Looking for caves we spent a long hot day slogging through the forest near Toronto. The bugs were really bad and we were pretty much disoriented for a significant part of our search. Jeff had located some deep conical sinkholes on a high-rez aerial photo. It appeared that here were 4 or five of these pits somewhere out in the bush. we began by following fields, then a fence line that disappeared in the forest and then finally, just us, the mosquitoes and a bear.
Not having drunk enough water, this creepy looking tree seemed to have qualities other than just natural ones. I imagined it as some sinister kind of entity, inhabited by all sorts of odd figments of my imagination – but sinkholes and finding caves, were those a figment of our imaginations?
This is what a burn site looks like – typical of the kind of terrain a tree planter works in.
The planter is a guy called Don who was a film student in Ryerson, he carries ‘container stock’ and is using a pottie (potty) to put his trees in the ground.
The idea is that you take your seedling out of your planting bag – roots neatly encased in a little cardboard roll – and drop it down the red tube that Don is holding. At the bottom of the tube is a spike that is driven into the ground. The measure of a well planted tree is whether the duff (organic matter) has been kicked out of the way first. Stomping on a lever at the bottom of the pottie, the spike opens up and the seedling is dropped into the hole that the spike has made.
Don looks pretty clean so either he was bathing in the swamp near the camp or I took the picture within about five minutes of beginning work. I remember by the end of that two week contract we were totally black and nobody bathed, firstly it attracted bugs and secondly the leaches in the swamp were these huge ribbony things that would flitter through the water toward whoever was in it.
One of my jobs was flagging the land and I would be out there marking off the planting areas for the next day long after the planters had all gone back to camp. I remember one evening I was way off in some burn site and the sun had already set, it was real spooky and I was convinced that there was some creature following me – maybe it was a bear or coyote or something, but at the time I was thinking it was a Sasquatch.
I believe this burn site was somewhere near Bancroft.
Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.
We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).
So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on
1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.
8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).
9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.
Is this a shrunken head or just a severed head? I’m kicking myself now for not having bought it. How would I have explained him at the airport?
I have a collection of various tribal artifacts. The supposed head would have been made in Hong Kong, but it would go just fine on the wall next to this great big Congo mask that I’ve got – I call it Hannibal the Cannibal because it has a mouth of jagged teeth.
On the subject of tribal, check out my malagan mask (I’ts real)
Cant imagine where some of those reflections were coming from
I saved the strangest till last in my story of the Broadview Hotel in Wichita.
As mentioned in previous posts, the Hotel is supposedly haunted. Though the topic of hauntings intests me, I am by no means a believer. I would like to find evidence of paranormal activity, but aside from the “haunted tree” in Burlington, there has been nothing that I have come across that leaves me convinced – and even the haunted tree was not really a conclusive experience – but it was certainly wierd.
Anyway, I had been returning to my room after a few drinks down in the bar and in riding one of the old brass and mirror elevators up to the third floor, I was plagued by a jerky ride and flickering light – that left me wondering whether I was about to become stuck. Looking into the mirrors all round was quite dis-orientating and for a brief second, I was left with the impression that there may have been some kind of filmy human form that appeared down one of the endless panels of reflected glass. It wasn’t really spooky, just a little unusual and as I said – I was coming back from the bar downstairs and had already beeen primed by stories of the supernatural. Anyway, I looked around to see what might be standing next to me, thinking that the reflected image was someone else in the elevator, but there was nothing there.
The power of suggestion can do some strange things to the mind. as I said, I am not a believer, by the haunted tree in Burlington really had me wondering. (Thats another story)
Led by our flapper guide we filed down a stairway into a forgotten segment of the 1920′s. We saw a tunnel (filled in at its mouth), and numerous rooms and abandoned bits of this and that. This picture is of the old boiler; an impressive old machine with doors that hung open like gaping eye-sockets.
Much of our trip beneath the hotel centered either around various stories to do with Al Capone or Clarence the ghost. As the story goes, Clarence who had been working at the hotel – or was it visiting, I cant remember, discovered his wife having an affair with one of the other guests. He is said to have shot her and then thrown himself off a balcony to his death.
As for traces of Clarence – my room (301) sure sounded haunted, the windows shook and rattled all night with a vicious Kansas wind. I got up around 01:00am to try and do something about the window, but for whatever reason, I could not locate the exact source of the noise. As for cold, I was wandering around in the dark, bumping into things and by the time I got back to bed, I was totally numb and nursing a toe that I stubbed up against the bar fridge.
As for sight of Clarence, I cant say that there was anything in there that really suggested a paranormal presence. The following morning I overheard Tony, telling the front desk something of an unusual phone call story – it sounded like the sort of thing that Clarence was known to do; just simple stuff, no chains rattling or headless apparitions.
If you are dealing with demons “you gotta be authorative”, or thats what Jim said on that day up in the Muskokas. Patrick Cross, Jim, Bev and I had gone up to Cooper’s Falls to exorcise a house of whatever was living there. I was just a spectator – observer for reasons that I am not willing to divulge at this time.
As far as authority goes, this lady had it all – no messing with her. Most of the people on the tour were a little tipsy by now – they needed discipline. This fellow standing next to the guide was told he was now called Al, last man in the group, his job to ensure that the tour stayed together. We were issued maps so that nobody got lost in the rooms beneath the floor.
Apparenttly Al Capone had a favorite drinking spot, “Al’s Room” and the speak -easy that operated down there was joined to other areas of the city by tunnels. Six hundred at a time packed the space beneath the Broadview Hotel. And of course Clarence was sometimes seen down there (the ghost). “Keep snapping away, someone always finds orbs on their camera”.
Though Patrick and Jim say they now refuse to have anything to do with demons, “Way to dangerous”, I felt safe going down there with this lady. I am sure she would quickly whip a malevolent presence into line.
Well now! Staying at the Broadview would be a hollow experience if one made no attempt to follow up on the Ghost story. Clarence as an entity is well known around there.
By all descriptions Clarence seems harmless enough, but as with any place thats haunted, it seems that a one-off paranormal situation is the exception not the norm. Some have felt cold patches in their rooms, others shaking at the doors. A disembodied voice – a small child, is sometimes heard in the halls at night. Apparently Clarence likes messing with the phone – endless dialing down to the front desk from such and such a room, but when the staff go up to investigate, there is nobody there. The lady who ran the tour told us that sometimes orbs appear on people’s pictures.
I wonder if some places are more conducive to paranormal activity than others? I have long been interested in the lay-line theory. I know from a few examinations in Ontario where I have accompanied the highly acclaimed paranormal investigator – Patrick Cross that paranormal entities seldom occur in ones. In Burlington – Patrick’s place of residence, the very streets are oozing spirits – here a poltergeist, there a moving statue and of course the infamous tree – posessed of an evil energy – I myself almost came “acropper” at that dismal spot, but thats another story.
Lay lines, you have to wonder, they supposedly stretch between places of cultural and religious significance – threads quite plainly seen by some, only felt by others. Witchita is dead-smack center of the continent, a veritable power house of culture and religious worship. Odd though it might seem, BTK was some kind of church elder at Wichita’s Christ Luthern Church and he is known to have spent time in the Broadview Hotel. Not being an expert in lay line divination, I wonder what a dowser would find in the plains around the city.
This picture above is the bar in the Broadview Hotel – a beautiful tin ceiling’d space with stained glass and plenty of pints of my new favorite beer – “Amber Bok”. The Flapper tour that takes residents down to the basement starts in the bar – led by the lady on the left in the red dress.
Nah, I’m not talking about the impression at sunset.
I just got back from a Conference at the Broadview Hotel in Wichita. It was nice to get down to a place that was relatively warm, or so I believed – the Texans thought quite different. I suppose the sky had something to do with the intense cold front that was moving in, the wind was just howling and it got to the point that my eyes were watering so bad, I just had to hope the auto focus on the camera was doing all the work.
This picture was taken from the corners of Douglas and Waco streets. And to the right – “The Broadview” a haunted place – literally put chills up my spine.
It certainly was atmospheric – a beautiful Victorian interior, walked by both the living guests and also those who had lived there – the dead, though it is said that some dont know it yet.
Is it better the ghost you know than the ghost you dont?
I took what they call the flapper tour and was aquainted with the hotel’s rather sinister basement…… And Clarence, “their ghost in residence”. “He generally lives in one specific room – a room with a balcony, but we dont tell guests exactly which room, but as we are starting renovation soon he has started moving around”. “Oh good Lord”, the lady from Georgia muttered, “I’m sleeping with my light on”.
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)