Drive south from Tofino and you come to the wonderfully named town of Ucluelet. There are some great trails near the town that take you around the coastline and one of them goes past a lighthouse. The Amphitrite Lighthouse is a great looking lighthouse. In the days of modern navigation techniques, the concept of lighthouses seems a little out of date but they still serve a purpose and they do provide a nice focal point to a view of a rocky coastline. The lighthouse was one of the first things to see on the trail we took and I should probably post some of the other views in another post at some point. In the meantime, here is the light to keep you going.
I had previously got a few shots of the lighthouse at Mukilteo while waiting to catch a ferry. I hadn’t wandered around for long though. While showing my mum around the area, we stopped off to have a look at Puget Sound. It was a cloudy day but the sun was making the occasional appearance. We wandered around the lighthouse buildings and went to watch the ferries come and go to Whidbey Island.
After a short while, the clouds briefly parted. I headed back from the water’s edge to try and get a couple of photos of the lighthouse in sunlight. The white structure is hardly interesting when it is very cloudy, even when playing with some options for exposure to give alternatives in post processing. A bit of light makes all the difference.
The same could be said for the ferries. Out on the water, they would pass through patches of sunlight when they would suddenly “pop”. A short distance closer in and then they were back out of the light. You had to take the chance when it presented itself!
My trip to Whidbey Island meant I had a fair bit of spare time to work with. I was chatting with a guy while I was there and he suggested a trip to Fort Casey. It was barely five minutes from where I was and it was a sunny day so why not. Fort Casey is one of the forts that were built to protect the Puget Sound area from possible invasion. Not only was it a fort but it also has a lighthouse. When I first got there, the lighthouse was off in the distance but, after a little exploration, I headed over to see it.
As with a lot of lighthouses in this part of the world, it is not terribly large. It doesn’t have to shine too far since there are islands all over the place blocking the line of sight so no need for it to be too high. Still, it is well maintained and comes in standard lighthouse white!
Yaquina Head got two visits from us during our stay in Oregon. We were in Newport on one of our early days and headed up to see it. Shortly after paying to get in to the park, the rain started to come down. I did a quick recce of the place but rapidly became more interested in the interior of a warm car (which Nancy had wisely elected not to leave in the first place). The entry was good for a few days so, with better weather forecast for later in the week, we decided to come back.
The weather dutifully obeyed and improved and we returned on our next trip to Newport. When its not raining, things definitely take on a more appealing feel. We wandered up to the lighthouse and took a look around it and out to see where some gray whales were passing by, if a little distant and happy to stay below the surface most of the time.
From the headland, there were stairs down to the beach which, when the tide was out (as it was while we were there), revealed a lot of rocky tidepools. People were encouraged to explore the tidepools to see the wildlife that is within. You could go quite a way across them but, given the number of creatures that were clinging to the rock surfaces, I was a bit reluctant to go trampling across them. Instead, I maneuvered around on the edges where I could avoid crushing some poor creature.
Plenty of things were living in the pools. While the crustaceans were everywhere, I was particularly drawn to the anemones. The way in which they close up when out of the water, keep themselves damp internally and then open up once they are back under water is impressive. They are also so varied in their colors. They are quite the interesting creature.
Head south along the coast from Yachats and you have a steady stream of gorgeous locations. One of these is Hecata Head. The treacherous nature of this part of the Oregon coastline means a string of lighthouses were built at intervals to ensure coverage and Hecata Head was one of those locations. The lighthouse is still there and it a popular tourist attraction.
You approach the lighthouse from the beach below, as would the original residents in the days when Highway 101 didn’t exist and boat access was the main way there. The houses for the keeper and assistant keeper were halfway between the beach and the lighthouse itself. The keeper’s house is now gone but the assistant keeper’s house is still there and is fully maintained. You can rent it out for events if you wish.
The location of the lighthouse itself provides a commanding view of the coastline and out to sea. Whales migrate along the coastline here and there were people keeping watch for them while we were there. If you head a bit further south on the highway, you get to an overlook which allows you to see back to the lighthouse and you see just how rugged the location is. I imagine building everything there was no small feat and neither was living there year round.
Mukilteo Light Station is a small lighthouse located (not surprisingly) in Mukilteo. It sits in a small park right next to the ferry terminal for the crossing to Whidbey Island. I had been wondering about checking out the park and the light station for a while after noticing them on Google Maps but I had never got around to doing so. Then I found myself on the ferry to Whidbey with a buddy of mine when I looked back and saw the light in some lovely early morning sun. Too late but something to remember.
I didn’t have long to remember though. I was back at the ferry a few days later. This time we arrived just a little late to get the first ferry so had to wait for the second. This gave me a chance, albeit a short one, to have a quick look at the light. It isn’t the most impressive structure you will see but it is a nicely kept lighthouse on a nice promontory.
Further up the coast from Grandma’s Cove was Lime Kiln State Park. The area used to be a hive of lime production – hence the name of the park – but now the focus was on the lovely shoreline and the great views. The inclusion of a lighthouse certainly did nothing to harm the view. There were also the remains of a fortification of some sort on a headland which we had seen from further away when traveling towards to the park up the coast road.
The lighthouse provided a base for a volunteer group that was tracking the wildlife in the area. They had some signs identifying which whales had been seen in the area and when. We did not time our visit there well to see the whales although we did catch some later in the day further up the coast. The volunteers had binoculars to lend out to visitors if they needed them but, with no whales to be seen, we didn’t require them this time.
After my visit to see the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo, I was heading back up the coast towards Half Moon Bay. I was in a bit of a hurry as I needed to get back, get ready and check out with Nancy who had been having a slightly more leisurely start to the day. I had driven south in the dark so hadn’t really been too aware of what I was passing. However, the run back up showed the scenery in the lovely morning light. This included Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
I saw it from a distance as I drove north and thought how good it looked. However, with time ticking, I figured I would not have time to turn around and go back to find a good point off the road. Then, ahead of me appeared a pull off that was perfect. I parked the car, got a couple of shots that were okay, then decided a quick run down towards the cliff would not take more than a couple of minutes. The location was definitely better. The lighthouse looked a lot nicer than last time I had seen it when the weather had been a lot duller.
Mum’s visit meant quite a few trips to places we have scoped out before. We headed to Point Bonita on one day to visit the lighthouse there. This time we knew about the timing so were there in plenty of time. I won’t repeat what I wrote about the place this time so will share the shots from this visit. The one thing that was significantly different this time was that there was a strong swell coming in from the ocean so watching the waves crash up on the shoreline was a lot of fun. I can watch the sea crash ashore for hours at a time so this was great for me!
Go out to the end of the Marin Headlands and you reach Point Bonita. At the very end of the land is a lighthouse to protect the rocky entrance to the Golden Gate itself. I didn’t know this existed until watching Sunday Night Football one night. As is usual for the show, they had a series of fill in shots of local settings between the plays. This lighthouse was one of the subjects so I did a bit of checking on Google Earth to find out where it is. Then, Nancy and I headed out to visit it. However, that trip was frustrated by some persistent fog so we never made it out to the light.
This time we were there on a far nicer day. It was towards the end of the afternoon and the light was becoming lovely. The view back towards the city was getting very attractive as the light was dropping. However, what I hadn’t counted on was that they close off the lighthouse quite early. It sits out on a rocky outcrop with a suspension bridge to reach it. However, this is not the problem. The walk down involves a short tunnel and this is what gets closed off when they shut things up. Fortunately, the rangers told us what time it was closing and how much time we had. Therefore, we zipped straight down to the lighthouse and then worked our way back. As long as we were passed the tunnel in time, we would be fine. As it was, we did not end up feeling rushed. We even saw people walking down as we left although I am not sure how far they ended up getting.
The lighthouse itself is not terribly large. Its location is what makes it so interesting. Going at the time of day we did, it was the hardest bit to shoot since you were looking into the setting sun. However, it did provide some good options. The structure of the bridge is cool in itself and I spent a lot of time looking at it. If you are a nervous person on structures that are flexible, this bridge might not be for you. If you are the only one on it, you might be okay. However, the chances of that are limited so, with others moving across, you will certainly feel it move! You have been warned!