Friday, July 3, 2015

The Ashmore Estate...Poltergeists, Punks and People Who Should Be Punched in the Face

Well, it’s early summer and that means one thing here : The Eric and Kimberly annual vacation.  For the past 15 years we have taken a trip together every summer, focusing our attention on attractions somewhat off the beaten path, places where most people don’t venture.  Places like the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, the Annual SupermanFestival, Psychic Boot Camp and the Villisca, Iowa Axe Murder House.

It’s been fifteen years of full on awesome!

The annual selfie featuring our brand new EMF meter!
It is interesting to note that a lot of people still worry that Opie might be upset about the fact that, once a year, I gallivant around the country without him.

Which is why it’s important to mention that for the past few years Eric and I have strategically planned our vacation the same weekend as the NHL draft. This is perfect timing because Opie really likes to spend the draft on the couch, drinking beer, unencumbered by questions like "Who's that guy?" and “What kind of name is that?” and "Don't you think those jerseys are ugly?"

In fact, Opie was so excited about his bachelor hockey weekend that when it looked like the trip might be off, because Eric was sick, he was quietly horrified and immediately began suggesting alternative plans--ostensibly to make up for my disappointment--that would still get me out of the house for the weekend.

Besides, he also has zero interest in traveling to places like the Ashmore Estate for a night of ghost hunting, even if the building has been featured on Ghost Adventurers, Ghost Hunter and Children of the Grave.

The Ashmore Estate, for those of you who don’t have your finger on the pulse of the paranormal community, was formerly a really horrifyingly filthy county poor house, then an equally disturbing hospital for the mentally ill. Over 200 people are rumored to have died there and it is supposedly a hotbed of ghostly activity.

The Ashmore Estate is located in Ashmore, Illinois—and if you haven’t ever heard of it, don’t feel bad; there’s only about 800 people in the entire town. However, it is part of the slightly more famous Coles County, Illinois…which is where Abraham Lincoln’s father and stepmother lived and which is home to an enormous collection of Lincoln paraphernalia—like the fabulous Lincoln in a log:

And, even better, the largest Lincoln statue in the WORLD.

And I don’t know about the rest of you, but when Eric and I realize we are somewhere near such an epic landmark, we stop in our tracks to find it.  Even if the attraction in question is closed.  Even if getting a glimpse of this landmark involves a little something some people call trespassing and we prefer to call exploring and can only be photographed through the fence of the Charleston, Illinois Raceway.

I hate to say it, but doesn't it look
like the tallest Lincoln statue in the
world is flipping us off?
Seriously, these might be the two worst representatives of Lincoln I have ever seen in my life. Could they look any creepier? To be fair, it’s possible that the residents of Coles County have no familiarity with Lincoln’s appearance because he never actually lived there.  His dad and step-mom did but he was already grown up and out of the house but the time they moved to Cole County.

Which kind of makes all of the Lincoln paraphernalia completely inappropriate.

But I digress…suffice it to say that this whole Lincoln landmark disappointment was somewhat representative of our ghost hunt this year.

The house definitely had some spirit activity but our personal ghostly encounters were very limited.  In addition, we were hindered by 2 very important things:

This was the type of ultra serious ghost hunt that 2 goofy amateurs have NO BUSINESS participating in. Particularly if the aforementioned amateurs think they're practically professionals because they ghost hunt once a year and had recently procured a EMF

First of all, a measley little EMF meter (even if it did receive killer reviews on all the ghost hunting websites) looked pretty pathetic next to all the other hunters’ equipment.  There were about a dozen other people exploring the house and EVERYONE had an EMF. The only other clear amateurs were these 3 college kids who were half-drunk and even they had a video camera and some sort of voice recorder.  The others had video cameras strapped to their heads, they had EVP recorders, they had spirit boxes, they had infrared cameras, someone had this weird laser light box, and two other guys were walking around with huge headphones and some equally weird wand thing.

It was disturbing.

Especially when they’d just burst into whatever room Eric and I were exploring, start shooting pictures and blinding us with their flashes, then yelling “Sorry!” before scurrying away and waving their wands and meters in the air with reckless abandon.

It’s a miracle I didn’t punch anyone right in the face.

Which brings me to my second point:

Serious ghost hunters are annoying.

Serious ghost hunters take themselves WAAAAYYYY too seriously.  They don’t appreciate giggling, they don’t appreciate any suggestion of logic, and they definitely don’t appreciate questions like “What is that thing you have strapped to your head?”

Plus, once they decide you’re an amateur, they’re downright rude.

For instance, after exploring several rooms with no success, Eric and I settled down in the 3rd floor lobby, a supposed “hot spot” in the house.  We put the EMF on the chair and began trying to talk to spirits in the room.  And just when things started to get interesting—the EMF started to give tiny flickers and then we heard something fall to the floor--this other guy came in, flopped his disgruntled self down in the chair next to me and muttered "This has been a complete disappointment!" Thus spreading his negative energy all over our hotspot and chasing our ghost away.

This is considered very bad form in the ghost hunting community.

Then the 3 college kids began telling everyone how they had gone into one of the other supposed hot spots and one of them had been briefly taken over by a spirit and was forced to do some Michael Jackson Thriller-esque moves against his will.

Personally, I thought this was the perfect time for the “bullshit” cough but the other hunters were all oohing and aahhing like the kids didn’t reek of beer and cheap liquor that they weren’t even polite enough to share with the group.

Which is considered very bad form in the drinking community.

Then, when Eric and I wanted to return to our 3rd floor hotspot we found that it had been hijacked by the two women with the weird laser light box. The box essentially lit up the entire room and most of that end of the hall with hundreds of tiny green laser lights—kind of like we were at the couples skate at a 1980s roller rink. The theory behind this was that, if you sit very still and somehow manage NOT to have an epileptic seizure, you will be able to see the dark shadows of ghosts as they cross through the lights.

I would love to report how this turned out but Eric (possibly possessed by some evil spirit in the manner of the aforementioned drunk college kids) sarcastically said “Ohhh, pretty!” and we were made to feel unwelcome by the serious hunters in the room.

At this point, Eric and I were forced to resort to plan B: glom onto anyone who was having luck finding ghosts and ride their coat tails to paranormal success.

This is considered genius by the Hadley-Yates community.

In any case, we eased our ghost-affirming, positive energy selves over to the room where two women had seemingly connected to one of the spirits in the house. Their EMF meter was going crazy, lighting up in in response to the questions they asked it. Then, best of all, they had this little stuffed teddy bear night light thing that lit up when you pressed its belly.  They put it on the bed, stepped away from it, and said "Elva, are you still with us?"

And the teddy bear lit up.

I'm not too proud to say I almost wet my pants.

Unfortunately, the women weren't interested in sharing their success.  Once they realized they had an audience, they basically took their toys and went home, flouncing out of the room and saying "good luck." over their shoulders.

Then, as if they already didn't deserve to be punched in the throat, they looked at this guy whose EMF meter started beeping and said "There's an electric outlet above you.  DEBUNKED!" in a snotty tone reminiscent of over-entitled high school girls.

Seriously, this is obnoxious in ANY community.

That poor guy retaliated by getting out his spirit box and trying to convince us all he was hearing the ghosts talk. "Did you hear that?!" He kept asking.

And if he meant earsplitting static that made me feel like my head was about to explode, then yes, I heard tons of that.

At this point it was almost one in the morning so we had a choice: do one final sweep of the house, hoping for a last minute ghost to jump out and scare us to death or go back to the hotel and eat Double Stuff Oreos.

The fact that this decision was made with almost no discussion is a testament to why our friendship has lasted all these years.

So, in summary, the house may be haunted but you couldn't prove it by us, OTHER serious ghost hunters often need to be punched in the face, and Double Stuff Oreos are amazing.


  1. Hilarious as always, Kimberly! Hope you and Opie are well. -Erin

    1. Thanks Erin! Things here are great--hope you are staying safe in all the crazy storms!

  2. Oreos are much better than obnoxious people.