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A long, long night of surprises

BY LEISA WILLIAMS

POSTED October 29, 2010 8:28 p.m.

“Oh my gosh,” was all I could say when I got off the phone with Kristina Hacker from the Turlock Journal. She and her boss Kristi had called to tell me that I had won their essay contest, “Why I would be a good paranormal investigator.” My assistant and I would be joining them in a paranormal investigation of the Groveland Hotel. I immediately called my husband, Neil Sr., and after a few minutes of whooping and hollering he suggested I call my assistant to make sure he would still be able to make it to the investigation. Much to my chagrin both the people I had lined up to go with me had to back out at the last minute. I had to wonder, “Was I not taking this as seriously as I should be?”

Sept. 23 finally arrived. I found the nervousness that I have been able to push to the back of my mind for the last 10 days had been seeping through and I was secretly asking myself, “Are you sure you want to do this?” As I drove up to Groveland with the biggest skeptic I know, my eldest son Neil II occupying the passenger seat, I tried to hold up my end of the conversation. I acted like I didn’t have a care in the world and we arrived just as night fell. The hotel, which I am sure looks warm and inviting in daylight, had a dark and mysterious look to it which just added to my apprehension.

After we settled in our room, we headed out to explore and ran into members of the Western Region Paranormal Research (WRPR) group. They shared some of their previous and personal experiences with us and went over the equipment and proper techniques. My apprehension was now replaced by anticipation and — I won’t lie — still a little nervousness.

By 10 p.m. most of us were gathered in the hotel dining room waiting for the psychics to separately finish going through all the rooms in the hotel as Fred from WRPR recorded their findings. Rich, Barbara and Julie — all from WRPR — recorded all the base electro-magnetic field (EMF) readings and made sure all the equipment was ready for when we went “lights out.”  The rest of us engaged in small talk and I found I really liked the other winner of the contest, Karen, and her assistant Tanya (who claimed to be a skeptic but is afraid to go back to her room by herself.) We soon discovered that we have mutual friends in Turlock — what a small town it really is.

At 11:30 p.m. the time finally came for what I had been waiting for — “lights out.” “Here I go,” I thought, as my group headed off to the newer side of the hotel. At the top of the stairs I went into a room on the left and as I fumbled with my EMF detector it immediately went off. Rich from WRPR suggested that I take EMF readings of the entire room as Neil II took pictures and when were done, we sat to conduct an electronic voice phenomena (EVP) session. Rich suggested that I ask some questions and although this is the moment I had been waiting for, my mind goes blank. My hands shook and I found it a little hard to think of anything to say. He started off with a few basic questions and moments later when my confidence returned, I was able to join in the session.

As we moved on to explore the next room, Corey came in and asked us to join the others in our group in another room where Ann, from American Paranormal Investigations (API), was using her dowsing rods to talk to the spirit of a young girl. I left to join them and found myself totally entranced in their conversation. Each time someone asked a question the rods moved to answer. I watched her hands closely to make sure she wasn’t making them move herself; she was not…wow. I caught myself watching everyone in the room to get their response but it didn’t seem to faze them and it’s then I realized I am the only one in the room who has never seen this done before.

At 12:30 a.m. we left the bedroom and headed toward the great room and proceeded to have a conversation (via dowsing rods) with the spirit of a man who is full of mischief. He was trying to keep other spirits (namely a woman named Elizabeth) from talking to us. When suddenly the mischievous man no longer answered our questions Ann informed us that another spirit has joined us and this one happened to be standing to my right! He was a sheriff and is the reason the first spirit will no longer make contact with us.

At 1:30 a.m. we headed downstairs and met up with Neil II and Rich, who had been investigating the basement and wine cellar. Rich asked Ann to do a reading of the basement, since it was missed in the initial reading and he and Neil had had a couple of personal experiences while investigating. So, Ann heads down the stairs. One by one the people from our group followed her. The anticipation grew as she, too, stopped at the same spots where Neil and Rich had experiences.

By 2 a.m. our group had headed over to the older section of the hotel. This is the section where Lyle the resident ghost’s room is located and I couldn’t wait to see if there had been any action. WRPR brought makeup, jewelry, scarves and hats to place on his dresser — he hates women’s items cluttering up his space and has been known to knock them off onto the floor or move them. Much to my disappointment, Lyle had been quiet.

At 4 a.m. we all headed off to our rooms for a couple hours of sleep before heading out in the morning. I walked into my room and opened the bathroom door only to be met by a warm moist steam, as if someone had taken a shower. I immediately checked the shower and tub for water but found none. I then checked all the bathrooms in the older section and found none of them had the same warm moist air or even a spot of water in them. I felt a little fearful as I climbed into my bed, but I was able to write it off as old hotel old pipes… right?

Although both Neil and I were exhausted neither of us were quite ready to turn the lights out for the night and as we lay there reading the comments that previous patrons had left about their overnight stays, the faucet turned on and then off briefly. We looked at each other and tried to shrug it off as it happened twice more. We both laughed as I assured him that Grant and Jason, from The Atlantic Paranormal Society and “Ghost Hunters” television show, have stated that warm water left in old pipes can do that.

The next morning, in our final hour at the Groveland Hotel, we joined Kristina Hacker for breakfast. She immediately wanted to know what we thought of our first paranormal investigation.

Well Kristina, I have anticipated this day for a long time and I loved it. I could compare my experience ghost hunting to the way riding on roller coasters gives some people an adrenaline rush. Is it a long night for the people who do this work all the time? Yes! Yet, I know they wouldn’t trade it for anything and now my only question is, “What’s next?”

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