Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
May 16, 2010
For today's postcard, we'll be walking.
Well, maybe you'll be walking.
Rest assured, though, that my footprints are already on the 203 steps of the spiral staircase that leads to the 175-foot pinnacle of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse (ponceinlet.org), the tallest in Florida and the second-tallest masonry lighthouse in the United States.
There's a museum, which features exhibits on Daytona Beach and Florida history; lighthouse and Fresnel lens restoration; shipwrecks and the lifestyle of the lighthouse era. The Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building houses one of the best collections of restored Fresnel lenses in the world, including the rotating first order Fresnel lens from the Cape Canaveral lighthouse and the restored original Ponce Inlet lens.
And you can walk to the top, of course.
I made the trek as a newlywed on my honeymoon. A romantic view.
Before that, I walked it with my mom, while my less romantically inclined father waited practically on solid ground. My mom, no slouch in the walking department, also climbed the Washington Monument with me.
Mom and I returned to the Inlet this past weekend for Mother's Day, but this time we settled for looking up at the towering landmark and settling into a comfortable booth at an old favorite haunt, the seafood stop Down the Hatch (down-the-hatch-seafood.com). The restaurant's big glass windows offer a postcard-worthy view of the Halifax River that's terrific at sunset. It's also not unusual for pelicans to perch at point-blank range on the pilings that ring the wooden building.
Down the Hatch was part of my routine when a former colleague rented a rustic beach-house close enough to canoe there for breakfast. We used to sit on his porch and watch dolphins leap out of the water.
That house is gone, but aquatic wildlife still abounds. Anglers can take an excursion at Critter Fleet Deep Sea Fishing (critterfleet.com) or you can learn about sea turtle rehabilitation at the Marine Science Center (marinesciencecenter.com).
It's just a short walk from the lighthouse.
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