Friday, June 12, 2009

Vacation Day 6: And then I got sick...

I was feeling a little scratchy at the outlet shopping and the alligator viewing, but figured it was just strange foreign pollens in Florida assaulting my lungs. By yesterday, though, I was full out voice-cracking, hacking, coughing, vaguely feverish, it hurts to swallow sick. Since I can't come off of vacation and go right onto sick leave, I apologize in advance for sharing this with the office on Monday when I get back.

Being sick didn't stop us from driving over to the Jupiter Lighthouse yesterday afternoon, though. Nobody else wanted to go while they were here (understandably, since the baby can't go up the lighthouse so someone would have been standing around at the bottom the whole time), so we fit in the trip as soon as they were gone, signing up for our tour at the Gift Shop:

gift shop

Personally, I prefer when it's a gift shoppe, but since it's not Ye Olde Jupiter Lighthouse, I guess the abscence of the P and E is acceptable. We had a few minutes before the tour started, so Sean and I visited the three room museum, where we learned that the lighthouse has stayed continuously lit since the Civil War and that you can spell "Jupiter" with nautical flags:


We also learned that, no matter what the tour or the size of the group, there is always at least one person who annoys you. Yesterday apparently being our lucky day, we got two.

The first made me wonder if it's possible to be an expatriate from a state if you just move to another state, rather than another country. If so, I would like to be expatriated from New York, please, and thanks. Mr. Montauk, as we'll refer to him, let us know five different times on the tour that while the Jupiter lighthouse is "you know, nice and all", they also have a lighthouse in Montauk at the end of Long Island that was commissioned by George Washington himself, and that lighthouse is just wonderful. I think that if you love the Montauk lighthouse enough to bring it up every time the tour guide mentions something about the Jupiter lighthouse ("Oh yeah? Well our lighthouse in Montauk was commissioned by George Washington himself! Oh, and Donald Trump is a real prick.") then you should just stay at home in Montauk next summer and hang out at George Washington's lighthouse all you want.

Our other annoyer, Kathy, was more of a stealth job. You can see her here, in front of Sean (he's wearing the red shirt) as we climb the steps to the lighthouse:

stairs to the lighthouse

The tour only has two rules: Stay on the path, and stay together with the group. This is because the lighthouse is on a very small Coast Guard base, and the Department of Homeland Security will only let the locals conduct lighthouse tours if those rules are obeyed. In the beginning of the tour, Kathy only got separated from us a little bit, when she was snapping one more picture or two as the group started moving forward. By the end of the tour, she was full out wandering off on her own and arguing with the tour guide about the specific way he had phrased the rules. I had my camera ready in case someone came out to shoot her ("That guy there, the one from Montauk, I think they were working together! Shoot him, too!") but no such luck.

Ignoring the group members, which was sort of impossible, there was the tour itself, which was interesting, if short. We saw the bell from the first pineapple plantation in Florida:

plantation bell

Our tour guide rang it for us, but couldn't really explain why it was there. We also, of course, saw the lighthouse:

jupiter lighthouse

The lighthouse and the small storage building next to it are the only original buildings left, as the rest were destroyed by fires and hurricanes. I found it odd that the US Geological Survey Marker wasn't at the top of the hill, at the base of the lighthouse, but was instead on the steps:

jupiter lighthouse geodetic marker

but our tour guide couldn't really explain that, either. I was also the only one in our tour who did not actually climb the lighthouse. I intended to, but then I saw this:

the stairs

and then this:


I can't climb steps that I can see through. I got to the first landing and was already dizzy, and I figured there was no way I'd be able to get back down if I made it to the top. I wanted to see the light and the lenses and stuff, but it just wasn't happening.

Sean was nice enough to wave, though:

sean, waving

and the ubiquitous Florida lizards kept me company:

lizard and bricks

After we wrapped up at the lighthouse, Sean drove me around to the Blowing Rocks Nature Preserve:

sea grapes

rocky beach

back to the regular beach, where we saw someone training to kite board:

kite boarding trainee

and a sea turtle nest:

sea turtle nest

and then we went to dinner.

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