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Trips & Meetings - We Had Fun!!!
July 16 - Hampton Roads Bus Trip
by Joyce Holland

July 16th was a typical July day in the Hampton Roads area, hot, hazy and humid. Twenty-three eager participants (our lighthouse lovers are always early; real, real early) were anxiously waiting for the bus to arrive in the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake, Virginia. Once aboard, we were off, almost on time (the bus was a few minutes late), to our first destination, the National Aids to Navigation Museum at the USCG Training Center in Yorktown, Virginia. This museum contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of lenses, aids to navigation equipment and other artifacts on display in the United States. The only lens that is not here is a 3-1/2 Order Fresnel Lens, but they are diligently working to obtain one. After passing through security at the main gate, we were greeted at the museum by CW04 Tony Farr, the officer in charge of the navigational aids museum. As we walked through the double doors and entered the museum, we became like kids in a candy store; where do you look first. Tony gathered us in front of the First Order Lens adjacent to the classrooms and you immediately felt his enthusiasm as he asked; "Do you want the 5-minute tour, or the 3-hour tour?" After spending a few minutes with him, we all wished we had time for the 3-hour tour. We are very grateful to Tony, and especially his family who were waiting for him, for taking time from his vacation to guide us through the museum and share his extreme knowledge. There wasn't a question he could not answer for us. I don't think anyone wanted to leave, but we had other places to be.

After a stop at Old Country Buffet for lunch, we headed to Ft. Monroe in Hampton and the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, where Lt. Barbara Bauer of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, was awaiting our arrival. While everyone was getting a chance to climb up to the lantern room, LCDR Richard Condit arrived to officially make Barbara the official "Keeper of the Light" for Old Point Comfort. Before we left Ft. Monroe, we drove around and parked near the Casemate Museum; outside the old fort walls (the bus could not squeeze through the tunnels) so that those who wanted to, could get off and visit the museum store to have their USLHS Passport stamped and purchase souvenirs. Ft. Monroe is currently on the BRAC list and the City of Hampton will be acquiring it. Lets hope they recognize the importance of the keepers' house and restore and open it to the general public. Then we headed to our last stop for the day, Ft. Story in Virginia Beach.

As we headed down Rt. 60 towards Ft. Story, the skies became very dark, and we received a call from the Old Cape Henry lighthouse that thunderstorms were passing through. Unfortunately, they had not cleared out of the area when we arrived, and for safety reasons, as you can imagine, we would not be able to enter either the Old or New lighthouses to climb. John Starling, our docent for the Cape Henry's, and who was riding with us, gave us an overview of the two (2) lights and Ft. Story, and answered any questions as we waited and prayed for the rain to stop and the storms to clear out. We would need to wait 30 minutes after the last thunder in order to climb the lights. It looked like it was not going to happen, but that did not dampen our spirits. We maneuvered the bus over to the Cape Henry Memorial grounds, location of the First Landing Cross, the statue of Admiral Comte de Grasse, and a granite memorial to the Battle of the Capes. Then John pointed out the keeper's house at the other end of this parking lot, and where the Old Chapel is located on the fort. The rain finally slowed to give us a chance to dash through the raindrops and enter the gift shop for our shopping pleasure. Since 9/11, Old Cape Henry wears a very large yellow ribbon around its lantern room, and the fence around the base is full of yellow ribbons, which, John told us, would all remain until our troops are all home. While we were shopping, LCDR Richard Condit caught up with the group to officially make John the "Keeper of the Light" for the New Cape Henry Lighthouse. He agreed to open the base of he tower to make his presentation, so even though we could not climb the stairs, at least we were able to look up, AND, be present to witness this honor bestowed upon John. As most of you know, John is a member of the Board of the CCUSLHS, and the Chapter is very proud of all the work he does for lighthouse preservation. John has been the Regional Coordinator for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) since 1977. You can usually find John in the gift shop waiting to greet you when visiting the lighthouses. After the presentation, the rain stopped and John took us into Mine Case #2, under the Old Cape Henry lighthouse, which is hidden by kudzu. This bunker had a tunnel that they used to control the mines at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay during WWII. You know, we have visited these lights many times over the past years, and I never knew where the keepers house was, or that this bunker existed, or of the Old Chapel on the grounds, and it just goes to show you, if there is an opportunity to visit a lighthouse that you have already seen, go again, there can be new things to learn about them and the area that surrounds them. The Coast Guard is in the process of transferring New Cape Henry Lighthouse to the National Park Service, which will eventually transfer it over to the APVA. This means that sometime in the future, the tower will be open to the general public. Well, even though the rain stopped, the thunder did not, and time was slipping past us, so we had to load up the bus and head back to our vehicles.

Traveling with the Chapter that day were four new members: Melissa Buckler and her husband, Fred, and Joe and Sarah Russell, all the way from Austintown, Ohio, who won the H.E.L.P. fund raffle. Not only are they new members to the Chapter, but this was their first Chapter trip, and I've already heard back from them as to the great time they had on this trip. We look forward to seeing them on future trips, as well as all our other wonderful Chapter members to make more great memories. At this time, we want to thank Glenn and Linda Herman and Herb Von Goerres for helping us load the Loft merchandise, cooler and snacks on to the bus. Special thanks go out to Lauren and Paula Liebrecht, who brought the Loft and sold Chapter wares, and for helping me with the raffle and door prizes.

We especially want to thank John Starling, for making contact and opening the doors to the National Aids to Navigation Museum, Old Point Comfort Light and New Cape Henry Light (even though the rain prevented our climbing the New Cape Henry Light.) John, without your help, this Chapter trip would not have been possible.

As I previously mentioned, we look forward to seeing you on our 2006 trips, meeting and making new friends, making great memories, and working towards your 40+3 membership.

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