Monday, August 11, 2008

Lighthouse Hunting On The Cape

When I’m on vacation in coastal areas, I like to hunt lighthouses. Now, some people don’t think that there is much sport in that. And they have a point. Lighthouses tend to be large and very slow moving (except that sneaky Cape Hattteras one) and they have few natural defenses. Indeed, their number has been slowly declining, making them that more tricky to capture.

Here are some of the lighthouse I managed to shoot while on vacation in Cape Cod this summer.

IMG_0018Ned’s Point. Technically not even on Cape Cod, this lighthouse is in the particularly picturesque town of Mattapoisett. Hiding at the end of narrow road, this squat preternaturally white lighthouse is a favorite of sunset picnickers. When captured right near sundown, the shadows go from merely pretty to absolutely stunning.

This lighthouse was caught while on a sidetrip to New Bedford, but it only whetted my appetite for more prey. Near the end of our trip I decided to spend and entire day stalking that most elusive beast, the Cape Cod lighthouse.

IMG_9854Chatham. I did a lot of bicycling while on the Cape and one morning I decided to ride from our rental to the Chatham light. It seemed like an easy 15 mile ride, but when I got to the end of the trail, it turned out that the light was another four miles down the road. I got to Chatham Beach too late to join the yoga class going on down on the beach, but I did catch the flag raising over the Coast Guard station that doubles as the lighthouse station.

I did have the good sense to have a road crew meet me at the lighthouse to load my bike and drive me back to the house in time for breakfast. Mornings are a good time to catch these lighthouses because they aren't expecting hunters at that time of day.

IMG_0422Nauset Beach. One of more famous lighthouses on the Cape, this one is also one of the harder ones to shoot. It sits across from a National Park Service beach that is so popular in the summer that the rangers have a full time job keeping cars from stopping along the road to disgorge passengers in a tricky attempt to avoid the parking fees. My strategy was to be dropped off at the Visitor Center and ride my bicycle along the Salt Pond Trail to the Coast Guard House. From here it was another mile and half along the coast road to the lighthouse. It may think it was tricky, but it never stood a chance.

IMG_0430Three Sisters. These three small lighthouses are particularly sneaky. They claim to be retired and taken to hiding in the forest near Nausset Light. Two of them have even ditched their lights in a vain attempt to escape notice. Fortunately for me, there was a path leading right to them. I snuck up on them, took a bunch of quick shots and called for my support vehicle. There are three parking spaces right by the Three Sisters with a ten minute limit. The spaces are usually occupied by the aforementioned beach fee jumpers, but they also gave me just enough time to load up my bike to move on.

IMG_0461Provincetown Lights. According to the maps there are three lighthouses in the Provincetown area, but they are particularly shy and hide in areas inaccessible by car or bicycle. Of the three, I only got the faintest hint of Long Point light, the one directly across from the P-town beach on the long spit of land that encircles the bay.

IMG_0586Highland Beach. I saved one of the best for last, waiting until sunset to stalk it. Most of the sunsets on our vacation were pretty lackluster, being mostly overcast and gray. This one, however, showed some promise. Highland Light puts on airs by residing on a golf course. It even owns its own house.

As you can tell, lighthouse hunting is a time consuming sport involving stealth, guise, and cunning. But the trophies are worth it. You can see more views of these lights at the Flickr set or hunt them down yourself.


Ed & Jeanne said...

Cool. I used to be in the Coast Guard so I got to go into many of the lighthouses. They're really warm under those lights too.

Elizabeth said...

When I first moved up to Alaska I had a job in the bush where we only got one TV channel. It was called RATNET (Rural Alaskan Television Network)and it showed a bunch of differennt shows from many different channels. Apparently PBS was cheap and easy to get because we had a a lot of PBS shows. One of them was called "Lighthouse of the Northeast" or something like that. It was on Saturday nights at 8:00. The first time I saw an episode I rolled my eyes wondered why they would think people in Bush Alaska would want to see that show. After a couple of weeks I was totally into it and even taped it if I wasn't home to watch it. So many of them had such an interesting history and I didn't realize there were different ways of amplyphing the light. And the sceanery around that area is so pretty. I think my favorite lighthouse of this post would be the Three Sisters Lighthouse. It looks so cute!

Impetua said...

I dig the lighthouses. We're going to Newport (Oregon) for a couple of days in early Sept. and I'm looking forward to hunting some down. :)

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I love lighthouses. I've got to post my pictures from the Erie lighthouses on the lake that I took this weekend.

trusty getto said...

So what do you hunt them with? Cannons? Bazookas? Doesn't look like a regular old gun would work.

yellojkt said...

I hunt with a camera. It's the only weapon I trust myself with.