Tuesday Tour: Assateague Light

We came in search of wild horses, instead we found a lighthouse.

On our jaunt to the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay a couple of years ago, after touring various sites in Maryland, we decided to head south to Assateague and cross over into Virginia for the afternoon. On a whim, we thought we’d particularly visit Chincoteague Island where we hoped to catch sight of a wild horse or two.

No such luck for us that day. All we spotted within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge was some…ahem…evidence, shall we say, that horses had recently been where we were.

But we did spy a red and white striped 142-foot tall lighthouse in the distance when we stopped at a visitor’s center and were bird watching on the building’s deck looking over marshland.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Assateague Light is an active navigational aid located on the southern end of Assateague Island, maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and currently owned by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

We easily found our way by car to an area to park and walked the short hike along a trail to the lighthouse itself. We found that we were the only visitors there that afternoon.

Open to the public on weekends from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. from April through November with free admission, although donations are accepted to help maintain the lighthouse, unfortunately we visited on a weekday and it was closed.

However, visitors may take tours of Assateague Light to learn its history and about life as a light keeper. In addition, they can climb 175 steps to the top of the tower and view the surrounding areas of the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland as well as Chincoteague, Assateague, and Wallops Island where NASA has a flight facility.

The current brick lighthouse is the second to stand at this location. After the original one, only lit by candle lantern and erected in 1833 was determined to be too short, construction of a new taller and more effectively illuminated lighthouse began in 1860.

The Civil War interrupted and the newer Assateague Light wasn’t completed until 1867. Converted to electricity in the early 1930’s, Assateague’s current beacon consists of two rotating lights flashing one after another 154 feet above sea level and can be spotted 19 miles out to sea.

As one of less than 20 lighthouses of its type still operational on the eastern coast of the United States, we were pleased we noticed it and took the time to visit historic Assateague Light.

I believe while gazing at that old lighthouse still shining without ceasing to guide sea vessels through shallow shoals of Chesapeake Bay, a glimmer of light flickered in my mind — a light bulb moment so to speak – as I photographed that beacon.

The allure of capturing photos of lighthouses began developing that afternoon at Assateague Light and inspired other empty nest travels for Papa and I to view these magnificent structures.

Something about the goodness of a lighthouse, the purpose it serves to keep mankind safe in perilous conditions appealed to me. Shouldn’t we all emulate a lighthouse for our fellow human beings?

“Man must behave like a lighthouse; he must shine day and night for the goodness of every man.” ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

©2020 mamasmeptynest.wordpress.com

When country meets city

blogIMG_8047Being a country girl has its firm roots in me. I grew up in a rural area about five miles outside of my hometown.

My playground wasn’t one of concrete, swings, sliding boards, and monkey bars. My playground was a four-acre yard with apple, peach, and plum trees and a tiny stream of water running through it.

My swinging consisted of a hammock in the shade of the apple trees and a front-porch swing. But I didn’t stay in my country home.

After a couple of decades living in the suburbs of big cities, Papa and I decided to move back to our home state and build a house in the country, just a few miles from my childhood home. And I’ve been a happy camper ever since.

I’m not a fan of city life. I can appreciate a day in the city, seeing sights, taking in worthwhile spots to visit, enjoying a fine dinner, but the noise, the traffic, and just the sheer amount of people on the sidewalks makes me yearn for a simpler place to be.

And even though cities aren’t my cup of tea, we’ve visited plenty of them across the nation – from New York City to Los Angeles, Seattle to Dallas to Boston, and many in between.  I’m grateful for the enjoyable times we had in those metropolises, but I always repeat that old saying to myself, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

My intention here is not to offend city-dwellers; I know many people relish the hustle and bustle of the big city and are happy there. And vacations to metropolitan areas thrill scads of folks. Me, not so much; my idea of a perfect vacation is somewhere calm and serene, away from all the busyness of urban life.

In June, Papa and I embarked on that last-minute, spur-of-the moment week-long trip I’ve been writing about in the last few posts. We needed a little rest and relaxation, some spots for peaceful reflection but yet some noteworthy places to visit. However, we didn’t want to travel far, so we headed south to Maryland.

After our outing on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, we drove east to Baltimore, a city Papa’s been to before and I’ve been through and flown out of the airport there but never actually toured. After spending a morning at Fort McHenry (which I wrote about here), we drove downtown Baltimore to the Inner Harbor.

A couple of years ago, when we visited Boston, Papa got to board the USS Constitution, so he really wanted to see the USS Constellation moored in Baltimore as well. If Papa had a bucket list, visiting those two grand old historic ships would be on it.

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USS Constellation (upper left, lower right); Baltimore Inner Harbor area (upper right); and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse (lower left)

Since we arrived at the Inner Harbor on a Monday afternoon, it wasn’t too crowded and I was a happy girl about that. No doubt the deluge of rain that lasted for over 30 minutes also probably ran off some tourists. We hunkered down in a parking garage, waiting for the downpour to stop before we wandered up and down the harbor area.

After seeing the Constellation and three other historic ships, including a submarine, we also saw the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, the oldest screw-pile lighthouse in Maryland.

After that, we decided to take a 45-minute narrated harbor cruise which proved to be an enjoyable and relaxing way to see some of Baltimore’s harbor sights. We also ate a delicious early dinner in the area where Papa was content to chow down on seafood.

Since we were driving to our next destination that evening, we headed out of Baltimore. Well, we tried to leave Baltimore, but it was the peak of rush hour. Actually, we just attempted to get out of the parking garage onto a street where absolutely no one would let us out. The traffic was heavy and congested and too crazy for me.

Finally, Papa just plunged right into the thick of traffic. Relieved that my husband (former city dweller and sales rep seasoned to navigate in heavy traffic which never seems to rattle him in the least) was driving, I cringed in the passenger seat, closed my eyes, and prayed we’d get the “heck out of Dodge” safely. We did almost get hit by a driver changing lanes who obviously didn’t see our vehicle.

Goodbye, city life! I couldn’t wait to get away from the busyness fast enough. And get away we did.  After a stop in Annapolis, we ventured down the eastern coast of the Chesapeake Bay to lovely quiet spots we’ve never seen before.

And I have to think that spending time in the city always makes me appreciate country life all the more.

“The country is lyric, the town dramatic. When mingled, they make the most perfect musical drama.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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