June 20, 2016
Road Trip Day 7: Lighthouse
On a trail in the headlands high up above the Oregon Coast, fierce winds are blowing in my face. “Take the Headlands trail to the end,” said the volunteer at the museum below, a guy about my age. “You can see everything, and you might even be able to see the lighthouse.”
In this place of fierce storms that have taken the lives of many sailors, there’s a plaque that tells a story:
It’s dark, the wind is gusting out of the south at almost 100 miles per hour, the waves are approaching 20 feet in height … a Pacific storm is battering the Oregon coast. A vessel is in distress off the rocky headlands. The lives of the crew are at risk.
… The rescue crews of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port Orford Lifeboat Station launched their small but reliable motor boats knowing that their skills meant the difference between life and death for the sailors on the stricken vessel. When most ships and boats were seeking harbor, the “Coasties” are putting out to sea…
On this seventh day of my road trip, I’m feeling out of sorts. The forcecast is for rain at my next stop, Cape Perpetua. I’m not looking forward to more tent camping in the rain. Do I really want to “put out to sea” or would I rather “seek harbor?” Maybe it’s time to leave the forest and find a nice dry motel somewhere where I can be comfortable.
I’m supposed to be on the Headlands trail but I don’t see any signs. Am I on the right trail? The wind is getting stronger and I’m definitely out of my comfort zone. I look around and consider the options. What to do?
I see many people my age choosing safe harbor. That’s sensible. We’ve worked hard and now the body is getting frail. Time to relax a little and enjoy our remaining time here. But I’m also noticing a surprising number of people putting out to sea. Moving to a new place, taking on a new cause, starting a new adventure.
I keep walking. Soon I come to a lookout high above the ocean and, across the harbor below, there’s a small dark spot. The lighthouse!
Others — agents perhaps of the Source of Light that connects us all? — have built lighthouses so travelers can find their way. And when we put out to sea we can find the light.
The next morning I’m packed and ready, with my tent and camping gear, to head up to Cape Perpetua.