People often ask me how I get into all the places I visit. I think they assume I'm always trespassing.
Not so—I try to get permission as often as possible. I never break in, though I'll walk through an open door.
Ritz Hotel circa 1984 (Photo: National Park Service)
Sometimes, an opportunity presents itself to visit a creepy old building with a team of paranormal investigators. I'm hoping to see the building more than the ghosts who inhabit it, but I'll take what I can get.
I'm not a ghost-hunter myself. The ghosts seem to find me just fine, without me having to look very hard for them. So I think it's kind of funny when investigators try really hard to make contact with the spirit world, like during our visit to the former Ritz Hotel in Santa Ana, California the other night.
The hotel had been featured on the TV show Ghost Adventures, though when its crew arrived to record the episode, they were surprised to see the upper level rooms demolished—the wallpaper, the walls, the doors all gone.
Now it's almost entirely gutted, but that doesn't mean the ghosts are gone. Construction activity tends to stir them up, just like mice.
As I listened to the paranormal investigators recite a litany of requests to try to draw out a presence, I felt bad for the spirit world. We curious humans are so damn demanding. "Can you make a noise?" "If you're here, turn the blue light off." "What's your name?" "Do you remember me?"
And everyone's so busy trying to interpret garbled messages being transmitted which may or may not be electronic voice phenomena that no one is really listening. I'm sure the ghosts knew we were there. We didn't have to make our presence so obvious. We didn't have to be clomping around so much, flashing lights and talking about goosebumps and cold spots. Why couldn't we just be silent, and wait?
Generally, I think any energy that remains in an former hotel (and brothel) in a century-old building will make itself known when it wants to, when it has something to say. Maybe it's camera-shy. Maybe it's diurnal. Maybe it just doesn't like to be told what to do so much.
And if it did have something to say—if it did have something to tell us—how would it have gotten a word in edgewise?
Photo Essay: Pico House Ghost Hunt