Sunday, August 24, 2008

Heceta Head Lighthouse Part I

Thanks to everyone for waiting for the next installment of the Oregon trip.  I know it's been a while since I posted.  So here's the scoop, on the last day of Faerieworlds I got a call from Dad telling me that the Heceta Head Lighthouse had a sudden cancellation and there was a room available if we wanted it.  Of course we said yes and I made arrangements with the front desk to check out a day early.  

We woke up early and grabbed free breakfast again because it was going to be a fairly long drive.  We packed, got the directions, got gas, and were on our way.  It took about two full hours to get there from Eugene so I guess you could compare it to driving to San Diego only waaaaay prettier.  The lighthouse is on the 101 freeway according to its address so we spent about an hour and a half on the 126 and then maybe half an hour on the 101.  The 101 is as beautiful as everyone says it is (the 126 was quite verdant as well) but now I know why some people are wary.  The 101 twists and winds about like many of the roads in Palos Verdes, except it's a freeway so everyone's going fast in addition to making all these crazy turns.  It's not that awful as long as you're alert, and it is an absolutely gorgeous drive, but I wouldn't jump at the chance to go drive it at night.

We drove about for almost two hours until we made it to Florence so we knew we were getting close.  All I had in the car at the time was celtic music because I'd forgotten to raid my car before we left for the airport.  It wasn't bad but I could have done with some Blues Brothers or Copland to mix things up a bit.  We got on the 101 and I couldn't shut up about how beautiful everything was.  Mom would have absolutely loved it.  We passed by the Sea Lion Caves and knew we were getting really close.  We got so close in fact that we passed it by entirely.

Somehow I missed the part on the directions where it said to exit on "Private Drive" so we turned down an exit that said "Lighthouse" in an attempt to figure out how to get to the Bed & Breakfast.  We wound up on this rocky beach with a trail leading up to the lighthouse.  
 tried to take some pictures but I'd forgotten to charge my camera the night before and it was out of juice :(  But I did manage to get some pictures of the area from the lighthouse the next day (see right).  We walked up the trail to the lighthouse and found a nice lady in the gift shop to give us directions.  We were about an hour early for check in time but she said to go ahead and check with the keeper's house because sometimes they're ready early.  So we took the nice lady's directions and found the appropriate parking area for the bed and breakfast.  

It was still early, but I wanted to make sure the people who ran the inn knew we were here.  So we walked around to the back door and rang the bell.  The keepers were out grocery shopping but the other nice lady in charge let us in and showed us where everything was.  We were in the Lightkeeper's Room which included our own private bathroom with a clawfoot tub across the hall.  That picture of the lighthouse up there was taken from the window in our room.  Yes, seriously.  The nice lady gave us our key and we went off to kill an hour before check in time.

We decided to wander around in the gift shop for a bit and then walk up to the lighthouse. The gift shop was mostly filled with...well, lighthouse stuff.  Lighthouse sweaters, lighthouse t-shirts, lighthouse coffee mugs, lighthouse earrings etc.  The list goes on.  We took sketchbooks up to the lighthouse and just sat and enjoyed the view for a while.  Everything was just so damn pretty.  I can't stress that enough.  The trees went all the way down to the waterline, everything was lush and green, and the whole time there was this beautiful mist just rolling through the trees.  Very elf friendly.  I called Dad to let him know we'd arrived and I called God to let her know where we were.  We had no signal on the coast except for the hill where the lighthouse was perched and even then it was faint.  But we got through and managed to kill an hour in the process.  

We walked back down to the keeper's house, where the B&B was situated, unlocked the back door and took our bags up to our room.  Skeeve took out Ulla (her laptop) to see if she had internet access in case we needed to look anything up.  She had a faint signal, but not much.   

By this time the two of us were getting pretty hungry so we went down to the kitchen to look through the menu book for some of the surrounding restaurants.  We couldn't decide on what we wanted (there were a lot of menus) so we thought we'd drive into town and see if anything struck our fancy.  We drove back into Florence and found this area called Old Town that had a lot of neat stuff.   We had dinner there at Bridgewater restaurant.  They had some of the best crab cakes ever.  Skeeve had scallops and I had cioppino.  We even got a complementary shrimp cocktail!  Num.

After dinner we walked around a bit and found this cute little coffee shop that had the best.  Coffee.  Evar!  We checked out some of the shops that were still open.  It was only 6 or 7 o'clock but most of the shops seemed to close early.  There was a bookstore I wanted to go into that was closed but some touristy shops were still open so wandered around in there for a bit.  We also found a little occult shop.  I'd been wondering when we'd run into one of those.  Skeeve got a new ring for Jerome and then we went back to the lighthouse.  We thought we'd go downstairs and doodle for a bit so we grabbed Timothy and Jeb and our sketchbooks and went to explore the rest of the house.  We found a nice place in the parlor to sit and draw. 

After that we looked at some of the board games available in the kitchen.  Skeeve wanted to play Lighthouse-opoly, though I'm pretty sure it's illegal to have a monopoly on lighthouses.  We were at it for at least a couple of hours.  We didn't know if there was a light's out policy regarding the common rooms otherwise we might have kept going.  It's was around 11:00 when we decided to call it quits.  Most of the board was bought up by then.  

One of the selling points for the Bed & Breakfast is that you can walk up to the lighthouse after dark when no one else is around.  They give you your own flashlight and everything.  Dad seemed to think this was really neat and I wanted to do it mostly so I could say that I did.  Skeeve didn't seem too excited though.  We went upstairs to retrieve our jackets and flashlight and steeled ourselves to go out into the night.  

It was dark!  Holy cow, it was dark!  Dark and scary.  Did I mention scary?  Growing up in San Pedro you're kinda discouraged from wandering around certain areas of the beach after dark and with good reason.  There's bums out there.  Scary bums.  Also muggers and people with drugs.  Logically, this
was the first thing that came to mind until I went, wait a minute...we're in Oregon.  They don't have bums on the coast here.  So that made me feel better.  But then I realized that we were surrounded by forest.  There was always the chance of running across some kind of rabid badger and I didn't think Timmy would be any good in a fight.  Nonetheless, we trudged onward and made it up to the lighthouse and  Well, except for the light in the tower, that was pretty bright.  By down on the ground it was still dark.  The ocean is a pretty intimidating thing at night when the only thing there to light up the coastline in a couple of lighthouses.  In fact, if we looked down the coast we could see the next lighthouse down flashing away.  We took a picture (see how dark it is? you can't even see the lighthouse behind us!) and went back to the safety of the keeper's house.  See, Dad?  We did it.  So there.

After that daring adventure we thought maybe we should finish up the bottle of wine from Secret House.  Luckily they had a corkscrew and wineglasses in the kitchen.  Skeeve and I poured some wine, got into our pajamas, and goofed around with the camera.  This is when Rue decided to show up.  A lot of lighthouses seem to 
be haunted (I think it's a requirement).  Rue is the reported resident ghost at Heceta Head, supposedly the wife of one of the lightkeepers, and we happened to be staying in one of the rooms she's most active in.  What happened wasn't all that exciting, but it was pretty 
interesting.  Skeeve was holding the camera preparing to take a picture of me when all of a sudden it flashed and took a picture all by itself.  The picture was one big blur of course, so I didn't save it but Skeeve and I just kinda looked at each other and then looked around the room.  I guess she just wanted to let us know she was there.

We got some snacks from the kitchen (they had candy bars for $1) and rinsed out the wineglasses in the sink.  I would have washed them if I'd been able to find a sponge and some dish soap or even a drying rack.  But as it was I just left them nicely in the sink.  I found the recyclables container to dispose of the wine bottle properly and then went back upstairs to bed.  We had to get up early the next morning for breakfast (No way, this place has breakfast?  Yeah, dude.  It's awesome!) so we went to sleep with the world's biggest night light
 outside our window.  Surprisingly, it didn't bother us at all.  The tower must have been too high to shine directly into our window so we just got to watch it go round and round.  The gulls outside were soothing rather than bothersome and it was all very peaceful.  Thanks a lot, Dad :)

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