Monday, April 7, 2014

Whales & Lighthouse Lenses...

Looking north from the Pt. Reyes headlands.
 While we are experiencing summer-like temperatures outside here in Northern California, inside our house we are all fighting colds that seem to want to linger. In spite of our colds we decided that we needed to get out and enjoy some of this beautiful weather, so we took a day trip to Pt. Reyes National Seashore and historic lighthouse. Although having lived in this area for decades, none of us had been to the lighthouse. We could not have picked a more glorious day. It was a beautiful drive out to the coast and we enjoyed all the California poppies that were in bloom everywhere.

It is whale watching season, but Naomi was the only one of our crowd to see a whale. There had been over a dozen sightings that day before we got there. It was amazing to learn that as many as 20,000 pacific gray whales migrate south to the waters off Mexico in December & January and then return to the Alaska coastline during March & April. It is a 10,000 mile round trip and takes them 2 months each direction. When they return north, the females have their calves with them. Apparently they expect to be seeing females with calves anytime now. We did see a number of sea lions playing in the surf!

The lighthouse was also amazing to see. Its unique lens was crafted in France in 1867, to be displayed at the Paris World Fair. It then made it's way to California's coast. It contains over 1000 hand ground prisms that refract the light into a unique "signature" signal. It had to be cranked daily, to "wind it up" much like a clock, to keep the lens rotating. It was in continuous operation until 1975, when they installed an automated system.

It is over 300 steps plus several long inclines to get down to the light house, and of course that means equal number of steps to get back up. We definitely got our work out for the day!
The stairway down to the lighthouse.
Watching for whales.
This is where Naomi saw a whale after a ranger pointed it out to her. It is also where we watched sea lions.
 Beautiful day but always windy!
Looking up at some of the hand ground prisms.
The housing around the gears and clockworks that rotate the lenses.
Ahh... the climb back up!
The drive out to the lighthouse took us by and through many dairy ranches. These cows were grazing very close to the road, but seemed to be oblivious to us!

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