Stranded

Expedition Unknown – Search for Shangri-La – S02E21

imageAs we get to the end of Josh’s travels for the season, we’re off to Nepal in search of the famed Shangri-La. The term has come to represent a paradise, a mythical city of Utopia where people don’t seem to age, suffer from disease and the idea of war doesn’t exist. But is such a place merely the imaginings of a fiction writer or can there be such a place?

At first, as Josh meets with some monks, it appears Shangri-La may be another word for Shambala, which might not be a place you visit with your mortal body. It is more of a state of being, a state of consciousness achieved through meditation.

But there may be more to it as Josh is told of the Sky Caves in the Mustang Valley. Hundreds of caves have been carved into the rock walls and they are almost completely unexplored. However, there is a small fuel crisis to overcome and nothing says skirting the law like black market fuel and a helicopter.

With that problem solved, they meet with Mark Aldenderfer who has been studying the area for years. He believes there are around 10,000 cave openings and they have perhaps been able to explore 300 of them. Not only do they not have the resources to explore every  one of them, but each opening is over 50 feet off the ground. You don’t merely walk into one, you climb using rope and harness. So they’ve been able to locate the caves, but they are still undiscovered.

For the caves they are able to enter, Mark takes Josh into a monastery carved into the rocks. It’s complete with mummified snow leopards, hand carved statues and paintings. It’s an extremely intricate temple that very few have ever been able to see.

It would have been used as a place of worship as well as a place of healing, a hospital to create medicines as well as perform ceremonies for those who had passed.

The next stop is the small village of Chhoser, where Mark is able to secure some supplies and some additional workers. The supplies are a couple of ladders which they strap to the trucks and do their best to climb the steep, icy and crumbling paths they call roads.

At their destination, they lash the ladders together and make their way inside another set of caves. What they discover are walls covered in detailed paintings. The art is most likely 500 years old, but since it’s painted right onto the unstable sandstone, entire murals have slid off and turned to dust. Interestingly, some of the locals have seen identical paintings in temples hundreds of miles away. It would seem the people moved from location to location meditating and creating works of art on the walls.

As Josh says, it’s disappointing to know that within a hundred years, those paintings may be nothing more than dust on the floor, the messages and signs of the artists to disappear.

But is this Shangri-La? Is this the Utopia of legend? Perhaps not, but it does speak to the ideal of peace of meditation. In this type of seclusion, one could find harmony with the world. However, there is another stop on the journey that may be closer to a Utopia.

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A season of being Stranded

image Despite how most of the people act on this show, I think it’s one hell of a ride. I love the idea of a group of people being allowed to investigate a location over multiple days in whatever manner they see fit. They can go wherever and do whatever strikes them at the time. I think this is way investigations should be done, over multiple days so people can get a sense of the place and what kind of noises, bumps, temperature changes and odd feelings are normal.

What I don’t like is how so many of these people who want to have paranormal experiences come unglued as soon as it starts happening. Why did you volunteer to be on a show about the paranormal if you’re going to act that way? It’s annoying and it’s silly. Have a spine for heaven’s sake. Show some damn courage. It was just a bump, it’s more than likely just an animal, but you’ll never know because you’re too damn busy running the other way.

Anyway, I still enjoyed the hell out of this show and truly hope Josh and Syfy put together another season for us. I think this is a great idea and these are great locations. I only hope they get some people who aren’t scared of their own shadows and who are willing to actually investigate.

But well done Josh, it’s been a great, albeit short season, and I really hope we don’t have to wait too long before more episodes come out. And quite frankly, I think you need to send another team to Yorktown Memorial Hospital, there is some cool stuff happening in there!

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Stranded – Yorktown Memorial Hospital – S01E06 – Season Finale

image For this episode, Katye, Heather and Dillon go to Yorktown Memorial Hospital to investigate the spirit of a nun who still inhabits the chapel, apparitions, and claims that people are being touched by a doctor who sexually harassed the staff. There is also the spirit of Tommy who died of a heroine overdose on the ramp leading into the emergency room. His "friends" dropped him off, or rather tossed him aside. Unfortunately, the bell to call for help was broken and he died before he could get anyone’s attention. All totaled 2,000 people died at the hospital.

After the trio is dropped off and reads the history of the place they get settled for the night. As with other investigations they hear loud bangs right before calling it a night. Unfortunately they don’t hit the ground running and check out the source of the noises.

For the first part of the real investigation the head to the Chapel where the spirit of Sister Maria is said to be. Odd for a Sister to linger in a hospital after her passing, but the group tries to communicate with her and specifically asks if anyone knows about Lauren, Katye’s sister who passed away from cancer a year ago. At that moment Heather says she hears voices and this is followed by a loud bang. This causes the group to scatter like a scene from a cartoon and in seconds they’re all headed in different directions. Yet again, people go to a location claiming they want to make contact and even speak to a loved one, but when something happens and they quite possibly get a sign of communication, they lose their minds and run like a bunch of damn fools! As expected, Katye is saying she doesn’t want to be there. It’s basically the start of day two and wants to go home. Why the hell did she even come in the first place?

Miracle of miracles, they screw up enough courage to track down the noise and think it might be coming from the basement. When they get down there they find what appears to be a metal cage or cell, a body bag and some shackles on the wall. What the hell is that all about? What is that doing in the basement of a hospital?

Again, Heather claims she hears voices and there is another loud bang. Not surprisingly they take off.

During the light of the next day they go back to the basement and find the room of the old caretaker who apparently took off one day and never came back. Her clothes are still in the closet. They don’t actually find much and head over to the emergency room where Tommy is said to have passed away. Dillon takes a bell he found in the basement and hooks it up so Tommy can ask for help. He wants to give Tommy some peace. For a guy that’s a skeptic, that’s a pretty compassionate gesture.

Next up is the Operating Room where the doctor was said to harass the staff. The surgical tools are still dirty from the last operation and for some reason there is a large jar full of teeth. Was he another one of those doctors performing experiments on unwilling patients?

As Dillon lies down on the surgical table they hear a loud bang and Heather feels something touching her. They search for a cause and end up on the ramp where Tommy passed away. To try and calm themselves they speak to Tommy and show him how to use the bell. Dillon says to ring it and they’ll come for him. While taking pictures they ask for Tommy to show himself so they can see him.

When they get back to the main hospital they have two amazing photos. One shows what appears to be a face right where the new bell has been installed. The other appear to be a face balancing on the end of Dillon’s hand. I usually disregard photos because of lens flare, dust, poor lighting, matrixing and people shaking it, but holy hell, these two photos are unreal. They’re both in the same style, with the same colors for the head and look to be two distinct faces and heads. Quite honestly I’m stunned.

But Heather has a different take on the matter and thinks they’ve conjured up something evil. It should come as no surprise that yet again, she and Katye are coming unglued and want to leave. Katye won’t even look at the pictures, won’t discuss Tommy and keeps saying she wants to leave. If I got pictures like that, I would be running back to that spot so fast there would be nothing left of me but a vapor trail. I’d be snapping pictures like a fool to see what I could capture. Yet another wonderful opportunity wasted!!

There are still parts they need to investigate so they make a trip to the nursery. The room is littered with old, rather creepy looking dolls. While looking around there is the distinct ring of the bell that Dillon installed for Tommy. Sadly, he’s the only one that wants to go investigate. Heather and Katye are ready to curl up in a ball and cry. Seriously, that sounded just like the bell Dillon put in. It wasn’t a bang and it wasn’t just a simple sound, it sounded like the full ring.Again, that is amazing! Too bad the others are lagging so far behind. Finally, they get to the ramp, but Heather and Katye won’t take pictures and don’t even want to acknowledge what happened. They keep saying "Goodbye Tommy" and want to run away. Dillon is the only one who’s interesting in trying to capture some evidence of Tommy.

For their final night, they try and confront their fears and head back to the basement. This lasts all of 30 seconds because as soon as they hear and bang it’s a free for all. Heather runs so fast and in such a panic she actually hurts herself. She tears her jeans, hurts her arms, falls down the stairs and quite literally falls on her ass. What the hell is wrong with these people? They’re actually getting tangible evidence and all they can do is run away.

And that’s it for them. No more investigating, no more looking around, no more trying to gather evidence. They just want to cower in the corner and run away in the morning. As Heather admits, she just about took off the night before. Yeah, okay, where the hell are you going to go?

Despite the idiotic behavior of Heather and Katye, this episode was awesome! Those two pictures have me baffled and I would love to see the originals. I have no idea if they’re evidence or just glitches, but they are certainly worth looking at some more. And what about that bell? How the hell did that happen? That sounded like the real deal to me. It didn’t "sort of, maybe, kinda" sound like the bell Dillon put on, it sounds exactly like it. Exactly the way Dillon turned it when showing Tommy. They truly had some interesting things going on. I really wish the other two would have been able to keep it together and actually investigate the place.

I’ve never heard of this place before but I’m seriously intrigued.

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Josh Gates offers up a couple of interesting points about Burn Brae Mansion

 A Letter From Josh Gates

If you recall from this episode, Shannon has a few bad moments and becomes increasingly distressed and frightened as the investigation progresses. We find her in tears more than once and she soon gets to the point where she can’t continue.

Josh put out a letter explaining his views about the episode and in essence says we shouldn’t just someone in that situation since we are sitting comfortably at home and don’t have the benefit of using all our senses, we can’t feel what it’s like to be there and we don’t have the investigative equipment.

That is a fair assessment and a good point. We don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation at that time and to experience what they feel.

However…

My frustration over Shannon and people like her is their reaction to something they asked for. They auditioned to be on a show about investigating the paranormal. They knew they would be isolated in a location for several days. They claim they want to experience the paranormal and to find something. Yet, when they get what they ask for they fall to pieces. If you go looking for the paranormal and find it you should be excited. Sure, you may be scared, but screaming that you want to leave just doesn’t fit. These aren’t seasoned investigators, but they know what they’re getting into. If you’re going to run screaming from the paranormal why are you out there looking for it?

The frustration comes from being handed such a wonderful opportunity and it’s treated so poorly.

As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

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