Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Trinidad Lighthouse

View from the sandy parking area
we read in the local paper that the lighthouse on trinidad head would be open to the public on sunday, January 31st. so we went. we have been to trinidad head before and hiked the trail around it. a very dramatic setting. we parked by the beach and took a look and some pictures of the ocean and sky and shore, and headed up the narrow road, closed to cars, to the lighthouse. it’s about a half mile or so. some parts steep. on the way there are stunning vistas of the coast, which reminded us of our walks in fort worden in port townsend where we walked often. the same coastal plants and shrubs and mossy trees, the same nip in the winter air. today there was a brisk very chilly breeze. we were prepared.
This photo is from the lighthouse history page
the lighthouse itself is a rather unimposing. a square brick building some 24 feet tall. its location though is quite dramatic. perched on a rock outcropping 190 nearly vertical feet above the ocean. the original light is gone. replaced by a modern high-tech thing that isn’t even inside the tower. Here's a link to some details of lighthouse history. I think the thing I found most interesting is that this little lighthouse was built in 1871. That's a very long time ago in California time. This is a fairly remote and hard-to-get to part of the coast, even now. Back then it must have been wild.
One of the cool things about going to the lighthouse on this day was that the Bureau of Land Management, which helps manage it, had one of their employees come dressed as the wife of the second lighthouse keeper. She quite enthusiastically shared the stories of what her life was like back then in the late 1800s, on this coast with her husband and three children. She was delightful, and the stories were grand. We listened while we waited for our turn to ascend.
View from inside the lighthouse
the ladder from the entry room up to the lantern room where the light should be is very steep. there is room for only 3 or 4 people up there. killer view (see above).


 the original light was a revolving fourth-order Fresnel lens.
 it lived on this post arrangement inside the lantern room.
the new high tech electric light.

 when we were ready to leave. robin pointed out the sign saying “face ladder to descend.” 
so we did. this woman is descending properly. It is straight down.

This photo is from the local newspaper, not us, but close enough!
we got to be alone for a bit when we were up at the top. This is what we must have looked like to the people waiting in line for their turn to come up the narrow ladder.

We had a great time and were really glad we ventured out on sunny Sunday morning. We arrived right on time when the touring had just begun, and had only a ten minute wait to take our turn at the top. The newspaper on Monday reported that more than 400 people came to see the lighthouse that day. 

This post was a joint effort by your Dharma Bum hosts. Roger types only in lowercase.


  1. Thank you both, great story. I love lighthouses.

  2. Pretty cool, and it was a great view. You all are really lucky to have such neat stuff around. We have to drive hours to get to a beach or a lighthouse.

    And the pictures in the last post were nice, too.

  3. A sunny, clear and beautiful day. Plus, a nice story. Thanks! (By the way, the house in which Kali and I live was built in 1791, and it's not even considered that old here in the neighborhood where there are still houses that were built in the 1740s.)

  4. Those are the kind of day trips I like. What a beautiful day you got and my what a view. Would have been interesting to hear the stories from the lady portraying the wife.

  5. Sabine-- You're welcome! So glad you liked it.

    Mark-- One of the reasons we moved here (270 miles north of San Francisco) is the ocean and redwoods. We are inconveniently far from everyone and everything, but this beauty. Glad you like the photos!

    Scott- We lucked out with the sunny skies. Probably would not have gone had it been yet another gray, dreary day. You do live in an OLD house. Wow!

    Arkansas Patti-- Exactly! It's the kind of trip we love too. This lighthouse is only 15 miles north of us. Easy trip and home in time for lunch! I wish I had recorded the lady speaking. She was really interesting and enthusiastic.

  6. beautiful photos from a great day. have you ever been to the Lighthouse at Point Reyes? A must see/do. Isn't it amazing they could build there with no existing infrastructure? HARDY people for sure.

  7. Tara-- I haven't been to that lighthouse, but I would love to go. I think we need a nice, long, extended road trip! Can you believe a family living on this bluff in the late 1800s? It's incredibly remote.

    kathy a-- We were so glad we went!

  8. What a grand view. We have climbed most of the lighthouses along the Outer Banks of NC. Not so much anymore what with my husband's bum hip and my dizziness. But we loved them in the past and still enjoy them from the ground.

  9. Wow! What a beautiful day! Speaking of the lighthouse being built in 1871, that is the year my mother's father was born. I wonder if he visited lighthouses on the coast of Massachusetts when he was a boy. When Ursula K. Le Guin was picturing the setting for The Wizard of Earthsea, she was seeing those ocean views at Trinidad in her mind. The February light at the ocean is something to behold. Thanks to both of you for this post!

  10. NCmountainwoman-- This is the first lighthouse I've ever been in. It's not much of a tall climb, but the view from the 190 foot perch is stunning. (Really sorry to hear about your husband's bum hip and your dizziness.)

    am-- I was thinking about the year this lighthouse was built and realized that none of my grandparents had been born yet. It made me think of how life here in 1871 was so different from Kiev and Galicia were my mother's parents were born in 1888 and 1892. Far away in every way! I love knowing that Ursula LeGuin was picturing Trinidad for her book. It is quite a spectacular vista. Glad you liked this post!

  11. Anything Ursula K LeGuin has a hand in is wonderful in my opinion! She recently tore those idiots at the Malheur wildlife preserve new ones, bless her. She called them "right wing looney birds."
    Love your lighthouse post. There is one on Heceta Head on the Oregon coast which we have visited several times. Wild and beautiful surroundings, still.

  12. isabelita-- I read that piece by Ursula LeGuin about the Malheur idiots. It was great! Really glad you liked the post. Seeing this lighthouse up close made me want to visit other lighthouses and explore more.

  13. It looks as though it was a gorgeous day and a very interesting way to spend it. The views are beautiful, especially from 190 feet up in the air!
    I do struggle with the idea of descending a ladder facing out, particularly given, you know, the anatomy of human feet. Do they really need to tell people to face the ladder while they descend?

  14. CCorax-- It was a gorgeous day! The planners of this event definitely lucked out with the weather. Your question about why they need to tell people to face the ladder made me wonder why indeed. It occurred to that most people hardly ever go up and down ladders and so they may treat it like a staircase, which is the opposite of what a ladder descent requires. So the sign is pretty important.

  15. Hi there!
    I've seen it, but have never been close to it, or in it. It looks like you picked a beautiful day for your visit. An awesome bit of history.

  16. Pat-- Hi! It's a lovely little lighthouse. We were glad the weather cooperated, and it was such a beautiful day.

  17. I frequently read your blogs and have concluded that Roger presents his contributions in lower case. I came across this the other day and thought he would get a good laugh from it.
    "Lowercase....we are the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse."
    Capital Letters

  18. There seem to be various lighthouse keeper organizations that volunteer time and funds to maintain these places. They also get to spend a week or two living on the premises. Here's one from the Dungeness Spit lighthouse that I kayaked to once:

    And here's a national organization:

  19. jivas-- We had such a good laugh! Thank you so much for that.

    Phil-- This particular lighthouse is incredibly small. I don't think anyone ever lived in it, but there was a larger house right up the path. I think it would be interesting to spend a week in a lighthouse. Reminds me a bit of Kerouac's time as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in Washington.