Room #5 at the Nootklatch Lodge is haunted.
Awake at 2 am, despite a comfortable, clean room, I cursed menopause for the 689th time, and flipped over in a vain attempt to capture some Zs.
...and heard footsteps.
At first, I though my husband had slipped out of the massive king-sized bed and gone to the nearby bathroom. Made of some low-jiggle space-age foam, the bed was also so large, he would have had to telephone to let me know he was getting up. I turned my face over to look at the place he'd occupied, only to find him still wrapped in sheets.
It was then that my hackles rose.
Who's footsteps was I hearing? Ribbing myself, I started a mental checklist of possible non-paranormal sources for the noises I was hearing. We were in a first floor room; surely someone above us was just moving around, causing the floor to creak. The part of the Lodge we were staying in is constructed of enormous logs, so it made sense that some shifting and squeaking would happen. The sound wasn't really what I associate with creaky boards. It was more of a shuffle.
...and heard more footsteps.
Annoyed now, more than scared, I flipped over, slammed my arms down on the mattress and blew out an exasperated sigh.
"Cut it out, will you?" I said, feeling only mildly foolish for talking to an empty room. "I'm trying to sleep here. Can you please go away for a while and come back later?" I tried to be polite. I didn't want to irritate the specter, after all.
Growling with exasperation, I flopped down on the pillow and rolled away from the offending emptiness. Ridiculous, I scolded myself. Get to sleep. You've got a long day of driving tomorrow and if you...
A push of energy stopped my self-lecture in it's tracks.
That's the only way I can describe it. Almost a breeze, the sensation manifested itself between the nightstand and my head. Gooseflesh accompanied my now pounding heart as my eyes flew open, straining to pierce the darkness, trying to identify the cause of the feeling.
I wouldn't say I was afraid. Alarmed, maybe, but fear wasn't a part of my emotions. Acquiescing to the presence, and working to control my heart, which was going like a trip-hammer, I drew in a deep breath and closed my eyes.
"Okay." I whispered, "I hear you. I sense and recognize you. I know I'm not dreaming. You're welcome to stay, but can you please settle down and stop making noise so I can sleep? I'm really tired."
I imagined the phantom moving away, toward the window at the back of the room. Utterly undone, it took me an hour to start feeling drowsy. Eventually, I fell soundly asleep and woke with no immediate memory of the experience. Later that day, on the drive home, I had a vivid flashback, but hesitated to relate the story to my just-the-facts-ma'am, hard-driving husband. Still, I wanted his take.
"Our hotel room was haunted." I blurted. In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought. Braced for ridicule, I grinned over at Jeff, who was tensely navigating construction traffic.
"Yes," he said. "I know. I thought I heard something. Footsteps, wasn't it?"
Settling back in my seat with a gasp, I realized it was true. I wasn't crazy, hallucinating, or unconsciously grinding out ghost stories to lull myself to dreamland. Room #5 at the Nootklatch Lodge was haunted.
I had felt it with my own two eyes.
Today's recipe has nothing to do with ghosts, log lodges, or insomnia. It's just a solid, down-to-earth Martha Stewart standby from April 2003. Perhaps I chose it as an antidote to the hair-raising experience from 2 days ago. A steak sandwich is the epitome of what-you-see-is-what-you-get.
Most of the time...
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch watercress, tough stems trimmed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 thick slices rustic bread, toasted
1. Make horseradish sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate while preparing steak.
2. Heat broiler, with rack 6 inches from heat. Season steak well on both sides with salt and pepper; rub with 2 tablespoons oil. Place on a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Broil 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing 1/4" thick.
3. Place watercress in a bowl; toss with remaining tablespoon oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on toasted bread, topped with steak, horseradish sauce, and roasted peppers.