When the kids and I were down the shore for Spring Break, I took them to some of my old stomping grounds. Light sightseeing gave way to a stop at the Cape May Point Lighthouse (that picture and its accompanying beautiful sun flare is at the bottom of this post here). Madeline was enamored.
Like love at first sight.
I didn’t know about her infatuation with lighthouses before then.
Otherwise I would have timed it so we arrived there while the lighthouse was still open.
Unfortunately, I didn’t.
And it wasn’t.
And she has reminded me I promised her a lighthouse visit. Politely. Nearly every day since.
And this weekend, I made good on it. Albeit a different lighthouse.
We were down the shore for the weekend, and on Saturday afternoon, I told the kids we were going out for awhile. A million questions, and a few select clues later, I left it at “it’s a surprise.”
Good luck doing that with kids.
Because it only makes things worse.
Mostly for you.
When we were within eyesight of the Barnegat Lighthouse, I told them I could see the surprise. And then I told Nick to keep his trap shut so he didn’t spoil it for his sister.
Nobody apparently had any idea what I was talking about.
Which is pretty much normal.
And then as we pulled into the gravel parking lot, she looked up.
And saw it.
And said it was the best surprise ever.
Oh how I love that child.
It was the perfect day for climbing lighthouse steps. Blue skies. Moderate (low 80s) temps. 217 steps to the top.
Pretty much a bargain and a half for four bucks and the amount of happiness it gave my kids, especially Madeline.
As a side note, on the way home, they told me their three favorite things about our weekend, and climbing the lighthouse steps was one of them.
So here’s the thing. The staircase is weird. Spiral, no surprise there. But it’s split in half. Originally I thought “awesome, one side to go up and one side to go down.”
But, yeah, not so much. Only half the staircase is usable. The other half is closed. Permanently. Like with soldered bars and such. Which leaves about a three foot wide passageway for everyone to go up and down the same steps. Fine for the kids. But every time you pass an adult, you have to turn sideways, hug the wall or the railing, and get super-comfortable with complete strangers. Weirdness.
There are landings every 25-30 steps or so. For you to catch your breath. Take a picture of your kid. Admire the view. Let a crowd pass. Change your mind and go back down.
We got to the top. Nick went right out onto the landing deck viewing thing. Madeline was not so sure.
And, of course, I took a picture to memorialize that.
I politely wasn’t going to let her go back down all those steps without stepping out to see the view. She was a little apprehensive, but I knew if she missed out on seeing it, she would be sorely disappointed. It took a minute or two of gentle coaxing and she stepped out.
And, of course, is super glad she did.
And got even closer to the edge.
We looked straight down to the ocean.
Found our car in the parking lot.
And took oodles of pictures.
And when they were ready, we began our descent down. As soon as we reached the ground, they both asked to go back up. I didn’t want to go back up, and with the steps the way they were, didn’t feel comfortable with them going back up themselves.
So I bribed them with the next best thing.
A stop in the visitor’s center.
A postcard. A map. And a certificate commemorating their climb.
For our lighthouse fans and/or New Jersey readers, there is a lighthouse challenge in October, where you can visit 11 lighthouses, including several that will be allowing special nighttime viewing. Funds raised during this weekend will go to lighthouse and maritime preservation. I need to get in front of a calendar, but I think we’re going to shoot for doing it.
Barnegat Lighthouse and State Park
Barnegat Light, NJ 08006