Monterey Court Orb

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

The Accidental Ghost Hunter has been upgrading her camera equipment, and the latest edition to my collection is a Nikon D7200. I bought it for night photography, and as I’m working with it I’m finding it’s a really nice camera. However…

Monterey Court is located in Tucson, Arizona, and it has an interesting history. Originally built in the 1930s, it was one of the first of many motor inns along the old highway, which is now a city street called Miracle Mile. Over the decades, however, neighborhood changed. The interstate rerouted traffic, and Miracle Mile went from a resting stop for traveling families to a high crime area known for drugs and prostitution. Fortunately, that began to change in 2011, when Monterey Court was purchased by its current owners, who’ve successfully converted it from a seedy, run down motel into artist studios and a restaurant. They also built a stage in the center court, and it’s become a trendy music venue.

I’ve been going music gigs at Monterey Court for about four years now, and I’ve taken literally hundreds of photos there, with no anomalies, until this past Easter Sunday, when I was photographing a friend’s gig. There, among my photos, was a odd-looking anomaly that, at first glance, appeared to be an orb. Monterey Court just happens to be across the street from an old cemetery, and, according to another friend who had once leased a shop there, odd things do occur there from time to time.

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed the “orb” has a perfect hexagonal shape, which tells me it’s not an orb, but some sort of glitch with the camera. Still, it’s odd nonetheless. I was using a lens that is practically brand new, and another photo, taken at exact same spot a mere second earlier, came out normally, as did all of my remaining shots. The lighting is from stage lights, placed a good twenty feet over the stage, so I think I can safely rule out a lens flare.

While debunked as an orb, and a lens flare, I’ll have to write it off as an odd camera malfunction occurring in an usual location with a checkered past. Another words, it’s all a rather interesting coincidence.



Mesa Verde Mist

Hello everyone. The Accidental Ghost Hunter is alive and well, and even doing a little traveling. Last summer a friend and I took a trip to Colorado, and one of our stops was the Mesa Verde National Park in the southwestern part of the state.

Photo by Gayle Martin Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved

Like most of Colorado, Mesa Verde is certainly worth seeing for the scenery alone. It was once the home of the Ancestral Puebloans, who lived in the area for approximately 700 years, roughly 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Seven centuries is a long time, with many generations of people living and dying in the area. As my friend as I made our way around I was taking photos with both my iPhone and my Nikon Coolpix digital camera. Then my iPhone started acting up while I was taking photos of some of the cliff dwellings. Well, I figured it was because we were in bright daylight. The sun had bleached out the screen, and I apparently hit a button by mistake, as my iPhone was now taking photos in black and white instead of color. Yes, I was annoyed, but I also took a few shots from the same vantage point with my digital camera, and, as you can see by the first photo, they all came out perfectly.

We eventually made our way to the visitor center, and as we chatted with some of the staff we heard some interesting accounts of paranormal events. Again, this would not be unexpected in a place where people had lived and died for some seven hundred years, and most sounded like residual hauntings, such as claims of hearing the sounds of drumbeats and chanting echoing across the canyon at night.

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2014. All Rights Resersved.

I’m posting two of the photos taken with the iPhone, shortly after it began acting up. The first is for a reference point. This photo also has a distortion in the upper right corner, but I’m going to debunk it by saying it could very well be my finger, since it’s right where the iPhone lens is located, and it’s an easy mistake to make. The one that follows has what appears to be ethereal mist. Both were taken on a bright, sunny day, and there was no wind blowing. I also tried to debunk it by looking through my iPhone lens and trying to place my hand in front of it at the same angle as the mist. It felt awkward, and I would have known that my hand was in the way when I took the shot. I could also  clearly see the details of my hand and they were very solid. This photo looks misty, and, interestingly enough, my finger is not in the upper right corner.

So, is this something paranormal? Possibly. As always, I’ll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.


Hotel Gasden Orb

Once again guest blogger, fellow author and accidental ghost hunter David Lee Summers returns to share some photos from a recent book signing in Douglas, Arizona.  Thanks David for contributing.


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Photo by David Lee Summers

On October 13, I was invited to participate in the Arizona Centennial Authors and Artists Weekend at the Hotel Gadsden in Douglas, Arizona. The Hotel Gadsden is a grand hotel first built in 1907. It was a home away from home for cattlemen, ranchers, miners, and businessmen in the Arizona Territory. Visitors to the hotel have included Pancho Villa, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Lee Marvin.

Photo by David Lee Summers

The hotel was designed by famous Southwestern Architect Henry Trost.  Trost designed many buildings in Tucson, Arizona, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.  Arguably one of his greatest accomplishments was designing the University of Texas at El Paso, which he modeled after Bhutan, the last of the three Forbidden Kingdoms hidden deep in the Himalayas.  The Gadsden’s Lobby is a terrific example of Henry Trost’s architectural style.

As it turns out, the Hotel Gadsden is famous for its ghost sightings.  They even have a page devoted to its haunted history here:

Photo by David Lee Summers
Photo by David Lee Summers

During the book signing and our stay at the Hotel Gadsden, we only had one potential incident, I only had one potential encounter, but it was an interesting one.  My wife was taking photos from the mezzanine, which looks down into the lobby and managed to capture the image of an orb right in front of me. Now, I realize that orbs are controversial. Some attribute them to dust or tricks of the light and I certainly can’t write off that possibility. Still, what’s odd is that she took two photos in a row and one had an orb and the other didn’t.

Before I leave it to you to ponder whether this was a real paranormal event, I’ll just note a couple more items. Of all the photos we took at the event, this is the only one that showed an orb. Also, it’s the first time I’ve seen an orb appear in a photo with such bright light.

If you’re interested in ghosts or history and find yourself in Southern Arizona, I highly recommend dropping by the Hotel Gadsden.  The hospitality is fabulous and it’s an interesting look back into days gone by.

Queen Mary Ghosts

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger, fellow author and accidental ghost hunter  David Lee Summers.  Thanks David for contributing.



PHoto by David Lee Summers

These photos are from a ghost tour my daughter and I took during Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium held aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach California on Friday, January 13, 2012.  The strangest incident that happened was when we went to the first class swimming pool aboard the ship.  It’s a noted “hot spot” for ghost sightings.  The first photo shows the pool.  Off the upper balcony, we went into the women’s dressing rooms.  I snapped a photo of the corridor. 

Photo by David Lee Summers

When I took the photo, I thought I saw a person in the flash and indeed, there is a strange, almost human-shaped shadow in the photo.  I assumed it was one of my fellow tourists, but when I walked up the hallway, I didn’t pass anyone or see any other people ahead of me in the corridor or the dressing rooms.  I did get a serious case of the willies as I walked further down the hall and the hairs raised on the back of my neck.

PHoto by David Lee Summers

When I downloaded the photo onto my computer, I assumed the shadow I captured was some strange trick of the light.  However, I then did a simple brightness/contrast adjustment and adjusted the color curves a little in Adobe Photoshop and the image below popped out.  I should note, the hallway was completely dark.  The only illumination came from my flash.  If this was a fellow tourist, they were standing in the dark with this apparently non-nonchalant pose.  They had no flashlight and the flash didn’t seem to illuminate them. 

Photo by David Lee Summers
Photo by David Lee Summers

Another place that felt very eerie to me was the old boiler room.  The top photo was taken just outside the boiler room.  Inside, the boiler room, I took several photos.  I kept feeling like I was seeing something move outside the corner of my eye.  The one thing that I may have captured is the green glow in the lower left hand corner of the bottom photo.

I’m a professional astronomer and writer.  I’m also an admitted skeptic.  I’m hard pressed to say these photos serve as hard evidence of ghost encounters.  Despite that, these photos do raise questions for me—especially the one taken in the dressing rooms.

For anyone who would like to read more about Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium, I posted a guest blog about the event at:

My regular blog is at:

Thanks, Gayle, for letting me share my ghost tour experience!

Is This an Orb? No.

Yes, the Accidental Ghost Hunter is alive and well, but the economic reality of the times has sharply curtailed my travel budget, so I’m not traveling historic places as often as I once was.

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

That said, last weekend I had a book signing at an event at a historic place in southern Arizona called Empire Ranch.  It’s an old cattle ranch dating back to the 1860s, currently undergoing restoration and is now being used for educational purposes. I’m not aware of anything sinister in it’s history, nor did I get any kind of a creepy feeling while I was there.  If anything, it felt like a happy, positive place. About the only scary thing I encountered was having to deal with porta-potties.

I did however, get one anomaly that, to an untrained or overly excited eye, might be mistaken for an orb. However it is not. It’s simply a lens flare, and a lens flare can look similar to an orb. That’s why orbs are a controversy in the ghost hunting community. Sometimes an orb truly is an indicator of paranormal activity, but oftentimes they’re not. That’s why those ghost hunters who want to be taken seriously are skeptical of orbs.

Another one debunked.


Book Signing Ghost? Not Exactly

I spent the past weekend in Tombstone doing a book signing at the annual Vigilante Days event.

I’m now in a new location for my book signings. The owner of Doc Holliday’s Emporium, at 6th and Allen Street, invited me to her shop this past June during another event, and she and I hit it off. Doc Holliday’s Emporium happens to be right across the street from the famous Birdcage Theater, which, as we all know, is one of the most haunted buildings in America.

A funny thing did happen at that first book signing. The card table I was using suddenly collapsed. That’s when the store owner’s kids told me that they too have problems with ghosts and poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because of the close proximity to the Birdcage. However one has to approach these things with a little bit of skepticism, and the fact that the table had been rickety to begin with, and that customers had been bumping against it for a good part of the day, is the more likely reason why it collapsed. Either way, nothing was damaged and no harm was done. We picked everything up, I resumed my book signing, and no other unusual activity occurred.

This past weekend I decided to bring my camera with me, and as I was reviewing my photos I saw something in the background, on the t-shirt hanging behind my shoulder, that appeared to be a very bright orb.

Orbs are a bit of a controversy. They can be balls of energy that can indicate paranormal activity, and some in the ghost hunting community really glom onto them. Others, including me, understand there can be more to an orb than meets the eye, and that what appears to be a ball of energy can also be a dust particle, or an insect, or a reflection. That said, I zoomed in on the orb, and sure enough, it was a reflection. There was a glass panel between me and the window display behind me, and when the photo was taken the flash reflected off the glass.

So I’ve debunked another one. For now. I’ll be back doing another book signing at Doc Holliday’s Emporium during Rendezvous of the Gunfighters, this coming Labor Day weekend. I’ll try to remember to bring my camera again. You never know.


Tucson Depot Orb

Photo by Thomas Carter

One of my friends and fellow Tombstone Vigilante member, Tom Carter, gave me his permission to post this photo.

A few years ago the Tucson railroad depot underwent a major renovation and Tom took a few pictures of the construction. He was using a 35mm camera, and much to his surprise one of his photos came out with an orb.

Orbs are something of a controversy in the ghost hunting community. Sometimes orbs can be balls of energy which may indicate the presence of paranormal activity. And sometimes orbs can simply be dust or even insects that are in the right place to reflect light back into the lens of the camera.

This site does, however, have an interesting story behind it. In the months after the infamous shoot out on Frement Street in Tombstone, known today as the gunfight at the O.K. corral, enemies of the Earp brothers took their revenge. In two separate attacks both Virgil and Morgan Earp were ambushed. Morgan was killed. Virgil survived but permanently lost the use of his left arm.

In March, 1882, Wyatt Earp, his brother Warren, and their friends accompanied Vigil and his wife, Allie, from the town of Contention to the depot in Tucson where they would be stopping for dinner before continuing on to California. Shortly after Vigil and Allie reboarded the train Wyatt spotted two cowboys, Ike Clanton and Frank Stillwell, laying prone on a nearby flatcar, with shotguns pointed at Virgil and Allie. Wyatt gave chase. Ike Clanton escaped, but Frank Stillwell was gunned down by Wyatt Earp.

Today the Tucson railroad depot is still a working train station. It has a few shops, a restaurant, and it is also the home of the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. And some folks say it is also haunted by the ghost of Frank Stillwell.


Gettysburg Ghosts

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Rick Fritz.

“I never intended to be a ghost hunter. I moved to Carlisle Pa, when I took a job at Harrisburg Community College. Carlisle is 27 miles from Gettysburg. My wife befriended a woman who worked in a Civil War dress shop whose husband was a licensed Civil War Battlefield Guide. Anyway my wife kept hearing these fantastic ghost stories and seeing ghost photos. Determined to debunk these stories, we set out on our own to “hunt ghosts”

Photo by Rick Fritz

“The first place we went was an area known as Doc’s Rock. It is just passed the Wheatfield, across the road from the Irish Brigade monument. It was the site of the 1st Field Hospital. There we have heard pigs, volleys of musket fire, and photographed lots of orbs. Like the one in the above photo.

“These orbs were captured over the Wheatfield. Picture taken from Doc’s Rock.”

Photo by Rick Fritz

“We then concentrated on Doc’s Rock. In this photo notice how the dark blue orb has moved from the base of the tree!”

“From there we went to Devil’s Den.”

Photo by Rick Fritz

“Devil’s Den was very active. Lots of small orbs!”

Photo by Rick Fritz

“And a blue rod that moved!” 

Photo by Rick Fritz
Photo by Rick Fritz

Wow! There are some truly amazing photos, Rick. I’ve not been to Gettysburg myself, but I hear it is a very haunted place. No wonder. During the three day Battle of Gettysburg more Americans were killed than in the entire Vietnam War. Thank you for sharing.









Swamper Ghost Tombstone, Arizona

When I wrote Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone I decided to include the Swamper as one of my characters because local legend has it that he is one of the town ghosts.

The Swamper was a handyman who worked for the Grand Hotel back in the 1880s. And while the Grand Hotel is long gone the adobe facade from the original building still stands, and it is now known as Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. Big Nose Kate’s is one of the more popular eateries in town, (in fact my characters stop there for lunch in chapter one.) And over the years Big Nose Kate’s employees have told me the place is haunted, and they believe the spirit haunting the place is the Swamper.

It was discovered that the Swamper had dug a secret tunnel into the silver mines from his basement room in the Grand Hotel, and legend has it he is still guarding his silver, even today.

You know, there may be a grain of truth to that story. I was in town the other day and ventured into the basement at Big Nose Kate’s. Today the basement is a clothing store, (with nice items at good prices,) and, off to the side, is the Swamper’s room, set of as a historic exhibit, and no doubt bearing a close resemblance to how it may have looked when the Swamper lived there.

The tunnel is also there. A wall, (which looks like is was later added on), with a barred door keep the room from being accessed by the public.

Being curious I wanted to take a photo for my own use. When I snapped it I looked at my LCD screen and wondered how I managed to get one of the bars in the middle of my shot. I could have sworn I was more careful. It wasn’t until later, when I looked at the shot on my computer, that I realized it wasn’t one of the bars at all. It is black mist, and, if you look closely, you can see right through it. It appears to be coming up from the tunnel, and there are also a number of orbs in the mist.

I mean the Swamper no disrespect, but it looks like the stories are true. The old boy is still guarding his silver treasure.


The Star of India

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Not all of my experiences with the paranormal are visual.

Last summer, when I visited San Diego, I brought along a friend who is a sensitive and is able to connect with spirit people. I guess that would make her a medium, but she is also a very religious woman, so she would never conduct a seance.

That said, we had to visit the Star of India. I’ve visited this wonderful historic ship many times in my life, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned the ship is haunted. I do however have a vague memory of being on board the ship when I was about eight years old, feeling someone run their finger down my back, almost like they were playing tick-tac-toe, and turning around and finding no one there. I just remember feeling annoyed at the time. Years later, I’ve found I’m not the only person whose had this kind of experience on the Star of India.

While I did not capture anything unusual on film my friend “Ginny” took a seat on the deck and see what she could tune into. Soon she told me she had picked up on the spirit of a young boy who had died on the ship after falling from the mast in the 1800s. This is well documented, but she also got some lesser known information. She said the boy’s name was Stephen, he was traveling with his family, and he had one sibling. She said he was also upset because the ship had changed since the time he had traveled on it.

When we left the ship we stopped and chatted with one of the Maritime Museum volunteers. Ginny told him what she had picked up about Stephen, and the volunteer was stunned as she described many little known details about him.

While it’s possible that Ginny could have looked this information up prior to our visit but I highly doubt it. We decided to come to San Diego on the spur of the moment, and as a wife and mother of a two-year-old, Ginny just doesn’t have that much spare time.