Why do I do a men's gift guide every year? Because I am, so they tell me, a man, so I should know, right?
Forgive me Creepy Corneristas, for waiting so long to update you on my road trip. I've either been without the Internet, or without time to sit down with my laptop. Now at 2am, I'm FINALLY able to update you. Despite my exhaustion, I MUST tell you about my stay at the Crescent Hotel.
From the moment Mr. Louise and I walked into the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, we both knew something was different about this hotel. It was like the hairs on the back of our necks stood up, and never really settled back down.
While it did not feel at all unwelcoming or "scary", the Crescent Hotel felt alive somehow. Upon walking into the lobby with the antique check-in desk and old stairs creaking in the corner by the elevator, I think a part of me knew this night was going to be different than the others I'd experienced so far. I admit that while I was enchanted by the Crescent, I was also wary. My senses were wide awake.
Originally assigned to a room on the third floor, when we checked in, Mr. Louise asked if we could be move to the second floor, as he had heard that the second floor was "more haunted" (this will be relevant later). The sweet and friendly concierge associate happily switched us to a room on the second floor, and after a quick rundown of the hotel's amenities we were directed to our room.
Going to our second floor room, I couldn't be happier. It was a large corner room with a balcony and a king size bed. The room was luxurious and modern, but retained a turn-of-the-century atmosphere – it was not hard to imagine "fancy folks" of bygone eras settling into our room after the long trek to Eureka Springs.
After Mr. Louise and I romped about our room for a bit like two giddy children, we made our way to the fourth floor for a historic ghost tour of the hotel.
Before I get too far into the ghost tour, I feel it's only fair to mention our most excellent host/tour guide, "Aunt Reba." I've been on a lot of ghost tours, but rarely have I had the pleasure of being guided by a person who strikes that precarious balance between being kind, respectful, educated, and enthusiastic. Aunt Reba more than struck that balance — even when discussing the hotel's dark and upsetting past, I felt safe in her knowledgable company.
Honestly, I just wanted to hug her, she was such a positive and inviting presence.
Aunt Reba took us throughout the hotel while explaining the hotel's history as a women's college and "cancer hospital" in the early part of the 20th century. I won't spend too much word count here talking about the Crescent's history — a quick Google search can fill you in — but sadly, the Crescent has not always been a site of rest, comfort, and relaxation. Aside from the report of a tragic suicide in its women's college days, the hotel was where a "Doctor" Norman Baker "treated" cancer patients i.e. concocted a "magic elixir" ("watermelon seed, brown corn silk, alcohol, and carbolic acid") that was both useless and "excruciating" when administered. Baker even kept some of the deceased patients' organs in jars, most likely as a means to cover his insidious tracks. Norman Baker was NOT a doctor, did NOT cure cancer, and was in all reality a con artist who went on to serve four years at Leavenworth.
Needless to say, while the Crescent has seen its share of elite, joyful vacationers, it has also been the site of much suffering and confusion. Knowing this, I tried to explore the Crescent in as positive a mindset as possible.
Positive or not, some strange things occurred. Of all the places my husband and I visited on the Creepy Corner Road Trip, the Crescent Hotel was by far the most "active."
While on Aunt Reba's tour, we ventured onto the third floor (the floor Mr. Louise and I were originally supposed to stay on). While standing in a hallway on the third floor, I felt dizzy and uncomfortable — slightly nauseous. I figured it was just lack of sleep and my old friend Anxiety kicking in, so I tried to work through it and focus on the tour. I later learned that Mr. Louise felt the exact same way in that hallway, he described it, "like the world was tilting."
No sooner did these feelings kick in for both of us, than Aunt Reba told our group that because of the third floor's dark past as something of a late-night passageway for Norman Baker's dead bodies (and the spectral presence of a nurse and a gurney with a corpse) that many people felt uncomfortable and unwell on the third floor. She even explained that she had had people burst into tears on the third floor for no apparent reason.
While I was not close to tears while on the third floor, I admit that I felt uneasy and unbalanced before she made mention of the third floor's reputation and history. As far as I know, my husband and I were not under the influence of any "ghost tour suggestion." We just felt off on the third floor — there was a rather intense heaviness, I'm so glad we switched floors.
Strangely enough, as soon as we headed to the second floor, my nausea and dizziness lifted, as did Mr. Louise's. Was it Reba's influence? Sensitivity to something we were not outwardly privy to? I can't quite wrap my brain around it.
The second floor was a cheerier place. Reba told us about a young, male ghost by the name of Michael who fell to his death while aiding in the construction of the hotel in the late 1800s and is said to haunt specifically room 218, as well as the whole of the second floor. She explained that Michael was something of a trickster who likes young women and — looking right at me — she suggested that he often pays young women on the floor a visit.
At the time I smiled, and laughed with Reba.
Fast forward to midnight that night.
Mr. Louise and I returned to our room from a night of dinner and drinks. Pulling my overnight bag onto the bed, I started rummaging around for my pajamas and toothbrush. Behind me was a window unit air conditioner, one I'd checked earlier to see if it had a timer. I had left it in the off position. It was pretty straightforward — it was a knob that either turned on for cooling, off, or on for heat. The knob was stiff and required a little muscle to turn.
As I looked for my pajamas, Mr. Louise standing across the room at the bathroom door brushing his teeth, the window unit suddenly turned on and blasted heat on my back.
It took me a moment to register what had happened.
"Did you mess with the window unit? Did you mean to turn on the heat?" I asked my husband.
"I haven't touched it at all," he answered.
"You didn't mess with it earlier?" I asked him.
"Nope," he answered with his toothbrush in his mouth. "I never touched it."
I turned to the window unit and turned it off. Neither of us had touched it AT ALL.
Mr. Louise and I looked at each other. "That was weird," he offered.
Yeah, no shit.
But, in keeping with the positive and happy vibes that Reba had imparted to us earlier, I decided that ghost of Michael or not, I was not going to let the heater incident scare me.
"Hello Michael! I hope you're well! Thanks for saying hello. I get a little scared, so maybe could you not visit us tonight?" I said as brightly as possible to the room.
While I felt comfortable in the room, the rest of the night was not entirely without incident.
Watching TV well into the wee small hours of the morning, I noticed the floor-to-ceiling curtains billowing, as if blown by a breeze. I didn't think much of it until I remembered that THE A/C WAS OFF, THE WINDOWS WERE CLOSED AND LOCKED, AND THERE WAS NO BREEZE.
How did I know there was no breeze? Because I got up twice to check the windows. Nothing.
The billowing of the curtains went on all night in my windless room. Perhaps it was a draft I wasn't aware of, or couldn't find, but seeing the curtains move from time to time – sometimes as if from a gust, sometimes just a slight tug — unnerved me more than I care to admit.
I didn't sleep great at the Crescent Hotel. Every time I dozed off, I'd wake up to... something. Movement in the room? Curtains? A sound like paper being crumpled up? While I never felt threatened, I couldn't quite relax. Either the atmosphere of the Crescent had gotten the best of me, or Michael (or Brecky the child ghost of the second floor!) was having a GRAND old time.
As I watched the sun rise on our balcony, I decided it was all okay and to just enjoy the experience. Like I said, I didn't feel unsafe, just a bit on edge.
So that, Creepy Corneristas, was my Crescent Hotel experience. I can't figure it out, but I don't really need to. It was the most unique experience I've had on this trip, or really, at any hotel. If you are so inclined, go read up on the Crescent Hotel. I've BARELY touched on its history — haunted or otherwise — in this post, there is just SO MUCH. It really is like no other.
What do you think about my experiences at the Crescent? Were they ghostly? Or was it just my imagination getting the best of me? A little bit of both? Tell me your theories!
Thanks for creepin' along with me, Creepy Corneristas. Want more Creepy Corner Road Trip details? Check out the Creepy Corner Facebook page for extra pictures and more of my ramblings!
And stay tuned for my next road trip update — Savannah!