Point Betsie Lighthouse


Just north of Frankfort and west of Traverse City in Michigan,  on the shore of Lake Michigan, is the Point Betsie Lighthouse. I’ve been there several times over the years because friends have a cottage on the Betsie River and we used to visit them there when they were younger. We have also camped in this area. Visiting the lighthouse gives me the joy of visiting the familiar, even though the familiar has changed, for real or maybe because I’ve changed.

There are a lot of lighthouses on the Great Lakes and they fascinate me. There is a romance about them – maybe they trigger that longing deep within me, calling me to a rugged life – at least when I was younger and had more tolerance for simpler but harder living. I think it is filed with the fantasies from when I was a girl; to live in a log cabin in the deep forest, or a mud hut on the frontier. Those fantasy where I bake bread and hang gingham curtains in the windows.


Our visited this year was on a calm day, when the waves were gently lapping the rocky shore. But my mind can imagine the fierce fall and winter storms, probably fueled by stories of ship wrecks, men lost to the cold depths. The breakers filled with large rocks designed to slow down shore erosion also support my image of the fierceness of storms. I have seen how huge waves form ice on everything before the water freezes along the shore and how large blocks of ice push themselves upon the shores.


The dune in the foreground and the white along the horizon that looks like a glacier is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

I often wonder what it would have been like living in a lighthouse, knowing that lives depended on the keeper keeping the light fueled at all times. And knowing that the light mattered most as the weather became worse – those cold, blustery nights when I want to hunker down under a warm quilt. 20160915-dsc_0088

Now the lights are electric and modernized so they don’t need 24/7 attention. And many of the lighthouses that we have visited also have fog horns.


Many of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes have tours, and you can even book vacations in an apartment at this lighthouse. There are tours of this lighthouse and I’ve toured others. In my aging years I have not chosen to tour them because there are a lot of steps and I’ve shifted my joys to taking photographs of the outsides and surrounding landscapes. Maybe I want to protect my early fantasies from the corruption of too much reality. I believe facts are very important but this seems a safe area to relax that value a little bit. Maybe it is also adapting to what my aging body can safely do.

Here is a link for more info: Michigan Point Betsie Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

I struggle with how to capture lighthouses from different points of view. The most beautiful seem to be from the air but that isn’t an option for me. We visited the Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast and there I was able to find a different “point of view” by shooting the top of the tower through the trees and grass.

Oregon lighthouse 040

I captured this impressive lens by climbing up a very steep path behind the lighthouse until I was at eye level with the lens. The light is now produced by a 1,000-watt quartz bulb equivalent to 2.5 million candle power with the visibility of the beam limited only by the curvature of the earth. When it was first lit in 1894, the light was a 5-wick kerosene lamp. The light is amplified by a 392-prism, first-order Fresnel lens and the kerosene light equaled 80,000 candle power.

Sometime an unusual “point of view” needs more conventional points of view in order to give context. The 56-foot high lighthouse is perched 206 feet above the Pacific and is the brightest beacon on the Oregon coast.

Oregon lighthouse 023

Oregon lighthouse 071

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge this week is to photograph something from a different point of view. You can see more interpretations of this challenge by visiting  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/unusual/


Coquille River Lighthouse

Oregon 008

The Coquille River lighthouse was built in 1896 to guide ships into the shallow and treacherous waters at the head of the river. It is one of 8 remaining lighthouses along the Oregon coast but is nonworking, replaced by an automatic beacon on the south jetty in 1939.

Oregon 022

The sunny day we visited the wind was fierce and there was mist coming up from the water over the river and south shore. The amount of driftwood on the beach indicated to me that this is a stormy area and my suspicions were confirmed by information in the lighthouse.

The wind had created patterns in the sand that J. described as moonscapes. I had a hard time standing steady as I photographed the area. All I could think of was how hard life on the ocean can be because I was becoming exhausted on a beautiful, sunny day.

Oregon 031

Oregon 025

The gulls were having a hard time flying against the wind – and this Western Gull is working hard at getting a handout from the couple who are eating an apple in their car. He allowed me to get so close I wanted to reach out and touch him.