Archive for October, 2007

A Trio of Lighthouses

October 12, 2007

Yet another travelogue today. We took a weekend off and visited my wife’s family on long Island. Our first stop my college, Webb Institute and spent some time with old friends and professors. The biggest change was that Bruce Stephen, Webb’s one-man math department and assistant dean, finally retired after 37 years. It’s said that I have two families on Long Island, my wife’s and Webb’s, and now I believe it. On the way back to the hotel, we noshed at Ben’s Kosher Deli. There I learned that pastrami makes a good substitute for bacon, at least on sandwiches.

We visited the Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1858. The morning fog was thick and shrouded the view from the top in a dense mist, but the sun came out later in the afternoon in time to take this week’s photo. Postcard perfect, don’t you agree? My dad’s a lighthouse fan, and consequently I’ve visited many lighthouses, but this was the niftiest lighthouse I’ve had the pleasure of climbing. While walking the boardwalk back to the car, there was a mother deer and her fawn just ten feet from the railing, disregarding the human attention that they had garnered.

We then drove out to the eastern end of Long Island, the southern fork, to visit more family. While we were in the area, we stopped by the Montauk Point Lighthouse. This one’s half the height of the Fire Island Light, but also 60 years older, dating to 1796. By this point my camera battery had died, and I had to resort to a disposable film camera. It was my first time shooting with film since 2003. I really should get a spare battery for my good digital, though.

The next day, we were in New Jersey, visiting the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest in the nation. Built in 1764, it weathered storms and artillery bombardment (from Alex Hamilton, personally), but due to littoral drift now sits 1.5 miles from the tip of Sandy Hook. We weren’t able to climb to the top, but we did explore the eerie crumbling remains of the surrounding Fort Hancock. Like all the other lighthouses we visited on this trip, there was a museum exhibit dedicated to the U.S. Life Saving Service.

Lastly, we took our time getting home, and went out of our way to visit a national park I had been to about 15 years ago. Located in the industrious valley of south-central Pennsylvania, Hopewell Furnace was an active "iron plantation" from 1771 to 1883, casting stoves and tools for a burgeoning new nation. This was Evelyn’s favorite historic site of the whole trip, despite us getting lost trying to find it along backcountry roads. I can’t help but imagine that James Watt stared at a waterwheel-powered bellows like Hopewell’s and was inspired to create the steam engine, which is the same machine run in reverse fashion.

All in all, it was a good four-day mini-vacation very much in the spirit of our honeymoon, and a well deserved breather from work. For the future, we’re planning trips to northern Virginia’s caverns, Baltimore’s museum ships, Philadelphia’s Revolutionary sites, and California’s dear family.

A slogan: The 2008 election… who wants to be the next Herbert Hoover?

Another slogan (from Evelyn): How dare you take my money to buy for someone else something that I cannot afford?

Nifty Wikipedia Thing: The Serpent

What I’ve Been Reading:

"Lord Jim" by Joseph Conrad