When we planned our Blue Angels trip I was delighted to find that the campground is within a half mile of the lighthouse.
Before we left I told the boys about the lighthouse and that we were going to see it while we were camping. "Can we climb to the top?" became the question of the day.
I didn't know so we Googled the lighthouse and the first thing we found was an article about the lighthouse being haunted.
A haunted lighthouse? The boys (and their mom) thought that was very cool and we read on.
The story we read said that the first lighthouse keeper fell to his death. His wife said it was an accident but there were suspicions that she pushed him. Since the issue could never be settled, the wife was sentenced to spend the rest of her life as the new lighthouse keeper. Which made her very unhappy.
And now you can sometimes see the light from the Keeper's cigar glowing in the windows at night and the wife's reflection in the mirrors inside the house.
Another site told stories of an abusive light keeper who's wife murdered him in a bedroom in the keeper's house. There is a blood stain on the floor that can still be seen, voices are heard and doors close by themselves.
I didn't know if any of the stories were true and didn't have time to do any real research but they sounded good so we went with them.
I told the boys that while we were camping we would go down to the lighthouse at night and see if we saw any ghosts moving around.
I know that sounds crazy coming from a parent but they're boys. They love to be scared and tell scary stories to each other all of the time. The idea of ghost hunting was right up their alley.
And I love a good ghost story too, which might be where they get it.
When we got to the campground the boys didn't notice the lighthouse standing just on the other side of the trees but after it got dark the Youngest saw the light and with eyes as big as saucers he said "Mom, the lighthouse is right there!"
They were really excited, told their cousins all about the ghosts, and invited them to go to the lighthouse with us. Which sounds exactly like something cousins would discuss on a camping trip.
Unless the cousins are 3, 4 and 5.
The story of ghosts did NOT go over well with the little people. The Little Redheaded Girl came running up to me crying and begging me not to make her go see the ghosts. Zag demanded I make my boys stop telling him about that stuff while Zig and Monkey's Boy huddled together repeating over and over that they weren't going anywhere.
It took quite a while to restore order and of course my sister and Monkey are like "Lady. Why are your kids scaring the little guys? You've got to make that stop immediately."
I heard my sister tell the Youngest that he was creeping her out too and that she wished he'd stop that.
I pulled my boys aside and explained that you can't tell little people scary stuff like that and that they wouldn't be coming to visit the lighthouse with us.
Because of the hullabaloo we decided to go to the lighthouse the next night instead.
I wasn't sure how the little people would react when my family went off in the dark to look for ghosts and I didn't want to stress them out any more than we'd already done.
The next day we spent ALL day at the Blue Angels show and then went back for the night show. After which there was dinner and so it got late fast. We were all really tired and it was after 10pm but this was our last night and we decided that we were going to see the lighthouse anyway.
Having walked about 100 miles during the air show that day we decided to drive to the lighthouse. Our original plan was to hike to it through the woods and now, looking back on the whole thing, I'm now really glad we didn't do that.
The boys were chattering about seeing a ghost for the 3 minute car ride but as soon as we pulled into the parking lot they got very quiet.
I parked and turned to them saying that they should look for a faint glow like from a cigar through the windows and to keep their eyes open because there was just no telling what they might see.
We very quietly got out of the van and started walking towards the house. The night was bright and from directly under the lighthouse you could see the beams pointing out in every direction against the sky. The white house glowed in the moonlight and the light from the channel marker cast a green glow across the front of the house.
It was beautiful and for a moment the Island King and I forgot all about ghost hunting and just stood absorbing everything.
This photo doesn't even begin to show how pretty it was. The Island King didn't have his tripod and having hit the Margarita pitcher pretty hard after dinner his hands weren't as steady as they needed to be.
After looking around for a minute I realized the boys were standing behind me, perfectly still, absolutely silent, staring at the lighthouse.
"Ok guys, lets go up to the fence and see if we can see in any of the windows. Maybe if the gate isn't locked we can go up on the porch."
And those boys freaked out, turned around and ran as fast as they could back to the van. Screaming like Banshee Indians the whole way.
I wasn't going to torture them so I went back to the van and once I convinced them to unlock the doors, got in.
The Island King had wandered off taking pictures so it took a few minutes for him to get back to the van and in those few minutes the boys turned on him like rabid dogs.
"Let's just go. It's not too far so he can walk. He could probably fight off the ghost but we're just little kids!"
So much for No Man Left Behind.
Luckily he showed up very soon after and we drove back to the campsite.
Sitting by our fire I asked them what scared them and they both said that talking about being there was one thing but actually being there was completely different.
We sat around the campfire and it wasn't long before they were telling scary stories again and talking big about how next time they wouldn't be so scared - but they didn't want next time to be for quite a while.
The day after we got home my sister sent me an email telling me that the show Ghost Busters would be having an episode about the Pensacola Lighthouse on Wednesday.
We watched it and through the whole show the boys kept nodding their heads and saying "I knew it was haunted!"
The Oldest told his sister that they'd really checked the place out good the night we were there and he knew it was haunted then.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor I said "You did not check the place out - you ran screaming like a girl to the van and wouldn't come out"
The Youngest piped up and said "That's true but we were checking it out while we ran" LOL
I'm glad I didn't traumatize them and I know this is something they will always remember. But I think it will be a while before they want to go wandering around there in the dark again.