On Wednesday, July 26th, after an afternoon at the Marjorie Russell Textile Research Center in Carson City, Nevada, I headed up to Virginia City. I’d never been there before--I knew there’d be a few old buildings, maybe a museum or two. I figured I could do some research on gold mining, and submerse myself into the atmosphere of the old west.
I checked into the Gold Hill Hotel (supposedly the oldest hotel in Nevada) on the outskirts of town. I’d booked a room in the older, original part of the hotel, thinking it would be more interesting to stay there than in the more expensive, recently built addition.
Now, before I go on, I have to confess that I’m a ghost and haunted-locations fanatic. I frequently try to book haunted rooms in haunted hotels when I’m traveling. My family laughs at me (lovingly, I’m sure) whenever I whip out my cell phone to try to record an Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). I watch the shows. I even thought of joining a local ghost-hunters group.
So yes, I was excited that I’d be staying in ‘Rosie’s Room’ at the Gold Hill Hotel. It was a haunted room, with videos on YouTube to attest to the haunting.
The hotel was quiet when I arrived. My car was the only one in the parking lot. The place was quaint and my room was, well it was small and pink. There were a few small bug carcasses showing through the thin canopy above the bed. As a good friend later pointed out, the canopy was doing its job.
The floors in the room were slanted—I wish I’d had a marble as I would have videotaped that sucker moving from one side of the room to the other. Proof of ghosts.
The room was old, it had character, and I was excited to stay there for the night.
“My shift is over in a few minutes. You’re the only one staying here.” I looked at the blonde hotel manager, a woman about my age. She held the room key towards me. “If you need anything, well, you probably won’t need anything. The owners live across the way. If there’s an emergency, just go out onto the balcony and yell. Hell, if there’s an emergency, dial 911.”
“Uh, okay.” I couldn’t decide if I should make a joke or cancel my reservation. I went out onto the balcony that overlooked the 2-lane highway leading to the heart of Virginia City. A ferociously loud motorcycle drove past.
I heard Blondie behind me come out onto the balcony. “It really is safe. I’ve been here five years and nothing’s ever happened.”
Ah, shit. Well that’s tempting fate, isn’t it?
I took the key from her hand. “Are there any places open for dinner in Virginia City?” I’d come this far so I might as well stay. Plus, if anything did happen, I argued with myself, I’d have a great story to tell. Assuming I survived.
By 8 PM I was back at the hotel, having eaten enough at a place in Virginia City to last me until the next day. I went downstairs to the lobby to write and camped out on an old wooden table. There truly were no other people, which was good. I had the whole hotel to myself.
With no one there, no TV, no radio, I thought I’d crank out thousands of words, sitting at that wooden table. But my ears were more active than my fingers and every cricket outside and every drip-drip-drip of the faucet in the bar held my attention. I walked around and peaked out the windows into the darkening light. The huge orb spider in its web stopped me from cracking open that window. Drip-drip-drip. I felt like Jack Torrance. All I needed to complete the scenario was a wife, a child, and a drinking problem.
After forcing out less than a paragraph, I made my way back up to Rosie’s Room. It was time to face the haunting.
Sitting there alone, I decided there was no way in hell I was about to do an EVP session. Or invite anything, anyone, to come visit with me. The only thing I could do was lock my door (there were three locks because, yeah, it’s safe), tuck myself into bed, and hope for the best.
I left the light on in the bathroom.
Eventually I fell asleep, waking up an hour later to some noise, imagined or not. Eyes wide open, I listened for the noise again but didn’t hear a thing. I fell asleep again. Then woke again, repeating the pattern until morning.
Did I ever see anything? No. Feel anything? No. Sense anything? No. However, I sure as shit did not get a good night’s sleep.
I was going to spend the day tooling around Virginia City, playing tourist, and I knew I’d be too tired to drive home that night. So guess what I did? Booked another night. Because, why not? I was in a different room, an even smaller room, but it wasn’t (supposedly) haunted. There were also other guests staying at the hotel and I heard them moving around, making alive noises.
I slept deep and well that second night.
If I go back to Virginia City, which I'm sure I will, I'll stay again at the Gold Hill Hotel. It was an experience and I'm sure there are more to be had at that there hotel.
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This snippet is from my WIP, a historical romance set in early 1880s California. Without giving an ounce of plot away, the (tentative) title of the book is 'Gold Digger'. Enjoy!
"I know I’m being childish, but I don’t want to marry. We are not in love.”
“How can you not be in love with the man?” Mary Beth’s voice rose an octave. “He is brave. Deliciously handsome. Why, I would be delighted to marry him if I were you.”
“Exactly! You should be the one—“
“Winifred Lucinda Bergman! I’ve just about had enough of your complaining." Winnie’s mother slammed the door as she entered the room. “Your father has worked hard to give you a good home and to make sure you land yourself in one that’s just as good.”
“I know. I know. I’m sorry, Mother.” Winnie hung her head in shame. Her shame was not that she’d complained, but that she desired a different life. She wanted an adventure, like her brother, Frederic. He’d left for the West Indies five years prior and had not been home since. His letters had filled her mind and heart with the places he'd been and the people he’d met. If only she could have that life and not the life she was consigned to.
It wasn’t fair.