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#66518 - 12/18/99 04:14 AM California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
I'm in the process of planning a trip to the Left Coast in May 2000. I'll be in the Los Angeles area for 3-4 days , take 3-4 days to drive to the San Francisco area and spend 3-4 days in the SF area. What I'd like to know from those in the know- Which LH's are a don't miss and which ones are go if you can, but don't go out of your way. I'd like to get personal opinions of people who have actually been to the LH's they are talking about. I've gone to umpteen websites already and purchased the Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses and other books, but I want your opinions. I'd appreciate any assitance you can be. I promise to post my escapades after I come back, and if I learn how, I'll even post pictures. Thanks in advance for your assistance. Dennis

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 12-17-99).]

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#66519 - 12/19/99 05:10 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Dennis,

I have done this area several times and what a beautiful drive you are going to have. I am sure I will miss some light names as I am not looking at a map.

Los Angeles area: Point Fermin and Point Vincente, they aren't very far apart. The public cannot go into either of these lights..I guess you could do some homework, write letters and do some phone calls and get to go into both. Neverthless, they are great photo opportunities.

Between Los Angeles and San Francisco: Boy, there are lots.

Piedras Blancas, Pt. Sur, Pt. Pinos, Santa Cruz(Memorial Light),
Pigeon Point, Point Montara.
Most of these mentioned are not open for tours. But, Pigeon Point and Point Montara are open for spending the night. Pt. Sur has limited hours and I understand it is well worth being there on that day.

San Francisco Area:
Fort Point(under Golden Gate bridge), Yerba Buena, Alcatraz, East Brother , Point Bonita are all a must see. East Brother is a bed and breakfast, pricey. Pt. Bonita is open on the weekends I think. I was fortunate enough to get an appointment to take a tour of Yerba Buena last summer and really enjoyed it.

North Of San Francisco:
Pt. Reyes and Point Arena. There is no quick way to get to these too..You will have to study the map. If you want to see Route 1 and the gorgeous views it will take a long time.

I am so happy that you will be able to do this trip...It is a good one.

Derith

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#66520 - 12/19/99 06:03 AM Re: California Lighthouses
DocJ44 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 746
Loc: Morgantown, WV USA
In May 1998 I spent a week in SF area with three days in the city itself and 3 days in Monterey. I saw most of the lighthouses in the region. The following are the lighthouses I saw (from south to north) and my opinion:

Point Sur is an absolute must see but the tours were limited to Saturdays at that time...they allowed around 20 people to go on the tour and it was first come first serve. I would contact them as to when they operate the tours and plan to arrive 30 minutes beforehand.

Point Pinos is must see...its easy to find in Pacific Grove and has a nice museum. Good operating hours so you will likely find it open.

Pass on Santa Cruz...its was hard to find and was never really a true functional lighthouse. Its now a surfing museum so unless you are into surfing there is not much inside it of interest.

Pigeon Point is a must see...easy to locate on Hwy 1 and had decent operating hours (like 10 to 4)and frequent climbing tours of the tower.

Point Montara is a see if you have time.

Alcatraz is a must see...not only from the point of the lighthouse but from the other history of the island. A very nice audio tour is included. You have to make reservations ahead of time to get a place on the boat to the island..it is recommended you call a month ahead of time.

Point Bonita is one I saw from afar because the bridge to it was only open on certain days...call ahead of time to see what day this is. Its pretty easy to find just off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Point Reyes is a must see... I would suggest one day to see Point Bonita, Muir Woods (which is a fantastic park...it was my first introduction to the majestic redwood but there is no lighthouse) and Point Reyes. While you're there, the earthquake trail at Point Reyes is also worth doing.

Finally we come to Point Arena...let me preface this by saying that I was looking at a map and estimated the distance from SF to Point Arena was about 120 mile along Hwy 1. I said to myself..oh about 2 or 2 1/2 hours. WRONG!!! It took closer to 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Granted I was there after the "El Nino" winter and there were several sections of Hwy 1 closed with winding detours. There are other ways to get there using interstate north of SF and then crossing over to the coast which I would recommend if time is a factor. To be honest I was too stressed out about arriving before the lightouse closed (I made it with 10 minutes to spare) to appreciate the beauty of Hwy 1. In spite of all the hassel, Point Arena was definately worth the trip in the end. It is absolutely beautiful with stunning coastline and the tower is open for climbing tours. Plan on using a day to see it.

I hope this helps Dennis.

Doc John

[This message has been edited by DocJ44 (edited 12-18-99).]
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#66521 - 12/19/99 05:27 PM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
Thanks to both of you. This is exactly what i was hoping for.I will put all this in the blender with all the other info I have and push mix and see what I make. Seriously, this will help me greatly in deciding which places to go to. Dennis

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#66522 - 12/21/99 08:13 PM Re: California Lighthouses
Lorie Roe Offline
Super Wacko

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 2005
Loc: St. George, UT USA
I hope you don't mind me adding my 2 cents worth. I would highly suggest Pigeon Point. This is a beautiful tall tower that you can climb and it also has a first order Fresnel lens to view. It is easy to reach and has good bird watching and whale watching. Point Pinos is also nice in Pacific Grove. I would suggest taking the 17 mile drive around the Monterrey Peninsula (it is beautiful).

I also stopped at Point Montara on my way back to S.F. The gates were locked until 4:30-5:00pm? before you could enter. The tower is very small but it is a pretty setting.

I would highly suggest the drive out to Point Reyes but beware how long it takes! It looks much closer to S.F. than the actual drive time it takes to get there. It is run by the N.P.S. and you have to climb down the hillside to view the tower. I was very disappointed when I went there because of the time it took to get there we arrived 10 minutes before the posted closing time. The park ranger would not let us climb down to the tower because she said you needed at least 30 minutes to go down and get back up. We begged and pleaded and told her how far we had come just to see the lighthouse. She didn't care and wouldn't let us climb down the steps. I guess we'll have to go back another time.

I also tried to get into Point Bonita but it is only open on the weekends. Check with them ahead of time. Hope you have a great trip!!

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#66523 - 12/22/99 12:34 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
I don't mind your two cents - I want your two cents, even your two bits. I want information overload. The more the merrier. i agree about the Monterey Peninsula. I drove it 5 years ago on a trip from Phoenix to San Francisco. I had 6 days to drive it- hit the Grand Canyon, Monterey, San Luis Obisbo, Hearst Castle and San Francisco. Was not into LH's then or I would have needed 10 days to do the same trip. This time I'm going to concentrate on LH's (with a possible second trip to Hearst Castle- too big to do in one day). I might slip in some other non LH sites if i have time. Thanks again. Keep the info flowing. Dennis

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#66524 - 12/22/99 03:03 AM Re: California Lighthouses
lmyhre Offline
Wacko

Registered: 03/15/99
Posts: 239
Loc: Bellevue, Washington, USA
My wife and I just took a similar trip in October. I would agree with most of the comments above, but would like to especially endorse Pt. Sur Light. The tours are conducted twice on Saturdays and once on Sundays. The tour takes about two hours and involves quite a bit of walking - some of it up a rather steep incline. But it is defintely worth the time and effort. You get to see an entire light station in what was once a very remote location. The buildings are very interesting and the completeness of the station allows you to feel like you were there when it was active. It is also fun and satisfying to get to visit a light station that is not visited by very many people because of the limited times, tour group sizes and time commitment. As you can tell, I thought it was one of the lighthouse highlights of our trip.

I hope you can fit this one into your planning.

Larry

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#66525 - 01/08/00 05:09 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Stan Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 149
Loc: St. Augustine, FL
Allow me add some comments about Pt Reyes light. It's a longer drive from San Francisco than it appears on the map. Hwy 1 is a beautiful drive but it's s-l-o-w. Once you enter the Pt Reyes Park, it's another 20 miles to the lighthouse, and that's not a short drive either (plan on 35-40 minutes at least). It's a narrow, twisting, winding road that can be difficult to pass on. From the parking area there's a bit of a walk to the stairs which take you DOWN to the lighthouse, WAY DOWN. Plan on spending a fair amount of time getting back up those stairs - it'll seem like you're climbing a mountain. Having said all this, it was well worth the journey. The light is perched on a high, rocky, remote point of land that juts well into the Pacific. The rangers give a tour of the lantern room and briefly actuate the lens rotation mechanism. If the weather is clear (as it was when I visited), you can see forever. Look for the redtail hawk flying along the cliffs below.
Enjoy.

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#66526 - 01/08/00 11:36 PM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
Stan, thanks for your input. I'll add it to the pile of information I am accumulating from various sources. I'm still planning. Dennis

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#66527 - 01/09/00 03:11 AM Re: California Lighthouses
easy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/08/00
Posts: 9
Loc: New Philadelphia, Ohio.
One more bit of advise on Point Reyes: bring a wind breaker - average winds are 45 MPH year around, if I remember right. But I do remember that on a warm August day that it was actually chilly there. Beautiful view! Enjoy your trip!


[This message has been edited by easy (edited 01-08-2000).]

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#66528 - 01/11/00 12:46 AM Re: California Lighthouses
FrankB Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 169
Loc: St. Louis, MO, USA
My 2-cents on the lighthouses located within National Park Service areas that I have seen. (For all of these, definitely bring a windbreaker jacket even in warm weather.)

Point Bonita - The neatest lighthouse of the bunch. Unfortunately, it has the shortest hours (open 12:30 to 3:00 Sat, Sun, & Mon). Meet at the trailhead to the lighthouse for a ranger-led tour. Call (415-331-1540) or visit the Marin Headlands Visitor Center to find out the starting time. (IMHO, the suspension bridge to the lighthouse at the end of the trail is what would make this a stunning HL release.) The remains of a US Lifesaving Service station are visible on the way.

Point Reyes - A fantastic location, but with lots of stairs as mentioned in other posts. Closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Christmas. The Lighthouse Visitor Center is open 10-5. Lighthouse stairs open 10-4:30. A good whale watching site at the right times of the year.

Fort Point - Not a particularly notable lighthouse if you ignore the fort which it sits on top of, but the fort makes the trip here worth it (and as an added plus, you can stop at sites in the Presidio). Open 10-5. A great view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the road approaching the fort.

FrankB

[This message has been edited by FrankB (edited 01-10-2000).]
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#66529 - 01/11/00 05:49 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Nana Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 2310
Loc: Valrico, FL
On two of my previous trips to this part of CA, I have gotten to Bonita after it closed.

This past summer, I even had a docent set up to take me when it wasn't open. We had an all day detour on the interstate and didn't get there. So, this summer, I am going to make this a priority and be there over the weekend.

I was able to go to the Yerba Buena light and that helped the pain some.

Derith

[This message has been edited by Nana (edited 01-10-2000).]

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#66530 - 01/11/00 05:54 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Dave H Online
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 7843
Loc: Kokomo, IN
I see someone bribed the webmaster to get a new user name & keep the Wacko numbers??

Dave

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#66531 - 05/26/00 11:27 PM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
I'm bringing this one back up because I've just returned from my adventure. I'm still decompressing and editing my notes, but the trip was GREAT! Did not make it to all I planned on, but I did get to 21 1/2 LH's and 4 faux LH's in 15 days while driving 3300 miles to get from San Diego, CA to San Mateo, CA via Coquille, OR. I did get to all but one of my definites (missed Camp Mendocino- Shelter Cove was too far from the main road at the time I got there) and skipped the LH's in Humboldt Harbor the one day that whales were sighted in the Harbor for the first time in 32 years (same day as above). I was trying to get to Crescent City before full nightfall. I'll be back shortly with details and if I can figure out how, pictures. Dennis

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#66532 - 05/27/00 04:50 PM Re: California Lighthouses
Brent Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/99
Posts: 1129
Loc: Martinsville, Va. U.S.A
...'sounds like a great trip, Dennis. I'm looking forward to hearing more, since I'd like to take a similar trip next year.
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OBLHS Charter Member

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#66533 - 05/27/00 08:53 PM Re: California Lighthouses
mombo Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 7088
Loc: Phoenix, NY
Looking forward to hearing more about that 1/2 lighthouse, Dennis!

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#66534 - 05/27/00 09:01 PM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
I knew I'd catch someone's interest with the 1/2 a LH. I count the replica of Trinidad Head LH as a 1/2 because while it does have the original Fresnel Lens it it not the "real" LH. It's an exact copy of the one that is very difficult to reach. It's located right in the middle of the town along with the original fog bell that was at the LH. It's not illuminated, but it is presented very nicely. It overlooks the ocean, but is not in the Harbor. The real LH is around the other side of the point and is not easily viewed from the town area. You can hike up there , but it is not done by the faint of heart (me). I'm still collecting my thoughts and decompressing after the trip. I've just caught up with the two weeks of email (475 messages, mostly trash), snail mail and local newspapers. I've got my notes, but I've got to get my pictures back and go thru my notes. I hope do get it done this week. Dennis

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#66535 - 05/28/00 11:03 PM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
I just finished trnsposing my notes to my journal. I think I'm going to have to do a little fine tuning- I came up with 20 pages of notes. I'm not sure you all want quite that much information. It was a long trip and I did get to a great many places. I'll just have to do a bit of editing. Here's one bit of information that might be surprising- I did not do any research or intentionally stop in any Harbour Lights retailer - with one exception. I stopped in to say hello to the owners of Scantrends in San Francisco. They had been very helpful last year when I purchased several items from them they offered to keep them until Bill younger came in for their store event and they had him sign them all for me. They kept my stuff for about 2 months and shipped it out all at once. I of course just kept adding items to the pile. I did go only to one other HL dealer, but by accident. i stopped into the offices of the US Lighthouse Society. I was surprised to find out after I got back and was looking at the list of dealers I just received with the Society piece that they are an official dealer. We had a nice visit with Dave and also while we were there Wayne wheeler came into the office and we talked with him for awhile. Very nice, personable, knowledgeable and opinionated individual. If you are ever in San Francisco stop into the office. The have info on just about any LH that exists or existed. You could spend a year there and not read it all Dennis

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 05-28-2000).]

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#66536 - 05/29/00 03:23 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Art Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/98
Posts: 1591
Dennis,

Thanks for the update. I for one think that more detail makes for more interesting reading and is more helpful to those who wish to follow. My advice: Don't hold back. You of course will need to be the final judge of what to edit out of your notes, but please don't edit the vitality out of your transcript.

------------------
-Art
_________________________
-Art

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#66537 - 06/01/00 03:31 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA

width="125" height="66" border="0">



I've added some pictures.

Well here goes. We were able to get to almost every LH that I planned to get to. We did miss a couple, but that ' life. We made it to 21 1/2 LH's.

May 6- We flew into San Diego and it must have been kismet because the movie on the plane was Snow Falling on Cedars. It's set in the Puget Sound of WA and a LH plays a part in the solving of a murder. See the movie, it's a good one. The LH in it is actual Portland Head (I checked). We got into San Diego late in the afternoo and took a drive over to Point Cabrillo NP, but it was already closed so we could not get near either Old or New Point Loma.

May 7- Got up and went back . We were the first people into Old Point Loma that day. The LH is very nicely resored. There are period pieces to show what it lo0oked like in it's early days. You can't get all the way up into the Lantern Room, but you can stick your head up there to see . There is a docent there in period dress. She was very helpful.

You can see New Point Loma from the Whale watch overlook behind OPL. We drove down to get a closer look at NPL. You can not get onto the grounds, as it is an active CG station and is behind a locked gate. You can get a good look at it though. Got some pictures of both . We went over to the Cabrillo monument and the park headquarters and got my passport stamped.

We left for Los Angeles. We stopped in San Juan Capistrano on the way. We took a tour of the Old Mission. It is undergoing an extensive restoration. It has some of the original parts of the settlement , but most was destroyed long ago.

We arrivved in San Pedro and found our way to Point Fermin. It is in a very nice little park. The LH is in need of a paint job, but otherwise is in grat shape. It is lived in by the San Pedro Parks Superintendant. I got a great picture of a seagull on the lantern room of the LH. The LH is a near twin of Hereford Inlet in NJ. (I add this with apologies to all, and especially Mombo- I edited this reference out of my notes so there was a good reason you did not see, it was not here. sorry)

I We got a long distance view of the Los Angeles Harbor LH (Angels Gate). We drove from there to get a look at Pt. Vincente. It was getting late so I was not sure we werr going to make it before the interpretive center closed for the day. As it turned out, it did not matter what time it was as the Center is closed indefinitely due to recently discovered lead contamination.

We did get a good look at the LH. Again, it is not readily accessible due to it's use as housing for the CG. There is a sign indicating a number to call to arange a tour. If you plan on going this would be something to do in advance. I wish I had known. I did luck out in that there was a photoghrapher on assignment and he had his cameras set up in the bed of his 4X4. I was able to get unobstructed pictures of the LH.

We were running long so it was time to connect with Esther's (my wife) cousins for dinner.

MAY 8- This was the start of our "Tour LA mode". We did the tourist thing- went to the La Brea Tarpits (closed on Mondays- it was Monday. The gift sho[p of course was open, just not the exhibits), the Farmer's Market (tried to get my watch fixed), Beverly Hills, Rodeo DR, Hollywood (Hollywood & Vine).

We parked and walked down part of the Walk of Stars to the Grumann's Chinese Theatre. When we were getting back into our car Esther spotted what looked suspciously like a LH in the middle of Hollywood. We investigated and found a place one block off Hollywood Blvd at Cheroke St. that was called "Crossroads of the World". It was a number of buildings done in the style of various countries and one of them was a replica of a LH. I could findnothing to explain what the place was about and no one was around to ask.
http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=913145&a=8744354&p=22281921&Sequence=0&res=high

We continued on to Griffiths Park and went up into the Hollywood Hills and then to the Observatory (also closed on Mon). Got a close look at the Hollywood sign. At this point it was time to get back out of the city and spend some time with Esther's other cousins. We had a nice visit with them and got back to the motel.

MAY 9- Today was a tour of Sony Pictures Studios. They take you thru the whole thing- soundstages, wardrobe, backdrop painting, the "big tank" used for water scenes, etc. We saw the set of the movie the "Glass House" being built. We went onto the set for Jeopardy. They were getting ready to test contestants shortly. We only saw one celebrity on our 2 hour tour- Stephen Weber (he played Brian on Wings and just had a role on the show "Now & Again" on ABC with Sela Ward.) Our group did not have the chance to speak with him as he was busy on the phone and we had been instructed to only approach people if they were not busy.

We left the studio and drove over to Long Beach and took a tour of the Queen Mary. I had hoped to get there earlier so we could have lunch at a restaurant suggested by my wife's cousin. It is a faux LH called Parker's Lifhthouse. It was supposed to have great food. It looked very nice. you can see it from where the QM is berthed. We took the short tour, guide yourself. You go into the engine room and just about every part of the ship- bridge, officers quarters, dining rooms, etc. Very nice. We were unable ot tour the Russian Woilf Class Submarine berthed next to the Queen Mary. We had a BBQ to go to. It was worth it.

MAY 10- Today is Catalina Day. We took the boat over to Catalina Island. I'd do this different if I had the chance. I should have stayed over night. We did not get a chance to do too much on the island. We rented a golf cart and toured the city of Avalon, but we did not have enough time to take the 3 hr tour of the interior.

We took the "submarine" tour of the Marine Preserve though. you travel into the kelp forest and if your lucky see a multitude of aquatic life. We saw some, but not as many as you can see. The only LH connection this day was going by one of the lights on the Long Beach breakwater on the way over from Long Beach. I learned on the ship that if we had left from the San Pedro pier we would have gone right by the Los Angeles Harbor LH. We did see a building on Catalina that looked like it might have been a LH at some point. I got conflicting answers to my questions and could find no answerrs in my sources.

I'm going to break of this narative here and continue in a seperate post.

Dennis




[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 11-20-2000).]

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#66538 - 06/01/00 04:43 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
MAY 11- Today we traveled on to Monterey.We took the interior route as we had driven the coast highway from LA to Monterey several years ago. Also, I had read that due to road damage from storms in Feb that there was a delay of at least 1 hr just above Cambria. The only loss in this decision was Port Hueneme in Oxnard. A difficult LH to see clearly according to sources I checked. I was planning on going to Piedro Blancas on the same drive to Pt. Sur.

We checked in and took a drive over to Pt. Pinos. It was closed of course (only open Thu- Sun 1-4 PM) so we looked around the outside and drove over to Cannery Row to look around and have dinner.Most things were already closed for the day.

MAY 12- Today was the northern leg of our stay in Monterey. We drove up to Santa Cruz, but had some difficulyt finding the LH/Surfer's Museum. There are two different roads with very similar names on opposite ends of the city. We were at the wrong one. We decided to leave and proced on up to Pigeon Point.

On the way we found the correct road to get us to Santa Cruz. CA 1 is a great road to travel on for scenery. It follows the coast for most of it's route and you get some very dramatic views, and curves to the road.

The first look at Pigeon Point coming from the south is spectacular. It just appears after rounding a curve in the road. The LH is only open for tours on Sat/Sun so we were on our own. There is a brochure which gives you a self guided tour of the bldgs. there is a Youth Hostel that you can stay at that does not interfere with your touring the area. The bed and breakfast that is being constructed does not interfere with the main view of the LH and its surrondings, but I think it was probably nicer when it was not there.

They have carefully constucted it so that it blends into the area. You get a long distance view of Ano Nueva Island from here. You can make out some of the building that remain on the island. Pigeon Point appears to be in very good condition, but as many others it could use a paint job.

We continued north to Pt. Montara. This was very disapointing. There is also a youth hostel here, but the entire LH grounds are inside the gates of it. You can not get in except very early and in the evening (7- 9:30 AM and 4- 9:30 PM .) If you can not get there then it is not realy worth going. you get only a partial view of the LH at other times of the day. The book i read warned me, but I was near there so I went.

We went back to Santa Cruz and found the LH/ Museum with no problems this time. The LH is a reproduction of the original LH that had been moved back and then replaced with a pole light. The new LH is actually a memorial to Mark Abbott who died body surfing of the point there. It also houses the Surfer's Museum. Very nicely done.

It gives the history of surfing with a emphasis on the Sant a Cruz area. We watched the surfer for awhile and then made our way back to Monterey. We spent some time in the Auarium. They have some great exhibits detailing the different types of marine life in the Monterey Bay area.

They also have a Penguin exhibit as well as a giant tank with literally hundreds of different species in it. You can see octupi and squid. also.

MAY 13- Today was south of Monterey day. We left for Pt. Sur early and got there with about an hour to spare. The approach from the north is the most dramatic. You come around the curve and the "Rock" is just there. It seems to rise out of the ocean and looks like it is an island. It is only about 300 ft over the road, but it looks much larger. You get a great look at the LH on the side of the rock as you aproach. You can also see some of the other buildings up there.

Since we were early we drove on down to the park headquarters and returned. The view from the south is not as impressive. You don't get a view of the LH and it does not look as if the "rock" is rising out of the ocean. This a not to miss LH.

The tours are given only at cetain times- they change according to the season, but are always on Sat/ Sun. It takes about 21/2 to 3 hrs, but it is worth every minute. You have to walk up to the top of the hill which is about 1 1/2 miles total and it is steep. there are also several sets of steps up top. It is difficult, but nobody rushes you and plenty of stops are made to give you the history of the LH.

Our docents ( Chris and Elizabeth) were very knowledgeable . You can get into the tower, but not into the lantern room. you are able to outside of the tower just below the lantern room. They are in the process of restoring the area to what is was like in 1929. they have finished the Electrical Shop and are almost finished with the barn. they have done some work to the Head Keepers Quarters, but have done little except for asbestos abatement to the Assistants Quarters.

We decided to skip Piedras Blancos due to the road closure. It would have added at least 2 hrs to the trip south and we would have missed Pt Pinos. They have done a superb restoration job to Pt Pinos. The upper flor has period furniture for the bedrooms and work area. You cannot get into the tower or lantern room area at all. the reason for this is that due to the rocks in the area wher the LH is built they had to shorten the "kit" that was used for Pt Pinos.

If they had built it ot specs it would have been over the fog horizon and would have been worthless. The basic designo f the LH was duplicate elswhere on the CA coast. surviving examples are Old Point Loma and Battery Point (Crescent City). "Mrs. Fish" was at home when we were there and proceeeded to regale us with tales of her times in the LH and eslewhere.

Very informative about the lifes and times that the residents went through. There are some nice exhibits about other LH's in CA in the back. I had a nice talk with the docent about LH's and Harbour Lights. We left there and took the 17 Mile Drive. This goes into a very exclusive area.

Large homes, picturesque beaches and the "Lone" Cypress. The symbol of Pebble Beach Golf course. We left the drive at the Carmel gate and drove on down to the beach. A gentleman was doing sand sculptures there. He had done one of a mermaid and one of a LH. Both were amazingly detailed. He said that they took him about 8 hrs to do. We walked around the town of Carmel and did some "shopping"- mostly looking.

I think I was in the wrong place the prices had too many digits in them before the decimal point.

MAY 14 (Mother's Day/ Esther's Birthday)- We decided to drive right o San Francisco and try to get to Pt Bonita instead of stopping back at Pigeon Point. We had the first rain of our trip. We had no trouble finding the road to Pt Bonita. It is a winding up and down road right along the coast just over the Golden Gate Bridge. We stopped at the Vista Point just before the bridge and went down by the bike path and got a view of Fort Point below. someone had cut a hole in the fence so that you could get some clear shots of the LH. You can also see Alcatraz from there.

We continued over the bridge to the LH. It is about 1/2 mile walk into the LH from the parking area. It was raining very hard by the time we got there, but we went in anyway. The walk to the LH is fairly level, but it was muddy. The fog was in ight up to the shoreline so our view was limited. the foghorn was blasting. You walk into a tunnel and when you come out you shortly get your first look at the suspension bridge to the LH. It is impressive in the rain and is probably even better in nice weather.

The LH is framed by the bridge as you approach it. there is a sign that no more than 5 people should be on the bridge at one time. this is due to the fact that the bridge sways and does it more so as the number of people on it increases. You can get into the LH, but not into the tower or lantern room. I was most of the way out to the LH when I discoverd that I had forgotten my passport. I had them stamp a brochure and we stopped at the Headquarters of the park on the way out and they stamped my passport. We called Douglas (our son who lives in the San Francisco area) and arranged to meet in Ghiardelli Square.

I wanted to stop in at the only Harbour Lights store I intended to enter on the entire trip. I had intentionally not looked for any stores on this trip. I was stopping here only because I had purchased numerous items staring on Ebay and then directly.

They had been very nice and held a number of items (the list kept getting longer) for up to 2 months as they were having Bill Younger coming in for a store event. They had all my items signed and shipped them together after the signing.

Unfortunately only one of the owners was ther. Chris was off, but I had a very nice visit with his wife Merthyl. If you are in SF stop in and visit. You can see Alcatraz out the window in the store.

We walked around G. quare and went over to Fisherman's wharf for dinner. We then took a tour of San Mateo where Douglas lives. We did not do anything special for Mothers Day or Esher's birthday. I had two surprises planned to tke care of that- more later on that.

This concludes part two of the trip. I'm stopping here for now. I'll be back with week two which takes us to the far reaches of Northern California and into southern Oregon.

Dennis

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 11-20-2000).]

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#66539 - 06/01/00 06:20 AM Re: California Lighthouses
mombo Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 7088
Loc: Phoenix, NY
Sounds like a great trip, Dennis. Looking forward to the 2nd week!

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#66540 - 06/01/00 06:23 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Art Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/98
Posts: 1591
Wow Dennis! Sounds like a great trip so far. Thanks for taking the time to share it all. I'm looking forward to Week 2, and I sure hope there will be some photos here soon, too.

------------------
-Art
_________________________
-Art

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#66541 - 06/03/00 02:29 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA

width="125" height="66" border="0">



Well here goes, I've found some time to type. On to Week 2.

MAY 15- On to the far north (of California that is). We started the day off with Fort Point. It is in the Presidio directly below the Golden Gate Bridge. So directly that it caused problems when the bridge was built because of where it is. they built around it (well, over it). The Fort itself is modeled after the one at Fort Sumter(where the Civil War started). The LH is perched atop the highest point of the fort in the middle of the courtyard. You can not gain access to any part of the LH, not even the steps leading to it. You can get right next to it. it has been well taken care of. It is very similar to the LH that is on top of Weed Batterey in Ft. Wadsworth in NY. (In fact they share something else- Weed Batterey is directly beneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The LH there is only the shell, no windows and only a partial top.) From the top of Fort Point you can also get a view of the Mile Rocks LH, or what's left of it. The lantern room has been removed. There is some talk of restring it ( the woman who runs Scantrends was telling me about it) , but nothing is concrete at this point. You can also see Alcatraz from here.

We left Ft Point and traveled on to Pt. Reyes. WARNING! Believe what people tell you about this one. The trip looks decieving on the map. It does not matter if you take CA 1 or US 101 after you get across the GG Bridge. They both take at least 45-60 minutes just to get to the Visitor's Center in the Pt Reyes area of Golden Gate National Park. It's only about 22 miles from the bridge, but it's a long winding up and down road. Then after you get to the VC you have another 19 mi to get to the LH, and again it is a long winding up and down road going thru a number of cattle ranches, beaches, and other sights. Both drives are nice, but it takes about 2 hrs to get from San Francisco to the LH. It is however worth it. Do not miss this LH. You have to work for it, but you are rewarded well. Again be warned - there are over 300 steps down to the LH along with several flat parts that are actually more trying then the steps. This is after the .4mi walk up and down hills just to get to the LH. As the sign warns it is the equvilent of a 30 story building going up or down the steps. I again say , that all that work is worth it. The view along the way and at the end is tremendous.We were very fortunate- we were there on one of the very few days a year that there was no fog. You could see forever. There was a freighter passing by the LH as we descended towards it and I believe I got a picture of that. You are able to get into the LH, but not into the lantern room. You can go into the bottom of the LH and a Docent demonstrates the mechinism for turning the light. It has been restored and is used very seldom, as it changes the signature of the LH. The original lens is still in the tower.

We left Pt. Reyes and proceeded on our way to Gualala which is just below Pt. Arena. Here on CA 1 we found the original long and winding road. They don't put up signs for a curve ahead, they put up signs for the straight parts. They have numerous signs warning you to watch for people on bicycles, but they forgot to put up the cattle warning sign. We went around one curve and almost literally we ran into a herd of cows in the road. ( there are a large number of dairy farms in northern CA). We missed all of them.

One more point of information- it took a lot longer than I anticipated to get anywhere in northern CA. the reason for this is that while the roads have a posted sped limit of 55 MPH it is just not possible to do it. You are lucky to average 25-30mph. I had set my trip by my DeLorme Street Atlas program and it assumes a certain speed for each type of road. Well, I met the exceptions. If you plan on going up to Pt. Arena from San Francisco don't plan on doing much else that day. It will take about 4hrs each way . If you start arly you can get there when it opens (11AM usually-10AM in parts of the summer). We finally pulled into the motel in Gualala about 7PM.

I managed to keep one of my 2 surprises for Esther on this trip. I found this place near Pt. Arena called the Breakers Inn. It's a small motel right on the ocean. All the rooms have a true ocean view. They have numerous named rooms. We stayed in the Denmark. It was decorated in a Danish motif with painting and picture naps etc of Denmark. It also contained a sauna in the room along with a fireplace, a two person whirlpool tub and a deck overlooking the ocean.. It was a birthday/ mother's day surprise. Esther liked it. Heck, I even liked it.
MAY 17- We continued on up to PT Arena. Unfortunately, it did not open until 11AM. We got there about 10 AM. I was hoping that Rollerville Junction opened early so we could stop there first. I had read about it on the net. It was supposed to have just about anything LH that you could think of. We did get there later after we went into the LH. They do have an amazing amount of various LH items. They are a dealer for Harbour Lights, but I did not know that until I got there. I picked up a couple of thing including a triple header- I've been buying t shirts from many of the LH's that we've been to and I got one here that had thee LHs on it Pt Reyes, Pt Arena and Pt Cabrillo(I had not gotten to Pt Cabrillo yet, but it was my next planned LH stop). We drove around bought sandwiches for lunch and got back to Pt Arena just as it opened. We toured the exhibits in the Visitors center while Virgil got set up at the top. While we were waitung I got some advice about our day from Karen in the VC. Also talked about the history of the area. This is the LH that you see at the end of the Mel Gibson movie "Forever Young".

We went up to the top of the LH and Virgil regaled us with his knowledge of the LH. It's the second one on the site. The first was damaged in an earthquake. The present LH is built to be earthquake proof. It's shape is different than most tall tower LH's. It is not conical it is straight. It is also reinforced with steel beams. They must have done it right- it's still there. You can get right into the lantern room here. You have to be very careful not to hit the lens when you are in there. You can't go outside, but you can go behind the curtains to see what's out there. I could see with my binoculars the ledge that caused this LH to be built. It rises up to almost surface level and has wrecked a number of ships.
We left Pt Arena and stopped in Rollerville Junction. We then continued up the coast. We took a short drive into Mendocino. It's a very nice little harbor town. It is built to look like a town in New England. This is one of the reasons that several of the buildingd found their way into "Murder She Wrote" It took the place of Maine. And it is closer to Hollywood.

We left Mendocino and drove on to Pt Cabrilo. The LH is not open as it is actively being restored. They had just brought the Lantern Room and Lens back and finished the installation before we got there. The lens is one of only 3 British Fresnel lenses in the US. It differs from the French version in its shape- instead of being beehive shaped it is a roundes off square shape. We got a special treat while we were there. There were 2 members of the Coast Guard A.N.T. there. We did not get a chance to talk though, as just as we got there their ride came. It was a gigantic Coast Guard helicopter. It landed in front of us and off they went. It was an impressive sight to see.
We got our first major disapointment of the trip after this stop. I had to make a decision- stop at Shelter Cove for the restored Camp Mendocino LH and get into Crescent City at about 10 PM or skip it and get ther about 8 PM. I really hated to do it, but I decided to skip the LH. I was sure after the last two days that it was going to take at least 2 hrs time to go to and from Shelter Cove. We kept on driving past the exit. We did take a short trip off 101 to drive thru a Redwood. It was just off the road and we wer back on the road in 20 minutes. You can't do everything, even in 2 weeks. If I was planning the trip now I would add at least one if not two days to the northern leg.

We continued on and had to make another decision- which turned out worse the day after- I had to decide if I was going to try and get to the 3 LH's sites in the Humboldt Harbor area- Table Head and Noth an South Spits. These were always get there if you can, no big deal if you can't to me , unlike Camp Mendocino which had been a must . We skipped them. The next day while in Crescent City I read in the paper that the day before whales were sighted in Humboldt Harbor. This was the first time they had been sighted there in over 32 years. Hey, that's life.

We motored on and stopped in Trinidad to see what I call the 1/2 a LH. They built an exact replica of the Trinidad Head LH and installed the original Fresnel Lens in it and placed it in the center of town overlooking the ocean. It has the original fog bell next to it. The real deal is extremely difficult to get to, so they made it easier for people to see it. Sort of.

We continued on to Crescent City.We got in about 8 PM. Had dinner and drove over to Battery Point. Here we got some more bad news- the LH would only be open from 3-5 PM the next day. We would be in Oregon by then. The LH is actually on an island just off the shore and is only accessible during low tide. We got a look at it that night and went back to the motel.

Dennis

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 11-20-2000).]

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#66542 - 06/03/00 03:21 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA




I've added some pictures.


MAY 17- We went back over to Battery Point, but as expected it was not open. We were able to walk over to the island and take a look around the outside of the LH. We met a family from St Louis that had been to LH all up down the East Coast from Maine to Florida.

Talked shortly with the "keeper". He was doing some outside maintainence. We left there and drove out by the airport to try and get a glinpse of St George's Reef. It was visible barely with the eye and not much better with the binoculars. You could see with the binoculars that it had no lantern room. I could not find the area where it is being stored.

We left and proceeded on our way to Oregon. We stopped in to the visitors Center in Port Orford which is about 5 mi from Cape Blanco. I wanted to check on my route for later in the day. It's a good thing I did- I found out that the road I was going to try and use was a logging road and not very well marked and has lots of big slow trucks on it. Saw an interesting sign there- San Diego 1000 miles. We had driven 2100 miles at this point o get 1000 miles from where we started.

We went on up to Cape Blanco. It's about 5 miles off 101. It is closed on Tuesdays. You can't even walk up close to it when it is closed. The view from the area was spectacular. You can sit an look out over the cliffs to the ocean below in the parking area. At least it was a pretty place to eat lunch.

We continued on north and reached our last destination in the north- Coquille (Bandon River) LH. It also is about 5-6 miles off 101- at least how you drive to get there. It probably is only about 1/2 to 1 mile away from the highway.We had a nice chat with the docent at the bottom of the tower while waiting for the chance to go up to the lantern room We talked about what we had been doing and compared hobbies. After we spoke she said that I had talked her into starting with Harbour Lights. She said she was going to blame me when her husband complained about it.

We went on up the tower and got a nice talk from Marvin. He gave us the history of Bandon and the LH. It seems that a museum up the coast has two 4th order lenses, and no one knows where the lens from Coquille is. It got lost sometime in the past. It is suspected that the extra one up north is theirs.

We left there and made our way to our destination for the night- Redding CA. We had the same problem again this day- our distances were as I expected them, but the driving times were not. The only thing that saved us was that a large part of the drive from there was on interstates. We drove right between Mt Shasta (14,000 ft and snow covered) and Mt Eddie. Mt Lassen was off to the side. Incredible vistas. We got up to about 7500 ft during this drive.

MAY 18- No LH's on the trip today, but also hundreds of them. We were driving back to the San Francisco area to spend some time touring with our son Douglas. I decided to drive into the city and stop into the offices of the United State Lighthouse Society. We had a little difficulty finding it, but we found it. we went on up and had a nice talk with Dave about their resources. They have file on literally thousands of LH's from all around the US and the entire world. they have logs, pictures, memorabilia, etc.

They also are a HL dealer ( which I only found out after we got back- but I did notice all the different editions they had. not only HL, but others as well). We had incredible luck- while we were there Wayne Wheller came back into the office. We had a very nice chat with him about LH's (there's a surprise). He is a very personable, knowledgeable, interesting and opinionated individual. I reccomend stoping into these offices if you have the time when you are in San Francisco. You could spend two weeks here and not make a dent in the information they have available.

We left there and we went to meet with Douglas and to give Esther her other big "surprise" for Mother's Day/Birthday. Well, it would have been a surprise if I had not spilled the beans a week earlier. I had kept the secret for over four months, but I blew it in a second. Douglas and I, along with my daughter Beth, had come up with the idea to have Beth fly out to San Francisco for the weekend to surprise Esther.All was going well with the plan until a week earlier when Esther and I were driving to Pigeon Point and talkining about what we were going to do with Douglas when we got back to SF. I was talking, driving and thinking. I said out loud what I meant to think in my head and said something like "I'm not sure which LH would be better with Beth along". I could not clean it up fast enough- the cat was out of the bag. Esther was pleased with the idea and did her best to be surprised when we saw Beth .

We had dinner that evening with a nephew of mine that lives in San Francisco.

MAY 19- The time had arrived to get another triple header- combine my Vacation with my Vocation and my Avocation. We were going to Alcatraz. I'm a Prison Guard. I've been one for over 26 yrs. I work in a tower overlooking the recreation yard in the maximum security prison in Trenton, NJ. My brother-in-law says that is why I'm a LH nut -cause I've already spent so much time in towers.

Anyway, we took the boat over and did the audio tour of the cellblock area. I gave my family a little extra information as the old part of Trento State Prison has a cellblock just like Alcatraz's. Took a look at the hospital, mess hall, recreation yard and the cells. We went outside and got a close view of the LH. You can't get into it.

Well, I tried. I found a ranger and asked. He said that the only way was to find the right ranger and beg nicely. Unfortunately, he was off that day. I had to be satisfied with the exterior view. The LH is not the original one, The original one was the first one built on the West Coast and it used the same plan as the one used later in 6 other places- Old Point Loma, Santa Barbara, Pt. Pinos, Battery Point, Humboldt Harbor and one other whose name escape me right now( still can't remember).

We walked around a while and took the boat back over. We then took the grand tour of San Francisco. We got to just about every part of the city- Knob Hill, Presidio, GG Park, Union Square, Haight Asbury, Twin Peaks, etc. Douglas took us into the Control Room for the Levis store which he helped put together. He works for a Systems Integration company in San Mateo. We finished the day having dinner in a LH.

We went over to Oakland to Quinns Restaurant. It started life as the Oakland Harbor Entrance LH. Nicely kept and the food is good also.

MAY 20- We decided to return to Santa Cruz. Our daughter Beth is a surfing fan so we thought she might enjoy it. We also figured maybe we could find a beach where she could put her feet into the Pacific so she could say she had done it. We manged that, but I was disapointed.

I figured I could get to tour Pigeon Point on the way to Santa Cruz since it was Saturday. I was outvoted. We stopped for a few minutes, but I was unable to tour it.

After the surfers and the beach we went back north and went over the GG Bridge so Beth could see some Redwoods. We went to Muir Woods which is a small forest of Redwoods just over the bridge and relatively close to Pt. Reyes. And that ended the adventure.

We flew back to Newark the next morning. I was an uneventful flight back, but there was one similarity in the movie- it was "Snow Day". No LH in it , but the snow theme was a repeat of the movie on the way out ("Snow Fallin On Cedars"- which drove me crazy until I rented the DVD. I had to know which LH they used in the movie. It looked like Portland Head, but all the info on the DVD talked about filming in the Northwest only. I went to the Universal site and the forums there ,that are set up like these are, and searched until I found the answer- way back in the beginning of the forum there was a post telling how thw LH was from Maine, but nobody knew (or seemed to care) which one. I guess it takes all kinds)

We had made it to 23 1/2 LH's and to 4 faux LH's. All in all it was a successful adventure and a good time was had by all. We got to see relatives, LH's and other interesting things. Did not get to all the places we all wanted to get to, but got to most of the important ones. I'm waiting now for my pictures to return and when they do I'm going to attempt to post some. Dennis

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-03-2000).]

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-04-2000).]

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-05-2000).]

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-06-2000).]

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-06-2000).]

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-12-2000).]

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#66543 - 06/03/00 04:16 AM Re: California Lighthouses
mombo Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 7088
Loc: Phoenix, NY
What a wonderful trip, Dennis. You made me feel as though I was in the back seat the whole way. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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#66544 - 06/03/00 05:15 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
Thanks for your kind words. I hope it wasn't too long. I actually shortened it. I hope to get some pictures in here soon. I don't know why I can't get the narrative to break sown into paragraphs like other posts seem to be . I tried , but no matter what i did it came out as one long paragraph. Dennis

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#66545 - 06/03/00 07:56 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Art Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/98
Posts: 1591
Not too long at all, Dennis! I enjoyed it very much and look forward to the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

To separate paragraphs, try hitting "Enter" twice at the end of each paragraph.

------------------
-Art
_________________________
-Art

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#66546 - 06/03/00 10:50 PM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
Art,

Thanks for your advice. I have learned all I don't know about computers totally by accident. I used to say that until they put one up in my tower at work I did not need to know anything about them.

I basically learn by doing,or if my son is feeling benevolent , by asking him. You can't ask the same question twice though even months apart. He remembers what he tells you and expects that you will too.

I also want to thank John for both his editing and for leaving me something to fix. I will be much kinder to your eyes in the future.

I'm still waiting on the pictures. I'll experiment with them as soon as I get them.

Dennis

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#66547 - 06/04/00 03:28 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Nana Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 2310
Loc: Valrico, FL
Thanks Dennis. I enjoyed reading about your travels. When I am in the same area in July I will use your trip to help me with open times for some of the lights.

Point Bonita is one of those lights I have missed going into twice, but this year, I'm determined.

Thanks again.
Derith

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#66548 - 06/06/00 05:21 AM Re: California Lighthouses
wheland Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 08/22/99
Posts: 3866
Loc: Trenton, NJ USA
I've added some pictures to each part of the story. It took awhile, but I finally got it right. Dennis

[This message has been edited by wheland (edited 06-06-2000).]

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#66549 - 06/23/00 06:46 AM Re: California Lighthouses
Anonymous
Unregistered


I spent a week in San Francisco just this last April and was able to see Fort Point, Point Reyes, Point Bonita, Alcatraz Light and East Brother. It was wonderful, despite the gloomy weather I encountered. I was amazed at how beautiful Point Bonita was with it's wonderful suspension bridge. If anyone is interested, I put pictures up of all except East Brother - ( unable to get too close to this one ) - at my website. The address is http://members.aol.com/oregonned/nedspage.html

Best wishes to all!

Ned

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