Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Fire Island Lighthouse
Today we drove west on Sunrise Highway to the Robert Moses Causeway, over the bridges to Fire Island National Seashore. It always amazes me how many things can be right in your own backyard that you're too busy to see! The lighthouse is at the end of a 3/4 mile boardwalk, a lovely walk in and of itself--surrounded by dunes, the ocean, birds and plants. We saw many hoofprints in the sand, but no deer, though signs everywhere told us how many there are and not to feed them because it helps them overpopulate the area and destroy the ecosystem.
Here's a good shot of the beginning of the boardwalk path. You can see the lighthouse the whole time you're walking.
Emma brought binoculars, and here she is watching a red winged blackbird. Below, she is being quiet, hoping to see deer. We never did--probably midday is the worst time to spot them!
Just one of the views of the dunes as we walked.
Lighthouses have always seemed very romantic to me. I picture living in one a hundred years ago, working to keep the light burning for the ships, storms raging outside. However, on the tour I realized just how difficult it would actually be to live in one! This particular lighthouse has 192 steps to the top, and the keeper had to spend each night in the watch tower below the light in order to keep the light filled with whale oil. There was still a small opening where the stove's pipe vented, though it wasn't there to keep the man warm; rather, it was to keep the oil viscous enough to pour into the chamber of the light! The walls of the tower are 11 feet thick at the bottom, and when you get to the top they have dwindled to just a bit more than 2 feet thick. The steps are a dizzying spiral of wrought iron, through which you can see the floor below...and the top 2 flights of stairs are more like a ladder than a spiral. I was surprised that coming down was scarier than going up, because the holes in the steps tricked the eye and I kept feeling as if I would fall.
These are views from the top of the light. It was very windy up there!
The weather was a bit chilly--only around 60 degrees and cloudy much of the day. It made me wish we'd done this trip yesterday, but there was no way we wanted to go there on Memorial Day! However, we were fine dressed in layers; I just wished that we'd been able to spend some time on the beach. The top of the tower was wonderful--we were allowed to go out and walk all the way around the light, which was made a bit less fun by the fact that both Matt and Rachel were freaking out at how high we were and somehow seemed to think that the kids could ooze out between the chain links in the fencing! But the view was spectacular and I highly recommend the trip for anyone living here or visiting...as long as you're up to the climb!