Saturday, December 29, 2012

St. Augustine Lighthouse (Sat. Dec. 22nd) and Mikey's (Sun. Dec. 23rd)

It is Saturday, December 29th as I write this.  On the morning of last Saturday, the 22nd I was still in St. Augustine Florida.  I went to the lighthouse there before leaving for Michael's in South Carolina at noon.

At the entrance to the tower:

The tower and entrance (onetime fuel storage building):

A nice shot from outside the gift shop:

The lightkeeper's house:

Inside the base of the tower (their Christmas tree is set up on top of what was once the "weight well" for the clockwork's weights):

It says that the weight, similar to those in a grandfather clock, was about 270 lbs.  I have told visitors to Fire Island Lighthouse that I estimated the weights that used to be in our lighthouse weighed somewhere between 200 and 300 lbs.  Not a bad guess, eh?

They had at least four of these 'fuel buckets' at various places in the tower and keeper's house.  Tho many Fire Island lighthouse visitors ask me how the fuel - back in the days when the light was a lantern - was brought to the top of the tower, we don't have any of these buckets to show them.  It'd be nice if we could "borrow" one of their four, wouldn't it?

Their spiral, looking upward.  Nice that they have several wide landings along the way, and that some of the landings even have benches, so that you can take a rest if you want to.

I swear that some of the broken glass in our Fresnel Lens looks like it could have been broken by gunshots.  St. Augustine's definitely was.  This is one of the lenses that was broken by "a vandal" according to the newspaper article.  The bullets - 4 of them - were retrieved and are in the lower left corner of the display.  No mention of whether or not the perpetrator was ever caught.

The story of Smoky, the lightkeeper's daughter's cat.  Seems his son did an experiment. . . .  Made a parachute out of bedsheets and sent Smoky down from the tower top one day.  Smoky survived, but went missing in the nearby woods for a full month after his flight.  Understandable. . . .

At the top.  John, the vol on duty there, took this shot as we chatted:

Looking east:

I thought this was interesting in the lightkeeper's house.  The lightkeeper had a portable bookcase.  It is a narrow trunk - just the right width for books.

And on last Sunday, the 23rd, I was at son Michael's in Lexington, South Carolina.  Here's some photos of his backyard 'boatyard.'

On his van:

Car, van, 4 trailers, one raft, a lot of kayaks and "Freedom Hawk" kayaks. . .

 Mikey tonight tells me that one more boat was picked up by him from a fella in Duluth, Georgia who sold it to him just yesterday and it now sits atop the trailer in foreground.  He plans to buy an outboard motor for the new boat soon, too.

The existing raft, on its trailer:

Millie, namesake of the millstream near where Mikey found her last year:
She was beaten up and had a few battlescars for a kitten of only a few weeks' age.  She has recovered very well and is now fully in control of Mikey. . . .  but not of Max!
If you want to see how Mikey captured her, check this out:
Don't worry, he didn't use a hook in the lure and the action took place on a rarely-used 'service road' near the river.

One more photo of the kayaks and trailers, from back part of the backyard.  The Freedom Hawk kayaks are on the left.  They have 'outriggers' that flip outward when you are positioned where you want to be on the river, and a 'lean bar' that you can stand up next-to so that you can fish standing-up in midstream!

This has been a long posting.  I didn't think of that when I started.  But since it is a snowy night here in New York, I've hunkered down and decided to catch up on the blog while I've had the time.  Been back here at home now for 2 days.  Snow and cold weather seem so unreal based on my trip of this past 5 and a half weeks!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

I arrived in St. Augustine yesterday afternoon - driving up here from Jensen Beach and stopping along the way to have lunch with Uncle Paul in Melbourne Beach.  Had to go see the Spanish fort here first thing.  This morning I'll be heading out to see the St. Augustine lighthouse and then will hit the road again for Mikey's in South Carolina.  Google Maps says Lexington, SC, is 4 hours and 42 minutes from here; so I should be there for dinner.

Anyway, here's the photos from the fort. . .

The main gate:

Main gate and cannons above it:

The courtyard:

Burgundy Flag of Spain (in use from early 1500s until late 1700s, according to the placard at base of flagpole):

The cross on the flag represents the cross that St. Andrew was crucified on, timbers that only had their branches lopped off of instead of trimmed and milled to a flat board.  The flag of Ferdinand and Isabella preceded it and the flag of modern-day Spain followed it:

Heavier cannons at the top:

One of the corner towers:

The courtyard, seen from above:

Saturday's destination - the St. Augustine lighthouse. . .

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Visit to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Went down to Jupiter Inlet with brother Gerard today.  Met Jane, who came up to there from Pompano, and we all took the tour of the lighthouse and visited the museum there.  It is beautiful and the best maintained lighthouse site I have ever seen.  Of course, being that it is still at the very least partially operated by the U.S. Coast Guard just may have something to do with that.

It is a bit shorter structure than our Fire Island lighthouse, but being on top of a natural hill really adds to its beauty. . .
My brother Gerard and my good friend Jane. . .

The brick walkway from the museum to the base of the lighthouse tower has many bricks inscribed with the names of people who contributed.  A great idea, and one that maybe should be used at Fire Island some day too. . . .

She's a bit less than two years younger than Fire Island lighthouse.  Her builder was a bit more famous than the builder of F.I., too.  Gen. Meade and one of the assistants (who isn't mentioned on this plaque, but was mentioned in the museum - one Captain Raynald) worked together again in the 1870s when - according to the book Empire Of Shadows, which I read a few years ago - they drove the native Indian population out of the Yellowstone area in preparation for the opening of Yellowstone National Park.

105 steps. . .

Ms. C. . . .  glad to be at the top, it seems!

The view of Jupiter Inlet:

My bro, Gerard. . .

The First Order Rotating Fresnel Lens.  According to what they say here at Jupiter, there are only 13 left in the world.  (And here I've been telling our visitors to F.I. that there are 14.  So one of us is not far off the mark.)  Unlike our Fire Island lighthouse's it is still in-place and in use at the top. 

She is identical to ours. Same manufacturer's plaque: "Henry-LePaute, Paris" on it.  Same scrollwork art design on the cast iron below the lenses.  Exact same "beehive" configuration as ours. Amazes me to think this thing 'rolled off the same assembly line' as ours less than two years after ours. . . .

But unlike ours, no chipped glass, other than a badly damaged bullseye lens on one side - broken in a hurricane in the 1920s they say - that was pieced back together and braced with two crossbars (see them on the right side of the photo?)

And unlike ours, this one is still in operation using two 1,000 Watt lightbulbs.  (See the one jutting up above the 'lampshade' looking thing?)

And operated by a 1/3 horsepower electric motor.  They told me that they don't know what became of the original wind-up clockwork mechanism and the clockwork weights.  We at Fire Island at least still have the original hand-wind-up assembly and gears. . .

The lighthouse enthusiast and friend. . . .

The Frank boys. . . .

And on to the museum.  A display of how the Lyle Gun and Breeches Buoy were used:

One of their Life Saving crews:

The saying went with the job, no matter what Life Saving Station or Coast Guard Station anywhere in the U.S.:

Took this shot as we were leaving the museum. . .

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bathtub Beach has been 'relocated' by Hurricane Sandy

Drove down to Bathtub Beach on the barrier Hutchinson Island in Stuart with brother Gerard this morning.  I was there in September, too, and tho it wasn't a wide stretch of sand then, it at least existed.  The 'dunes' behind the beach in the photos that follow are actually man-made (by the payloaders you might be able to see towards the left sides of some of the photos) and are in what used to be the parking lot there.  To access what little is left of the beachfront there, you have to park at a much smaller beach-access parking lot and trudge along the water's edge, around the bend.

The section we are standing on is a sand-bar that was formed by the storm, too. . . . the water 'tub' behind us wasn't there at all in September; it was all sand back then. . .

I'm sure my Beth, Michael and Jamie remember this house alongside Bathtub Beach.  Note the "For Sale" sign now.  Must've taken a bit of a hit in the storm.

Gerard.  Note the man-made dunes and the payloaders at work piling more sand onto them.  There's no parking lot any more because those dunes are in what used to be the parking lot for that beach.

The "new" bathtub at Bathtub Beach.  The water's warm, but I'm not going in today.  

One last thing.  The island is a 30-or-so-mile long "shoestring" with one of its narrowest parts just behind those man-made dunes in these photos.  The road there was completely washed out, the ocean water coming into and forming a new small 'channel' to the Indian River there.  The very exclusive community of Sailfish Point, made up of some 60 or so estates, obviously had become "Sailfish Island" for awhile there as a result of the wash-over.  Thus, the building of the man-made dunes at Bathtub Beach was not done to rebuild the beach, but to strengthen the narrow roadway re-connection of the community to the outside world.