Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spooky Nights at the Shilo Inn

In 1998, I worked for the law firm Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, Arizona. I worked in Bankruptcy at the time, but business was slow back then. Because we had a minimum hours requirement and I was having trouble meeting mine, I was "loaned out" to another practice group.

Funny, now that I think back I don't know what the group was called. I know they did oil and gas stuff out of the Salt Lake City office, but I don't know if that's what they were called. That part really doesn't matter. What's important is that I spent two weeks in Salt Lake City copying oil records at a government building.


I'm also not 100% on the name of the hotel I stayed at, but I do believe it was the Shilo Inn in downtown Salt Lake City. I remember I was across from the convention center and this hotel fits the bill.

It was during my second week in town that I had my "encounter."


The very first odd thing I remember happening was when I woke up one morning. I got out of bed and headed towards the bathroom, then found myself rapidly ducking as I turned the corner and saw a dark mass flying at me from out of the corner of my eye.

I remember feeling so confused. I was certain something had flown at me. Not just something, but possibly even someone. If I hadn't been standing there all by myself I would've sworn someone else had just rushed at me...or maybe even swung at me.

But there was nothing there. I was all by myself. I pretty much dismissed it after I took a shower. I was a little worried about my health actually...until I rationalized it that I was maybe just more asleep than I wanted to admit when I'd first stumbled out of bed.


Harder to dismiss was what happened over the next couple of nights. (Which I'll just lump generally together as "The Second Experience.")

I remember being awoken by something...sounds in my room. Almost like drawers being opened. When I turned on the lights nothing was out of place, though, and I was still all alone.

Yet, I had the oddest sensation I wasn't all alone. And for some reason I had the notion children were hiding in the drawers. It was a really creepy feeling, and like I alluded to before, it lasted more than one night.


When I got back to Phoenix I was talking to one of the project assistants who'd been born and raised in Salt Lake City. She had asked how I'd liked it there. I had really enjoyed the city. I'd had my nights free...and had gotten off at 5 p.m. most nights so I had time to explore a little. I'd actually ended up having a blast.

But I did happen to mention my weird experiences...just kind of jokingly. I never expected her to tell me what she did.

She didn't know which hotel it'd happened at, but she remembered when she'd been little that a lady had thrown several of her kids out the window before killing herself.

Could it be the sensation of children playing in the drawers of my room had been these children?

I don't know. I've never been able to confirm if that had really happened. (Heck, the project assistant might even have been pulling my leg for all I know! I doubt it, because she wasn't that type, but...I suppose there's always that possibility.)

If you happen to live in Salt Lake City or grew up there yourself and remember such an incident, or if you come across any news articles detailing one, I'd really appreciate hearing of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Introduction - Here there be ghosts

What is Haunt Jaunts?

Simply put, it's a travel blog for restless spirits.

I've had the idea for a while now. When my husband Wayne and I moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to Jacksonville, Florida, we took a day trip to St. Augustine. As we drove past the fort (officially known as the Castillo de San Marcos), I remember whispering to him, "Here there be ghosts."

We didn't go in that day. We just walked around the town, then went to eat at Harry's. We were seated upstairs and after we ordered I went to use the bathroom. (There are two, one downstairs and one up. I used the upstairs one.)

That's when I met my first ghost.

Well, not "met" exactly. Experienced would be a better word.


I was all alone in the bathroom, but I got the oddest sensation I wasn't. It's hard to explain. There was a chill in the air, and it felt as if there was a presence lingering. Watching. Waiting. I remember as I washed my hands looking in the mirror and scrutinizing the area behind me. I swear it felt like someone was right behind my shoulder, but no one was. I have never hustled out of a bathroom faster.

When I was once again back at the safety of the table, I felt foolish. I sort of laughed to Wayne that something odd had happened in the bathroom. But since nothing had really happened, I'd just had a weird feeling more than anything, there wasn't much to tell. He just shook his head and the matter was forgotten.


A few months later, though, I came across a book, Haunt Hunter's Guide to Florida. It's broken up into regions. Region Two caught my eye because it was where we lived. A couple of the places listed we'd either been to or had passed by, but some I hadn't heard of. Like "Site 13 - 46 Avenida Menendez."

"What's that?" I wondered, knowing we'd likely been by it. Avenida Menendez was one of the main thoroughfares through St. Augustine.

So I started reading and learned that at one time it had been the Chart House restaurant, but before that it had been a house. One that had a history of fire and a woman named Bridgett died during it. The author had talked to former restaurant owners who shared some experiences with odd happenings they'd seen. But the line that almost stopped my heart was, "Psychics came in, and they said there was an obvious presence in the ladies' room upstairs."

I pleaded with Wayne to take me back to St. Augustine that weekend. I had to know if Harry's was at 46 Avenida Menendez. (I knew it was, but I had to see it in person for myself.) Sure enough, we found that's exactly where it was...and I was convinced then that I, too, had experienced the presence in the upstairs bathroom.

Thus was born a new kind of travel regimen for us. I used Haunt Hunter's Guide to Florida as a travel guide to take us to other places in Florida where ghosts were alleged to dwell.


I think part of me was on a quest to again have an experience like the one I'd had at Harry's. Because that wasn't the first time I'd encountered ghosts on my travels. In the couple of years leading up to that, I'd had some other ghost experiences at other places. One a pub in Phoenix and one a hotel in Salt Lake City.

Mostly I was hoping to put myself in a place where I'd perhaps see an actual apparition and have the "Holy Grail" of ghost encounters. But what happened was that Wayne and I ended up going around and seeing a bunch of really cool places and having a blast in the process.


That's how I got the idea to chronicle our travels, and our travel dreams. Haunt Jaunts the blog will be a combination of places we've been, places we'd like to go, and interviews with others who have had similar experiences.

I welcome comments, be they suggestions for places to travel to that you've heard of where ghosts may live, or experiences you've had on your travels. Thanks for your interest!