One day last week, I visited the beach on my lunch break. It was just a day or so after a snow. The snow had melted, but I was treated to a misty midday fog by the ocean. There were only a few other souls out there, a sharp contrast to the crowds of summer. They, like me, were wrapped up in their scarves and coats, braving the cold just to be near the water. I could not see them til I was right up on them, and as soon as we exchanged polite nods, if that, we faded from one another’s views as the mist enveloped us. I felt as if I had the beach to myself as I walked along in silence through the fog.
I’m an amateur photographer at most. The busyness of my life and my scattered interests has not made it easy for me to focus in detail on the more technical aspects of photography; but in some ways I’ve delved a little deeper into the world of pictures this year. A while back, I experimented with transforming some of my color photos into black and white. This simple act produced more than one aha moment as in many cases, I could actually see more depth in my photos in black and white than I could in color. At the very least, it altered the dimension in such a way that it gave me a different perspective on the experience I had when I took the photo. Some of my favorite transformations are below.
Old Baldy, located on beautiful Bald Head Island, turned 200 years old in 2017. The longest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, Baldy was originally built to mark the entrance of the Cape Fear River.
According to the website Baldy has:
108 steps and five landings with a ladder into the lantern room.
It is 110 feet tall with one door and six windows.
I climbed the lighthouse about a month ago. So far, I’ve been to three of North Carolina’s seven main lighthouses and Old Baldy is the first one I’ve been able to climb. The panoramic view from the top was breathtaking and an amazing reward for all of the huffing and puffing it took to get there.
Bald Head Island can be reached by ferry which leaves from the Deep Point Marina out of Southport. Once on the island, you can get around by foot (the island is 4.8 miles long and 2 miles wide) or bike or you can rent a cart. There are restaurants on the island (I stopped in at Mojo’s on my trip), walking trails, beach access and a conservancy that features events like kayaking, surf fishing, touch tanks, birding and even stargazing after dark.
BHI is a tiny island with a lot to offer if you are looking for an interesting, relaxing and unique day trip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The picture below was taken the same day. I loved the view of the sun shining over the dune.
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.
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.
Umbrellas close, hot
sun gives way to painted leaves-
until next year friends
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.
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.
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.