Oak Island Lighthouse

Currently, there are seven coastal lighthouses in North Carolina. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting three: Cape Lookout, the Oak Island Lighthouse and Old Baldy. I hope to visit them all.

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I traveled to the Oak Island Lighthouse a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday afternoon, I wanted to get out the house, and I remembered that I’d been planning to visit the lighthouse, which was a little less than an hour’s drive from my home, for quite a while. As I drove through the rural route that would take me to the lighthouse, I remember thinking, I would never live out here, because there didn’t appear to be much to do. I would see things a little differently once I reached my destination.

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The light from the lighthouse, located on Caswell Beach Rd on Oak Island, can be seen for 16 miles. It’s rather exciting to see it flashing in the distance as you approach the beach. The lighthouse was built in 1957 to replace a steel lighthouse on Bald Head Island (Bald Head and Oak Island are very close to one another) and when it was first lit in 1958, carbon-arc mercury lamps, which were used prior to incandescent lights, provided so much light that it was the brightest in the United States and the second brightest in the world. The light is currently powered by a 1,000 watt halogen bulb and displays 4 one second flashes then 6 seconds of blank. It stands 153 feet tall and has 131 steps that can be climbed to reach an outside balcony, although you must schedule a time to climb the lighthouse. It is not open during any set hours.

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It is very easy to access because it sits just by the road. There is a tiny parking lot directly in front of the lighthouse with free parking for 30 minutes. I saw another public access parking lot just down the road. Across the street is a walkway onto Caswell Beach. After I poked around the lighthouse, I crossed the street to check out the beach. It was super quiet compared to the beaches where I live, and I saw several pelicans flying so close to the shore that I could actually make out their little pelican faces. I glanced behind me to see the flashes from the lighthouse, and it occurred to me how fortunate the locals are to live so close to such a quiet beach adorned with their own personal lighthouse. Ok, I thought, maybe I would live here.

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Layers between Dunes

On the south end of Ft Fisher, there is an area designated for people to take 4-wheeled drives onto the beach. A lot of fishermen use the access. As a child, I went down there with my family. My father and one of my uncles both owned 4-wheeled drive vehicles, my dad a Bronco, my uncle a Jeep. The adults would find wading pools for the children to play in while the men fished. I remember those outings with contentment and happiness. Some of my best memories.

While visiting the beach a few weeks back, I ventured down to the south end on foot, eventually walking along the access between the dunes. I got this picture of tire tracks in the sand with the dunes behind them. Layers between the dunes.

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The picture below was taken the same day. I loved the view of the sun shining over the dune.

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Staycation Days: Cameron Art Museum

When I take a staycation, I always try to strike a balance with my time. That is to say that part of my time I devote to recreational pursuits, things that I always say I want to do but never seem to have the time to do, and productive pursuits, those items on my to-do list that need to be done but never seem to make it to the top of the list. If I can strike a balance of both recreation and productivity during a week off at home then I don’t consider it a waste of vacation hours.

One of the items on on my recreation list was to visit Cameron Art Museum, a local art museum in my city. I work very close to the museum and have said several times that I wanted to go back through it (I toured it years ago), but despite my close proximity, I had not been back to the museum to tour the galleries. One afternoon, on my week off, I returned to the museum. Ironically, not all of their galleries were open that day so I guess I will have to go back again. But I did see a few nice things.

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The picture above is by Minnie Evans. a folk artist who lived in Wilmington, NC. The inspiration for her art came from her dreams as a young girl. I actually had the privilege of meeting her briefly when I was a girl and she was an older woman. Her story is pretty fascinating if you would like to read more about it at the link above.

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This 2nd piece is by an artist named Claude Howell, titled appropriately “Sorting Fish”. It’s a little difficult to tell in my picture, but this is a ceramic tile mosaic. I’m in awe of people who have the patience and ability to create something like this.

Below are some other beautiful pieces I saw at the museum that afternoon.

 

Even though I did not get to tour every gallery that day, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I think sometimes less can be more, anyway. Part of the fun of viewing art is taking the time to appreciate each piece. With less pieces to view, I took my time with each one.

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Staycation Days: Hurricane Irma

I work for a company that allows me to carry over 40 hours of vacation time each year. That means that in the last quarter of the year, I generally take a little time off to eat up some of my surplus hours so that I don’t lose any of them. This week, I took some of that time. I recently took a trip to New York and want to take another trip out west next spring so I decided to use the time this week to work on projects around the house, go on local outings, etc.

 

Hurricane Irma ate up the first couple of days of my staycation. She didn’t hit us directly, she hit to the south and west of us, but she was so massive that we could still feel her effects from the distance. I’ve lived on the coast all of my life except for about 5 years when I was in Raleigh, NC. And even while I was there, Hurricane Fran ripped through the center of the state and hit the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill).  As a hurricane vet, I generally feel well prepared for a Category 2 or below, even the average Cat 3. I know what to expect. Irma, which wobbled east to west and back and forth as a Cat 4 to Cat 5, was a different beast and she commanded my attention. I secured items in my yard and stocked up on snacks, water and gas. I got my pet carriers out and watched the weather diligently in the days preceding the storm, waiting with anticipation to see if there was any chance she might decide to hit the coast of NC as a 4 or 5, a sign that it may be time to evacuate.

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We were fortunate in my area. She hit well to the west of us and we only received some rain and  wind gusts of about 35 mph. I visited a pier at Wrightsville Beach as Irma pummeled Florida and South Carolina just to see the effects that the storm might have on the ocean. Even from a distance, she made her presence known. Gusts of wind pushed me forward and around as I climbed the stairs to the pier. My sunglasses, which were clipped to shirt, flew away into the ocean. Loose sand flew across the beach to blast those walking in its path. White caps surfed across the water.

 

Today, as I sit on my back porch, the sun is out and the air is calm. There is no sign of Irma here, but I know that in the Caribbean, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, the effects still linger in the trail of destruction that she left behind. Nature is beautiful but she is also a force to be reckoned with. God bless those who were in her path.

Last of the streaming sun

Ooh, shiny

Sunsets occur everyday and yet, I never tire of them. Without fail, I am entranced by the clockwork rainbow of pink and orange,  yellow and blue, violet and twilight streaming across the the sky.

I experienced the sunset below on one of my afternoon excursions to the beach. I was in mid-sentence talking with a friend when I stopped and said, “Look at that one. The sky is showing off tonight”.

The sun itself is not seen in the picture, but you can see its determined efforts to make its presence known as light streamed through invisible holes in the atmosphere like spotlights on a stage.

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Amble

It feels like I’ve been fighting the rain for about a week now. I was drenched the entire second day of my trip to NYC last week, but my fiend and I still managed to see the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square and more. We did find an indoor, partly underground mall beside the Hudson at one point and there we were able to get some respite from the rain. As I sat by a window overlooking the Hudson, I enjoyed the scene of New York in the rain.

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Ambling New York rain

a respite is found over-

looking the Hudson.

This afternoon, I am back home sitting in a parking lot at the beach waiting for a shower to pass so I can slip onto the beach to enjoy that scene for a while. We’ll see if I get another respite.

Views of New York

Recently, I decided to take a short trip to New York City with a friend. It was a bit of a spontaneous trip, we planned less than a week out, but the idea for the trip had been knocking around in my head for a while. I live on the east coast but I had never been to New York, and in my mind, it was overdue. In typical fashion for a trip to the city, I ran the entire time I was there. I told my friend that in a lot of ways, I felt that the entire trip was an exercise in resourcefulness as we moved from one mode of transportation to another. We drove from home to RDU airport, located in Morrisville, NC to catch our plane. We parked in one of the most distant parking lots to get a better price for parking then caught a shuttle to the airport. Once we were in the airport, we walked to the appropriate terminal. We flew on our plane, landed in New York and grabbed a cab to the hotel. Once we were situated at the hotel, we obtained a map of the subways, used the subways to get around and then walked where we wanted to go. 14, 986 steps one day.  We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We caught the Staten Island ferry for the excursion. At the end of the visit, we caught another car back to the airport, walked to another terminal, flew on another plane, took another shuttle to our car and drove back home. Phew!

Obviously, I have lots of thoughts about everything that happened in between which I’m sure I will write about over time. While in the midst of all this moving about, I did manage to write a couple of haikus and of course, snap some pictures. The haiku below is about my impression of the city as I flew in that first day. I was struck by how tiny the enormous buildings looked from the sky, like an architectural model. In fact, from my seat on the plane, they didn’t even look definitively like buildings at first, but rather large rocks standing up to reach or worship the sky.

Jagged rocks reaching

to the sky, lined up Legos

or modern Stonehenge

Below are a few more pictures that I snapped of buildings from other angles. The first set are pictures I took of a few buildings from the opposite direction, underneath, as I explored the Brookfield Place shopping center.

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The last picture is a view from my plane as I left the city at sunset on my last day.

 

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