Our Friends LVP
On the trail of the flashiest restless spirit in Las Vegas with two technicians of the netherworld. By Bart Blasengame
There are plenty of strange things about Las Vegas , but perhaps the most perplexing is this: I just told the concierge at The Venetian that I'm in town hunting the ghost of Liberace, and he didn't even look up.
Ghosts are as common in Sin City as top-heavy drink girls. Bugsy Siegel floats through the garden of the Flamingo, Houdini roams the showroom of the Plaza, and Redd Foxx stalks the halls of his mansion, dick snaking unapologetically out of his bathrobe. And that's not even counting the myriad crapped-out suicides. But around these parts, in death as in life, it's Liberace who steals the show.
Since succumbing to complications from AIDS in 1987, Liberace has taken up residence at a restaurant called Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens , a few blocks off the Strip. Liberace owned the place and even had his own private lounge attached to the dining room, allowing him to slip in and man the glittering keys to the delight of unsuspecting diners. Walk inside Carluccio's and you wonder whether the cartoonishly flamboyant pianist ever really left. Besides the all-mirror-and-plastic-flower interior, there are the continued reports of hauntings: electrical surges, ladies' restroom stalls that lock and unlock themselves, crashing bottles.
Tonight, the L. V. Paranormal Investigation team of Mike Carrico and Osvaldo Luna have gathered to see if the man whose mama called him Lee can come out to play. By day the two 36-year-olds work at the casinos—Carrico supervises porters; Luna is a housekeeping manager. By night they're on the prowl for the paranormal. "My wife thinks I'm full of shit, and my father-in-law thinks I'm a joke," Carrico says. "But it's a calling."
Carrico and Luna are the kind of guys who have been giving the International Ghost Hunting society a more youthful demographic lately. The governing body of the boo-curious, the IGHS says its list of 15,000 members in 87 countries is thick with young recruits. The society's goal is to distance itself from the taint of Ouija boards and babbling psychics, modernizing—and perhaps even legitimizing—ghost-hunting with tools that promise tangible proof: thermal scanners, electromagnetic-field meters, Geiger counters, night cameras, motion detectors, and tape recorders.
But is it for real? Could Grammy Mae still be trolling the kitchen from beyond the grave pimping her famous lemon icebox pie? Among the thousands of IGHS-approved Internet sites, there are countless pictures of "orbs," mysterious balls of light of varying size said to signify the presence of a specter. To the skeptic they could just be bits of floating dust, refracted light, or a finger in the lens. But electronic voice phenomena, known as EVPs, are harder to shake off. Tape recorders left running in haunted areas often pick up faint, disembodied voices crying out from the other side. (EVPs form the basis of White Noise, a new film starring Michael Keaton—speaking of life after death—and figure prominently in the new Sci-Fi Channel docu-series Ghost Hunters. ) "We were the first ghost organization to teach that ghost voices are filled with emotions," says Dr. Dave Oester, co-founder of the IGHS. "They're not monotone, as taught by traditional groups."
Jason Snider employs all this state-of-the-art spirit-sensing technology as the leader of a team of 60 afterlife aficionados in Illinois called the Crawford County Ghost Hunters. A veteran of 3,000 paranormal investigations, Snider, at 24, is one of the most successful ghost hunters in the country. Just this week he has recorded an angry spirit in an opera house ordering him to "get out" and a long-dead Indian at a burial mound asking for directions to "the light." He posted the tapes of both conversations on his Web site. "I used to have to sleep with the lights on, but after a while you get used to it," Snider says. "Now, if a full-body apparition floated by me"—which, he says, has happened before—"I wouldn't run away. I'd take a picture of it." These days it's only the freshly dead that truly creep him out. A member of a first-response EMT team, he's often there to pick up the pieces when the worst happens. After bagging the bodies and riding away in his ambulance, he sometimes feels a cattle prod of cold fear: the distinct sense he's not alone.
"It gets weird," he says, with an uneasy laugh. "You can feel the dead. It's like they're still there, watching you."
The hunt for Liberace begins with interviews of Carluccio's employees. Oscar Ortiz has worked in the restaurant for 13 years and is the only one who's seen the ghost face to face. Nine years ago, while polishing an eight-foot mirror, Ortiz glimpsed the reflection of what he describes as "a giant sparkling cape" floating up behind him. When he turned around, it was gone. Ortiz figures Liberace is just "a good ghost who's watching to make sure his place is clean."
Kelly Stanley, on the other hand, thinks Lee's got a chip on his rhinestone-clad shoulder. "Getting AIDS is not the way he wanted to die," she says through the smoke of her Capri cigarette. "And I think he's a little upset we came in." Stanley has been on Liberace's shit list for most of her 17 years tending bar here. She sometimes repeats jokes about the former owner—like the one that goes, "Why did they bury Liberace face down? So his friends could come by for a cold one"—and one night while she was dispensing some of this humor, a wine bottle flew off its rack and smashed to the ground inches from her feet. She's also heard voices, walked through cold spots, and watched toilets flush for no apparent reason. "I've seen a lot of weird things," she tells the ghost hunters. "Well, you guys wouldn't think it's weird." Stanley may also have been visited by aliens as a teen, but that's another story.
Properly geeked out, Carrico and Luna begin creeping through the restaurant, electromagnetic meters and thermal scanners cocked like pistols. The bar, shaped like a giant grand piano, comes up cold on Luna's thermal readout, meaning there may be spooks about. Near the door to Liberace's room, Carrico's electromagnetic meter is reading positive. "We may have something," he says. The two ghostbusters begin taking pictures with digital, film, and Polaroid cameras.
"Mr. Liberace," Carrico shouts into the silence, "we ask that if you're here you allow us to photograph you."
Out of nowhere a hollow voice bellows: "Pork...the other white meat!" Carrico and I snap to attention. "Is that you?" he asks. Just as we're about to conclude that Liberace is now spokesman-in-eternity for the Pork Board, John Hosier, Carluccio's manager, points to our feet. We look down and realize we've set off a goddamn Billy Bass talking fish.
A tad embarrassed, our party heads into the women's restroom—a hotbed of inter-dimensional action in the past, but a flop tonight. From the men's crapper we hear Carrico yelp giddily: "I've got something!" We walk in to find him pointing at a pink urinal cake. His meter is doing jumping jacks. "He's here," he says. Flashbulbs pop as Stanley leads us past the life-threatening wine rack and into the kitchen, where blenders and freezers and lights have been known to operate with minds of their own.
Our walk-through completed, we huddle around a table spread with spent Polaroids, searching frantically for orbs. Nothing. Without an orb, these investigators won't declare that a ghost was in the house. The lyrics from Liberace's hit "I'll Be Seeing You," etched into the surrounding mirrors, seem to mock us.
Luna grows philosophical. "It's about finding the truth and helping people," he says. "It doesn't always work, but I like the word vindicate. That's what we're really trying to do. I don't think it's right that people think you're crazy if you say you've seen a ghost."
At this point, freezing in the predawn desert air, I'm ready to chalk both Carrico and Luna up as just that: crazy. As shit-house rats. Then a smile creeps across Carrico's face. He motions me over and hands me his digital camera. On the screen is a picture of Stanley taken in the kitchen. Covering the right side of her face is large shark fin of light that looks to be boring into her skull. There's no explanation for it except for, you know, Liberace's ghost having it out for her. Everyone gasps.
"We did experience a ghost here tonight," Carrico says. He sounds... vindicated.
As I watch his DOC WHO vanity plate recede into the lights of the Strip, I can't argue with him. I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do...
By TIFFANNIE BOND VIEW STAFF WRITER
There's a bump in the night. Unusual lights streak across the sky. There's a chill in the air, but only for a second.
According to LV Paranormal Investigations, there is an explanation, whether it be a faulty vent or a friendly spirit. The nonprofit group has investigated the unworldly and unusual as a free community service since May and will be featured in Details Magazine this month.
"We truly believe there's something happening that's not being investigated enough. I feel people aren't being helped enough," said Wallie Luna, co-founder. "Either they laugh at it, and make 'X-Files' jokes about it, or they take it seriously and tell you their stories and experiences."
Luna and Mike Carrico met while working at a Strip resort and shared their interest in the paranormal. They call themselves the "ying and the yang," each trying to prove or disprove each other's theories and beliefs.
Carrico, based on personal experience, wants to believe. Luna wants scientific proof. To either, testimony and one visit don't quite cut it, Luna said.
"We're trying to find facts," he said. "We try to explain these things."
A full interview is conducted as well as extensive visits to the residential or commercial properties, Luna and Carrico said. Even the medical conditions of the witnesses are considered. Some people want activity so badly, when the team concludes the activity is of a normal nature, they insist they have a ghost.
"We always try to look at the natural first. I don't want to look like a stupid idiot. I want good, solid evidence," Luna said. "There's going to be a lot that's not going to be true, but there's going to be the one time, the lottery ticket, when it's going to be true."
There are four members of the group, which leads to comparisons and wisecracks relating the group to the slime-thrashing, marshmallow-stomping characters in the 1984 movie "Ghostbusters." In part, Luna is envious of the equipment in the movie.
"There's not a specific camera for ghosts. There's not a detector for ghosts," Luna said. "I wish I had that stuff. Technology is, hopefully, going t o catch up."
Polaroid, 35mm and digital cameras are used as well as dial and digital meters reading electromagnetic fields and temperature. If there is a spike on either, the crew snaps away, hoping to catch a paranormal event in their midst. There is higher technology, but the group has yet to afford it.
Las Vegas isn't as old as Boston, New York or London, but it doesn't have to be soaked in 300 years of history to have ghostly activity.
"That's a misconception," Luna said. "It can be a recent tragic event that just happened."
Recently, Carrico, Luna and their crew converged on Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens Italian restaurant, 1775 E. Tropicana Ave., with Details Magazine in tow, to investigate ghostly reports from employees. Liberace had a strong tie to the place, and there are reports of activity during and commemorations of his life.
The Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City also is under investigation. The group wants to gather more information before it puts its stamp on either project, whether it be paranormal or normal.
"I want to prove it to myself, also," Carrico said. "I want to know it's there."
Luna was first haunted as a teenager, when his grandfather told him a Latino legend of the Weeping Woman. Carrico grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where tales of Big Foot ran rampant. As the "ying and the yang" dictate, the duo have varying experiences.
While working at the former Red Rock Theaters, which were located on West Charleston Boulevard, Carrico was the single witness to lights being shut off and a single rocking chair in an empty theater. At the time, he ran.
"I go toward it more positively now. You overcome your fear of the unknown," Carrico said. "As you go along, you're going to encounter more. You're more aware of what you're doing. You're not prone to be scared."
LV Paranormal Investigations is a free service, and the group is a member of national and international associations, including the International Ghost Hunting Society and the American Association of Paranormal Investigations. The foursome hopes to have more investigations to better gauge activity in the city as a whole, Luna said.
"It shouldn't cost anything. I think anyone that respects the field isn't going to say, 'Give me $100 to get rid of your ghost.' I think it does a lot of damage," Luna said. "We're never going to ask people for money. We're always going to do it for free.
"It's like having a wild dog (in your house), and you can't go in there. This helps you be at peace with your house."
Those interested can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Wallie Luna, left, and Mike Carrico from the Las Vegas Paranormal Investigations group show how they would conduct a paranormal investigation to find paranormal activity in a house. Thursday, December 30,2004--View photo by shelly
|The Mystical Skeptic
Ghosts, Aliens, God & a Vortex. Do I Believe?
By Josh Bell
I don't believe in anything. I've never been a religious person, and although my halfheartedly Jewish mother sent me to Sunday school and Hebrew school for a while when I was a kid, I never had any moment of revelation about the nonexistence of God. I've just never believed, in Judaism or any other organized religion, in God in general, in aliens, in ghosts, in psychics, in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster or anything beyond the real and the mundane. My life is a life bereft of faith, of magic, of any meaning beyond the here and now. To some it may sound bleak, but to me the idea that strange, unknowable forces are at work in the world is far more dire than the idea that our own limited experience is what's most important.
At the same time, I am fascinated by stories of the otherworldly; I love movies and books about the supernatural and whenever I write my own fiction, it usually involves elements beyond the real and the mundane. If I ever encountered a ghost, or an alien, or the Lord Himself, I'm not sure if I would be fascinated or horrified. Heading out to four mystical sites in and around town, I do my best to open up to the experiences and see if I can find something to believe in.The Haunting
Fox Ridge Park, 420 N. Valley Verde Drive, Henderson
Mike Carrico, head of Las Vegas Paranormal Investigations, sends me a list of haunted places to check out, and the one that strikes me as the most interesting is Fox Ridge Park in Henderson, where, according to Carrico, the spirit of a little boy haunts a swing set. The boy's ghost allegedly transforms into a demon after midnight. Carrico also warns me that homeowners near the park, which is in a nice area and surrounded by gated communities, don't take kindly to people poking around looking for spirits, and that when his group was recently in the park, they were "charged" by a local kid. Honestly, I find myself more afraid of angry homeowners than of a supposedly demonic little boy.
I enlist my brother, an even bigger skeptic than myself, to accompany me to the park around midnight on a Sunday. He scoffs at the idea of hauntings in the park (Carrico also claims that the ghost of a woman wanders the park looking for her children) and expresses little concern over potentially angry homeowners. We drive to the park, a clean and modern facility that looks like it couldn't have been built more than a decade ago. Unlike most allegedly haunted places in Vegas (the Flamingo with its ghost of Bugsy Siegel, Redd Foxx's old house, Liberace's favorite restaurant), Fox Ridge doesn't have a colorful history, or much history at all. Even Carrico doesn't know what happened to the boy to cause his spirit to haunt the park.
We easily locate the swing set that the boy supposedly haunts, which looks completely innocuous. There's no one else in the park at this hour, and only the occasional car driving by on the adjoining street, so even without a potential ghost the situation is a little creepy. The whooshing sound of the sprinklers hitting a wall is the only thing you can hear, and if you didn't know what it was, it could potentially sound supernatural.
There is, however, nothing going on at the swing set. A co-worker with ghost-hunting expertise has suggested I bring my tape recorder to see if I can pick up some ghostly noises, so I turn it on and proceed to interview the ghost. My brother thinks this is completely ridiculous, but I try to encourage the ghost to tell me his name, or what he wants. There's no response, and when I play back the tape later, all I hear is silence. I leave it on for the next 20 minutes as we sit around staring at the empty swing set, but all it records is our idle banter about what movies we've seen recently.
I keep willing the swing on the right (the one supposedly haunted by the boy) to move, and at one point it almost looks like it does. I'm more concerned about the supposed angry homeowners and the Henderson police department, who might not approve of our being in the park after hours, but no presence, spiritual or corporeal, makes itself known. As midnight comes and goes, the swing remains still, and whether or not the boy's ghost has changed into a demon, it's not coming out tonight. I pack up the camera and the tape recorder and we drive away, past fancy gated subdivisions that look far too tidy for something as unpredictable as a haunting.The Truth is Way Out There
It's sort of strange to realize that Area 51, the mysterious government installation revered by conspiracy theorists for its supposed cache of aliens and alien-related items, is an actual place that's easily accessible by anyone with a little dedication, and not a complete figment of paranoid imaginations. Officially known as the "Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Range," the military compound centered around Groom Lake is only about two and a half hours outside of Las Vegas, near the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada.
I drive along several two-lane highways (including State Road 375, officially christened the "Extraterrestrial Highway" in 1996 by Gov. Bob Miller) through mostly empty desert to get to Rachel, essentially a collection of trailers and one or two houses surrounded by miles and miles of emptiness. The town's centerpiece is the Little A'Le'Inn, a diner (in a trailer, of course), motel and repository of both alien information and tacky souvenirs. Although it's the middle of the day on a Monday, the small A'Le'Inn is filled with customers, including tourists perusing the merchandise and a local who helps owner Pat Travis with her garden.
I sit down at the counter (where I'm carded, since, Travis says, "this is technically a bar") and order a grilled cheese sandwich while casually asking Travis where the best place nearby is to catch a glimpse of aliens. Clearly thinking I am yet another space tourist, she sighs and points out that the only way to actually see any of the base's buildings is to take a two-hour vertical climb up Tikaboo Peak, after driving out to it through the desert.
I demur on the hiking expedition and then let Travis know that I'm a reporter writing about mystical places. Immediately she opens up, volunteering that she has personally seen aliens three times since moving to Rachel 18 years ago. Her first encounter was during the dead of winter, when it was 20 below zero outside. She saw a small light about the size of a flashlight outside her door, illuminating the entire doorway, and says that she felt a presence that was not at all threatening. After the first visitation, she joked to her husband that they should put milk and cookies out for the aliens like they do for Santa Claus.
Travis sells me a photocopied map of the area, clearly made on someone's computer, for 35 cents. Its most notable landmark visible from the road is the infamous "black mailbox," a lone mailbox at the end of a dirt road that is the site of many an alleged alien encounter. Although UFO enthusiasts have mistaken the mailbox for an official Area 51 drop, it actually belongs to rancher Steve Medlin, who replaced the traditional-looking black box in 1996 with a large, white, square, padlocked box because too many conspiracy nuts were digging through his mail for signs of aliens.
Still, Medlin's mailbox is easy to spot, and it's covered with graffiti from people imploring the aliens to make themselves known, or just noting their own presence at the spot. Someone from as far away as Amherst, Ohio, has scrawled his name. I take some photos of the box and listen for signs of aliens. I hear a strange buzzing, but it's only the disturbingly large flies (perhaps alien in origin?) that inhabit this area.
The map directs me to go three and a half miles down the mailbox road, where I'll come to a fork and another dirt road. This is the road that leads directly into Area 51. The mailbox road is a little uneven but perfectly clear to follow, and even marked with a speed-limit sign. When I get to the next road (known unofficially as "Groom Lake Road"), there's a stop sign (although it's fallen over) and another speed-limit sign. The road is maintained well enough that my Honda Accord has no trouble going the posted 45-mile-per-hour limit, even if it kicks up plenty of dirt behind me.
I'm supposed to drive almost nine miles along this road to the edge of the base, beyond which I risk arrest, fine and potential alien probing. It's hard to believe that there's anything at all in what looks like a vast wasteland, but as my odometer indicates I'm getting close to the base, a white pick-up truck with U.S. Government plates whizzes past me on the road going the opposite direction. Sure enough, only a few minutes later I come to a pair of signs advising me that I have reached the Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Range, that trespassing is prohibited and no photographs are allowed. Security cameras are mounted nearby, and on the hill above me I see a parked, gray pickup truck, which the map warns me probably contains guards. I can't tell from this far away if there's anyone inside.
I park just before the signs and get out of my car. There are no signs of anything unusual, and beyond the signs the dirt road simply continues into what looks like empty desert. The map claims that I can take pictures with impunity as long as I don't pass the signs, but it also tells me that trespassers can technically be shot on sight, and the stern warnings on the signs about photography make me wary. I snap a couple of pictures while looking nervously up at the pickup on the hill, which doesn't move. I imagine that the camera is recording my license plate number and placing me on any number of watch lists, perhaps even marking me for future abduction.
Turning around and heading back down the road, the only uncanny feeling I have is nervousness, which quickly subsides when I determine that the gray truck isn't following me. On my way back, I look for signs of alien presence in the desert, wondering if perhaps any of the cattle roaming the open ranch land have been subject to mutilation. They all look healthy, though, and if there is indeed a colony of aliens in the mountains (as Pat Travis claims), I haven't been dedicated (or lucky) enough to find them.Closer to God
Candle-Lit Labyrinth Walk, Christ Church Episcopal, 2000 S. Maryland Parkway
On the third Thursday of every month, this east-side church features a canvas labyrinth modeled after the one in the Chartres Cathedral in France. According to the home page of the Labyrinth Society, "A labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity." Unlike mazes, labyrinths aren't puzzles with dead ends and tricky twists; they have a single path from the entrance to the middle and back again, and are not designed to challenge the mind so much as relax it.
Although this and many other labyrinths are in churches (there is a permanent one at St. Andrew's Catholic Community in Boulder City), labyrinths have been in existence for about 4,000 years, and thus are not exclusive to the Christian faith. Rose Marie Pickell, who is tending to the labyrinth when I visit, tells me that the church sees visitors of all faiths or no faith (like me) show up to walk the labyrinth. The creator and curator of this particular labyrinth is Gael Hancock, who's out of town this month, but Pickell gives me Hancock's pamphlet on using labyrinths in schools and tells me how Hancock has been working at getting permanent labyrinths built in Sunset Park and at UNLV.
While it's possible to commune with a higher power while walking a labyrinth, that's not its only purpose. Pickell tells me that some people say chants or prayers while walking, and others simply meditate on problems or questions in their lives. Her 8-year-old great-grandson, she says, likes to run through the path in two minutes flat.
I take off my shoes and walk into the partitioned-off section of the room with the labyrinth, simply a path drawn on a canvas sheet. There are candles lit, but it's still light outside, and since Hancock is gone this month the music she usually plays is absent. I start walking slowly and try to think of a problem in my life on which to meditate. All I can come up with is the problem of finishing this story on time, so I meditate on that for a little. The annoying Rob Thomas song "Lonely No More" is stuck in my head, and in the silence all I can think about is that stupid song on a loop.
Eventually, though, I settle into a sort of rhythm, and the circular movement around the labyrinth is indeed soothing. I'm not able to convene with a higher power, but when I come out of the room 10 minutes later, I do feel refreshed and relaxed. Something about walking on such a defined pathway calms the nerves; apparently Hancock has had success with autistic children who walk the labyrinth, as well as average people. This is the kind of mysticism I can handle: internal, thoughtful and dependent on no force other than my own personal reflections.
In Search of the Vortex
Ice Box Canyon, Red Rock
Manager Cate Howell-Cronister of the Psychic Eye Book Shop on Charleston Boulevard tells me that there is a vortex in the waterfall cave at the end of the Ice Box Canyon trail at Red Rock. Although I envision a giant glowing wormhole like something out of Star Trek, vortexes are a little more mundane. "A vortex is a mass of energy that moves in a rotary or whirling motion, causing a depression or vacuum at the center. ... These powerful eddies of pure Earth power manifest as spiral-like coagulations of energy that are either electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic qualities of life force," says Page Bryant's Terravision: A Traveler's Guide to the Living Planet Earth. Howell-Cronister tells me that I am likely to experience a chill, a complete absence of sound, or perhaps the hair standing up on the back of my neck when I visit the Ice Box Canyon vortex. It doesn't sound too exciting, but on the other hand it seems squarely within the realm of possibility.
I head out to Red Rock alone, since no one wants to come hiking with me on a July day in Las Vegas (I can't imagine why). The pamphlet handed out at the front gate describes the Ice Box trail as "moderate," and claims that a round trip will take me about 90 minutes. I'm no hiker—about a year ago a visiting friend and I attempted the "Children's Discovery" trail at Red Rock and barely made it—but this seems like something I can handle. Indeed, at first the trail is a little rough but completely manageable. I pass a man carrying a small child at the beginning of the trail, but otherwise I'm alone. Although the temperature crests 100 as usual, the air gets cooler as I head deeper into the canyon, which is how the trail gets its name. The website Hiking Around Las Vegas touts this as the only trail to hike if you go to Red Rock during the summer.
The website also notes that the last quarter-mile of the trail involves "scrambling" over rocks, which I discover apparently means "climbing over giant boulders." Twice I face huge rock walls (or what I perceive as huge), consider giving up and manage to soldier on. By the time I reach the large Ponderosa pine that marks the official end of the trail, it's been almost two hours. The website claims that the waterfall, and thus the vortex, is only five minutes past the tree, but right away I encounter rock formations that I absolutely can't climb. I'm tired, hot and low on water, and I decide to give up, hoping my editor won't be too mad. Why couldn't there be a vortex in the mall?
Then something genuinely bad happens: I get lost. Completely, irretrievably, no-joke lost. By the time it becomes apparent that I am not on my way back to the first part of the trail, I can't figure out how to get back the way I came to start over. I am in the middle of the wilderness with very little water and no idea where I am. The only thing of which I am reasonably certain is the direction of the road, and so I head that way, over rocks and through underbrush and among who knows how many bugs. For two hours, I walk holding only to the hope that the road is indeed where I think it is. I call for help periodically, but in a massive canyon that's beyond futile, and there aren't exactly a whole lot of other hikers on a Monday afternoon in July.
I wonder if maybe this is my vortex experience, if the forces I've openly disdained are returning my derision with a little karmic payback. But the simple, natural force described by Howell-Cronister doesn't seem vindictive. I briefly imagine dying out here, without ever having embraced any sort of higher power or force beyond the mortal realm. It seems pointless to me, though, to appeal to God or the vortex or any other force that I don't believe exists just because things look bleak. Far more important than mystical forces that may or may not exist is the road that definitely does exist, and that road, not a higher power, is what's going to get me out of this situation.
After I run out of water, I drink a little from a small creek, which is a bad idea but, I reason, better than dying of dehydration (later a park ranger tells me I may or may not get sick from it, but I end up feeling fine). When I finally see my car, it's as close to a supernatural moment as I'll probably ever get. Even though I can see, now that I'm out in the open, that I was walking relatively close to the path, the last two hours were one of the scariest experiences of my life. I collapse in my car, exhausted, thirsty and completely shaken up, and I discover that I do believe in some things: I believe in air conditioning, paved roads and encroaching development, which means that only a few miles down the road there is a brand new grocery store that will sell me a bottle of Gatorade so I can rehydrate myself and forget that I ever wanted to look for anything beyond my own, clearly fragile, existence.
American Association of Paranormal Investigators