Its funny. When I think of Julian, California all that comes to mind is, well, apples. Because of that, I never considered giving the very small city a visit. It was when my close friend and colleague, the lovely Ms. Anthropy, did a little research that I found out that a bed and breakfast was supposedly haunted there. The Gold Rush hotel had several claims that an apparition resided there. The apparition there was supposedly the ghost of former owner and freed slave, Albert Robinson. All sightings were said to occur to room 10 which, ironically, was Robinson’s former room.
Hearing this, a small but persistent inkling grew inside me to see for myself if the events were indeed true. Enduring the 45 minute trip there, I was taken aback by the old-west feel the small town had. The same feel one gets when visiting Old Town. The hotel itself was easy to see, as it seemed to be the only hotel on the main street.
Entering the Gold Rush Hotel, we were greeted by the solitary staff member working. As she was friendly enough, her demeanor slightly changed when I asked her if room 10 was still available. Pausing for a second, she gave a simple ‘mmm hmmm’ and handed us our key. Going up the stairs to where the rooms were, both of us were more than surprised to find that the rooms, all of them, were so old fashioned that they didn’t even have televisions. Although not a big deal, that was the first time I had seen that, even when I was in old world Prague.
Walking through the door of room 10, the first thing I noticed was the small size of it. But, it was rather quaint and cozy. A large bed, an antique dresser, a bathroom, and a couple of paintings on the wall was all it consisted of. The pictures, antiquated and possibly from the late 1800’s, were all of the same woman. A woman who gave a beautiful yet melancholy appearance.
As we started to unpack, Ms. Anthropy found something in the antique dresser that intrigued us both. It was an aged journal. Inside the journal was several accounts of past guests and all were concerning a certain female ghost ‘Lola’. An entry in the journal stated that it was first discovered in room 13, which was across the hall. How it got into our room was beyond me. But one thing was certain, according to past guests, Lola was the spirit entity present. As I again looked at the haunting pictures, I presumed that the sad woman in all of them was none other than Lola herself.
Because the only information concerning the haunting of the hotel I could find was solely focused on former owner Albert Robinson, we decided to ask the lone employee if she knew or experienced anything out of the ordinary. Though she was most helpful, all she would state is that she smelled pipe smoke from no known source, heard muffled voices and footsteps when the hotel was completely empty, and she told us how female guests had reported being groped at night. When I asked her if she knew anything about Lola, she said no. But, she was quick to point out that down the street and up a hill was the town cemetery. And if such a person haunted the hotel, chances were that they would be buried there. After all, it was where Robinson’s final resting place was.
Hearing her say that, my eyes lit up. It’s no secret that I absolutely love cemeteries and spend as much time as I can in them. Being that it was late in the day and we only had an hour or two at best of sunlight, we hurried down the street to the cemetery. Walking up the steep hill, I must admit that when I first saw it, I was slightly impressed. There were several tombstones with many large and old oak trees around them with an old west yet profound gothic impression to them. I mean, what’s not to like?
Slowly, we walked by each tombstone looking at the names, dates of death, and so on. And while we found many, the name of Lola wasn’t among them. However, we did find a small nameless grave in the far corner of the graveyard. Was this the final resting place of Lola? One can only speculate.
As the sun started to set, we decided to head back to the hotel. Leaving through the cemeteries rear entrance, I noticed a pale white horse in a gated stall. Because such an animal is regarded as an omen in many old European mythologies, I couldn’t resist walking up to it and giving it a quick pet.
Back at the hotel, we were both pleasantly surprised that the staff had changed and coffee and cookies were now being served in the day room. As we both enjoyed a cup, I approached the new staff with the familiar question of Lola. Her reply was pretty much the same as her predecessor. She only knew of the past reportings of strange activity related to the former owner Albert Robinson.
That night the room was quiet, mainly because there wasn’t a television set. But, also because, even if we didn’t mention it to one another, neither one of us knew what to expect. Years ago, on my first trip to Edinburgh, an older gentleman mentioned to me that the other side never reveals itself to those who are blatantly looking for it. And while it’s true that neither of us were molested by any spiritual forces that night, I fell asleep with the sad eyes of the women in the painting seemingly staring directly at me.
Awaking to a shower and a complimentary coffee and spinach and cheese frittata downstairs in the day room, my mind danced around the subject. It’s not always what you see, but what you feel that can be most important when dealing with the paranormal. And what I felt I couldn’t really put my finger on.
As both of us left Julian that morning, I realized that I had forgotten to sample Juian’s trademark fruit dishes. Namely, apple pie and cider. I then smiled knowing that would, among other things, give to me an excuse to come visit once again. Perhaps this time I can have an encounter with old man Albert Robinson. Or better, I can actually find out who Lola really was.