Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lighthouses Rule

The moped coughs back through town and up past the Spring House Hotel.  The road winds down and around following the rocky shoreline.  It's absolutely beautiful out here.  A few minutes later, the beacon of the Southeast Lighthouse emerges from behind a rise in the hill like a Leviathan Cyclops.

"Whoah. That's cool".

"Pretty sweet eh?", replies Boomer.

We bump up the dirt driveway towards the brick structure which sits atop a high bluff overlooking the waters of Long Island and Block Island sounds.

A beat up, white delivery truck sits in the driveway of the lighthouse keeper's house.  Boomer parks the moped and we dismount.  As we approach the truck, a string bean of a guy with buggy eyes and some sort of weird afro pops out of the back of the truck like a spring.

"Hey Teddy!  What's good?", shout's Boomer as we approach.

"Boom Boom!  What's happenin' my man?", waves Teddy with an enormous smile.

I'm introduced.  "Teddy, this is the Dr.  He's gonna be over at Captain Nick's this summer."

"Hey!  Nice ta meetcha man!"  With both hands Teddy grabs my hand and pumps it up and down vigorously.  "I heard about you!  You're the guy with the videos right?  Love your stuff!"

"Thanks man- nice to meet you too.  This is some lighthouse you've got here".

"What?  This old thing?", Teddy waves his arm dismissively at the glorious landmark.  "Ha!  Yeah she's pretty cool I guess.  Wanna go inside?"

Boomer interrupts and winks, "Teddy- I was thinking we'd take a little hike up to the lantern room, if you catch my drift.  The Dr. here is a specialist in remedies of an...herbal nature".

"Ooooh!  Abso-friggin'-lootely!", exclaims Teddy- his eyes widening. He sweeps his hand dramatically towards the lighthouse's porch.  "Right this way gentlemen".

Moments later Teddy opens the creaky old door and we're blasted by a musty rush of air.  Words can not describe how cool this place is.  It looks like nobody has touched the place since it was built.  An old dressmaker's dummy sits in a corner amongst various other brick-a-brack and antiques.

Teddy begins the tour as we walk up flights of stairs. "She was built in 1874 in the Victorian style.  The 67 foot-tall light tower is connected to a two and a half story residence that is split into two halves.  Back in the day there were two lighthouse keepers who lived here with their families.  They'd work in twelve hour shifts.  Both sides of the residence are mirror images of each other.  The lighthouse itself was at one point closer to the bluffs. In 1993 they dragged it back 360 feet because the eroding bluffs threatened to send it tumbling into the ocean."

"How the hell do you move a lighthouse 360 feet?", I ask.  Teddy stops and turns to me...

"Very carefully..."

A few moments later we arrive at the final flight of old iron stairs that wind up along the cavernous wall of the tower towards the lantern room.

"Whatever you do- don't look down", warns Boomer.

"Yeah. Thanks", I smirk.  I should've listened to Boomer because looking down through the wrought iron staircase brings on Vertigo like you read about.  I white-knuckle the iron railing all the way up until...

We emerge into the soft green glow of the lantern room.  Surrounded by glass 258 feet above the ocean, the sun has begun to set on the other side of the island.  The clouds burst with pinks, purples, yellows and reds as a lone lobster boat bobs up and down in the distance.

"Holy fuckin' shit", is all I can manage.

"Pretty nice huh?", says Teddy.

For a couple of minutes we walk around the lens.  Looking out at the panorama. 

"Hey- is this a first order Fresnel lens with a focal plane?, I ask.

Teddy looks at Boomer impressed, "The Dr. knows his lighthouses".

I'm a little embarrassed, "Yeah- I'm kind of a lighthouse geek".

"Hey- that's cool man.  Me too.", answers Teddy.  "How do you think I got this gig?"

Boomer- getting a little bored with lighthouse talk interrupts.  "Hey Doc.  Ya know what's even cooler than being in the lantern room of a lighthouse?  Being really REALLY baked while you're in the lantern room of a lighthouse".

"Oh shit.  Right.  I almost forgot why we were here."  I reach into my jacket's breast pocket and produce my trusty pipe.  I crumble a little of the Nor-Cal Cheese in and pack it down with my thumb handing it to Teddy first.  "Bottom's up".

"Whoah.  This smells AMAZING!", Teddy laughs.

For the next half hour as the sun sets I chat with Boomer and Teddy- filling them in on my recent rise to fame as a regional superstar in Western Massachusetts.  Although I've just met these guys, I can tell that they're very nice.  Very genuine.  The conversation is lively and peppered with outbursts of stoned laughter.

Apparently, there's a beach party about to start on Scotch Beach.  Sort of a locals "start of the season" thing.  We bid the lantern room adieu and descend the treacherous staircases.  Leaving Boomer's moped behind we pile into Teddy's truck and drive off to begin the night's adventure...


  1. have you ever thought about writing a book?

  2. Replies
    1. They're still forming. My thoughts- that is. But when my thoughts are finished forming themselves. I would like to assemble them into a book. Or maybe a screenplay. Or a miniseries. Or...a haiku.