Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge

Last weekeend, out family decided to take a weekend trip to participate in the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge. The challenge is to visit 13 different locations in two days, collecting a button at each location and a special cars once you visited all 13. In order to save a bunch of driving on Saturday morning, we drove down Friday night and stayed in a hotel in Thorofare, NJ, about five minutes from the first lighthouse we planned to visit. I was afraid the weekend would feel too "rushed" as we hurried to visit all of the sites. But, it turned out that we were able to go at our own pace and still see all of the sites.

We woke up early Saturday morning, grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and were on the road right about 8am. The first lighthouse we visited was Tinicum Lighthouse, located on the Delaware River in Paulsboro, NJ, just across the river from the Philadelphia Airport. This lighthouse was located right smack in the middle of the local community recreation park. The stairs on this one were very open. Brian didn't like being able to see down that well, so I had to carry him back down the stairs.

Next step was Finn's Point Lighthouse, a little further down the river.

And then had our biggest drive between lighthouses - about an an half to East Point Lighthouse. The kids were getting a little antsy in the car for this trip. This lighthouse had a nice view out across Delaware Bay.

At this point, we were getting hungry, so we found McDonald's for lunch before heading on to the Cape May lighthouse. We had been here back in June as part of our summer vacation - in fact it is the place we learned of the challenge in the first place. Now that we were on the coast, we walked over to the beach for a few minutes to check out the sand and the ocean.

Next up was one of the two museums on the route - the Cape May County Historical Museum. Housed here was one of the lenses that used to reside in the Cape May Lighthouse. The bright light you see in the picture below was generated by just a 60 watt light bulb.

From there, we went on to Hereford Inlet Lighthouse in North Wildwood.

And then to the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City. Brian and Jason had gotten pretty worn out from all the climbing we had done so far, so they fell asleep in the car on the way. We had to wait a bit for them to wake up before we went into this one. This lighthouse is the tallest in New Jersey and the third tallest in the country.

Since the next lighthouse was one of the ones hosting a night climb, we decided to break for dinner before going on. Unfortunately, it took us quite a long time to find a place to break for dinner. We finally settled on a Stewart's drive in which was fun, but by then it was starting to get a little cool. After dinner, we went on Tucker's Island Lighthouse. Because it was dark, we didn't get to see very much. However, the bottom of the lighthouse contained a hands-on museum which the kids enjoyed a lot. We stayed until they kicked us out at 8PM.

The next task was to find a hotel for the night. Not really being familiar with where we were, we decided to just head in the direction of the next lighthouse and see what we could find. Turned out finding a place to sleep was an additional challenge we hadn't planned on. Hotels were hard to find - at least along the route we were taking. We finally stumbled upon the Barnegat Inn. While I was checking in, someone called asking for a room - and was told that I had just taken the last one!
The next morning, I ran out to Dunkin Donuts to bring some breakfast back before we headed out for the day. We got out of the hotel about 8am again and found we had about a 1/2 hour drive to our first step of the day, which was Barnegat Light Historical Museum. This small museum housed another lighthouse lens.

Then, we were off to the Barnegat Lighthouse itself. Unfortunately, the winds had picked up quite a bit overnight, so they had closed the lighthouse, preventing anyone from climbing up.
Next stop was about an hour away - the Sea Girt Lighthouse in Sea Girt, NJ.

After our visit at the lighthouse and a short visit at the nearby beach, it was time to find something to eat. We found a nice local restaurant, got ourselves a table, and learned that even though it was about noontime, they were still serving breakfast. So, we all indulged in a second breakfast.
When we were done eating, we headed next to Twin Lights in Highlands, NJ. This was the consensus favorite lighthouse of the trip. This lighthouse was high up on the hillside and had two light towers instead of one. Of course, we had to climb both towers.

Last stop was Sandy Hook Lighthouse. Unlike most of the lighthouses, where you could climb up and down as you pleased, this lighthouse had guided tours - eight people at a time. So, there was a line to wait on to go up the lighthouse. Also, they had a height limit of 48 inches, so that meant that Brian and Jason would not be able to go up. So, Jeanne took Brian and Jason to a nearby beach while TJ and I waited the hour to go up the lighthouse. However, it turned out to be well worth the wait. By that time of the day, the sky was very clear, so we were able to get great views of JFK airport, Coney Island, the Verrazano Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.

From there it was on to dinner at the Marina Diner - where they served us a feast - and then about a two hour trip home. We were all plenty exhausted by the time we got home, but we all had a great time!


caite said...

Great pictures!

It was my first time doing the Lighthouse Challenge and I had a great time too. Of course, it is nice that I live about half around the trip and can overnight Saturday night at home.

I posted a few pics on my site but I am saying most of them for my monthly lighthouse posts.

New to PKD said...

What a fun family outing! I love lighthouses as well and enjoyed the pictures.

Hope all is well with your family this Thanksgiving Day!

Bie said...

Hallo Bob, sorry for taking this long to answer you. You are most welcome to put my blog on you list of links. It is good to hear of other PKD patients outside South Africa. Nice vacation, I can see you enjoyed that.