Ghostly Ancestors......

I spent this past weekend with the SIM Crew in the northwoods near Bemidji, Minnesota.  We did a big confidential investigation of a enormous property  there.  We investigated this property last year and the property owners were so impressed with the evidence we captured, they invited us back for another ghost hunt.  The crew enjoyed this time up north immensely, and we all stayed in a big cabin at Dreamer's Resort, deep in the woods outside of Bemidji.  We were the last guests of the season, and we had the resort to ourselves. 

Jerry was born and grew up in Bemidji, in fact that is where I met him, while I was a student at Bemidji State University.  While we were doing some research on the property we investigated, Jerry and I took some time away so that we could hike back in the woods to the place where his father grew up.  So we trekked out into the dense woods in search of the Ayres homeplace. 

The house burned many, many years ago, and the place where it once stood is quite a ways back from any road, near a lake.  We didn't know the exact coordinates, but as we came to a place in the woods where we thought it might have been I felt a presence, someone was with us I was certain.  I felt like someone was near me and watching us, an eerie feeling but not scary.  I kept my feelings to myself for a time, but as we turned to make the trek back through the trees I asked Jerry if he felt there was someone with us.  He said yes, he too knew we were not alone.
Was the presence we felt Jerry's Grandfather or his Grandmother?  Or maybe the uncle that passed away at a very young age from asthma?  Were they drawn to us, specifically to Jerry because he is a direct descendant and they could somehow tell?   We can only wonder.  All three died there, in that house 60+ years ago.  We know that the veil that separates the worlds of the living and the dead is very thin this time of year, and ghosts are easily able to make their presence known to us, and they did just that. 

Interestingly, later in the day we were able to contact our cousin Amy who has done a lot of family research.  She has made the hike back into the woods and found the remains of the old foundation.  Amy was able to send the coordinates to us, and amazingly when we looked at the map our belief that we had been near the home place was validated.  We had been within a few steps of the house where my father in law was born and spent his childhood.  Jerry and I feel sure that one or more of the Ayres ancestors was with us as we hiked around, searching for the remains of the home that once housed them.  We wanted to return after dark (it is what we do), but with bears on the move (we came across bear poop and the smell around us indicated that there was one near us) as well as wolves known to inhabit the area, well, we thought perhaps we wouldn't be safe.

We hope to go back there sometime soon to the exact coordinates.  What will we find?  Family ghosts?  We can only hope we do, it would be nice for Jerry to meet his ancestors, wouldn't it?     



Mid-September, a chilly evening spent with friends around the fire, and visions of quick moving shadow figures.   The Autumnal Equinox takes place in the early hours of Friday, September 23 - just days away.  This annual movement of our sun moving along it's yearly journey to the far side of the equator marks the coming of long nights and cool days; the death of plants, flowers, grass and all things green and growing.  The Fall equinox is a time of balance; equal amounts of light and dark before the dark becomes more than the light; it is also the time when the veil that separates the world of the living and the world of the dead begans to thin, and spirits from the other side begin to penetrate the thin shield.

Last night, after an exhausting day selling junque to raise funds for SIM, we relaxed with our friends, the majority of them a part of the SIM Crew.  The evening was chilly in more ways than temperature as I kept seeing dark shadows moving to and fro.  Though I could never get a good look at them, I know without question they were ghosts.  Several times throughout the evening one would catch my eye, but of course the moment I looked at it fully, it would vanish.  Later, at home, I asked my husband Jerry if he had noticed anything out of the ordinary there.  He said yes, ghosts.  He felt he had seen a full profile of a ghostly shadow. 

Since we have become ghost hunters, our sensitivity to to the supernatural has increased exponentially.  Of course these otherworldly beings have always been there, right along side of us, but now that we have become pararnormal investigators we take notice when they slither by.  Honestly, I'm a little spooked out sometimes when I take note of all the beings crowded around us.

Ah well, it will indeed be a long season, and the SIM Crew has plenty of investigations throughout this bewitching time to practice this sensitivity on.  To all my fellow ghost hunters out there, HAPPY HUNTING, it will be an awesome season.


A spooky mausoleum...

San Juan Island, Washington. It is a beautiful, magical place teaming with wildlife, forests, and history. Our family travels to this slice of heaven each year. We are captivated by the Orca whales who call this place home. To us, this is the only place to vacation, and we enjoy sitting out on the west side of the island, waiting for the whales. They are magnificent, and we fell in love with them over 15 years ago on our first visit.

Afterglow Vista

Earlier this week, Kacie and I returned from our beloved island, and while we were there we checked out a spooky old mausoleum that we had learned about, but never seen.  For many years we have heard about the Afterglow Vista from a lot of islanders, including our friends Gayle and Hugh. Tales of  ghosts materializing after midnight and cruising the place as well as well asother otherworldly events abound. 

I have to share a little history of the place, it is quite interesting. John S. McMillin, an industrialist, came to the island in the late 1800's and bought a company that mined the pure limestone once in abundance on the island, "cooked" it in ginormous kilns, and then barreled it, and shipped it off to distant places worldwide to be used as a strengthener in concrete and mortar.  After the San Francisco earthquake in the early 1900's, most of that city was rebuilt using the island's lime in a concrete mix that is stronger than the normal concrete and mortar.

John S. McMillin built Roche Harbor Resort which is quite the place, and today it is lavish with every amenity available. As he was becoming an old man, he decided to build a mausoleum to house his and his family’s ashes after they died.
Today, the old cemetery on the hillside and the mausoleum is open to the public, and so Kacie and I made our way up to the exclusive resort and found the trail marked “Mausoleum”. We parked in the lot and began ascending the hill on the twisting and turning trail that lead us through the very old cemetery, where almost all of the graves date back to the late 1800’s. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to set and the woods were dark, the sky above was still light and streaked in the beautiful colors of the sunset.

Orbs/ moisture and supernatural
It was, well, eerie walking through that old place. Each grave was surrounded by either a picket or wrought iron fence; some of the grave sites held an entire family. The tombstones were cracked and falling apart; some of the graves had trees now fully grown inside the fences. We stopped at one of the large gravesites, and I could feel a presence. Kacie could also feel this spirit, and though we had only our cameras, Kacie took her cell phone out and hit the record button. We did a short evp session, but we knew that chances of catching anything were slim as the big resort was ending the day with the big daily ceremony performed  when taking down the flags at sunset.

We couldn’t find any kind of building, and it was after sunset and quite dark when we climbed down the hillside and left the area. Photographs we shot show various orbs which indicate paranormal activity, but all in all no concrete proof, no ghosts flying overhead for example.

The next day after talking with our friends, they told us that we hadn’t gone far enough, so the next night we went up and on the trail we went. It was about a half mile trek from the end of the old cemetery to the mausoleum, and worth every step. This place is unbelievable, and so surprising. Who knew? We go to this island yearly and never knew that this masoleum was so grand, well we had heard stories of the place but we never expected it to be quite as, well, unbelieveable as it is.  We were quite amazed to say the least. A big pillar old world looking structure stuck way back in the woods. Can I just say -- CRAZY? Well, it is, but also quite otherworldly.

Old man McMillin built this structure with pillars built to the specifications of King Solomon’s temple from the Bible; one of the pillars is broken, indicating life’s unfinished business. Inside the structure is an enormous round limestone table with limestone chairs surrounding it, one for each family member; inside the base of the each chair is the cremated remains of the family McMillin. Creepy? Oh ya, but very, very interesting. The sun had set by this time, and so we shot several photos, some in this blog, and made our way back through the woods to the car.

An investigation of this amazing dedication to John S. McMillin’s family as well as the old cemetery would be awesome to do. The ghost stories of this place are many and as with all stories, there probably is a small slice of truth to them. We did feel a presence in the cemetery and our photos show paranormal activity, it would be phenomenal to investigate there.

Perhaps the owners of the resort would welcome an investigation.  The SIM Crew would do an awesome job, I have no doubts.  You just never know, the summer of 2012 may be Afterglow Vista's very first paranormal investigation ;)

For more detailed information about this historical landmark, you can click on this link: http://sanjuanmasons.com/mausoleum.html



I pride myself for not fearing the supernatural.  Being a paranormal investigator, I am among ghosts on almost every investigation.  I have always been able to feel them, an ability I inherited from my mom and my grandma, but to be honest I have never been face to face with one until last weekend.

The SIM Crew was invited to lead two ghost hunts and present at an event called Northern Frights in northern Minnesota.  On the second night while investigating with Katie and a group of event attendees, I had to leave for a moment to bring a key to another room to Jerry and his group.  As I walked out into the dark hallway (no lights were on for the investigation) and began the walk to that room, I sensed something to my left.  I turned to look and found myself looking into the face of a ghost.  No more than two feet away, the apparition of the face of an otherworldly being appeared to be coming out of the door to one of the rooms. 

Obviously I don't have nerves of steel, and I screamed (yes I screamed) and turned to move away from this apparition.  I turned back though to see it again, but it had disappeared.  Even though I could no longer see it, I felt this spirit follow me down the hallway, and I nervously kept looking over my shoulder for it.  Now, what should I have done?  I should have stared that ghost down and asked some questions.  Instead I called Jerry on my walkie and told him the story.  A missed opportunity to be sure.  Sigh. 

Jerry and his group were anxiously awaiting my arrival.  I finally arrived at the room, key in hand, wild eyed and obviously shaken up.

"Are you OK?" They asked, concern etched on their faces.  They wanted to hear all about my experience, but I'm pretty sure they were taken aback my wild appearance.

"I'm scared.......and I am a GHOST HUNTER" I blurted out.  Now what I meant by that was that ghost hunters aren't supposed to lose it like I did and be afraid.  Now this statement will be forever in the minds of the SIM Crew.  They laughed and laughed at this, and immediately began planning t-shirts that will read:

"I'm a ghost hunter......and I got scared!"

OK.  Whatever.  So I ran and screamed like a silly school girl.  Sigh.  I was scared, no doubt, but I'm still trying to figure out if I was really scared or just startled?  Scared? Really?  I've been with and around a lot of ghosts and not been scared.  But I guess there's something about coming face to face with one that drains the blood from your face.

Later on during the investigation, Jerry and his group got the key to the room where the manifestation occurred, and as they entered they were hit with a palpable force.  They stood their ground and entered the room where they observed a filmy shadow move across the room.,  The same ghost that scared me I'm thinking, and I'm sure that ghost had a good laugh at Northern Frights, which to me at that moment was indeed frightening ;)



New Teammates and Other Things.....

December and January were quiet months for our ghost hunting group.  Mostly self-imposed because well, December is hectic with Christmas and New Years, and January is the month of rest after that hectic schedule in December.  For me the entire month of January and the beginning of February was pretty much spent in a fog.  I was sick the whole month of January with a nasty virus that made me cough incessantly, and pretty much sapped my energy, and that left me feeling, well, quite under the weather.

The SIM Crew did however add two additional people to our team.  Why?  Well, after much consideration among us, it was decided that we needed additional members mainly because our investigations really require "more bodies".  We just did not have the number to do a sufficient job on the larger properties.  It's exciting but at the same time quite stressful adding new people to the mix.  Our original six members are very close and we have a unique relationship.  My main question as we entered this new era, was simply could we do this without losing the special and unique bond we share?  I hope so, I really do.  Time will tell, but I'm hopeful that we will be better and stronger :)

That said, we chose a couple of very competent and fabulous people out of the many that came to meet us on a very cold January evening at a local restaurant.  Both are very personable and friendly.  Annette, comes to us with the sensitivity of a physchic.  Several of us are sensitive to the presence of spirits, and now with Annette on board we have that additional boost of sensitivity during investigations.  Our other new teammate Jaffe comes to us with a healthy skepticism, and along with George he will keep the rest of us "highly excitable" members in check.  He has great interest in the supernatural and he is a wonderful addition to the SIM Crew. 

In February, we had two investigations with the "newbies".  Jerry and Mae each teamed up with a newbie on last Friday's investigation for training, and it's good to say Annette and Jaffe both did a phenomenal job.  The property we investigated is quite large, rich in history, and boasts a lot of paranormal stories.

The crew will gather soon to go over all the evidence from both investigations and prepare for the reveals.  Stories to come soon, here!  What I can say is that the first investigation in February we revisited a home we investigated last Fall and we were not disappointed.  We caught some amazing evidence, so stay tuned my friends, I will be blogging about both --- soon ;)   Until then, stay warm!


Northwoods Supernatural

In October the SIM crew took to the road and investigated a property we believed to have supernatural activity.  The property is a large, 110+ acre affair with several abandoned buildings set back in the woods thick with birch and conifer.  The place is ripe with history, but to tell any of it here I would have to divulge the name and place, which I won't do.  We were allowed on this property for our investigation only if we agreed to keep the location, name, and nearby towns confidential.  What I will say is that my husband Jerry's father grew up nearby, and it was this connection that brought us there.

We had five members of the SIM including me on this wild and woolly investigation.  My daughter Kacie, one of our crew, opted to stay at home and care for our three cats and dog while we were away.  The property is enormous, and I remember wondering just how we would tackle an investigation of this magnitude while we walked around it in the day.

Well, we arrived on site around 9:00 that evening.  It was a chilly 38 degrees, the sky was clear and the moon was bright and almost full.  It was just a week until Halloween, that time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is at his thinnest.  With the full moon, and the big trees looming all around us it was a perfect night for a ghost hunt.  It was quiet back there in the woods, and I thought perfect EVP conditions.

We began by setting up our equipment.  The first event happened shortly after we arrived.   While Katie and I were setting up night vision video recorders in one of the buildings, Jerry came quickly in, exploding with excitement, and said that while he was setting up another infrared video recorder in another building he saw a shadow move past him.  Attributing this as a paranormal presence, he was quite worked up (as I would be), but by the time we got there with him it was gone, and wouldn't return to us that evening.  Too late. 

All of us had personal experiences during the investigation.  As a sensitive, I knew there were spirits watching us there.  In the building where we had set up two night vision video cameras I know there was someone in the corner. We heard knocking and I physically felt a presence there.

Several times as I moved about outside from building to building I felt that odd, heavy, electrically charged feeling of paranormal presence near me.  I felt that the site is definitely the home of otherworldly spirits, why are they there?  We always ask why, but we never will know the answer.  I do know that it is place of great history and thus they could be spirits of Native Americans, early settlers, even passed over people from a more modern time.   Spirits from any and all of these categories of peoples are certainly possible.  What were their stories?  I'd love to know, but in all probability we will never know.  You know as a history major, I've always been fascinated by old stories.  The world of paranormal investigating is really finding stories in the end isn't it?  Well, I'd like to think so anyhow. 

While we were investigating in one of the buildings, we felt sure that there was a paranormal presence with us. Jerry asked it to repeat a number he had softly spoken into his hand, inaudible for the rest of us. I distinctly heard a soft raspy voice clearly say "4", and afterward I asked if 4 was the number. Jerry was shocked and I stated I had heard it clearly. When we listened to our recording, it was there, without a doubt. Apparently it also wanted us out of there as we also hear "get out" on the recording as well.  It was in this same spot that Katie, Jerry and me all felt the presence of a spirit.  The two photos below tell the story clearly.  One minute there was nothing there; the next the space was filled with orbs, as if a ghost was trying to manifest. 
An Empty Room

The same room a few seconds later.  Orbs are clearly visible.

When we interviewed the property owners, they told us about the "Murder Road".    They called it that because a man who was murdered at the edge of the property on a road there but didn't have any further information.  We asked Jerry's dad about this story, and he told us what he remembered, and the tale follows.  
Murder Road
Seventy plus years ago, a man who owned a farm near the site kept sheep and one race horse.  This man also had military background, and the locals say he was crazy in the head.  The man was good with a gun, you might call him a sharp shooter, and he would shoot animals in the distance just because he could.  A very mean and vulgar individual, he would leave the animals to suffer terrible deaths.  He would also take shots at the kids walking by, and they all knew not to go any closer than about a quarter of a mile.  One fateful day, this ex-military man lost his mind.  He shot his friend who was coming to visit between the eyes on that road and killed him.  After he killed him, he went back to his property, confessed to the sheriff what he had done and proceed to slit the throats of all his sheep, killing them in a bloodbath.

A crazy and most deadly happening to be sure, and we have been unable as of yet to find true documentation of this story.  I am hopeful that we will have some time to check out the local historical records next time we are up that way, so that we can hopefully substantiate the story. 

After hearing about this "Murder Road" two of our investigators, Mae and George, decided to walk out on that road at the start of our investigation.  With the light of the moon leading their way, they walked to the end of the road and were placing their night vision video camera when suddenly they heard horse noises, like heavy blowing and foot clomps.  They feared they would be trampled the sound was so near and so real.  Thankfully nothing happened to them and though they discovered a fence, they found no evidence of any horses or other hoofed animals.  Could this be the ghost of the race horse that belonged to the crazy military man?  It definitely falls in to the weird and unexplainable category, and we don't know with absolute positivity whether this horse they heard was real or phantom, but it's quite intriguing experience on this investigation.


It was a fabulous investigation, and we had a lot of experiences.  When we analyzed all the data we found several voices in various parts of the property.  Some in answer to our questions, some just stating something, and some that we feel is a voice saying the same thing over and over again voices indicating a second type of haunting as well, one that is termed residual haunting.

We had left a voice recorder in the first building we entered and did EVP work, that honestly, I had no inclination of a supernatural presence in.  Boy was I surprised at what we found on the recording!  Constant moving around when the space was empty, footsteps, closing of doors, and a voice that says "LISTEN".

All in all this investigation was definitely one for the books.  It was exciting and very interesting, especially the story we heard about the murder there early in the last century.  The two property representatives made me feel very welcome there, and I enjoyed the gals coming along with us on our hunt for the supernatural.

We revealed the evidence in late November to about a dozen people.  We have been invited back and are looking forward to another hunt there next year and I will definitely be spending a little more time in that one building where we caught all the activity on our recorder.  Who knows?  Perhaps that's the most haunted of the bunch!

The official field notes will be published on http://www.siminnesota.com/ soon, so check them out!