Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Glamour Ghouls: Pleasant and Crystal posing on a hearse before investigating Hobbs Grove

Welcome to The Divination Nation blog!

 We are Pleasant Gehman and Crystal Ravenwolf, a duo of divination divas, “spiritual sisters from another mister”. We’re life-long Tarotistas, obsessed with all things esoteric and paranormal. We’ve been doing paranormal investigations together since 2009, exploring public and private sites that are reputed to be haunted. 
We hope this blog is as fun for you to read as it is for us to write…Enjoy!

 Unless you’ve been under a rock- or tombstone, as the case may be - you know that Halloween is big business. In California alone, there are more than twenty-five large scale haunted houses and Halloween attractions…  and that’s not even counting the corporate giants like Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knott’s Scary Farm. So when we were contacted about doing a paranormal investigation at Hobbs Grove, one of the top Halloween attractions on the West Coast, we jumped at the chance.

 Located in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley in the rural hamlet of Sanger, for the past fifteen years the former walnut plantation has thrown it’s creaky doors open as a Halloween theme park every October. Social media director and “spokes ghoul” Maverick Cadaverick reached out to us because the hundred or so actors and seasonal workers have experienced true paranormal phenomena for years. Since 2014, when several vintage stretchers and an autopsy table, were acquired from Wolfe Manor in nearby Clovis, the paranormal activity had escalated.  A tuberculosis sanitarium in the 1930’s, for decades, rumors of gross negligence and patient abuse circulated. Extremely haunted, Wolfe Manor was a beacon for psychics and paranormal investigators, featured on television shows Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Maverick was concerned that the medical items were filled with residual negative energy... not to mention the recently acquired coffin that had been used to transport a body from Mexico to the USA.
A Hobbs "resident"

He also sent us several pages worth of  the employee’s reports of paranormal phenomena, including apparition sightings, odd sounds, cold spots, disembodied speaking and singing voices and general anomalies, like objects disappearing.
Hobbs Grove features three distinct attractions: The Haunted Forest, a Haunted Hayride and a Haunted House built into a large barn. We wanted to explore all of it, especially after reading the worker’s reports, which were chilling.

On the first night of his job in the forest, one actor was so entranced by the hologram he saw- a legless half-man floating in the air wearing a 1930’s suit- that at the end of his shift, he marveled over the holographic technology to his co-workers.  After some uncomfortable glances exchanged by the rest of the crew, someone finally pointed out that Hobbs Grove didn’t have any holograms!  
One of the many sights in the Haunted Forest

Then there  was the time an employee on the Hayride went to one of the park’s trailers to get firewood, and was met with an ominous low growl, even though there were no dogs, coyotes- or even humans- in sight.  Another worker reported seeing set disembodied of legs and feet running across the rafters in barn- and actually heard the apparition’s footsteps.  Still a third noticed a uniformed security guard enter the room where he was working.  The guard, who’d appeared to be  human at first, turned transparent and disappeared through a solid wall.  And there was the legendary evening when Hobbs was at full capacity and ground to a  complete halt because of "legit" supernatural activity.  Several veteran performers in the Haunted Forest witnessed a large cable spool rolling through the woods by itself. The actors-many of who had been working there for years- were so freaked out they immediately evacuated their posts en masse.  The entire park full of hundreds of customers had to be shut down while the actors- who all steadfastly refused to return to the forest-were reassigned and a new crew was sent in.

 We set our ghost hunt for the nights of Friday, August 8th and Saturday August 9th, 2015.  The first night, we invited veteran paranormal investigators Jan Acosta and Keri Foss- Jastztremski along to hunt with us. Highly respected in the paranormal community, the mother and daughter team are known for their knowledge, site research, no-nonsense investigative style and meticulous evidence collection.  Jan is affectionately known as “Mom”, because she’s mentored several ghost hunters over the past couple of decades. On the Saturday, we (The Divination Nation) taught Paranormal Investigation 101 at The Cosmic Corral in Hanford, and brought the students to Hobbs that evening for fieldwork.   On each night, we brought an arsenal of paranormal equipment, from low-tech (divining rods) to state of the art high tech devices. We were armed with   EVP (electronic voice phenomena) recorders, EMF detectors, which show changes in the electromagnetic field by lighting up; and a REM pod, a device which emanates it’s own electromagnetic field through a miniature antenna.  When the instrument’s field is entered by objects- or an energy source, such as an entity- the Rem Pod lights up.  Mom also brought an Ovilus, a machine that has a dictionary-like database of words programmed into it with thousands of different verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, for spirits to use to communicate. The way it works is that during an investigation, an intelligent spirit will make itself known in a way that modifies the environment, and can convert these alterations into the words contained in the machine.  We also had a camera person film each night of investigating.
 Hobbs Grove residents in the Doll Room
Both nights were nothing short of insane; in all our years of ghost hunting, it’s hard to think of a place that’s more active… we all agreed that Hobbs Grove probably topped even The Queen Mary!

 The first place we were drawn to was the barn, a large structure that includes the green room for the Grove’s performers, and is also the location where  many of the employees heard footsteps coming from the loft.  As soon as we went inside, we heard odd noises and felt the temperature drop. The sounds were so constant that we turned on our equipment right away, while Maverick texted the employees who were onsite, threatening to fire them if they were playing practical jokes.  They weren’t.

Originally a little skeptical that a Halloween attraction could actually be legitimately haunted, once all our devices were going off the charts, Keri quickly changed her mind. She recalls:

“ I thought to myself,  ‘We’re investigating a Halloween Haunt to see if it’s haunted? This ought to be interesting… Who would believe this one?’ Well, I do now! Upon our arrival, I felt many spirits lurking, trying to check us out. A gentleman by the name of Robert was the first to join us for the evening, openly chatting with us, somehow knowing he could be heard as he joked with us and even flirted!”  
Lens flares...or orbs? Judge for yourself!

 Our Rem pod was lit up like a Christmas tree, and Keri’s diving rods swung to and fro, answering    yes/no questions, which were confirmed by what “Robert”, was saying into the Ovilus.   While Maverick and another employee named Chris watched in amazement, we carried on a conversation for about ten minutes. Then Robert stopped talking; the room was cold though, the rem pod was still shining, and we could sense he was still there. We tried for a while to cajole him back into the conversation, but he was silent, so we started packing to move to another location. Keri put her rods away, Pleasant turned the rem pod off and put it back into the bag, but then it lit up again.

Mom  chided,

 “You need to turn that off!”

 Pleasant held up the Rem pod, showing that the switch was indeed off; Mom raised an eyebrow and said it must be defective.   The batteries were then removed, but the lights on the device stayed on… and didn’t finally shut off until hours later, after we  returned home.  Since we could all feel that Robert was still with us- and the cold spots and rem pod seemed to confirm it, Crystal resorted to a  fun and silly  last ditch effort to get him to speak again.

 Tossing back her hair and arching her back, she joked in a seductive voice,

‘”What’s the matter, don’t you wanna talk to a couple of hot chicks?”

The Ovilus immediately sprang into action, it’s robotic voice declaring,


  After a moment of disbelief, we all laughed so hard we were literally crying.  It soon became apparent that Robert’s comedic tour de force was his last communication, so we decided to investigate the Haunted House.

  Constructed with a maze-like interior, the Haunted House features all sorts of gory scenes, and a giant room packed from floor to ceiling with legions of dirty, uber-creepy baby dolls; many missing glassy eyes, hair or limbs. It’s pretty widely acknowledged that dolls make a terrific hiding place for spirits- for some reason, entities are attracted to them. Though the doll room was heavy with energy, we didn’t get as many hits as we expected, but there was so much activity around the stretchers from Wolfe Manor that Mom urged Maverick to “get rid of those things now!”

Moving outside, we encountered with an extremely negative entity that was hanging around a cottage near the barn.  Keri recalls,

“Over the years, I’ve found that if human spirits were hateful, spiteful, rude, abusive drunks or…any other “expletives” while they were alive, they’re the same in death. Meet George, a chauvinist pig spirit, who tried to give Crystal attitude. He showed his true colors, belittling and cussing at her. Crystal told him off and had quite an interesting argument with him for a while. Only after standing her ground to leave her and us alone did he back off!”

 After our encounter with George, well after midnight, we called it a night because we had to be up early to teach our Paranormal Investigation 101 workshop.  At the conclusion of class, we reminded the group that often, during the course of a ghost hunt, there’s a whole lot of “hurry up and wait”, and sometimes, the spirits just don’t want to come out and play…but thankfully, we were wrong.

Our Paranormal Investigation 101 workshop attendees pre-ghost hunt on Saturday night- that's "spokes ghoul" Maverick Cadaverick on the left, holding the lantern

Even with a large group, things got insane almost from the moment we set foot on the property. Hobbs had hired a professional videographer to come along and document our entire hunt.  Initially, he claimed in an offhand way that he didn’t believe in ghosts, and though he was acting very professionally, it was apparent he thought the whole thing was a bit childish and silly.  

As the sunset, we trudged into the forest, with Maverick in the lead, holding an antique glass gas lantern.   Our first stop was the  “Redneck Camp” on the Haunted Hayride route, a collection of five hideously trashed vintage trailers. It was the location where an employee had reported the growling sounds, and we figured it was a great place to start our investigation.  The students all got out their equipment, and all of us started getting hit immediately. Pleasant set up the rem pod, and it lit up right away.  As various investigational devices were activated and crystal got out her divining rods, Pleasant asked,

“How do you guys like being here, in the middle of a Halloween Haunt?”

 Right away, an Ovilus answered,  “It’s perfect!”

Many of the students had Spirit Boxes, and all of them were talking simultaneously. Crystal turned to find the photographer, to make sure he was getting all the activity on film, and he was no where to be found… until he was spotted far away down the path, actually running away!  When she caught up, he was white as a sheet, telling her breathlessly that he’d felt as though someone had dumped a bucket of ice water down his back.

 “I’m outta here,” he cried in a panic, his camera slung over his back, sprinting towards the parking lot,  “I can’t do this!”
 Investigating at the "Redneck Camp" on the Hobbs Grove Haunted Hayride route
 We went on to investigate the Haunted Forest, where we stopped several times, to set up for EVPS and Ovilus sessions, all of which were documented by our photographer, who fortunately hadn’t flipped out from all the paranormal activity. Crystal and a few others spotted a large black Shadow Person darting behind a tree, and where everyone got many more hits at the various sites, which were a maze of spooky cottages and junked automobiles, all covered with vines and wild over-growth.

  One of the many spirits we encountered and communicated with was a little girl, and later, Maverick confirmed that many employees had reported seeing a small female child dressed in 1930’s clothes roaming the property, or had heard children laughing when none were present.

  All in all, both evenings of paranormal investigations at Hobbs Grove were so active, and so full of evidence, that we are still going through our EVP recordings and the film footage, because there are so many hours worth of documentation.

 As Jan “Mom” Acosta says:

“The creep factor was overwhelming at Hobbs… I would love to go back there. I don't think a Hollywood script could have written that scenario!”


 If you’re in Central California  during the Halloween seaon, check out the faux (and real!) spooks at Hobbs Grove:

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  1. Awesome article! Thank you so much for inviting me that night! Between the rats and bats in the trees and all the haunted decor, it was "Creep Factor 9.9 ". Love you guys!! Mom