Site Visited: 13 April 2014
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Temperature: 78°F / 25°C
Duration: 7 Hours
Sites Visited: Zorn TX, Panna Maria TX, Normanna TX, Papalote TX
I peered out from between the blinds of my hotel window. A parking lot, how exciting. The few cars parked there were slowly collecting midnight dew, making them appear fuzzy and dull underneath the orange glow of the street lights. I glanced back into my room at a digital clock's red glaring numbers - 11:37. I better get going. I quickly grabbed various items and placed them wherever was most comfortable - a knife, wallet, phone, room key, Canon T2i (not comfortable anywhere). I grabbed the bulky rental keys last and off I ventured into the night.
Aside from the occasional slow-moving pickup truck, I was the only midnight traveler on these worn country roads. The drive itself was relaxing and peaceful. There were no street lights, and oftentimes no lights at all save for the solitary farmhouse or home resting beside the highway. The road heaved and sighed with the rolling hills but all I could see was a mere twenty feet in front of me - the extent of my headlights in a moonless night. The navigation app on my phone indicated I was approaching the only turn on my route - a left to head North along route 43 to Hornet, Missouri. I slowed considerably as I approached where Hornet should be, vigilant for a sign indicating where Gum Road rests. The infamous Gum road. I had read about this area extensively when attempting to determine the ideal viewing location for the Hornet Spook Light. Reports were mixed and varied considerably between websites but my research indicated that Gum Road is the place to park between the hours of sunset and midnight.
The Hornet Spook Light is an inexplicable phenomenon that has been occurring along the Oklahoma-Missouri border for over one hundred years. As far back as the 19th century, individuals have reported a strange, distant light hovering towards the West of this area. The light varies considerably in size and shape, color and intensity as it bobs randomly or in rare instances, comes speeding towards bystanders before vanishing. Professional studies have been conducted throughout the years with multiple theories but no conclusive results.
The area is characterized by gentle hills and generally flat farmland. Oak trees stripped of their summer leaves sit gnarled beside a roadside that stretches in a perfectly straight line towards the horizon. The blinking red light of an electric tower can be seen off in the distance as it reflects off a gradually descending fog bank. The scene is exactly how I remembered it from seven years ago - still deserted, still empty, but full of paranormal anticipation - a fine line between reality and dreams that became blurred the longer I stared off into the distance.
I inched my way past several cows that had bedded down for the night, their black, indifferent eyes fixated on me as I fixated back, trying my best not to crash into a fence. I parked soon after beneath a barren Oak and switched off the exhaust. Two clicks and the headlights and dash lights extinguished simultaneously. I heard my breathing for the first time as I peered out towards the horizon. Nothing. The periodic blinking of the red tower light was all that was changing. Then a smile began to creep across my face. In the remote distance, almost to the horizon, a faint yellow glow made itself visible. It looked like the distant headlights of a car as it approaches the highpoint of a hill just before commencing a descent. But the light never decreased in intensity. It simply remained there and gradually began changing from a yellow to a deep orange. I slowly stepped out of the car; the smell of dirt instantly flooded my nose. I made sure never to take my eyes off the phenomenon. I switched on the digital camera but quickly realized it was useless to try and capture a spot of light miles away with the lens I was using. So I stood there and stared at this real-life pixel as it fluttered slightly from side to side, never growing or shrinking and always staying just on the horizon.
I got back in the car and drove slowly forward. The light disappeared. I felt instant regret as I continued West along the bobbing road, hoping to regain sight of the distant phenomenon. About half a mile forward I once again parked alongside the road, this time beside a wooden farmer's fence covered in dry Oak leaves. I sat in complete darkness and stared at the tiny point where the road met the horizon. Then something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.
A nearby streetlight cast an eerie orange glow on a cluster of gnarled branches, their shadows danced listlessly with the midnight breeze. And there in between the naked trees hovered a tiny, but intense light. It danced in a figure-eight pattern, alternating color and intensity from yellow, orange, white, to red. I stared in awe and disbelief. Had I been out too long? Straining too hard to see something that isn't really there? Did the Oklahoma McDonald's feed me poisonous chicken nuggets? I quickly concluded none of the above. What I was seeing was real. The light was dancing between the trees, rhythmic and completely mysterious, unlike anything I had read about prior to venturing out here to the middle of nowhere.
Several more rotations and the light began to dissipate. It began to drift in and out of sight, becoming less and less apparent behind the dry branches until it finally vanished completely. I turned on the engine and cautiously drove forward but the apparition was gone. I didn't mind. I was satisfied with what I had found and satisfied with the fact that the Hornet Spook Light was still here after my seven year absence. I drove back along the silent roads replaying everything I had just seen.
Conveniently none of the pictures I took of either occurrence came out. I could post various black images here but those would be slightly more boring than the pictures of Oak-lined roads you see above. The pictures I have posted follow the route beginning at the intersection of State Line and Gum Road. From here, turn left and travel south for approximately half a mile before making the first available right turn. You should be facing west at this point. Travel at your leisure along this road until you see the light appear on the horizon.