Amelia Island Lighthouse

May 9 2017, 12:27 pm in

The Amelia Island Florida lighthouse has guided sailing ships to modern freighters and fishing boats safely into the channel toward Fernandina Harbor since 1838.

It was constructed using materials taken from the former little Cumberland Island light. Cumberland Island is in Georgia just north of the inlet built in 1820. The best explanation I found for all of this lighthouse moving around stuff was that the US simply did not control of Amelia Island in 1802 at the time the first light was built. The area became a major black-market home to scores of smugglers, drunkards, and prostitutes that spilled over into the southern states. The US had enough, stepped in and took control of the island in 1819.

The Amelia light stands in a tranquil setting on the northernmost barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic coast. It is the state’s oldest lighthouse and is the only one surviving from Florida’s territorial period 1819-1845 without major rebuilding. The brick tower was 50 feet tall. When the lantern was installed it increased the tower height to 64 feet. 21 keepers have been responsible for climbing the tower’s 69 granite steps to attend the light. One keeper, John Miles, who served from 1880 to 1895 had an artificial leg with rubber foot attached.

When the light sent its first beam out to sea Florida was not yet state. Since then eight flags have flown over Amelia Island. French, Spanish, English, Patriots, Green Cross of Florida, — had to look this one up. In 1817 a Scottish soldier and adventure, Gregor MacGregor, claimed Amelia Island on behalf of “the brethren of Mexico, Buenos Ayres, New Grenada and Venezuela. I’m from Florida and never heard that one before—the other flags were Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States.

The area was also known as home to the largest concentration of pirates in America. Blackbeard, the Lafittes, Calico Jack, Anne Bonnie and Luis Aury. The rich pirate history gives credence to area stories of hidden treasures and ghosts.

The Amelia Island light reaches 16 miles out to sea. Its white light flashes every 10 seconds then turns red when covering shoal water in the Nassau sound.

Electricity was installed in the tower in the 1930s and the station was automated in 1970. In 2000 the Amelia Island lighthouse was declared surplus and offered to the city of Fernandina Beach and was officially handed over.

If you visit look up the current lighthouse historian, Ms. Helen O’Hagan Sintes. She is a direct descendent of the first keeper and lived in the lighthouse as a child.

Have you been to this light?

Ponce De Leon Inlet Lghthouse.

Apr 30 2017, 11:29 am in

Let’s take a visit to the Ponce De Leon Inlet lighthouse.

The light is located 10 miles south of Daytona Beach in the town of Ponce Inlet. That’s about an hour’s drive south of me but I’ve never been there. The Ponce Inlet lighthouse is the tallest light in Florida and the second tallest masonry lighthouse in the country second only to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There are 203 steps to the top of the 175 foot tower situated on the north bank of Ponce Inlet where the Halifax and Indian rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

This light, built on 10 acres of land was originally called the Mosquito Inlets Lighthouse.

If you’ve visited Florida in summer you probably have no problem figuring out why they called it that. As so many lighthouses do, this tower has some sad history. The chief building engineer and three others drowned in the inlet right after construction began in 1884. Despite this the tower was completed in 1887. At the time it was said the light could be seen 20 miles to sea. A most definite advantage during the many storms that raked the Florida coast.

In the 1920s the lighthouse service added indoor plumbing and bathrooms to the keeper’s buildings. A generator was also installed bringing electricity to the keeper’s home. In 1933 the tower light was electrified with a 500 watt lamp.

In 1939 the lighthouse was transferred to the care of the United States Coast Guard. During World War II Coast guardsmen protected the light and stood watch for enemy submarines that cruised the Florida coastline.

This light is one of only a handful of 19 century light station to have all its original buildings still intact. In 1998 the light was designated a national historic landmark.

 

I really do need to get myself in gear and go down and see this light. Have any of you been there?

I’m Baccckkk!

Apr 23 2017, 7:55 am in , ,

I’ve been on the sick, lame, dazed, and confused list. Allergies are my nemesis. I keep saying I’m going to rent an ice cave to live in during spring and fall allergy season. Geeze! Knowing my luck I’d probably find something to be allergic to there. As if I wasn’t having enough fun with allergies I jacked my back and knee up royally. Poor me. LOL!

Looking forward to getting into the swing of blogging again. I’m going to continue with my lighthouse blogs. Lighthouses in this country have amazing history.

I want to share the photo of Blue Kitty, the Lighthouse Cat a friend and fellow lighthouse-ophile, Christine, sent me. I finally have pics to post of a kitty next to my computer.  Look carefully and you can see the lighthouse pin Kitty is wearing.

 

Before I get started on new Lighthouse posts I’d like to tell you about the United States Lighthouse Society. It’s a nonprofit historical and educational organization dedicated to saving and sharing the maritime legacy of American lighthouses. It also supports lighthouse preservation throughout the country. You can register online to become a member. Go to here to find out more.

One of the things I love at that site is reading The Keeper’s Log articles. I particularly like one is titled Emily Fish, The Socialite Keeper of the Point Pinos lighthouse, an article by Clifford Gallant published in the spring 1985 keeper’s log.`

The Point Pinos light is situated on the Monterey Peninsula and is the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast. The Socialite Keeper is quite the story.

 

There is also a lighthouse passport program.  If you like to visit lighthouses this program  provides enthusiasts the opportunity to help preserve lighthouses as well as a wonderful way to keep a pictorial history of their visits. Donations made by passport holders generate thousands of dollars for lighthouse restoration and preservation. Next time you visit a lighthouse ask about joining the passport club.

Some lights have guest lodging in centuries old light keeper’s homes. Quite a few come complete with a ghost or two.

 

Do you have a favorite lighthouse? Of course, mine is the St. Augustine Florida lighthouse.

I grew up two blocks from the black and white 165 foot tower. Right before my allergy/knee debacle I was preparing to join a group that climbed the lighthouse steps, that’s 219 steps, every day for exercise. Now, I’m not saying I was planning on climbing all 219 every day. I had sort of decided to drop the 200 and do 19 steps a couple of days a week. That sounded like a plan to me. But it seems my body wasn’t pleased with that and fixed it so I couldn’t do it. Still doing PT for the knee, but climbing to the top of that tower is on my bucket list.

Thanks for stopping by.

                                              Rita

March is a busy month.

Mar 14 2017, 2:38 pm in , , ,

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s National Women’s History Month.

Spring break for a lot of schools. Here in Florida we’re bracing for the influx of sun and fun lovers and those escaping winter storm Stella.  

There’s March madness. If you’re not into college basketball you probably know nothing about that.  If you are into college B ball no need to say more.

The Feast of St Joseph is March 19th.   Big day for Italians.

March 17th is St Patrick’s day. The Irish in the US celebrate BIG time.

We lived in Kansas City and there was a huge parade and other activities that may or may not have included adult beverages. A very Irish friend had an uncle visiting from the ‘old country’ and that was the first time I realized the day wasn’t celebrated (at that time early 80s) all that much in Ireland. The man was quite taken aback with the celebration. He was recounting all he’d seen when he paused, looked at us all serious and said, “And that green beer.” He shook his head. “They’ll be peeing green for a month I know.”

My characters from Under Fire: The Admiral, Gemma and Ben, shared an experience they had a few months ago while visiting Ireland.     

They were in the Irish countryside on a very dark, stormy night–really it was–in the middle of nowhere. They’d stopped at a local pub for dinner and were enjoying the food, pints, and conversation when the pub door slammed open. A soaking wet, obviously upset young man stood in the doorway. He rushed in babbling about a horrible experience.

He was settled into a chair and given a pint. The beer was half-gone before he could string words into sentences and answer the many questions. The young man explained he was backpacking through Ireland and on a deserted road with rain pelting down so hard he could hardly see a few feet ahead. Finally, a car came slowly towards him and stopped. Desperate for shelter and thinking he was being offered a ride, he got in and closed the door only to realize there was nobody behind the wheel. Even though the engine wasn’t on, the car once again started moving. Ireland’s many ghost stories rumbled through his brain and fear paralyzed him. That is until he looked at the road ahead and saw a curve looming. Gathering courage, he prepared to jump. Then, through the driver’s window, a ghostly hand appeared out of gloom. In terror, he watched as the hand turned the wheel, guiding the car around the curve.

The lights of the pub appeared and gathering strength, he jumped out of the car and ran for it.

A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying.  

Once again the door slammed open, startling everyone, and two men walked in from the dark and stormy night. They too were soaked and out of breath. Looking around, and seeing the young man sobbing at the bar, one said to the other…

“Look ….there’s that fookin idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it!”

 

March is National Women’s Month.

Mar 6 2017, 9:19 am in ,

As a  writer I’m asking you to take some time and talk to the women in your family to get the other half of the story. Other half of the story? Yes. World events, disasters, family triumphs and celebrations told from their point of view.  And write it down. The vast majority of historical events is written with a male perspective. Hearing a woman’s point of view can be enlightening.  Where they were, what they thought when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Who in your family remembers rationing during WWII?  Ask how difficult it was during that time to go months without letters from a loved one. Find out what it was like to have a family member in Vietnam and, for the first time in history, see the war every evening on the news. What they remember about Jackie Kennedy. Their first car. Boyfriend. The time they met Elvis. The real reason Aunt Gertrude left town. How Uncle Johnny got all his money. Have you ever spoken to your mom about the day you were born?  Do you know the black sheep of your families?  How did the women in your family meet the love of their life? What they thought when they did. I asked this question at a ladies gathering. One gal shared how she met the love of her life and then told us how she met her husband. Do you want your children to know how you met their father?

My Aunt was going to reveal a huge—her word—family secret to me. We’d set up a time for me to go over and hear this secret. She died before she could tell me. I’m left with a bazillion questions and a great deal of regret. Don’t have this happen to you. Transfer your family stories to words on the page so they will never be lost.

There is a perfectly wonderful National Women’s History Museum web site to learn more about women of this country and inspire you. I particularly like the online exhibits page.  

I write about strong female characters. Women at the top of their fields. On the left in the scrollin bar you can see the courageous women who have inspired me.  

Win Books and A Kindle Fire

Feb 27 2017, 9:30 am

Hello everyone.

I have a fun surprise. You can win my novel Under Fire: The Admiral, plus all these books from other fantastic romance authors.

 

Someone will win this huge collection of seasoned romances, that is, romances featuring characters over forty, PLUS a Kindle Fire!  Will it be you?

Enter the giveaway by clicking here

Good luck, and enjoy!

                                         Rita

Authors and Creativity.

Feb 19 2017, 1:15 pm

Lately, in writers groups, there has been some discussion about keeping the joy in our writing. There are a bazillion answers as to how this can be accomplished. I think one is by indulging our other creative talents.  Yeaph. OTHER creative talents. Authors are very creative people. Think about all the other talents you have and how those creative outlets can nourish your writing. 

Here are a few.

Sewing. BTW I hear it’s coming back as a thing.

Knitting and crocheting.

Setting a proper table is now considered an art. You’ll notice there is no place for a cell phone.

Family wrangling. You parents know all about that.

Cooking. Look at all the TV cooking shows.

Painting as in, on a canvas and the walls. 

Carpentry.

Sketching.

Coloring.

Gardening.

Decorating.

Giving Parties.

Yeah. I hear you asking what these creative endeavors have to do with writing.  When you begin writing a new book you write a synopsis. Make a plan. Develop a structure or a pattern.  Look at the talents I mentioned above. How many need a plan, a pattern?

When sketching a face you start with the basic features everyone has, head shape, jaw, ears, nose eyes. But, it is how we shape those features that makes the face unique. Take sewing a dress. You begin with a pattern. Each one has an opening for the head and sleeves, but think of the creative possibilities in achieving the finished product. Same with a book. Plot, setting, characters, conflict, goals motivation, and so on. 

When you begin to write every word inside you doesn’t rush out like a water fall onto the page at once. It’s like knitting and crocheting. One stitch/word at a time culminating in this great design/book.

I believe spending a few hours, minutes, a week with your other talents can help feed the writing beast. As for me, I’m sketching again. Drawing my characters. Although I have to admit I sometimes use the Flash Face app to get the basics. I color in the big girl books. I click the knitting needles and crochet with basic stitches.

Garden.
My chain saw skill is getting better. A new design, other than out of control jungle, is emerging in the back yard. New skeeter repellant recipes are being tested and I write.   

What are your other creative talents? Take one of yours and examine it for similarities with writing.

Do you think enjoying all your creative venues can help keep the joy in your writing?

What are yours?

Lighthouses and Life Saving.

Feb 10 2017, 12:23 pm

I associate lighthouses with the Coast Guard because before automation the Coasties maintained the lights. I associate the Coast Guard with protecting our shores and water rescues. After the Civil War the public demanded the government do something about the loss of lives and property at sea and the precursor to our modern Coast Guard was born, the US Revenue Cutter Service.  Today the Coast Guard has cutting edge equipment, fast boats, helicopters, highly trained and dedicated men and women with grit and courage. Lifesaving rescues are made weekly.  

Travel back to the late 1800s when the service first operated.  In 1897, eight whaling ships were trapped in Arctic ice surrounding Point Barrow, the northernmost point of Alaska. With a dwindling food supply, the whalers had little chance of surviving.

The Bear, a cutter commanded by Captain Francis Tuttle, sailed from Port Townsend, Washington. It was too late in the year for the cutter to push through the ice, so it was decided a rescue must go overland. The rescue party led by Lieutenant Jarvis traveled the distance to Point Barrow overland from Cape Vancouver, roughly 1,500 miles. They traveled on snowshoes and skis and carried the provisions using sleds pulled by dogs and reindeer. 1,500 miles with temperatures below zero! No down coats, hand and feet warmers, super-duper tents camping heaters and stoves. They saved the lives of 265 whalers. Now that’s courage and dedication.  

The rescue team.

 

In 1880 the service appointed Captain Richard Etheridge, a Union Army veteran, as the keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station in North Carolina. This station is a few miles north of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Soon after Etheridge’s appointment, the station burned down. Determined to execute his duties Etheridge supervised the construction of a new station. He also drilled his crews in rigorously enabling them to tackle all lifesaving tasks. His station earned the reputation of “one of the tautest on the Carolina Coast,” with its keeper well-known as one of the most courageous and ingenious lifesavers in the Service.

On October 11, 1896, Etheridge’s rigorous training drills proved to be invaluable. A three-masted schooner, caught in a terrific storm was blown a 100 miles south off course and grounded two miles south of the Pea Island station. The storm was so severe that normal beach patrols were suspended and it was by chance one of the station crew saw the ships distress flare.

Etheridge and his crew hitched mules to the beach cart and hurried toward the vessel. They found the ship’s captain and eight others clinging to the wreckage. Unable to fire a rescue line because of high water Etheridge directed two surfmen to tie themselves together with a line. Grasping another rope, the pair moved into the breakers while the remaining surfmen secured the shore end. The men reached the wreck, tied the line around one of the crewmen, and all three were pulled back through the surf by the crew on the beach. They did this until the all nine were safely on shore. Can you imagine going into what had to be a hurricane surf with nothing but a rope for safety? What incredible courage. It also makes me very glad that the Coasties of today are better equipped so they can go home safely to their families every day.

The Pea Island Crew.

 

Here are a few of the rescues made in the last week bu our Coasties .

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Coast Guard rescued three fishermen Tuesday after the fishing vessel they were on caught fire 1 mile east of St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia.

02/06 SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Coast Guard rescued two teenagers and their dog Monday after their canoe became stuck in a marsh on Wilmington Island.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of a Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod rescued an Austrian boater Sunday from a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean.

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard medevaced a 76-year-old male aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn approximately 10 nautical miles south of Southwest Pass,

WARRENTON, Ore. – The Coast Guard rescued three commercial fishermen after their vessel began taking on water at the mouth of the Columbia River early Sunday morning. MIAMI – Coast Guard rescued seven people Wednesday from a 180-foot motor vessel taking on water about 46 miles west of Great Inagua, Bahamas. At 5:20 a.m.

 

Thank you United States Coast Guard for the lives you’ve saved and all you do.   

 

 

 

Lighthouses in Winter

Feb 5 2017, 11:36 am

Just going to leave it here for you to see these lights and think about the men and women who, a hundred years ago, walked the stairs and lit the oil for the lights to protect others.

                                                              Beaver Island Light MI. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    The Light at White Harbor Maine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nantucket MA. 

 

                                                             Grand Haven MI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                        Point Betsie MI.

 

                                                                                                             Marblehead Light MA.

 

 

 

 

 

Burlington VT breakwater light. 

 

Thank you to all the courageous light keepers.

A Chinese New Year Story

Jan 27 2017, 11:58 am in ,

Many year ago, in a galaxy far, far away we lived in Hawaii. My husband was station there with the Marine Corps. On the Chinese New Year we took our children, ages six, four, two and seven months, to Honolulu’s Chinatown festivities. It was all very exciting. Lanterns hung everywhere, firecrackers exploding, the paper dragon snaking through the streets. The children were mesmerized.

My husband caught sight of two Marines who worked for him and who frequently found themselves in scrapes. Being big daddy marine went to caution them to stay out of trouble. I stayed back with the children. A few feet from us, one of those ten foot long strips of firecrackers was lit. The children and I were enveloped in a thick smoke with bits of paper flying everywhere. I maneuvered the stroller with the two youngest against the wall and did my best to wrangle the two older children behind me for protection.

A young Chinese woman came to the door a couple of feet away and shouted to me to come in. I went. She helped me hoist the stroller up the steps and inside to an elaborately decorated room. I thanked her profusely and we stood just inside waiting for the smoke to clear. Soon five or six young women appeared with Chinese sweets for the children who snarfed them down. All the ladies were gushing over my beautiful children.

I see my husband standing on the sidewalk frantically looking for us and called out to him. He turned and through the smoke he looks in at me with the most god awful look on his face.

One of the ladies motions for him to come in. He stood frozen, staring at me. The lady who had invited us inside called to him to come in and have a beer. That did it! He came in and in seconds he’s offered a beer, which he took without a word and I might say still starting at me.

“What?” I asked him.

He took a big swallow, leans to me and says, “This is a whore house.”

I looked around and realized he is right. All I could do was smile up at him and shrug. He sighed, shook his head and gave me his patient smile. Finally he wrapped a long arm around me, pulled me close and graciously thanked the lady for the beer.

A sound at the door caused us to turn. There in the doorway were the two Marines my husband had caution to stay out of trouble. The look on their face when they saw him with his family inside was priceless. Recovering, they ducked their heads and silently disappeared back into the smoke and chaos on the sidewalk.

I would love to know what the young men told their fellow Marines the next day about going to a Chinese whore house and finding him and his family inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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