Saturday, October 27, 2012

Interview with a Ghost Hunter - Part 2

This is the last bit of my interview with Joe Mahlstede is paranormal investigator with North Bay RIP. You can read the first part of the interview right here

Abandoned Mine in Bodie, California

How long had your team thought about doing this project before you all finally made the jump?

We actually never thought of doing the project at all.  We were approached by Gloria Young an investigator with over 20 years experience in the paranormal field.  She had made a few documentaries on Tombstone, Arizona, Preston Castle in Ione, and The Ghosts of Virginia City, Nevada.  She was interested in doing this project, had interviewed a few other groups, and ultimately chose us.

What was the final push that made your team decide to take the plunge and start your own web series?

Originally when Gloria approached us, it was because she had a potential deal with a major network for a series.  That deal didn't come to fruition and we refused to let the project die, hence the web series.

What has surprised you most about the experience?

I would have to say the amount of time and energy that goes in to the creation of a web series.  It's much more than the time already spent on just a normal investigation.  For instance, on our last location shoot we filmed for 22 hours straight!

Mackay Mansion in Virginia City

Has this project opened any unexpected doors for you? If so, tell me about it.

It has in the sense that I'm getting to travel a lot more, we've been given exclusive access in to some places that not just anybody can get into, and some very huge opportunities are on the horizon for us, I'm just not at liberty to say as of yet!

How does this project fit in with your “day job”.
It's been tough.  I actually have two jobs at the moment, one for Central Valley Builders Supply which is my Monday-Friday, and I also work part time for The Uptown Theater as a bartender/usher.  Our investigations are mostly scheduled on the weekend, since there are others in the group with 9 to 5 jobs, it also so that works out nicely.  As far as Uptown, our schedule is on a volunteer basis so I just let them know what shows I'm available to work.  I usually have enough advance notice for it not to be a problem other than missing out on making money!

If you would like to keep up to date on Joe’s paranormal investigations, you find him in the following places:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interview with a Ghost Hunter - Part 1

Joe Mahlstede is paranormal investigator with North Bay RIP. His role with the team is as an investigator, still photographer, digital voice recorder and location scout. Joe and I went to high school together and got reconnected through Facebook. When I found out Joe was a ghost hunter I was immediately fascinated and wanted to learn more.

Joe agreed to an e-mail interview so I could learn more about his project and the experience of ghost hunting.  It seemed like this would be fun to share with others as well, so I am posting it to my blog.

This is a two-part interview. The first installment focuses on how Joe got interested in the topic and some of his personal experiences with ghost hunting. The second installment focuses on his related web series project, Amateur Ghost Hunters RIP.

Sophia: What got you interested in ghost hunting? From your Facebook bio, it says your interest started with the death of your father when you were quite young. What made that connection for you?

Joe: The experience of losing my father at the age of five was exactly what got me thinking about life after death.  I think being so young and naive and basically unprejudiced by the "adult" world around me, I just refused to believe that he was really gone.

What was your earliest experience of a ghost/spirit/energy?

My earliest experience was shortly after my father had passed.  I had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room and I remember getting up to walk down the hallway to my bedroom.  As I started down the hall, there was my father standing next to my bedroom door just as I had remembered him in life.  He looked very peaceful, as if nothing was wrong but he was just there to check on me.  I remember feeling very comforted.  And just as quickly as he appeared, he was gone.

Are ghosts everywhere and some people are just more in tune?

I fully believe we are surrounded by spirits at all times.  Spirits are made up of energy and we all know that energy never dies.  It has to remain somewhere.  Some people are definitely more in tune than others.  Unfortunately I am not one of those people.  Other than the experience of seeing my father after his passing, I have never "seen" anything like that again.  I think that is part of the reason why this field interests me so much.  It's to have that experience again and hopefully capture it somehow to validate what I feel like I've known all along, spirits do exist.

What do you think is the biggest misperception about ghost hunting?

The biggest misperception by far is the fact that it's scary.  Quite the contrary, it's actually quite boring!  An investigation consists of many, many hours of sitting in an abandoned building, 99% of the time without heat or electricity. Typically we have six to ten video cameras rolling as well as that many digital recorders.  Multiply all the hours spent in a location by the number of devices we have recording, and that's how many hours of evidence review we have after an investigation.  Often, any paranormal experiences we may have in a location are caught on our devices and not known to us until we start reviewing the recordings.

When people find out you have this side project about ghost hunting, what are some of the questions that you get?

The two biggest questions are "Is it scary?" and "Can I go with you?"  I think the most popular after that is "Have you ever seen a ghost?"

What do you say to the skeptics? I saw your quote in the Napa Valley Register about skepticism being healthy, anything else you would add?

I think skepticism is very healthy.  We had a member of our group that thought EVERYTHING was paranormal.  That person is no longer with us.  I think we have a responsibility to disprove any "evidence" that we get before we come out of the box screaming "GHOST!"  But most importantly, unless you've had a personal experience yourself I think it's easy for people to be skeptical, and rightly so.

What is your dream ghost hunting spot? If you could go anywhere in the world to ghost hunt, where would it be and why?

GREAT question!  And I'm not sure I even have an answer for that one.  So many places, so little time!  It would definitely have to be somewhere that nobody has previously investigated.  Some great places would be The Valley of the Kings in Egypt, Hearst Castle, The Tower of London and the Coliseum in Rome.


Thanks for checking out the first part of my interview with Joe Mahlstede.  Installment two of the interview will be posted later this week. If you would like to keep up to date on Joe’s paranormal investigations, you find him in the following places:

If you are in the Napa/Sonoma area, you can meet Joe and the Amateur Ghost Hunters team at Buena Vista’s Haunted Cellar Party on October 20, 2012. This event includes a tour of the winery’s renovated champagne cellar, DJ and dancing, plus food and drinks.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Visiting The Sea Ranch

If you found my site from my article on Worldette, welcome. If you are interested in learning more about The Sea Ranch or planning a visit, here are some resources.


The Sea Ranch - By Donlyn Lyndon and Jim Alinder
Features a lot of the architecturally-significant Sea Ranch homes from both the interior and exterior. Perfect if you love architecture, home design and creative interiors. 

This book reproduces sketches and journal entries from the landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin. This book provides a lovely reading of the landscape and it has a very personal feel. 


The Sea Ranch by Jon Yager Photography
Lovely video of photographs that capture the landscapes and little things that make The Sea Ranch so unique. 

Dreams of Sea Ranch by Zara Muren
This short video provides excerpts from a documentary. Has older video footage from the early years at The Sea Ranch.

Local Places to Eat
Some of our favorite places to eat in the area:

Good food, friendly services and free wi-fi. Breakfast and lunch served seven days a week with dinners on M, W and F. The dinner menu rotates based upon what seasonal fare is available. They typically post the dinner menu the day before on their webpage. The cafe is located in Gualala.

People line up in the morning to get one of their famous sticky buns and to get a morning coffee fix. The line is worth the wait. They are usually open Thursday through Sunday and recently started serving pizzas on Friday and Saturday night. Great crusts and creative toppings, several of which are vegetarian. They are located off of Annapolis Road in the Verdant View commercial center. Here is a video that gives a behind the scenes look at Two Fish. 

Located a few miles north of Gualala, St. Orres is in a beautiful wooden building. You can't miss the landmark dome. St. Orres offers on-site lodging and they have a great restaurant. They have a small plate menu as well as a fixed price dinner and full bar.

With a history dating back to 1868, the Stewart's Point Store reminds me of where Laura Ingalls Wilder would have purchased her provisions. The store is a few miles south of Sea Ranch. In the back is a yummy little deli and is the perfect spot to pick up everything you need for a picnic.

This restaurant is located in Point Arena, about 20 miles north of The Sea Ranch. The few times we ate here we really enjoyed it. They serve a rotating menu of creative dishes with several vegetarian options. Hours are variable, so be sure to call ahead if you are making the drive. You can dine in their restaurant or grab a drink over at 215 Main, the wine bar across the street and they will run your meal over for you.

Where to Stay

Lodging options within Sea Ranch are limited to the Sea Ranch Lodge or renting a private home. Home rentals are popular and the availability ranges from small cottages tucked in the woods perfect for a romantic getaway to  very large homes that are great for family reunions or a small retreat. There are several rental agencies. We have used Coasting Home and Sea Ranch Vacation Rentals and had a good experience. 

If you want to stay outside of The Sea Ranch, there are motel lodging options in Gualala and cottage rentals just north of Gualala. 

I hope these suggestions are helpful for you. The Sea Ranch is remote, about three hours north of San Francisco, but it is the perfect place to unwind, unplug and relax. Cell phone service is limited to AT+T and it is spotty at best.