Sunrise Sunset 2017: One of 17 in 17

Make it five years in a row! Yes, for the fifth straight year, we awoke on the east coast of Florida to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and then ended the day by watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

This year we began the day at Hillsboro Inlet watching the sunrise only minutes from the house I lived in while in high school.

Boats parading through the channel and a lighthouse were an extra bonus, and the sunrise did not disappoint.

Cooking and eating breakfast on the picnic tables at Hillsboro Inlet Park served as fuel for our cross state road trip.

Next stop: Corkscrew Swamp for a stroll among wild things on the boardwalk cutting through the path of Landmark Cypress.

Then on to the island for a bike ride, walk on the beach

and obligatory sundae at Dairy Queen.

Waiting for sunset included a few casts and even a couple of trout.

With waves washing over our feet, the sky changed from gold to orange and finally pinks and purples as 2017 Sunrise Sunset came to an end.


Where would you suggest we plan this adventure in 2018?

More Lighthouses: Maine Style

Maine wasn’t on our radar when we set visiting fifteen lighthouses as one of our goals for 2015; but when we decided to take a September New England trip, Maine lighthouses were a natural part of our time along the coast.

Our first night in Maine, we stopped in York, the site of Cape Neddick Light. From Sohier Park we viewed the lighthouse located atop a rock island a short distance off shore,

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and as I turned around, the view of a white rowboat beached on the rock below with an inn in the background brought together everything New England.

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Later that afternoon, we burned off our seafood lunch by walking eight-tenths of a mile out to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse along the granite breakwater.

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Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day surrounded by the blue sky and waters.

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Egg Rock, the small island with a lighthouse, was barely visible from the mainland; but that couldn’t keep us from counting this as lighthouse number twenty-one. Located in Bar Harbor, we were able to photograph the lighthouse from Acadia National Park.

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From Acadia’s Schoodic Point, the Winter Harbor Lighthouse is clearly visible, but again its location on an island in Frenchman Bay prevents an up-close visit.

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Our final Maine lighthouse visit…the Prospect Harbor Light. Located behind a fence and a Coast Guard manned security booth, makes access by the public impossible. However, by climbing down on the rocky beach along the road leading to the light, it is possible to get a good, unobstructed view.

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Twenty-three lighthouses. Looks like we underestimated our abilities. And with a camping trip in the Panhandle yet to come, I don’t think we’re finished.

Jupiter, Hillsboro and Cape Florida

In early August, we visited our fifteenth lighthouse of the year and completed another of our 15 in 15 bucket list items, but when we traveled to South Florida later in the month, we couldn’t just drive by the lighthouses at Jupiter Inlet, Hillsboro Inlet or Cape Florida.

None of these were first time visits. Nevertheless, all were worthy of another stop, especially since 2015 may be remembered as the year of the lighthouse.

First stop Jupiter.

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Not only is there a lighthouse, but a museum, cafe and of course, a gift shop. It’s no easy task to take  a picture of this lighthouse from the museum grounds since it’s surrounded by large trees; but we climbed the embankment to the road and took pictures from the draw bridge leading to the inlet.

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Then driving south on A1A we got the idea to take a walk on the beach for another view of the lighthouse. While we could see the lighthouse from the beach, it was really too far for a good picture. On the bright side, we ended up walking two miles on the beach…never a bad thing.

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The next day a bike ride in Bill Baggs State Park led us to the Cape Florida Lighthouse.

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My first visit to this lighthouse was in 2009 when we took some graduation pictures of Emily near the lighthouse on a very windy day, but John shared a story about nearly drowning at this park back in the ’70s so he has a long tradition at Cape Florida.

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Finally, on the way home we took A1A north from Miami to Pompano Beach and Hillsboro Inlet. This is my home lighthouse since it could be seen from my high school home.

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Many walks on the beach ended at Hillsboro inlet and days sailing with a neighbor took us past this familiar beacon.

imageEighteen lighthouses with a third of the year to go!

 

Where is this Wednesday?

The Florida State Parks have been posting a picture each Wednesday accompanied by the question, where is this?

Each picture is from one of the state’s award winning parks and it’s fun to see if you can identify the location, or if not, claim the park as one you’ve visited.

So “Where is this?”

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Hint: It is one of Florida’s State Parks.

10 Down; 5 To Go

With more than three months left in 2015, we met our goal of visiting 15 lighthouses. On a single day earlier this month, we went to St. Augustine, lighthouse number 14 and Ponce Inlet, lighthouse number 15.

We started the day with a bike ride on the beach at Anastasia Island State Park and took a couple of long distance pictures.

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Then we biked over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum to get up close views of the lighthouse we’d seen from the beach.

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What’s a trip to St. Augustine without a meal at the Columbia Restaurant? After a delicious lunch, we were ready to begin the next leg of the day’s journey.

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Our drive down A1A ended at Florida’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet. No, we didn’t climb the 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It was after 4:00 by the time we arrived and the storm clouds made it unlikely we’d have a chance to get to the top before the lightning put an end to the day’s tours.

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In just over a week, we met the goal by visiting the oldest lighthouse in the state, the Amelia Island Lighthouse, the one lighting Florida’s oldest port at St. Augustine, and the state’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet – quite a historic week.

Now that we’ve completed this challenge and visited four lighthouses in Florida (Anclote Key earlier this summer), we should shoot for 15 Florida lighthouses in 2015. We better get busy!

Florida Lighthouse 2: Amelia Island

How appropriate to write about our second Florida lighthouse adventure today, National Lighthouse Day.

Constructed in 1838, the lighthouse on Amelia Island is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Florida, and one we’ve tried to visit on numerous occasions. The lighthouse can be seen from across Egans Creek at an overlook at Ft. Clinch State Park as well as when crossing the creek from the road, but on several occasions we’ve attempted to find the lighthouse tucked behind houses in a neighborhood none to anxious to welcome lighthouse gawkers.

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Since this is the year of the lighthouse, we set out more determined to find this elusive beacon, and I’m pleased to say we were successful. We located a street not found on any map we have of Fernandina Beach, O’Hagan, a National Historic District street located off Lighthouse Circle. In order to reach the lighthouse, we stopped at the park at the corner of Atlantic and Wolff since we were pulling the boat and driving down O’Hagan with a trailer was not a possibility.

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Walking a few blocks was a good way to get to the lighthouse grounds, but unfortunately access is restricted except on Saturdays from 11am-2pm and on the first and third Wednesdays of each month when Helen O’Hagan Sintes, the daughter and granddaughter of former lighthouse keepers at Amelia Island gives tours. The restricted access explains why our photos provided obstructed views as we were standing on the closest point to the lighthouse taking pictures through the fence…our only option.

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As we left Fernandina Beach, WJCT, the local NPR station told the story of of the O’Hagan family and their connection not only to the Amelia Island Lighthouse, but a story about the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse as well as the importance of the O’Hagan name to Florida lighthouses.

A coincidence?  Maybe, but I think it’s an invitation to visit Ponce Inlet and a return trip for an O’Hagan guided tour of the Amelia Island lighthouse.

Amelia Island Lighthouse. That’s number 13. Only 2 more to go to meet our goal of 15 in 2015.

Florida Lighthouse 1: Anclote Key

Our goal this year is to visit at least 15 lighthouses and after visiting 11 in Washington state and British Columbia, we finally made it to our first Florida lighthouse in 2015.

Anclote Key Preserve State Park, off the coast of Tarpon Springs, is only a short boat ride across St. Joseph Sound. A ferry is available in Tarpon Springs, but it’s also easy to kayak across the water from Anclote River Park, a county park. Our mode of transportation was our 15′ skiff making the trip both cheap and easy.

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Since the five miles of white-sand beaches are only accessible by boat, we encountered only a handful of people even on a summer day. I’m sure a weekend trip may be more crowded, but on a Wednesday, we saw fewer people than the shipwrecked inhabitants of Gilligan’s Island.

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We anchored near the pier, the recommended location, and then followed the boardwalk to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is not open to the public except on specially designated days, and in fact, we did not see the park ranger during our recent visit.

After reading about the history of the lighthouse, which was first lit in September 1887, and then taking a few pictures, we finished our time on Anclote Key swimming in the warm Gulf Waters and enjoying a little beach time and a picnic lunch.

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Only three more lighthouses to go to complete another of our 15 in 15 adventures.

Washington Lighthouses: Round 2

After spending a day at Mt. Baker upon our return to the U.S. from Canada, we spent our final two days in Seattle and the surrounding area where we visited three more lighthouses.

The first, Mukilteo, was the only lighthouse we were able to enter. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and found the lighthouse and grounds open and took the opportunity to climb to the top where we were able to watch the ferry depart for Clinton.

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Our final day took us to Alki Lighthouse in West Seattle, directly west of downtown on the point. Blocked from public access behind locked gates in the middle of a neighborhood proved only a slight deterrent as we located an access point to the beach and then walked around the point and climbed the rocks to get an up close look and take the obligatory selfie.

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imageDiscovery Park, the site of Fort Lawton and the West Point Lighthouse was where we hiked to lighthouse number ten in the Pacific Northwest. Due to poorly marked trails, we took a lengthy route through shaded trails down to the beach where we got the first glimpse of the lighthouse. We finally managed to find a path which provided access to our destination.

Pictures and then a walk on the beach before heading back to the car and concluding our nearly five mile walk to satisfy our curiosity about West Point Lighthouse…a good way to end our trip.

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As we said good-bye to Washington, it’s time to start visiting Lighthouses closer to home.