Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lighthouses and More Lighthouses

 Cape Forchu Lighthouse (also called the Apple Core Lighthouse) - Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

After a few hectic days in New York City, we are now in Maryland taking a few days of much needed rest in the heavily forested and VERY QUIET almost deserted Tuckahoe State Park.  During the last 2 months we have been on a rather tight schedule to get everything done that we wanted to this year.  And to think that retirement is just taking life at an easy pace!    We set up our tight schedule for the following reasons:
  1. Two years ago, Canada declared that most of their lighthouses were surplus and asked for bids to be submitted for each of the ones being surplused.  The hope was that historical groups would get the lighthouses and restore them.  However, it looks like expensive insurance will be required and most groups do not have those kinds of funds.  So – we wanted to see as many of the lighthouses as possible before some of them are purchased by private individuals and moved, torn down, or just left to deteriorate.
  2. We wanted to take the extended Boston Harbor boat tour to see many of the lighthouses up close and the boat tour is only offered once a month - so we needed to be in Boston by September 1st.
  3. As the summer turns into fall, some of the National park Service Sites start of close up for the season and we wanted to visit Governors Island in New York City which closed just this past weekend.
  4. And finally, we are not great fans of traveling in the northeast with all of the traffic, many parkways with low bridges, and not as many camping places as in the rest of the country.  We like to travel in the west and in most of Canada where there are more open spaces, fewer people, and less congestion.  So we were trying to complete the items we have had on our bucket list especially, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, & New York. 
And we can report that when all is said and done, we have managed to successfully complete all that we had hoped for and even more and the really great weather we enjoyed most of the time really helped.  Here are some of highlights of our recent travels:
  • For most of the month of August, we went around the coastline of the mainland part of Nova Scotia (we had already done most of Cape Breton Island previously) and were very successful in seeing over 80 lighthouses.   The weather cooperated most of the time (except around Halifax where it was foggy every day that we were there).  We even managed to photo the famous Peggy’s Cove lighthouse (the fog lifted just before we got there).   It was very crowded on the rocks around the lighthouse with busloads of people there (quite different from most of the lighthouses that we visit). 
  • While in Halifax, we went on tours of Province House & Government House to continue our tradition of visiting Canadian provincial & territorial centers of government (with only Yukon & Nunavut left to visit).  We also camped in one of the two National Parks in Nova Scotia (Kejimkujik – referred to as Keji (keh-gee)).  A few years back we had driven the Cabot Trail and camped in Cape Breton Highland National Park.
  • After completing Nova Scotia, we took the ferry to Prince Edward Island to enjoy a few evenings of music gatherings called Ceilidhs, a couple of nights of bluegrass , and one night of Highland bagpiping, Scottish-style drumming, Highland dancing, and island step dancing.
  • Then it was time to head to Boston for the LH boat tour & to visit additional places like The Longfellow House and Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Sites.  The weather and the boat ride were perfect which made our stay in Boston really special. 
  • After Boston, we headed down to the Cape Cod area.  On the way, we did have a glitch when the truck would not start after stopping at a small pull-off on a very busy highway when it was raining.  We had to call a tow truck & luckily were on our way by noon the next day with a new alternator.
  • After touring around Cape Cod a couple of days, we rode a passenger ferry to Nantucket Island and went on a very good bus tour of the island.  We really enjoyed this relatively small island and even managed to take photos of 5 lighthouses.
  • A couple of days later, we rode another passenger ferry to Martha’s Vineyard Island.  This island is much larger than Nantucket & so we rented a car in order to see the lighthouses around the island.  While there, we parked the car and rode on “Chappy” - the shortest ferry we have ever taken (only 542 feet from shore to shore) to get across the channel to Chappaquiddick island.  We were met there & went on a tour over the sandy coastline to the Cape Poge lighthouse at the northern tip of the island.
  • After our visit in the Cape Cod area, we drove to the Fishermen’s Memorial State Park in Rhode Island for a week.  While there, we took a boat tour to see 10 lighthouses in lower Narragansett Bay, rode a ferry out to Block Island to visit a couple of great LHs, drove along part of the Connecticut coastline for more lighthouses, and then around in the Providence, RI area.   While in New Bedford, CT we arrived by chance when the New Bedford Whaling Historic Site was celebrating their 15th year anniversary and so we enjoyed some cupcakes & a special dancing group performance.
  • After seeing all of the lighthouses there are in Rhode Island, it was time to take our 5th wheel on a ferry from New London Connecticut to Long Island where we stayed at the very nice Wildwood State Park.  We took a few day trips to photo most of the lighthouses on Long Island and to visit National Park Service sites such as Fire Island National Seashore and Sagamore Hills National Historic Site (Theodore Roosevelt’s Home).
  • Then it was time to tackle the New York City area with an RV.  We had been there in a small VW Bug in 1965 during the World’s Fair and had seen many of the popular sites, and this time we just wanted to see a few selected sites.  So we decided to head to Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City, New Jersey (a park that is quite expensive, but has great access to Manhattan).   After studying the routes thru and around Manhattan we decided to take the southern route.  For some reason on the way, our trucker GPS told us to take an exit due to a low overpass and before we knew it we were driving over the Manhattan Bridge right into lower Manhattan – thru Manhattan on the very busy Canal Street & finally going thru the Lincoln Tunnel.  When we got to the tunnel, there was a sign posted that said campers with propane tanks were prohibited, and with no place to turn around, we had no choice but to go thru the tunnel.  Fortunately, we made it safely to the RV Park.  What made the trip even more stressful was that the roads had lots of potholes and bumps along the way & we were really hoping that we didn’t have a flat or a breakdown on the way.
  • After recovering from the drive and settling into the RV Park, we rode a ferry over to Ellis Island & the Statue of Liberty.  The next day, we only had to walk 1 block to catch the NY Waterway commuter ferry right over to the dock at Wall Street (note: this ferry only runs on weekdays).  It was interesting to ride with so many people dressed in suits & carrying briefcases.  We then visited 4 National Park Service sites on Manhattan (including Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace and Federal Hall (where Washington was inaugurated & the first congress met)).  Then we rode the free Staten Island ferry roundtrip to photo another LH (note: This ferry system carries more than 60,000 people daily between Staten Island & Manhattan).  Then it was time to catch the commuter ferry back to the RV Park.  Note: We decided to take the taxi a couple of times while in Manhattan and it was not as expensive as you might think and was much faster.
  • After a day of rest while it rained, we walked a half mile and rode the PATH subway train to the World Trade Center station.  In Manhattan we went on a very well narrated 3 hour boat tour completely around Manhattan Island and under 20 bridges.  On the way we photographed 3 lighthouses including the ‘Lightship Frying Pan’ and the very special one – ‘Jeffrey’s Hook’ (also known as The Little Red Lighthouse under one end of the George Washington Bridge).   Not only was this our 1,200th lighthouse, but our son’s name is Jeffrey.  After the boat tour we rode the ferry to Governors Island for a breath of fresh air (great place for picnics, hiking, and riding bicycles on weekends in the summer thru September).  On the way back to the PATH subway, we were moved when we passed the firehouse next to the WTC site and one of the retired firefighters was polishing the large plaque dedicated to the fallen firefighters.
Since lighthouses have been our main theme recently, you will notice that most of the following photos are of lighthouses.  We did manage to detour slightly and photo the longest covered bridge in the world in New Brunswick.  Since we have been so busy, we have only processed our photos thru Rhode Island – so we will include the rest of them in our next update (including the great Fire Island & Montauk lighthouses on Long Island)
Tomorrow we head to Greenbelt Park (part of the National Park Service & within 2 miles of Washington, DC Metro station).   While there, we plan to visit numerous monuments, places, & parks and even take a couple of day trips to eastern Maryland & Baltimore to photo some more lighthouses and see Fort McHenry, Jamestown, etc.  And finally, we will head back to Texas for the winter months and really take time to rest, read, process photos, visit our doctors, and spend time with family and friends.
We hope that this update finds you all doing well.

Grandique Point Lighthouse - Nova Scotia
Queensport (Rook Island) Lighthouse - Nova Scotia
Peggy's Cove Lighthouse - Nova Scotia

Steeple of the largest & tallest wooden building in North America - Eglise Sainte Marie - In Church Point, Nova Scotia.  The steeple from the floor to the top of the cross is 190 feet.  It was built in 1903 by a master carpenter with the help of 1,500 parishoners.
The 'Theodore Too' tugboat comes in out of the fog in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wood Island Lighthouse on southern coast of Prince Edward Island (with the red dirt that PEI is known for).  This is where the ferry lands coming from Nova Scotia.

Hartland, New Brunswick Covered Bridge - Longest Covered Bridge in the world - measuring 1,283 feet long.  It crosses the Saint John River.

Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, MA.  It was used by George Washington as his first offical headquarters of the Continental Army and later Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived in it for almost 50 years.
Cape Ann (Thatcher Island) Twin Lighthouses - Northeast of Boston Harbor - Sailors could distinctly identify the two lights as a pair to help guide them.
Dog Bar Breakwater Lighthouse - Entrance to Glouchester , MA harbor.
Graves Lighthouse - Boston Harbor
Nantucket Lightship WLV112 in Boston Harbor - Just newly refurbished this summer.  Three of the eleven commisioned Nantucket lightships that were built are still in existence (one in Boston, one in Wareham, MA, & the other travels around).  These ships marked the hazardous Nantucket Shoals south of Nantucket Island.  The lightship that rtavels around was remodeled inside to be a luxury yacht for rent.  We just happened to see it when it was in Newport, RI
Sankaty Head Lighthouse - Nantucket Island
Brant Point Lighthouse - Nantucket Island
Nobska Point Lighthouse - Woods Harbor, MA
Edgartown Lighthouse - Along the channel between Martha's Vineyard Island & Chappaquiddick Island
Block Island North Lighthouse - Block Island, RI
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse - Block Island, RI

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