Members of Big River Paranormal descend the staircase at Geiser Grand Hotel to try to determine where music is coming from. The team regularly leads investigations at the historic Baker City landmark.

A bit of an adrenaline junkie, I like things that get my heart pumping — including scary stories and even ghost hunting. A couple of recent trips with friends have featured things that go bump in the night.

I wouldn’t say I’m an all-out believer, but I entertain the possibility that the spirits of someone or something can linger. Of course, with friends like Carol Greene and her daughter, Cassie, the seemingly sinister activity might just be a twisted sense of humor.

Last summer, we took the Spirits of Seattle Ghost Tour. Jake Jacobson, owner of Private Eye Tours, showed us the sites and shared spooky stories about the Emerald City.

We stayed at a funky Airbnb in Bothel. Housed in the bottom level of a house, I think Carol and Cassie were a bit unnerved that the homeowner had access to our quarters. However, I think the dude was pretty harmless.

I did get unnerved after returning from the ghost tour. While getting a Pepsi, I felt something tap my shoulder. After looking around, I pondered whether I should alarm my friends.

Standing around the corner, Cassie suddenly burst into laughter. Seriously, I was freaking out thinking a ghost followed us back — Cassie really could have played that up longer.

There were a few odd occurrences during the tour, including my camera malfunctioning while in The Pine Box — an old funeral parlor turned bar/nightclub. But, even weirder things happened when we stayed at the Geiser Grand Hotel earlier this year.

We specifically went to participate in a tour with Big River Paranormal. The Boise-based group leads investigations in the historic Baker City landmark.

Built in 1889, the structure sat derelict for more than two decades when Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased it in 1993, reopening it five years later. After a lot of curiosity about the possibility of it being haunted, Barbara contacted the paranormal group — inviting them to lead regular investigations at the hotel.

Serena Hinojosa, Big River’s managing partner, said they don’t always obtain solid evidence of paranormal activity at the Geiser Grand. However, that’s not to say it isn’t regularly occurring, it’s just that they don’t have scientific evidence to corroborate it. Team members and hotel guests, she said, have seen and heard things and been touched.

While anticipation of the investigation could have played on our senses, Carol, Cassie and I experienced a few bizarre happenings during our stay.

After dinner, Carol was pacing along the far wall of our room. Glancing around, she pulled back the curtain and picked up a blanket from the recliner. With a puzzled look on her face, she asked if we had seen her e-cig.

Although it wasn’t there just moments prior, the bright pink device was now on the windowsill. Also, an incident in the hotel’s gift shop left us scratching our heads. Carol had just examined an hourglass-type device without any problems. Yet, when Cassie tried to see how it worked, it was like the bottom was glued on tight.

Other unusual occurrences included my fully-charged laptop battery draining while sitting unused for an hour, a low-level buzzing sound at night and dramatic fluctuations in the room temperature.

Sidway said for the most part Geiser Grand’s ghostly encounters aren’t scary in nature. The stories she’s heard depict friendly and jovial encounters. Sidway said hotel staff has fun with its reputation — blaming ghosts when someone misplaces or breaks something.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts — well, maybe just a little.


Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at or 541-564-4539.

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