Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Following the Light...

 Traveling along the coast lends itself to a number of wonderful adventures and "hobbies".   One of my hobbies is to collect sand from the various beaches and sand dunes that we visit.  I label it and display it on a cute little shelf I have at our home in Arizona.  I have sand from all over the US!  It's fun to see the various colors and grains disbursed by Mother Nature.  

Of course, by now, it's obvious that my hobby and my passion is photography...That almost goes without saying.  I'm really trying to cut down on that.  For years I took pictures of everything, multipules of everything, now I tell myself, "one will do just fine", and "I don't really need that".  After all, at my age, who's going to want all these when I'm gone?  

One of the things I love to photograph, is lighthouses...and this coastal route just so happen to bring these three wonderful passions together!  Lucky me!  

When we entered the coastal area of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, we hit the jackpot of lighthouses!  

Beaufort South Carolina was our first stop to see the Hunting Island Light.  An 1879, Black and White beauty standing 132' tall. 

When we first got to North Carolina, it started raining, but we didn't let that stop us, once it let up we headed out to Oak Island to see that lighthouse...little did I expect that we would have to wade through two feet of water to get to it, but my trusty driver and our sweet truck made it through!  Glad too, as it was an unusual lighthouse color...three shades of gray!  A new lighthouse, completed in 1958, standing 153' tall, but on a rise, so is 169' above the water. 

North Carolina has the "Outer Banks", or OBX as they are referred to by locals.  Three island areas of Dare County span more than 100 miles of sand, water and small towns.  Each community seems to have it's own vibe and personality, with a common culture that makes them all Outer Banks.  

The Outer Banks are old, ancient even, but they haven't been around forever.  All it took was a few thousand years of currents converging offshore to tease them up from the depths, and then a perennial tug-of-war between seasonal winds to groom their shape  The grains of sand are forever wandering, but that's a big part of what makes the experience out here feel so alive.  We know them as barrier islands because they shield North Carolina's vast estuaries - among the most prolific natural fish nurseries in the world - from the crashing waves of a a sprawling Atlantic Oceans.  Not unlike a cradle of arms, holding something delicate.  What we are left with are clean, pure beaches in their most natural form.  Each rhythmic wave coming to rest after traveling the globe, adding and creating in the surf, lake an artist's brush stroke.  A canvas that's never fully completed, always at work.  A front seat to Mother Nature in a place that many consider paradise on earth.

We decided to start at the far end at Hatteras Island and visit Cape Hatteras Lighthouse then work our way back.  This alone was going to be an all day!

Few places in America evoke a more powerful sense of nostalgia than Cape Hatteras, which inspired the creation of this country's first National Seashore.  Cape Hatteras National Seashore opened in 1953 to provide recreational access for the public and to protect pristine nature for all to enjoy.  

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in America at more than 200 feet tall. It's the most recognized beacon in the world. Built in 1870 and historically moved 2900 linear feet to the southwest (1999).  It truly was an experience to go there and well worth the long drive out there...

Next in line, was the Bodie Island Lighthouse.  This pretty Black and White, 1872 lighthouse is the third light to stand in this location on Roanake.  While some people (including North Carolinians not from the Outer Banks) pronounce the name with a long "o" sound, it is traditionally pronounced as body. Folklore would have you believe it is due to the number of dead sailors washed ashore from wrecked ships along this portion of the East Coast which has long been known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic but that is not true. The name is actually derived from the original name of the area, which was "Bodie's Island" after the Body family who once owned the land that was a separate barrier island prior to 1811 when Roanoke inlet that separated it from the Currituck Banks to the north closed. She stands at 156' tall.

 Tucked in, almost hidden under one the bridges, was this small "house-looking" light.  It had caught my eye when we crossed over it and I wondered about it.  When we stopped for lunch, we had the delightful company of a local sitting next to us that chatted with us and when we shared that we were visiting the lighthouses here, he said "don't miss the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station, it's worth stopping for!  It was that cute little "house" I saw!  I had to hike up and down and through and around dunes to get even close to that building, and even then I couldn't really get near it!  It was down another dune, closed, but still worth the trek!  What an interesting building!  I guess it was open to the public at one time, it just isn't right now.  They are doing work on the bridge next to it, and using the lot for their equipment, so maybe that's why it's closed off.  But I got my picture! 


Just before we left the Outer Banks area, was one of the prettiest lights, we thought...maybe because it wasn't painted, but left "natural" with it's bricks showing all red and bright.  The Currituck Beach Light at 162' built in 1875 stands tall and proud.  It was closed when we got there, as it was the last of our very long day, but that was alright by us.  No crowds to contend with, a nice bench to sit in and look up at her and enjoy, and then the drive home...to rest up and then to map out the next group!

Welcome to Virginia!  We booked a full week in Virginia Beach, so now we had lots of time to spend going up and down this coast!  ;-)  

Two lighthouses we had visited before, I will share with you now, are what I call "The Cape Sisters" = They are the Old and the New Cape Henry Lighthouses.  They are almost right next to each other, and look very different from each other!  Really kind of funny, I think.  "Old" Cape Henry was built in 1792, of brick and was 90' tall.  In the 1870s, concerns about the condition and safety of the Old Lighthouse following a lightning strike that caused large cracks in the structure led to the construction of a new, taller, lighthouse at Cape Henry (157 feet) in 1881, which stands 350 feet to the northeast of the original tower.  The New Cape Henry is built of cast iron and wrought iron while the Old Cape Henry is octangular truncated pyramid of eight sides.  Two very different lights.











Old Point Comfort Light is a lighthouse located on the grounds of Fort Monroe in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay. It is the second oldest light in the bay (and looks it) and the oldest still in use.  Records date back to 1775.  Upon automation in 1972 the keeper's house was transferred to the U.S. Army, which used it as a dwelling for Fort Monroe's Command Sergeant Major until the fort was closed in 2011. The lantern is painted in an unusual combination of a red roof and green rails, decking, and walls. The light is still active. It's 53 feet tall.  

I was determined to get the Assateague Light, if for no other reason than it was one of the "rare" red and white lights!  For this, I have paid dearly...having been eaten alive, as I have lost count on how many mosquito bites I have on me!  I had no idea I was going to have to trudge through the "jungle" to get to it, So off I went, trusty camera in hand (while Jack sat safely in the RV) and dashed off to see this beauty!  Little did I know that I was going to be lunch to thousands of hungry mosquitos en route, to and from the site!  Was it worth it?  Well...yes, it was...What an absolute beauty she is!  Tall, 142', bright red and white stripes, clear away from any obstructions, built in 1833 and looking grand!

I'm going to slip one more in...just because it's right on the border...just barely over the line from Virginia /Maryland into Delaware, and that's Fenwick Island Light.  This was an unusual light, in an unusual spot.  It's actually in a neighborhood (along side a mobile home park).  There were telephone wires crisscrossing in front of it, houses all along side, odd.  I guess they all grew up around it over the years.  It was built in 1858, making it the oldest in Delaware.  It was automated in 1940 and is 87' tall. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1978 and remained dark for several years. A public movement to save the lighthouse resulted in ownership of the lighthouse being transferred to the State of Delaware, and the lighthouse was relit in 1982.[4] In 1997, after extensive fundraising efforts made it possible, the rapidly aging lighthouse underwent a full restoration. It was rededicated in July 1998.  The lighthouse is owned by the state of Delaware and maintained by the private, non-profit New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Visitors can enter the base to view a small museum and gift shop. The lighthouse, however, is not open for climbing. I was able to duck around to get a picture without all the wires...

From here we are heading away from the coast...so this is probably it for now!  Not bad though for just a short time!  Quite a collection to add to my list, so I'm happy!  I don't see us making this kind of trip again, so this has been a happy highlight for me.  I've been a lover of lighthouses for as long as I can remember, so these are very special treasures!  

...currently, on the road in Delaware, Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on my Flickr at https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

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