I recently began to enjoy visiting lighthouses. While I have seen them before, I had never visited any until several months ago. I find them quite fascinating since they are not only lighthouses but many of them come with museums and exhibits telling the history of Florida. There are thirty in the State with many open to the public.
This past weekend I visited two different lighthouses and climbed to the top of both. The Ponce Inlet lighthouse is just south of Daytona Beach and is Florida’s tallest lighthouse. It is 170 feet high and takes 203 steps to climb a circular staircase but the view from the top is beyond description.
On the grounds is an exhibit containing several of the rafts used by Cubans to leave their country seeking freedom in the US in the 1980s.
Having completed the climb, you exit onto a platform surrounded by a guardrail that encloses you. You are actually very safe even though you are well above the ground with nothing to block your view for miles. The ocean is on one side of you while communities and preserves are on the other. The only sounds you hear are the wind and perhaps other people talking. You get a strong feeling of openness and freedom that can become intoxicating.
Days later, I visited the St. Augustine lighthouse which was somewhat crowded. This lighthouse is 165 feet high and contains 219 steps. Once again when you exit onto the viewing platform, you have a tremendous sense of freedom and natural beauty. You can clearly see the city of St. Augustine as well as the ocean and surrounding areas.
On the grounds, was a museum that had World War II relics as well as a lab to restore artifacts found in the ocean from Spanish explorers.
Again, I experienced the feelings of exhilaration and freedom from being over 160 feet high in the open surrounded only by a catwalk without any noise from the news, traffic, politics, or other daily disturbances.
Perhaps this feeling of freedom has also become more exaggerated because of how restricted we have been because of Covid-19.
I am looking forward to my next lighthouse.