Beware the Garage Sale!

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It’s not like I need more stuff. We are drowning in stuff at my house, but I just can’t seem to resist a good garage sale. In my town, the various neighborhoods have community garage sale weekends where almost every house has junk in their driveway. Junk begging to come home with me.

My more sensitive relatives remind me to be careful bringing used stuff home, you never know what’s attached to it. Sorry, dear loved ones, but I am purposefully looking for weird objects.

johnI don’t mean that I want a museum of cursed objects in my basement like The Warrens, John Zaffis, or Zak Bagans, but I do want to figure out if this idea of haunted objects has any merit. Like with most paranormal topics, I want to know how it ticks. Is there a logical, organic, natural explanation? Or is it something else? If it is something else, what is it and what does that mean in a broader world-view sense?

peggySomeone I would consider an expert in such matters is Jayne Harris of HD Paranormal. She believes that sometimes it is something else. She explains it as an emotional or spiritual connection to an object, either through prior ownership or displacement (this is when energy is transferred or absorbed by an object in the location of trauma; a gun used to kill someone for instance). Many times her team finds other explanations, but not always.

What happens in the rare event that you bring a haunted item into your home? Some people report that the item will make them feel anxious, angry, sad, or cold. Odors, good and bad, can accompany the item. Most disturbingly, however, are items that purport to move on their own and voices that emanate from the piece. Worse yet are reports of bad luck or illness befalling the owner.

voodoo

99¢ start!

Hate garage sales? Thrift stores, not your thing? There is no shortage of haunted items that you can purchase on the internet. I did a quick search of haunted objects for sale and ran across several dolls, some priced as high as $2,000.00! That doll better do dishes and laundry for that price. A lot of haunted masks that would be creepy enough on their own are available in a wide price range. Voodoo dolls and haunted jewelry tend to be numerous and in my indie author price range!

In all my years of bringing home odd items, I can’t say any of them caused any of the above-mentioned symptoms. However, last year I was rummaging through an old barn that had been renovated into an antique store with my daughter. We entered an area on the second-floor hay loft and all the hair on my arms stood to attention. I can only describe the feeling as the heebie-jeebies. We left the area and I felt fine. I went back and the heebie-jeebies returned. I love that feeling. It makes me happy. I hung out there for several minutes. I thought about buying something. I thought about warnings from my family. I went home empty handed.

I figure it’s better to write about spooky stuff than forcing my family to live through it, I mean you never know. But someday all the kids will be grown and out of the house! Sorry, husband.

I went back to this antique store a couple weeks ago. No heebie-jeebies. Either it was my mind playing tricks, wishful thinking, OR the haunted item has been SOLD!

Been to any garage sales this summer? Been feeling a little under the weather? Feel any strong emotions you can’t explain? Smell something weird? Is that doll in a different place than you left her? Please. Please, invite me over!

Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

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5 Halloween Games to Scare You Silly

I love a good Halloween party. The costumes, the spooky refreshments, and of course, the games! 

I think we all know about Bloody Mary and Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board, but you know how I like to stretch your knowledge, it must be the teacher in me! Here are five lesser-known spooky games you can try for yourself. Play at your own risk, however. I don’t claim any responsibility for your safety!

Sweet Tooth Gnomeimp-945890_1280

The worst thing that can happen with this game is that a gnome will come and nibble at your chocolate bar. Personally, I don’t like to share my chocolate bar, so, no thank you. Furthermore, where does the little bugger go after he helps himself? Is he now loose in your house to nibble on other things? Like your hair in the middle of the night? Again, no thank you.

To Play:

  1. In a room with a ceiling light, place a mirror on the floor directly under the light, so the light is reflected in the mirror
  2. Suspend the chocolate from the light with a long string so that it is dangling just above the mirror
  3. Everyone sits down in a circle around the mirror
  4. One person should then pose with scissors ready to cut the string
  5. One person turns off the light and quickly rejoins the circle
  6. The scissor holder cuts the string (you should hear the chocolate bar hit the mirror)
  7. Everyone chants “ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Tooth, Please come” three times
  8. Everyone must remain completely still and silent and wait, soon you will hear a rustling sound (that’s the gnome unwrapping the chocolate)
  9. When the rustling stops, count to ten
  10. You may now turn the light back on

You will see that the gnome has either eaten some of the chocolate, left teeth marks where he nibbled, or possibly leave more chocolate behind.

Cat Scratcheyes-218185_1280

If you don’t mind being scratched by a ghost or possible demon cat, then this is the game for you! I mean, who doesn’t love evil unseen claws drawn across your tender flesh?

To Play:

  1. Two players, player one lies down with their head in the lap of player two
  2. Player two gently caressing player one’s temples while telling this story (there are a couple of different versions, but I like this one):
    “You are walking down a darkened road. You are alone with only the light of the moon to guide your way. Dark and lonely woods line each side of the road. Dry leaves rustle in the wind and the gravel crunches under your feet. You see a shadow moving in the trees. You hear something rustling in the underbrush. You pick up your pace, desperate to get past the woods. Then you see it. A dark shape of a large cat. Glowing red eyes focus on you. You run, but the demon cat chases you and jumps on you. It scratches you. One. Two. Three. Cat scratch, cat scratch, cat scratch!”
  3. The person sits up as the story-teller lifts the back of their shirt. Red claw marks will appear!

Charlotte’s Webdoll-1640841_1280

No, not the cute grammatically talented spider (did I just say cute in reference to a spider?). The name refers to the ghost of a little girl named Charlotte whose mother was supposedly hanged as a witch. If Charlotte likes your token, you will get the nice Charlotte. If she hates your offering, or you, you will get the bad Charlotte. According to players who have gotten the bad Charlotte, you don’t want her, at all.

To Play:

  1. Find a dark room with a large mirror
  2. Place two chairs facing the mirror with some space between them
  3. Place a table behind the chairs
  4. Put your token offering (a toy for a girl) on the table. Be sure you can see it in the mirror when you and your fellow player are seated in the chairs
  5. Together, say: We Want to Play Charlotte’s Web
  6. You may hear her moving around the room
  7. You may see her take the toy in the reflection
  8. Together say: Goodbye Charlotte
  9. Whatever you do, don’t turn around during this game, you aren’t allowed to look anywhere except at the mirror. If bad Charlotte shows up and throws a tantrum, well, I did say to play at your own risk!

The Midnight Gamedeath-1299194_1280

Remember playing hide-and-seek? A little tame for you? How about hide-and-seek with an entity who, if he finds you, will either trap you in a hallucination of your worst nightmare or rip your guts out? Now that’s a whole new level of motivation! This game takes real commitment, all night kind of commitment.

To Play:

  1. Turn off all the lights in your house and stand at your front door.
  2. Write your full name on a piece of paper
  3. Prick your finger and put a drop of your blood on the paper
  4. Place the paper on the ground just outside the front door.
  5. Place a candle on top of the paper and light it (adult supervision please)
  6. Close the door
  7. At precisely the stroke of midnight, knock on your front door 22 times, you must have completed the knocking before the clock reads 12:01 am.
  8. Open the front door and blow out the candle
  9. Bring the candle inside and immediately relight it, you have just invited the Midnight Man into your house!
  10. Now you move around your house with the candle to light your way, hoping to avoid the Midnight Man.
  11. If your candle goes out, it means that the Midnight Man is near. If you can relight it within 10 seconds, you are safe and can continue to move around to avoid him. If not, your only hope is to surround yourself with a circle of salt where you must remain until 3:33 am. Otherwise, he’s got you! If you make it to 3:33 am without having to resort to salt, you win…I guess!
  12. During the playing of this game, you may also feel cold spots, hear whispering, or see the shadowy figure of the Midnight Man in the darkness!

Seanceseance

The idea of summoning ‘who knows what’ not appeal to you? That’s ok; I have a game for you. This one isn’t real spirit communications; it’s just to scare your friends. Why? Because it’s fun!

To Play:

  1. Gather everyone around a table or sit in a circle on the floor.
  2. Hang a bottle cap from string to use as the pendulum (unbeknownst to the crowd, you have placed a tiny piece of tape or other sticky substance to the bottom of the bottle cap and layered it in sugar before hand).
  3. Light a candle and hold the pendulum just above the candle flame by the end of the string.
  4. Tell your victims that back and forth means a yes answer and around in a circle means no.
  5. Have them ask the “spirit” questions and watch the pendulum move
  6. Move the pendulum closer and closer to the flame until it is passing through the flame. Do this a little at time, so the victims don’t notice.
  7. Eventually, the sugar will catch fire and send out a burst of flames scaring everybody!

If my sister and cousins are reading this, now they know I’m a fake!

If you play one of these games or have one of your own, feel free to post in the comments! I hope everyone has a spooky, fun, and delicious Halloween. Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

Secrets to Bronco’s Country

It’s no secret that we love our Broncos out here in Colorado. To show our love, there are several art installments around town honoring the symbol of our beloved football team and our western roots.

The most recognizable piece of art is “Bucky”. He crowns the south scoreboard at Sport’s Authority Field at Mile High, Mile High to most locals. He’s a 27 feet, 1600 pound replica of Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger. Bucky is white instead of Trigger’s palomino markings to match the team logo.IMG_0714

Also, on the south side of the stadium is an installment titled “The Broncos”. Designed by sculptor Sergio Benvenuti and a gift to the people of Colorado from Bronco’s owner Pat Bowlen, it is one of my favorites. Slightly larger than real-life horses, it features five broncos, one mare, and one colt running up a water feature that resembles a fast moving Rocky Mountain stream. The band of horses is seemingly headed right into the stadium.IMG_0704

As the gateway for many travelers to Colorado, Denver International Airport officially entered the bronco sculpture crowd in 2008. This installment’s story is where things get a little dark. The official name of the piece is “Blue Mustang”, but most locals call him by a plethora of other names. Blucifer; DIAblo; Devil Horse; Death Horse, just to name a few. Whatever you call him, he is 32 feet and 9,000 pounds of electric blue fiberglass weirdness. Right down to the glowing red eyes and anatomical correctness of genitals and where we get manure.

New Mexico artist Luis Jiminez was commissioned in 1992 to create the artwork. Health problems kept him from meeting deadlines, and the city filed a lawsuit against him in 2003. Perhaps it was fate warning him to abandon the project and give back the money, but he persevered.

Jump ahead to 2006 and the artist is still struggling to finish the $300,000 commissioned piece. In a push to finish it, he was alone in his studio using a rope to hoist a section of the massive sculpture for welding. The hoist broke, and the piece fell on him severing an artery in his leg, killing him. His family finished the work, and the sculpture was installed in February of 2008. However, the tragedy has caused many to claim the horse is haunted or cursed. Some have attributed the sculpture to the horses of the apocalypse mentioned in the book of Revelation ushering in the end of days.

When it was first installed many people were not happy and wanted the piece removed, but he still sits on Pena Boulevard. Depending on if you are coming or leaving the airport, he is the first or last thing you will see.

That’s some spooky stuff. There are many weird tales about Denver International Airport, and I agree that most of the artworks are bizarre and pretty scary for an airport, and conspiracy theories abound.

I like Blucifer. He’s weird, fierce, and haunted, some of my favorite things. The glowing red eyes can seem over the top until you find out that it’s a tribute to Jiminez’s father who was a neon artist. But still. “Blue Mustang” is a killer, and maybe there is a reason he’s placed where you can’t get up close and personal. Maybe there is more to DIA than they are telling us!

Here’s hoping the only thing Blucifer curses is our opponent this Sunday. Go Broncos and Never Turn off the Lights!

Wild West Haunt

The Buckhorn ExchangeSome people wait until this time of the year to do one of my favorite things. But heck, life is short so I do it all year round. That activity is to visit areas around my state that are reportedly haunted. It’s my kind of fun. Just a couple of weeks ago I had dinner at The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. This place embodies the spirit of the wild west like no other place I know.

The two story building opened for business in 1893 on Osage Street, the upper floor served as a lodge for railroad workers. The Rio Grande Railroad yards were directly across the street, today it is still rail yards and the light rail commuter train. The Buckhorn Exchange also hosted cattle barons, miners, gamblers, and Native American chiefs in the saloon and restaurant. As time progressed, astronauts, Presidents, and Hollywood legends have dined there as well. Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Hope, Charleton Heston, Roy Rogers, and Jack Swigert have all stopped in for a meal and likely a beer. After all, The Buckhorn Exchange holds Colorado Liquor License No. 1.

They have a terrific menu that offers some exotic fare including ostrich, alligator, and Rocky Mountain oysters (no, I did not eat those and they do not come from the ocean!). We had the best fried artichoke hearts to start with. Then I had a steak that was absolutely superb. I also bellied up to the bar for a cocktail.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zietz.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz.

The decor reflects the rich history of the Buckhorn. Most notably, a 575 piece taxidermy collection with everything from a two-headed calf to a jackalope. On display is also a 125 piece gun collection with firearms dating as far back as 1889. There is an abundance of photographs and other historic pieces.

Some of the collection at the Buckhorn

Sample of the collection at the Buckhorn

Reports of footsteps, voices, and tables moving by themselves are reported. Considering how long it’s been around and all the artifacts it’s not surprising that a spirit or two is there. Sadly, on the evening I was there the only spirits I saw were coming from the bar area. I could see why some of the railroad workers, miners, and such would want to stick around; it’s comfortable and the food is wonderful. I was hoping for a pleasant surprise in the photos I took, like what happened at the Stanley Hotel. I didn’t see anything, let me know if you do.

If you are ever in this neck of the woods give this place a visit. If you’ve been there and had an experience share it with me, I’d love to hear about it. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.

Real Estate Transactions can be Pretty Spooky

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I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a Realtor here in Colorado and she said that it’s a very crazy time. The market is tight and most homes are selling for quite a bit above the asking price after grueling bidding wars. I’ve moved three times in the last 24 years and I think that’s plenty. Real Estate purchases are financially and emotionally scary for me.

Think about it. A house is likely the biggest purchase you will ever make yet you don’t get to “test drive” it. You make your purchase based on a few hours (or less) of observation. You will not likely meet the neighbors until you move in and if you bought in the summer you will not know that the driveway tends to ice over from October to May. Worse yet, there are certain things that a seller does not have to tell you about a property that might be as important as the leaking downspout to some buyers. Such as the specter that clomps up and down the main hallway every night at 3:35 am, or the moaning sounds that have been heard in the attic.

You might have seen recent reports about a lady in St. Louis who discovered she was renting a home that once belonged to serial killer, Maury Troy Travis. She had no idea about it until someone she knew saw a documentary about the killer and recognized the house. Police found video tapes in the basement of him and his victims. Adding to the grossly disturbing find, the dining room table that the landlord (Travis’ mother) gave her was clearly visible in crime scene photos. Luckily, it was ruled that she could break the lease.

Amityville House by Seulatr - Transferred

Amityville House by Seulatr – Transferred

There have been other creepy properties that have been for sale over the last couple of  years. The Amityville Horror house, the Lizzie Borden ax murder house, and the Jonbenet Ramsey house, just for starters. I’m not sure if any of these properties sold but the current data shows that they have a pretty good chance.

A Realtor.com survey said that 62% of Americans would consider buying a haunted house. I suppose for me it would be a matter of circumstances. I wouldn’t mind a story of a ghostly apparition from time to time but I think if I knew a serial killer had lived there or a terrible murder had occurred, I would keep shopping. For me, there is something about that kind of dark event that would bother me.

Perhaps you are not troubled by such things. Maybe you are even purposefully looking for a haunted and/or creepy place, there are some niche Realtors who specialize in stigmatized properties to serve you. A stigmatized property can be a place where a murder, suicide, tragedy, or hauntings are reported. Some of these niche Realtors offer house spiritual cleansings and other paranormal services for buyers and sellers, ghostbusters with a closing contract!

However, remember, a seller doesn’t always have to tell you if a property is stigmatized. So, if you prefer a paranormal free place from the get-go, you could look at a police crime map of the area or contact a service provider like Died In House. For a fee they will run a search and report back any deaths reported in the residence. That is no guarantee that the house is spirit free, however. There is a theory that land can be afflicted and thus any building on it will be too, ever seen Poltergeist? An other theory is that individual people can be haunted. If that’s your problem, well, good luck because where ever you go, there you are.

There is something equally disturbing. That’s finding out the house you thought was haunted, isn’t. There was a woman in Washington state that noticed some strange stuff going on in her house. The back gate would not stay closed even after she made sure she latched it, odd smells were filling the rooms of her home, and the home had become cold even though she heard the furnace running. She had a repair man come out and he discovered that her furnace was fine but the duct work under the house had been severed. He found evidence that someone had been living under her house and damaged the duct work to stay warm. It’s just like my grandpa always used to say: it’s not the dead you have to be afraid of, it’s the living.

So on that cheery note, Never Turn Off the Lights because you never know what stories the walls would tell if they could talk. If you do hear them talking, it might just be a creepy squatter living rent-free in some dark corner of your house.

Tuition Isn’t the Only Scary Thing on Campus

I apologize for the sporadic postings, I had a personal loss that has knocked my writing schedule off. Our little kitty disappeared on Easter morning. As best we can tell she went out the doggie door in the pursuit of birds and she got lost or something. She was my little writing partner and it has just been too lonely to write without her here. I’m still looking for her but I know its time to get on with it. I know that some writers will say, use your pain in your writing, I’m not so good at that.

Such is life, I suppose. Loss is inevitable, change is the norm. Spring is the epitome of that observation. Sure new things are being born, plants and trees are being reawakened but it’s also a time of transition. That is felt most acutely for many of us in the ending of the school year. Particularly if you are celebrating a high school graduation.

The end of a high school career is a loss and a rebirth all in one. Parents loose their little kids to a young adult (hopefully) and kids go from high-schooler to something else, in the literary world it’s called “new adult”. It’s an exciting and scary time for parents and students alike. The possibilities are endless but some kids already know exactly what they are doing and where they are going in a few short weeks. It’s the same thing one of my kids did, move away from home and into a dorm.

I wasn’t sure how this particular kid with a super vivid imagination was going to do living on her own. Well, I know there are a bunch of other kids in the dorm but this is the kid that would turn on every light in the house if she was home alone after dark. I mean, every single light would be blazing when we got home, think the Griswald’s in Christmas Vacation. In the weeks before she moved out she refused to watch any scary movies or hear scary stories, particularly about haunted dorms. Not an easy feat in my house.

The day we arrived at her university to move her in some upper classmen were there to help unload the arriving freshmen. They asked what room she had, we told them, and their response was a uuuummmmmm. I saw in her face that her first thought was: holy crap I got the haunted room! When asked what was wrong with that room the boys said, nothing, its just on the third floor and there is only one elevator. Phew for her but I must admit I was a bit disappointed. As far as I know she never had a spooky experience there. Scary roommates, scary food, scary class load but not spooky.

Not surprisingly, most major universities have some kind of ghost lore. The environment and emotional landscape create the perfect conditions for such stories to spurn. Large, usually older buildings dominate campus where years of human drama have played out leaving an indelible mark. Additionally, for many people it is the first time they are out from under the protection of their parents and the safety of their familiar surroundings. Maybe, ghost stories create a place for some of those unspoken terrors to be worked out and shared. Here’s just a few that I know about, feel free to share!

Are You Moving Here?

University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado
This one is in my state and I know many people who have attended in the past and currently. This picturesque campus has more than a few spirited tales. Edith, is the most well known specter on campus. She haunts Wiebking and Wilson halls. Residents report electrical anomalies, the sounds of moving furniture, and click-clacking of the marbles she used to roll to relieve stress. Clearly, she had lots of stress. It’s reported that she was meant to be a RA but the girls in the dorm were awful to her, so much so that she hung herself. The basement of another dorm, Harrison Hall, is haunted by the ghost of a janitor who was killed in a freak accident there.

Wiebking Hall, University of Northern Colorado

Wiebking Hall, University of Northern Colorado

Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Established in 1804 making this the 9th oldest public university in the US it maybe number one in hauntings. Here’s a strange coincidence (or is it?), in both Bush and Jefferson Hall people have reported hearing the sound of rolling marbles and have poltergeist type activity very similar to the UNC haunting reports. Why do dormitory ghosts like to play with marbles? Residents of Crawford Hall have experienced poltergeist activity and apparitions of a young girl, sadly this may be the ghost of Laura who fell out of her fourth story dorm room by accident as was killed in 1993.

Wilson Hall is probably the most interesting haunt on the campus. In the city of Athens there is reportedly a set of several cemeteries, if you connect the dots of these cemeteries on a map they form a pentagram, in the middle of this pentagram stands this dormitory. There are numerous reports of paranormal activity here including apparitions, disembodied voices, cold spots, and banging sounds. There is even one dorm room, 428, that is haunted by such a violent poltergeist that it remains sealed shut.

250px-Entrance_sign_CSUCICalifornia State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, California
Perhaps the youngest, but among the scariest, this campus opened in 2002. Built on the site of a former mental hospital there are several and varied reports of paranormal activity. Electrical anomalies, scratching and rustling sounds, and voices are reported in the dorm areas. Doors slam and lock themselves only to unlock themselves. Scratched into the wall of one lab area are the words – no one can help me. You may recognize some of the campus from the movie The Ring.

Fordham University, Bronx, New York
This Jesuit university was established in 1841, so there has been plenty of time for stories to percolate and be shared, the gothic flavor of the architecture has surely aided in this. An old hospital was torn down to make room for the university. Keating Hall supposedly now stands where the hospital morgue once stood. Residents report being touched by icy invisible hands and seeing apparitions, in particular a young blonde woman in the showers. Finlay Hall not only used to be the hospital crematorium but in the early days of the university it was the medical school and all that entails, including housing human cadavers. Many residents have reported being awoken by cold hands on their throats.

Parts of The Exorcist were filmed on this campus but Queen’s Court dorm was reportedly the sight of a real-life exorcism. As the story goes it was the summer of 2003 and some Residence Assistants and the Residence Director were left behind to check dorms for damage, repair them, and clean up all summer to prepare for the upcoming fall semester. In one room mattresses kept being mysteriously moved much to everyone’s amazement. One night, very late, a priest knocked on the door and told the RA who answered the door that he has taken care of the problem in that room. The next day the RA discovers that no one knows who this priest was or who sent him.

Fordham University

Fordham University

 

Regis University, Denver, Colorado

Main Hall; Regis University; Lowell Campus; Denver; Colorado

Main Hall; Regis University; Lowell Campus; Denver; Colorado

Back to my state and the place where I attended class. Another Jesuit university, this one was founded in 1887 by a group of exiled Italian priests. The main campus is small but beautifully landscaped and maintained with native trees and flower beds. No matter what class you are taking or what area of study you are enrolled, all students are encouraged to attempt to answer the question: How ought we to live? That one tenant has shaped many, if not all, of my life choices and I am thankful for being directed to such a thoughtful life. However, some of the older buildings are a little bit creepy in that old-religious-building kind of way. I did have one weird experience on campus but I’ll tell you that story in a minute.

As the campus at the North Denver location grew, the part of the campus that served as a Jesuit cemetery was overtaken and the graves were exhumed and moved. When the bodies were relocated new headstones were also installed; however, the old headstones are stored in the basement of the Main Hall. This same basement once served as an entrance to the underground tunnels that priests used to use to get around campus, these tunnels have since been sealed for safety. But you all know how strange abandoned tunnels are, right?

In the various residence halls there are reports of poltergeist type activity like doors slamming shut and open by themselves. Ghostly black cats are often seen in a coven near the Science building. The baseball diamond is said to be haunted by a ghost dog buried 30 years earlier there by a student.

Freaked out? No need to worry, I doubt highly there is anything malicious there as the campus is blessed from time to time by priests.

As for my story, I was taking a night class on Cultural Awareness in Education in the Main Hall upper level classrooms, at least I think it was in this building oh so long ago. On this particular night class ran a bit late and apparently the night maintenance crew did not realize we were up there. By the time we left all the lights were out on the main floor. Being in the dark was creepy enough but the lower floors were being remodeled and there was construction sheeting up all over the place giving it a “serial killer” vibe. I first walked all the way to the doors nearest to where I had parked my car only to find them locked. I had to walk all the way to the other end of the building through the creepy-creepiness. I burst out of there as quickly as possible and had to walk all the way around the building to my car, in the dark, by myself, late at night.

I got disoriented for a minute and couldn’t remember if my car was to the left or right, I hesitated and then took a step to the right. Very clearly and very much right in my ear I heard, NO. I froze. I scanned the area for any potential attackers, all I could see in the dark were the shapes of buildings and the trees swaying in the wind. I quickly turned left and bee-lined it directly to my car. Had I gone right I would have ended up way far away from my car. In the dark. By myself.

Who was it? What was it? I don’t know. All I know is that wasn’t the first time I had help whispered in my ear and not the last either. I just gratefully accepted the help. College, as is life, can be pretty challenging. We can use all the help we can get. How ought we to live? That night, grateful for unseen protection and help, who knows what or who might have been waiting in the dark.

Just google your prospective place of study, chances are there are ghost stories and legends associated with it. Just remember, Never Turn off the Lights and you should be just fine. Should be…

The Stanley Film Fest – That’s a Wrap

After a few moments of trying to debunk the shadow moving across the headboard I finally shrugged it off as a large bird flying by. If I had known about the picture of the grand stairway I may have thought differently, but ignorance is bliss.

We headed out to catch our first screening (Rigor Mortis, pretty good martial-arts-ghost story) then we rode the shuttle into town to find some dinner, we were starving since we skipped lunch. We ended up at our go to place in Estes Park, The Wapiti, where they serve your beer in cowboy boot shaped mugs, awesome right?

IMG_0022

We checked out the horror trivia game at The Wheel Bar and then we checked out what was happening at the historic Park Theatre. This theater was built in 1913 and is the oldest working movie theater in the United States and several screenings were taking place there as well as the theater at the hotel and the modern Reel Mountain Theaters. The quaint little town of Estes Park depends economically on tourism, this area was hit pretty hard by flood waters last year and many businesses are still recovering. If you are nearby or passing by, head up for a day of shopping and sight seeing, they could use our support.

parktheatre

Park Theatre, Estes Park, CO

We made our way back up to the hotel and had some time before the special-secret screening so I made my sweet husband creep around the hotel taking random photos. I didn’t see any anomalies in these photos but feel free to look again for me. The Hall of Owners looked particularly odd in the falling light of dusk.

The hallways are long and narrow. The lighting adds to a creepy vibe.

The hallways are long and narrow. The lighting adds to a creepy vibe.

Hall of Owners

Hall of Owners

Hall of Owners

Hall of Owners

Mrs. Stanley

Mrs. Stanley

Looking up the stairs to the second and third floors.

Looking up the stairs to the second and third floors.

Looking down the stairs, slightly disorienting.

Looking down the stairs, slightly disorienting.

Stairs to bell tower on the third floor. If you climb these you will feel a nanny who is still there watching the children on this floor pull you down.

Stairs to bell tower on the third floor. If you climb these you will feel a nanny who is still there watching the children on this floor pull you down.

 

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The original elevator. In King's story the elevator was operated by phantom party-goers.

The original elevator. In King’s story the elevator was operated by phantom party-goers.

Room 217 where Stephen King stayed.

Room 217 where Stephen King stayed.

We made our way to the Whiskey Bar and had ourselves a very coconutty Redrum Punch in a tip of the hat to the The Shining. Unfortunately, unlike Jack Torrance, our money was good there, good enough for an other round! But now I can say we had drinks with Elijah Wood, well at least in the same room.

Drinks with Elijah, sort of.

Drinks with Elijah, sort of, that’s him back there in the dark sweater.

By now it was dark outside and we headed over to the theater on the grounds to see the super secret screening. It was Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno that is slated for release in September. If you like gory-tense-thrills and an ending you didn’t see coming, this movie is for you. I gave it thumbs up.

The Stanley Hotel at night.

The Stanley Hotel at night.

There was a horror immersion game going on with these weird clues popping up  here and there.

Game Clue

Game Clue

I wish I could report that we had a terrible and terrifying night but I slept like a baby. Maybe even the best sleep I have had in months. In fact, nothing at the Stanley ever felt scary or sinister.

The next  morning we hung out in the lodge to drink coffee, we were a bit late for breakfast because we got stuck watching Room 237, a documentary about Kubrick’s version of The Shining. I have to watch it again, the documentary and the movie.

I don’t know who their decorator is at the Lodge, but I loved it. Okay maybe not the cow-hide chairs but everything else is perfect. I left there with visions of redecorating dancing in my head.

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The screenings we saw were all pretty good. I’m always looking for a movie to scare myself with and some of these were very well done. We didn’t get to see everything we wanted but what we did see was well worth it. The Australian flick, The Babadook, was like every fear I have had as a mother and all my kids’ childhood fears rolled into one. Loved it!

The last thing we did before we left was the Stanley Tour. It was especially fun because our guide was dressed like a zombie as were many festival goers. There had been a fun zombie parade earlier in the day. There was a wedding going on and I felt kind of sorry that there would likely be some zombies in the background of some of the photos, the bride did not seem particularly amused. It made me think about The Shining. Stephen King wrote about the time periods lapsing over each other at his fictional Overlook Hotel and that day with an impeccably dressed wedding party and zombies lulling around it felt that way.

A friendly zombie waiting for coffee.

A friendly zombie waiting for coffee.

Our tour guide told us about her own ghostly encounter in the tunnel, not scary really, just one of the “workmen” saying good night to her as she passed through on her way to the dormitories after work. She told us that she feels the ghosts at The Stanley are just coming back to a place they had very good memories of, nothing sinister. I could see that actually. I left there with some pretty good feelings myself.

My hubby in the underground tunnels.

My hubby in the underground tunnels.

We had a really relaxing and fun time and the weather could not have been more perfect. My only complaint, the chairs in the theater at the hotel were a bit too unforgiving for a long sit. On Saturday night I saw a woman come in with her pillows from the hotel, smart girl. I’m not sure if my husband is, but I’m looking forward to maybe going back next year. I want to take another photo of the main staircase.

Until next time Never Turn Off the Lights.

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