On the quick and nasty, a few words in advance of our Manresa visit:
Manresa Castle—located in the gorgeous and quaint little by-sea hamlet of Port Townsend—isn’t really a castle in any quantifiable sense. Its parapets are mostly plaster and the only thing remotely medieval about what lies within is the quality of its continental breakfast… however, with those Tripadvisor-type caveats safely notched into the wood of the discussion, it has to be said that the place is also a fucking marvel, and well worth the price of an overnight stay or day-trip.
The place—hotel? Resort? Oubliette?—boasts a couple of hundred rooms, many of which evoke a sort of Dashiell Hammet-esque aesthetic with their brass-poster beds, heavy old wooden furnishings and frosted-glass charms; the Pacific Northwest’s finest in throwback flophouse ambiance. The grounds are fairly small, but soak in summertime and late-spring blooms during the warm seasons, and provide at least one sitting area that beckons weary travelers and weekenders inward for a smoke or a spot to enjoy that latest Kindle download in an unmolested fashion. The rates are decent, the off-day traffic is practically spectral, and—considering that there really isn’t a hell of a lot to do in Port Townsend proper—the charms of the castle are enough to justify that sticky itch to get the hell away from anything resembling urban civilization for a couple of days.
There’s also the matter of the castle’s absolutely drop-dead in-house restaurant—the Castle Key—and the fact that it’s supposedly haunted by the unruly spirits of a pissed-off monk and the equally dead (though eminently less agitated) apparition of Kate Eisenbeis, the wife of the one-time owner, Charles Eisenbeis. In the case of the former, the seafood and steak fixings are nothing short of exquisite—by far the finest early-evening dining experience in the entire city—while in the case of the latter… eh. Well.
Alright, brass tacks. Here’s what I believe is a fairly accurate formula for describing the average experience of an individual who’s marinating in surroundings of an allegedly haunted nature:
Personal beliefs on the afterlife + pre-visitation priming and orientation / variable circumstances x actual presence of anything remotely supernatural = what you’ll wind up telling your friends happened later
The sum of such an experience is hardly an exact science. A two-second flip-flick through the guts of Google will turn up roughly ten thousand different accounts of what goes on in Room 202 at Manresa Castle—supposedly the epicenter of “Kate’s” activities—from believers and debunkers alike. In the case of what Jynx, Exene and I have seen and felt while staying in that particular room… eh. As noted in the rambling manifesto below, my default position tends to be one of tentative openness to weirdness of all tints and tones… the potential for something otherworldly to tug at my sheets or appear briefly in the shadows included. As such, I’ve found myself in some pretty bizarre situations in our myriad travels… my beliefs have been tested, steeled, and denied, sometimes in equal measure.
I can’t say that I’ve seen anything at Manresa Castle that suggests the presence of anything other than the good vibrations and mellow feelings left behind by other guests after a good night’s sleep; there’s a certain kind of warmth that begins to encompass a place when it’s brought an unexpected joy to a number of people. New Orleans is absolutely soaking in it; the scattered bed and breakfasts of Sonoma have a similar kind of low-hertz hum in the people who work there and the charms of the rooms and greater grounds.
So. To summarize: things that trip along at the edges of the eye and the light? Paranormal presences and that unsettling feeling that ties one’s lower intestine into a hitch-knot when they’re in the company of the otherworldly? Nah. Not so much.
A place that’s worth making a stop at, whether with family, friends, or just your main squeeze? Oh, yeah.
And they’ve also got one hell of an annual masquerade ball for their Halloween/Dia de los Muertos festivities… but that’s a load of twaddle for another post.