Saturday, August 01, 2009

Up, up and AWAY!

When I last left off, we were heading south on the Garden State Parkway towards Long Beach Island. There is only one way in and out, so to get to our next stop, the Barnegat Lighthouse, we had to drive 20 miles past it and back-track on the island to it.

Crossing the causeway was very beautiful. It felt as if we were entering another world. Island life has a feel all it's own; from the laid-back lifestyle and beautiful scenery, it's no wonder that's where everyone wants to be. We passed some very beautiful yet very expensive beach homes along the way.

After traveling about 20 minutes back on the island, we finally made it. The Barnegat Lighthouse, aka Old Barney, was very beautiful poking out from behind the trees. Before we even left home I was determined THIS was going to be the light I climbed. Now, facing my fear head on, I was not quite so sure.

Barnegat Lighthouse "Old Barney" as others know it as.

Pulling into the State Park, Taylor of course had to use the potty. I have been on potty patrol all day, thank goodness this time she asked for daddy to take her. It gave me a few moments to walk around and snap a few shots while they were busy. When they found me near the museum, Taylor was overcome with excitement. No, not for what you may be thinking, but because while she was in the potty a bird decided to land on top of the skylight and peck at the glass. To a 3 year old, this is a HUGE deal! She said she tried and tried to yell at him but he just wouldn't move. Oh my, you gotta love her!

Back together again, we went into the museum. There was loads of information inside. Life-like models showing the old light, old keeper's quarters, as well as diagrams showing how they are desperately trying to save the light due to shore erosion.

Taylor standing by a photo of the Barnegat Light.

As we were leaving the museum, I was talking with an older gentleman who was working at the counter. I told him I was wanting to climb the tower, but was unsure if I could make it. He told me how many times he himself has been to the top and how beautiful the view is and so forth. OK, if he can do it, I can do it. Plus, he said he would give me a certificate when I came back down.

So there he is...I'm going up HOW FAR??

Admission to the lighthouse was a bargain, only $1! Matt and Taylor chickened out and were going to stay at the bottom and look for me at the top. Shaking, I handed the gentleman my dollar and up I started.

How old are these stairs, and HOW MANY??

Starting the climb wasn't too bad. I started off counting all of the steps; 1..2..3...about every 30-31 steps there was a landing at each window. When I got up to about 50 or so I couldn't do it anymore, I was going to drive myself crazy trying to count all the steps to the top. ALL 217 OF THEM!! Giving you a bit of an insight, I've already chickened out on the climb up to the top of Marblehead Lighthouse numerous times (a mere 65' tall compared to the nearly 172' "Old Barney".)

One of the first views from the top.

I was almost ready to give up. My body was really starting to shake with nerves, and it took all I had not to look down, let alone think about it. What in the HECK was I doing??? The climb to the top took about 15 minutes. Finally, there I was at the top. Boy was that ever windy! As soon as I stepped out onto the ledge, a huge gust of wind came and nearly pushed me over. All of a sudden there was a group of smart-a$$ teens that thought it would be hilarious to start pushing each other and clowning around on the very narrow walk. Great. I just moved my way around them (definitely giving dirty looks) and got to a quiet area of the tower.

What a sight!

OK, now I'm here, but how long was I going to stay. The wind was really strong and I did what I set out to do, I made it to the top! Now the challenge was to get back on the ground in one piece. I snapped a few more photos then decided one trip around the top was the most I was going to push myself to do. Circling back to the door, I was on my way back down. To be very honest, I thought I was the slowest one going down. One step at a time, and don't look down!


When I got down to the first landing, I ran into a mother and her two children. They were in the same boat I was, so we decided safety in numbers! We began as a train of slow moving traffic back down the staircase. Every so often we would have some thrill seekers pass us on the stairs which was nowhere near wide enough to do this.

Another view from the top!

The mother was kind enough to keep track of how much further we had to go (since I was not looking!) Sweet sound to my ears, she said we had two more landings to go. By the time I made it to the bottom my shirt was soaked with sweat and my heart was pounding 100 miles a minute. BUT I DID IT!! Now I was so overcome with excitement I wanted my official "I climbed Old Barney" certificate and I was ready for a drink.

I still can't believe I climbed to the top!

Matt and Taylor were waiting for me on the ground, what a sight for sore eyes! We continued to walk around the park, checking out a very nice concreted boardwalk around the inlet. It was getting time to move on, and since Taylor had been very good all day, Matt had a trick up his sleeve for a treat.

On the way to the light, Matt seen a Dairy Queen a few roads up and thought it would be a good stop. A treat for me for overcoming my fears and Taylor for listening very well and having no accidents so far on the whole trip. Taylor and I both got small size slushies mixed with soft serve ice cream. Matt got a medium size pineapple milkshake. Now typically at our DQ, this would've been $4.55 or so for our whole order. You should have seen the sticker shock on Matt's face when the woman asked for $12! You heard me right, $12! When Matt got back to us in the car he commented we better enjoy these to the last drop, because we weren't buying anymore ice cream on this trip!

Here's a bit of advice; if you stop at this Dairy Queen, just hand over your wallet!

OK, so this ice cream must have been made with a golden spoon, but we weren't going to let this bring us down. One more stop before we left Long Beach Island (LBI), a souvenir shop. Taylor's little cousin, Shelby, was going to be turning 7 next week. We wanted to get her and Nana a little gift from our trip. We were in luck. We found a very nice little local shop that had just the right gifts we were looking for. Matt found a pair of swim trunks 60% off and Taylor picked out shells for Nana, Shelby and herself. I thought the shark's tooth in a jar was pretty cool, but opted for the shells for the girls instead. As we were shopping a small storm was passing through. You should have seen everyone scramble to get indoors! Unless I missed something, I didn't think one little dark cloud warranted a full-fledged panic.

We finished up on the island and continued to head south towards Atlantic City. Taylor really wanted to stay on the beach longer, but we really wanted to find a room earlier than the previous night. Looking through my Roomsaver coupons, I found a motel not too far from Atlantic City for only $33 a night! They sounded pretty respectable, and were in a good location in Absecon. Boy were we in for a surprise!

First glance, things don't look too scary. this where we're staying the night?

Pulling off the freeway, I spotted the sign right away. As we got closer, Matt noticed the windows were boarded up as well as the symbol painted on the side of the building. The back building looked as if it was recently on fire! The sight was such a shocker we had to turn around so I could get a couple of shots, unless you were there with us, no one was going to believe this was the place we were going to stay!

We laughed it off and moved on. Lucky for us the whole strip was filled with motels all competing for visitors. There were a couple we considered, but finally locked down a room at the Quality Inn. The kicker...the Waffles! (long story...but rest assure, we know how to make waffles!)

Our "Home" for the night as Taylor would call it.

After unloading, we headed to get dinner from a hamburger joint down the street. (More info on that to come!) After dinner we headed back to the room. The outdoor heated pool closed at 8pm, the time...7:55! I told Matt they wouldn't kick us out if we got there in a hurry, so off we ran!

You can see our room in this photo.

Boy that water was HOT! I would guess the water was nearly 95 degrees, we're talking bath water! You could see as we were getting in, a motel owner/worker was waiting around like he wanted to lock the gate, but once we jumped in, he gave up his mission and walked back inside. The pool itself was pretty neat and toddler friendly. The "shallow" end was a very gradual slope from 1.5' to a max depth of 5' in the "deep" end. The pool was perfect for Taylor. For almost a year now she has been taking swim lessons at the Sandusky County YMCA, but mommy always worries. This was the first time she could touch bottom and walk around. All Matt and I had to do was stay in the center where the floor started to drop off to remind her where she had to start swimming. It gave her a chance to build up some confidence (more for mommy's sake) that she could be in the pool and not be "hovered" over.

The pool or bath, your call.

While we were enjoying the water we couldn't help but notice 3 or 4 mini vans pass with children pointing out the window at us. Well, not us exactly, but they seen us in the pool and were trying to convince their parents they wanted to do the same. Sure enough, within 10 minutes we had 4 families in the water with us. That was until "the big" one came through. A storm rapidly approaching made the sky very dark and distant thunder could be heard. Everyone started to hustle a bit faster when the first flash of lightning lit up the dark clouds. It was time to move. That night I do remember hearing a bit of the storm pass through, but all was well by morning.

I promise to tell you where we ate and what excitement we had, but for now I'm gonna leave you in suspense.

Until next time...