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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apologies to the Ghost (a true story)

by Sarah Raplee



Last summer, my husband and I decided to explore parts of southeastern Oregon. We’d read about a State Heritage Site called the Frenchglen Hotel at the base of Hart Mountain. With the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge straight up the fault-block mountain to the rear and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wetlands across the road, the remote Harney County inn seemed the perfect base camp for our explorations of this rugged, sparsely-populated landscape. 

A few years back, the Oregonian newspaper ran a travel article about the hotel and the surrounding country. Built in 1924 on hardpan so thick it took dynamite to plant shade trees, the eight-room American four-square inn offers rustic accommodations and gourmet dining. Bonus: there were rumors hat the Frenchglen Hotel is home to at least one ghost.

For us the idea of staying in a haunted hotel (Do-it-yourself appendectomy is definitely ghost-worthy by Richard Cockle, The Oregonian) only added to the hotel's charm. An innkeeper had died in the nineteen-seventies when he tried to remove his own appendix. (Did I mention how isolated this place is? Population 11.) Strange goings-on had been reported by employees and guests over the years. They felt the innkeeper's spirit continued to watch over the Frenchglen Hotel he so loved from the Other Side.

Or was it someone else?

I made reservations for us at Frenchglen.

HOTEL AT FRENCHGLEN
You have to understand that my husband has a quirky sense of humor. He claims to have a Bucket List which he’s never written down. Until we stayed at Frenchglen, he’d always claimed one of the items on his Bucket List was to see a ghost. (Another is to be abducted by aliens, LOL.) We’d accompanied a ghost hunting group in Iowa years ago, and he’d heard voices, but he’d never seen an apparition. 

Over the years, we’d watched various ghost-hunting reality shows. He’d always laughed at the guys who challenged ghosts to make themselves known and then screamed like little children when the ghosts did what they asked. He figured if a spirit appeared to him at Frenchglen, he’d enjoy the experience.

Our first night was relatively uneventful. We heard a few strange noises, but nothing we couldn’t write off as the creaks and groans of an old building or noises caused by the evening wind. 

The next day was amazing: exploration, unbelievable vistas and glimpses of the rare Kiger mustangs that are direct descendants of Spanish horses that escaped in the fifteen-hundreds. We fell into our Frenchglen Hotel bed exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep, or so I thought.
KIGER MUSTANGS
I awoke when my spooning husband shook my arm and then whispered into my ear from behind. “Wake up.”

His hand was ice cold. “I’m awake,” I whispered back, wondering why we were whispering. 

“Do you see a woman walking around the bed?”

I peered around our tiny room. There was barely room to walk around the double bed. Nothing moved in the dim starlight from the open window. Then the floor creaked between the foot of the bed and the door. Every hair on my body lifted. “Where is she?”

“At the foot of the bed. She’s talking in a foreign language and walking back and forth around the bed. She stops to pat the bed every once in a while. You don’t see her?” 

I didn’t. But the wooden floorboards creaked in a pattern as if someone slowly paced around the foot of the bed, then back the other way.Creak, creak, creak. I wondered if the ghost could hear my thundering heartbeat.“I don’t see her, but I hear her walking.”


“I can’t believe you don’t see her or hear her talking.” A shiver wracked him, shaking us both. “I’m cold to the bones. That’s the first thing I noticed when I woke up. Then she appeared. Are you cold?”

I wasn’t. The room had barely reached tolerable after a scorching day. My fingers found his cold forearm, cold shoulder, cold thigh. “I’m not cold, but you’re freezing.”

“I never thought I’d be afraid to see a ghost, but I’m scared shitless!”

“It just feels so bizarre,” I said, “so unreal. Maybe that’s why it’s scares people.” 

We lay in silence. I listened to the ghostly footsteps circle the bed and then reverse several times. I wished I could see her. “What does she look like?”

“An older woman, short and a little plump, with her hair pulled back in a bun. She’s wearing a white blouse and long dark skirt, like from the eighteen-hundreds or early nineteen hundreds. And no color, like a black-and-white movie.”

“Can you make out her features?”

“Not clearly.”

I thought over everything he’d told me. “What language is she speaking?”

“I don’t know. It’s not Spanish or French.”

“Does she seem upset?”

He hesitated. “No, I think she’s showing off the room and the bed. She jabbers and then gestures at the wall and pats the quilt.”

I thought about that. “Do you think she knows we’re here? Maybe she’s residual energy, not intelligent—like a recording that plays over and over.”

“I’m not sure. But whenever she pats the foot of the bed, she goes on either side of my feet.”

This continued for a few more minutes, and then my husband reported she faded away. The creaking pattern of footsteps also stopped.

After a few minutes of silence, my husband cleared his throat. “Since it’s our last night here, when we went to bed I mentally invited any ghosts that might be around to visit. I really thought it would be cool to see one. But she scared the crap out of me. Now I’m embarrassed at my reaction. She seemed friendly.” 

He sighed. “Wish I could apologize.”

“Do it in your head,” I said. “If she heard you the first time, she’ll hear you the second.”

We lay awake for a long time with our senses on high alert. The only other occurrence of note happened when we finally started to drift off. A bang so loud that the floor and bed shook and I let out a little screech scared the living daylights out of both of us. 

I guess we’ll never know what it meant
.
This is a true account of a recent experience. I wrote down the details right after it happened so I’d remember them. Have you had an encounter with the Unexplained? If so, how did you react?    ~Sarah


© 2012 Sarah Raplee

8 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Wow, Sarah! Fantastic and frightening all at the same time! I've only had breakfast at French Glen a couple of times never spent the night. There are people of all nationalities who stay at the hotel, but now you have me wanting to go to the Harney County Museum and see if I can figure out who that woman could have been.

That hotel is only 40 miles from our place in Princeton.

Earlier in the month I wrote about my encounter with the man in the fog on the mountain. I also as a teenager riding my horse on the mountain behind our house believe I was watched by a Nez Perce warrior. Junebug and I were on a usual summer ride. No saddle, I was barefoot and laying backwards on her back with my head pillowed by her quarter horse rump, staring up at the sunlight filtering through the aspen leaves and pine needles. Junebug snorted and stopped. Her body quivered and she looked to the right. I turned my head and that direction as I rose to a sitting position and that's when I saw him. A warrior on an appaloosa, a staff in one hand. the horse turned and they disappeared into the trees. A chill trickled down my skin and I urged Junebug toward home.

Judith Ashley said...

How cool! or would it be...

Sarah Raplee said...

Paty, what an amazing experience! I'd love to know who the woman might have been, too. Let me know if you figure it out. :)

Sarah Raplee said...

LOL! Exactly, Judith!

Anonymous said...

Nice story Sarah...but as you know I have heard this one previously....but well written and succinct...however may I add, I do believe the Ghost innkeeper was speaking in an easter europen language...german comes to mind..just a 'feeling' I get.
Best!..send us more great adventure like stories my dear!
Your 'psychic pal' -K

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, K - knowing you, I'm guessing you are right. At times like this, it's nice to have a psychic friend! ~Sarah

Diana Mcc. said...

Having talked to your honey and you right after this happened, I know how shook up He was from the experience. That's a once in a life time experience. I've yet to encounter a ghost, but wouldn't mind as long as it was friendly!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Diana! The only thing that really scared me was that loud bang later on.