Thursday, October 29, 2009

Open Our Beaches!

Things have started to slow here on Hatteras Island. I had the chance to get out and explore several times. The only interpretive staff that we have here are Laura, Rachelle, myself, Mark and a couple of volunteers. Mark will leave in about 2 weeks which is sad because we get along quite well and have had fun. We will be getting another seasonal in on the 9th and I have heard that she will be a good addition.

My exploring has been limited to Rodanthe, Hatteras Village, and I am hoping to get to Ockracoke soon enough. The towns up and down the chain look very similar in that the houses are tall and the boundary between the villages and park land obvious. "Since we cant build out we will build up!" most of the locals don't want anything to do with park service employees but I have found that if you let them know that you have nothing to do with the decisions to close the beaches they will tollerate your presence. There are signs everywhere in town stating things like "open our beaches" or "RIP federal government promises." Needless to say my uniform comes off rather quickly after work before going into town. There are some places that really support the park and welcome employees without a second thought. It is just knowing which ones to avoid is the trick.

This is Mark's brillant idea for Halloween night. " So....I think that one of us should dress up like a sea turtle, another like a piping plover (endangered bird) , and the other can be a park service employee holding a beach closed sign. We then go out for drinks and start closing down sections of the bar and if people get too close we expand the closure. It would either be really funny or end really badly depending on who was in the bar that night!" Hmmmm...I dont think so!

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Visions of an Old Lighthouse

I have always apprecieated lighthouses and have seen a few in my lifetime. My family and I would travel to the shores of the Atlantic from time to time and I was always interesting to see the lighthouses and marvel at their beauty. However, having never seen the Cape Hatteras lighthouse I was in for a real treat. As I drove in I saw it, rising above me as the car grew closer. The giant black and white striped candy cane stood taller than anyother light structure I had seen. In the October afternoon sun the tallest brick lighthouse in the world did look truly majestic.

Over the years I have gained appreciation for the natural world, hence why I love visiting mountains, lakes, oceans, sand dunes, and geysers. But every so often I get the sence of appreciation for the works of man and accomplishments that are unimaginable. It takes brains, imagination, and determination to create such wonders and the combination can sometimes make magic.

Having been on this sight for 2 weeks I have heard history of the lightkeepers whose purpose was to keep this lighthouse operation. This is a beacon of warning to men at sea, a navigational tool, and a way of avoiding the feared "Graveyard of the Atlantic". Thousands of ships have foundered here in the diamond shoals. It is here where the Gulf Stream and the Laborador current meet in an epoch battle creating some of the roughest waters on the eastern coast and a sense of terror to ships. With a beacon of exactly 7.5 seconds for one rotation this unique pattern is unlike any other altering ships to there location on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

This lighthouse has survived over 100 years of operation and a relocation project deemed "The Move of the Century." The lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet to the southwest in 1999 to save it from the rapidly approaching ocean tides. The importance of this light has gain the respect of millions of visitors and has touched the hearts of those learning its unique history. Located at the original site there is a granite circle engraved with the light keeps names starting from 1870. As any visitor will find, It was tremendaous work to keep this lighthouse running.

At night fall it is a dramatic sight. As I was out running one evening darkness fell opon me. As my eyes adjusted to see the road ahead of me I saw a familiar light coming from the old tower. As I sometimes do, I timed the interval at exactly 7.5 seconds. I felt comforted, and had a sense of place. I knew that even if the road suddenly dissapeared I would be able to find my way. It brought a connection between myself and the history of this amazing place. This beacon has been used for a long time and legacy continues each and every day.

Some people have trouble finding thier place in this world. It is inevitable that you will feel lost sometimes. We all feel this way. But as there is medicine for most things we can somtimes find it within symbols. That is what this light is a symbol, a icon of place. So if you ever feel lost, lonely, confused, or need a sense of place in this big world I suggest visiting a lighthouse. Standing at the base watching the light shine out over the water I know exactly where I am...I am on Hatteras Island.