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The trail of closed lighthouses

We woke up in some town, not sure where. Was it Cambria? No wait. It was Monterey Bay. Losing track.

We drove the coastal highway today, stopping at fruit stands and nibbling on fresh berries all along the way. We drove from state park to state park, looking to see what we could see.

Originally, we had planned to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but I was having second thoughts. It seemed the town was filled with screaming children. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate kids (hell, I even have two). It’s just that I don’t remember mine running around screaming at the top of their lungs, like other peoples’ kids do. Or mine just plain burned me out (quite possible with Nikole).

Either way, watching all the sugar-crazed small humans buzzing around town made me start reconsidering. I told Jaz, “I don’t like kids anymore.” She laughed and said the same thing. I decided I was getting old and grumpy. And then to confirm this remarkable observation, I made a kid cry (unintentionally of course).

We were getting coffee, and I had just ordered. I was walking past the counter and this little kid (must have been 3 or 4) tried to run past me. She was still a little wobbly – as kids her age are – so her aim was not that great. She miscalculated the distance between me and the wall. I stopped walking (also a miscalculation on her part) and she bounced off my leg. Then her head bounced off the wall, and then she bounced off me again. Then the kid got scared, like she thought I was going to kill her. She ran to mom silently. Once she reached mom safely, she let out a very long wail. Please no more screaming children! 

We drove towards the aquarium and to our dismay, there were tall kids, short kids, and even kids on leashes. My heart started to pound. We looked at each other and decided to go to the beach and photograph the rocks and tidal ponds instead. We wanted a place that was quiet and peaceful and serene.

Image of the rocky shores of the beach

Better than fish tank

Later when we were reviewing the afternoon, Jaz told me we forgot the first two rules of climbing on coastal rock. Rule #1: Wear shorts in case you get wet. Rule #2: Pay attention to the tide so you don’t get stranded on said rocks. Maybe next time. I grew up in Utah (no ocean there), and in Alaska it would have been too dangerous.We drove out to Point Pinos Lighthouse – it was closed. We then drove to Asilomar State Beach and saw spectacular crashing waves on the rocks. We decided to go out on the rocks and try to get closer to spectacular. Jaz made the comment that she was only going to take the short lens, in case she falls in the ocean (the last time we climbed on rocks it was expensive for her camera equipment).

Image of Jaz walking across the rocks in the water while wearing pants

Rule 1 – Jaz

Image of Judy stranded in the water with soaking wet pants

Rule 1 and 2 – Me

We climbed out on the rocks and enjoyed the waves. We got wet coming back. I had Levis on and my only pair of comfortable shoes. They are less comfortable wet and squeak pretty loudly. We stopped for coffee in Pacific Cove and I left wet footprints across the floor. The cappuccinos were good though.

Image of Judy's soaking wet pants and shoes.

Heavy shoes

Image of fried artichokes in a Styrofoam container

Did not like

The wind was blowing and kicking up the sand. I was dry from the ocean stint, but between the greasy artichokes, the sand, and the saltwater, I needed a shower. It occurred to me that every time I hang out with Jaz I need a shower by the end of the day… hmmmm.We headed up the coast and stopped along the highway to shoot photos of the artichokes. Artichokes everywhere – including the place we stopped to get coffee – which was listed as a bakery. They had “fried artichoke” listed on the menu. Naturally, we had to sample. It tasted like fried artichoke.

We made it to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and it was closed. This would be the 4th lighthouse we have visited in 2 days that has been closed (Big Sur and Point Piedras Blancas being the other two). My luck is not too good. Pigeon Point is closed for repairs. Even so, it afforded some great photos and we got to tour the foghorn house.

Point Pigeon Light Station, at 115 feet, is the tallest operating lighthouse on the west coast. It is listed on the National Register – built in 1872. The lighthouse was outfitted with the most powerful lens of the day – a Fresnel lens. It is 16 feet tall and weighs 4 tons. French physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel used 1008 handcrafted lenses and prisms to create the lens. It is pretty damn spectacular!

Image of the Fresnel Lens

Gorgeous Lens

Image of Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

The lighthouse is in serious need of attention, and the historical society is working on that. It is currently closed for renovation and they removed the lens for that process. You can see the lens where it is temporarily being stored in the fog horn house.

All these closed lighthouses, and even state park ticket booths closed. I guess it is the off season, or timing needs to be impeccable (which mine never is). Jaz made the comment that I should have brought my ranger hat and a green slicker. I asked her why. She said that we could have stood outside the closed ticket booth, looking official, and people would have paid us to go into the lighthouses; we could have stayed long enough to make gas money. I told her we were not going to participate in illegal activities.

We crossed over the mountain through Pescardero and into Standford country. Soon we were parked in Redwood City for the night.

With a little luck tomorrow we will find an open lighthouse at Point Bonita.

Construction 129
Is that you Marilyn Monroe?
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.

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