North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Community News Network

July 16, 2013

Have a spooky slumber party in Harpers Ferry

WASHINGTON — At the Town's Inn, in Harpers Ferry's Lower Town, I booked the one room with an en-suite bathroom. The trade-off: There was a possibility that I'd have to share my bed with a stranger.

My potential roommate was not from this world, which meant that she probably wouldn't hog the covers but just hover above them. Still, I hoped that she'd decide to visit a dead relative in another West Virginia town the night of my sleepover. I'd even pay her bus fare.

Lodgings with Tolstoyan histories (war, peace and love) often incorporate ghosts into their lore and decor, an interior design detail that complements the sepia-toned photos and heavy drapes. Yet the apparition in question wasn't some cuddly Casper that a pal of the mother of the housekeeper had seen one night after downing two glasses of sherry. This one had supposedly been spooking my room the morning of my stay, based on alleged sightings by paranormal experts (unfortunately not ghostbusters). While I was merrily driving to the historic stone inn built in 1840, the boo chasers were in my guest room, reportedly snapping photos of a female spirit and capturing audio of her saying, "Help me, Jeff."

Nervously settling into the Appalachian Room, I asked the co-manager and teller of the ghost story, "Who's Jeff?" He smiled and told me his name: Jeff.

And what did she need help with? I wondered. Perhaps her luggage or parking, both rational requests for a historic hotel with steep stairs and reserved spots near the train station. Or escaping a nightmarish incident from centuries ago that she was trying to communicate to the living? Lalalala - I can't hear you.

"Baby girl, you'll be fine," said Jeff, as he handed me the room key. "She's a nice ghost."

Then he went back to the kitchen to finish up dinner service at the restaurant downstairs, leaving me alone in my room. I looked around at the homey surroundings and furnishings inspired by Mrs. Stipes Boarding House, a museum in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The town, which sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, is known for its surrounding natural beauty and prominent role in Civil War history.

The Heritage House contains three guest rooms; my nesting space was the only one with an attached bathroom. The Potomac and Shenandoah rooms have separate private bathrooms off the second-floor hallway. Robe-wrapped guests must wander outside their rooms to brush, rinse, floss and flush.

By comparison, my journey to the privy involved a few paces around the full-size bed - avoiding the mirror above the fireplace, where the team had supposedly photographed the ghostly image - and a step down a small ledge to the toilet, sink and slate-tile bath and shower.

The inn is semi-unplugged: No TVs, but the Internet connection is strong and the gather-'round recreational activities are plentiful. The third-floor parlor is a rumpus room filled with books and games. I also discovered a convivial scene at the restaurant, where every bump-in with an employee resulted in a friendly exchange and, in one case, an order for a generous pour of pinot grigio.

The restaurant's front porch seats a tight squeeze of two - one night, an adoring couple; the next morning, a pair of biking buddies in Spandex catsuits. Indoors, the room to the left provides more tables and chairs, plus the Sundry, Snack, and Supply Shoppe, a stocked commissary catering to Appalachian Trail hikers with ramen noodles, blister aids, protein bars and other mega-trekking essentials. Of course, even if you're only ascending a flight of stairs to your bed, you still might need a juice box and a cookie.

Guests, diners and after-work drinkers also convene in the spacious back yard, beneath the star-spangled sky. As I gulped down some courage, I chatted with employees about their haunting experiences. They told me that a specter would ring the doorbell and run (how second-grade) or move items around (how mother-in-lawish). A male ghost soldier would lock the Potomac guest-room door and prevent the key from working. So don't forget any important items in your room; you might not be able to retrieve them immediately.

Eventually, the staff clocked out and I had no choice but to retreat to my room. I curled up on the bed, wrapped in blankets and a comforter. I made a cup of tea and waited for my roomie to materialize.

Throughout the night, I heard footsteps and banging doors. When I peered down the hallway, however, it was vacant. As the sky started to brighten, I finally fell asleep, the nightstand lamp still burning.

In the morning, I flung open my door with the enthusiasm of a coed survivor in a horror film. I came face-to-face with the family across the way. I asked whether they'd heard the mysterious sounds.

"No," said the mother. Then she looked at the two little gremlins who required frequent late-night bathroom runs and added, "We're the ghosts."

         

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014