Sunday, October 18, 2009

Haunted Weekend

It’s October! That means I spent another weekend at a haunted hotel. Every year our writer groups ban together to invade a local haunt. This year, while the others were once again in Jerome, I traveled to Bisbee, AZ and stayed with a college friend at The Copper Queen. Since I promised to report back to the group, also because friends have expressed interest in learning about our adventures, I decided to journal my weekend.

Wednesday, Oct 14, 8PM: I turned on the SciFy channel to watch Ghost Hunters and discovered it was the episode where they stayed at The Copper Queen. My friend Rosie called and I screamed, “I know! I know! I know!” While watching TV, I chatted with friends on Facebook about this episode where the covers were lifted off Grant’s feet. The ghost, a woman of the evening, is reported to like married men and enjoys playing with their feet. Hmmmmm Interesting ghost.

Thursday, Oct 15, 1:10 PM: Waiting for Rosie to arrive and craving McDonalds. Too many college road trips with the debate team in my past.

2:30 PM: Traveling down the I-17, just finished quarter pounder with cheese.

So…what do two educated women do to occupy their time on a road trip? While driving through the Arizona desert, we first described how we have seen Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs played out before us in the lives of others. Then we sang to the soundtrack of Mama Mia. I only whisper sing around Rosie. She is very talented and I can’t carry a tune.

6:00 PM: Discovered computer generated directions are not always correct. Hit a dead end beneath railroad tracks, in the dark. But….because we are women, we called the hotel for directions. A charming hotel employee checked us into a roomy casita next to the courtyard. After three trips to the car, (one because I dropped my cell phone) parked half a block away, we relaxed with a glass of wine and Rosie’s favorites: brie and pate on baguettes served on notebook paper. The notebook paper was my idea when we realized we didn’t have plates.

8:00PM: We went on a fabulous ghost tour. Renee, our friendly and interesting guide with Old Bisbee Tours, told us there are 16 ghosts in The Copper Queen Hotel. The three most famous are The Smoking Man who can be seen wearing a cape and top hat and smells of cigar smoke; Billy a young boy who drowned in the river and loves to play with toys or bling; and The Lady of the evening, Julia Lowell, who haunts the room named in honor of her. She killed herself after the married man she fell in love with rejected her. Despite being jilted, she still enjoys whispering in the ears of married man and playing with their feet.

After our brief orientation, we gathered in a small room to watch the episode of Ghost Hunters filmed in the hotel. The same episode Rosie and I had seen the night before. Of course, this viewing was much more fun since a hunky father decided to join me on the floor when I sat with the kids. (What can I say – I’m a romance writer.)

The tour guide had an ample supply of ghost hunting equipment. Rosie and I were loaned a K2 reader, EMF detector, thermometer, and flashlight. The hotel opened several rooms to us, including the Julia Lowell room and we were able to roam as we pleased, in the dark. What fun!

Our findings: Rosie took several mysterious pictures of a shadow in the mirror of a room. We can’t quite explain it and couldn’t recreate it, but we aren’t ready to claim it is paranormal. (After 6 years of staying in haunted hotels, I even sound like Jason and Grant of Ghost Hunters.) In the same room, when we first entered, our EMF detectors and K2 readers lit up. We determined it was due to the electrical outlet and lamp near the door. However, later in the evening, we returned to the room and the equipment did NOT go off. Very interesting!

One couple staying in the Roosevelt room claimed the shower and faucets moved by themselves. At first, I thought they might have been partying a bit much. Perhaps, but when I tried to take a picture in the same room, my camera suddenly wouldn’t read my memory card.

The young grandfather who thought The Smoking Man left his odor on his hands was quite entertaining. Rosie calmly explained the odor had rubbed off from the flashlight he had been holding – the same type we had. We might not have seen any ghosts, but we did see several tourists who had done a good job of scaring themselves. Of course, I was still enjoying the eye candy when the hunky dad and his son joined us later for dessert – part of the tour - the cake, not the man.

Friday, Oct 16, 12:15 PM: After the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, Rosie and I took the mine tour, which is much like a slow moving, colder ride at Disneyland. Very enjoyable. Everyone who worked there was friendly and even a bit flirtatious. After we signed our lives away, several men who resembled older miners, dressed us in slickers, hard hats, and belted battery packs connected to light sources. Went great with my sandals.

Between the mine tour and Bisbee Ghost Tour, we shopped in the quaint antique stores and drank lattes. The leisurely walk through this old town, which reminds me somewhat of Jerome, set the mood for more ghost stories.

7:00 PM: Renee, dressed in a long old-fashioned skirt, boots, and cape, was once again our guide – this time for The Bisbee Ghost Tour, although not quite as interesting as the hunt the previous night, it was still informative. We discovered The Oliver House is a B&B where over 20 people have died. Not sure if we want to stay there though. An old lady ghost bopped a young boy in his sleep and the next morning he had a bruise on his face. While Renee spoke about The Oliver House, we stood next to a car, which resembled something out of a Mad Max movie. Renee reported there was a live wolf in the backseat. After leaving the wolf, we stopped at a playground that used to be the site of an old cemetery. A child once reported seeing children playing on the steps – children her father couldn’t see. Suddenly my camera started acting up. I couldn’t get the center screen to light up to take a picture, but I also couldn’t get the green indicator light to disappear when I turned the knob to the off position. The camera did go off once I left the cemetery, but I eventually had to take the battery out and reinsert it to reset the camera. Rosie couldn’t get her camera to take pictures in that location either. Spooky!

9:00 PM: Rosie and I sat in the hotel bar, sipping wine, while listening to a blue grass singer who looked like Johnny Cash. He was just one of several singer/guitar players the hotel hired to entertain its guests throughout the afternoon and evenings.

Saturday, Oct 17, 10:00 AM: Off to Tombstone - Arizona’s most famous Wild West town – only 22 miles from Bisbee. This is the location of the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral. Here you will find historic looking shops lined with wooden walkways in front of dirt roads. Amongst the tourists, people dressed as cowboys, towns women, and ladies of the evening walk about as if they were still living in the 1800s. If you like, you can have a noose placed around your neck for the purposes of picturing taking. Mock gunfights are always a favorite. They are played out in the streets right in front of the tourists. No charge.

3:00 PM: We returned to the hotel in Bisbee, where I enjoyed the narrow, quiet, isolated courtyard. I read a book while sipping on wine, with my feet propped up on another chair. I was thoroughly enjoying the serene moment my surroundings offered, so much so, the man in the next room asked if he could take my picture. He said it would add to the others he was taking of the area. As a writer, I knew what he meant; I was SHOWING the mood of the courtyard.

5:00 PM: Rosie and I strolled down Main Street. We dropped into a store call The Source Within. They sell EMF detectors if you are shopping for one. Very nice people working there. Renee also works there part time.

6:00 PM: Rosie and I enjoyed another fabulous meal in the hotel’s restaurant. Everything we have eaten there has been great. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be many choices of places to eat in town.

9:00PM: Tackled my own book in the first floor lobby, while once again sipping wine, and half-listening to another singer. The ghost tour returned, chatted with Renee, and met another writer who happens to sell her handmade jewelry in the lobby. Told her about Romance Writers of America.

Sunday, October 18, 11:00 AM: On our way home. I had a fabulous time in Bisbee, AZ. There is something about small town folk. I have found the ones in Arizona to be quite friendly. The October weather provides a comfortable atmosphere for sitting outside and enjoying a book – your own or a friend’s. But most importantly, the ghost hunting adds a bit of excitement you can’t always find on any other vacation.

Until next week,
Happy Hauntings!
Tina LaVon


PamelaTracy said...

Years ago, more than a decade, the VOS group did a Writers' Weekend in Bisbee. We had a blast. There was a mine tour. I missed it because I headed back toward Tucson to find Shelley, Marion, and Joan Domning. Their van had broken down. I remember Chris Jones spoke on research. Someone else spoke about adding sensuality. It was a great weekend. We did Yuma, way back then, too, and toured the prison.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another wonderful adventure. Um-I vote to move the retreat to Bisbee next year! Sounds like my kind of place. No ghostly encounters!

Donna Del Grosso said...

Bisbee sounds beautiful and fun. Kim- no ghosts? It wouldn't be a re-treat without something creepy!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Tina, you've got me DYING to go back to Bisbee! Much more fun than a weekend in Vegas...although I did get to see Ginger Duran, who says hi. :)

Carol Webb said...

Oh, Tina. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I'm so glad. From looking at the photo, the place looks fantastic!

Alexis Walker said...

Bisbee sounds like my kind of town, especially with Tombstone so close by. I'd go to a writer's retreat there. I do like the idea of getting some writing done without being interrupted by ghosts :-)

Tina LaVon said...

If everyone is still up for Bisbee in a few months, we'll have to plan on it.