Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

#NationalLighthouseDay My Favorite Lighthouses. Cape Florida. Bodie Island Lighthouse and Portland Light Subtropical Storm Debby Update

People love lighthouses.
They schedule summer vacations around them.
They decorate their home with posters.
There are maps just for lighthouses.

5 PM Update on Subtropical Storm Debby . . .

If you were here for an update on Subtropical Storm Debby please use the link below for that update, but know not much is expected to happen with Debby. Personally I think Avila took one for the team and upgraded Debby so that we could move on to Ernesto. I'm kidding. Kind of... It's okay our models today are so much better than they were in 2000 when the NHC made an even bigger debacle than anything the Miami Dolphins did when they thought Debby was going to do South Florida. A State of Emergency was declared and the media flooded into Miami to cover the big blow;  people panicked but luckily Debby died down in the Caribbean the way I believe Bastardi said it would never making it past Hispaniola.  Luckily for South Florida the models were wrong. This Debby won't be visiting South Florida or Texas anytime soon. I can't say the same for Ernesto or other hurricanes later in the season.

An old map showing landfall at Miami...

What really happened....

Today is National Lighthouse Day according to Twitter and you know how that goes - if you see it on Twitter it must be true. So since there isn't much going on in the tropical Atlantic besides Subtropical Storm Debby I thought I would muse a bit on lighthouses. The coastline where hurricanes make landfall often are littered or should I say decorated with lighthouses. Years ago before we had WhatsApp and Drudge and Twitter and Snapchat and Facebook mariners at sea often did not know what the weather would be like in several days let alone a week out. There were no hurricane cones on your phones and only a skilled sailor would know when an ill wind was blowing somewhere near by. As they tried to guide their ships and crew to safety they relied on lighthouses that were set up along the coastline to guide them to safety and keep them away from the rocks.

Note one man's salvation can sometimes be one man's ruin as the erection of lighthouses in the Florida Keys basically brought the period of the Wreckers there to an end. You can read about it in the link below. Some "Wreckers" called a wreck when they saw it and then owned the cargo that washed up onto the beach. But some unscrupulous types would wander along the rocks at night moving lights about trying to lure ships onto the rocks so they could salvage the cargo. Permanent lighthouses helped the ships navigate the dangerous waters in the Florida Keys where reefs waited just below the water line like rocky icebergs waiting to bring down a schooner laden with valuables. One famous story in Key West tells of a preacher who from the pulpit saw a wreck floundering on the rocks and while giving his sermon he moved slowly down off the pulpit and through the aisle where people sat listening to his sermon and when he got to the back of the room he screamed out "Ship Ahoy" (or whatever they said) and ran out to the floundering ship to save the cargo as well as their souls I suppose and making a nice profit in this world as well as the world to come. Whoever saw the wreck first.. lay claim to whatever the treasure was on board. Really... every old timer in Key West knows that story so it must be true!

Warning this trip down memory lane is most likely brought to you by a mercury retrograde. Ever have a song you haven't heard in years nag at you until you really need to stop and listen to the whole song? While cleaning the house today I suddenly needed to listen to a few old Jewel songs that were popular in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Retrogrades aside from messing up your computer or car often are connected with having old friends pop up out of the blue and land on your doorstep. Normally during summertime mercury retrogrades I hide in my tropical world writing about westbound tropical waves and developing tropical storms but these last few days it's been the Pacific, Pacific and Pacific nonstop and to be honest the Pacific is no longer my ocean. It was once upon the time long ago back in the late 70s and early 80s when I lived in LA and waited for earthquakes to rock my world or a hoping a lost, off course EPAC hurricane would move closer to the coast and whip up the surf at the cold, rocky beaches on the West Coast. And, to be honest I kind of love those gray days especially at Santa Monica Pier when you can't see all the way up into the mountains and the sea mist, fog and early morning and late night low clouds move in and obscure everything from view but the feel of the cool air and the water and I knew I was far away from where I grew up under the hot scorching sun on the tropical beaches of Miami Beach where palm trees didn't offer much shade to protect us as we lay about in our bikinis posing pretty for the guys who took us to the beach for the day so they could watch us in our bikinis.

Today's post should be titled "Confessions from a meteorological mind remembering the beaches of her life" but we will just stick with the Hashtag above.  Warning no grammar here today and commas are not going to be used today. I used them in college to graduate with honors in English and International Relations... I no longer need to use them unless I want to and I don't want to today. Also note that lack of tropical action in the Atlantic tends to make me a bit crazy and I am prone to writing a random post here and there as I am today.

Today being National Lighthouse Day or something silly like that provides a chance for dieters to salvage what's left of their diet after trying to eat #icecream #pizza and #hotdogs so they could post on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Who posts on Facebook anymore I wonder? I'm not complaining I can really use a break from endless pictures of hot dogs, pizza and ice cream today. So I'll add my 3 favorite lighthouses with a special mention to one my great, grandmother probably loved.

It's 1971 and me and my boyfriend are skipping school because it's Senior Day but I'm a Junior worrying if anyone's gonna notice I'm missing from school. Everyone will notice including the psychology teacher who sends me roses who definitely noticed and knew where I was and who I was with but that's what youth is all about. No it wasn't a #metoo thing and no he wasn't stalking me (it was before the internet) he just had a crush I suppose. Happens. But I digress. So yeah.... Cape Florida Lighthouse was the backdrop for that year when I had wonderful moments with said boyfriend as well as horrible fights with him like the August day when everyone screamed at me to get in the car during a torrid tropical rainstorm with lightning coming down all around us while we fought over whatever we fought over and I eventually got in someone's car and drove away.  There was a lot of crying, it probably looked like a scene out of the Batchelorette. You'd think they could throw in some crazy thunderstorm to one of those sad, sappy, sobby scenes on that show. Anyway the drive back over the causeway with lightning on both sides of the bridge and everyone in the car giving me their opinion was probably more dangerous than standing under the pine trees fighting. Fun to be young huh?

 Years later I went for a picnic with my ex-husband and my soon to be in laws and actually walked all the way up the lighthouse with them and looked out over my beautiful Biscayne Bay and Ocean. Cape Florida Lighthouse is a part of the life and times of many a Miami kid. Many years later finally back home in Miami after several years living in LA I went with my younger brother to look at what was left of Cape Florida State Park after Hurricane Andrew tramped across it on it's way to Homestead. The beautiful canopy of Australian Pine Trees were on their sides and from the entrance to the park you could see the lighthouse. You never could see the lighthouse like that before Andrew and it seemed starkly naked as if the park had been raped, ravaged and destroyed. A hungry looking raccoon climbed into a garbage dumpster filled with debris looking for a snack or lunch or whatever it was looking for it could salvage. My brother and I just stared at the lighthouse and the devastation Andrew wrought and I tried not feeling bad for mourning the loss of the beautiful trees when people lost their lives and homes and yet trees are compared to people in many biblical books so I decided not to feel bad and it was what it was and it was never the same again. The officials that hate those beautiful graceful pine trees replaced them with "native" bushes and painted the lighthouse white like it had been once upon the time when Ralph Munroe picnicked there in the late 1800s with someone on the beautiful beach because that's what people always did and always will do on beaches with lighthouses.

See it was brown.
Now it's white.
The way it looked back when...

No that's not me but you get the idea.
Miami kids have quite the life in paradise.

In the early 2000s my best friend moved to Maine because she spent her summers there as a child at Wells Beach  near where President Bush used to vacation. Anyway... she sold her house in Miami and moved to Maine for a few years to be near where she loved after her mother died during a period of transition.  She drove over to the library where I worked to say goodbye and while leaving she placed 3 one hundred dollar bills in an envelope, handed it to me and sh  said "this is for you to have money to come visit me... so don't use it and save it and you better come visit!" and I did. Friendships are built on trust and knowing you can guilt your friends into doing things. Seriously, she knew I wasn't the type to take time off work, leave the kids and use money on myself to take a vacation so she took control of that decision knowing I would now have to come visit her in Maine.  I went in the middle of January to visit so I'd see what it was like in Winter if I really wanted to move up there with my younger kids to join her as we had talked about often. My boyfriend at the time gave me his very warm long winter coat he bought online from that company that promises you that you will stay warm even in a blizzard and I was indeed warm even when we went to see the lighthouse on a day when it was all of two degrees.  The Portland Light  was partially covered in snow, the wind blew strong and the water a color of bright steel blue that I can't describe but is engraved into my mind. We had a blast. We took lots of pictures that I won't post online but I'm standing there with a silly grin with this huge gray coat and my hair wind blown posing in front of Portland Light. It really is beautiful. Portland light is more beautiful in person than it looks on the puzzles that kids put together when they are little. The wind feels so fresh standing there looking down at the rocks below as the water rushes around in little eddies swirling looking beautiful but dangerous. Then we went sledding at a park near where Thoreau wrote poems and we played on the swings in the snow as if we were seven years old.

It looked a lot like this picture above...

Fast forward to 2007.  I went to the Outer Banks with a different boyfriend who I ended up marrying and my youngest son so he could show me the beauty of North Carolina. It was a holiday weekend so there were lots of people and it was crowded and it didn't look much like the movies where some hero stands waiting for the heroine on an empty beach next to some weathered cottage. It was a nice enough trip though not the nicest trip I've had there as I prefer beaches obviously on gray windy days when most people stay home or go to the movies. But then he insisted we go over to the lighthouse as it was nearby. Silly me I thought since we were on the Outer Banks he meant the "striped one" that my younger brother likes but no the Bodie Island Lighthouse on the Outer Banks had black and white horizontal stripes and this definitely was not "the lighthouse" you always see pictures of named after the island. But it was a beautiful because it was quiet, the tourists were probably at the other lighthouse and it's built a bit away from the water surrounded with grassy land and that day the grasses danced from the wind and it was raining lightly and I stared trying to imagine what it looked like back when during another time. Simply beautiful.  You really need to see it if you are ever in North Carolina. Note I'm still in Carolina...though often in Miami but always near the water and a lighthouse is never that far away. 

As for the special mention..... that goes to the Key West Light House on Whitehead Street down the block from where my great great grandparents lived in the 1880s. It stands regal over the island with a great view that looks out forever into the blue waters that surround Key West. It's picture perfect with banyan trees at it's base, royal red poinciana blooms blossoming in the spring and palm fronds always swaying in the tropical breeze. I went with my younger brother a few years ago who I seem to travel with often and we wandered around. I bought a journal in the gift shop, we thought on climbing the lighthouse but he didn't want to because we could see the same view from the top of La Concha Hotel in those days before they turned the rooftop bar into a stupid spa. 

The Key West Lighthouse is across the street from the Ernest Hemingway Museum. What is it about writers and lighthouses? Did he peer out his window across the street and wonder what it was like years before during the days of the Wreckers to live on Whitehead Street? Maybe... maybe not. Knowing him he probably wished he was around back then to go fight in Cuba during the Spanish American War. You know the war that began with  'Remember the Maine" and all those slogans back when fake news was popular at the turn of the century when the most powerful man in America was not the President but a newspaper publisher.  In America History class they taught us it was called "Yellow Journalism" not Fake News. Old Ernest always in search of a war to fight in lived at the wrong time in history. Can you imagine him today posting pictures of himself looking tough and masculine on Snapchat and Instagram? His Facebook Page would be filled with pictures of himself in Cuba looking rugged and authentic. Okay I'll admit it I'm a Fitzgerald Faulkner fan but I did take a Masters Class in the those great American Novelists so let's leave it at I know a lot about Hemingway. He went to Key West. He wrote. He swam. He dreamed of Cuba. He envied Scott. History will judge them both but The Great Gatsby is considered the Great American Novel not For Whom the Bell Tolls. We study them both in high school unless of course said kids skip school on Senior Skip Day.

Above is a picture of Whitehead Street in Key West in the 1880s and the boys playing in the street, or at least two of them, are my great, great uncles Jake and Morris. The photographer told their parents that pictures look better with a focal point, a person in them to see the perspective and size of the buildings so he let them tag along and be in the photographs. Below is a picture of Whitehead Street today outside my family's home they no longer own but we go down often and stand there taking pictures and feeling the breeze under the poinciana trees.

Keep traveling down Whitehead Street.

Still beautiful.

Gotta love Key West.
Gotta love Lighthouses.

So what did my brother and I do instead of climbing the lighthouse? We walked around random streets and found a hidden park and I sat on the swings and I played like a child and my brother took a picture for me to send my best friend to make her laugh. And she sent back the message "giggling" and I'm sure she was and that's life. It's one big circle that goes round and round. 

Gotta love swing sets :)
But EVERYONE loves lighthouses.
An article below on recovery after Hurricane Ike.
Much was destroyed but the lighthouse was there still.
A landmark. 
Landmarks give us focus.

Hurricanes come and hurricanes go. Trees fall down and we replant them and repair what was broken and life goes on. I know that because Lois snoops and reads things she keeps to herself unless she talks on them in cryptic ways. Good song. So true. Life goes on.... after the storm life goes on and sometimes we are stronger because of all we have been through and yet memories of days spent near lighthouses stay with us forever. They are anchors strong and solid and they were put there to protect us and the ships at sea. And when you have hurricanes that blow up fast off shore or plow slowly through the Atlantic on a course WNW towards the Florida Keys or Cape Hatteras the sailors at sea are glad to see their light guiding them to safety. 

Besos BobbiStorm
@bobbistorm on Twitter

People in Maine are kind of light house crazy. I saw lighthouses on top of shopping centers, used car lots, convenience stores and parked in front of homes both large and small. It's a thing there..

Oh the song I needed to listen to.... 
.... that started this long read writing exercise :)

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