Wednesday, April 7, 2010

worn by the weather and the wind*

While we were in the Outer Banks, we visited three lighthouses. When I was younger, I visited a few short, squatty, blocked-off lighthouses at Cape Cod. They were such a disappointment, especially when I made the entire family drive around the Cape looking for them. But the Outer Banks has the lighthouses I've always dreamed of. They're tall, majestic, and beautiful. And even though you can't go in most of them yet (you can, seasonally, unless it's under renovation), there are no chainlink fences barring your enjoyment. It's hard to put your finger on it really, the impressive nature of lighthouses. Perhaps it's what they represent - the beacon of light they provide, guidance in storms, something we all figuratively look for from time to time.

First on the docket was Currituck Lighthouse.
We were able to climb to the top of this beaut, which was perhaps the highlight of our entire trip for me. It's something I'd always wanted to do. 
As we wound our way to the top, our legs getting shakier with each flight of stairs, I felt a little as though I was winding my way back in time. I could imagine the keeper, his family, climbing these stairs, "keeping the lamp lit, to warn the sailors on their way." Annabelle fell asleep at the top, so Jess had to carry her down the steep winding stairs, without holding to the rails.

I couldn't watch him - it caused me severe panic attacks. And really - she's enormously heavy so I have no idea how his back didn't snap in two.

Bodie Lighthouse is wrapped in a tight blanket of scaffolding for its first "remodel" in 100 years, but we stopped for a visit anyhow.

The man in the visitors' center seemed way more interested in his newspaper than our pestering questions. But we asked anyhow. It is the only lighthouse of this "cluster" in the Outer Banks that hasn't had a renovation. So it is definitely due for a makeover. I just wish I could see its big reveal. However, I was somewhat pacified to learn that Currituck and Bodie have the same basic blueprint, so I had essentially seen it in a sense.

And Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - also known as "America's Lighthouse" - was as spectacular as we hoped. 

It's the tallest lighthouse in the United States, and with winding stripes around its body and a red stone base, it is simply striking. This isn't the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - it was built in 1870 but destroyed in the Civil War. And this isn't actually its original resting place either - it was moved in 2000 because of erosion near its original site. We weren't allowed inside, but we spent a considerable amount of time wandering around and around its base. It was one of those times that both Jess and I dragged our feet when it came time to leave. You feel so safe when standing in the shadow of such a beacon.

It's interesting the way tourists flock to these beacons. It must be something about their history, their striking definition, their purpose. Maybe it's what they've seen - the storms, the calm - and they've lived through and survived it all. 

*Lines from The Lighthouse's Tale, a depressingly beautiful song by Nickel Creek, a now defunct country-folk group. I was tempted to make a video using this song, but the song is rather tragic. So if you're like me and enjoy depressingly beautiful songs, go have a listen.

1 comment:

Riss said...

Yeah, Mom. Go have a listen to the song. :D


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