I think that lighthouses are fascinating. And maybe it’s because I had such a wonderful experience in visiting the lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia six years ago.
So when I discovered there was a lighthouse in the general area of my Florida vacation, I made arrangements to visit it. Yes, I wanted to photograph it, but I also wanted to know why this lighthouse existed – and, if possible, I wanted to climb to the top of the lighthouse itself.
Ladies and gentlemen… here is the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, just south of Daytona Beach.
Would you look at the size of that thing?
This lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it – along with several properties that encompass the homes of the lighthouse keepers and their families – was all available for viewing.
And at the gift shop, one of the cashiers mentioned that if I chose to do so, I could climb the 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse and take in the breathtaking view.
Breathtaking view, she says. If I climb 203 steps, it’s not just the breath that will be taken from me.
But I thought to myself… why not accept this challenge? I may never visit Florida again, and I can’t just say, “Hey, I’ll do this next time when I’m older and the diabetic neuropathy that’s already affecting my feet and ankles will subside in time.”
Two hundred and three steps.
I can do this.
I entered the lighthouse.
And I saw the challenge.
What you see is the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse.
Okay. Deep breath. And up I go.
Move over for a family coming down the staircase.
I’m counting every step. Taking breathing breaks.
Don’t give up now, Miller.
Is that the lens at the top of the lighthouse?
Holy third order Fresnel lens, Batman, it is!
I had reached the top of the lighthouse. There was a small observation deck. I walked around it. Breathtaking.
I can barely breathe. But I take in the rarified air. Here I am, at the top level of the tallest lighthouse in Florida. I can look out onto the Atlantic Ocean. I can see the white sands of the beach. From this vantage point, I can see the original location of the old sandy race track of what was the precursor to the Daytona International Speedway. From another part of the lighthouse observation deck, I can see what looks like Cape Canaveral. Oh man, if I had been here years ago, perhaps I could have photographed a space rocket launch from this point. Stunning.
Okay. 203 steps up… time for 203 steps down. And no, I can’t ride down the banister like I’m Tony Hawk on a skateboard.
Slowly descending. One flight.
Move over for a family that’s going up to the top of the lighthouse.
Watch your step, Chuck. Keep your balance.
And of course… now that I’ve climbed the tower and returned to the ground…
I gotta get a night-time picture of this magnificent structure.
I go back to the parking lot and retrieve my Nikon Df and the tripod.
A few dusk shots of the tower itself.
And then, after the main grounds closed, I took a few more pictures of the lighthouse from the parking lot. And this was the best shot of the batch.
And as I left, I stopped in the gift shop and purchased a lighthouse passport book. Every time you visit a lighthouse in the United States, you can receive a special inked stamp in this book. Let it now be said that Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse becomes the first stamp in my book.
And I certainly hope it won’t be the last.