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July 12, 2008

Paranormal: Claire? Are you there Claire?

“Claire? Are you there?”
“Please show yourself to us again Claire!”

This is the story of Claire, the ghost that wasn’t but made for a good show to the uninitiated.

I don’t have a problem with a good ghost story. Even weaving unrelated factoids together to try to give an aire of credibility to a story that’s for entertainment purposes only. But common sense (which is not so common these days in the first place) goes out the window with many novice ghost hunters who so want to believe anything and everything.

In the late winter of 2007 I went with my paranormal group to a Darkness Radio/TAPS event at the famous Stanley Hotel in Colorado. It was an awesome trip! The speakers, the events, just the scenery alone was worth the trip.

One of the notable areas in the hotel is room 217 in the main building. That’s the room Stephen King stayed in many years ago. His stay at the Stanley is said to have inspired him to write “The Shining” and “Pet Cemetery”.

During our stay it was said the room was haunted by a ghost named Claire, although in our research we can find on such mention of someone named Claire associated with that room or any event that might lead to a haunting of that room (other than King himself staying there – I’ve met him and he’s a great writer but a freaky looking guy!). But these kinds of events are somewhat a “paranormal amusement park” so if the claim of Claire in room 217 helps add an atmosphere to the event, especially for the groupies and TV show fans, I won’t burst anyone’s bubble.

The first night was sort of an open investigation night. Attendees were all over the place looking for ghosts. Not exactly the most optimal conditions for a true paranormal investigation but it was fun to mingle and speak with others from around the country.

Our group was walking back to our rooms which were in the opposite end of the hallway from room 217. As we passed 217, I saw there was a woman (around mid 20’s) sitting on the floor facing the 217 doorway and holding a video camera. As we walked by I heard her say “You won’t believe the activity here!”. Naturally, my investigator’s curiosity perked up so I had to check it out.

She said she’s been getting activity there consistently for nearly an hour. So I stood next to where she was sitting and watched the doorway while she continued to video.

I didn’t see anything.
I took dozens of digital photos – nothing.
I scanned the area with my IR thermometer – no cold or hot spots.
I watched my EMF meter – steady low reading.
I even took out my IR night vision viewer (the hallway was darkened for the event) – Saw nothing.

Meanwhile, the woman kept saying “Come on Claire, please show yourself to me again.” And words to that affect. Then, every minute or so she would say “Oh thank you Claire. Can you show yourself again?”. This went on for better than 10 minutes. I saw nothing.

Finally I asked her if I could sit next to her and watch her video camera’s screen with her, as she was apparently seeing things on her camera that I was unable to detect. She said “Sure!” and I sat down next to her.

Her video camera was an older style unit. It didn’t have IR night vision. Rather, just a large white light source in the front for darkness illumination.

So I sat next to her watching the side pop-out screen while she continued to talk to Claire.

“Claire, please show yourself to us again.”
“Come on Claire, you can do it.”
“Just a come past the camera again Claire.”

Sure enough, in a minute or so she said “Thank you again Claire. Walk by one more time.”

I saw nothing on the screen. What in Heaven’s name was this woman seeing that I wasn’t?? My eye’s may not be what they were 20 years ago but I still don’t need glass (or maybe I do?).

This went on for another 10 minutes. Then I saw what she was reacting to –

Every so often a flake of dust would whisk past the camera lens, close enough for the light to illuminate but not so big you would notice with the naked eye. That was what she was interpreting as “Claire”!

After several “appearances” by Claire, I gently said to her “That’s dust. It’s not paranormal”.

You’ll need to just take my word for it that I was as pleasant and non-confrontational as I could be.

But she wasn’t buying it. These were ghosts! Yea, like a ghost is going to spend 20+ minutes just prancing around in front of your camera at your call.

I tried to calmly point out this is an old and dusty hotel (no insult to how well it’s maintained, but it is old and dusty), and the draft in the hallway stirs the dust.

She then replies “Well look at all what I got in the room!” and she rewound the tape to when she was investigating (and I use that term very loosely). As I watched I saw clouds of dust particles pass by. Some darted by quickly. Some swirled. Some calmly drifted by. And one that made a curious but non-paranormal cork screw approach to the camera then move off.

Now the woman looks at me and says “You can’t tell me that’s all dust!” to which I said “Have a good weekend”, got up and walked away.

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