Travel Genre

I’m sorry to have neglected my blog for so long. I took a short trip that wound up being longer and involved business, pleasure and helping out a friend. With that in mind, I thought I’d write a bit about the travel genre.

Travel writing can be divided into two equal parts, travelogues and guidebooks.

A travelogue describes a person or persons’ adventures away from home. The best travelogues are written as creative nonfiction and read like a novel. This means the narrative should involve conflict and resolution as well as character development. The narrator who begins the journey should be changed by their experiences, just as one would expect from a character in a novel.

Examples of travelogues include “A Year in Provence,” “Into Thin Air,” “Eat, Pray, Love,” “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” and “A Walk Across America.”

Guidebooks are pretty self-explanatory.  They are the what-when-where-why-how of travel. A good guidebook can spare you a lot of confusion and loss of time, whether you’re traveling to a nearby city or a distant continent. Guidebooks point out the major and minor attractions, as well as clue the reader in on culture, currency, nightlife, restaurants and hotels. Note: no book will be completely accurate on a currency’s rate of exchange. The XE Currency Converter is a good web resource for getting the latest rate of exchange.

Popular guidebooks include “Lonely Planet,” “Rough Guides,” “Fodor’s” and “Frommer’s.”

I highly recommend watching the TV show, “Globe Trekker.” It’s half-travelogue and half-guidebook as different narrators takes you on personal journeys to lesser-known worldwide destinations. It’s the one show that really gives me the travel bug.

Below I’ve listed some travelogues and guidebooks that are free-for-now on Amazon. Happy trails!

  Europe Essentials by Lonely Planet
Planning a trip to Europe? Know before you go! Download a free copy of Lonely Planet’s Europe Essentials and receive helpful tips on packing and planning, etiquette advice, transportation information, themed itineraries, and much more. It’s the perfect complement to Lonely Planet’s guidebooks and a great starting point to a dream vacation.

  5 of USA’s Best Trips by Lonely Planet
Whether you’re a local looking for a long weekend escape, or a visitor looking to explore, Lonely Planet’s TRIPS series offers the best itineraries – and makes it easy to plan the perfect trip time and again.

  Ye Olde Britain: Best Historical Experiences by Lonely Planet
Explore Britain’s rich and varied history with this ultimate guide to the best historical things to do throughout England, Scotland and Wales; includes author- recommended reviews and practical information on a wide-range of interesting options from fascinating pre-historic sites such as Avebury to excellent modern museums such as the Museum of London. This guide has been created by Lonely Planet’s dedicated authors and local experts who immersed themselves in England, Scotland and Wales, finding the best historical experiences and sharing practical and honest advice.

  Down Under All Over by Barbara Brewster
Down Under All Over is more than a travelogue. It is an account of Barbara Brewster’s very personal journey—one which entices us to follow along in her footsteps through that fascinating land of Australia. Her account of the adventures she and her husband, Sid, shared invites one to crawl under the skin of the land and to know its colloquialisms and people. Brewster’s enthusiasm for the place is contagious.

  Too Fat for Europe by Joe Leibovich
A hilarious travelogue through Europe featuring the adventures of two comedians, who happen to be married. Follow their whirlwind tour of London, Paris and Rome…all in about a week.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

San Francisco Dreaming Part 2

Free Today on Amazon

When I visit San Francisco, I usually stay with friends. However, on my last visit, I wanted to try something different.

As a travel writer, I’d been interested in the website airbnb.com. It facilitates private homeowners to offer anything from crash space on the couch to the entire house. I liked the idea and had wanted to give it a try. I looked at the listings for San Francisco and found a condo in a good location at the right price, $85 a night. It had good reviews for all categories, including cleanliness.

To make a long story short, it was not a good experience. The location was great. The condo was not. Cleanliness was an issue, but the worst part was the smell. The owner was obviously a smoker who smoked indoors. He appeared to have tried to cover the smell with candles and air freshener, which only made things worse.

Here’s the review I posted on airbnb:

I had a very mixed experience staying in this condo. First, the pros. The location is great. I loved the view. Public transportation is right outside the door. There is a well-known pharmacy across the street and a nice, natural food grocery store down the block. Cole Valley is close walking distance with lots of good restaurants. For the most part, the place is quiet, though you’ll hear sirens from the nearby medical center. Since the apartment is on the third floor, it was nice having access to an elevator. Now, the cons. The apartment was not very clean, especially the kitchen and bathroom. There were grease spots on the stove and the fridge had spill stains. The microwave oven was crusty and stained, and I had to clean it so I could use it. The bathtub had dark stains and soap scum.  Also, there was a strong smell of cigarette smoke. On a lesser note, cable and HBO are listed among the amenities, however the host told me that the cable was out, and he offered as an alternative an antenna on the TV that received a few local channels. In the bedroom, there was a second TV that didn’t work and blocked access to the window and the other side of the bed. Despite enjoying the convenient location, I would not stay here again.

I tried not to be too nitpicky. I don’t want the owner to lose business, but the place has lots of room for improvement. It was not worth $85 a night. I probably won’t be using airbnb again. I can’t trust the reviews. And I can get a decent hotel room for slightly more.

I’ll be returning to San Francisco shortly. I’ve signed up to attend the San Francisco Writers Conference in February. It’s at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, a very pricey hotel at the top of Nob Hill. I’ll be staying a couple of blocks below at a hotel I can whole-heartedly recommend. The Golden Gate Hotel is a charming bed and breakfast. Clean, reasonably priced, and best of all, serves up a really yummy continental breakfast. Plus, there’s a big orange tabby, Pip, who will probably wander into your room.

Pip

Pip hung out in my room last year. He’s a friendly kitty.

In the meantime, I’ve found some San Francisco themed Kindle freebies to enjoy. Plus, a book titled, “How to Pack Like a Rock Star,” which is actually about rock stars packing their luggage. Can’t resist that and since they travel so much, they probably have some good tips.

  How To Pack Like A Rock Star by Shaun Huberts
A photo-driven adventure book combining a nerdy-cool ‘how-to’ book with humor, comments and advice from all your favorite Rock Stars on how to pack your suitcase. Town to town, tour after tour; who better to listen to about packing a suitcase than someone who spends their days living out of one? Sooner or later the world will learn that Rock Stars are the real packing professionals and this is your inside source! So if you too are planning on living a life out of your suitcase then this could be the simplest, most effective, and by far most pleasurable way to learn how!

  San Francisco Values by James K Turner
Today’s plunging real estate market may seem brutal, but it’s nothing compared to the heady bubble days. Just ask real estate queen Ella Barker. She’s at the top of her career, a master of San Francisco’s hysterical housing market, and now some maniac comes along and starts slaughtering real estate agents? Why, this is outrageous under any circumstance, but it’s more than just a little distraction in a market where a child’s future earnings are mortgaged, Open House lines stretch for blocks and prices go up by the hour. Then Ella gets word the most expensive home ever in San Francisco is coming on the market, so she sets out to do whatever it takes to rake in the mega-commission.

  Wait For Me by Elisabeth Naughton
After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn’t feel right. She’s had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can’t be anyone but a daughter Kate didn’t know she had. Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want—money, fame and power—but he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves. As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn’t remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost.

  Complete Story of the San Francisco Horror by Samuel Fallows
This book has first hand interviews, photos and descriptions of the tragic event that shook the world in April 1906. Anyone who has any ties to San Francisco and California should read this wonderful non-fiction story! (Amazon review Dean Phelan)

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

A Victorian Christmas in San Francisco

I’m on the final day of my San Francisco holiday. I’ve had a lovely time, visiting friends, eating delicious food, and enjoying some only-in-San Francisco activities.

One of those activities is a yearly event that is dear to my heart. I’ve performed there on several occasions and still know many of the people who make this event so fabulous. I’m talking about the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

This five-weekend holiday event recreates the London of Charles Dickens. Along with crafts and food, there are hundreds of costumed actors, musicians and dancers who perform on the stages or wander the streets, interacting with the customers. For example, you’ll see the Ghost of Christmas Present leading Scrooge, in his nightdress, through the streets and interacting with other performers. It’s a good time and really puts you in the holiday mood.

I wore male attire, though I wasn’t portraying a man. When asked, I replied, “I am not a gentleman, I am a lady of bohemian inclination.” Shocking!

While there, I enjoyed tea with my friends, Andy and Todi, who perform as part of a comedy act, Ballet Russe.

Todi and Me

Todi and Me. I’m the “blond.” Photo courtesy of Andy. Thanks, Andy!

It was a proper tea, with cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and lemon custard. When they weren’t performing, we wandered around and had a swell time.

Andy and Me

That’s me and Andy, a couple of flash coves.

You never know who you’ll run into on the fair streets of London town.

Me and Abe

After posing, we hunted down a few vampires.

All this might put you in the mood for a little (or a lot of) Dickens. Project Gutenberg has a number of the works of Charles Dickens, in many different eBook formats, and all for free. You can find them here.

Enjoy the dickens out of reading Dickens. If you’re in or near San Francisco, the Dickens Fair runs until December 23. Go!

San Francisco Dreaming

Free Today on Amazon

A while back, I made plans to visit San Francisco for a December break. I thought I’d do some writing, see the holiday sights, and enjoy the milder climate. I decided to book a small condo through airbnb, something I always wanted to try. That way, I could have my own little place, and dream a little dream that I’d returned home.

What I didn’t count on was catching a cold, followed closely by the flu. I had to postpone my trip by a day and arrive in the city on tail end of my flu. The condo is… a bit of a disappointment. More about that in another post. The location is good, in walking distance to Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury. The view is fabulous.

SF Condo View

Double rainbow!

I had to spend the first couple of days here recuperating. Today, I’m feeling better, despite the lingering cough, and ready to step out.

As usual, though, I’ve spent my morning coffee time checking out the Amazon freebies. Usually, much of what I find is written by independent authors. Occasionally, though, big six publishers will offer free material. Also, well known authors will occasionally release ebooks that were previously published in print. Today’s freebies are good examples.

Simon and Schuster has released for free “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle. And, yes, that means all the novels and short stories. HarperCollins is offering a free YA novel that costs $9.99 in print. And bestselling author Claire Cook is offering her novel, “Must Love Dogs” (yes, the one that became a movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack)  as a free-for-now.

That’s a nice variety and great for taking along on holiday travels.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes  The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The complete collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, both long and short, compiled together for the first time by Simon & Schuster for free! This fantastic collection is accompanied by an exciting new introduction from Robert Ryan, a writer who’s own book has been fully endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate. A big Holmes fan himself, he will undoubtedly provide a fascinating new look at the detective and his bizarre ability to read both people and objects, in order to discover who dunnit.

Sweet Venom  Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates. Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Must Love Dogs  Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
Following up on themes from her debut novel, Ready to Fall, which looked at the pitfalls of cyberspace romance, Cook here chronicles the perils of various tried and true dating ploys, from personals ads to the use of adorable pooches as date bait. “If I didn’t have a job, I might have stayed in bed until I rotted,” muses Massachusetts preschool teacher Sarah Hurlihy, almost 41, divorced and dateless for two years. She’s out to change all that when she bravely answers a personals ad in a local paper, but instead gets the ultimate nightmarish response her would-be date turns out to be her widower father, something her sprawling Irish Catholic family naturally finds wildly funny. Her oldest sister, Carol, decides the best way for Sarah to move on is to create her own personals ad, and soon Sarah’s love life is lively, if not downright rambunctious. (Review by Publishers Weekly)

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Autumn Colors and Cookbooks

Free Today on Amazon

My husband and I took a brief staycation to view the autumn colors here in Colorado. The aspen leaves turn the most amazing shades of gold.

Fall Colors in Rocky Mountain National Park

Gorgeous fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park

We spent Sunday in Nederland, a small community above Boulder. I didn’t take any pictures there. We just strolled around and enjoyed the chill atmosphere. Being there is like stepping into the TARDIS and coming out in 1978. Even the music in the restaurant where we had lunch was all from the seventies.

On Monday, we headed into Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a cloudy day, occasionally rainy, but overall fresh and lovely. One of the first sights we saw were these elk in a meadow close to the park entrance.

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

There were actually several herds spread throughout the meadow. They were loud, too, making this sort of bellowing, trumpeting sound.

From there, we stopped at Horseshoe Falls, drove to the highest peak in the park (over 12K feet) and headed for our ultimate destination, the Continental Divide.

Continental Divide

Where east meets west.

There are two bodies of water on either side, a small lake to east and a creek to the west. You can actually see the water flowing east on one side and west on the other. Very cool!

Speaking of cool, it’s finally cooling off here, which makes me very happy. I love fall weather. This got me thinking that I’d love to make something like soup or stew for dinner. Which got me headed over to Amazon, natch! I found a batch of soup and slow cooker recipe books, all by the same author and perfect for this weather. I’ve also included a book of Halloween recipes. All free for now. As always, check the price before hitting the 1-Click button.

  39 Best Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes by Suzanne Summer
Crock pot cooking is one of the best methods to prepare healthy and delicious meals. The low temperature of slow-cooking makes it almost impossible to burn food even when cooked too long. If you’re busy like me with two kids, it is just not possible to stay in the kitchen all day long. Just set the food to slow-cook before leaving for the day, and your delicious and nutritious chicken meal will be ready when you return.

  Healthy Crock Pot Recipes: 33 Nutritious & Delicious Crock Pot Meals by Suzanne Summer
It doesn’t matter whether you’re new or experienced in creating crockpot meals. We’ve included detailed step-by-step cooking instructions to leave no guesswork for you. You will be amazed at how easy it is to make crockpot meals that are both healthy and delicious. Each recipe contains detailed nutritional information for your reference. Be prepared to be amazed by these new recipes that will keep you and your family healthy.

  33 Healthy Soup Recipes by Suzanne Summer
Are you looking for soup recipes that are both healthy and tasty? If so then this is for you. 33 Healthy Soup Recipes is specially made for you soup lovers who are health conscious.

  Halloween Recipes: 24 Cute, Creepy, and Easy Halloween Recipes for Kids and Adults by J.J. Pierce
With Halloween just around the corner, Halloween Recipes: 24 Cute, Creepy, and Easy Halloween Recipes for Kids and Adults gives you some great recipes for you to try! From snacks, to drinks, to entrees and even desserts, you will find some awesome recipes for you and your family to enjoy this Halloween season.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Crafty Writing

Free Today on Amazon

I’m back behind the keyboard after a fabulous staycation spent with my friend, Susan, who was visiting from California. For the first time in a while, I took a look at the Kindle freebies. One thing that caught my attention were the books offered in the Reference: Writing section. I saw a lot of “write fast and easy, publish quickly, make your pile.”

Wow. Can it really be that easy? I’ve got two answers.

Yes, it can! If you are already fabulously talented and experienced, and are some kind of genius with a way with words, or you have your finger on the throbbing pulse of what’s hot right now and can write really fast, you might, with a lot of luck, be able to do just that.

Otherwise, no. And please, don’t. Don’t be part of what makes indie publishing bad, i.e., offering up a steaming pile of crap on Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, etc.

Craft, not crap, is what will get you noticed in a good way, get you readers, good reviews and, who knows, even a contract with an agent or publisher.

While sifting through the easy peasy bullsh!t books, I did find a gem among the freebies, one that offers genuine advice on the craft of writing conflict. It’s list price is $9.99, so grab now while it’s still free.

  Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict by Diana Hurwitz
Good writers ask, “What if? Great writers ask, “Why?” Characters in your story world walk around and do what you, the writer, program them to do. They may not know why, but you should. Effectively manipulating your characters’ actions, reactions, and motives makes great fiction. Faulty logic and missing motive are plot holes that cause reader disconnect. The reader growls and shrieks: “The character would never do that.” At best, readers smirk and continue to read. At worst, they stop reading and never pick up another book you’ve penned. Within these pages, we meet, warp, and torture 16 characters. We take them from cradle to the grave. We explore how their temperaments create and resolve believable obstacles at the overall story and scene level. We explore what makes your protagonist, antagonist, friends, and foes tick. We find out who they love and hate. We find out what kind of friend, parent, and lover they are. We learn how their strengths and weaknesses lead them to success and failure.

In the interest of my own craft, I bought a book on writing fight scenes. I actually get compliments on my fight scenes. I’ve taken Shaolin Kung Fu classes, I’m married to a martial artist and am a big MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fan. However, writing those scenes isn’t easy and I know I have lots of room to improve. This books looks like it offers some great advice on all kinds of action, from guns to swords to magic. Note: it is NOT free. The Kindle price is nice, just $4.99.

  Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall
Learn step-by-step how to create fictional fights which leave the reader breathless with excitement. The book gives you a six-part structure to use as blueprint for your scene. It reveals tricks how to combine fighting with dialogue, which senses to use when and how, how to create a sense of realism, and how to stir the reader’s emotions. You’ll decide how much violence your scene needs, what’s the best location, how your heroine can get out of trouble with self-defense and how to adapt your writing style to the fast pace of the action.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

This freebie is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee this book will still be free when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.

Hunting Ghosts at the Stanley Hotel

When it comes to haunted stuff, ghosts, what have you, I am a skeptic. Mind you, I am a fantasy reader and writer. I love me some ghost stories, but believing in actual spooks? No way. So it was with a huge grain of salt that I accompanied my friend, Susan, to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Inspired the book, but not used in the movie, “The Shining”. However, the movie is on a continuous loop on channel 42.

Haven’t heard of it? You may have heard of “The Shining,” the ghost novel by Stephen King. The Stanley Hotel was his inspiration for the story. It is famously haunted and its fame has grown in recent years due to TV shows such as “Ghost Hunters.”

Susan is a huge fan of the show, so when we planned her visit to Colorado (she’s from California,) we included an overnight stay at the Stanley, along with a couple of tours.

As you can see in the picture above, it is a lovely hotel. Unlike the hotel in “The Shining,” the Stanley is located in close walking distance to downtown Estes Park. I mean, even in heavy snowfall, you could walk there with a good pair of snow boots. However, the hauntings have nothing to do with isolation or lack thereof. According to the tour guides, the ghosts are mostly those who lived or worked there.

Upon arrival, Susan and I were greatly amused to discover we were in Room 215. This is directly next to Room 217, famously the most haunted room in hotel. It is also the room Stephen King stayed in. As it turned out, Rooms 215, 217 and 219 had all once been one room, and we were assured our room was also haunted, mainly by a former maid who liked to walk through the walls and pace in our room. Although Room 217 is booked months in advance, at a premium price, I got Room 215 at random and at a Colorado resident’s discount price. Score!

Room 217 is in the back. Room 215 is to the right. Both are haunted, but only 217 gets all the light and glory.

The funny thing about staying in Room 215 is that the extremely popular Ghost/History Tour pauses there every 20 minutes while the guide explains about Room 217. We startled groups of tourists whenever we opened our door.

I am beside myself with fear at the prospect of staying next to the spookiest room in the hotel.

However, despite all my skepticism, stuff did happen. Spooky stuff.

On our first day at the Stanley, Susan and I went on two tours, one in the afternoon and one at night. I didn’t expect much out of the afternoon tour aside from some history and few good stories, and our guide served up both. At the end of the tour, she took us down to the caverns which are used by the staff to get around the hotel without disturbing the guests. While she gave a few tasty examples of paranormal activity, I decided to take a picture of a dark, spooky corner.

And that’s when it happened.

Totally crappy, out of focus picture that doesn’t look haunted. The blue thing in the background is part of the pipes.

I took this photo using my iPhone. After the flash, I continued staring at the screen and thought about taking another shot. All of the sudden, these strands of blue and white light appeared. They looked like someone had dipped their fingers in fluorescent light and moved them in an upward motion in front of me.

Freaked. Me. Out.

I told the guide what happened. She called it an “orb,” which it wasn’t. There was nothing round about it. She also pointed out the quartz in the cavern walls, which were said to be possibly responsible for residual hauntings, i.e., haunting that are from left over energy without any intelligence. Looking back, I can see how the quartz might have tweaked my flash and made something appear. Though I did take the same photo again in similar circumstance and nothing happened.

Anyway.

Flash forward to 8 pm that evening. Keep in mind I only had one glass of wine at dinner, around 6 pm. The night tour goes for two hours and there’s a lot more emphasis on the paranormal. Our guides were enthusiastic on the subject, which made it more fun. After wandering through the actual hotel, we headed for the concert hall, the most haunted property on the lot. According to the guides, the hotel has 20% intelligent hauntings and 80% residual hauntings. It’s the exact opposite at the concert hall. They named three frequent ghosts, Lucy, Edward and Paul, and took us to their hotspots.

First, we went to Edward’s spot, which was the front the concert hall, including the balcony and the stage. The first guide told us some stories about Edward, a former handyman at the hotel who didn’t like people very much and was protective of his work space. After the guide spoke, we were free to wander a bit. Susan and I wandered over to the other guide and asked her about any recent activities. She pointed to the bathroom and said she won’t go in there, it’s been really active and it gives her a creepy feeling. Of course, Susan and I made a beeline for the john. We went inside and I took this picture. As you can see, it’s a single toilet bathroom, no stalls or anywhere for someone to hide. Didn’t see or feel anything weird. We stepped out and started chatting with the guide for a few minutes.

Edward’s john.

All of the sudden, we heard a loud banging noise come from the bathroom, like someone had hit the wall with their fist, hard.

Yeah, I jumped. So did Susan and the guide. After about a minute, Susan went to investigate. She opened the door, took a look inside, and the banging noise happened again.

Freaked. Me. Out.

There was no one in the bathroom and the sound came from inside, not outside.

Okay, so, color me a little less skeptical.

We told the other guide about the experience and he was quite impressed. He went to the bathroom, but whatever was in there had quieted down. So the guides led us downstairs to Lucy’s room.

Lucy’s room. That’s the door. The person in the doorway is our guide. Not Lucy.

Lucy is supposedly a homeless woman who lived in the concert hall during the hotel’s bankrupt period. She was discovered and told to leave and, according to local legend, later froze to death in the snow. While the first guide told us this story, he got a startled look on his face and turned to the door that leads into the room.

He asked, “Lucy, is that you?”

Everyone went silent. Then, I heard what sounded like a woman’s whisper coming from the area of the door (the guide at the door was male.)

And then the door shut by itself.

Wow.

The guide opened it again and showed us the part of the carpet that’s raised to keep the door from shutting by itself. The windows were closed and there was no breeze that I could detect. We waited and watched, and the door moved a little again, but didn’t shut. So, we left to go to Paul’s room.

Paul was another Stanley Hotel handyman. He apparently had a heart attack while working and died while attempting to drive to the hospital. He’s supposed to be more social and friendly than Edward. While the guides told us Paul’s story, we heard the door to Lucy’s room slam shut.

That was the end of the paranormal activities for the evening. The tour went long as we all roamed around the concert hall and exchanged ghost stories. It was fun and exciting.

I was hooked.

Susan and I returned to our haunted room. We both stayed awake pretty late, but nothing happened. The maid felt no compulsion to pay us a nocturnal visit.

The next morning, we booked ourselves tickets for the Friday night Ghost Hunt.

Now, the Ghost Hunt is a different animal than the other tours. It lasts from 8 pm to 1 am and you are accompanied by paranormal experts. Plus, equipment is made available, such as EMF and K2 meters. Don’t ask me what they are or how they work. All I know is that they’re supposed to measure levels of energy.

Friday night started with an hour long introduction to catch up the newcomers on the history of the hotel, along with an explanation of the ghost hunting equipment. Susan and I scored our own K2 meter and we had it in our hot little hands the entire time. The group then split into two and we headed for the Edward’s balcony, led by a former cast member of “Ghost Hunters International.”

We settled in the dark and our guide placed two flashlights on the ledge. These were the small, screw-on type of flashlights. Susan placed the K2 monitor where everyone could see. Nothing much happened at first. Then the K2 monitor started flashing. The guide asked if the ghost could turn one of the flashlights.

One of the flashlights turned on by itself.

During the next half-hour, the flashlight would turn on by itself at various times. The intensity of light would vary from a quick flicker to strong. That was pretty cool.

What got me feeling skeptical again was some kind of iPhone app the guide used, which supposedly picked up the ghost’s voice. All it did was use a mechanical voice to say random words. If a word seemed pertinent to what was happening, everyone got excited, but the majority of words were too random to mean anything.

After the balcony, we headed downstairs for a ladies room haunted by Lucy, and by ladies room, I do mean bathroom, stalls and all. It did seem a little silly to be sitting in the dark on the floor of a bathroom with a bunch of people, waiting for a paranormal experience. Still, we weren’t disappointed. The K2 monitor flickered and the flashlight went on and off several times. I have to add that I sat right next to the guide and the flashlights were between us. He never touched them. His hands were visible and I couldn’t see any kind of remote control.

After that, we switched guides and headed back to the hotel. We were in luck that night. The group who had booked Room 217 had cancelled their reservation, so the hotel allowed us access.

Very cool and exciting. Except, nothing happened.

We sat in 217 for about half-an-hour. The K2 meter flickered a bit. The flashlights didn’t turn on. Our new guide, who I think was a former cast member of “Ghost Adventures,” turned on a ghost box and told people to ask questions. We dutifully asked the ghost maid questions about the hotel and her life. Then the guide played back our questions and we listened for answers. There was some fuzzy sound after a question about Christmas. People got excited and I got more skeptical.

Then the guide turned on a radio that moved rapidly through the stations. Apparently, ghosts can communicate through the airwaves. Honestly, it just sounded like a lot of noise with an occasional clear word that, again, got folks excited but left me cold.

We left Room 217 and camped out in another empty room, 407, and it was basically a repeat performance.

The last hour was spent ghost hunting on our own in the concert hall. Susan and I once again headed for Edward’s bathroom. No knocking this time, but the K2 meter went off the hook, sometimes blinking rapidly and sometimes not giving any indications. We experimented, taking turns being alone in the bathroom or being joined by two other women. Interestingly, we had the most activity when there were four women in the bathroom, but when we were joined by a man, the meter went quiet. Edward seems to like the ladies.

Overall, it was a very fun experience that passed quickly. However, I did leave more skeptical than when I entered.

I can’t believe in intelligent hauntings. If there was an intelligent presence, why doesn’t it just speak up? Why are all the bells and whistles necessary to communicate?

Residual hauntings… hmm. I can believe in that to some extent. Experiences and emotions can be very powerful and I think residual energy can be left behind, not so much haunting as energy that still has the power to interact in the right circumstances.

As I wrote the above sentence, I was reminded of a Bible verse.

“The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.’“ (Genesis 4:10)

Not “your brother cries out,” but, “your brother’s blood.” Makes me think of when you go someplace where you know something bad has happened and you can feel it, an echo of bad energy. Same thing when you go someplace happy and you get the warm fuzzies.

I remain a skeptic, but one who had a great time and would gladly return to the Stanley for another spooky experience.