If you'll remember I went to Portland, Oregon, back in October, for our Canadian Thanksgiving. I was super excited - not only because it's Portland, which is just a terribly cool city, but because I was doing some research for my book.
As it happens, my main character in my series is from Portland. And one of the really neat ways to explore the city is to go on a walking tour.
Now, when I travel I'm usually alone and I'll usually go on a self-guided tour...eg, wander around a place until I get my bearings. But because we were short on time, I had Mike with me and I had heard that there was one tour that dealt with the "ghostly" side of the city, I had to do it.
It was perfect...not only does my novel (and future ones in the series) deal with ghosts but it was right before Halloween and I just adore being all ghost huntery and shizz (as you probably know from this post here).
My planning, however, was a little bit off. The only tour available for the whole weekend was Friday at 10PM. That meant I had to get off work at 330PM on Friday afternoon.
We got through the border at 5PM which wasn't bad considering it was a long weekend after all, and from previous trips I knew it took "roughly" four hours to get to Portland along the I-5.
I didn't take into account though, stopping for gas and eating Jack in the Box, having to later stop at a gas station bathroom outside of Seattle for a bit (damn you Jack!) and then letting Mike drive for 20 minutes - in which during this time he SOMEHOW managed to get off the I-5 and was heading east for Spokane.
I mean...how do you do that? It's pretty straightforward...stay on the I-5...head south. That's it! But for the five minutes I was looking down because I was fiddling with my iPod, he managed to take some exit and we ended up on a half hour detour.
Enraged I threw him out of the driver's seat and got back in myself. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!
I don't know how we didn't get stopped by cops - I counted TWENTY police cars on the I-5 that night - but I put my foot to the pedal and vroomed down Washington State at 130KM an hour. I've never driven so fast for such a consistent period of time...I literally did not take my foot off the gas for two hours straight. I was super high on two giant cans of Rockstar, new MUSE was blaring through the speakers and I was just giving 'er.
We pulled into downtown Portland at 9:56PM. Parked it in a nearby parkade and ran down the street to the Old Towne Pizza Parlour where the tour was meeting. We were the last ones and everyone else was waiting for us.
Now I must say I was a bit disappointed when I found out that this tour wasn't going to take us through the Shanghai Tunnels - I was really looking forward to that. But we did get a glimpse of one of the Shanghai Tunnels in the scary basement of the pizza parlour. The restaurant used to be a brothel and is haunted by the ghost of the brothel's owner, Nina (pronounced Nigh-na), who was found dead at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
The basement was also made creepier thanks to the little ghost gadgets we were given - they basically lit up from green (mild) to red (wild) whenever electrical currents were found. There is a theory with ghosts and currents and all that and it was quite thrilling to have it light up in spots that there shouldn't be anything happening.
After spending sometime wandering around the basement, we learned more about "shanghaiing" and the tunnels of Portland:
"From the 1850s to the early 20th century, the tunnels were used to kidnap or "shanghai" unsuspecting laborers and sell them as slaves to waiting ships at the waterfront. According to folklore, as many as 1500 people per year were shanghaied out of Portland through the tunnels. However, there are no records to support this number. Allegedly, victims were drugged or knocked out, taken through one of the trap doors (or deadfalls), and held in a prison cell while they waited to be shipped off. Later, during Prohibition, the tunnels were inhabited by bars that literally went underground to sell alcohol."
Then it was up to the streets where we stopped by the Church of Elvis, a famous, wacky automated fortune-teller:
Next stop, the Benson Hotel, which has numerous ghost stories. One deals with a man who walks down this staircase in the lobby:
The others involve ghosts on certain floors and something very strange the receptionist saw one day...a very freaky story indeed, I'm using it in my next novel haha so I'm not enclined to share it!
The tour took us past haunted bars, such as Kellys:
Past more haunted buildings and stories about ghostly investigations in the area. At this point I was just blown away by the amazing history of the city. No wonder the city's motto is "KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD."
Being so close to the river, Portland has been known to flood, as you can tell by this high water marker. One clever entrepeneur would float down the streets in a canoe, selling beer to people.
One of the last stops we had was at the Portland Police Station. The parking lot across the street used to be where the prison was...and apparently was also built ontop of an "ancient Indian burial ground." As you do!
Nonetheless, when we walked around the parking lot our meters started going crazy. With the full moon in the sky and the dark, crisp night, we couldn't help but feel just a tad spooked out.
The tour ended with a stop at Voodoo Donuts and some more low-key tales. It was a long tour - almost three hours of walking - but was very enjoyable. Our only complaint was that we wished we could have explored more haunted sites instead of just the pizza place and hotel lobby but I guess they need permission...and more time! As a walking tour though, I really recommend it. I feel like I got to know Portland on a much more intimate level, and as I said before, I can't WAIT to go back.
SO - my question for you, dear reader, is this: have YOU ever seen anything ghostly or some strange experience you can't explain? I can't promise it won't end up in a future novel though, LOL.
OH YEAH! Winner of the Forever 21 Dress is....*Drumroll*
Congrats!! Woot woot! Send me your deets via my email (see sidebar). CIAO!
You're listening to Retrovertigo by Mr. Bungle, another amazing song by Mike Patton and the Bungle gang. And just eerie enough for a ghost post.