Friday, October 30, 2009

A Challenging Challenge

On Thursday, October 15th, we drove up to PA to see my family and to go on an adventure. We spent Thursday on the road, and Friday we spent eating good food, drinking hot apple cider with caramel at Barnes and Noble, going to the fabric store, and eating some more (I also managed to whip up some completely cute booties that I'll show you later). The weather report warned that freezing rain, flooding and possibly snow was coming because of two back-to-back Nor'easters...but Saturday we woke up, threw some things together in case we wouldn't be back by bedtime, and headed to New Jersey.

Where were we headed? The first of many stops during the 10th New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge. We went during the worst weather in the history of the Challenge, because there will be no challenge next year, and maybe ever again. We forged ahead, determined to see at least one or two lighthouses. We drove about 3.5 - 4 hours for the starting point...Sandy Hook Lighthouse in Northern New Jersey. From Sandy Hook the rest of the destinations total 430 miles. There were 11 lighthouses, 2 museums, and a bonus sight at each of which we picked up a sticker for our "passport"...and upon seeing them all we were able to get a special completion sticker.

After the first stop at Sandy Hook Lighthouse we were hooked on the thrill of the find...because finding some of these lighthouses is not as easy as it would seem, at times it was downright challenging! We then drove to Twin Lights where we parked and had to walk across two football fields to get to the lighthouses. Mom really put her new bionic hip to the test on this one! We ate at in Eatontown and then moved on to Sea Girt (Hubby's favorite lighthouse). We ran in and out of the Barnegat Museum to get our passport sticker, and next it was a mad dash to Barnegat Lighthouse. They were closing at 6PM, and we didn't know if we'd make it. We half ran up the sidewalk to the Lighthouse Society's table. They asked us who was third in our party, and who we thought was the 1000th visitor...I thought something may be up so I said it was my Mom (the ultimate lighthouse fanatic) and she won a $35 lighthouse book signed to her by the author who was there. She was over the moon! But we had another lighthouse to get to, so it was back in the car and heading to Tuckerton Lighthouse.

We found the address, but couldn't be sure if it was the lighthouse, so Mom asked someone and it turned out it was a replicated lighthouse (but the right one). We headed inside for our night climb sticker and Hubby and Little Man climbed up while Mom and I looked around the museum. Then we jumped back in the car and headed for Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, our goal to end the day on. Absecon was beautiful with the stormy night sky behind it, and afterwards we found lodging, ate dinner, and turned in...exhausted. We had no idea what Day 2 had in store for us.

Day 2

We woke up to even colder wind and it was still raining. We had continental breakfast at the hotel and then headed to Ludlam's Beach Lighthouse. It is currently privately owned and a society is raising money to move it to a new location and fix it up. The location was hard to find, and the flood waters were rising. When we got there we had to walk over a plank and cinder blocks to get into the house...I kid you not...this trip started taking on extreme vacation characteristics. Then we got inside and it was weird because people actually live there, unlike the other lighthouses we visited.

We had to go through other flooding areas to get out of there, and headed to the Cape May County Historical Museum to see a fresnel lens that they have in a barn there. We trekked through the mud, and then headed to Hereford Lighthouse where we got turned around a bit because roads were closed because of flooding. We got there and enjoyed seeing it, since Hereford and our next stop the Cape May Lighthouse are the lighthouses we have visited for years. We quickly walked the gardens while bracing ourselves against the wind, drove to Cape May Lighthouse, and then headed on to East Point, my Mom's favorite lighthouse. Located at the southernmost tip of NJ, the wind whipped around us, bitterly trying to break us....we kept on. We moved on to Finns Point and Tinicum Lighthouses, and at that point we had finished the challenge! Mom bought us t-shirts, and we raced (within the speed limit) back to Reading to meet my brother and nephew for dinner...and guess what decided to make an appearance? THE SUN! Ahh well, the weather made it interesting, and it definitely added to the challenge!

The next day it was with heavy hearts and tears that we left for home. Before we left, I visited with my Pop, who has now been gone a year and a half. Still can't believe he's gone. I see his name on the marker, but part of me can't believe it. We talked about how crazy he would have thought we were, driving all over the state of New Jersey and freezing our butts off...I hope wherever he is, we gave him a good laugh. I know one thing, I'm glad we did never know when you'll get the chance to do something crazy like that again. We saw some cool sights, froze together, and can't ask for much more than that!


Anonymous said...

sounds awesome! it reminded me of the trip to New Orleans..the creepy museum, the spooky hotel and of course the phrase..Im NEVER going on vacation again!!


Anonymous said...

we sure did have a great time..I'll never forget you guys telling me..we are hard core. Yes, Pop would have said we were crazy! Loved seeing all the pictures..what a great reminder...the bonding in the cold windy nor'easter storms..