Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sleeping With Ghosts

I promised I would tell you about my stay at the Grand Hotel in Jerome, AZ. The weekend began with my sister being informed that she had to work Friday, so we didn’t leave Phoenix until 3:00. I refused to get upset or disappointed. I look forward to this getaway all year and NOTHING was going to ruin it for me. Any setbacks can be ignored or worked around. It’s all in the mind.

Jerome is an old mining town set on the side of a mile-high mountain/hill. The old, crumbling buildings house artists who sell their work in the shops lining the main street. I highly recommend the restaurants. I’ve never had a bad meal in that town. This year we visited the winery store. It was my first wine tasting experience. My college friend, Rosie, is the budding wine connoisseur. I just know what I like. I don't know which six-dollar bottles of Safeway wine have to breathe and which can suffocate in the refregerator. Rosie did convince me to buy a $30 bottle of Late Harvest Zinfandel for the day I finish my current manuscript. Okay, I’m letting that one breathe.

Once again, the writers on our retreat reserved the third floor of the Grand, which sits on top of the mountain. It was once The United Verde Hospital owned by Phelps Dodge. He sold it in 1999 and it was turned into a hotel. That’s when the haunting began again. On the hotel’s website, they quote as saying The Grand is “probably one of the most active haunted locations in the world.” The front desk proudly displays pictures of an apparition of a woman. Another photo reveals more orbs hovering above the town than I had the patience to count.

Upon our arrival, we discovered a handful of our over twenty writers had gone on a haunted tour that day and were still playing with the EMT meters and IR thermometers. The detectors kept beeping in the room housing my Much Cheaper Than Therapy Blog partners, Kim Watters and Carol Webb, plus another writer, Kerrie Droban. The area with the most activity was the bed. I won’t be staying in that room.

My sister, Tacha, usually attracts ghosts. Not this October. She stayed with my daughter, Jackie, in the Garden Room, which connects to the sun porch. It’s an enclosed area with a spectacular view of The Verde Valley. I sit out there for hours, reading and enjoying the scenery. I could picture myself living there – minus the ghosts.

It was probably a good thing my relatives didn’t experience any ghostly activity. I didn’t need my twenty-year-old daughter pounding on my door in the middle of the night, so she could sleep with her mommy.

Apparently, my friend, Rosie, attracted the ghosts this year. Interestingly enough, we used the detectors in our room and came up empty. The ghosts didn’t pay their respects until after the sun went down. Friday night, Rosie felt someone smooth the covers over her feet. She didn’t know the stories about a ghostly nurse tucking people in for the night. Saturday night, I woke up to the aroma of roses. The smell was so heavy, I thought Rosie must have sprayed perfume. The next morning, I asked her about it, and she informed me she didn’t bring any with her. It wasn’t until I checked the hotel’s website for this blog post, that I discovered other hotel guests have also smelled flowers. That was my first experience with ghosts at this particular hotel and we’ve stayed there three years in a row. I’m glad our paranormal visitors were friendly.

Saturday night, the woman working the front desk let a dozen of us sit in the boiler room right off the lobby. She said the ghost cat makes noise between 10:00 and 10:15 every night. We did hear noises I would describe as squeaking three or four times. I’m not positive it sounded like a cat, but I know it didn’t sound like machinery. The hotel employee also said she had light bulbs explode above her head in the area on more than one occasion. I doubt the cat is responsible for the explosions. Most likely, it’s one of the two men who died in that area.

When I first sat on the patio chair, I felt a presence in the empty spot next to me. I thought it was probably due to the tank behind and above me, but it went away a few minutes later. My sister said it was a man who walked in front of everyone. (She sees ghosts – glad I don’t.) She claims the man walked down the aisle, studying each woman with a confused look on his face. I’m not surprised. How many men have seen a dozen women hanging out in a boiler room at night?

Once again, the weekend ended too quickly.

On the way home, we drove through red rock country. If you’ve never been to Sedona, AZ, it needs to be on your to-do list. I’m always left feeling awestruck by its beauty.

How much writing did I get done with all of the ghostly activity? Enough for the IRS to claim it as a deduction.

I’m already counting down the days until next year’s retreat.

(Picture above: Jackie with Elvis in the Liberty Theatre. Below: Rosie and Tacha with the view of The Verde Valley in the distance.)


Jill James said...

What a trip. Sounds like lots of fun. I see ghosts too, so I won't be going there.

Kim Watters said...

Thanks Tina. You can have my room anytime. At least poor, old Agnes was bed-ridden and didn't move around too much. She probably kept the cat from visiting. Any dates for next year?

Judith Leger said...

Sounds like y'all had a great time if not a little spooky! Thanks for sharing!