Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Point Pinos

This was the start to a nice weekend with my wife. The first opportunity to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. Imagine we are 33 years in wedlock, and we are still going strong.We set off from our house early on Saturday, about 10:00 am. Our journey was comfortable we took 880 to 101 and then 152 to the coast, as we drove we listened to the radio and took in the farmland and coastline views of the surrounding areas. As we drove past the Gilroy shopping outlets, I teased Jean about going shopping, because I know she likes to browse through the outlets looking for a bargain, she is a good bargain hunter.

From Gilroy we headed towards the coast, I was intrigued by the vast areas of farmland and how well organized the fields where. The long neat furrows that stretched for miles and their symmetry as I observed them lying next to each other. It was a form of mans man made beauty alongside God's creation. I could not help but think about the Mexican migrant workers and the back breaking work, they performed in the fields, with hot overhead sun beating down on them as they toiled the land. Looking out over the fields, I imagined them laboring from dawn until dusk, either planting or reaping the harvest. All for a meager pay. Many of these workers are undocumented,no medical or no descent living quarters. We must consider the fact that we the people are taking advantage of their predicament, and we are exploiting their cheap labor for lower food prices in the store. Mostly these migrant workers are hardworking people trying to eke out a living in this wonderful free land.

As we continued our journey,I also pondered the thought, "what a beautiful area to live nearby and to spend time to photograph." There is something about the rustic nature of the countryside that appeals to my inner consciousness. Maybe I long for the lushest green Fields and the rolling hills of Ireland. We listened to and enjoyed a variety of music from the radio and cd player, Country, Irish and Christian music as we drove along. I laid back in my seat, occasionally closed my eyes and basked in the rays of the sun coming in my window, as we made our way towards Monterrey. Jean continued to drive.

I have travelled this road so many times over the years, I am still enamoured by the scenery of its wonderful country backroads, the peacefulness of the waterfronts, and the rustic nature of its farmlands, often times I am reminded that in the 1850's this was part of the wild west and the people out here had to hard in character and nature to survive.They did not have the highways we had today, nor the communications. The region was theirs to create, and their legacy is what we enjoy today. Its their story that I try to tell. We have our stories about the cowboy, the frontiersmen, the pioneers, but what about the Lightkeepers stories especially the lighthouse women who so wonderfully added another dimension to the west.

When we arrived in Monterrey, we headed straight to Pacific Grove, along Lighthouse Ave until we reached Asilomar Ave. As soon as we got to the coast road we where able to drink in its beauty. The sun was shining brightly, the weather's temperature was mild and the light blue water seemed to be playing as it splashed against the rocks,it was like a child running free of responsibility and without a care. I believe their is a spiritual side of life and you can see it in nature. Water, sand, seashells and color with its natural saturation and hue, just blended perfect for all to see. And it does not cost a dime to enjoy. Its free to rich or poor, to small and great, to people of all creeds, races or gender. We pulled into the side of the road, not realising we could have driven to the parking lot at the lighthouse.

When you arrive at the lighthouse a few things strike you. It is located in the middle of a golf course, close to a golden state park beach. The golf clubhouse is only a stone throw from the lighthouse. Nearby is a fairly populated urban area, surrounded by a quaint public park, there was wedding celebration when we arrived.

Even though the lighthouse is located near the coast, it appears to be a fair distance back from the shore. Its location in the sand dunes and its cottage style building are very picturesque. I have made selection of pictures of this lighthouse hopefully to show off its cottage nature, and simplicity of beauty.

I spent an hour or two circling the building taking pictures. This lighthouse does not appear at the outset to be one of those lighthouses that require of its keepers strenuous or isolated lighthouse tending. You certainly don't get the feeling that the lighthouse keepers had a tough time operating the lighthouse here. looking at its quaintness and the tourists, you get an almost envy that you could reside here. Its a very comfortable and beautiful area, surrounded by a luscious golf course and a wonderful golden sandy beach.This is the oldest continuous active lighthouse in California, coming from the mid 1800's.

The lighthouse volunteers have done a great job, in restoration and story telling. As you meet them they will enrich your life with there stories they recall about the early lighthouse keepers, and the famous people who dropped by.You will also be embellished with the the lifestyle of the various keepers. Wondering through a lighthouse is often times a journey to the past. An insight to the men and women who manned these lighthouses and the countless lives and ships they saved. You also get the sense of isolation these people lived in. Today many of the lighthouses are surrounded by urban life, sometimes the hardship that the families of the keepers had to endure is forgotten. It is a longing for something that is deep within us, a symbol of sacrifice against the odds and the survival in the midst of a storm. It has so many parralles with life that it propels us towards the enormity of the providence of God.

From the outside you have a beautiful white cottage, almost new England style, next windswept trees. Almost enchanting and separated from time. But once you cross the doorstep, you met with a sense of history that envelopes this house.

History Time.

Its one the original 8 lighthouses built in California during the 1850's. Point Pinos is the oldest continuous active lighthouse in the West Coast. Its 3rd Order Fresnel Lens gleams from atop its lantern tower. Construction began in the Spring of 1853, workmen came form San Francisco, onboard the ship Oriole. The government purchased 25 acres of the Rancho Punta de los Pinos, with an additional 67 acres being purchased later on. granite was quarried from nearby, to build the Cod Style lighthouse. Due to difficulties with the delivery of the lenses and prisms from France, Point Pinos got its lens from Ford Point in San Francisco, it delayed the lighting of the lantern until 1855. Building and locating the lighthouse had its obstacles, one being the lighthouse Inspector Bach was unhappy with the Location of the lighthouse. He said it cut its arc of visibility.

Point Pinos had several light sources over the years, the first was a whale oil lantern, the oil was forced up from a tank by a gravity-operated piston. This was followed by Lard oil, kerosene, incandescent vapor lamp and electric lights in 1915. The present light source is a 1000 watt bulb, amplified by the lens and prisms to produce a 50,000 candle beam visible for 15 miles. A falling weight mechanism rotates a metal shutter around the light causing the beam to be cut off to seaward for 10 out of every 30 seconds. 1926 a fog signal was installed. 1975 the lighthouse was automated.

The First lighthouse Keeper Charles Layton paid $1000 a year, was killed while on a posse chase for bandit Garcia. His wife Charlotte took over as lighthouse keeper, with her 4 children. She was the lighter of the lantern only days after Alcatraz, it was the second lighthouse to be lit. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about lightkeeper Lucie in 1879, praising Luce's hospitality, his piano playing, his ship models and his oil paintings. Giving us an insight into the life of some of these light keepers. Mrs. Emily Fish, was probably the most interesting of the Point Pinos lightkeepers. She served from 1893 to 1914. and was known as the "Socialite Keeper" she loved to entertain guests at the lighthouse. She was a fifty year old widow with a Chinese servant Que. She furnished the lighthouse with Books, paintings, and silver. Que planted trees and grass. Also she attended to her duties of maintaining the light. following a rigid schedule she lit the lamp one hour prior to sunset, and extinguished it one hour after sunrise.
Finally our current keepers are volunteers, spending their weekends and other time, tending to the needs and maintainance of the Point Pinos lighthouse. They are knowledgable and friendly and a good source of local information about the lighthouse.


Calfornia Lighthouses Umberlla Guide, Sharlene & Ted Nelson
Point Pinos Museum
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