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.

Baker Point Park: Pretty Skies and Flying Sails

Baker Point Park is a park I have talked about once before in my blogs. It is a tiny park, but it is beautiful. On this day it was even more beautiful. The weather was finally changing to fit the fall season expectations. It was nearly fifty degrees outside and wind blowing like crazy. I had the nerve to wear a thin jacket thinking I would regret it wearing my thicker one. I was wrong.

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Thank goodness for this backpack keeping my back warm.

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Sometimes you gotta live on the edge.

Baker Point Park has two (maybe three) parts to it. There is the circular stage that overlooks the broader part of the St. John’s River which allows you to see the skyline of downtown Jacksonville. Then there is the Ortega Bridge itself which works as a drawbridge allowing sailors to come and go as they please. On the other side is the actual Park with areas for fishing, a playground for the kids and tons of park benches for people who just want to enjoy the outdoors.

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Ortega Drawbridge

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Downtown Jacksonville Skyline

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Circular platform for viewing. (I wrote the quote)

My favorite view is always the river. With the sailboats out to play, I had my fair share of fun to snap photos and enjoy the sites. It almost makes you want to own a boat of your own. Since I have my own sailboat collection at home, it’s always nice to see the real thing.

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Another favorite is sitting on the seawall and looking out at the downtown skyline. It makes for some amazing images, wouldn’t you say?

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If you’re ever in Jacksonville, Florida, don’t hesitate to drop by Baker Point Park. There’s fun for everyone including the introverted explorers like me. ­čÖé

 

4Ocean Beach Clean Up

A year ago, maybe, I discovered an organization called 4Ocean whose biggest goal and purpose was to help remove trash from the ocean. I’ve always loved the ocean so I was all in. After I met Maddy, my best friend, a few months ago and found out she loved the organization too, we decided to participate in a beach clean up.

The day before Earth Day, 4Ocean hosted a beach clean up at Neptune Beach, Florida. We lived in Jacksonville which was only 51mins away so why not. It was my very first beach clean-up and I really wanted to be a part of it. Maddy was down for helping for the good cause so we set a date and went.

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Maddy and I up early so we can make it to Neptune Beach on time. Image Source: Maddy Shade

According to our weather app, it said it was going to rain nearly all day, and boy did it. Everyone was out in the rain soaked but they stayed put to help clean up. Dedication at it’s finest.

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Our trash bags! Image source: Nikki Lee

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Everyone searching for trash as the rain beat down on us. Image source: Nikki Lee

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Got trash? Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Maddy playing around with our trash bags. Image Source: Nikki Lee

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On the way to the beach. Image Source: Maddy Shade

We managed to get free merchandise (woot!) and we got to be a part of an organization who saw a problem in the world and wanted to be a part of the solution.

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Free merch! Image Source: Nikki Lee

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Limited Edition 4Ocean Earth Day bracelet. Image Source: Maddy Shade

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Maddy got her shirt! Image source: Maddy Shade

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My ROWW and 4Ocean bracelet. Image source: Nikki Lee

Maddy and I definitely had a blast and can’t wait for the next major event!

If you want to be a part of the clean up and other events that 4Ocean hosts. Follow their Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram social media pages!

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Maddy admiring the ocean. 

 

 

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.┬áImage Source: Nikki Lee

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

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Lighthouse – Gas Station.┬áImage 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.

Mother at Hillsboro Lighthouse

Recently, my mother and I went Boca Raton, FL for a vacation/business venture. I had a presentation to go to about cleaning up the oceans for future generations. My mother went to visit some church members who lived there. Boca Raton was beautiful in every way with the yachts that sat on the river docks.

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My favorite part was the Hillsboro Lighthouse. I suppose this adds to the obsession I’ve had surrounding lighthouse. I drove between Georgia and Florida just to be able to climb these historical magnificent beauties. I have a long way to go before I have visited them all, but I’m off to a good start.

The Hillsboro Lighthouse sits on private property, so visitors aren’t allowed to get close to it. You have to go to a park that sits next door to get a good enough view. If you have a boat, you can get the very best view by riding out of the marina, under the drawbridge and out into the sea. If only I had a million bucks, right?

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At night, the dark ocean swallows up and surrounding light so seeing the lighthouse at night can be difficult. The lens and spinning light is enough to make up for it though.

My mother loved it though. She finally got to feel the same feeling I got whenever I visit a lighthouse. These simple towers have such an influence on the imagination. Its presence alone strikes imagination curiosity about the days of the lighthouse and their important role in controlling the traffic of the sea.

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