Life and Times

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Outer Banks

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5

Part 2

On Saturday, the first thing that Pete and I did was head back over to Diamond Shoals for breakfast, where we had a pretty good meal, complete with a few cups of coffee.  Then our plan for the morning was to enjoy a couple of things separately.  Pete wanted to hit the beach for a few hours, and I wanted to do the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  It worked out, because the beach and the lighthouse are right next to each other.  So I dropped Pete off at the old lighthouse site, and then headed over to the new lighthouse site.  We agreed to meet back up in two hours.


At the parking lot, I found a "Soul mate".

At the parking lot, I found a “Soul mate”.


This person put those "family" decals on the back of their Soul.  This was right around the time when the ridiculous rumors were circulating that these stickers were dangerous, so it was worth a photo.  Apparently these people like Disney.  Now I know who to rob for the Disney swag that I neither want nor need.  Right on.  This person put those "family" decals on the back of their Soul.  This was right around the time when the ridiculous rumors were circulating that these stickers were dangerous, so it was worth a photo.  Apparently these people like Disney.  Now I know who to rob for the Disney swag that I neither want nor need.  Right on.

This person put those “family” decals on the back of their Soul.  This was right around the time when the ridiculous rumors were circulating that these stickers were dangerous, so it was worth a photo.  Apparently these people like Disney.  Now I know who to rob for the Disney swag that I neither want nor need.  Right on.


This would be my third time going up the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  I went up in 1996 and 1997 with my mother and sister, but that was at the lighthouse’s old site.  This would be my first time climbing the lighthouse at its new location.  The new site had a visitor center, which was clearly built for the new site, and then beyond that was the lighthouse, along with the lighthouse keeper’s quarters, which were moved along with the lighthouse, and placed in the same orientation relative to the lighthouse as before.  It was free to visit the grounds, but it cost $8.00 to climb the lighthouse.


Two people up on the balcony, viewed from the ground.

Two people up on the balcony, viewed from the ground.


Going up the lighthouse this time was surprisingly easy.  I remember the ascent’s being something of an ordeal the last two times that I went up.  This time, I was at the top in no time, and surprised to have reached the top so soon.  I believe that a few factors contributed to its being so much easier this time.  First, I am in far better physical shape than I was in when I was 15 and 16.  When I was 15 and 16, I was not at all interested in exercise and physical activity, preferring to spend much of my time developing a then-new website that you may have heard of before called “Schumin Web”, and so climbing the requisite 257 steps was certainly a challenge.  In addition, my mother was very much interested in getting up to the top in as little time as possible.  Thus it ended up being an ordeal because Mom didn’t want to make stops partway up, so we’d go past the landings without stopping.  My sister and I just about had to beg for a break at one or two of the landings, and then it wasn’t really long enough for us to fully catch our breath.  Not fun.  This time, I had no problems, plus pacing came naturally as I stopped to take photos out of the windows on the way up.  Amazing how being in shape and pacing yourself makes climbing the lighthouse a breeze.


Entrance to the lighthouse.

Entrance to the lighthouse.


The entrance, from just inside.

The entrance, from just inside.


Looking up from the bottom.

Looking up from the bottom.


Plaque next to the entrance, showing the date the lighthouse was built, and the coordinates where it was originally located.  The printed sign on the wall next to this marker shows the new coordinates following the lighthouse's 1999 relocation.

Plaque next to the entrance, showing the date the lighthouse was built, and the coordinates where it was originally located.  The printed sign on the wall next to this marker shows the new coordinates following the lighthouse’s 1999 relocation.


View looking downward from about three landings up.

View looking downward from about three landings up.


Sign on the wall at a landing at the lighthouse's midpoint, encouraging visitors to pace themselves on the way up.  Pacing yourself certainly makes climbing the lighthouse a breeze!

Sign on the wall at a landing at the lighthouse’s midpoint, encouraging visitors to pace themselves on the way up.  Pacing yourself certainly makes climbing the lighthouse a breeze!


View from a window on one of the landings.

View from a window on one of the landings.


View from a window on the opposite side.

View from a window on the opposite side.


At the top of the lighthouse, I noticed that the systems up there were different.  Back in 1997, there was a board next to the balcony door that was full of electrical boxes.  Now, the board was still there, but the electrical boxes were gone.  I don’t know if the wiring and such was redone during the move or if it happened later, but it was different now.


That gray wooden board used to be filled with electrical boxes and such.  Now it's fairly minimal.

That gray wooden board used to be filled with electrical boxes and such.  Now it’s fairly minimal.


The lights at the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  I asked the park ranger about the possibility of getting a closer look at the light assembly, and she was quite nice in declining my request saying that only the Coast Guard is allowed up there.  I responded by saying, "So in other words, you're not even allowed up there, so there's no way that you're able to let me up there."  I understand.

The lights at the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  I asked the park ranger about the possibility of getting a closer look at the light assembly, and she was quite nice in declining my request saying that only the Coast Guard is allowed up there.  I responded by saying, “So in other words, you’re not even allowed up there, so there’s no way that you’re able to let me up there.”  I understand.

That said, depending on how geeky I feel next time I plan to visit this area, it might be worth writing the Coast Guard in advance to discuss whether or not they would be willing to let me have ten minutes or so up there.  Just a thought.


Ladder up to the aforementioned lights.

Ladder up to the aforementioned lights.


Another view up towards the lights.

Another view up towards the lights.


Signage next to the door out to the balcony, asking that visitors limit their balcony time to five minutes, which seems awfully short to me.  However, this was a non-issue on this particular day, because as it turns out, Saturdays and Sundays are the lighthouse's slow days, especially in the earlier part of the season.

Signage next to the door out to the balcony, asking that visitors limit their balcony time to five minutes, which seems awfully short to me.  However, this was a non-issue on this particular day, because as it turns out, Saturdays and Sundays are the lighthouse’s slow days, especially in the earlier part of the season.


The view from the balcony felt very different than before.  The lighthouse had been moved 2,900 feet to the southwest, and was now 1,600 feet away from the ocean.  While the beach was quite visible from the old location, since it used to be practically on the beach after decades of erosion, the beach was not very visible now, as much of it was obscured by trees and topography, plus it was much further from the beach than it used to be.  So I couldn’t even try to see if I could see Pete from the lighthouse.


View from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse balcony.

View from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse balcony.

View from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse balcony.

View from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse balcony.

View from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse balcony.

View from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse balcony.


A park ranger helps a family get a photo on the balcony.

A park ranger helps a family get a photo on the balcony.


The path that the lighthouse took going from the old location to the new in 1999.

The path that the lighthouse took going from the old location to the new in 1999.


This additional railing, obviously not part of the original construction, serves a purpose that you might not think about: to prevent visitors from tossing items off of the balcony, as this area is directly over the entrance to the lighthouse, which receives a lot of foot traffic.

This additional railing, obviously not part of the original construction, serves a purpose that you might not think about: to prevent visitors from tossing items off of the balcony, as this area is directly over the entrance to the lighthouse, which receives a lot of foot traffic.


The lighthouse balcony on the other side, without additional adornment.

The lighthouse balcony on the other side, without additional adornment.


The imprint that the floor of the balcony left on my knee after getting the previous photo.  It looks worse than it actually was.  It didn't hurt by any means, but it was an interesting feeling to touch (both on my fingers and on my knee), and it had gone away by the time that I finished on the balcony.

The imprint that the floor of the balcony left on my knee after getting the previous photo.  It looks worse than it actually was.  It didn’t hurt by any means, but it was an interesting feeling to touch (both on my fingers and on my knee), and it had gone away by the time that I finished on the balcony.


After I was finished on the lighthouse balcony, I headed back down.  After I was finished on the lighthouse balcony, I headed back down.

After I was finished on the lighthouse balcony, I headed back down.

After I was finished on the lighthouse balcony, I headed back down.  After I was finished on the lighthouse balcony, I headed back down.


At the bottom of the lighthouse, facing outside.

At the bottom of the lighthouse, facing outside.


The lighthouse, viewed from below.

The lighthouse, viewed from below.


Reaching the bottom, I headed over to the lighthouse keeper’s quarters, which now housed a museum.  The museum was much the same as it was in 1997, however, the fresnel lens was gone.  As it turned out, this lens had been relocated to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village.  I also noticed something new: a fire alarm system.  The museum didn’t have a fire alarm system when it was at the old location.  Now it did.  Considering that it had Ademco (Wheelock) pull stations and SpectrAlert classic notification appliances, I’m guessing that this alarm system was installed around the time that the building was moved.


The Museum of the Sea, in the old lighthouse keeper's quarters.

The Museum of the Sea, in the old lighthouse keeper’s quarters.


SpectrAlert classic horn/strobe.  Ademco pull station.

SpectrAlert classic horn/strobe, and Ademco pull station.


Finishing up at the museum, I headed back towards the lighthouse, and then followed the track that had been cut through the trees in 1999 for the move, which was adjacent to the visitor center.  There, I met up with Pete, who had finished up at the beach and come over to the lighthouse.


Pete in front of the lighthouse.

Pete in front of the lighthouse.


The lighthouse, with darker clouds' beginning to arrive from the west.

The lighthouse, with darker clouds’ beginning to arrive from the west.

(For more lighthouse photos, check out my Flickr page.)


From there, we headed back to the room so that Pete could change, and then headed out again.  Our plan was to head down to Ocracoke to visit two places: Oinc’s BBQ, a Carolina-style barbecue place, and Village Craftsmen, which was a store full of handcrafted items.

Our first stop, however, was unexpected.  At the end of Ballance Drive, I spotted Pilot House, the restaurant where we went on our last night at the Outer Banks in 1996.  Much to my surprise, it was abandoned.  We stopped for a moment there so I could take some pictures of it.  Kind of a shame to see such a beautiful facility be abandoned like that, though, and by the looks of things, it had been abandoned for a number of years.


  

  


Surprise: a fire alarm pull station visible through a window was down!  Noting that no alarm was sounding, that indicated to me that the building had no electricity.  It was also a sign to me that this building had probably been abandoned for a long time.

Surprise: a fire alarm pull station visible through a window was down!  Noting that no alarm was sounding, that indicated to me that the building had no electricity.  It was also a sign to me that this building had probably been abandoned for a long time.


Just as I had finished up, another car came up Ballance Drive.  In it was a middle-aged woman, who asked what we were up to, and then, after I explained (a little photography), attempted to lecture us about how we weren’t supposed to be there.  The woman was absolutely right in that we weren’t supposed to be there (it was private property), but I didn’t appreciate the overly confrontational tone that she took with us.  In any case, we left, and that was the end of that.  And the pictures that I got were stunning.

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5

Part 2