Big Red at Holland Harbor

Being Floridian, my body never needed to adjust to twenty-degree weather. I knew the moment I pressed my fingers against my sprinter van’s window; I’d probably regret getting out. When I looked out across the beach of Holland State Park, at the medium-sized, bright red lighthouse floating above still seaglass teal water, I told myself to Hell with it. I snatched up my Nikon camera, my backpack, and my thick gloves and jumped out of the van. There would be no telling when I would ever get another chance for this, so I took it.

As a delivery driver, I continuously fail to remember how much weight I’ve put on. The realization doesn’t hit me until I either have to hike some inclined nature trail or trudge across beach sand. Nothing, I mean nothing, tells you to start dieting like a walk across beach sand. The closer I got to that cherry red hunk of wood, metal, glass, and beauty, the more I cared less about my wheezing and dragging feet. Also, as a delivery driver, I was usually only in a location for one day. It was rare that I would return to that location again within the week or month. I got to see New York City twice. Both times were four months a part.

After struggling across the beach sand, I thankfully made it to concrete pavement. I couldn’t take my eyes off “Big Red,” the unfortunate nickname they gave to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse. According to research, painting this particular lighthouse red was a requirement due to its location on the harbor’s right side. Regardless, if you couldn’t see the lighthouse’s bright light at night, you’d have no problems seeing it in the day. You’d have to be color blind to miss it, seeing as how no other buildings behind or beside it along the coast are painted red.

Two light posts at the end of the water breakers
Water breakers

I had to rush my adventure visiting the light. I felt the feeling in my fingers disappearing. By the time I had reached the pavement, my fingers were hurting so bad from the cold, they felt numb. My thick gloves prevented me from using my zoom and pressing the shutter button. I was forced to take all of my photos barehanded. Thankfully I brought my beach towel along with me (only God knows why), so I could maybe sit on the beach and enjoy the view. Nope! I reassigned it to keeping my hands warm. Unfortunately, you can’t run from Mother Nature. My fingers continued to burn inside the gloves wrapped in the towel.

I had never heard of water breakers before I studied the Holland Harbor Light. They’re essential for multiple reasons, including slowing down coastal erosion, and prevent waves from battering the lighthouse in rough weather. Most water breakers are built with large boulders, but these breakers, but these breakers are built with slabs of concrete and significant boulders to hold them in place. Mother Nature has been working her magic on it as well. As you head out to the end of the breaker, you’ll notice that two of the slabs have shifted so far that you only have about one or two feet of connected concrete to cross over.

Out on the breakers, the view was could have been nothing short of a fairytale. As a Floridian, I adore great bodies of water. I grew up around every type of body of water (sea, ocean, river, swamp, gulf, etc.) Lake Michigan was a sight to see, the water’s slow swells imitated breathing as the water rose and receded through the boulders. The color of the water itself made it appear as an ocean-sized sheet of seaglass. The coast packed of brown beach sand and tall sea oats nearly hiding the gorgeous vacation beach homes behind them.

Tug boat pushing platform out to sea.

I stood on the breaker, sinking into peace and reflection when a large horn sounds off. I nearly jumped out of my skin and into the freezing water. I turned around to see a red tugboat making his way out of the harbor, pushing some sort of platform in front of him. I watched the precision driving as the tugboat made its way out to open sea. I love tugboats. At this point, my frozen fingers became too much to bear. I gathered up a few more shots of Big Red and Lake Michigan and power walked back to my sprinter van. Other cars pulled into the parking lot. Groups of people hopping out in all smiles loving the frosty air. I could’t wait to crank up my heat on the highest setting before I became Frosty the Snowman.

I may never get a chance to return to Big Red, but if traveling has taught me anything, when you’re in perfect position to explore something, I don’t care if Big Foot is sitting outside the window, take the chance and capture your memories. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Travel Break, A Hobby In Sea Voyages

Recently, I’ve had to take a break from travel because of my change in jobs going from morning shifts to overnight and having to put spending on hold to catch up on my priorities. At first, I felt like I was going to die of boredom without my nature hikes and road trips, but I thought since I have so many little souvenirs and collectibles at my disposal from all my traveling, I figured I’d display them for others to see.

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Jekyll Island, GA 2017. Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Bottle of shells – Clearance rack at Bealls. Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Lighthouse Snow globe – St. Augustine, FL 2018. Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Lighthouse – Gas Station. Image Source: Nikki Lee

I love anything to do with the ocean so I figured it was best to collect boats and anything that had to do with sea voyages. The boats I found on clearance racks at Marshalls, Bealls, and Stein Mart. The tiny figurines were collected at different beaches, and park gift shops.

The monocular and telescope were a steal from Stein Mart. I watched those beauties sit on the shelf for months at full price. One day I went in and saw them sitting on the Red Dot shelf. I discovered that they were both damaged. I didn’t mind it, they were going to be sitting on display never being handled so it was perfect. Patience is definitely a virtue!

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Monocular with built in compass. Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Image Source: Nikki Lee

My collection is steadily growing as I keep an eye out for any nautical stuff that may go on sale. Though I may not be able to travel again just quite yet, adding to and showing off my hobby collection is just as much joy.

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My entire tiny collection. Image Source: Nikki Lee

Every traveler should have a hobby or a collection because traveling the world installs inspirations that lasts a lifetime.