Thursday, August 28, 2008

West Coast Lighthouse Hunting

When my Cape Cod vacation ended, I thought the lighthouse hunting season was over for me. But as fate would have it, I found myself on the left coast for business. After two days of meetings, my wife flew in for two days of touristing. For one of these we decided to cruise the Pacific Coast Highway. And there I picked up the scent of some lighthouses.

IMG_0995Our first stop was in Half Moon Bay where I found a tourist map that showed that just a little bit further north was the Point Montara light. While my plan was to head south, I just couldn't resist the temptation. This guy is a tricky devil because there is only a single sign for it and it is just ahead of Montara proper. Miss it, like we did, and it is eight miles through a particularly windy and treacherous part of the PCH called the Devil’s Slide. After gawking at some surfers, grabbing a Real Authentic Taco, and buying some long-sleeved California summer beachwear we flipped around and found it coming back.

The cute squatty lighthouse sits on a outcropping with a hostel on the property. The hostel had all sorts of funny rules including no staying more than an hour, but that was plenty of time to go all around this pint-sized point of light. The grounds also have a cute MASH-style signboard with all the distances to far away exotic places.

IMG_1046Thinking we were done, we headed south towards Santa Cruz but them we saw Pigeon Point lighthouse in the distance. We had to stop and count our blessings at our good fortune. Pigeon Point bills itself as the tallest operating lighthouse on the west coast, and I have no reason to dispute that. It is a tall stately building that like an elderly dowager is showing it’s noble age. It badly needs some structural as well as cosmetic work done and a local charity is raising funds.

The light is also next to a hostel. This one had hung out a “no vacancy” sign. Who knew sleeping under the protective gaze of a Type 1 Fresnel lens was so popular?

IMG_1115With late afternoon drawing on, we finally made it to Santa Cruz. Their boardwalk reminded me a lot of Coney Island which I had visited just recently. One sad part of empty nest touring is that I now longer had my coaster riding buddy with me. I had to ride The Giant Dipper by myself. From the crest of the first hill, I spied yet another lighthouse in the distance.

Having a few extra tickets, we rode the skylift back from the far end of the boardwalk and tracked this distant light. The Santa Cruz Breakwater lighthouse sits on a long spit of land jutting out into Monterey Bay. It was a tricky shot, but with a high-powered lens and some serendipitous stopping of the skyride, I got this one in the bag.

I really had no intention of lighthouse hunting while over in Cali, but then I had no idea that I would stumble into such a target rich environment. Now that I have the bug, I can’t help but begin stalking my next prey.


Ed & Jeanne said...

Funny...I'm pretty sure I left a comment on your lighthouse hunting before but I don't see it. Oh well. I used to get to go inside all of the lighthouses when I was in the Coast Guard. Nice and warm up there by the actual light...

yellojkt said...

You had left a comment on my even earlier lighthouse post. I would love to go inside a working lighthouse. The Coast Guard lady raising the flag at Chatham Beach on Cape Cod was very cute.

Elizabeth said...

Wow, Santa Cruz looks like a bautiful place!