And now for more from our recent trip to the Olympic rainforest.
The hubster and I were surprised to learn that Lake Quinault Lodge, where we were staying, is haunted. Famously so. The Lodge has been featured on a couple of supernatural-styled TV shows.
We were surprised because we heard nothing of ghosts during our first stay in 2008, even though we stayed for two whole weeks. Perhaps the locals were too busy recovering from the recent hurricane at the time, in which case we forgive them.
Evidently, the ghost is named Beverly and she died when one of the original structures on the property (the boathouse which served as a kitchen) caught fire and burned to the ground back in the nineteen-teens. Beverly was trapped and burned to death and she’s been hanging around the property ever since. She’s reported to be a nice ghost and is usually detected in two favorite rooms. (According to a helpful comment from Josh, evidently “the lodge staff call her favorite room, The Beverly Suite.”) We were thrilled to learn that one of her haunts was the room right next door to ours, where she likes to open windows that overlook the lake.
(Once I found out about her I invited her to come over to our room a few times, but she refused to be lured. Our windows remained firmly shut.)
The story that really got us excited though, was a personal anecdote from Michael, the activities director of the Lodge. He once owned and ran the small mercantile/cafe across the street, and in those days guests from the Lodge regularly spilled over into his establishment. In fact, on our first trip the hubster and I frequently haunted his cafe ourselves as the food and coffee were to die for.
Michael told us that one day, a woman came into the merc who was clearly agitated and it didn’t take much prompting to get her to tell him what happened. She said she’d checked into her room earlier that day and, while unpacking her bags, turned around to discover a woman standing across the room behind her. The guest became angry and demanded to know who she was and what she was doing in her room. The strange woman explained that her name was Beverly and she worked at the hotel.
The guest immediately went down to complain to management that one of their employees had trespassed in her room, only to be told that they didn’t have an employee named Beverly. She was further upset when, upon discovering her room number, management explained the trespass with the story that her room was a favorite haunt of a well known ghost named Beverly. At this point she’d evidently had all she could take and, returning upstairs, repacked her things and left the hotel, stopping only to pick up a few sundries across the street from Michael’s mercantile on the way out of town.
I’m fascinated by these kinds of personal stories. I always have been. Partly for the delicious, spooky thrill involved, but even more so because of the peculiar demeanor that comes over a person who’s been involved if you can get them to talk about it in the first place.
Which usually isn’t easy because unless it’s on a hotel tour, around a campfire, or at a slumber party, we all know we’re not supposed to discuss ghosts, unseen things, or any other kind of experience that isn’t scientifically explainable yet. At least not seriously and not if we want to have any reputation left afterwards.
I don’t understand the reasoning behind this and it bugs me. As with so many other subjects, I believe that talking about it openly would be healthier. I’ve always noticed when I can get a person to open up about an odd kind of experience, most of the time they’re eager to talk in a way that feels like a dam bursting. Having to hide these things seems to build up varying degrees of internal pressure. In cases where the experience is not particularly significant, the pressure is small and there’s no real damage done to the person keeping the secret. But if it’s either a traumatizing event (as it clearly was for the woman who left the Lodge in a huff,) or a meaningful experience (as is often the case when the recently bereaved are experiencing a sense of presence of their lost loved one) then this pressure to remain silent can become a burden. In a worst case scenario, it can even start to interfere with a person’s ability to cope and heal.
This strikes me as pointless and stupid. I’m by no means opposed to verbal taboos as a general rule. Some of them are valuable and essential. Like not talking about sex in front of small children, or not saying cruel things about someone who died in front of someone who loved them, or not talking throughout the movie in a theater full of other people. I’m totally on board with taboos that serve to nourish and strengthen our communal ties.
But this taboo against discussing strange, spooky, or mystical things doesn’t do that. In fact it does exactly the opposite. It takes a significant chunk of common human experience and puts it in the back of a closet where it can no longer be shared, explored, tested, eventually understood, and then utilized.
Poo on that.
Moving on, Quinault has a tiny, lovely cemetery that I fell in love with on our first trip and returned to take pictures of during this last visit. Judging from the housekeeping, the ties between living and dead in this place are clearly still vibrant and celebrated.
As you’d expect of an old graveyard full of the original homesteaders and their colorful descendents, it’s fascinating to stroll around listening to the stories the headstones and other grave adornments have to tell.
I loved the patriarch of this family who was clearly a testy, old lumberjack. Since our first visit the fern has almost completely overgrown the headstones.
Someone is still coming to sit and drink with Will here, as evidenced by the total lack of rust on the beer can. Whoever it was left some liquor behind in one of the bottles for him. There was an ache of memory in the gesture that moved me.
Some of the residents clearly came from money:
While others were remembered in less costly (and less enduring) ways:
Indeed, there were quite a few open areas among the gravesites and I stepped among them gingerly, hoping and praying I wasn’t walking on someone. In a rainforest environment, anything less hardy than stone disintegrates at a rapid clip and I suspected many of the earliest grave markers were probably lost to the elements.
Here was the age-old tale of a couple who couldn’t live without each other. Duane died in 2004:
And Maxine followed him less than a year later:
But as always the most poignant graves were those of the children. In this cemetery there seemed to be an endearing custom of putting them to bed for a final sleep:
From youngest to oldest, here we have baby Kristan:
…little toddler Alexander:
…and six year old Trevor:
I was so glad and grateful that these children were here, in this close-knit, tiny cemetery surrounded by elders who would know who they were, who would be sure to look after them. I know it would be harder for me, to bury a child in a big, sprawling cemetery somewhere, surrounded by strangers.
copyright 2011 Dia Osborn