Ghosts are all around us. We humans have limited perception bandwidth of sight and sound and whether real or imagined, echoes of the past surround us constantly. It’s scientific fact that long-ago aired radio broadcasts appear every now and then because they’ve apparently bounced off the moon. Imagine if you could see and hear all the TV, satellite, cell phone, and infrared radiations that flow through the room you’re in right now. We’re designed to filter out unnecessary frequencies and that includes ghosts. Southern California has some notorious haunted locations and this Ghost Writer took a haunted motorcycle jaunt and spent the night at three of them. First, the infamous Queen Mary; Room 307 at the Glen Tavern Inn, purported to be in the paranormal top 10; and finally Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn, where songwriter/musician Gram Parsons of the Byrds died.
Ghost in the Machine
I took this vexing trek on a ’12 CVO Road Glide Custom. Each year Harley-Davidson builds special limited edition bikes at its top secret (CVO) Custom Vehicle Operations compound. A select team is charged with creating the brand’s most elite motorcycles. The distinctive shark-nosed twin-headlight is unique to Road Glide as is the fixed fairing that is mounted to the frame instead of the forks. The frame takes the load off the fairing resulting in a nimbler, more aggressive riding motorcycle. My Maple Metallic with Vivid Black & Real Smoke Graphics looks ominously dark in daylight and black a night. A bold Willie G brushed nickel skull medallion on the fairing peers into my impending fate and is the perfect mount for a haunted jaunt.
First stop was the Queen Mary with its long history of paranormal haunting. Her maiden voyage was in 1939 and considered the most luxurious form of travel for decades. As a troop carrier in WWII, she was aptly named “Grey Ghost” and carried more than 800,000 service personnel to and from Europe, my father was one of them. Her orders were full steam ahead as she zigzagged the Atlantic to avoid German torpedoes. While on mission she broadsided another ship cutting it in half and was forced to leave 300 survivors behind to be eaten by sharks or drowned. It’s reported that the mysterious pounding often heard on her hull are ghosts of those men trying to come aboard. An exterior walkway allows visitors to view the massive propellers that chewed up men in that horrific accident. There are in fact so many reports of ghosts that special tours for psychics and paranormal investigators are offered. Mike of QM security brought us into the bowels of the ship to visit paranormal hot spots. Yes, he’s heard things, strange things, such as the laugh of Jackie echoing in the pool where it’s said a child drowned. And the notorious engine room where John Potter was crushed by massive steel door 13. The spirit of John Potter frequently manifests throughout the Queen Mary and is said to prefer attractive females.
We dined at Sir Winston’s, named after Sir Winston Churchill, and the food was outstanding. In fact, the seared ahi with sesame crust, spinach, shitake mushrooms, and roasted potatoes in a mushroom ginger broth ranks as the best seared ahi I’ve eaten to date. Everything was exceptional from the raisin walnut bread to the service. Sir Winston’s offers a fantastic view and everyone is welcome aboard to dine; parking is validated. We capped off the evening with cocktails and dancing at the fabulous art deco Observation Bar. An entertaining swing band played into the night against the backdrop of the city skyline. I even tickled the ivories on the boats original piano in the main lobby and channeled the spirit of Liberace who once played it, rather well I may add—patrons bought me drinks. You probably wont be wearing ’40s evening wear on your ride, but the opportunity to change from Clark Kent into Bikerman was just too compelling.