Lighthouses Are Just Waiting for You to Fall in Love With Them
I've been in love with lighthouses for years—and then one day fate saw fit to reward me with a stay at one of the most spectacular.
I can’t remember the day I decided lighthouses were my thing. I found a Facebook photo of me and two long time girlfriends at the Cape May, New Jersey lighthouse from 2014, and that likely wasn’t the beginning of my love affair. But when it happened is neither here nor there, what matters most is that I’m smitten.
Something about a lighthouse makes me feel hopeful. Since forever they have served as beacons in the night, helping captains navigate the seas and steer clear of danger. They symbolize security and safety, especially in the midst of a storm when those shimmers on the sea means everything will be alright because there is light to lead the way.
Then there’s the challenge of climbing one. I always go through a song and dance about walking up the many, many winding stairs and doing so in a space that could send some claustrophobics in a bit of a panic. I take my time and move aside to let the eager beavers bound upward. I huff and I puff but I get to the top. It is so worth the sore knees that will be tomorrow. The view is always astounding, the glistening waters as far as the eye can see. For a moment all is right in the world. How could it not be?
I love to linger up top long enough to let the thoughts come, to exhale, and yes, catch my breath. It is that feeling of victory, I made it up, and the scenery that brings peace. It’s a combination that wins the heart. So when I travel, if there’s a lighthouse in the area, I make my way there. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting them at Fort Casey State Park in Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island, Jupiter, Florida, Montauk, New York, Needham’s Point in Barbados, Key Biscayne, Florida, Maine and elsewhere.
But it was the lighthouse at Haig Point on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina that I’ll never forget. It’s about location, location, location. Daufuskie Island is downright dreamy, with acres and acres of live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Not only are they a thing of beauty, but legendary and special enough to be on the National Registry of Famous and Historic Trees. People get around mostly by golf carts and you don’t have to worry about running a red light. For one thing there’s no reason to hurry, as there the speed is slow, and there are no streetlights. You might feel like you’re in Neverland on this island that’s nestled between Savannah and Hilton Head Island. It’s an idyllic setting for the lighthouse that operated from 1873 until the 1930s, guiding folks around the shoals of Calibogue Sound.
The summer of 2019 is full of memories, none is as special as my getaway to Daufuskie. I took the ferry from Hilton Head and settled into one of the four suites in the Strachan Mansion that was built in the early 1900s. My suite took me back in time with the beautiful antiques everywhere. I loved my new “home”. On day two of my visit a manager came to my room with a somewhat distressed look on his face. He came with the news that work needed to be done on my room immediately in order to accommodate the workmen’s schedule. I was a bit bummed but then he quickly said, “Would you mind staying in the lighthouse?” The biggest smile broke out. Would I mind? Was he nuts? This was a wild dream coming true. I laughed and told him not at all. I wanted to do a hallelujah dance but played it cool. I was ecstatic.
I happily packed my suitcase, hopped in my golf cart and made the quick drive to the lighthouse. The 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom lighthouse built in 1873 was renovated in the 1980s. I was in awe. The 40-foot tower was impressive, as was the fireplace, and clawfoot tub. By far the sweet spot for me was the back porch that ran the length of the house with its rocking chairs. The view of the Calibogue Sound was simply pure perfection. You want to sit there all day waiting for a dolphin or two to appear and watch the boats go by. This is the spot to have your morning coffee or for me to marvel at the sunset with a glass of wine.
For sure something about old stuff sets off my imagination. The stories the walls would tell if they could talk. I wanted to fill in the blanks. There are plenty of tales. If you believe the word on the street, the lighthouse is haunted. The first lighthouse keeper’s daughter Maggie Corner is said to be friendly, but a ghost is a ghost. She’s not at peace because she continues to feel the pain of a broken heart, so the story goes. I am the biggest chicken. I was looking out for her, but she spared me. I did feel a quiet, peaceful “vibe” though. When I am surrounded by history, my spirit inexplicably connects to the past. For this reason I quite enjoy browsing antiques and touring historic homes. I feel stuff.
I thoroughly enjoyed my never-would-have-imagined stay in the lighthouse. So now, I have a new thing, seeking out lighthouses where I can lay my head for a good night’s rest. When I’m traveling again in 2021, doing so will top my bucket list.