As I packed my SUV with drinks and snacks to eat on my Florida road trip, I could feel the sun’s heat beating down on me. It was hot, humid and overcast, but that wasn’t going to stop me from driving the 3 1/2 hours to get to the East Coast of Florida. My destination…”The Ponce De Leon Lighthouse and Museum” located in Ponce Inlet, Florida. I had one goal in mind. That goal, was to climb the 203 stairs to go up to the top of the lighthouse. That meant, a total of 406 stairs combined. During the ride, I kept asking myself if I could do this, knowing well, that I am afraid of heights. I was a bit nervous but anxious at the same time, as I knew the views from the top of the lighthouse would be breathtaking.
I left at 10:15am, early enough to possibly beat the Disney traffic, but that didn’t work. Traffic was already stacked up right before the Disney exits. Though it wasn’t bumper to bumper, it was still slow. Eventually I was able to get to up to 30 mph and then increase speed as I went through the bumpy and rough interstate that goes through downtown Orlando. I4 is absolutely awful around the city but, thankfully smoothed out as I drove away from the city center.
The tallest in Florida, Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse is also one of the tallest in the nation. At a 175 feet in height, it became a national historic landmark in 1998.
With increased shipwrecks during the 1800’s, it was decided that a lighthouse was necessary between Saint Augustine and Cape Canaveral. Ponce Inlet was recommended due to the busy marine traffic, heavy currents and shifting sandbars. Building began in 1884 and the lighthouse was active by 1887. The Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse still stands the test of time and serves as an aid to mariners.
According to the history, “This raft was used by Cuban refugees to come ashore near the Ponce De Leon Lighthouse. Its one of the collections onsite that dates back since 1989. These small raft vessels were built with whatever materials were available to the refugees who used them to cross the 100 miles of open water sea between Cuba to the Florida Keys”. It’s now an exhibit onsite.
As I stood nervous at the bottom of the staircase, I looked up and for a second my stomach turned. I felt like was going to throw up the lunch that I had eaten earlier. I started talking myself out of climbing to the top. I could feel my hands getting sweaty and my legs began to slightly shake. I was thinking…Oh my, how can I do this? I took a deep breath and slowly began to climb the stairs. Each step I climbed, was a step closer to reaching my goal to get to the top.
The steps were too narrow and I started feeling light headed as I climbed higher. I stopped to take a break and a deep breath. I could feel the sweat coming down and my face felt flushed. I thought I was going to pass out. I looked up and still had quite a bit of stairs to climb. It was hot, I could not feel the wind. The more steps I climbed, the hotter it got and the harder it was to take the next step to climb up.
As I got closer to the top, I could feel the wind hitting my face and felt so refreshing. When I finally arrived, I was exhausted. BUT the views from the top of the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse were breathtaking! I could not help but to take photos of every angle while up there. I had finally reached my goal of walking up the 203 stairs. The hard work was well worth it!!! Although, going back down wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either…
Have you been to a lighthouse? What was your experience and did you climb to the top like I did? If you are in Florida, visit the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum. You won’t be disappointed with the views!
Happy Travels ~ Ruthie