I’d like to share a few things I learned about PARACON, the recent paranormal convention held on the USS Hornet in Alameda, California on August 13, 2016. The first is
Many of the paranormal folk you see on reality television are down to earth people.
Surprised? I certainly was. My wife and I had a chance to talk to Elizabeth Saint from Ghosts of Shepherdstown, Dustin Pari from Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International, and Bloody Mary, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. We spoke to Loyd Auerbach, parapsychologist, author, and leading expert on ghosts and psychic experiences. He’s local, based in Martinez, California – not 30-minutes from my present address.
Arriving fashionably late was Kris Williams of Ghost Hunters fame. I’m glad she made it at all considering the notoriously horrible San Francisco Bay Area traffic. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to talk to Kris but our eyes did meet at one point.
I think we shared a moment 🙂
Seriously, I really wanted to talk to her about her passion for genealogy.
In every instance we found these paranormal experts warm, friendly, and down-to-earth. Interestingly, everyone had full time jobs! Dustin, for instance, works in the medical field. Elizabeth is an electrical engineer. Bloody Mary runs a highly successful tour industry in New Orleans. For us amateur investigators this says a lot since we often want paranormal investigating to be our full time job. If we want to eat, we need to work and save the fun stuff for weekends… late at night… during an electrical storm… in a haunted house…
The second thing I learned was
Our community of amateur paranormal investigators is filled with wildly interesting people who are warm, friendly, and sincere.
I was one of the few single investigators that stayed the night aboard Hornet as most were in teams, with spouses, or came with friends. Not shortly after my wife departed the ship for home, I was approached by Michelle and her son Justin, residents of Clovis, California. We hit it off immediately and we quickly learned we were in the same tour group. Coincidence? I think not. The mother/son team adopted me into their ghost hunting family and I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality.
The third thing I learned was
Seeking proof of the afterlife in large groups on an aircraft carrier is not conductive to capturing evidence of proof of the afterlife on an aircraft carrier.
Sure, the ship is enormous but boy, the groups were large. I estimate there were at least 10 groups of 10 to 12 people wandering the passageways that night as part of the overnight investigation. This clearly makes for some serious noise pollution. Further, people are inherently excitable. Any little noise or strange feeling sent my group into a tizzy.
“I swear someone just whispered my name into my ear,” someone said. Immediately the group broke into conversation and discussion, pulling every known piece of paranormal equipment out of every possible crack and crevice.
“My K-II lights are flashing!”
“So are mine!”
If there were any spirits wanting to contact us at that point, they were better off trotting to the galley for coffee and a donut. It was that loud.
Many on my team had what I would call personal experiences. Some felt strange, some heard things (like the aforementioned whisper), and some felt temperature drops. I neither felt nor heard anything out of the ordinary.
From a technical perspective, I did witness some strange things. On more than once occasion, my K-II meter shot its lights like fireworks across the night sky. Interestingly, I could not confirm the electromagnetic anomaly at the same time on my MEL meter, a separate device I was also working with. I cannot explain why one device picked it up but the other didn’t.
Then again, many on our team had cell phones.
The fourth thing I learned was
Some people really, really want to be Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures.
Good heavens, people are passionate. We had one intrepid ghost hunter in our group that – I swear – walked out of a reality program. He seemed to walk and talk the part. I’m not sure if he was a sensitive or not but at one point he claimed a spirit “must have” affected his physical body. Out of no where he began to complain of a mysterious pain that manifested in his back and shoulder. As the evening progressed, he further claimed that a spirt had attached itself to him.
Was it real or in his mind?
I have no clue. I just trained my night vision camcorder on him and recorded the action.
The fifth thing I learned was
Ships are dangerous at night.
We were in the sonar space in pitch black. Stupid me, I’m walking around in the dark looking through my 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch viewfinder when I tripped over a set of stacked sonobouys (a sonobouy is a device used to detect underwater sounds).
Crash, there goes John.
I probably freaked some people out but I wasn’t hurt.
My overnight aboard the USS Hornet was my second effort at investigating this famously haunted ship (the first was nearly two years ago). Although I have hours of digital video and audio yet to review, on the surface I experiencing nothing that would be considered remotely paranormal.
And that’s okay.
When I realized that the noise level exceeded my expectations (or my ability to get clean audio), I instead turned my focus from the dead to the living. I quickly found that’s where the real stories were. Take Robert, our tour guide. He’s a live-aboard docent and one heck-of-a-nice fellow. Not only does he know everything about the ship, he’s one great story teller. Or Marie, our group sensitive. Small in stature but big in presence, she definitely cares about people (living and dead) and made every possible effort to make everyone (including the dead) feel welcome. And, of course, there’s Michelle and Justin, of whom I spoke previously.
I’ve concluded that the real story of the haunted Hornet is not the ghosts but the people: those who take the time to recognize the value of the ship, recognize its rich history, and, more importantly, acknowledge those who lost their lives in service to our country. The Hornet is really a unique place to interact, communicate, and make friends.
I had a great time at the 2016 PARACON (Thank you, Christine!) but it will be my last. By this time next year my wife and I will be moved out of the Bay Area. Where will we end up? It’s a mystery… just like the haunted Hornet.
Oh, and it’s just as exciting, too!