Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Starry Night

'Twas 4 days before Christmas and all through the house, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse... and me up baking cookies, and the dog looking for handouts, and Mariah watching something strange on Adult Swim, and oh yeah, the stupid cat (she's in heat and making a racket)...
Okay then. Let's start this over. It's 12 midnight at the beginning of the Winter Solstice, and I'm up late alternately baking cookies, sipping on hot chocolate and wandering out onto the deck to enjoy the lunar eclipse. The storm blew through, leaving us with a clear and gorgeous night to view this celestial phenomenon. Reminds me that it's the little things in life...cookies, cocoa, a clear winter night, warm furry friends, and all the other little blessings that make me appreciate my wonderful life here on planet Earth.
Here's wishing everyone a very happy and safe holiday season.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goldfield Daze

This past August, W.I.G.S took a road trip to the annual Goldfield Days celebration. Initially we were planning on pulling Ol’ Kaw Liga (that would be Paula’s pop-up trailer, named after a Hank Williams song), but ended up cruising south in style aboard Mona’s 40-foot motor home. We went without any itinerary, just wanted to visit the town that is home to one of the most famous haunted places in America: The Goldfield Hotel. We knew that there would be other ghost hunters in town, we figured on meeting up with members of R.E.A.L and NNGH from Reno; and during the weekend we also ran into several ghost hunting enthusiasts from Las Vegas. We toured the area with a local historian, met some very interesting townsfolk, watched a parade, ate some great barbeque, joined in a ghost hunt of the Goldfield High School, and hung out at the Santa Fe, the oldest operating saloon in Nevada, where we were treated to karaoke by the local talent (well…local anyway).

Goldfield is such an incredible little town with an even more fascinating history. Located approximately 26 miles south of Tonopah on US Highway 95, Goldfield, the Esmeralda County seat, was founded in 1902, and within a few short years it was the largest city in Nevada. At its height, Goldfield boasted a population of 30,000, three newspapers, five banks, a mining stock exchange, and what was reportedly the longest bar in the West – Tex Rickard’s Northern Saloon, which required 80 bartenders to handle its customers. A few of the more famous residents of Goldfield included Virgil and Wyatt Earp. The gold ran out and today there are a little over 400 permanent residents remaining.

Many of the historic buildings remain in good condition, thanks in part by the Goldfield Historic Society, as well as private owners. The district courthouse is a two-story stone building, still occupied by the elected county officials. Its beautiful courtroom is furnished with the original steel bench and back-drop with Tiffany Lamps. Located in the rear of the courthouse, the jail contains three levels of metal cells; two levels still house inmates. Built in 1905, the Santa Fe Saloon is one of Goldfield's oldest continuously-operating businesses. The Goldfield High School and the Ish-Curtis Building are both undergoing restoration.

But it’s the historic – and reportedly haunted – Goldfield Hotel that is the crown jewel of Goldfield. The hotel opened in 1908 as possibly the most luxurious hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. The stone-and-brick building was equipped with telephones, electricity and a heating system, and was decorated with rich mahogany, black leather, gold-leaf and crystal chandeliers. In a sad state of disrepair, the hotel is currently closed to visitors.

The Investigation

Goldfield High School, built during the boom years in 1907, graduated its last class in 1952. The school was left in disrepair for a number of years and time and weather have taken their toll. It is currently being restored, but there are unsafe areas that we were unable to enter. The school’s main staircase is its most impressive feature; although it’s missing a few banisters, with its odd angles, it sort of reminiscent of the moving staircase at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school is a fascinating jumble of cracked and peeling paint, faded textures, fallen-away plaster, warped and buckling floor boards, missing or broken windows, and wooden guts of walls by which light and wind flow in through exposed slats. The entire building is surrounded by chain link fencing, but anything with wings or a ladder can get inside.

Jeadene from NNGH was our contact for the Goldfield High School. She introduced us to the caretaker, whose name I forget, who took us on a tour of the place; pointing out the more active areas. We were also accompanied by an interesting character, Monahan, who seemed to be here, there and everywhere; disappearing into some dark doorway, just to reappear out thin air moments later. He was incredibly active: climbing up and down stairs and ladders like a little monkey. It was rather unsettling.

Since there were about 12 of us, we divided up into two groups. The plan was for each group to investigate a floor, and then switch. Paula, Mona, Jill, Kaily and I began our investigation of the second floor. The spirits were quiet, and I was beginning to think that our investigation was going to prove unfruitful. However, while doing some work with the dowsing rods in one of the classrooms, an object moved or shifted on a table just to the left of where I was standing. Paula was filming me at the time. At no point does it show where I brushed up against anything, but it appears from the audio portion that the noise was coming from lower than was caught on film. Darn!

Apparently the other team was having more activity than us. They reported hearing a lot of knocking and other noises and at one point, the caretaker was knocked down. After we switched floors, the activity quieted down again. Maybe the spirits weren’t very receptive to our group, who knows? The third floor was incredibly noisy, with the wind rattling the rafters and blowing in through an entire section of missing wall. Our recordings on this floor were completely contaminated with this.

One thing I have to mention: After we got home from our weekend, Paula sent me a photo of Jill and I she took looking down on us from the second story landing. In the picture, we are looking up and taking a picture of her. Behind us is some sort of anomaly in the picture. Most people who have seen the picture swear they can see another woman in the picture, standing in between Jill and me. It’s an interesting shot, but I would really like to inspect the wall behind us and see if we could duplicate the conditions. Another road trip?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Smell Dead People

One of the most common paranormal phenomena experienced by investigators is unexplained smells. Among the most common scents reported are cigar/cigarette smoke and floral scents; rose, lavender, and jasmine in particular. While sudden odors may be startling at first notice, most can be explained away through analysis of the surrounding environment. Certain odors can linger for a long time: smoke, fuel, urine, oils and certain plant extracts; how long is dependant on the absorption characteristics of the material they are embedded in. Highly absorbent material like wood can radiate residual odors for many years.

Some investigators believe that certain aromas exist because of paranormal activity. These individuals believe spirit entities can either manifest these smells from memory or that the energy of the spirit generates the residual scent. Because not everyone in an area may perceive this type of paranormal phenomenon, it is theorized that the odors are not physically present in the air at all but that the spirit entity is manipulating the olfactory receptors in the brain of select individuals to trigger a neurological message.

As a nurse, I am familiar with phantosmia, the phenomenon of smelling odors that are not derived from any physical stimulus. And let me tell you, it is usually an indicator of any number of scary illnesses: epilepsy, brain tumors, viral infections, exposure to toxins, drug use (or abuse), schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease to mention a few. Holy Crow! Why chase after ghosts when you sit back in the comfort of your own home and let the real horror begin?

Then again, phantosmia can just be attributed to overactive olfactory receptor neurons or the loss of inhibitory neurons brought on by a bad head cold or sinus infection. So for you more neurotic types, go blow your nose, take a Dayquil and relax (Yeah, you know who you are).
Anyway, why am I talking about all of this? Because I had an olfactory paranormal experience this summer, that’s why. And despite rumors to the contrary, I am not schizophrenic, epileptic, abusing drugs, suffering from Alzheimer’s, or taken a blow to the head in the recent past.  
Back in July, members of the Reno Paranormal group investigated the Levy Mansion.

The Levy House was built in 1906 for William Levy, a prominent mining entrepreneur and local merchant who owned the Palace Dry Goods store (where the Cal Neva Casino now sits). Levy married Tillie Goldsmith of San Francisco and they raised two daughters in their Reno home, Mildred and Tillie (named after her mother, but went by the nickname, Fritzi).

Mildred never married; Fritzi married a San Francisco attorney in 1940. Fritzi and her husband had no intention of living in Reno and no interest in the family home. Since the girls had inherited the mansion jointly, they did the obvious thing and split the property in half.

The mansion originally faced Granite Street, now South Sierra Street. To allow Fritzi to lease her half of the property, a new foundation was poured to the west of the house in what had been an extensive garden and the house was jacked up, turned and moved, becoming 121 California Avenue. The move of the house created some unusual changes, such as the set of French doors that open onto a non-existent balcony, and the pull-chain for a toilet that remained after the commode was removed. Mildred, unmarried, continued to live in the family home until her death in 1976.

This beautiful mansion is three stories, with an attic and cellar. Presently it is occupied by ASM Affiliates, a company that specializes in archeology, history and ethnography. Upon entering the home, the first thing you notice is an impressive staircase leading up to the second floor. A dining room sits off to the right and a sitting room to the left is utilized as the docent’s office. The docent, Allison, planned to remain in house during our investigation, but would be confining herself to her office.

Some of the manifestations that have been reported in the past include:
Sounds of running foot steps have been heard on the second and third floor hallways.
Unexplained cold spots, cool breezes and chills have been felt by individuals, especially in the rooms located in the back of the house on the second and third floors.
Employees of the former tenant, Metro Day Spa, reported items moved and put in odd places.
Feelings of uneasiness experienced in certain parts of the mansion, like the cellar, attic and stairways.

The investigative group met with Allison, the buildings docent, to discuss how the investigation would proceed. Allison then took us on a quick tour and we began our set up. Paul wanted to set up cameras in the areas with reported paranormal activity: the stairways, cellar, attic, and several second floor offices. After all the cameras were in place, lines taped down and everything working properly, we broke into groups and began our investigation.

Paula, Mona and I started out in the cellar. Paula caught a blip on the K-2 meter, and Mona had a sense of some sort of presence, nothing foreboding, though.

After spending some time in the cellar, we headed on upstairs. Pride and Gail noticed a light anomaly on one of the cellar steps, which we debunked as a chip in the cement that was reflecting lighter than the surrounding steps. Paula was having some technical difficulties with one of her cameras, so Mona, John and I headed on upstairs. As we began climbing the narrow staircase on the north end of the mansion leading to the attic, we suddenly smelled something floral, jasmine, I think. The scent was overwhelming. All three of us smelled it. We headed on back down the stairs and the scent followed. It lingered at the top of the stairs. We called to the others, who also smelled it as soon as they topped the second floor landing.

Ever the skeptic, I headed downstairs to ask the docent if there was some sort of automatic air freshener in operation. She said nothing like that was in use due to the historical documents and antiques in the home. By the time I got back upstairs, the scent was gone.

A short time later, both Mona and I smelled a strong scent of cigar tobacco in the attic, but I am always leery of tobacco smells. The house is wooden, and tobacco scent is known to linger for decades.

The rest of the investigation produced little. I didn’t get anything on digital recorder, and my pictures produced nothing. The floral scent is my strongest evidence of paranormal activity in the Levi Mansion, but is also the one I can not prove. I was not the only one that “witnessed” the phenomenon, but still, it is only hearsay.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TMCC: Spirit to Spirit Communication

After last year's disappointing attempts to harness my psychic tools, I wasn't expecting too much out of the Spirit to Spirit Communication class in this year's TMCC's paranormal series. In fact, I considered staying home, chilling on the couch and watching a little TV. At the last minute, I lost the - should I stay or should I go - argument with myself, got up off the couch and snuck into class 10 minutes late. I'm glad I went. Pride Hansen's approach to spirit communication is straight forward, easy to understand, and (most important) makes sense. I have a hard time swallowing anything too over the top or New Age-y (Is that even a word? New Age-y?). Anyway. I made it in time to catch his explanation on the difference between clairvoyance and mediumship. As I've mentioned many times before, I have little faith in mediums, that whole idea of a psychic "middle man" conveying messages to and from the spirit world on my behalf  just doesn't sit well with me.  Clairvoyance, on the other hand (as explained by Pride), is one on one communication with another spirit, which totally makes sense to me.

As a Native American, I have grown up with the belief that we are all connected through spirit. Spirit is in everything, everyone. We are surrounded at all times by spirit. We are connected to the earth and all its elements through spirit. When we die, we leave this physical shell and become a part of the Great Mystery; that infinite mass of spirit energy that connects us all. As such, we never really leave, we just vacate the vessel that contains our spirit, and we are freed.When we pray, we pray to our ancestors within that Great Mystery. In our ceremonies, through song and prayer, we call in the spirits of our ancestors to enter into our space and lend us their energy, and when the ceremony is ended we release them back into the Great Mystery with our thanks and gratitude. Some spirits choose to be born again in a physical form, some do not. Some spirits attach themselves to places or people that are significant to them. Some spirits choose to make themselves known to us, some do not. There are those who have been born with a greater ability to channel spirit energy; individuals we consider medicine people, but everyone can speak to spirit to a degree, or can learn to.

Pride spoke on opening and closing our chakras, detecting and interpreting auras and grounding ourselves through meditation. The class was given the opportunity to experiment with these things, and as usual, I didn't really get a whole lot out of it. But if there is one thing I really appreciate about Pride, it's his belief that we each have our own truth; that we each have to interpret what we perceive in relation to that truth. My truth may not be yours, and vice versa. So while he uses visualization and meditation exercises to achieve awareness, I use ceremony: song, prayer and sweat lodge.

In the short time I have been acquainted with Pride and his companion Gail, I realize that we do have similar views on a number of things, it's just that we're using different vocabulary. Hey, two classes for the price of one: psychic tools and a foreign language. How cool is that?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series 2010

Today begins the much anticipated TMCC's Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series 2010. As a former participant, I highly recommend these classes to anyone interested in the unknown, the paranormal, local history, and psychic phenomenon. As always, Kathy Berry has put together a great line up. This year's classes include: UFO study, dream analysis, life after death, spirit communication, paranormal photography and videography, researching haunted locations, decoding tombstones, and a ghost hunt field trip to Buckland Station at Fort Churchill State Park. As an added incentive, TMCC offered an extra investigation of the Chism House to those who signed up for the entire series and enrolled early. Unfortunately, due to prior work and school commitments, I was unable to sign up for the entire series this year. However, I did manage to work 3 classes into my schedule and the Buckland Station investigation. The classes I am taking are:

Paranormal Photography and Videography with Anne and Sharon Leong.

Sharon spoke at the Virginia City ParaCon back in March, and she was wonderful. The Leong sisters are very knowledgeable in the field of image technology as applied to paranormal investigation. As the least tech savvy member of W.I.G.S, I can benefit with a class like this. When we show up for an investigation, the other members of my team unload suitcases full of equipment. The total of my equipment fits handily into a small shoulder bag. Wait. Now that I think about it, maybe that's not a bad thing.

Decoding Tombstones with David Davis

I signed up for this class just a couple of days ago. I hemmed and hawed and fiddled around with my schedule until my inner historian caved in and I rushed to enroll before I could talk myself out of it. David Davis is a wealth of Nevada historical knowledge, I know he won't disappoint me.

Ghost Hunt Field trip to Buckland Station with staff.

With "staff"? What's that about? I hate when programs are listed like this. I hate the uncertainty of not knowing. I want to know things. It's why I investigate. I had hoped to be in the group led by the ever divine diva, Janice Oberding, but the constraints of travel time following the photo/videography class nixed that. Pride Hansen is conducting an earlier, psychic led investigation, but I will be in class during that time. I guess I will settle for "staff".

Spirit to Spirit Communication with Pride Hansen.

A similar class was offered during last year's paranormal series. She had us searching for spirit guides. Nope, never found one. Ever the optimist, I signed up for this years class with hopes of tapping into my psychic self and openly communicating with the spirit world. We can have long drawn out discussions over coffee about the afterlife, past life, the meaning of life. Am I asking too much? Seriously though, I've been working a lot with dowsing rods this past year, and I really want to tap into the next level with that sort of energy. That and those psychic types are a hoot.

Even though the first lecture begins tonight, there is still time to sign up for the other classes if they are not full. I'm eyeballing that UFO class, if I can just get someone to work for me...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Pictures of the Star Sirius - The Dog Star, Sirius, and its Tiny Companion

NASA, H.E. Bond & E. Nelan(STScI); M. Barstow & M. Burleigh(Univ. of Leicester); & J.B. Holberg(UAz)

It's been quiet around here lately. The entire summer, in fact. I haven't posted a blog since the end of May. It isn't because I haven't been busy, I have. And while I have danced and played and whiled away the days of summer, I simply could not bring myself to sit down at the computer and compose. Even on those days when it's been too hot to get out and do anything, I preferred to spend the time on my couch, watching TV or reading in the cool darkness of my home. Now while there are those that will accuse me of laziness, apathy, and/or procrastination, I have a solid excuse for my nonproductivity. I have been under the celestial influence of Sirius.

"Dog Days" (Latin: diēs caniculārēs): are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather. In the northern hemisphere, the "Dog Days of Summer" usually fall between early July and early September.

Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies" according to Brady’s "Clavis Calendarium, 1813". The Romans would sacrifice a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius.

Nowadays the dog days define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.

So, there you have it. I was forced to make a choice: sit back and wait out the season before returning to my sane self or sacrifice a brown dog. I chose the less bloody option. The neighbor's dog doesn't know how lucky he is. (I can just imagine the police interview: "No officer, I can assure you it was not me the witness saw climbing over the fence with a dead dog slung over my shoulder. What? No, absolutely not! No one was dancing naked in the backyard at midnight waving a mullein torch...")

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Underground - Reno Nevada

Back in March of this year, my friend Paul Lindermuth of the Nevada Paranormal Institute was contacted by Chris Cady, a local hypnotist currently performing at the Reno Underground. It seems that Chris and his backstage crew had been experiencing some strange occurrences such as voices, footsteps heard from empty areas of the set and dark figures moving in their peripheral vision. Chris himself experienced the feeling of a presence behind him during one of his performances. These sort of things were happening with enough frequency that Chris wanted a team to come in and rule out paranormal activity.  NPI invited members of the Reno Paranormal Meetup Group to investigate the Underground theatre. The plan was to set up audio and visual surveillance overnight, do some EVP work and then go back and collect the equipment the next day.

The Pioneer Theater/Auditorium, now called the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, was built in 1967 and opened in 1968. A quick Internet search produced little about the history of this particular parcel of land prior to the 1960s. However, going further back in time, the history of this area gets very interesting.

Myron Charles Lake (Feb. 1828-June 20, 1884) was a hotel-keeper/entrepreneur, best known for his temper and ruthless business acumen. Present day Reno began as a toll bridge and road owned by Myron Lake. Lake's Crossing provided the only connection between Virginia City and the California Trail. Lake petitioned for and won from Nevada's Territorial legislature a ten-year exclusive franchise to operate his toll bridge and road at that location. Soon after, he deeded land to the Central Pacific Railroad to build a railway and depot, ensuring his absolute control of traffic through the region. With profits from his enterprise, Lake purchased additional land surrounding his bridge. The present day Riverside Casino sits on the site of the hotel Lake operated, while the Pioneer Theatre reportedly sits where Lake had his livery stable and barn. Lake was not well liked, due to his total disregard for others. In garnering his riches he made enemies, lots of them. He fought to control his crossing and the community that grew up around it by whatever means possible. His temper extended to his family, and his wife divorced him on the grounds of domestic battery and cruelty. Is it possible that the spirit of a controlling tyrant would still linger, still attempting to control his holding? Who knows, but we wanted to find out.

Around 10 people showed up for the investigation including members of Nevada Paranormal Institute, W.I.G.S., and the Sierra Psychic Academy. Since Chris had reported feeling a presence during his performance, it was decided that video and audio equipment should be set up backstage and the entire show filmed. Which meant of course, we got to see the show. If you have never gone to a hypnotist show, do so. Go see Chris Cady's show. It's hilarious. After the show, Chris put on a spoon bending demonstration, inviting everyone to give it a try. Mine did not bend; didn't even warm up. Obviously I have the psychic abilities of an amoeba.

After the audience had dispersed, we set up cameras in the auditorium and back passage ways. Along with the cameras in the backstage area and Chris' dressing room, these would run overnight. We then began our EVP session.

I grabbed my dowsing rods and headed to the back passageway behind the seating area with Paul. Immediately I got a "hit" along the back wall. I had to question this because I didn't know what was on the other side: a room? a terminating wall? electrical circuitry? As we walked along the passage, I got another hit to my right, near Paul. Whatever kept pulling my rods stayed very close to Paul. Paul had no electronic gadgetry on him other then a hand held camcorder. It was interesting that whenever Paul moved, the source of attraction moved with him; if he stopped, it stopped. Amazingly, when Ron (one of the psychics on the team) approached us from the other end of the passage, my rods swung wildly in the opposite direction, as if moving away from him. When I posed the question if "it" liked Ron, the answer was no. When I asked if "it" liked Paul the rods swung to the affirmative. We tried this several times, and the answers were always the same, with the rods continually moving away from Ron.

With the dowsing rods, I got some disturbing hits in a small storage area backstage. Whenever there was a male present, the rods responded very weakly; and when asked if "it" was afraid of men, the rods swung yes. Yet, when there were only females in the area, the rods reacted strong, almost violent. When asked if "it" hated women, the rods swung yes-violently yes. Later, upon reviewing the audio data of the area, at one point I am speaking. I tell whoever may be there that I am feeling unwelcome and that I am leaving; to which I receive a response: one word- "Bye". Hmm.

There were hours and hours of video to review and thankfully I was not the one doing the reviewing. A few weeks after our investigation, we all gathered to talk about our experience. Paul brought some interesting video footage. The camera in Chris Cady's dressing room moved 4 times during the night. Just small shifts to the side. The other cameras outside showed that no one entered the room during that time, and no other camera moved. Other members of the investigation team caught some interesting audio data and everyone pretty much had personal experiences to share.
This investigation was the first time I got to work with NPI and the Reno Paranormal Group. It was great fun and I learned a lot of technical stuff from Paul, whose arsenal of video equipment rivals anything seen on TV.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being The Change

When I began pursuing my interest in the paranormal, volunteerism was not what I had in mind. My intention was to get off the beaten path; learn about the history of Nevada and the West, explore hidden ghost towns, investigate haunted places, and capture that one bit of evidence that would prove a place to be inhabited by spirits. A few weeks ago I responded to my friend Jill's invitation to spend a Saturday washing walls, and sweeping floors. Now if you're thinking that there could be so many better ways to spend a Saturday, you are probably right. But, as it turns out, I learned a little about myself, my place in my community, and the satisfaction of "giving back". Along with  members of R.E.A.L., Reno Paranormal Group, and Virginia City Paranormal, I helped clean up the Old Washoe Club in Virginia City. My muscles whined the next day, but my spirit hummed a happy little tune.

We humans are social creatures, we like to feel like we are part of a community, we are taught from a very early age the it is right and expected to do for others. When we fulfill our societal obligations by volunteering without expectation of reward, we feel good about ourselves. And we all like that feeling.

I am a member of the paranormal community here in Northern Nevada. When I began persuing my interests in the paranormal, I didn't know anyone save my friend Paula. It's been almost 2 years since I started investigating, and I have met a lot of interesting  people: some more so than others. The community is an eclectic one: true believers, skeptics, people looking for answers, people looking for a thrill. We range from the religious to the agnostic, young to old. The one commonality is that we all have an interest in the paranormal.

A great number of us have also share an interest in the Old West and it's history. Which only makes sense since a great deal of our investigations are spent wandering the ruins of old ghost towns and the dusty rooms of bygone eras. We spend so much of our time poring over historical archives researching the stories, they become lodged in our hearts, and before you know it, we've fallen in love with these old places; we develop a sense of ownership toward them and we want to see them preserved. Washing walls, scraping paint and sweeping floors seems a small price to pay for the hours of enjoyment we have gained persuing our pastime.

Mahatma Gandhi once said "Be the change you want to see in the world" and I believe that is what volunteerism is: being that change.

A Book Review: The Other Side: A Teen's Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal

At the Virginia City Paranormal Conference back in March, I had the pleasure of listening to Dave Schrader speak. Dave  is an experienced paranormal investigator, author and the host of "Darkness Radio". His talk was informative, Immensely entertaining and revelant to all aspects of the paranormal field, If you ever have the opportunity to hear Dave speak, do so. I was so impressed by the common sense advice he gave, that I bought his book: "The Other Side: A Teen's Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal" for Mariah.

This book was co-authored by Parick Burns and Marley Gibson.

Mariah has been hounding me to take her on an investigation, something I have been hesitant to do because of her age. However, she has been listening to me talk about my experiences, reads my blog, and watches the usual ghosthunting programs on a regular basis. I have taken her on a few ghost tours hoping that would placate her, but she is adamant about going on a true investigation. I had been looking for easy to read information on how to proceed with paranormal investigation, so this book came at an opportune time. 

I read it before handing it over to Mariah -not saying that I'm not a trusting person, it's just, that,...well..., I'm not a trusting person. Not when it comes to my child. I'm glad I did, because this book is very well put together, has great advice, emphasizes safety and responsibity, and is easy to read.

This book does a great job at pointing out the pitfalls of believing the stuff out there in TV Land. We all know (at least I hope we all know), that ghosthunting shows don't show the most important stuff about ghost hunting. TV gives the impression that ghost hunting is glamorous, and one can become rich and famous doing it. This book tells it like it is; ghosthunting can be long and tedious work, and for most people, a hobby-not a career. I like that the book encourages teens to find an adult to accompany them on their investigations and always stay with a partner or group.

Other topics the book covers: How to set up an investigation team, the equipment and how to use it, the technical jargon used by paranormal enthusiasts, where to find spirits, safety issues, and more safety issues.

The authors make good use of humor to deliver the information, but do not downplay the seriousness of the subject matter. I enjoyed reading this book, as did Mariah. I would recommend this to anyone with teenagers wanting to explore the paranormal.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Silverland Hotel Investigation - 3/19/2010

From all reports I have gathered, the Silverland has paranormal activity throughout. However, a large portion of the basement is closed off for renovation and it was in this area that W.I.G.s. decided to investigate.

The area under renovation consists of a large anteroom with doors leading out to the patio on the right and a hallway on the southeast corner which leads to several smaller meeting rooms off to the left and the restrooms toward the back. Since there were already a group of investigators in the back area of the basement, we walked down the hall and entered the first room.

I don't know if it was because we were coming from a light area into a dark area and our eyes didn't have to adjust, but this room was dark. Black dark. It was so disorienting that both Mona and I needed to step back out for a second. By this time there were several passersby (Sandi and Veronica), which we enlisted to enter the room. They experienced the same weirdness. Since Janice was in that same group, she urged us to all come and see the restrooms. 

The first thing we noticed walking into the restrooms, is that there are no stalls...just a row of toilets on each wall. I suppose this makes carrying on a conversation easier, and passing a roll of toilet paper is a snap.  Mona and I took up positions on the last two toilets while Brandi and Paula did some filming and Janice inspected toilets ...I think she was looking for residual hauntings. You gotta give it to her, that Janice is one helluva thorough investigator.

I did some dowsing with interesting results; the rods indicated there was a male in the room with us of Chinese persuasion. We all detected the smell of men's cologne, a musky, sandelwood scent. Was it ghostly in nature? I don't know. There were men investigators in and out of the bathroom throughout the night.

In the smaller meeting rooms, Brandi picked up the sound of a child's voice on her digital recorder. The dowsing rods were very active throughout the basement, but we questioned if the electrical wiring, internet and fire alarm systems were causing interference. Paula, the most tech savvy, felt it was a big possibility.

It was getting late, everyone else had pretty much retired for the evening, so after raiding the conference room for cookies we headed up to our rooms to go over our recordings during which I fell asleep. (Note to self: It's not a good idea to try and review data late at night while in a prone position). There were a few questionable light anomalies of some of the visuals we took, so we grabbed our gear and headed back downstairs to take a closer look at the areas in question. We found that the light anomalies were caused by the fire alarms reflecting the flash. That mystery solved, we called it a night around 1:30 a.m.

If there were any conclusions we came away with, I'd have to say that there were several things I could not explain:
-Several people, myself included experienced a rubbery leg sensation in the lobby area just outside of the conference room. The best way I can describe it is I felt as though I were standing on an overpass and I could feel the rumbling of traffic passing underneath me. Someone else described it like stepping onto solid ground after a long boat ride.
-The south wall of the basement has no electrical wiring, however the dowsing rods reacted very strongly in that area. There were also unexplained cold spots in the same area.
-There was no explanation for the scent of cologne; the four members of W.I.G.s. were the only people in the basement during that time.
-Some interesting audio data that needs further investigation.

Friday, March 26, 2010

VC Para Con 2010 - Friday, March 19th

This past weekend I attended the Virginia City Paranormal Conference hosted by Janice Oberding. First let me say, I had a great time. Janice did a fantastic job.

The conference was held at the Silverland Hotel. The Silverland is built over the lower end of the old Redlight District and the upper end of Chinatown. It is reportedly haunted, and we were going to be given the opportunity to investigate the basement areas.

I arrived at around 5 pm on Friday evening. As soon as I got out of my car, I ran into Jill Smith, from R.E.A.L., another local investigation group. I met Tiger, er...I mean Jill, last fall during the TMCC paranormal series. I remembered her as a sweet, quiet person (as opposed to our very loud, boisterous group). She introduced me to Bert from Full Moon Paranormal. I knew that if there were going to be other groups at this conference, it was going to be good, because I am a net worker by nature. (a nice way of saying I am nosy, and want to know everybody's business). After I checked into my room, I headed downstairs, picked up my name badge from the registration table, and ran into Mona, another member of our group, W.I.G.S. Mona was busy making herself useful, setting out snacks and such. I picked us out a table, then headed back out into the basement lobby to check out the contents of my goody bag.
Upon opening my bag, I gasped in horror, but settled down when I realized it was only a picture of Barry Manilow looking out from the cover of a Nevada tourism magazine. The goody bag contained flyers of museum and underground mine tours, visitor information on Virgina City and such. There was a cute little VC ParaCon magnet  that now resides on my refridgerator, and a little felt spook made by Virginia Ridgeway, the grand dame of Goldfield. I also received a 11x7" piece of black plastic which I have yet to figure out a use for. A protective ghost deflector to wear underneath my shirt to prevent rogue spirits in search of human hosts from entering my body through my bellybutton?  A barrier to hold out in front of me to drive back demon spawn? Hmm...
Anyway, while I was mulling these sorts of thoughts, I ran into Scott Mannahan from R.E.AL. Scott has been very helpful to me in the past when I first began investigating. Scott very patiently answered my many questions, however seemingly idiotic. Back then, he was Scott Truelove from Ghost Posse. I had lost touch when he switched groups, and now that I know his "true" name and where he can be found; the man will know no rest.

The paranormal community is a small one, so there were a lot of familiar faces. During the meet and greet, I got to reconnect with people I knew, and make new acquaintences. Quite a few people had come in from California, Las Vegas and as far away as Texas.

The conference opened with an introduction by Janice Oberding. She gave a quick synopsis of the upcoming weekend, then passed the mic around and gave everyone a chance to introduce themselves, where they were from, what group(s) they belonged to, etc. We are an eclectic group with one common thread, an interest in the paranormal. 
Next up was Rev. Wayne S. Pierce from Western Nevada Paranormal. Rev. Wayne did a group reading for those in attendance. Now...anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis, knows the reservations I have about those mediums. I am skeptical, I admit. After a few minutes of listening to him channel someone's poor departed sister and a dead dog, I decided I needed to go grab my gear and do a walk through of the investigation area beforehand. Apparently, the other members of my group had the same idea because one by one, without any discussion, we snuck out of Rev. Wayne's demonstration. Sorry Reverend Wayne, waaay too depressing for me.
The seance, led by Virginia Ridgeway, was held out in the downstairs lobby area. We all sat around in a gigantic circle and visualized white light. The time of day was wrong, the area was too lit up, or the spirits were simply not coming through. After 10 minutes or so, we gave up. Virginia announced that we should take a break and regroup later on. With that, people split off into their individual groups, headed out to dinner, started investigating the basement areas, or sat around chatting. W.I.G.S. decided to start investigating.
Next: The Silverland Investigation

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Not To Wear

Yesterday Paula, my friend and fellow paranormal investigator, and I had a conversation that went something like this...

Paula: Did you catch____the other night, they did a live feed on an investigation.
Me: No. Was it any good?
Paula: It was hilarious. There was this female investigator wearing a red dress, and with the IR cameras, it looked like she was walking around in her underwear.
Me: No!
Paula: Yeah!
Me: No!
Paula: I swear!
Me: How did that happen?
Paula: She was wearing red.
Me: So?
Paula: Well, with the IR, red is a neutral color, it disappears on film.
Me: That doesn't sound right.
Paula: Yep, red clothes vanish. It was like watching an xray.
Me: You sure it wasn't the material of the cloth?
Paula: Nope. It's the color red.
Me: I don't believe that.
Paula: Trust me, the woman looked like she was parading around in nothing more than her bra and panties....That and her high heels.
Me: She was wearing high heels?
Paula: Yep.
Me: In the dark?
Paula: Yeah.
Me: Bulls**t.
Paula: I'm telling you it's true.

Okay. So this went on from some time; and if you are thinking to yourselves, "Is she serious?" Yes, I am. Paula and I can entertain ourselves with mindless, meaningless topics for hours on end, one of the many reasons why we are such good friends.

The conversation ended with me declaring that I was going to put the "Invisible Red" theory to the test. Using myself as a guinea pig, I took IR pictures of myself wearing red. Since it was my contention that the material is what would cause the transparency, I tried different types of fabrics. The results? The color red did not disappear, it simply showed up neutral. Looked like I was wearing white. No transparency with cotton or rayon.
However, the picture I took of myself wearing a guazy 100% polyester top, showed up very sheer (incidently, this is not a red blouse. It's gray with black print). I could definitely see my undergarment as you can see in the photo. (No snickering! This is serious scientific work here, damn it!)

So, word of caution, ladies: before dressing to go out on that important investigation, take a moment and consider what you are wearing; stick to solid cotton tees unless you want to show off your underclothes. And for goodness sake, don't wear high heels to an investigation, I don't care if it is a live feed and you want to look purdy. Safety, people!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pinyon Park, Sparks Nevada

This past October, KOLO, a local news channel, reported on a small park in southwest Sparks that had been built over a cemetery. It seemed outrageous to me that a park would have been allowed to be built over bodies that remained interred on the property and I wanted to learn more; what I found was sad and  tragic.
From 1882-1947, approximately 600 patients from the nearby State Mental Health Institute have been buried on an adjacent piece of property with little or no ceremony. If there were any markers placed, they have long disappeared. In 1959, the city leased a portion of the land and built a park; no bodies having ever been removed. For the past 41 years, children have played, families have picniced and basketball games have been played over the graves of anonymous inmates of what was formerly called the Nevada Insane Asylum.
In 1977 road construction on 21st street unearthed several coffins. The Nevada State Journal reported that bones were discovered by children playing in the sandy area of the park. The bodies were reburied in the known area of the cemetery, the park reopened and construction continued. There were no reports of any archeological survey being done to determine where the cemetery boundaries lay, although there are historical maps that show the areas where bodies were buried.
While researching her family's genological record, someone discovered a relative among the forgotten dead. Distressed by the history of neglect, she started a non-profit organization called the Friends of Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Cemetery whose mission is to preserve and restore the historic cemetery. In May of 2009, the Nevada State legislature passed a bill giving the cemetery protected historic status.
I drove over to the park/cemetery recently to have a look around. The playground equipment and picnic tables have been removed, and there is a sign on the street marking this as a historic cemetery. As I wandered around the small park, I discovered a small coffee can with the remains of a plastic floral arrangement. A small memorial left by descendants.

I considered doing some recording, but the freeway noise was extremely loud...maybe in the early morning hours before dawn when traffic is light. I had taken a few pictures when a carload of teenagers pulled up. They watched me for a few moments, decided I was cool, took out their skateboards and headed to the cement slab that was once the basketball court.
The sun was beginning to set, and I was feeling chilled. I made a mental note to return to this site again...maybe to do a little recording, maybe a little dowsing... maybe just to pay my respects.
The cemetery is located on 21st Street and Frazier in Sparks; next to the Nevada Adult Mental Health Institute. Please be respectful when you visit.
To learn more, visit: http://friendsofnorthernnevadaadultmentalhealthservicescemetery.com/ You can access maps, photos, newspaper articles and other related items about the cemetery at this site.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow Daze February 21, 2010

Truckee Meadows is getting snow...lots of it. I was so looking forward to going up to Virginia City today to participate in an investigation of the Saint Mary's Art Center. Unfortunately it's a no go. The weather conditions up on Geiger Grade are pretty severe right now, chains required, etc... The Grade can be treacherous...I prefer to hunt the dead, not be one of them. So I'm going to put on a pot of soup and enjoy the snowfall with family and friends today. Keep Safe...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Solar Flares

I noticed that my solar activity application indicated a solar flare today along with an electromagnetic storm in space. I have heard said that weather conditions can cause an increase in paranormaL activity. I wonder if storms in deep space apply? I know that lunar conditions effect tides and such. I went onto the National Weather Service space weather predition center to see what these solar flares looked like. I have posted a picture here, Courtesy of NOAA (I know, I know, that's not really the color of the sun, but it's wicked cool).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Donner Ski Ranch

Donner Ski Ranch is one of the oldest ski areas in the western United States. The area was first utilized for skiing in 1937. It is located near the scenic Old Highway 40 which was the transcontinental route before I-80 took its place in 1964. It is 45 miles west of Reno and 10 miles west of Truckee.

The history of this area is both interesting and deadly. Native Americans traveled the Summit thousands of years ago leaving the evidence of their presense in petroglyphs and grinding rocks. Wagon trains began crossing the Summit in 1844 headed for California. The ill fated Donner Party attempted to cross in 1846, but was unable to conquer the Summit. They had to turn back and spent a tragic winter on the shores of what is now Donner Lake. Untold numbers of chinese laborers were killed during the building of the first transcontinental railway through this area.

Changeable weather conditions are common in the Lake Tahoe Basin throughout the year. Winter storms may occur from September through June, with heavy snow accumulations.  Sunny, summer skies may cloud over quickly with thundershowers, catching some people by surprise. Weather may also vary or change rapidly from lake-level (6,225 ft) to mountain peaks (10,880 ft).

The Donner Ski Ranch has changed little with the passing of years. It has wooden floors throughout, maintaining a rustic look and feel. We arrived at dusk. Keith, the caretaker and his wife were there to greet us.  Keith gave us a little history on the area and the ski lodge. We asked for a tour of the lodge and Keith obliged.

Since we were standing in the bar area, Keith pointed out a spot near the large window overlooking the parking lot. According to Keith, one night around 3:00 am, he saw a large shadow figure in the shape of a man standing by the table nearest the window. As he approached, the figure disappeared.

Keith then took us downstairs where the ski rental shop and lockers are located. He told us how he and a friend were standing in this area one night when they both heard footsteps walking on the deck above them. Since they were the only ones in the lodge at the time, Keith figured it had to be someone looking for an entrance. He headed back upstairs and went out onto the deck. There was no one there; no footprints either, although there had been a heavy snowfall during the day.

Keith believes a former ski instructor who committed suicide might be making his presense known, because he has heard sounds coming from the room the guy worked out of.

Kieth showed us the snack bar area, skiers lounge, and upstairs lounge and offices. He then left us, he planned to stay in the bar area with his wife until our investigation was over and lock up.

We began our investigation in the lower level. We had already spent a few minutes in the far back storage area of the basement, but the machinery and power panels gave off such a loud hum, recording was an impossibility. We decided to spend some time in the ski instructors room. We took up positions around the room and alternately asked questions, and took pictures. At one point, Paula asked if any spirit present could give us a sign. Soon after, she got the sensation of a puff of air on her hand. She asked me to switch places with her to see if I could repeat her experience. A sign was asked for, and suddenly the EMF meter I was holding in my hand lit up. Just one blink. It did not repeat. Paula has that piece of film on her MySpace page. If you would like to see it, go to: http://www.myspace.com/w_i_g_s

We next headed upstairs to the dining room. This is a large area containing a cafeteria, a fireplace seating area, a main dining area, a smaller dining room in the back and restrooms. While exiting the restrooms, Paula caught sight of movement out of the corner of her eye in the back dining area. As I was sitting in the large dining area, Paula thought Mona was in the back area, but Mona was upstairs. A digital recorder was left in that area and we continued with our investigation. Later, while reviewing the data we collected, Paula caught an EVP in this area, which sounds like a whispered, "Can't wait".

We spent some time upstairs in the snack bar. We sat down in the kichen and set up our digital recorders. Both Mona and Paula were filming with their camcorders. Paula caught a few light anomalies on her camcorder, but it's hard to say if its bugs, dust or something else. I'm going for bugs. Her KII meter went off too, but I don't have a lot of faith in KII meters, I have seen where a passing car can set one off. Both Mona and Paula caught screams on their recorders. Unfortunately, Keith was on the next floor down, watching TV. We can't rule out the possibility of contamination from that.

We ended up our night back in the small dining area on the main floor to retrieve the digital recorder left there. Upon hearing that Paula had caught sight of a shadow, Kieth excitedly told us that he had also seen movement and hear voices in this area, something he had not mentioned to us previously.

We have plans on going back, hopefully overnight. This is an interesting place with such a great history, it deserves to be investigated further.