Hello Friends and Family,

Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park

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After spending the first three days of my California trip in the San Francisco area, my plan was to take a nice leisurely, scenic drive south on US 1 along the coast, eventually arriving at my next destination of Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, the marine layer was thick and lasted most of the day so that all my photos had a white background. That's not my favorite look and as a result, the only photos I took were at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historical Park (or as most northern Californian's call it, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse). Surprisingly, in my 17 years living in the Bay Area, I had never visited this historic spot. That combined with a need to stretch my legs caused me to enter the park (free admission) and explore a bit, camera in hand.

The lighthouse was built in 1872. This location is a dangerous spot for ships — a spot where the land juts out into the Pacific Ocean, offering vessels many rocky places to crash into, especially at night. The lighthouse is now closed to the public — due to an iron belt failure which previously provided structural integrity to this lighthouse, one of the tallest in the United States. It is now being renovated as funds and time permit. Meanwhile, it is surrounded by a fence to protect visitors from any future failure until the renovation is eventually completed.

Did I mention that this is a dangerous stretch of coastline? These are the remains of a sturdily built steam schooner named the Point Arena. Built in 1887, it was designed to carry large loads of cargo but nimble enough to navigate the tiny "dog hole" ports of California's central coast. In 1913, it was loading tanbark, an evergreen tree native to these parts, when rough seas pushed her onto the rocks, knocking a big hole in her hull. Not surprisingly, she sunk. Later the hull was burned to avoid being a hazard to other ships and because it would have looked bad to have a wrecked ship in front of a lighthouse. This five-ton section later washed ashore (having avoided being burned) and was moved to this spot.

Looking south toward Santa Cruz, the coastline is very scenic. And for those who are not familiar with the California marine layer, you can see it here with the boundary between it and the blue sky just inland.

Walking paths here in the park make it easy to observe some terrific scenery such as this little cove with boulders and ice plant.

From that same spot, I turned around and took another photo of the lighthouse itself with the flagpole complete with US, California and Lighthouse flags. This shot also did double duty as the artwork for a birthday card for a family member who loves lighthouses.

Here is another scenic shot along the shoreline. Notice the huge rock in the mid-scene covered with ice plant. I think we can assume that it was not landscaped by humans but developed naturally. Mother Nature has another winner — I love it.

More ice plant — a couple varieties actually. It is native to South Africa but was introduced to California to stabilize the soil along railroad tracks but has taken over and is considered invasive. I still enjoy seeing stands of ice plant even if it is invasive.

Flowers have been planted outside buildings which used to provide housing for lighthouse staff and now offer accommodations for tourists. As best I could determine, these are a type of aloe vera.

One last parting photo then on to Santa Cruz.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com