Saturday, October 18, 2014

Be Flexible

That is a good motto for Bill and we have always lived by.  Especially good to keep in mind when full timing!  It came in quite handy during our trip to New York to visit Kelly (daughter) and Michael (her significant other) the 1st week of October.
And WHY did we take the Eastern Seaboard route to avoid Washington DC?

Before even arriving downtown, we discovered that you should just plan on everything in or around New York (well, the East coast in general) to take twice as long as you thought it would.

Took me 3 days to get this shot...if nothing else, you can't say I'm not stubborn :-)
We had a great evening with Kelly and Michael, parting ways after good Italian food and wine, with plans to go the "the Met" the next day.  The next morning Kelly called to say she had spent the night in the ER.  She is fine, just tired and sore.  So, Bill and I (being flexible) changed our plans.  We made a valiant effort to see "Ground Zero," but were unable to secure parking of the monster truck.  Instead we drove around the "Ground Zero" site, saw the sculpture being worked on (beautiful),

found and old fashioned hardware store in Kelly's "hood":

Now, to know Bill and I at all, is to know that THIS (old hardware stores) kind of place gets us very excited!  We spent an hour roaming the place.

New York is great for many things, and not so great for others....but, it's capacity to present neighborhoods that feel like neighborhoods is unmistakable, and witnessed  twice on our second day there.  After leaving the hardware store, we paused outside on a bench with Tessa on her leash.  Shortly, a local woman, on a stroll with her dog, stopped to chat.  45 minutes later we were passing our business card along to her and feeling like we had made a new friend.  

Before leaving this conversation, our new friend had directed us to a nearby restaurant which would allow us to sit outside to have a drink, with Tessa by our side (more importantly, she gave us the inside scoop on keeping Tessa outside of the fence for it to work).

 And, as luck would have was a "country" restaurant!  Like our friend Tom said "leave it to Jan to find a "country and western" bar in New York City!  So we sat, snaking, watching the world go by when here comes Michael, striding briskly towards us, a happy smile on his handsome face.  Michael had been dealing with their movers (that day Kelly and Michael's movers arrived to pack all their belonging up in preparation for their move to L.A.), taking care of a sick Kelly and presiding over several work meetings all day.  Yet, as it would happen in any neighborhood, he "walks across the yard" to join us, pick up pizza and we all headed back to their apartment together.  It was the New York version of  a "Thornlindywood" (our close knit neighborhood back in Illinois) night.

We made an early evening of it, and Bill and I retired, excited to be going to The Statue of Liberty the next morning.  As it turned out, flexibility would need to be tapped into once again.  In the morning we roamed the streets of New York for two hours seeking a parking space, so that we could visit Miss Liberty.  Alas, we now fully realize, parking spaces for 1 ton Chevy's with duallys do not exist in New York, and with great disappointment, we abandoned our plans and pointed the monster truck south.  The greatest disappointment of all that day was not getting that one last hug from Kelly :-(  Lesson learned:  next time, rent a small car and leave Tessa at the hotel.

Still, it was worth the trip just to see, even briefly, the Baby Girl

Heading back south, as we had done on the way north, we overnighted with our friends Tom and Linda in Yorktown, VA.

 Though we arrived just in time for a wonderful repast provided by Linda and a comfy bed, we squeezed out enough time in the morning to catch breakfast with them at a local favorite "Pappys" and visit Yorktown Battlefield:

Too soon our visit came to a close as we were due back at the Lighthouse for the final "full moon night climb" of the year.

257 up and 257 down

Now, to arrange an assignment near LA:-)

Back to work and exciting plans to FINALLY climb the Bodie

 and Currituck
The answer is "yes", there is a man flying a large kite from the top of the lighthouse!
lighthouses on our coming days off.  In March of 2013 we had visited both locations, but had not climbed. That was about to change.  We headed for Currituck

 (a privately owned Lighthouse) and found it as pristine inside as it was outside.   We

rather expected that.  BUT, what we didn't expect hit us hard the next day when visiting Bodie lighthouse (our sister lighthouse).  We did not expect to find a government owned lighthouse in such pristine condition as to shame our infamous Hatteras Lighthouse .  It left us embarrassed for the condition of Hatteras.  I am left wondering why the most famous and photographed lighthouse in the world has been let go until it is (at least inside) a mere shadow of itself.

The light alone tells the story:

Bodie Island original "1st Order Fresnel lens".

                                                            Hatteras spot light.

They both still warn Mariners for 20 miles, but the Hatteras light lacks the romanticism of it's origins.  AND, as far as money is concerned?  You can bet few National Park bring in the kind of money Hatteras does, and, THAT doesn't even begin to address the fact that Hatteras is the most famous and most photographed Lighthouse in the world!  Bill and I are now on a mission to correct this wrong.  Stay tuned!

So, it was back to work, with this hanging heavy on our hearts.  As the end of our season was at hand and a final "going away" partying in the offing, we did not have time to dwell on it.

This last party, sending the balance of the "seasonals" off, was a beach party.  We positioned ourselves at the Old Lighthouse Site where no artificial light would interfere with our view of the new Lighthouse location.  As usual, Bill was in charge of the fire, and by default, the cooking.

Hotdog anyone?
Smore's were being served up before the main course

A brief explanation of the previously used term "seasonals":

  Seasonal Rangers make up a majority of the workforce for our National Parks.  They do a fabulous job, under very trying circumstances.  Much like Bill and I,  Seasonals work at a park for 4 to 6 months, they scout around and apply for positions they are interested in, the competition is HUGE they are often posted far from their home, friends and family, live in "Government" housing (yes, it is as bad as it sounds)..... and all for the LOVE of the job!  BUT, unlike Bill and I, THIS is their PAYING job, their sole support.  They never know from one 6 month period to the next, where (or if) they will be working the next 6 months.  In many cases, on average, it takes 10 years for a Seasonal to attain a position as a "Permanent" Ranger.  These are highly educated young people and their sacrifice is great!  We applaud their dedication!

Monday was "Columbus Day", the last day for climbing the lighthouse this season (save the "winter  climb" December 13th).  The Visitor Center and Museum remain open year round.  Thus, when we returned from our days off, it was a very different job. With all of the "seasonals" gone....just Bill and I and one other volunteer running the show.  If we weren't here, themuseum

would not remain open, the Visitor Center Ranger desk would not be manned, and the "base"

of the lighthouse would be completely un-available, not even allowing people the small pleasure of going to the 1st landing and looking up (keep in mind that many of our visitors come from great distances to climb the lighthouse, other countries, or are making their third or fourth attempt as the lighthouse had been closed to climbers during their last visit(s)..... (maybe they had hit town when the lighthouse was being moved, or they had blown in during last years "hiatus").  Thus, getting "the base" open, for even a few hours a day, means a great deal!  Our job seems less important, until you hear some of the stories of our visitors efforts to see this iconic location, and realize, that if we weren't here, the visitor experience would be "a glass half full!"

With Bill driving to Chesapeake, VA (3.25 hours) to consult with a plastic surgeon, I was on my own Thursday, running the show.  I spent the day in the museum and had a GREAT many awesome conversations!

Have you ever met someone and had an instant "connection" with them, a conversation intellectually stimulating.  In which this person really gets what you're saying and continues to pick at your brain?  Leaves you feeling like you want to take them home?  I had that experience while in the museum on my 1st day back, post season.  Would it surprise you, as it did me, that this person was a nine year old boy?  His Dad was very patient while this little guy picked my brain for 45 minutes.  It made for a fulfilling day....the kind of day that makes all of our efforts really worthwhile.

That brings us to yesterday when, while working the VC (Visitor  Center) Ranger desk, Bill made a new friend, which will likely lead us to Rocky Mountain National Park at the end of this coming summer for a short stint.

PS:  we have been approved by the "committee" of Christ Community Church, and our assignment at "Camp Zion" in Ellison Bay, Door County, Wisconsin for summer 2015 locked in.  We are so excited about this opportunity to serve:-)

A few of my favorite random shots:
At the North Carolina Aquarium

Nuf said

Walking the streets of the West Village

Friend of ours

Blackbeard's Cohorts

Until next time:  GO WITH GOD!


  1. I love hearing about your adventures! Personally, I think you're brave for driving in NYC, let alone trying to park, but that's just me! Thanks so much for sharing!