The Crystal Coast: Cape Lookout

SailorsDelightClose your eyes and imagine an undisturbed island, with wild shores, crashing waves, and howling winds. Wild ponies roam, and the rustic beaches are rich with shells and sea life.  The good news is you don’t have to imagine this place. It exists.

$5 and a  15 minute ferry ride around Shackelford Banks from Harkers Island will get you there. Stay for an hour, a day, or a few days, the choice is your’s. Nestled within the tumultuous waters of Lookout Shoals, Cape Lookout National Seashore is the perfect refuge for those seeking solitude and nature.  If you visit in the cooler months, solitude is exactly what you’ll get.

Looming over the island and guarding the coast is the 163 ft. Diamond Lady. Named for her black and white diamond daymark, the Cape Lookout lighthouse stands in beautiful contrast to the raw nature of Cape Lookout.blackandwhitebeautylight_1

seatstakenThe second lighthouse on the island, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse was completed on Nov. 1, 1859 and has survived more than her fair share of conflict.  In 1861, during the Civil War out of fear that Union forces would use the light to navigate the coastline, the Diamond Lady went dark, all her lenses and lamps removed. She stood lifeless for almost a full year until 1862 when Union troops who had captured nearby Beaufort and Morehead City brought her back to life. However, her time of conflict had not passed. On April 2, 1864 a small group of confederate soldiers snuck out in the night and attempted to blow the lighthouse up, they were not successful in their attempt. However, the Diamond Lady did not make it through the ordeal unharmed. A large portion of her iron stairwell was blown away, and was replaced with wood until after the war when iron was once again readily available.keepershousebw

Today she still stands guard lighting the coastline for ships and sailors. Annually in the summer months visitors from around the globe flock to her shores to climb the tower, and explore her island home. Survivor, savior, guardian the Cape Lookout Lighthouse stands as a testament to the history and beauty of the NC Coastline.

For more information about visiting the Lighthouse, Keeper’s Quarters and Cape Lookout National Seashore  click here.



The Crystal Coast: Old Baldy

Old Baldy. The title of this post might be a teensy bit misleading, if you think I’m referring to some aged long lost relative under certain circumstances you might be right. In this case though, not.


closesignBuilt in 1817, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse affectionately known as “Old Baldy” has been standing guard over the mouth of the Cape Fear River for over 187 years. lightin bw

When you step off the ferry on to Bald Head Island it is hard to imagine the beautifully manicured and maintained resort island could be home to the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. Originally known as Smith Island ( after a wealthy Charleston merchant), this gorgeous little barrier island as long been a destination for Native Americans, fishermen, explorers and pirates. The most famous among them being the infamous Stede Bonnet.  Now days, Bald Head Island is more vacationer’s paradise than pirate’s playground; but none the less once you know the history of this tiny little island it is easy to see all of it’s uniquely hidden secrets.

stairwaytoheaven_1Old Baldy despite it’s age was not the first light to stand on the island. The original light, completed in 1795 on the island’s South West point. Erosion quickly threatened the site and after only a few short years the light was torn down, and the new and still standing Old Baldy was given life. Constructed from soft red bricks, many of which were salvaged from the original light station. In it’s time as a working light station Old Baldy required constant upkeep from the elements; the 110 ft tower was once completely white. When the light was decommissioned in 1935, it was left to ruin. On occasion the caring good citizen would “patch” the old tower’s stucco and add small bits of white here and there, thus giving “Old Baldy” the patchwork look it now enjoys today. In 1988 the historic light was relit, but does not serve as a navigational aide.

darkdoorwayToday Old Baldy stands watch over the island as a reminder of it’s rich history, and those who have come and gone before. Some say the old light is haunted. Numerous reports of ghost sightings are reported every year. And although during my visit I didn’t encounter anything other worldly, it is easy to imagine lost souls wandering the grounds of this beautiful place.

With so much history, beauty, and vibrance. Bald Head Island, is a place that must be seen to be believed. A short ferry ride from South Port, NC will get you to this “car free” island paradise. Stay a day, stay a week. Either way go. You won’t regret it.

brick2_1For more information about the Bald Head Island Lighthouse visit click here.

Give Thanks


Wow. It’s hard to believe it is already November. It feels like just yesterday I was traipsing through  Utah’s high desert, climbing mountains in Colorado, and playing in the sunshine on a salty shore. But it is, and for me November means, coffee shops, pumpkin everything, and reflection. Time to think back on the year that has passed.

I realize that it is cliche’ to say that in this of all months I find myself full of reasons to give thanks; we do after all have an entire holiday dedicated to it. But despite my desperate need to always go against convention, I am indeed, very truly grateful.

This last year just like any year has been full of ups an downs, the usual merry go round of emotions we all are riding. But even though the ride is the same, it seems that something has changed with the rider.  This year I started out on my own in a way I’ve never known before. This year I took less time for me and spent more time giving to others. This year I consciously chose to look at life differently.  Instead of focusing completely on my own success I stopped to think how I could help others succeed as well. Instead of worrying over my own troubles, I chose to focus on my victories. I pushed aside the negative, so there would be more room for the positive. This year I laughed more, gave more, and cared more. And the result was a funny thing. I succeeded more. I found allies in unlikely places.  I forgave those who didn’t or couldn’t understand. I accepted help when it was offered. And for the first time in a very long time I chose the path of least resistance, and along it I found, joy, love, and happiness.

The truth I discovered this year is that not everyone will understand you, not everyone will love you. But people are people. We are imperfect, every single one of us. We’re all a work in progress. So forgive those you can, and be grateful for all that you have, not lustful for what you don’t. The world is a truly beautiful place if you just take a look at it from the right angle. Just like in photography perspective is everything.  Adjust your focus you may be amazed at what you find in the snapshots.

If it weren’t for everyone of you. You who read my winded musings, you who “like” my photos, you who have invited my art into your homes, you with kind words, and you who silently support me my life would not be what it is. My dream would not have been reachable. From the bottom of my heart thank you. When I look back at my year, it is you that I see.

And so in the spirit of gratitude, thankfulness, and joy. I want to continue on my year of giving.  From now until the 22nd of December 25% of all sales will be donated to the Toys For Tots Foundation to help purchase toys for children in need during the holidays.  If you use the coupon code: HOLLYJOLLY2014 on the Etsy Shop you can save $10 on all purchases $30 or more.

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Just a small way to say thank you to all of you, for your love support and genuine kindness. Happy Holidays, I truly hope you all had a year as filled with love as mine.