My wife and I normally go away for the weekend of our anniversary, but occasionally when it falls on a work day, we'll let the tradition slide. But, we always make up for it. This time, I wanted to do something completely different. Something we'd never done before and after nearly two decades together--twelve of those married--there isn't much we haven't done.
In Washington, the biggest bang for your undead buck is found in a sleepy little peninsular enclave an hour and a half northwest of Tacoma. Port Townsend is an artsy, antiquey and--sure--touristy town that I'd never thought much of, but it called to me with its promises of haunted lighthouses, castles and military bunkers.
So, the decision was made and we got off Saturday morning, camera charged and notepad at the ready.
We spent a good portion of the day goofing off in the downtown area (though I use that term very loosely, as the town is tiny), shopping, browsing, eating pie and taking pictures. Like this one, which would be totally cute if there weren't something eerie about it...
We got lost on the way to Manresa Castle, our lodging for the weekend, but were afraid to ask directions for fear that our question would be met with one of the following statements:
- "You don't want to go there."
- "You'll die up at the castle. They all do."
- "They gots roaches!"
So there it is. Manresa Castle. A little history. The Castle was built by a wealthy family in the early days of the port and then sold to the Jesuits, who used it as a monastery. In the late 60s, it was converted into a hotel. Apparently, there are two known ghosts. A little girl committed suicide by jumping from a third floor hotel room and a monk hung himself in the third floor turret room.
Guess which floor our room was on?
Aw yeah. Third. When ghost hunting, it's best to stay in the thick of things. Anyway. The little girl, after all, has been known to sing in the bathrooms on the third floor and even if we didn't hear her, I had every intention to fake it.
After settling in, our first stop was the turret room. Which was, of course, locked. But I'm tall and do you see that transom over the door? Well cameras can be just as good as step ladders and we didn't come all that way for nothing.
Does there seem to be a note on the bed pillows? I'm thinkin' suicide note. But that may be my overactive imagination. The little girl's room, #309, was more difficult to find, as some renovations have been done. We ended up finding #209 and counting the doors back up on the third floor. They'd renumbered. #311 was in the same spot as #209. Why might they do that do you think? Curious.
The ballroom was by far the creepiest spot at Manresa and the only place to put out, at least on camera. We'd heard about ghosts showing up as squiggles of light or orbs in photographs, well. Well?
I'm not talking about the blurry image of Caroline. I'm talking about the white squiggle across the top of the shot. Which, in all honesty was not on that beam. Believe it or not. I am a writer though, so...
After dinner, we drove to Fort Worden, which was a coastal stronghold in WWII and now a state park. Clearly the threat of Japanese soldiers landing on Washington's shores was very real to the folks who built and staffed the vast and numerous bunkers that litter this site. We got there at dusk, parked outside the gates as they'd be locked up before we could get back and started exploring. We found this warning on one of the upper bunkers...
During the day, that's laughable, when people are swarming the park like flies. But at night, when the last person we'd seen was twenty minutes prior, it's a little unsettling. But we trudged on. The bunkers are built into the hillside and are primarily underground with stairs leading into unlit halls. It's been a long time since there were lights inside these husks. We did see this one though...
Whether that "orb" in the upper left quadrant of the photo is of paranormal orientation or simply due to a cheap digital camera, I couldn't say. I'm no expert. I can tell you, this bunker scared the crap out of us and we left shortly after I shot this.
Back at the castle (I'll never get tired of typing that), after soaking up the ghastly wifi in the haunted library, we retired to our room for the "main event." Now, normally that would be a crude euphemism, I'll admit, but as the day was pretty exhausting, and less than fruitful ghost-wise, we tried to get some sleep.
Neither of us could. I kept feeling what my best friend calls pejohos, crawling up my back. When we turned on the lights, no bed bugs. Nothing at all besides clean white sheets. This is what I looked like (pardon the dramatic reinactment)...
The next morning, after a breakfast of dry bran muffins and coffee in tiny tea cups (4 makes a mug) amongst a group primarily smelling of baby powder, we checked out and headed to our primary target, the Point Wilson Lighthouse where a ghost has been known to actually "show" itself to female guests. Didn't happen. Still. Lighthouses have a certain charm that's undeniable.
Which brings us to the scariest part of the weekend.
Back to the bunkers. The Kinzie bunker is near the coastline and massive. A complex rather than the single bunker we'd seen the previous night, three stories deep. We went inside. And dark is an understatement.
If you don't get freaked out stumbling down claustrophobic hallways that suddenly veer off into a maze with only a tiny pen light and a camera flash, then you're dead inside.
Won't you join us?