Orcas Island, WA
There are places in the world where people go to get away from it all, places so awe-inspiring that to visit reminds man of his place in the world, and humbles him before the awe-inspiring beauty of nature. Places such as these are rare, and many times are afforded only the very rich. Still, when riches have gone and the world continues to grow, some find it difficult to walk away. Some come to commune, others to escape, and none can deny that places such as these cast a spell over any who visit them. No matter what stands on these sites today, the power and beauty manages to shine through. For some, however, these places may seem more like a prison than a home. For these people, such sites, though beautiful, are little more than a gilded cage. And every wild bird longs for freedom.
Everyone has heard of hauntings caused by grief or pain. Often, phantoms remain out of love for a person or even a cherished spot. There are, however, some hauntings that are caused by none of these, but by a personality so powerful that it seems that not even death can snuff out its flame. Perhaps the spirit wasn’t ready to pack it in. Maybe it just wants more of the same thrills it had in life. Whatever the case, hauntings such as these are not the typical run-of-the-mill specters, but are the stuff of legend. They appear whenever they will, leaving hanging jaws and wagging tongues, and no one who sees them are ever the same.
The San Juan Islands of Washington state were originally inhabited by the Lummi Indians, until they were pushed out of their homes by British and Spanish explorers. It wasn’t until the mid nineteenth century that trappers and traders began making their homes on the islands. As was the story all over the “new world,” battles and disputes over to whom the land actually belonged raged, spilling blood over the land. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that a shipping magnate named Robert Moran built a fifty-four room home, complete with two bowling lanes, for himself. He lived in the massive structure for more than twenty years, until it became too much for him to keep up with. With his advancing years and the death of his wife from cancer, Moran decided to sell his dream home.
In 1932, a wealthy man named Donald Rheem was in search of a remote location into which to move himself and his wife, Alice. According to legend, Alice was quite the frisky sort, and Rheem was looking for a place to keep her lustful ways in check. The Moran mansion was perfect for his needs and he purchased the place. Alice, however, would not be tamed. She was well known for making appearances about the island in naught but her red negligee and high heels. To make matters worse, she was reputed to ride her motorcycle, still scandalously clad, into the small village to play poker with the fishermen. Her affairs with the fishermen and others were well known. Alice died in the late 1930’s, reputedly from alcohol abuse.
The building was sold a few more times until, in the late 1960’s, it was turned into a resort and spa.
Most any hotel with a little age can boast its own set of otherworldly permanent guests, few can match the Rosario Resort and Spa for spirits with personality, nor can they match the phenomena for sheer outlandish otherworldly behavior. The identity of the restless spirit at the resort has never been in doubt: It is none other than Alice Rheem, still kicking up her heels in the afterlife.
The most common occurrences are strange noises that have been reported by staff and guests alike. While it is common to hear what appears to be the footsteps of high-heeled shoes walking down empty corridors or descending stairways, they are not the noises that cause most to take notice. In 1987, a group of visitors reported what they described as very vigorous lovemaking coming from the room next door. The lovers, in the throws of passion, where loud enough to wake the sleeping guests. However, it was later discovered that the room was empty. This was neither the first nor the last instance of Alice making supernatural whoopee, as many guests have had similar experiences.
In the case of the most outrageous phenomena, she is seen, still dressed in her red nightie and high heels. She appears in front of guests either lounging or looking seductively at the men, or even riding what appears to be a spectral motorcycle through the second floor hallway.
The original mansion structure is home to the amenities of the Rosario Resort and Spa, the restaurant, lounge, boutique, music room and museum. Guest rooms are located in adjacent buildings on the grounds. It is still a place designed for getting in touch with nature, offering whale-watching guides and wildlife cruises. Visitors can kayak or sail in the Orcas Island bay or look through the history of the Morans Brothers Shipping dynasty in the resort museum. But there are always whispers, because no one knows when Alice is going to get a wild urge and go tearing across the second floor on her bike.
It seems that no one has tried to establish a pattern for the phenomena at the resort, so planning a trip around the hopes of seeing the fiery lady of the house may prove difficult. Instead, it seems that the best times to visit are the months when the whales are swimming and the weather is right to take in the wondrous sights of the island. They can be reached for booking through their website. When night falls, keep a sharp ear out for the sounds of love, and remember to look both ways before crossing the hall.
See you next time!
Scott A. Johnson
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