Sunday, May 8, 2011


The Haceta Lighthouse is barely visible from a distance on this rugged section of the Oregon coast. The day was overcast, damp, cool and invigorating.
The steep hike up gave us aerial views of the beautiful point and cove it commands and also the Cave Creek Bridge over which we crossed to get to the parking lot. 
 From above, we watched the churning power of the sea swirling around huge rock outcroppings as though to pulverize them to pieces.
 On the way up I wanted to swing like monkey from the branches of this a tree that formed natural stairs along the trail with its huge root system. I haven't a clue what kind of tree it is.
 Amazingly, Haceta is an old 1894 lighthouse, but it is still in service. It has an automated fresnel lense that turns a 1,000 watt bulb, magnified a million times by the lense to shine 21 miles out to sea. Its an historic relic maintained by the Oregon Parks System because ships and planes have GPS and satellite sounding systems that have no need for this piece of history.
Jim and I visited about a dozen lighthouses on the East Coast last year, but I learned more about them on this visit than all of the others. Each lighthouse has two oil houses. In case one catches fire and burns, the oil from the 2nd house is available to keep the lamps lit for passing ships. The big can was filled and brought to the service level twice per shift. The small can was used to fill the oil lamp. On the day shift, the fresnel lense had to be cleaned of soot and smoke from the lamps.
 The keeper had to climb inside the lamp through this service bay and polish every facet of the lense and the lighthouse windows as well. The keepers had to wear white aprons over their uniform to keep their brass buttons from scratching the lens.The lense weighs two thousand pounds and operated in the old days by counter weights such as those used by a grandfather clock.
This is old growth forest, with trees that dare to grow out of even older rock outcroppings. The forest itself is interesting.
On our return to camp we stopped at the Sea Lion Cave, the biggest sea cave in the world. It was a natural wonder in its early days, but now a tourist rip off courtesy of its current owners who built a 300 foot deep elevator into the cave and ruined it for viewing. Don't be tempted. They do have a position over one of the biggest birthing rookeries for sea lions. But they can be seen almost as well from the cliff sides on the road.
The cliffs here are made beautiful by an invasive plant, the scotch broom. They can't seem to rid the state of the stuff but its adaptive form on these cliffs is nothing short of spectacular.

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