Eureka, Ho!!!, Days 4 & 5: Sailing, Solitude, and the Supernatural

After another full night of sleep, I was ready to attack a new day. . .right after breakfast.

Fruit Smoothie

Fruit Smoothie

Oat walnut pancakes and turkey bacon

Oat walnut pancakes and turkey bacon

Orange butter sauce for the pancakes.

Orange butter sauce for the pancakes.

Today’s meal began with a delicious fruit smoothie followed by a main entrée of oat walnut pancakes with orange butter sauce and turkey bacon.  I rank this meal as one of the three best that I’ve eaten since I began this project.  There wasn’t much time to relax after breakfast because I had to get out to Beaver Lake so I could take a cruise on the Belle of the Ozarks.

Belle of the Ozarks

Belle of the Ozarks

Beaver Lake is a 35,000 acre lake and popular for swimming, scuba diving, boating, and fishing.  It also has a reputation as a world class striped bass fishing spot so I’ll be certain to alert my angler of an older brother as that would get him and his brood down here, lickety split.

It was a perfect day for a cruise, but I would recommend a microphone or bullhorn for the skipper because it was very difficult to hear him over the roar of the boat.  He did have a couple of tales which made for interesting listening.

The first was when we passed a marker.  Allegedly, it is a magical spot and if one plunks a penny by the marker, his or her wish will come true.  I drilled the marker with my penny, so let’s see if my wish comes true. . .

25 feet below that marker is a submerged mountain.  Allegedly this spot is magical and has the power to grant wishes.

25 feet below that marker is a submerged mountain. Allegedly this spot is magical and has the power to grant wishes.

Soooo, moving right along, the marker actually held a purpose.  Twenty-five feet below the marker was a submerged mountain and on that submerged mountain was a submerged house.  It was a pity that both were unable to be seen.

The other story was about the value of land around the lake.  He pointed out an island that had some ritzy homes on it.  He said the owner had bought two half-acres which cost $177,000 each.  He said that news put a smile on his face because 25 years ago he had bought 70 acres of lakeside property for a song.  I’ve crunched the numbers for you.  The skipper’s property valuation is $24,780,000!!!  That’s one heck of a nest egg.  That’s right.  Chris’ Corner is not only fun, but is educational, too.

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Another interesting bit of fun is that the skipper dipped a glass into the water and pulled up a glassful of lake water.  It was crystal clear.  He explained that the first 25 feet or so of the lake (it’s 250 feet at its deepest) is exposed to so much ultraviolet radiation from the sun that it actually kills all pathogens and bakes, for lack of a better term, it clean.  To prove his point, he said this water can actually be drunk and told us to take a sip if we wished.  I did take a nip and it tasted just fine.

After 90 minutes, our boat docked and I decided to take a visit to the Blue Spring Heritage Center.  The water is literally blue and is reported to have healing properties.  Thirty-eight million gallons of water run through the spring each year.  The site also has some historical significance as it is also part of the Trail of Tears.  According to the informational film, the 9 day stopover at Blue Spring provided the lone beacon of hope to the Cherokee during their tragic journey.  Aside from the spring, the area is also known for its wildflower and rock gardens.

The Blue Spring

The Blue Spring

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This mound is where the Cherokee camped for 9 days as they walked the Trail of Tears.

This mound is where the Cherokee camped for 9 days as they walked the Trail of Tears.

It was the first truly hot day I had experienced in Eureka Springs so I decided to retreat to the comfort of the Inn at Rose Hall to organize my notes and relax until dinner.

FUN FACT:  Despite the heat, you will not be plagued by mosquitoes in Eureka Springs.  There is a massive bat population in the city and they keep the pesky bloodsuckers in check by feeding upon them at night.

For dinner, I decided to try a little fine dining and went to Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse just outside of Eureka Springs.  It’s a tiny little establishment and you just might miss it as it actually looks like a tiny house.  It was actually much smaller at one point as the restaurant built around the original log cabin (which is 150 years old).

I enjoyed a fresh dinner salad with homemade ranch dressing and a sirloin steak with a loaded baked potato.  This was one of the best, if not the best, steak I have ever tasted.  It was cooked just right and was seasoned to perfection.  I savored every delicious bite and took over half of it with me to enjoy for my supper on my return home the next day.

After a few hours of puttering around, it was time for my final event of the trip.  Incredibly, for the third straight time, I would be returning to my explorations of the supernatural as I would be taking the Ghost Tour at the Crescent Hotel and Spa.

The Crescent Hotel & Spa built in 1886.

The Crescent Hotel & Spa built in 1886.

The hotel was built in 1886 and has quite the interesting past.  My tour was led by Marshall Jon Law who was a very animated, entertaining, and gregarious guide.  He began by giving us an abbreviated history of the hotel and then went into how the hotel is considered the most haunted in America and one of the most haunted buildings in the country.  So strong is the hotel’s haunted reputation that it has been featured on Ghost Hunters and an event called ESP Weekend is held every January in which the hotel contains nothing but paranormal investigators.

Each floor had unique stories behind them and there was even photographic evidence of strange goings-on that Marshall showed to the visitors.  As Marshall told us, 95% of supernatural activity can be explained or debunked by science, leaving 5% that science cannot currently explain.  These photos fell into the 5% category.

Our guide, Marshall Jon Law.

Our guide, Marshall Jon Law.

Out of the numerous tales we heard, there were three that stood out.  Two were rather lighthearted and the third was a dark chapter in the hotel’s history.

The first tale is that of the anti-poltergeist, Theodora.  Theodora was a very neat, clean, and tidy person in life and that attribute has followed her into the afterlife because this ghost picks up after you.  There were reports of make-up kits being put away, compacts closed, and lipsticks capped.  Apparently if you’re sloppy enough, Theodora will actually pack your bags and leave them by the door for you in a not so subtle way of saying, “Get out!”

The second tale was that of the traditional poltergeist, Michael.  Michael was a young Irishman who did construction work on the hotel.  Michael also had a fondness for women which ultimately caused his death.  While working up high an attractive woman passed by under Michael and, while attempting to get a better look at her, Michael fell, struck a beam over room 218, and perished.

Since then Room 218 has been Michael’s room and he still has a liking for the ladies.  Reports have been made of the shower faucets being fiddled with while women are bathing, the curtains being tied in knots, and women being gently caressed by unseen hands.  Michael does not believe in sharing women as it is reported that he, quite literally, kicks the men out of the bed.

Astoundingly, women seem to have an attraction to Michael!  As Marshall told us, the ratio of women renting that room to men is 5 to 1.  Some of these women even have “dates” with Michael such as pouring a drink for him or having an extra meal brought in.

The third tale was a black mark in the hotel’s history.  At one point a man named Norman Baker bought the hotel and turned it into a cancer clinic.  Baker was a highly intelligent liar and con artist who had never stepped foot into a medical school, yet called himself a doctor and claimed he could cure cancer.  According to Marshall, Baker was a big believer in the power of the mind.  Having been misdiagnosed with a terminal illness as a child, Baker was determined to overcome the illness with positive thinking.  As years went by and he did not die, Baker convinced himself that he had thought the illness into oblivion and this was the core idea of his cancer cure.

The fourth floor was split into two sections:  a convalescing area and an asylum.  In the convalescing area, cancer patients were taught how to “hug out the cancer” as Marshall said.  They would think good thoughts and share the stories of the good times they had before getting sick and the good times they would have after the cancer vanished.  If patients did not get better, then they were obviously crazy and would get transferred to the asylum section where they were given shots of Baker’s Special Serum No. 5 8-10 times a day!

The needle used to deliver these shots was massive and the shots were extremely painful.  The doors in the asylum were 3 inches thick to drown out the screams and groans of the patients.  When the patients died, nurses would sneak into their rooms in the wee hours of the morning and cart the bodies down to the morgue, which still exists and we did visit it.

Adding insult to injury, Baker would continue to charge families for treatment after the patient’s death.  Baker constantly feared for his life, with good reason as the Mafia made 3 attempts on it, and was protected by heavily armed bodyguards and kept a pair of Tommy guns in his bulletproof office for added precaution.

For all the misery this quack caused, he was finally nailed for mail fraud since he sent out flyers saying he could cure cancer.  He was sentenced to 4 years in prison, bribed his way out, and died of cancer himself after moving to a houseboat where he promoted a cure for tuberculosis.

There have been reports of gurneys squeaking down the hall in the wee hours of the morning and some have reported seeing apparitions of nurses moving the ghostly bodies down the hall to the elevator.  While we were in the morgue we watched a clip from the Ghost Hunters episode in which the hunters investigated the hotel and they had thermal footage of what appeared to be a man in a top hat staring at the investigators.

Inside the morgue.  Where Marshall is standing is where thermal footage was caught of a ghost in Ghost Hunters.

Inside the morgue. Where Marshall is standing is where thermal footage was caught of a ghost in Ghost Hunters.

Whether you believe in the supernatural or are a hardened skeptic, I do highly recommend the tour because you will get interesting tales and an intriguing look at history.

I was supposed to take part in the hotel’s Flickering Tales event which shares ghost stories about the Eureka Springs area, but the event got canceled due to low sales.  It would have been nice if that had been posted someplace as the 3 of us who did buy tickets were not staying at the hotel.  As it is, I’ll be contacting the hotel in the morning to get a refund for the event.  But as my night had come to an early end, I decided to head back to Rose Hall for some shuteye.

For my final breakfast at the Inn at Rose Hall, I started with a carafe of orange juice and a dish of strawberries, cream, and granola.  The main course was green eggs and ham (and I liked them, Sam I Am) with a side dish of fried potatoes.

Straweberries, cream, and granola.

Straweberries, cream, and granola.

Green eggs, ham, and fried potatoes.

Green eggs, ham, and fried potatoes.

My stay in Eureka Springs had all the hallmarks of a great adventure.  I was ready to get home, but kind of reluctant to leave as I had such a great time.  Zoie’s hospitality and entertaining (or cooking, if you will) were of the very best quality.  But don’t take my word for it.  Reserve a room at the Inn at Rose Hall and experience it for yourself.  There’s a lot to do in this town and you will have an enjoyable stay.

Till the next adventure. . .

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