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Monday, February 23, 2009


It’s Monday, the23rd, and all of our “necessary” errands are complete. So, Kim and I decided to use our last day with a rental car for a bit of sight seeing. As many times as we’d been in the Daytona Beach area, we had never visited the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse and it’s been well over twenty-five years since we had driven on the beach. So, with those two goals in mind, we set out to do some exploring.

While we’ve never visited the Ponce Inlet Light, we’ve been by it many times and have some great pictures of it, taken from within the inlet. But this was going to be different, we were actually going to climb the tower and take pictures from the Gallery Deck, which is 140 feet, 9 inches from ground level.

We finally made the lighthouse around 11:00 am. The route was clearly marked (which is unusual for the State of Florida) so we were in the lighthouse parking lot by 11:30. Once there, the first order of business was a trip to the gift shop. Inside, one not only purchases the compulsory lighthouse admission ticket, but gets to explore the hundreds (yes hundreds) of lighthouse related souvenirs and trinkets to commemorate the visit to this beautifully kept beacon. We spent about 30 minutes looking over the gift shop’s inventory, making a couple of pressed pennies at their Pressed Penny Machine and then, ticket in hand, ventured out into the main lighthouse complex.

The complex consists of four main buildings, three lesser buildings and the lighthouse proper. The three main structures where the residences of the Light Keeper, 1st Assistant Keeper and 2nd Assistant Keeper (now converted to a lens museum.) The three lesser buildings were for oil storage and maintenance and firewood storage. After visiting all of the open buildings, it was time to climb the tower.

At 176 feet, 6-1/2 inches above ground level, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest lighthouse in the nation. Visitors who climb its 203 steps and 9 landings (huff, huff, puff, puff) are treated to a magnificent view of the Florida coastline and the Halifax River, from Daytona Beach to New Smyrna Beach. While the lens room is off limits to the public, one can stand at the opening to the room, look through Lexan panels and watch the light revolve within the lens. From this floor, there are two openings that access the Gallery Deck from which one can survey the Central Florida Coast and a good deal of the interior. It was a cool, crisp day with no humidity or clouds in the sky and the view was absolutely stunning!

With the picture taking finished, Kim and I descended the staircase (down is sooo much easier), got back in the car and headed for the beach. At the first entrance, we paid the $5.00 admission fee (good for 24 hours) and drove out onto the sand. I had forgotten how hard the sand was at Daytona Beach. It’s like driving on asphalt. It’s easy to see why the original Daytona Stock Car Races were run 50% on a road that parallels the beach and 50% on the beach proper.

The nice thing about a cool, windy day is there’s hardly anyone else out on the beach, so you pretty much have it all to yourself. That was our situation as we drove every drivable mile from Ponce Inlet to the Daytona Beach, Main Street Pier. The beach was drop dead gorgeous and, even though it was only 58-°F, there were still tourists braving the surf for a dip in the ocean.

When we completed our beach transit, it was back up to the main road and off to Hog Heaven, a local barbeque house, just off the beach, that serves some first class, done right barbequed pork and chicken. Then, with full bellies, it was back to the boat, where we got everything ready for tomorrow and Wednesday, which are going to be scrub and clean the boat days (Oh Boy, I can hardly wait!)

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