Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beware... Ned Trappen

We spent the last few days outside of Oslo, in Lillehammer, enjoying the company of my fellow Fulbrighters, their families, and several members of the US-Norway Fulbright staff.  The annual ski trip (which Carrie plans to blog about more thoroughly) followed a midterm research presentation at the Norwegian Foreign Office and a reception held at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Oslo.  The midterm presentations were fascinating.  My colleagues are doing amazing things: using sound waves to monitor ocean temperatures, performing emergency veterinary medicine on wild bears, using analytic tools to predict and prevent global conflict, documenting the influence of Norwegian immigration on the culture and history of the upper Midwest, and many, many other topics.

And while I imagine many of you wish that I would tell about the happy events of the past few days, and perhaps I owe it to my readers and colleagues to dwell on these things, I will make a rare departure from my typical blogging persona to share with you a more sinister side of what was supposed to be a pleasurable and refreshing weekend.  I will tell you about our encounter with Ned Trappen, the ghost, who, according to Oscar and Jonah, haunts the Gausdal Resort in Lillehammer.
On Friday afternoon, mainly to keep the children from wasting their time playing Wii in the hotel's recreation room, I encouraged Oscar, Jonah, Kayla, and, later, Anders, take some time to explore the hotel.  A large complex consisting of many interconnected buildings, the Thon Hotel Gausdal at Skeikampen offers many opportunities to get lost.  In addition to the lobby, hallways and conference-style meeting rooms, there are many comfortable recreation areas, a parlor room, libraries, bars, lounges, and odd nooks.  The spaces are populated with comfortable furnishing, pianos, bookshelves, stockpiles of games, historical photographs, and old pieces of equipment, all with the potential to provide hours of investigation.  A fun way to spend a night, right?

That is, until I heard them talk about the ghost in the hotel.  Evidently, while exploring some of the more remote corners of the resort, those that are "off limits" to guests, they reported some curious findings.  First, they found a piano, that, at times, could be heard in playing in the distance.  When they went to investigate....  no one was there, at least no one they could see. 
Next, they found a reinforced door.  Why was it reinforced? It's hard to say, except that someone either wants to keep people out...  or to keep something in.
Outside the parlor room, they found an old switchboard.  Oscar mentioned that he heard something on the receiver, but when he examined the wiring, he noticed that it didn't seem to be connected to anything.
Driven now by an intense curiosity, the three decided to travel into some of the hotel's more obscure passages. They found a room that, apparently, had been disturbed by some paranormal activity.
In addition to inexplicably stacked chairs, they encountered a locked door to a dark passageway in which a faint flickering could be detected at the end.
After exploring another hallway, they came across a darkened basement passage that ended in a locked door.  This, according to Kayla, might be where they kept the coffin.
But whose coffin?  It was all made up, wasn't it?  That's what Oscar told me.  There couldn't be a ghost in the hotel, could there?  And that's when they found an important clue.
They discovered a cryptic sign that said "WC Ned Trappen."  After a bit of thinking, they discovered that this was the last Water Closet that Ned Trappen used before his accident on the ski lift many years ago.  You see, Ned Trappen was a world class skier whose body was cut in half in a horrifying ski lift accident.  His legs went skiing down the mountain.  His upper half trudges down from the mountain top every night, using his two ski poles to carry himself, looking for his legs.  They even found a picture of young Ned, taken before the tragic incident.
Of course, the kids knew they were inventing these stories out of thin air, but it did not stop them from getting fairly freaked out by old Ned.  While running away from some strange sound he heard, Oscar tripped.  With a worried look on his face, he said, "Dad, you know, Ned Trappen is just something we made up. But, weird things keep happening to me.  You know, I normally don't trip when I run.  Why would that happen now?" Later that night, his water glass, floating on a thin sheet of water, slid across the counter.  "Dad!  You know, Ned Trappen just means 'downstairs' in Norwegian.  It's not real.  But my glass just moved across the counter.  I wasn't touching it." 
Today, traces of this nonexistent character can be found everywhere, if you know how to look.  According to some, his shape even haunts the landscape of Lillehammer...

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