We used to go camping a lot, as it was one of those things you did as a family to bond, even though it really just meant sitting outside in nature and sleeping in a tent. The kids loved it, though, so we made a habit out of going at least once a year. We never took it too serious, though, and would usually just stay at one of those public camp grounds you see scattered about the state. As long as we were able to build a fire and eat some s’mores, which is all that really mattered.
One year, we decided to try someplace new. We drove down a few hours away from our town to a little place I read about in a pamphlet I picked up at the truck stop. It said “Come See the Famous Townley Lights!” in big bold script on the front. I wasn’t sure what the Townley Lights were, nor did I really care, as long as the camp ground was clean and cheap. So we packed up on a weekend and loaded into the car for the trip.
About an hour outside of town, I stopped to fill up the van and let the little one’s use the bathroom. As I was pumping gas, an older guy on the other pump noticed all of our camping gear and asked if we were going out to “see the lights.” I wasn’t sure we he was talking about at first, but then remembered the thing on the pamphlet. I told him that we were mostly just going to enjoy the camping, to which he seemed a little surprised. Apparently, everyone who goes out there just goes to see the lights. I asked him what exactly people were going out to see. He said “Spirits.” He then got into his truck and drove off. I figured he was just messing with me and that it must be shooting stars or something.
I noticed as soon as we pulled up that I probably made a mistake coming all this way just to come to this camp ground. The place was packed, but it didn’t seem like anyone had any camping gear with them at all. Just cameras and flashlights. I went up to the little pay booth they had, and gave the lady working my reservation number. She handed me a map and told me which lot would be ours. I took the kids down the trail, past a bunch of people who just seemed to be standing around and waiting. We got to our plot just as the sun started going down. I set up our tent, as my wife got a small fire going in the fire pit. Even more people showed up in the area, all apparently waiting to “see the lights.”
We had the usual sort of fun you have while camping that evening. We had hotdogs, looked around for the best walking sticks, and told the kids ghost stories. I didn’t realize that shortly, we would all be part of a ghost story. It turns out, the lights in the sky everyone was waiting to see wasn’t just a shooting star, as I thought. The Townley Lights were in fact the floating forms of many different humans shining brightly, dancing across the treetops. I was speechless, but the kids were terrified. So we left all of our things, and ran back to the van. The creepiest thing was just how comfortable everyone else at the camp ground was with those…things.