Everything happens for a reason. I have really come to believe that.
My wife and I headed up to Lake Tahoe for Mother's Day weekend only to find the cabin that looked so rustic and cozy on the Internet was actually a DUMP.
We might have eaten the whole cost but we weren't going to stay there and ruin our weekend.
So we looked up alternate places and decided on one of Lake Tahoe's most historic and legendary destinations--the Cal Neva Resort, Spa & Casino.
The lodge dates back to the late 1920s and the original structure burned to the ground in 1937.
Amazingly, the place was rebuilt in just over a month and added it's tower in 1969.
Perhaps it is most famous for its owner in the early 1960s--Frank Sinatra.
The legendary entertainer owned it for three years and built the Sinatra Showroom. His booth still stands and you can feel the aura and energy of a bygone era when the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, and even the Three Stooges graced the stage designed by Sinatra himself.
The rooms in the tower are amazing and the full lake views are breathtaking and in my opinion, the most spectacular views of any hotel on the lake. But you can also book the cabins of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe where the rich and famous stayed and played. The Kennedys stayed often at the resort.
You can feel how special this icon is the moment you walk in the doors. Sadly, gaming has shrunk to just a few slot machines, but you can close your eyes and picture what the scene must have looked like back in the swinging days of years past.
To add icing to the cake, the Cal Neva is infamous for its paranormal activity. And as a paranormal investigator, it was a dream destination come true.
The resort offers a compelling and entertaining tour of the underground tunnel that remains open beneath the premises. The tunnels were originally built in the 1920s as a way of smuggling in bootleg booze during Prohibition. Many were walled up by the authorities decades back.
But they are most famous for their most famous travelers--Sinatra, Monroe, and John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, among others.
The tunnels would lead to various places, including the spacious closets in the Sinatra and Monroe cabins. You can fill in the blanks as to why these trapdoors where placed where they were.
It has been widely reported that the cabins of Sinatra and Monroe have a lot of paranormal activity.
I talked to a few people and arranged a private EVP session in both cabins! For those new to the paranormal, EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon. These are voices of the dead which are captured on analog and digital recording devices. I have captured hundreds of them in my handful of years as an investigator. They can range from humorous to bone chilling.
Since this was an overnight stay for Mother's Day and not a formal investigation, I wasn't armed with my complete arsenal of ghost hunting gear. But I usually always travel with my KII EMF detector and a digital recorder. Those can be the ghost hunter's best friends anyway and most evidence will come in the way of audio, not video, recordings.
You can't imagine how thrilled I was to have access to both of these cabins. It was awesome.
My KII meter (the EMF detector made famous on shows like GHOST HUNTERS) was showing nothing out of the ordinary when I did my baseline readings. You always want to do a sweep of a rooms you are investigating to see what the average EMF (electro magnetic field) readings are from outlets, lamps, and other electronics in the vicinity of the hunt.
An old house might have off the charts EMF from faulty wiring, for example. And it's good to know if your EMF is coming from something easily explainable or from something that could possibly be paranormal in origin.
It is believed that spirits can influence the EMF around them and can even feed off of high levels of the fields and the energy to manifest.
The levels were all normal in Marilyn's cabin. Until they WEREN'T.
I started getting unbelievable KII activity from the start of my 30 minute, informal investigation. It seemed to respond to my questions and presence. It was amazing.
All of a sudden I felt like someone was standing right next to me in the dark room. The hairs on my arms stood on end and I was frightened and surprised by this sudden feeling of someone there with me.
It's not surprising that this room would have paranormal activity. Marilyn Monroe spent happy and tragic times in this very room. This was where she overdosed just a week before she was found dead at her home in Southern California. Just outside the cabin are boulders upon which the final photos of Marilyn Monroe alive were taken. A lot of emotions--negative and positive--have been engrained on this spot.
I moved on to Frank Sinatra's cabin and was astonished at the level of KII activity that resulted from my questions and presence.
At various points I ask whatever entity might be present to influence the lights (on the KII meter...green is low EMF and the intensity progresses to yellow, orange, and red).
Not only did I get what I asked for, the LAMP on the nightstand visibly got BRIGHTER!! I have been doing this long enough to know that the odds of a lamp just burning brighter AS YOU ASK it to is pretty darned rare.
Then it would go dim again. And then brighter...then dim. It did this a couple of times.
I suddenly got some pretty high readings on the KII and they remained steady for quite some time. All during this time, I felt literally as if I had ICE on my body. I was chilled. Not out of fright...but as if my whole body had turned ICE COLD.
I am still reviewing my audio recorder for any EVPs I may have captured.
Even though this was an unplanned ghost hunt, it was one of the most fascinating and exiting ones I have ever been on.
The Cal Neva is certainly not one of the newer establishments at Lake Tahoe. But my wife and I fell in love with it from the moment we arrived. The accommodations were fantastic...the views unreal...the staff exceptionally warm and friendly and helpful.
And its hallways and ballrooms whisper out to you if you listen carefully enough. The glamour and glitz and gloom of an era long gone beckon you around every corner. The can almost see the smoky air as the Rat Pack performed in the Sinatra Showroom. And you can sit in Sinatra's booth and imagine all the conversations that took place there.
You can even see the heli-pad that the rich and famous and infamous (including mobsters back in the day) would use for easy access in and out of the resort.
And how many swimming pools do you know of where you can swim from California to Nevada in just a stroke? The Indian Room is also split down the middle and intriguing tales of slot machines on rollers being rolled to the Nevada side when inspectors were on their way are told with heartfelt nostalgia and infamy.
My ghost hunting partner and I are already planning a formal investigation at the Cal Neva. I can't wait to go back.
As we drove off for the ride back home, we circled to the back of the showroom where if you look carefully, you will see barely readable letters on the wall in front of a couple of parking spaces.
They read: "Mr. Sinatra".
Now that's pretty darned cool.
Whether it's the ghosts of Sinatra or Monroe or any of the countless famous and anonymous guests who have stayed at the resort over the years, I walked away buzzing from the energy of this incredible place. It's one of the handful of places I have been that feels as if it's alive...with its own heart and soul.
And it will be apparent for anyone with the patience to close their eyes, stand still, and feel it.