redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for West Virginia

WV: Haunted? My Night At Aspen Manor

OCTOBER 14, 2014 | DAY 13 of #ONTHEROAD1014

It’s important for me to express, as I go into this post about the haunted hotel in West Virginia, that the staff at Aspen Manor was very nice. I paid $60 dollars for the room we stayed in and now it’s just another interesting story for me to share.

***

I had booked our room at the Aspen Manor a few hours before driving into Wheeling, West Virginia. On my hotel.com app it stated that it was a nice B & B and former Catholic retreat. As a bad Catholic and someone who had her road trip blessed by a priest days before traveling, I found this information to be comforting. But as we drove up the long dirt road to the main house, passing smaller homes on the property, it was beginning to feel incredibly creepy. I tend to be able to separate heebie-jeebies and actual paranormal activity pretty well, and I was getting some weird energy from this place. A former mansion of sorts, that unbeknownst to me had been converted to a convalescent home at some point, was inside lit with hospital florescent lighting.

The lobby had a nice big-screen tv, that had the Discovery Channel playing in the background. It’s a pretty modest establishment. They had to photocopy my ID and credit card for later processing. Usually this would really weird me out, but then we were in the middle of West Virginia at 9:00pm at night. My identity and impeccable credit is still intact. The receptionist was a young friendly man, he definitely had the energy of someone juggling a million little things, but managed to still keep a smile on his face.

He took us down a long hallway, past a cafeteria-style icebox (you know the kind that serial killers store bodies in their garage – I’ve watched too much Criminal Minds) to our room; explaining how this portion of the manor had once been a convalescent home. I was sleeping where old people could have potentially and probably died!!!

I believe as the East Coast is much older than the West Coast its paranormal activity is off the charts. There are pissed-off spirits all up and down the east coast, heck the Warren’s home of possessed items is in Connecticut; and although I deeply respect the work of Ed and Lorraine Warren, I have no desire to ever visit their basement.

Our room was basically a hospital room converted into a hotel room. A dresser and matching queen bed were in it. To the left of the door to the room was a white sink affixed to the wall like you’d see in a public restroom room and the toilet was in a closet. I refused to use the toilet and close the door, afraid of being trapped inside, so I just told Dan to not look. The door to the outside grounds seemed to not lock, I couldn’t figure out how to lock the door and prayed we weren’t murdered in our sleep. My cell phone caused the turned-off TV to make weird sounds and I swore to Bowerbird that we would be going to sleep with the lights on. I never took off my shoes. There was something incredibly “off” about this place…

I wanted to post on this blog, so I went out to the lobby and tried use the wi-fi. This is when we had a little more time with the front desk/manor manager. He showed us the built in chapel on the property, and expressed he’d personally never had a paranormal experience, but other people said that they had. He told us bones has been found in the basement and paranormal investigators had come to the property before, but he didn’t know the results. The chapel was nice, but had limited lighting and did look like the perfect backdrop to a scene out of American Horror Story. He also pointed out the rest of the main house down a dark and hardly lit hallway that resembled the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

I’ve later read it was only chicken bones, but I still think the property harbors spirits that those sensitive to energy and aware of dark energy can feel. I know I might sound like a crazy hippy, but this is my truth.

As we were walking back to the lobby another older couple came in who were traveling to Pennsylvania from Ohio for a wedding and were caught in the storm outside. A storm outside!! Classic horror movie set up. It was nice knowing there was another couple staying in the creepy senior citizen side of the bed and breakfast, but it wasn’t any less weird. Deciding to leave at the reasonable hour of 5am, Bowerbird and I went to sleep fully clothed (me with my shoes on). I slept ok and at one point turned off one of the bed side lamps, I was getting slightly more comfortable. But the second our alarm went off, we were up and out of there. I didn’t put on makeup. Bowerbird put on his shoes. We dropped our key off at the abandoned front desk and were on our way. The sun wasn’t up yet but we were ready to leave. Driving away we saw a few deer grazing on the grass beside the road and it made the tense experience better.

Nothing floated by me and I didn’t see any apparitions. As I’m writing this out I know I could seem like I’m just being sensitive, but there are spirits on that property and their energy is affecting this plane of existence. The rest of the day our phones would never hold a charge. We always charged our phones in the car, no problem, but that day they just wouldn’t charge and completely died on us later that day. Also when I went to change at a McDonalds somewhere in Pennsylvania and put on some makeup, my face wash had leaked all over my toiletries bag. I had this bag zipped up, there was no reason for the face wash to have leaked – except for maybe some spirit mayhem.

I’ve read reviews of Aspen Manor and people go on about the beautiful grounds and how nice the house is. I didn’t get to experience any of that. I arrived in the middle of the night and stayed in a hospital room. When I purchased the cheapest room, I thought I was getting a small bedroom with a shared bathroom situation, not the last days of the Golden Girls. I don’t discourage anyone from going to Aspen Manor, but I do think I need to work on my spiritual strength before I decide to spend a long period of time on the East Coast. It totally messes with my West Cost vibe.

 

Sorry, I have no photos. I was really creeped out. I didn’t want anything to come up on my camera.

Continue Reading

WV: What’s In Wheeling?

wheeling west virginia

OCTOBER 14, 2014 | DAY 13 of #ONTHEROAD1014

In the sidebar of this blog you will see I am currently reading “Drinking, Smoking & Screwing: Great Writers on Good Times”. It takes me an embarrassingly long time to finish a book, so that has been up there for months. And just last week I finished a passage where Wheeling, West Virginia was mentioned. Here is the section “-knock out drops, which had been familiar in American criminal circles since the first Grant administration. My own great-uncle, Julius by name, got a massive shot of them in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1870, and was never the same man afterward.”

I myself have visited Wheeling, West Virginia; and I would have never imagined coming across the name of this Ohio River city in my little bedside book. Having not written about my road trip for weeks, possibly months, and West Virginia being the next stop in my story – I took it as a sign it was time to make time to write the story of Wheeling.

After Louisville, my intention was to drive up to Chicago and see the David Bowie exhibit and then drive diagonally to Richmond, Virginia. That was until my mother, aghast, said “you’re not going to Wheeling, West Virginia.” Confused, I asked “What’s in Wheeling?” Well, my grandfather on my Dad’s side was born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia. As I am a curious person, who is close to my family and interested in historical roots, I decided to skip Chicago and go to Wheeling. I don’t regret this decision, but I think the David Bowie exhibit would have been more fun and light-hearted.

We left the Brown Hotel early on October 14, explored Louisville for a few more hours, and then was on the road. Driving through Ohio on a very cloudy day, the fields and water droplets made for a scenic backdrop to the Sun Kil Moon album I insisted on playing. I sung about a whoopee pie I had purchased at Whole Foods and wrote in my moleskin journal. I was in a frightful state of melancholy, a dangerous place to be as I was supposed to be on the road trip of my dreams and yet I couldn’t shake this negative energy that lingered over me. Plus the gloomy weather seemed to feed my hum drum attitude.

It’s a 5 hour drive from Louisville to Wheeling, and we only stopped for gas, where I purchased some Popeye’s fried chicken. That chicken happened to be our only sufficient meal past noon. By the time we got to Wheeling, it was sunset. The gray clouds cast a blue shadow on the city. My aunt had given me all the details of my grandfather’s census records and we were searching for 48th street. Initially, we made a wrong turn and landed on the wrong side of the Ohio river on 47th street and could not find 48th, so we got out of the car to walk around.

wheeling wrong exit

Being from Los Angeles, I don’t think I’ve even seen the real effects of the downward economy. It seemed the bad neighborhoods were still bad, and the good neighborhoods just slowed down. It wasn’t till I visited Wheeling, did I truly grasp and feel what it’s like to be affected by a downwards economy.

wrong side of the river

 

The homes on the street we explored were old and beautiful in their own right, like an aged ballerina who was stunning in her youth, but now walks hunched and weathered from years of strain on her body. Paint chipped and walls likely creaky, they were solid homes in what felt like an unstable city. We drove to the other side of the Ohio River crossing a bridge where I attempted to snap photos of the West Virginia sign. Following our GPS, we finally arrived to 48th street. There was a historical marker on the street and a welcome sign, you could tell had been there a long time. Only about a few blocks long, between the river and the highway, we tried to figure out where my grandfather could have possibly lived and if the building still existed. The only buildings that looked old enough to have been around when my grandpa was a child, was an abandoned apartment building that sat across from a sad looking long house, and at the end of the street a factory.

wheeling signs

48th street

We saw a few gentlemen attempting to fix a broken electrical box at the river’s edge. One man in his seventies and two younger guys probably in their forties. The young men left the older gentleman to grab tools and a few beers from their house, and the old man guarded the broken box. Seeing an opportunity to talk to a local, I asked the man if the factory had always been there, wondering if at one point it could have been homes. He told me that for as long as he remembered the factory had been there. It’s switched manufacturers a few times, but when he was a kid it was a potato chip and pretzel cannery. The factory would throw out dented cans, and he would grab them to use for fishing with his friends. I could see the warm memories come to his mind, to be dashed by the current state of Wheeling. He shared things were better than, “the good ol’ days, when we didn’t make much money, but everyone had a job.” –“gas was cheaper too.” He shared with us how the box had been broken and it was a hazard, they had to fix it, not placing responsibility or blame on Wheeling for it not being fixed yet, but that it just needed to be done.

When the younger guys came back, Bowerbird and I received, are these strangers bothering you eyes. So I thanked the old man for telling me about Wheeling, and we walked back to our car. Under the glow of the street lights, the melancholy I had been feeling on the inside was now full blown manifested in a city.

apartment building in wheeling

old house wheeling west virginia

I had been trying to find lodging in Wheeling, which was difficult, but finally found a reasonably priced B&B thirty minutes north. We drove along the Ohio River to the hotel. At one point in the darkness we saw a huge flame illuminate the inside of a steel factory. It was a dark. Even driving through neighborhoods it was dark. We were hoping to find a restaurant to get dinner but it seemed everything was closed. The two illuminated signs I remember, was one announcing the new talent Candy at the local strip joint and a men’s homeless shelter.

When we finally reached the hotel, it was like a scene from the Shining, and it didn’t get less creepy from there.

I promise not to leave a month between describing the haunted hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia and now. But that experience needs its own post. This is only my experience of Wheeling, West Virginia. If any local happens to read this and I have completely gotten the sense of the city wrong, I sincerely apologize.

ohio river

Continue Reading