Forty-seventh Lighthouse Expedition

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[edit] September 6 – 12, 2006 -- Puget Sound with the U.S. Lighthouse Society

[edit] September 6, 2006, Wednesday

9:00 am (EDST)

We left home.

10:00 am

Arrived at US Park at Detroit Metro Airport and dropped off our car.

10:35 am

We arrived at the airport, checked in, went through security and got to the gate. This is the first time we have been in the new McNamara terminal.

11:30 am

We had McDonald’s for lunch (Conveniently located right near our gate!)

11:55 am

We boarded the plane and waited!

12:50 pm

Lift off.

1:55 pm (PDST)

We landed at the Sea Tac Airport in Sea Tac, WA. After picking up our luggage, we took the shuttle to our hotel located right near the airport.

3:00 pm

Arrived at the Raddison Gateway Hotel.

5:40 pm

We met the rest of our tour group in the conference room and enjoyed dinner together. We have previously traveled with 17 of the 37 other people on the trip. It’s fun to meet up with “old friends” and meet new ones. Leading this trip was Jeff Gales, the new Executive Director of the USLHS with co-leader Elinor DeWire, president of the Washington Lightkeepers Association.

Our traveling companions were: Jeff & Shari Atkinson, Holland, MI; Wil & Sylvia Cesnaek, Largo, FL; Betty Chenoweth, Nashville, TN; Jean Friedman, Penn Valley, CA; Jeff Gales and wife Melissa Eck from San Francisco, CA; Toni Gales, Los Angeles, CA; Grant & Bunny Gordon, Wheat Ridge, CO; Roger & Betty Johnson, Rockford, IL; Mary Levins, Garden City, NY; Lee McCoy, Union City, CA; Tony & Alma Pasek, Woodbridge, VA; Clarice Powers, Glendale, CA; Patty Skommesa, Seattle, WA; Leaman & Sylvia Sullivan, Manzanita, OR; Dolores & Lee Thacher, Oakland, CA; Linda Tisdale, Aberdeen, WA; Pat Van Ordsale, Louisville, OH; Jerry Waters & Marie Vincent, Reston, VA; Mary Wheeler, Irvine, CA; Bob & Betty Wilder, Kent, WA; Eileen Wukitch, Williamsburg, VA; and Mary Zajac from Hudson, WI.

Elinor DeWire, author and president of the Washington Lightkeepers Association, presented a wonderful power point presentation of Washington lighthouses. This gave us a preview and history of the lights we will be seeing on the tour. She is the author of many lighthouse books and we have several of them. Tonight we purchased The Field Guide to Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast which we were delighted to add to our lighthouse book collection. Her husband, John, also joined us for the evening.

9:15 pm

After dinner, the program, and some time to chat with fellow travelers, we returned to our room. It’s really after midnight where we came from!

[edit] September 7, 2006, Thursday

7:00 am

We had a continental breakfast at the Raddison Hotel. Toni Rosatti, a new employee of the USLHS, joined us and will be with us for part of the tour.

7:55 am

We boarded the bus and met our driver, Gary Scott, and left Sea Tac.

8:25 am

Our first stop was to be the Alki Point Lighthouse. However, the commander of the Coast Guard, who lives at the station, was being moved that day and they requested we not come. As an alternative we were lucky to get to visit the Coast Guard Museum in Seattle. We were greeted by Gene Davis, (retired from the Coast Guard) who is one of those responsible for collecting the impressive memorabilia for the displays. Among the many items is the fourth order Fresnel lens from the New Dungeness Lighthouse. We left the Museum at 9:50 and headed north.

10:15 am

We arrived at the West Point Lighthouse located in Discovery Park. Ft. Lawton is also located within the park. Darrell, a volunteer at the park, gave us a tour of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was turned over to the city of Seattle by the Coast Guard in September of 2005. The city has a lot of work to do to restore it. Darrell told one interesting story about the lighthouse. The wife of one of the keepers made a cover for the lens using canvas, hoola hoops and a rope and thus saved a lot of ladder climbing to cover the lens during sunny days! The Coast Guard did not remove the lens when the lighthouse was given to the city, but they put a beacon on a tower as the official light at this point. We were also able to tour one of the two keepers houses. The lighthouse was built in 1881 at the entrance to Elliot Bay. The tower is 27 feet tall with a fourth order lens. Electricity came to the station in 1926 and the light was automated in 1984. The light will celebrate it’s 125 birthday in November of this year. We left at 11:15.

11:25 am

Stopped at the Discovery Park visitors center. Left at 11:50.

12:30 pm

We passed the Boeing assembly plant in Everett. The building encompasses 98.2 acres and is considered the largest building under one roof in the world. It is the length of 5 football fields! The Boeing 757, 767, 777 and 787s are built there. There are 46,000 employees on 3 shifts working 7 days a week.

12:35 pm

We arrived at the Mukilteo Lighthouse. This cute lighthouse with beautifully kept grounds is operated by the Mukilteo Historical Society who opened the lighthouse and gift shop especially for us. We enjoyed hearing about the light from the volunteers, climbing the 30 foot tower (36 steps), shopping in the gift shop and having our wonderful box lunches on the grounds. We also took our group photo here. The light was built in 1906 with a fourth order Fresnel lens. Electricity came to the light in 1927 and the lens was changed to a third order. It was automated in 1979. The station is open for tours on weekends from April through Labor Day from noon to 4:00 p.m. We enjoyed the surrounding area with the islands and mountains in the background. It was a beautiful sunny day! We left at 2:25 and headed north.

3:50 pm

We arrived at the ferry dock in Anacortes.

4:50 pm

The bus boarded the ferry and we left the dock at 5:20. It was a beautiful hour and a half ride through the Puget Sound and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We went through a fog bank, but once on the other side we could see snow capped Mt. Baker in the distance. The ferry made one stop at Lopes Island before reaching our destination of Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island.

6:50 pm

Arrived at the Friday Harbor dock and drove off the ferry at 7:00 pm. Then we drove the short distance to the Friday Harbor Inn.

7:10 pm

Arrived at the Inn and checked into our rooms.

8:00 pm

We walked across the street to Jimmy’s Café and Paradise Lanes. The service was great and we had a delicious meal.

9:30 pm

Returned to the Inn for the night.

[edit] September 8, 2006, Friday

We are in Friday Harbor, WA on a Friday, how clever!

7:00 am

We had breakfast at Jimmy’s Café.

8:35 am

The bus left the Friday Harbor Inn. Elinor gave us a brief history of the San Juan Islands (there are 170 of them). There was a dispute between the British and the Americans as to whom the islands belonged. In 1859 a British soldier shot a pig belonging to an American farmer and the “pig war” began. Both sides called in additional troops but no further shots were fired. In 1872 a mediator was called in, Kaiser Wilhelm from Germany. He determined the San Juan Islands belonged to the United States.

8:50 am

We arrived at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse located in Lime Kiln State Park. Liz Sheffler from the park service walked us down to the light located on a bluff. From there we could see Vancouver Island and the Olympia Mountain Range. The lighthouse had a fourth order Fresnel lens when it was built in 1919. We were able to climb the tower (36 steps) and the gift shop was open. We were able to take many pictures of the lighthouse from a path along the shore. We were told that we might see Orca whales from this point, but alas, they had chosen another spot that day. In fact the only Orca we saw on the entire trip was the statue outside the gift shop at this lighthouse. Good thing I took a picture! The light station received electricity in 1940 and was automated in 1962. The lighthouse is open for tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 pm until sunset. The grounds in the state park are open all year from sunrise to sunset. We left at 10:05 and drove through “American Camp.” “British Camp” is on the other side of the island.

10:25 am

We stopped by the side of the road and walked the short distance on a grass path to the Cattle Point Lighthouse. We had passed Jakel Lagoon, which was named after the man who took care of this lighthouse. The supplies were landed in the lagoon and he took a horse drawn wagon a long distance once a week to keep the light going. Originally this was a light on a pole in 1888 and then the concrete tower was built in 1935. The lantern room was removed during automation in the 1960’s. A faux lantern room was installed sometime in the 1990’s for the movie Free Willy. Too bad they didn’t leave it when production ended, as it is a sad looking little light with no top! We left at 10:50.

11:10 am

Arrived at the Ferry Dock and then walked around Friday Harbor.

12:45 pm

The bus boarded the ferry. We enjoyed our box lunches during the ferry ride.

2:10 pm

The bus left the ferry at Anacortes.

2:35 pm

We stopped at Deception Pass on our way to Whidbey Island. The pass is the waterway that divides Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. The pass was named by Captain George Vancouver in June of 1792 as he had the feeling he had been “deceived” thinking he had found the inner waterway. He honored Master Joseph Whidbey who found the passage while commanding a small boat crew of explorers by naming the Island “Whidbey.” We parked the bus and walked onto the bridge and enjoyed the beautiful view and took some wonderful pictures. We left at 3:00.

3:40 pm

We arrived at Admiralty Head Lighthouse located on the southern end of Whidbey Island at Admiralty Inlet near the mouth of the Puget Sound. Originally this light was located on Red Bluff in 1860. After Ft. Casey was built, the current structure was built in 1903 and decommissioned in 1922. When the fort was closed after WWII, the fort and lighthouse were taken over by the State Park Service. We were met by John Mello and Dick Malone, volunteers at the lighthouse, and they gave us the history of the lighthouse and Ft. Casey. The Spanish style building is unique among the other Washington State lighthouses. We were able to climb the 31 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy the view of Admiralty Inlet. The lens is not in the tower but on display in the keeper’s house. Everyone also enjoyed the nice gift shop. We were told there are three lighthouses and three forts at the entrance to Puget Sound: Admiralty Head and Ft. Casey, New Dungeness Lighthouse and Ft. Worden, and Point Wilson Lighthouse and Ft. Flagler. We will be visiting the last two on this tour. Tour member, Clarice Powers was a volunteer here when she lived on Whidbey Island. Left at 5:20.

5:45 pm

We arrived at the Best Western Harbor Plaza motel in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

6:30 pm

We walked next door to Mitzel’s restaurant for dinner.

8:15 pm

Returned to our room.

[edit] September 9, 2006, Saturday

7:05 am

We had a continental breakfast at the Best Western.

8:30 am

The bus left Oak Harbor.

8:55 am

Bus arrived at the ferry dock in Keystone. We had a long wait for the ferry. Don walked along the shore to Ft. Casey and took more pictures of Admiralty Head Lighthouse from a distance.

10:25 am

The bus boarded the ferry. The grandson of Clarice Powers, David Surface, is the captain of this ferry boat, Klictetak, and we had the opportunity to meet him. It was raining during the crossing.

10:55 am

The ferry docked in Port Townsend and we drove off at 11:05. The wooden ship festival was taking place here this weekend and it was a bustling little community. There is a privately owned faux lighthouse in town, Demick, which looks like Mukilteo. The old fog bell can be seen on the hill in town.

12:00 pm

We arrived at Fort Worden where the movie An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed. We were met at the Point Wilson Lighthouse by volunteers, David Fazeur and Dottie Ross. Restoration work is being done at this light by an Eagle Scout. A church group was also there to help so there was a lot of activity on the grounds. While there has been a lighthouse at this point since 1879, the current structure was built in 1914. This was a manned station and the lighthouse was automated in 1977. We climbed the 58 steps to the top of the tower. The lighthouse is open for tours on Sundays from mid May through Labor Day. The park area is open year round from sunrise to sunset. Before leaving the lighthouse area and Fort Worden, we ate our box lunches on the bus. Elinor’s husband, John, picked her up and we bid her farewell, until tomorrow. We left at 1:00.

1:25 pm

We went back to Port Townsend and had a brief time to “do the town.” We looked at some of the craft booths, saw some of the wooden boats, listened to a marimba band, and got some ice cream – all in 35 minutes! We left at 2:00.

2:40 pm

We arrived at the John Wayne Marina in Sequim. We were told that John Wayne had owned this area and the marina had been named after him. Johan VanNimwegen and his wife, Ronnie, met us there along with Chas & Lynn Micklin and Jim & Patti Braun. Jim is a voluneer with the New Dungeness Light Station Association. We boarded the vessel Straight Arrow, and were greeted by captain Adam Johnsen and his crew.

3:15 pm

The vessel left the dock. It was cold and windy and fortunately there were very comfy seats in the cabin. Some brave souls, like Don, stayed out on deck.

4:10 pm

The vessel slowed down so we could view and take pictures of New Dungeness Lighthouse, located at the end of a 5 mile sandy “spit.” The tower was built in 1857 and the keepers quarters in 1904. This light is one of many which is manned by volunteers. You can sign up for a week’s tour of duties by contacting the New Dungeness Light Station Association. You will need to bring your own food and clothes. Getting there is the tricky part. A volunteer will drive you, in a special truck, along the very rugged 5 mile sandy spit, but only when the tides are right! They take you out, drop you off, and then pick you up a week later when they drop off the next group of volunteers. Comforts include electricity and an artesian well. The other way to visit the light is by walking. This is an 11 mile round trip walk, but you will be warmly greeted by the volunteers at the lighthouse! I was fortunate to be able to sit with Ronnie VanNimwegen on the boat trip and learned more about the dedicated group of volunteers at this lighthouse.

4:35 pm

The Straight Arrow headed back to the marina.

5:15 pm

We docked at the John Wayne Marina in Sequim, and left the marina at 5:30.

5:40 pm

We arrived at the Quality Inn in Sequim.

6:20 pm

After a quick change we got back on the bus and headed to dinner.

6:45 pm

We arrived at the Three Crabs restaurant where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. We could see The New Dungeness Lighthouse way out across the bay. The Micklins, Brauns and VanNimwegens joined us. We left the restaurant at 9:00.

9:15 pm

We arrived back at the Quality Inn in Sequim.

[edit] September 10, 2006, Sunday

7:30 am

Breakfast at the hotel.

8:30 am

The bus left the Quality Inn.

9:15 am

We stopped in Port Gamble, a cute Victorian town on the Hood Canal. We shopped in the General Store and walked around to look at some of the old restored homes. We left Port Gamble at 9:50.

10:15 am

We arrived at the Point No Point Lighthouse and were greeted by Chas & Lynn Micklin, Jim & Patti Braun and John & Elinor DeWire. Chas is one of the volunteers at this lighthouse and he talked about the history and gave us the tour. This lighthouse was built in 1879 and is a duplicate of the West Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was automated in 1977 and in 1997 was leased to Kitsap County Parks who give tours on Sundays from noon until 4:00 pm. They also rent the keeper’s quarters. The weather was beautiful and sunny and the view from the lighthouse across Admiralty Inlet was beautiful. The name Point No Point comes from when this area was discovered by Lt. Wilkes. Because of the mud flats they wondered whether or not it really was a point. We left the lighthouse at 11:15.

11:25 am

We stopped at the Skunk Bay Lighthouse which is privately owned by 12 families. They each use it for one week every 3 months. We were greeted by Kate & David Traylor. The lighthouse was built by author Jim Gibbs. The lantern room came from the Smith Island Lighthouse, which had been abandoned. Because it is privately owned, it is best viewed by boat. We left at 11:55.

12:00 pm

We stopped in Hansville to pick up our lunches at a little general store. John & Elinor left us once again. We left Hansville at 12:30 and ate our lunches on the bus.

12:45 pm

Arrived at the ferry dock in Kingston and were able to get on a ferry one and one-half hours earlier than originally planned. The ferry left shortly afterwards.

1:10 pm

The ferry docked in Edmonds and we drove off at 1:20. We headed south into Seattle in very heavy traffic.

1:55 pm

We arrive at our hotel, The Roosevelt, in downtown Seattle. Not all of the rooms were ready as we had arrived earlier than planned. We were one of the lucky ones who got their room keys right away.

2:30 pm

We left the hotel and walked to the Space Needle – many blocks away. We got our tickets and had a short wait before reaching the observation deck of the 520 foot Needle. We had fun calling our kids from high above the city. It was a sunny day but hazy off in the distance. We could see the Cascade and Olympia mountain ranges and Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier as well as the greater Seattle area. We left the Space Needle and started walking to the Pike Street Market. Fortunately Diana was able to talk Don into taking a cab, as our time was getting short before the market would be closing. It was well worth the $6.00!!! We arrived at the market and enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers, the fish and produce stalls, and all the vendors! We especially enjoyed watching them “throw the fish!” The market closed at 5:00 pm and we left as they were closing up the stalls. We walked up Pine Street towards our hotel and stopped a few places along the way. In the mall, we found a “Made in Washington” store to take gifts home to family and friends. We had dinner at PF Changs China Bistro restaurant. We received a complimentary appetizer and then had a wonderful Chinese dinner. It was very good, just too much to eat and unfortunately no way to take the leftovers with us.

7:30 pm

We returned to the Roosevelt Hotel at the corner of Seventh and Pine.

[edit] September 11, 2006, Monday

Very sunny!

7:00 am

We had breakfast in the restaurant of the Roosevelt Hotel.

9:25 am

We left the Roosevelt, and arrived at the Fauntleroy ferry dock at 9:45.

10:15 am

The bus boarded the ferry and we left the dock at 10:25.

10:35 am

The ferry docked at Vashon Island and we drove off at 10:40.

10:50 am

We arrived in the town of Vashon. Since we were early for our next lighthouse tour, we had time to walk around the town. We were impressed to see 2 people on each corner of the main intersection holding poles with American flags, as this was the fifth anniversary of 9/11. It was very impressive and several in our group thanked them for displaying the symbol of our great country. Elinor was there to greet us. Her daughter, Jessica, was having the grand opening of her new restaurant in Vashon called “Gusto Girls.” We got to meet Jessica and go inside the restaurant. There were workmen busy making the final touches. We all wished her great success. We left Vashon at 11:55.

12:15 pm

We arrive at Point Robinson Lighthouse located in Vashon Park. We ate our box lunches on the grounds. We were met by Captain Joe Wubbold, a retired Coast Guard Captain, who told us about the lighthouse. The Point Robinson Light was built in 1915 and automated in 1978. The lens is a fifth order. Electricity came to the lighthouse in 1929 and phones after WWII. We climbed the tower (47 steps) and toured the assistance keepers dwelling, which is a vacation rental. One half of the head keepers dwelling is currently under renovation and will also be a rental. The other half is occupied by the caretaker of the park, who also does some work on the lighthouse. The lighthouse is maintained by volunteers of the Keepers of Point Robinson. They offer tours on Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. From this location we had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier. We bid Elinor a final farewell. We left at 2:30.

2:50 pm

We arrived at the ferry dock in Tahlequah and boarded the ferry at 3:05.

3:10 pm

The ferry left the dock. We enjoyed a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier while on the ferry ride.

3:25 pm

The ferry docked at Point Defiance in Tacoma.

3:45 pm

We stopped in Old Town Tacoma for treats. Don had a root beer float and Diana had a raspberry smoothie. From Old Town, we could see our next and final lighthouse, Browns Point. We left Old Town at 4:30.

4:55 pm

We arrived at the Browns Point Lighthouse. This point was discovered by George Vancouver in 1792. The Points NE Historical Society renovated the keepers home in 1998 and it is now a vacation rental. The original wooden tower burned down and was replaced by a modern concrete tower and optic in 1933. It was automated in 1963. There is also a boathouse and an historical society building on the property. The point was named Browns Point when Oscar Brown was assigned as the first lighthouse keeper. The government paid the Indians $3,000 for the property on the point in 1903 to establish a light and fog bell there. The bell was missing for many years but was returned without the clapper. A bowling ball is now used to clang the bell. The historical society was very friendly and they had cookies and beverages for us. We left at 6:20.

7:00 pm

We arrived back at the Radisson Gateway Hotel in Sea Tac where we had begun our adventure five days earlier.

8:00 pm

We had our farewell dinner at the hotel. In the drawing for door prizes, Don won a beautiful limited edition numbered plate from the Hamilton Collection picturing Haceta Head Light.

[edit] September 12, 2006, Tuesday

7:30 am

We had a continental breakfast at the Raddison.

8:30 am

Took the hotel shuttle to the airport (across the street).

9:15 am

We were all checked in, baggage checked and through security.

9:30 am

Arrived at our gate for a 3 hour wait!

11:00 am

We got our lunch from a deli in the airport.

12:00 pm

We boarded the plane and it left the gate at 12:30.

12:55 pm

Lift off. We had a wonderful view of Mt. Rainer from our plane window and took pictures.

7:50 pm (EDST)

The plane landed at Detroit Metro airport. We got our luggage and took the shuttle to US Park. It was pouring rain when we got to our car at 8:55.

9:30 pm

Stopped for dinner at McDonalds in Union Lake.

10:00 pm

Stopped for a Dairy Queen in Union Lake. Finally! Now it’s an official lighthouse expedition! We just made it, as they were about to close.

10:10 pm

Arrived HOME.

Our special thanks to Jeff Gales of the United States Lighthouse Society and to Elinor DeWire of the Washington Lightkeepers Association for a wonderful tour of the Puget Sound!

Trip Totals – 11 lighthouses and many miles by car, plane, bus and ferry.

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Conceived and Developed by David S. Carter
Photographs by Donald W. Carter
Text by Diana K. Carter, Donald W. Carter & David S. Carter

Copyright © 1995-2011 David S. Carter, Donald W. Carter, & Diana K. Carter. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means, physical or electronic, in part or in full, without the express permission of the authors, is strictly prohibited.

This article was last modified on 5/31/2009.

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