In the autopsy room, however, in front of the locker where the ghost hunters recorded an image, the thing lit up and beeped wildly.
We didn't see anything or capture anything in our photos, but it was fun to visit a morgue in the basement of a Victorian era hotel.
So, at the end of this long post, you are probably wondering, "Do you believe in ghosts, saintvi?" The answer is yes. I have experienced some very odd things that cannot be explained otherwise. I view time as a panorama, all happening at once. The past is happening over to the left and the future is happening off to the right and I'm somewhere in the middle. Sometimes there's a glitch... a hiccup... a wrinkle in time... and we get a glimpse of what's going on over to the left or off to the right. If it's to the left, it's paranormal activity; if it's to the right, it's psychic phenomena. I know that doesn't explain things like poltergeists (and those doors banging open and shut... twice), but I also believe in a spirit world. I'm a Christian and believing in spirituality is a tenet of my faith. Christians who believe in angels but pooh-pooh ghosts have not read their Old Testament. I have no answer for who opened and shut those doors. Could it be Michael the stonemason? I'm not ruling it out.