Remember the movie "The Lost Boys" and the camera spans the surroundings of Santa Cruz? While your looking at an odd mixture of Santa Cruzians, the song from the Doors plays... "People are Strange". Well, I will explain why I thought the people of Santa Cruz were strange later on in this article. But, for right now, let me tell you the date of this event.
It's Saturday, April 21, 2007. I'm sitting at home relaxing, waiting on H.P.I. (Haunted and Paranormal Investigations) of Northern California's - paranormal investigator Michele Stump. Michele is driving me to Brookdale, California, a small community of the larger city of Santa Cruz. We will be staying at the world famous Brookdale Lodge. This is the place where Al Capone and other assorted gangsters would vacation. Many celebrities of the past frequented this establishment such as, Marilyn Monroe, President Herbert Hoover, and Mae West. The Brookdale Lodge was featured on Unsolved Mysteries, because of the little ghostly girl by the creek named "Sarah". Yep! The Brookdale Lodge is haunted. Some psychics say, by 49 ghosts! Ross Eric Gibson - author of "Historical Memories Haunt
Brookdale" says: "a girl in a formal dress runs across the lobby, then disappears into thin air... hidden rooms and secret passages are mysterious vestiges of Brookdale Lodge's rich past." 1870 is the year that the Brookdale Lodge came into existence. I will discuss the Brookdale Lodge more as we get further into this article.
For right now, let me tell you a story that Michele told me on our drive to Santa Cruz. I asked Michele how she got interested in the paranormal and this is what she had to say:
"When I was 8 years old, I lived on the Forni Ranch in the Sugarloaf area of El Dorado County. The ranch was haunted. I came to realize that, when my brother was thrown off his bed. One time there was no electricity in the house, I was bored, so I built a card house. I used a deck of playing cards and something mysteriously knocked it over. I used to hear footsteps, glasses clanking, and upstairs there was always laughter. Of course there was no explanation for these noises, because there was no living human being around, just me. One day, an entity walked past me and ran up the stairs and slammed the door. I would hide in the barn until my family returned, I was so scared. I believe the entity was "Old Man Forni" who died at this ranch. The entity would tip over kerosene lamps and when we moved from the ranch, the ranch finally caught fire and everyone thought that "Old Man Forni" did it."
Finally, Michele and I arrive at the Brookdale Lodge, she played "Rush", "The Police", "Primus" and "The Rolling Stones" on the car stereo to get us primed for what was to come. I was all rocked out by a "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the time I reached the Lodge. When we arrived we went through registration and then straight to the buffet. I had lasagna, coffee, apple pie and cheese cake while we listened to all of the presentations. The Northern California Paranormal Conference was awesome! The itinerary included: Gloria Young of "Ghost Trackers", Shannon McCabe & Alicia Perry of "H.P.I. Paranormal", Nancy Bradley - world renowned psychic and trance medium, Robert Reppert - owner and head investigator for "Gold Rush Ghosts Investigations" Robert Reppert showed us some of his million dollars worth of ghost hunting equipment. Gave us some good tips, such as how he tries to disprove a haunting and when there is nothing left to dispel, then it only leaves the abnormal or paranormal.
As I surveyed the crowd, some of the paranormal investigators I recognized, or was able to meet this day were sitting around intensely listening to Nancy Bradley and the other speakers. Douglas Carnahan, President & Lead Investigator for N.P.I. (Nor Cal Paranormal Investigations), Jennifer and Anthony Baca; Shane Thornton, Lead Investigator of N.P.I., Carol Gillis of H.P.I., Tim Hawkins of H.P.I., Brian Colbert of H.P.I. Mary Casiano of H.P.I., Anne Temple, a psychic medium, Jonathan Russell and Kristen Sheley, Researcher for H.P.I. There were about 75 other guests, but I didn't get the chance to meet them all, we were so busy with the conference activities.
I did get the chance to interview Elayne Higbee who works the front counter of the Brookdale Lodge. She said, once, a woman customer approached her with major excitement because she had taken a photo of her spouse. Behind her spouse was a full figure apparition of a man! When they took the photo no one was around.
At MRA Fine Arts (MRAfinearts.com) - aka "Gallery That and Gallery This", I interviewed the artist, Martha Applegate, and her close friend Jesus L. Galvan. Jesus told me he once saw "Sarah" (the little girl that drowned in the creek that runs through the Brookroom of the Broodale Lodge) run past him at the Lodge's bar. He told me that Al Capone and other assorted gangsters would stay at the lodge, and at times the gangsters would have secret meetings in secret hidden rooms of the lodge. While they conducted these secret meetings, sometimes someone would be murdered! According to folklore, they buried the murder victims underneath the flooring of the Brookdale Lodge. He goes on to say that there were whiskey stills nearby also, and he heard that some of the other unlucky gangsters of the Brookdale were buried in unmarked graves in the surrounding mountain areas. Jesus says that once, when he was in the woods near the Brookdale, he came upon some ghostly apparitions of a Vietnamese or other Asian family. Martha and Jesus discussed that at the art gallery a customer walked in and was looking at Martha's gorgeous paintings. She discussed one of the paintings with the person next to her, only to see that person dissipate into nothingness. This freaked her out and she ran out of the art gallery horrified! Jesus even says it has been reported that there are ghostly mountain pumas in the mountaneous areas near Brookdale. After hearing all of these stories from Jesus and Martha, Michele and I decided to check out some of the local restaurants. We stopped at Tyrolean Inn Restaurant & Beer Garden (www.tyroleaninn.com). Wow! Delicious looking food but we couldn't get a table. We happened to see Shannon McCabe, President of H.P.I. Paranormal and conference organizer, there having dinner with some of the other H.P.I.'ers. They were dining on German food and some awesome looking "hard" coffees. The restaurant looked pretty elegant, too rich for my blood! Tyrolean Inn restaurant is located in Ben Lomond.
Finally, we found a restaurant we could get a table at, this was Don Quixote, they serve delicious Mexican food.
We enjoyed a live band called "Extra Large" that was playing Latin tunes such as "Mambo Jambo". I had an enchilada and burned my face off with some salsa. Michele and I found other H.P.I. team members at this restaurant and we talked about the conference and the upcoming ghost hunt of the Brookdale Lodge.
When Michele and I arrived back to the Brookdale Lodge, we met up with everyone at the Log Cabin. This cabin was a large wooden cabin, attached to the Brookdale with a huge roaring fire place. Nancy Bradley was there greeting us and lead us in a spooky seance. Nancy described various spirits in the cabin and what they were doing. I shook hands with Nancy, she was a very humble, sweet lady with a gracious smile. During the seance with Nancy Bradley, a pretty girl named, Maria Eivers, started shaking and crying. She looked incredibly distressed. She claimed that she felt a feeling of total sadness in the log cabin, and that she could not control herself. Was she actually feeling someone's pain? Shannon McCabe and Carol Gillis quickly took her out of the Log Cabin for some fresh air. Nancy Bradley said that two brothers, the Clayton brothers, who died in a car accident haunt this cabin along with a few other entities. She could feel the Clayton Brothers presence. Roger Reynolds, security for the Brookdale Lodge, was with us in the seance and told me that he has seen "Sarah" in the front lobby, Fireside Room, and the Brook Room. He says that every once in a while the entities of the hotel turn the power and lights on and off. We experienced the heater turnining itself on in the Brookroom during the ghost hunt later that night. He also says that the infamous drowning victim "Sarah" is actually Sarah Johnson, age9 years old, who died on July 1, 1936.
After the seance, the band at the hotel started playing some rock and roll, they jammed to the song "Elvira". The crowd was a mixture of Bohemian culture with hippie mix. If you think there are no more hippies in California, just head out to Santa Cruz, this is where you will find them. A strange assortment of dancers with strange outfits and strange hairdos. This is where I thought of the Doors song..."People are Strange", it was something I had not experienced before, something out of a movie! After a while of hanging around I discovered these folks were not strange at all though.. they were quite cool.
Michele and I went to Cherie Vincent's hotel room, room 42, and played with her Ouija Board. Cherie has 2 small rose tattoos on her neck, they were once vampire bite tattoos. Cherie often uses the Ouija Board and had her sage ready to dispel any demonic entities. We said a prayer before commencing on the Ouija Board. We tuned into a child of the hotel that spelled out the word "die" on the Ouija Board. Cherie gave me "Directions on how to use the Ouija Board" material to read over, too bad I didn't read this before I started playing!
When Michele and I left Cherie's room, I was greeted by Shane Thornton of N.P.I. He told me that N.P.I. found some good evidence, one of their members felt a spiderweb touch on their body, yet there was no spider web in sight. They captured orbs and what looked like miniaturized lightning strikes on film, including flashes of light. One photo depicts a whitish mist. Strange.
The "official" ghost hunt began when the band ended their set. We went from room to room and captured all kinds of orbs on our photos. One rather impressive photo was captured by Kristen Sheley, a researcher & photography expert for H.P.I. Paranormal. She captured a fast moving solid white orb on her photo at 1:55 a.m. The photo shows very good details of this moving orb. And none of the expert investigators could dispell it. Some investigators heard laughter in the Brook Room and a couple of investigators heard a ghostly voice say 'shhh'. Michele and I discovered many secret passages that we investigated on our own, including a burned out area of the hotel. The fire damage came from a 1956 fire. At 2:45 a.m. my cell phone (which was fully charged) died out for no apparent reason during the investigation. Shannon McCabe tells me that it is common for batteries to drain during investigations because entities "draw" energy from wherever they can, sometimes leading to a dead cell phone. Bummer.
On this night, there were ghost hunters, bikers, Bohemian/hippies at the hotel. What an assorted mix of people from all walks of life. On one hotel door, there was a hanging stuffed bat. A strange place indeed!
Sunday morning, I saw the largest black raven land on the balcony of the hotel where I was staying. At 3:34 a.m. in Michele's hotel room, 3 faint knocks on the bedside cabinets were heard. Michele's room was room 45, next to Room 46, the well-known haunted room that an Australian couple was brave enough to stay in.
When we awoke, Michele and I had breakfast at Brookdale Cafe and Grill. I enjoyed pancakes, cheese & ham omelet, coffee and hashbrowns. I was nice, refreshing and not strange. I was full and ready for my trip back to Sacramento, CA. How nice, Michele is driving and I can take a snooze on the way home. What's that? I have to be the navigator...sigh. At least Sunday was a nice day, because Saturday night it downpoured rain. A nasty storm for an incredible ghost hunt!
For more information on Gilbert's Brookdale Lodge, check out their website at: www.brookdalelodge.com . For information regarding H.P.I. Paranormal and future conferences, check out their website at: www.HPIparanormal.net
Paul Dale Roberts, Freelance Writer
5606 Moonlight Way
Elk Grove, CA 95758
JazmaPika [at] cs [dot] com
916 203 7503