An Unexpected (and a little eerie) Side Trip

As a left-brainer by day, I tend to be a planner: reservations, time schedules, itineraries–even for a casual weekend trip. But sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. Thanks to a harried schedule and a little trick Travelocity played on me, my husband and I ended up this past Saturday night, in the middle of freaking nowhere, with no hotel room.

(Warning: when booking through Travelocity, check your confirmation email CAREFULLY. I searched and booked–I thought–for the 28th. Arrived at the hotel with a confirmation in hand for the 23rd–which had already been charged to my bank account).

No matter. After a wonderful evening with close friends in rural Maine (VERY rural!) for their wedding, we drove twenty miles to find we had no room. The hotel across the street was booked as well. We had no choice to but to hoof it back toward the main highway.

Until we stumbled upon The Poland Springs Resort. At first glance, I was sure we couldn’t afford a room in this elegant old Victorian mansion. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did still have a few rooms available in our price range. What an unexpected delight this was.

The Poland Springs Resort was established in 1794, and is the original site of “THE SPRING” from which all Poland Spring water, well . . . springs. There are numerous buildings on the expansive resort surrounding an impeccably manicured golf course. The building we had the honor of staying in was called the Presidential Inn.

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The building itself has no check-in office–you do that at The Lodge a half-mile up the road. With old fashioned keys in hand, we parked and used one of the two keys to unlock the exterior doors to the Presidential–and took a step back in time to a more elegant era.

We stepped into a warmly lit lobby which, although it was only about 8 p.m., was empty. The only other guests we saw were two elderly couples playing cards on the lower level in one of their “gathering rooms.” The place was clean, quiet, but I have to admit–in its seemingly abandoned state in the dark, a little bit creepy.

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There are no elevators. So, luggage in tow, my husband and I trudged up the very long carpeted stairwell to the second floor to our room, number “5.” The room was spacious and just as comfortably appointed as the rest of the hotel. If not somewhat dated.

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The bed was clean and comfortable, there was plenty of hot water and the pressure would just about blast you out of the shower. And it was quiet . . . almost supernaturally quiet. Until about two a.m.

After a trip to the bathroom, I lay in the bed waiting for sleep to again claim me. The footsteps began moments later. First, in the hallway outside our door. These were not those of an adult. Quick, bouncy, like a small child running down the hallway. First up the hall, then back down. Over and over again. No voices accompanied these sounds, not the opening or closing of a door. Nothing.

Then they began overhead, seemingly on the third floor directly above us. A child, running excitedly, almost bouncing, from one end of the room to the other. Again, no voices. No doors opening or closing. Not another blessed sound.

This went on, switching back and forth between overhead to the hallway outside our door, until after 3:30 a.m. It wasn’t loud enough to disturb my husband–he snored through the whole thing. I was sorely tempted to peek out, but my chicken liver feared I might find one of Stephen King’s little girls from the Overlook peering back at me.

Was I afraid? Strangely not. I tried to rationalize that there was an over-active toddler somewhere in the hotel whose parents–whose mute parents–were trying to let run off extra energy.

But in the middle of the night? For almost two hours? There are placards at the head of every staircase, and on every floor, plainly stating, “Quiet Hours: 10 p.m.- 6 a.m. No loud music, loud conversations, no running in the halls.”

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My hair stood up on my neck just a little at that last line.

The next morning, a lovely buffet breakfast was included in our room rate. This was in another building, where there were additional rooms. We were not, I discovered, the only guests of the Poland Spring Resort that night. Several dozen others enjoyed their breakfasts alongside us–all senior citizens belonging to some sort of car club (my husband had noticed the line of classic Studebakers in the lot). Not a toddler or young family among them.

Is the Presidential Lodge haunted? Having been around since the turn of the 19th century, I would say that chances are good. But have no fear–I didn’t. Instead, I left the Poland Springs Resort with a sense of curiosity that will fuel my research and bring me back, again, to stay at the Presidential Inn another time. Or two.

It might even be the site for another Haunted Voices novel . . .

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