It is rather amazing to know that you can truly be hanging on at the end of the continent, near the end of a six-mile-long sand spit, in a house more than 100 years old ... next to a lighthouse built 150 years ago.
You are here with your wife and four good friends ... and, should the winds rage and the waves become a wild, dancing mass of water, and the heavens open up and rains pour down ... to know that there is no easy way to leave this place. It is perhaps no wonder that many folks do not chose to spend a week out here.
Still, the lighthouse has withstood 150 plus years of storms, earthquakes, howling winds and high seas. True, the lighthouse was shortened 60 some feet because of cracks ... but who knows why these cracks appeared? Some blamed it on a Canadian artillery range across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
To our band of six, this place is a wonderful escape from everyday living. We are here in a well-built home with just about all the comforts of home.
Electricity comes to us via a marine cable buried under the waters and sands of Dungeness Bay. The Coast Guard drilled a very deep well that provides us potable water without power, it's an artesian well, which means that the water rises itself without any help. There is a capable sewage system. There is satellite television, baseboard heating, indoor plumbing and a pool table in the basement.
When you place all this in the middle of a wildlife refuge and the opportunity to see sea lions, harbor seals, a resident elephant seal, cormorants, bald eagles, harriers, orcas, and all manner of other birds and beasts ... I've even seen a coyote running along the beach!
What's not to like? Some misguided folks even made sure that there was access to the Internet via your laptop and the mainland via your cell phone.
True, there may be a downside to all of this. You do have to cook your own meals, wash your bedding before you leave and clean up the place before you go ... and, you may be given some chores to do. It's tough! If anyone walks the five and a half miles from the mainland to the lighthouse, you're expected to give them a tour of the lighthouse and give them some historical background. Yeah, it's a tough job and you do pay to do it! If you just don't get it! Well, that's OK; some folks will wait for years for this experience.
Besides, there are rumors that some spirits might still haunt these old buildings and the neighboring shores. I've never met any spirits, but some of my friends think they just might have!
I have met the elephant seal, I've seen orcas both in the bay and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I've watched adult bald eagles teach their kids to hunt and attack the carcass of a dead cormorant on the beach, I've watched a peregrine falcon hunting, I've seen the sea lions checking me out as I walked along the beach.
I love it at the lighthouse in the winter. It feels farther from civilization. The mountains look even more impressive with a mantle of snow. And, the storms can remind you of how fragile you really are and how lucky you are to be in such a place. It's like living next door to God!
The New Dungeness Light Station Association exists to preserve and protect the New Dungeness Lighthouse, the keeper's house and other existing structures.
It also wishes to give members the opportunity to experience the life of a keeper. If this tweaks your interest, join us. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 1283, Sequim, WA 98382. You may call us at 683-9166 or you can visit our Web site at www.newdungenesslighthouse.com. Enjoy your dreams and plan to spend some time in paradise with us.
Richard Olmer's column appears in the Sequim Gazette the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. He can be reached via e-mail at columnists@sequimgazette.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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