STQ: Cryptids, Ghosts and More

Team Search Truth Quest will answer your paranormal questions.

Rhyolite Nevada: a Place That Makes Other Ghost Towns Seem Bustling

Bald Tony

For several months Mick and I were planning a trip to Great Basin National Park.  Alex Bone thought this was kind of funny.  You see, Alex is a true outdoorsman, a throwback to another century, a man’s man who makes Grizzly Adams look like Martha Stewart.  Alex’s advice was to stay on the marked trails while wearing bright clothing and warned us about entering the back country.  Fine with me.  While I actually like spending time outdoors, my idea of roughing it is staying at Bellagio when the Aria is booked.

Two days before we were scheduled to drive to GBNP I checked the weather.  I shook my head in confusion, cleared the screen, and this time carefully input the correct destination.  The forecast was still the same.  High of 36, low of 22 with a steady snowfall throughout the day. It might be germane to inform everyone at this point we’re talking about the third week in May.  All those YouTube videos of the park were apparently filmed between July 10th and August 10th.  

As much as I love Las Vegas, I really wanted to get away on my vacation. So we headed to Tonopah for a ghost investigation, here, and then Mick suggested Yosemite. As we started to climb the road toward Mono Lake, however, it started snowing.  Mick asked, “Where the hell can we warm up in the desert?” Freezing to death in the Nevada desert during the third week of May seemed a tad ludicrous to both us.  I said Death Valley National Park sounded like a good place to warm our feet. Heck, it had to be warmer than 22 or even 36.  While consulting a map—yes, a real paper map of the AAA variety can never be refolded properly by even the most adept origami guru. Anyway, we noticed the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV is adjacent to the eastern edge of DVNP.  We had never been there, but being a Nevadan for 18 years I am familiar with the lore of this long abandoned municipality.

Rhyolite Nevada: A Place that Makes Other Ghost Towns Seem Bustling

Rhyolite is a true ghost town.  Not a small town with a low population, not a touristy, manmade-to-look-old-and-abandoned town, but an actual bonafide, no-living-soul-has-resided-there-in-a-century, ghost town. There are no services or businesses of any kind.  Rhyolite had a short life span, 1904-1920, and its decline quickly accelerated in 1911. So, essentially, it only had seven good years, which Zano reminded me is six more than he’s had. That could be why there’s a feeling of, if not anger, at least frustration, in them there Bullfrog Hills.

So Mick and I are somewhat adventurous being in a real ghost town, yet safely within a ten minute drive of gas, food, and lodging in the small town of Beatty, NV.  Bone probably would have walked to Rhyolite after setting up a base camp in DVNP.  Mick and I drove there with the air conditioning on, stopping for snacks and bottled water along the way.  But once the car was parked, we walked more of the site than we drove, which is pretty badass…uh, for us.

Mick and I are both amateur shutterbugs.  Neither of us will be hired by National Geographic, but we enjoy getting out there and seeing what develops as we take photos.  If you’ve read some of my other stories (and if you haven’t, why the hell not?) you know I am old school overall.  In fact the first digital camera I ever owned was purchased shortly before this trip and it’s still confusing me.  Maybe by my 2015 vacation I’ll have it figured out.  Anyway, Rhyolite is a photographer’s paradise.  The abandoned buildings, the rugged scenic backdrop, and while there will be other tourists when you visit, there aren’t so many as to get in your way, and they’re not the photo bombing type.  I was thoroughly enjoying traipsing around “town” taking photos, feeling the cool vibe of the place, and feeling safe and secure in our decision to forego the frigid, artic high Nevada desert.  High plains snow drifter?

 Albert Szukalski’s 1984 version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper

Perhaps the coolest thing in Rhyolite is Albert Szukalski’s 1984 version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper…uh, on acid.  This brings the spooky factor of the place up a notch and, really, the town didn’t need any help in that department.

WARNING Rattlesnakes sign

Cue the WARNING Rattlesnakes sign which, conveniently, the Bureau of Land Management put the Porta Potty right next to. 

[Note: One eyed snake joke omitted by editor.]

While not a haunted ghost town, so far as we could tell, Rhyolite is definitely worth the stop. It brings your typical eccentric abandoned ghost town up to a whole new level. Just leave Zano in the car…with the window rolled down, of course.

Prescott’s Haunted Hotel St. Michael: Oops, Ghost Found

Mick Zano

Once upon a check-in, I asked for my traditional room—which is always dead, and not in any kind of a supernatural way—but the desk lady decided to upgrade me to a queen. She must have noticed my high heels. This turned out to be my ghost investigating big break, or big mistake depending on your point of BOO!

I would have to go it alone for this one, because due to my age and incongruous maturity level, it’s becoming harder to find company. Shock poll: everyone who knows me agrees with this poll. Actually, I had other business…I was squatching. Fine, I had to train a class the next day, aka, I wasn’t going to a training to sleep, I had to stand up in front of people and present stuff. This proved difficult after the Amityville-F-king-Horror I experienced the night before. WTF? This is not even a particularly haunted hotel. Try Googling Hotel St. Michael in Prescott. I dare you. There’s next to nothing on this place, it’s a veritable taBoo rasa. Heck, I just came from the Mizpah, which is tier-one haunted, this place would be lucky to make pier-one imports. This was going to be a tip toe through the banshees, or so I thought.

Tell them about the Twinkie, Ray.

There was no Twinkie! Stop that. But I have even stayed here before and slept like a…

[Alex Bone joke omitted by the editor.]

In fact, I always sleep well in haunted places, see any of my other ghost misadventures…ever. Heck, I didn’t even bring my Viewmaster for this one. I usually have Bambi in the cue if anything weird happens. It doesn’t record anything evidence-wise, but it always makes me feel safe.

This should give you some idea of how prepared I was to encounter a real entity. What makes me crazy is that I had plans for after this training. I wanted to hit: The Raven, Granite Mtn Brewery, Prescott Brewing Co., Murphy’s, The Palace, The Gurley Street Grill, The Drunken Las, Celtic Crossing, Matt’s Saloon…

Kidding! I hate Matt’s Saloon. Point being, I had shit to do, but now thanks to some bored spook I’m exhausted. According to the front desk folks, The Ghost Hunters already declared 319 haunted, well, I spent two nights alone in room 318 and ditto. But I couldn’t find any reference to this online, but here’s my two cents…and two nights. Oh, and I will never spend another night in this hotel again! Mainly, because their liberal use of the words “room damage”.

The staff claims what action this hotel does get is generally limited to the third floor, but I got no action on the third floor, despite my kick ass stilettos and fishnets. On that note:

Night One:

When I arrived back at my room around 9PM on Thursday 6/26, I started with my usual 3rd floor walk about and captured this shot between the 2nd and 3rd floor.

Then I headed to my room and started clicking and clicking and clicking and nothing. Wait! Bambi’s mother died! Nothing…so I listen to some Coast to Coast AM and turn in around 11PM. I know what you’re thinking, but the episode wasn’t about ghosts. Then, I suddenly wake up swatting my shoulder as if something was there. I snap some pictures and start capturing some serious orbage. Then, like any good ghost investigator, I go back to bed.

About an hour later I have this horrible dream that I owe material for Mr. Winslow, but he can’t open any of the files I sent him. Okay, not that dream. I dreamt that I’m desperately trying to get out of this very hotel because it’s haunted and then, when I wake up, all hell breaks loose. I walk to the end of the bed and take some more pictures and there’s this cold spot. I have never experienced a cold spot. I have experienced a warm spot in a public pool, but I’m told that’s different.

Suddenly I feel wave after wave of chills and goose bumps. I don’t get goose bumps so I am wondering if this is a walk-in clinic thing or if there’s an ointment involved. I have never had such a weird feeling, so I start snapping and start getting orbs in almost every picture I take!

A montage of some of the room visitors.
A montage of some of the room visitors.

Then the weirdest thing happens. I see this flare through my camera. I didn’t catch this on film—because it went by in a fraction of a second—but as the flash is cueing up, something shoots through my viewer like a meteor. I’m like, holy shit! Where is my camera man when you need him! I am wide awake now so this isn’t some semiconscious state thing and it definitely wasn’t a bug.

I try to sleep again and I’m woken up again. Now, it’s 3AM and I have to be up a 7. So, I’m like, if you’re going to keep me up all night I want a full apparition, in the mirror, or I’m going back to sleep.

It’s a pretty weak attempt, no apparition, and it’s partially on the frame. What is the deal with ghosts?

I finally say, “Look, I have to present tomorrow, you know, conduct a training so play time is over. I need to sleep. Tomorrow night I’ve got nothing but time, so for now I please go back to room 319.”

Thankfully, I slept for the last couple of hours. This was not a frightening experience for me, to put things in perspective frightening is working for Pierce Winslow, but I would describe it as unsettling. I can look through my camera and see shit that isn’t there? Yes, I stopped taking my medications, but only because the pills were helping the government hear my thoughts.

The next morning I woke up, thanked the spirits for some sleep and snapped one picture. Yep, it had an orb in it. It’s a shame the walls are white because most of these really blend in, so for all of my sleepless trouble I got a couple of dozen meh-looking-orbs (MLOs).

Night 2:

I decided to retrace my steps and actions from last night, so before lockdown I took a round of pictures around the 3rd floor and…

Possibly the best dust particle I have ever captured on film.
Possibly the best dust particle I have ever captured on film.

The bottom one is the same orb, only enlarged. Below is what I captured in the room during night two.

So I go to bed, I tell the ghosts to do their worst and….I wake up eight hours later to my alarm. Really? Why couldn’t the ghosts stick to the script: 1. night one sleep for training, 2. night two lots of spooky haunting stuff (SHS). I send the itinerary out weeks ahead of time. Yeah, I’m talking to you, pestergeists! Keep me up and I got next to nothing to show for it, NOTHING!  And, whereas I am not prepared to say I believe in ghosts at this time, this was a weird night and now picture all this happening with me in fishnets and stilettos. OK, don’t picture that, I’m losing enough fans lately.

Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah: Ghost Adventures V Ghost Blunders

Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah: Ghost Adventures V Ghost Blunders
Mick Zano

This time the Discord’s Search Truth Quest team batted cleanup for those Ghost Adventure goons. Apparently they missed more evidence during their investigation than the Keystone Cops on shrooms. I’m sick of cleaning up after your messes, Zack! The Case of the Mizpah Hotel would challenge both my understanding of the para-abnormal as well as my understanding of valet parking. Click on Full Story for some of our ghostly evidence and cool video!

Vegas Great Bald Tony and I checked into the Mizpah Hotel in downtown Tonopah on May 5th. This south central Nevada town is chock full of pleasantness. Everyone seems to smile and say, “How are you doing?” As a native New Yorker, I was perplexed by this behavior and remained unsure how to gesticulate an appropriate response.

The Mizpah featured ghost miners haunting the third floor, ghost children on the fourth floor, and the Lady in Red haunting the fifth floor. We actually tried to book the ‘death room’, as it were, but they said it’s too small for a rollaway and I’m not sharing a bed with Bald Tony, ghost or no ghosts. My desire to find the truth has its limits.

I should also mention the first floor is said to be haunted by the group from Ghost Adventures, whose ratings apparently slipped horribly after their shoot here. Yeah, we handed them their asses on this one. The usual. I know, I know, it’s what you’ve come to expect from spoof ghost investigators (SGI). But the only part of this place not haunted seemed to be the bar area, which pulls the sheets out from under my ectopilsner ghost theory (pardon the paranormal pun). We are not accustomed to investigations so far away from the place where fine ale is served. We were clearly out of our element and, as we would soon discover, trying to lure the ghost children back to our room, not only proved difficult but is clearly the wrong kind of creepy. In fact, it may even be a felony in certain astral planes.

Everyone we talked to had a tale to tell so many of the hotel staff are becoming junior ghost investigators themselves. We talked to Michael Payne on the restaurant side, who shared his own link: Paranormal Adventures Ep 1. While alone in the basement one time, he claims to have heard someone whisper, “Hey you”. This phrase surfaced time and time again as the spirits of the Mizpah are apparently huge Floyd fans.

The manager, Tracy McCormick, had a number of stories to tell and she and her husband only acquired the place last September. She gave us a private tour of the basement, where two miners were killed by a third who then proceeded to seal them into a back room. Edgar Allen Poe would be proud. Here’s what showed up in the vault.

For the love God, Montresor!
For the love God, Montresor!

For those of you who would say, just clean the lens, we never clean our lenses, ahh, point taken. But let me say this for the record, Vegas not-so-Great Bald Tony only took FOUR pictures during the ENTIRE ghost investigation and yet he managed to capture two of the most intriguing images. His excuse was actually, “Uh, the ghosts keep draining my batteries and I still want to take some pictures of Death Valley.” Really, dude?! You stopped taking pictures because you were getting too much action? On that note:

Cost for one night at the Mizpah $110.<br />Cost of two Double-A batteries $2.<br />Cost of a competent junior ghost investigator: priceless” /></td>
<td id=Cost for one night at the Mizpah $110.
Cost of two Double-A batteries $2.
Cost of a competent junior ghost investigator: priceless

Although neither of us felt anything strange during our stay on the most haunted floor of the hotel, we finally got to experience some ghost-related-equipment-malfunctions (GREM). Tony’s camera only worked outside of the vault and we captured this phenomenon in real time on our video segment at the end of this feature. The camera worked before and after he left the vault, but Tony reports similar problems with women. Coincidence?

One of the downstairs ghosts apparently wanted to get into a pillow fight. As I walked into a room near the vault in the basement a pillow fell onto the floor behind me. The pillow wasn’t there when we entered this area. Tracy, the manager, was actually the first to notice. No one saw the pillow fall to the ground, but I don’t think I was ever particularly close to the thing. If you look at the video, the area is in a bit of an alcove. I walked down the center of the room and the pillow landed several feet behind me. I certainly didn’t bump it. This part is also captured on our video segment.

Wow, I just Googled Tonopah Vault and the miners here are apparently prone to playing tricks on visitors. Story here.

Tracy encouraged us to talk to Gail, the fifth floor housekeeper, and she was amazing! She puts both the Ghost Adventures and STQ to shame. The images she captured on her cellphone over the years and the stories she told were both disturbing and astounding. She could have handed the Ghost Adventure gang her evidence (she was present for the shoot), but she chose not to. One of the images Gail captured shows a blood drenched Lady in Red. It’s a shocking photo. The woman was allegedly beaten and stabbed to death outside of room 502. This lady continues to prank Gail while she’s cleaning. We did some of that too, but only because we’re idiots. Sorry Gail!

Gail is a fan of the Lady in Red but swears she will never spend a night at the hotel. She found a ghostly message written on a mirror once that said, “Help me.” The Lady also gave her a pearl once (there are others who claim to have received such a gift). Gail’s, however, spun and rolled around uncontrollably soon after she found it. If Gail’s image is the real McCoy, the lady isn’t wearing red, she’s simply drenched in her own blood. Yikes. If there’s a medium available to help this lady crossover, I believe—as far as I believe—it would be a worthy endeavor. Before I was even shown the stunning apparition, I had a little luck in that spot. These three photos were taken right where she died and right where the apparition appears in Gail’s photo.

Outside Room 502
Outside room 502, Either the Lady in Red died here or she reaaaally needs a coffee.
Either the Lady in Red died here or she reaaaally needs a coffee.

Why do we keep getting these ‘dust orbs’ where people died? I do take more pictures in these old hotels, which is one explanation. Then, again, only two miners died in the vault and we captured dozens of orbs in one of Bald Tony’s shots. Maybe the miners were having a party. I don’t advocate inviting minors to any party (see: Havoc House incident 1989).

There are simply too many stories to recount them all, but there’s kids running around the hallways bothering the guests, there are prankster miners popping up all over the place, and there’s even one ghost who seems to frequent the hotel bathrooms as he is apparently still constipated in the hereafter.

[Deadamucil joke omitted by the editor].

Meanwhile, Zach and the Ghost Adventurers didn’t get as much help from the staff because, apparently…well, how do I say this judiciously?

Zano = charming

Zach = douchey

Sorry Zach, but the truth is out there. Meanwhile, I caught so many orbs with my camera I’m not posting all of them. Here’s a couple of the cooler ones:

Probably just the kids playing on the stairs again
Probably just the kids playing on the stairs again
Tony’s bald orb attracting others
Tony’s bald orb attracting others
Adjacent to the vault where the miners died
Adjacent to the vault where the miners died

And here’s our investigative grand finale…er, of sorts.

Mizpah Hotel

The Discord gang has never conducted a second ghost investigation of the same place, but this hotel has so many unanswered questions: were we really pranked by ghost miners in the basement? What were those hidden charges on our room bill? And what damage to the room? Kidding! We loved the place, the staff rocked and like Douglas MacArthur in Terminator 4, “I shall be back!” I also want to assure all of you that our desire to return to this wonderful old western hotel has nothing to do with the upcoming grand opening of their microbrewery. Nothing. But if my theory is correct, and ghosts manifest from ectopilsner, this brewery addition will only spice things up at an already very active para-abnormal hotspot.

I want to thank Gail, Tracy, Michael and the rest of the Mizpah staff for a great ghost adventure…wait, the Ghost Adventure guys suck… a great Search Truth Quest.

See you next time!