Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Point Reyes Lighthouse


Love Saturday drives along Hwy 1 on the California coast, always discovering something new! We had driven by the signs before, but had no idea of the beauty that we were missing by not taking the 20 mile winding road down into the Point Reyes National Seashore, to arrive finally at the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse at the very tip. (Map)

We tried to make reservations to be there at sundown, as there is a special program twice a month for 8 lucky visitors to light the lighthouse lattern. It's a very popular activity, and the park starts accepting reservations the day of the event at 10:00 am - of course, I called right at 10:00 am, busy signal. By the time I got through at 10:10 all the spots were all filled up. Darn! Maybe next time...

Made a quick stop at the visitors' center and were absolutely amazed to find out that there are only 10 National Seashore Protected areas, and Point Reyes is the only one on the West Coast. So much wildlife to see; so many birds, including gorgeous, graceful hawks, herds of elk, and tons of sealife. Tom stopped the car several times to see if we could catch the hawks on camera, it was a futile effort.

Out at the lighthouse, (after you finally make it to the bottom of the 308 stairs!) it is possible to look down in the rocks below and see sea lions frolicking in the surf. Never get enough of
watching seals and sea lions - they always look like they are having fun..effortless in the
surf.

At Chimney Rock, when we were there last month, the elephant seals were bringing in their newborns. Wow, so awesome to be able to see
them in the wild! (promise to show more in a
future blogpost) I don't think that I have ever even seen an elephant seal, except on television. Can tell you this; we could smell them and hear them, long before we got to the end of the trail...

Finally, after driving for what seemed like forever over rolling hills and through dairy farms, we made it to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse parking lot.


Be aware, visiting the lighthouse is not for the weak of heart. (or too out of shape!) After parking in the parking lot, there is a .5 mile walk to the
visitors' center at the top of the stair case that leads down to the lighthouse. Enjoy the walk to the center, and the incredible views of the crashing Pacific Ocean! The day that we visited, the fog was extremely thick, almost a life of its' own - very eerie. As we walked through this stand of wild wind-whipped trees, the fog dripped off like rain.

Warning you now about the 308 stairs down, interspersed with long stretches of cement ramps, but thank goodness there are many view-point benches to stop and sit on the way back up! So worth the walk down though! Crashing waves and extensive 360 degree views of the Ocean.

Point Reyes is the windiest spot on the Pacific Coast, and the second foggiest on the North American Continent. It was both the day that we visited!

This light was first lit in 1870, to warn ships destined for San Francisco, of the dangerous
headlands at Point Reyes. I cannot possibly imagine how hard life must have been for the first lightkeepers! Wind, rain, fog, boredom and hauling coal up and down this cliff to keep the light lit.. oh my, not so glamorous.

The fresnel lens is still beautiful, although the outside of Point Reyes Lighthouse, has definitely taken a weather driven beating! (Still standing tho!")







For more information on the Lighthouse history - check out this link:http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/people_maritime_lighthouse.htm

Here's one of our last looks at the incredible views as we ascended the staircase. The fog was lifting and fingers of sun stroked the ocean. Love this...

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip. The view from the lighthouse is wonderful! Great photos...well done!

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